JD(U) MP NK Singh on Monday underlined the need to improve farmers’ access to agricultural credit, instead of following a policy of loan waivers and debt write-offs.
Speaking in the Rajya Sabha during the motion of thanks on the President’s address, Singh stressed the need to improve agricultural productivity and implement the Special Agricultural Action Plan as debated in the National Development Council. He suggested that the Food Security Act be replaced with a National Livelihood Act that went beyond mere guarantee of food and included schooling and healthcare for the poor.
He said it was surprising that the President’s address had scant reference to agriculture. Pointing out that India ranked 66th among 88 countries in the global hunger index of the recent report of the Food and Agricultural Organisation, he sought the setting up of a Commission on Poverty Amelioration to examine all aspects in the FAO report and come up an assessment in six months.
“Response to poverty is both about its economics and politics. Given political predilections, this Commission should be bi-partisan, representing different shades of ideological opinions because poverty amelioration must be our national quest,” Singh said.
During the motion of thanks, the BJP mounted an assault on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government for being “dangerously dependent” on the United States to deal with China and Pakistan. BJP member Arun Shourie said in Rajya Sabha, “Don’t run to ‘mummy’ (the US) all the time. The US is dependent on Pakistan to continue its war against terrorism in the region till it finds an honourable exit.”
Shourie feared that the US would mount pressure on New Delhi to sign the Non Proliferation Treaty, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, fissile material treaty and the Proliferation Security Initiative to interdict transfer of banned weapons. He said Washington was also likely to push India into resuming the peace process with Pakistan.
He said, “We should not get into the business of sending evidence to Pakistan (post-26/11 Mumbai attacks) and make it the judge. We are still at the same juncture after Mumbai.” Pointing out to China’s growing military might and its strategic encirclement of India, Shourie said India should not live in a make-believe world that led the 1962 Chinese aggression.
He said, “At one time, Chinese soldiers used to be 15-20 km from the Line of Actual Control. Now they are on that line. Over 80 intrusions into Indian territory have taken place this year.”
On China’s strategic encirclement of India or what has come to be known a ‘string of pearls strategy’, Shourie said the paralysis of Indian foreign policy with regards to Nepal and Sri Lanka had facilitated greater Chinese influence in India’s neighbourhood. China is developing ports at Hambantota in Sri Lanka, Gwadar in Pakistan, Coco Islands in Myanmar and Chittagong in Bangladesh to serve its strategic interests.