The Uttar Pradesh government led by Yogi Adityanath has waived off the farm loans in the state and the news has become a headline that all mainstream corporate media houses kept recycling to project the man, their corporate owners funded, as a messiah for the poor and the would-be Narendra Modi, aka Vikas Purush (development man) of the country. Apart from heaping praises for the mobster monk turned chief minister, the corporate mainstream media, following its standard operating procedure, skipped the part of critically analysing the decision of Yogi Adityanath’s farm loan waiver.
Rahul Gandhi, the self-styled anti-BJP crusader cum heir-apparent of the ailing Congress party, claimed that Yogi Adityanath’s farm loan waiver is a positive move and that the Modi government must help all states, irrespective of who rules them, so that the governments of those states can also waive off farm loans following the footsteps of the Uttar Pradesh government. Most of the parliamentarians of the opposition remained mum on the decision so that the Modi government is not irked by their critical remarks on the issue.
Yogi Adityanath’s farm loan waiver decision will only impact farmers with agricultural loans up to ₹100,000 and will only waive them off if the debts are with the financial institutions approved by the government, i.e. the loans taken from banks, cooperatives, or other microfinance institutions. The total farm loan waiver consists of ₹36,359 crores, out of which, crop loans consist of ₹30,729 crores, and ₹5,630 crores are those loans of 700,000 farmers of the state, which became non-performing assets (NPAs) for the banks and finance companies.
While the political parties of the state and the corporate mainstream media will hail this decision out of their own compulsions and business interests, the Yogi Adityanath government’s farm loan waiver cannot be called anything better than a refurbished gimmick in the state, where the farmers and peasants have been fooled and tricked since ages. It’s a repackaged deception, copied from the Congress government of the past.
As we have earlier discussed, Uttar Pradesh is a strong bastion of North Indian feudalism and the existing production relations in the state makes it impossible for most of the poor and downtrodden masses to seek credit from anyone else than the local moneylenders or the feudal landlords of their villages, who are the socio-economic foundation stones of the BJP led government. Most of the poor and marginal farmers, landless peasants, and rural artisans are dependent on these unscrupulous private money-lenders for quick loans, as the banks and microfinance institutes don’t offer them any money.
It is well known that the unscrupulous money-lenders trick the poor in various ways and then robs them off their land and other possession. The feudal landlords and the money-lenders forms the core of BJP’s vote bank in the state, and thus the entire party machinery is filled with people from these classes. So, any waiver of the loans of the poor peasants and farmers taken from the feudal landlords would have been a political suicide for the BJP and thus, Yogi Adityanath’s farm loan waiver decision excluded the lion’s share of the state’s agricultural loans, which belongs to the grey finance market.
According to this report in The Wire, the total loan of farmers in Uttar Pradesh was calculated to be ₹69,200 crores and after Yogi Adityanath’s farm loan waiver of ₹36,359 crores, ₹32,841 crores of farm loans among the poor and marginal farmers will still exist in the formal finance sector. The total debts of farmers to the local money-lenders and feudal usurers are not publicly available and it can be four times the amount of the official debts.
As Yogi Adityanath’s farm loan waiver decision has applied a maximum filter of ₹100,000, a very small section of farmers will actually benefit from this move, as more and more farmers have fallen into the vicious cycle of compound interests and the unpaid debts since years, due to bad monsoons and highly priced farm inputs, thanks to the adherence to the neo-liberal economic doctrine by subsequent central and state governments. The Yogi Adityanath government’s decision will not benefit those millions of farmers who have more than ₹100,000 of debt due to several adverse conditions that didn’t allow them to pay their instalments.
The Modi government cannot discriminate between the states when it comes to allowing farm loan waiver, as such decisions leave an impact on the fiscal health of the country and affect the budget spending. As the Uttar Pradesh government is now allowed to waive-off the farm loans up to ₹100,000, the same at least, if not total debt waiver, should be allowed to other states like Punjab, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, West Bengal, etc. where the farmers are reeling under the burden of heavy farm debts. The BJP ruled states like Maharashtra records the highest amount of farmer suicides in the country and the Congress ruled Punjab had ₹69,355 crores of farmer loans in February 2016, as per a survey by the Punjab University, which must have increased manifold by now. The Modi government cannot allow just one state to pass-out with a very minimal farm loan waiver programme while depriving the other state governments similar programmes to provide minimal relief to their farmers.
Despite the tall talks in the corporate mainstream media and among the right-wing toady network about the pro-poor populist measures of the BJP government using Yogi Adityanath’s farm loan waiver as the context, the facts will say their own story. The gimmick of Yogi Adityanath’s farm loan waiver will not serve any purpose of the poor and the marginal farmers or the landless peasantry of Uttar Pradesh until the time the economic control of the agrarian economy remains confined in the hands of the feudal landlords, money-lenders, and usurers. There cannot be any remotest long-term benefit for the marginal farmers and poor-landless peasantry of Uttar Pradesh until an anti-feudal and pro-democratic power establishes its rule in India’s largest state, where the agricultural sector is reeling under the juggernaut of neo-liberal economic policies and feudal oppression.