Revitalized Rural Economy, Revitalized National Economy
AGRICULTURE sustains 71.4 per cent of the nation's population. It is the mainstay of India's economy and culture. India is blessed with every natural resource needed for sustaining a strong agricultural economy. We have vast cultivable land, ample sources of water, forests and most importantly, year-long tropical sunlight. We have a large agricultural human resource that has inherited a rich and hoary tradition in farming. It has also acquired the tools of modern science and technology. The combination of these two resources could have transformed Free India into a continental granary. But fifty years of neglect, corruption and wrong policies by successive Congress and quasi-Congress Governments have severely handicapped the Indian farmer and the entire rural economy. "Villager is the salt of Indian earth," said Mahatma Gandhi. "Jai Kisan" said Lal Bahadur Shastri. But in the last five decades, a majority of our kisans have become poor and harried outcasts in their own country, with no respectful place in the Governments' scheme of things. Today they are on the margins of India's economic, social, cultural and political life.
Rural India and Urban India Complement and Supplement Each Other
THE BJP is of the considered view that India will not become a strong, prosperous and confident nation until and unless there is a qualitative improvement in our rural economy and the condition of our kisans. In the absence of any comprehensive and enlightened agricultural policy, the Congress Governments made no attempt either to ensure remunerative prices for farmers based on a scientific assessment of all the input costs or to bring about a rational balance between the prices of agricultural and industrial products. Institutional credit and marketing support for the Indian kisan was deliberately kept weak and unreliable. As a result, the hardworking Indian kisan was pushed into poverty and the vicious clutches of debt. Newspapers have reported about "serial suicides" by farmers in Andhra Pradesh. In 1950-51, the ratio between per capita rural and urban income was 1:2. Today, it has become 1:4.
The BJP believes that the one-fourth urban India cannot have balanced development without the rapid development of the three-fourths rural India. Hence, rural India is not antagonistic, but complementary and supplementary to urban India.
BJP's Agenda for Reinvigorating Rural India
Jai Kisan: Our Commitments to the Farm and Rural sector
1. Earmark 60 per cent of Plan funds in the budget for agricultural and rural development.
2. Make a quantum increase in Governmental and private investment in improving the rural infrastructure of irrigation, all-weather roads, transport, power, telecommunication and credit and financing facilities.
3. Substantially increase Governmental and private investment in strengthening the social infrastructure in rural areas in the fields of drinking water, education, health-care, sanitation and housing.
4. Through a massive plan of rural housing, the goal of "Shelter for All" will be achieved by the year 2010. At least half the task will be sought to be achieved in the next five years.
5. Give all possible support to increasing milk production and animal husbandry. Priority will be given to setting up milk processing and milk product manufacturing units close to the catchment area.
6. To make agriculture sustainable for even the smallest farmer, the following initiatives will be taken:
a) Remunerative prices for the entire range of agriculture produce by linking them to input costs. Towards this end, our Government will constitute an Agriculture Costs and Prices Commission. Two-thirds of its members will be agriculturists and farm experts. The Commission will be an autonomous body and its recommendations will be mandatory. It will also recommend ways of achieving a balance between the prices of agricultural produce and industrial goods and services.
b) In the interim, support price for farm produce to be linked to the general price index. c) To help the farmers through a number of governmental and cooperative schemes to reduce per acre production cost.
d) To help the farmers through a number of governmental and cooperative schemes to increase per acre farm productivity. Towards this end, attractive incentives will be instituted for those who achieve exceptionally high standards of productivity.
e) To reduce the dependence on primary agriculture production by encouraging profitable ancillary activities.
f) To begin a nationwide crop and animal husbandry insurance scheme to cover all farmers.
7. Allow free movement of foodgrains throughout the country.
8. Unveil a comprehensive policy for bringing waste and barren land into productive agriculture or agro-forestry use. Private sector companies will be encouraged to invest in this activity, provided individual farmers and village cooperatives are given substantial share in the equity holding.
9. Give a new thrust to social forestry, horticulture, vegetable growing, floriculture, sericulture, mushroom farming.
10. Encourage inland fisheries, piggeries and bee-keeping.
11. As part of a comprehensive National Agri-business Policy, help setting up of value-addition chains to link production, preservation, transportation, processing, packaging and marketing. This policy envisions the participation of the individual agriculturist not only as a primary producer and supplier, but as a shareholder who will benefit from profits generated at every stage of the value chain.
12. Vastly expand the network of warehouses and mandis (market yards). Our policy will make it mandatory for the mandis to pay 80 per cent of the price as an interim payment at the time of delivery of the farmer's produce.
13. Delicense the sugar industry and decontrol the price and movement of molasses.
14. Encourage co-generation of power, as also production of a wide variety of sugar-based by-products at all the sugar mills in India.
15. Continue subsidy on fertilizers.
16. Set up a vast network of easily reachable farmers' service centres and expand the scope of extension programmes.
17. Make comprehensive documents available to farmers giving land records, ownership and all other relevant information. Our Government will also promote rapid computerization of these records.
18. Reform land acquisition laws with the following objectives:
(a) Farmers should get prompt and full compensation for his land at market rates;
(b) Farmers who have to part with their land for industrial or urbanization projects should also be made shareholders in these projects;
(c) If any public or private sector agency which acquires farm land for a particular project fails to execute it within a specified period, the Government will take it back from the promoters.
19. 19. Boost export of agriculture goods, especially processed goods, in a big way. Imports will be kept to the bare minimum and that too if warranted by extraordinary circumstances. In both export and import of farm goods, the interests of Indian kisans will be given the highest consideration.
