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Centre laps up Swaminathan endorsement of PM Modi's farm policies

Sanjeeb Mukherjee/ 09 Aug 18 | 02:43 AM

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After criticism for its handling of agrarian issues, the government found some support from an article written a few days earlier by eminent agricultural scientist M S Swaminathan, considered one of the fathers of the country’s earlier Green Revolution.

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Swaminathan praised the Narendra Modi government’s handling of the country’s agriculture. He also said it had implemented several of the suggestions made by him as chairman of the earlier National Commission on Farmers (NCF, constituted in 2004 by the earlier government), while the former government only gave lip service.

“The recent announcement of a remunerative price based essentially on the recommendation of NCF is a very important step to ensure the economic viability of farming... As for farmers’ agitations still continuing, a major demand is the waiving of loans and implementation of the NCF recommendations on MSP (minimum support price). Both these problems are now receiving attention and appropriate action," Swaminathan wrote.

The piece came days ahead of a big agitation planned by a bunch of farmer groups from August 9. It was lapped up by government ministers across domains. Interestingly, one big demand of the ongoing farmers’ agitation is implementation of the Swaminathan Commission report.

Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan saw the Swaminathan article as support for the Modi government’s efforts to redefine farming and farmers in India. Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh issued a long statement of support for the article, also mentioning it in a written reply to Parliament. Finance Minister Piyush Goyal repeatedly referred to the article in his reply on supplementary grants, on how effective the government’s handling of agriculture had been. 

However, opinions differ. Ajay Jakhar, head of the Punjab Farmers Commission, tweeted: “Doubt if @msswaminathan wrote this (the article); seems like an advertorial...something fishy...either way, I disagree."

All India Kisan Sabha, farmer arm of the CPI(M), spearheading the stir from Thursday, in a statement quoting Dr M S Swaminathan, said: “It is time to ensure genuine implementation of the recommendations of the NCF, with priority to three components - an MSP based on the formula of C2+50 per cent; a favourable procurement policy to ensure farmers actually receive the MSP; and increasing mass consumption through the effective implementation of the Food Security Act, school noon meal programmes, etc."

Swaminathan has been quoted as saying in the statement that he supports the farmer demands and requests the government to listen to these.

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