Give priority to farmers’ empowerment

Tarvinder Singh Chahal’s article “Farmers driven to despair” (Oped, Jan 13) rightly holds agencies like the government, local administration, banks, police, panchayats, politicians, money lenders, commission agents, landlords and marketing agencies responsible for the farmers’ sad plight. The social customs and traditions add fuel to the fire. Sadly, the farmer is born in debt and dies in debt.

If the government is serious about preventing farmers’ suicides, it should restore their lost dignity and empower them. There is need to develop systematic capacity building of the farmers. One way is to motivate them to organise Self Help Groups and inculcate the habit of thrift.

Various studies prove that apart from thrift, SHGs will help them meet their current needs, provide easy and hassle-free access to credit on reasonable interest rates, promote self-reliance and social harmony, generate confidence build capacity, save them from the clutches of money lenders and commission agents and help them in collective marketing and bulk purchase of inputs. 

PURAN SINGH, Project Economist (DRDA), Rewari

Dear readers

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— Editor-in-Chief



The writer has failed to stress upon the non-productive expenditure, an important cause of the farmers’ socio-economic stress. The farm machinery including tractors are underutilised as the land holdings are decreasing due to division at the time of inheritance. Experts say, a tractor is useful if used for 1,000 hours a year. A farmer, with two or three acres, is hardly able to make best use of it.

For small farmers, it is their overdependence on the machine and lack of manual labour which are pushing them to debt. Other factors leading to increasing indebtedness are drug addiction among the youth and choice of an occupation other than agriculture. There is no effective action plan from the government to stop this trend.

A multi-disciplinary approach involving panchayats, NGOs and the government will help farmers immensely. Agriculture specialists should educate farmers on resource management, technical know-how, easy credit facilities and reducing non-productive expenditure.

Dr VITULL K. GUPTA, Bathinda

Bridge the gap

Corruption and unemployment have adversely affected the country. Both need to be tackled by the Centre and the states on priority to improve the lot of the masses. The widening gap between the rich and the poor should be reduced, if not eliminated.

For this purpose, the Centre should impose property tax on those owning property of over Rs 1 crore. Failure to pay the tax should lead to confiscation of extra wealth and property. Parliament should enact a law to this effect.

The states, through the District Collectors, could collect this tax, once in five years, from the owners. The proceeds from the tax should be deployed on providing jobs to the youth. The Collectors should formulate job schemes in consultation with the Chairmen of the Block Samitis and Zilla Parishads to channelise the energy of the youth in constructive activities.

AVTAR SINGH, Chandigarh

Parks as playgrounds

I refer to the news-item, “No more functions at public parks” (Jan 14). Public parks are also being used as playgrounds for playing cricket and football which cause great inconvenience to the general public, especially small children and housewives.

Playing of such games should also be banned in parks forthwith.

B.S. SAINI, Gurgaon

Alarming report

The report on female foeticide in Punjab is alarming. I would like to add that 274 girls do not die but are killed in the womb every day in Punjab. Consequently, those who commit this heinous crime should be given severe punishment.

I hope my voice would reach the various women’s forums including the National Human Rights Commission and the National Commission for Women.

Prof G.S. BHALLA, GND University, Amritsar

Agents of hope, not despair

Reports of kidnapping, rape, murder and so on beamed on the television channels every day suggest that there is nothing in the world except crime, criminals and evil. The coexistence of good and evil has been an everlasting phenomenon. Stories of harmony and honesty seem to have ceased to  be newsworthy for the electronic media.

Beyond the corrupt and the criminals, there is a whole world, lovely and beautiful, where many people are engaged in acts of harmony and happiness for the prosperity of humankind. The television channels should focus on such good people and act as agents of hope instead of despair.

M.C. JOSHI, Santacruz (West), Mumbai

Enforce the ban

Smoking has been banned at all public places, but it seems that very little has been done to enforce the ban. During a visit to the Punjab and Haryana High Court, I saw many visitors smoking right near a ‘No Smoking’ board outside the court room. Even advocates and policemen in uniform are no exception. The whole corridor was littered with cigarette butts and burnt matchsticks.


Abolition of octroi

Janak Raj Gupta’s article “VAT, octroi can’t go together” (Jan 19) is timely. His observation that “abolition of octroi is sound economics but since it is being used as a political tool it became bad politics” is apt. Political parties, in the name of masses, prefer their own short-term political gains instead of permanent solutions.

M.P.S. RANDHAWA, Dhapai (Kapurthala)

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