Loan waiver won’t help farmers

The loan waiver for farmers announced in the Union Budget won’t help solve their problems. In this context, I would specifically refer to Ranjit Singh Ghuman’s article, “Why waiver is not enough” (March 6).

The budgetary relief would be quite marginal in most cases. The farmers need to change their social behaviour while incurring any expenditure. Some of them have suffered from illiteracy and easy availability of loans for meeting their extravagant lifestyles.

Moreover, the Bawaria community is not at all debt-ridden. Even if some Bawarias borrow loans, most repay dutifully. We must study why the farmers are under debt in perpetuity. The farmers are also facing problems like damage to standing crops from natural calamities, lack of supply of genuine seeds and fertilisers, bureaucratic apathy in granting the loans and so on.




With China flexing its muscles, Pakistan trying to outrange us with gifted missile for missile, the growing menace of terror and Naxalism, the all-time low defence outlay of just 1.98 per cent of GDP has glossed over the ground realities. Our fatigued MiGs, ancient Gorshkovs, old guns and not much funds for defence research in real terms tell the story of total apathy.

The issue of acute shortage of officers and premature retirement due to poor pay, promotion and service conditions should have been addressed in the present budget itself rather than leaving it to the Sixth Pay Commission.

While Brazil and Japan can afford to have defence allocation of 1 per cent of GDP, anything below 2.5 per cent for India would be unfortunate.

The Centre should allocate non-lapsing funds under separate head for defence modernisation as capital expenditure. Our political leaders should train at least one of their sons or daughters to the armed forces instead of making them MPs.

The Services themselves should try to raise the issue of low budget allocation, delayed modernisation, poor service conditions and low pay with the government.

Air Cmde RAGHUBIR SINGH (retd), Pune


The budget has given immense relief to almost all sections. There are broad smiles on the faces of debt-ridden farmers, employees and poor masses. The farmers’ loan waiver to the tune of Rs 60,000 crore will help those caught in the debt trap. The salaried class too has got tax concessions.

The allocations made for defence, education, health, irrigation, power, power and basic infrastructure projects have also been enhanced considerably to ensure accelerated and sustained growth of the economy. This time, there is a major thrust on the development of rural India compared with the earlier emphasis on industrialisation and urban growth.

Prof R. L. GOEL and Dr ASHOK VERMA, Ladwa


Even with the new changes, the salaried class employees in a small range of Rs 1,50,000 till Rs 5,00,000 per annum has to bear an incremental tax liability of 10 to 20 per cent. Whereas for those in the bracket of Rs one crore a year, the slab seems to stay just at 30 per cent! The Finance Minister should shift taxation on consumption and expenditure rather than pursuing the age-old practice of taxing income alone.

While all the luxury items like the high end cars, ownership of more than one dwelling place including farm houses, stay and food in 5-7 star hotels, paan, beedi and tobacco should be brought under 40-50 per cent tax liability, cess and duties on items of common necessity should be withdrawn to help the middle class. The mandatory requirement of filing a hard copy of an ITR after a soft copy has already been filed should be dispensed with.

All instruments promoting education, health and communication, medicines, the cost of Internet, SMS calls including video conferencing should be further brought down.



Indirect election of Sarpanch

The Punjab government has announced that the Sarpanches will be elected indirectly, i.e. by the Panches this time. The present system of direct election is more democratic and representative than the indirect election.

Instead of changing the mode of election, the government should remove the maladies hindering the panchayats’ functioning. These are the lack of finances, bureaucratic indifference, corruption and lack of awareness among the elected members. Because of these problems, these bodies seem unable to perform their role in rural development effectively and efficiently.

The government should also empower these bodies with respect to the 29 functions prescribed under Article 243(G) of the Constitution. This will go a long way in strengthening the grassroots democracy.




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