Farm Friction: on the Malaise in Agriculture: The Hindu Editorial

Farm Friction: on the Malaise in Agriculture: The Hindu Editorial

Farm friction: on the malaise in agriculture: The Hindu Editorial

The government must move purposefully to address the systemic malaise in agriculture
Since June 1, many farmers are on an unusual 10-day ‘strike’ to draw the government’s attention to distress in the fields. A federation of 130 farmer bodies has decided to stop supplies of vegetables and dairy produce to major cities and hold a dharna on 30 national highways, without blocking vehicular (involving vehicles) passage. Prices of vegetables and fruits are inching up in urban centres given the supply shock created by this ‘Gaon Bandh’; in cities like Mumbai fishermen have joined the cause. The farmers’ demands are not new — enhancement of the minimum support price regime (a system/ordered way of doing things) for crops in line with the M.S. Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations, higher prices for milk procurement and loan waivers to offset (neutralise) low or negative returns on investment. Leaving out vegetables, food prices rose by just 0.55% in the first four months of 2018 — almost a fourth of the average 2% rise recorded in the same months between 2014 and 2016. There is a supply glut (an excessively abundant supply of something), and with a good monsoon expected, a healthy output could put additional pressure on prices. But this stir (agitation), which ends with a Bharat Bandh call on June 10, is not about the immediate crisis faced by specific sections of farmers (such as the cash-strapped (extremely short of money) sugarcane-growers for whom a cess is being considered under the GST regime). It is a culmination (peak) of multiple attempts made over a year to red-flag the systemic malaise in agriculture.

On June 6, 2017, some farmers were killed in police firing in Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh, during an agitation for better crop prices. There have been agitations across the country since then, including in Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra (where thousands of farmers walked nearly 200 km to the State capital in March). The current stir also derives from lack of tangible (solid and concrete) action on assurances made earlier and imperceptible (gradual) movement on the Centre’s grand promises such as doubling farm incomes and raising MSPs. That the general elections are just a year away adds a political sub-text to the protest. Rural distress has dented the BJP’s electoral performance in recent months. Too much of the structural reform agenda to free agricultural markets from the grip of government rules and intermediaries remains pending. There has been dithering (vacillation) even on simple things like strengthening the food processing sector. Take one instance — 100% FDI was allowed in the food retail business in 2016, but little money has come in as retailers want permission to stock a few non-food items like soaps and shampoos for customers. The minister in charge had promised this over a year ago, but nothing happened. Blaming the agitators is easy; policy responses are where the heavy lifting is needed.


Friction (Noun) – Conflict between persons because of differing ideas (संघर्ष)
Synonyms – Agitation, Erosion, Irritation, Resistance, Abrasion, Attrition, Chafing, Grating, Grinding, Rasping
Antonyms – Agreement, Harmony, Peace

Malaise (Noun) – A general feeling of discomfort or unease whose exact cause is difficult to identify (बेचैनी)
Synonyms – Depression, Unhappiness, Restlessness, Melancholy, Despondency, Dejection, Disquiet, Anxiety, Anguish, Angst
Antonyms – Calmness, Cheer, Comfort, Ease

Vehicular (Adjective) – Involving vehicles (सवारी संबंधी)

Regime (Noun) – A system/ordered way of doing things (शासन-प्रणाली)
Synonyms – Rule, Reign, Dominion, Sovereignty, Jurisdiction, Authority, Command

Offset (Verb) – Counteract something by having an equal and opposite force or effect (प्रतिसंतुलन)
Synonyms – Counterbalance, Counteract, Counterpoise, Countervail, Equalize, Neutralize, Nullify, Redeem,Indemnify
Antonyms –  Disproportion, Approve

Glut (Noun) – An excessively abundant supply of something (प्रचुरता)
Synonyms – Surplus, Surfeit, Superfluity, Overabundance, Superabundance, Oversupply
Antonyms – Lack, Need, Want, Insufficency

Stir (Noun) – Agitation (जमा होना)
Synonyms – Furor, Fuss, Uproar, Ado, Backwash, Bustle, Din, Disorder, Disquiet, Ferment, Flap, Flurry, Pandemonium, Pother, Tumult, Turmoil, Whirl, Whirlwind
Antonyms – Harmony, Order

Cash-strapped (Adjective) – Extremely short of money (नकदी की तंगी)

Culmination (Noun) – The highest or climactic point of something, especially as attained after a long time (चरम बिंदु)
Synonyms – Climax, Pinnacle, Peak, Crest, Zenith, Apotheosis
Antonyms – Nadir, Commencement, Introduction

Tangible (Adjective) – Solid and concrete (वास्तविक)
Synonyms – Palpable, Tactile, Material, Physical, Real, Substantial, Corporeal
Antonyms – Abstract, Conceptual, Imperceptible, Intangible, Unreal

Imperceptible (Adjective) – So slight, gradual, or subtle as not to be perceived (अतिसूक्ष्म)
Synonyms – Unnoticeable, Undetectable, Indistinguishable, Indiscernible, Unapparent, Inappreciable, Invisible, Inaudible, Impalpable, Unobtrusive
Antonyms – Apparent, Conspicuous, Distinct, Evident, Obvious, Perceptible, Striking

Dithering (Noun) – Unsteady movement/Fluctuation (निश्चय न कर पाने की स्थिति)
Synonyms – Vacillation, Hesitation, Inconstancy, Indecision, Indecisiveness, Irresoluteness, Uncertainty
Antonyms – Certainty

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