Recent farm debt waiver in the states of MP and Rajasthan has once again generated heated discussions on the prudence of such generosity by Governments using public money. In an interesting cartoon published in one of the dailies, a middle class person is shown carrying the weight of super rich (corporate borrowers), who are defaulters and absconders on one side and farmers, whose debt is written off, on the other. In normal day to day conversation also, we lament the plight of hard working and honest tax paying middle class. However, being a middle class myself, I have a slightly different view here, especially in respect of farm debt waiver.
Indian farmer is much disadvantaged vi’s-a-vi’s his counterparts in developed nations. His land holdings are small, making the scale of farming unviable. On top of it, very few farmers enjoy the luxury of perennial irrigation, a majority still depending on rains. On top of it, mechanisation of farming activity is again limited to affluent farmers and the cost of inputs is ever rising. A farmer barely manages to earn enough to sustain his family for two square meals. An illness or a social obligation forces him to take debt and sometimes whole lifetime goes in servicing debt. What’s the alternative available to a hardworking, debt laden, severely underprivileged farmer other than committing suicide, which we are seeing dime a dozen day after day. If as an election plank, once in 5 years their small debt (sometimes it’s not even in lakhs; it’s few thousands only) is waived, why make such a hue and cry? Farming is physically tough activity and reward for labour is severely disproportionate. Under the circumstances, we, living in the comforts of our plush city homes, should not discuss this over sumptuous meals, even if the move is considered to be politically motivated and an economic disaster!
Second perspective I just got from a very sharp writing that I came across in one of the WhatsApp groups of which I am also a member. This post said, ” Nothing wrong in middle class bearing the load. The middle class does not take risk. The people in this category have great paying capacity by saving lifelong out of lazy jobs. Saving is leakage in economy system – savings is a leakage in the economy of the circular flow model. -Keynes”.
As aforesaid, though a middle class myself and pretending to be working very hard under lot of stress and duress, with mega responsibilities, the words “saving lifelong out of lazy jobs” has shaken my core, inspiring me to write this blog.