20. Bolster efforts to increase productivity in dryland farming.
21. Re-orient agricultural planning on the basis of agro-climatic zoning of the entire country to fully harness the natural benefits of land fertility and ecosystems for specific agricultural produce.
Our Steps to Provide Irrigation Facilities
1. Double the area under irrigation in ten years through optimal use of small, medium and large projects. Priority will be given to small and minor irrigation projects with local investment and management participation.
2. Complete ongoing irrigation projects within a specified period and launch new projects on a firm, time-bound basis.
3. Encourage the use of alternative sources of irrigation through incentives and better water management.
4. Give attractive incentives for the popularization of drip irrigation and sprinkler irrigation systems.
5. Ensure that farmers are made to pay only for the water they consume.
6. Draw up a master plan for flood control and harnessing of flood waters for irrigation. Offer prompt compensation for crops lost in floods.
7. Take effective steps to raise the ground water level.
8. Check waterlogging, salination and soil erosion.
9. Institute a Regional Water Corporation to plan and increase water supplies.
Our Steps to Revive Village Industry
1. Establish an extensive chain of small-scale, tiny and cottage industry units.
2. Give the greatest impetus to this sector by provision of easy and adequate credit at low interest rates.
3. Create new marketing opportunities and facilities for rural artisans and craftsmen.
4. Set up a National Artisan Development Bank.
5. Set up special institutes for skill upgradation.
6. Give attractive incentives for bio-gas units.
7. Create weekly mandis in towns and cities in which villages and artisans can sell their products directly to urban consumers.
Our Steps to Provide Power For Agriculture
1. Accelerate total rural electrification so that no village is left without power in the next five years.
2. Ensure adequate and reliable supply of quality power for agricultural activity.
3. Set up small power stations and sub-stations in rural areas for supplying power exclusively to villages.
4. The frequent breaking down of transformers and distributors in rural areas causes havoc with agricultural operations. SEBs, though, don't have the money to replace these assets. The Government will encourage farmers' (and other users) to form cooperatives to install, maintain and charge for these rural electrical equipment. Loans from the Rural Electrification Corporation will be given for this.
Our Steps to Strengthen the Rural Cooperative Movement
1. To unveil a National Rural Cooperatives Policy which will review the working of the cooperative sector so far, simplify rules and regulations governing the functioning of cooperative societies and introduce necessary reforms to bring this sector in line with the reforms in the rest of the national economy.
2. The policy will also recommend measures to promote the cooperative movement in States where it is weak and ailing.
3. Free cooperatives from political and bureaucratic interference.
4. Take effective steps to eliminate corruption and nepotism in cooperative bodies.
5. Ensure that rural cooperatives are not only commercially viable but also promote equity and social justice.
6. Make entry in passbooks mandatory for all money deposits.
7. Only those entirely dependent on agriculture will be allowed to become members of farmers' cooperative societies.
8. Ensure free, fair and timely elections to cooperative bodies.
9. Encourage collaboration between the cooperative sector and the corporate sector in the areas of marketing, manufacturing, technology transfer, mobilization of investible resources and exports. All necessary measures will, however, be taken to ensure that the interests of small and medium farmers are not only protected but promoted by such collaborative ventures.
10. The BJP will enact the long-pending Multi-State Cooperative Act.
11. Multiple and often conflicting laws and agencies governing cooperative banks and other rural financial institutions will be streamlined.
Our Steps to Implement Land Reforms
1. Enforce the implementation of land ceiling laws in all States.
2. Set up designated courts to quickly deal will all land ceiling disputes and monitoring enforcement of verdicts.
3. Expedite distribution of ceiling surplus land among landless farmers.
4. Monitor the use of the distributed land to prevent its alienation from beneficiaries.
5. Reclaim cultivable land lying fallow.
6. Time-bound registration of all lands.
7. Decide ownership rights at the level of Gram Panchayats without any delay.
Our Steps to Improve Rural Education
1. Re-orient education in villages and rural towns to address the varied needs of agriculture, agro-processing, agri-services, management and other areas of the rural economy. Agriculture and related subjects will be specially included in the curriculum in rural schools.
2. Give a big boost to technical and vocational education as it is crucial to the development of rural human resources.
3. Set up a chain of Krishi Vidyalayas in each block to enrich the knowledge content and expertise of young people who are engaged in farming and farm-related activities.
4. Increase facilities for informal farm education, short-term courses, seminars, field trips, etc. for the benefit of practicing agriculturists.
5. Give a major boost to rural R&D by strengthening the link between agricultural universities and top achievers in the farming community.
Our Steps to Ensure Cow Protection
THE BJP regretfully observes that, despite Article 48 of the Constitution, millions of cows and cow progeny are slaughtered every year, most of them for export, thereby causing irreparable harm to agriculture and villages. Keeping in view Article 48, the BJP will:
1. Impose a total ban on the slaughter of cows and cow-progeny, including bulls and bullocks and prohibit all trade, including export (state as well as private) in beef.
2. Create a policy that will result in improved cattle breeding.
3. Exempt the income of Goshalas and Pinjrapoles from tax.
The BJP recognizes the fact that from times immemorial, cow-protection has remained of the basics of Indian culture and Indian agriculture and it is on the patient back of the cow and its progeny that the entire structure of Indian agriculture rests. Over seven crore animals are employed in farming operations in Indian villages, more than 80 per cent of the rural transport needs are met by the bullock cart. Our livestock is also an effective protection against environmental degradation.