Just 1 Paisa loan Waiver: a Draconian Joke?

Chiddi Sharma and his wife at their residence Source: The Hindu

The farmer is the backbone of a nation like India which is not only an agrarian society but also one which has a tremendously large population to feed and sustain. Given these conditions it is impossible for India to actually neglect and take for granted its farmer community but today what we witness around us is the stark opposite of this as farmers in various states of the country such as Uttar Pradesh have been promised loan waivers to give them relief from massive agricultural losses but the meagre amounts that they finally did manage to receive after much waiting are only an insignificant portion of what was promised on paper. Are we not cracking a very poor joke at the Indian farmer?

Mark Johnson  is currently working as a freelance journalist – based in Pune.

One of the greatest problems of our country is that while many policies and ideal looking laws get formulated and documented officially at the ground level very few of them find real implementation. Thus what this means is that in terms of paperwork and policy making we may be one of the best societies but when it comes to putting these in practice we lack far behind. It is not difficult to find examples that illustrate this fact all around us – from midday meals in school where poor quality grain may be served, to slow and mismanaged government offices, improper implementation of compensation to farmers, false promises made during election campaigning about health and education and so on and do forth.

What this goes on to reflect then is the callousness of the political system and its inability or lack of will to actually reach out the benefits of welfare schemes to the ordinary people of the country. What adds to the misery is corruption in political offices, lack of public spiritedness and nepotism.  Recently this manifested itself in the state of UP where the ruling state government had promised some farmers loans to free them from their heavy indebtedness. 

The flagship crop waver loan scheme promised 86 farmers in the state a relief of up to Rupees one Lakh. Mr Chiddi Sharama who is one among the many other farmers who had been promised the sum calls it a cruel joke when after much waiting he received 1 paise from the state.

Chiddi Sharma and his wife at their residence Source: The Hindu
Chiddi Sharma and his wife at their residence
Image Source: The Hindu

Announced in April this year the scheme seemed like a blessing to these farmers who had experienced tremendous loses but today when the money has finally come into their account it all seems like a very poor joke on their plight. Reacting to this shocking situation Mr. Sharma is reported to have said “I had distributed sweets in April when Yogi ji announced the loan waiver. I had taken loan of Rs. 1.55 lakh from the Punjab National Bank six years ago, but could not repay it that due to repeated losses in farming. Today I do not know whether to laugh or cry. Many leaders have played with the emotions of the farmers, but this one by Yogi ji is the cruelest of them all,” said Mr. Sharma who owns five bighas of land and comes under the category of “marginal farmer.

Since the day Yogi ji announced the Rs. 1-lakh loan waiver scheme, I had only been thinking about it. I don’t know what to say now. The six-month wait has resulted in 1 paisa in my account,” Mr. Sharma said, waving the loan waiver certificate embossed with the photos of Prime Minister and Chief Minister, with the slogan “ har kadam kisanon ke saath (with farmers in their every step)” running under them. I  don’t want to speak much but what is the point of advertising Rs. 36000 crore. How come other farmers in Mathura who took almost the same amount as me and who were in a similar situation, got the full waiver of Rs. 1 lakh?”

Today due to his peculiar case his house is flooded with journalists from across the country and in fact he is having to spend from his pocket to serve them tea and snacks. What we must understand is that the media attention that he has received may play catalyst in fetching for him his due rights has a farmer but we must also ask what happens to the thousands who are not lucky enough and have to perish under powerlessness?

Perhaps the time has come to hear the clarion call and ask ourselves what the political system that we have in our country is worthy of and whether the ordinary people of this country have any mechanism in place that allows them a dignified existence?

The case of Chiddi Sharma is not unique in fact it is only representative of the larger crisis unfolding itself in different parts of the country. It is time that we take record of the matter and begin asking some uncomfortable questions about the nature of democracy, its meaning for the ordinary citizens who sustain it and the need for reform in its mechanism if we do not wake up even now it may become too late!


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