Goa’s agriculture minister is under the impression that the only way to get the youth interested in farming is if they see beauty contests being organised in paddy fields. The minister, Vijay Sardesai, claimed in the Assembly on Thursday that the government should pull out all the stops to make agriculture an appealing profession.
“Today agriculture does not appeal the young generation. They feel that it is a profession of the old people. The need of the hour is to incentivise agriculture. If you want, you can even host beauty contests in paddy fields. Let the youth come. You can do that. Do everything possible to get the young generation to the fields,” he told PTI.
This is hardly the first time that politicians have been unable to wrap their heads around the country’s agrarian crisis. Ironically, the country’s agriculture ministers, entrusted with the responsibility of understanding the crisis, also do not really spare the time or energy to understand the issues plaguing the farmers.
“Chant Vedic mantras for better yield”
If you think Sardesai’s idea of “incentivising” agriculture is warped, his solution for a better yield is “cosmic farming”. In July this year, Sardesai asked farmers to chant Vedic mantras in order to increase the state’s paddy production.
“A poor man never commits suicide”
In June this year, Chattisgarh agriculture minister Brijmohan Agrawal claimed that suicide isn’t something a “common man or a poor man” does. “I ask journalists that when they report about suicide committed by farmers, they should also tell how many students committed suicide, how many ordinary people committed suicide, how many women committed suicide. When these data come up, naturally there are records of farmers committing suicide,” he said in response to a question at an event. Agrawal went on to claim that suicide is a phenomenon occurring only in developed countries and cities.
“Suicides happen all over the world”
Despite Madhya Pradesh recording the third highest farmer suicides in India, the minister of state (agriculture) Balkrishna Patidar stoked controversy after a debt-ridden farmer in Bhopal attempted suicide. In April, Patidar said, “Businessmen, IAS-IPS officers, police, people from all sections of society commit suicide. It happens all over the world.”
Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh in June dismissed the farmers’ protest in June held in several parts of the country, touting them as a means to get publicity. “It requires some unusual deeds to appear in the media. The country has about 12-14 crore farmers. There will always be organisations with a following of a few thousand,” Singh had said.
“Farmers who commit suicide are cowards”
In April 2015, Haryana’s agriculture minister OP Dhankar had said that farmers who commit suicide are ‘criminals’ and ‘cowards’. He claimed that they were criminals in the eyes of the law since suicide is a crime under the Indian law. As damage control, he asked for an investigation in the following month into the deaths of seven farmers who had committed suicide.