(detailed explanation not according to the parameters of word limit)
On Gandhi Jayanti, farmers marching into Delhi protesting against agricultural policies were blocked by police at the city’s border. It was followed by an outbreak of violence.
The incident is a symptom of India’s agrarian crisis — the rally included farmers from many states. In the recent past, farmers have been under pressure as the rise in the price of agricultural products has trailed the escalation in cost of inputs.
But the crisis is not just on account of the recent trend in prices. It’s an accumulation of stagnant agricultural policies which have failed to keep in sync with changes in the rest of the economy.
An inexplicable feature of India’s agricultural policies is that farming is not seen as a vocation that serves a market. Consequently, policies either try to shield farmers from market movements or restrict their upside through whimsical export bans. The outcome is the crisis we see today.
The solution to this problem has to come from states. Telangana has taken an important step in providing farmers an upfront investment grant. Among the many reasons this step is important in that it moves policy away from an orientation towards distortionary input subsidies to trusting farmers to make the right choices.Some states have taken the lead in rolling back competition thwarting trade policies.
Frequent farmer rallies should be seen as a call to governments to align agricultural policies to 21st century realities.