Private players can breathe easy: panchayati raj delegates are largely of the view that the present food crisis is the result of crop diversification. They seem less inclined to arrive at the conclusion that the situation is linked to trends indicating the eagerness of farmers to sell their products directly to private companies for better prices.
In a “Hindustan Times-C fore” sample survey, 41 per cent of the respondents identified crop diversification as the cause of the current crisis, and only 13 per cent put the blame on the entry of private players in food grains trade. Twenty seven per cent attributed it to hoarding by traders, while 19 per cent cast their vote for the forth option: farmers opting for other livelihood.
The survey results are based upon responses to a structured questionnaire administered to a sample of 100 elected panchayat members from different states. Those chosen are amongst the ones assembled in New Delhi for the three-day national convention of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) that began on Tuesday. The UPA government’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (NREGP) has received a big thumbs-up. Seventy six per cent of those interviewed said the programme worked well in their respective areas. Only 21 per cent of the responses were in the negative. Three per cent said they were not covered under the scheme.
Another issue has drawn emphatic and clear-cut responses: a clear 82 per cent said that loan waivers will definitely help farmers, while 12 per cent responses were in the negative. Six per cent did not know.
If there are no — or just about marginal — dilemmas, it relates to this question: should farmers get more for their produce than what is fixed under the MSP? A whopping 93 per cent said yes, but one per cent respondents did said no.
About the perceived rural-urban divide, if one’s idea is that the mental gaps are becoming narrower, the thesis does call for a re-think. An ample 84 per cent of the representative sample of panchayat delegates stood by the view that city dwellers are insensitive to the problems of rural India. Only six per cent felt that such perceptions were incorrect.