As Punjab goes through crisis in the agrarian sector and chief minister Parkash Singh Badal looks up to the Centre for a solution, finance minister Arun Jaitley advised the border state to shift its focus towards industrialisation and education as farming was no more a profitable sector.
Jaitley, who was addressing the gathering here after laying the foundation stone of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), said, “As Badal Saab has stated that these days farming is going through a rough patch, I would say that today in India around 55% people are involved in the business of agriculture, but their contribution to the national income is just 15%. In the entire world, many countries have faced such a situation.”
The finance minister, while citing examples of countries like Taiwan, China, Korea and Japan, said, “Around 60-70 years ago as agriculture struggled in these countries, the governments there helped agriculture, but at the same time focussed more on education and made industry their big asset. Many developed countries have done that.”
“Recently, I was in a school with the chief minister in Amritsar and when we asked who all want to go into the agriculture sector, very less students raised their hands,” he added.
He lauded the efforts of the state government in buildings highways and promoting infrastructural growth.
While appreciating the meritorious schools in the state, Jaitley said the concept could be replicated at the national level.
CM’S DEMANDS IGNORED
Though CM Badal read out a long list of demands before the finance minister’s address, Jaitley did not touch upon any of these in his speech.
The chief minister’s demands included a bail-out package for Punjab’s agricultural crisis, special industrial package for the state, package for the Upper Bari Doab Canal (UBDC) and compensation for farmers having land across the border fence.
During his address, Badal said there was utter disappointment among the peasantry due to unviable agriculture policies of the successive Congress governments at the Centre, which forced them to give away the profession. He said it was extremely deplorable situation that the farmers who heralded the Green Revolution in 1960s and made the country self-reliant in food production were now committing suicides.
SUKHBIR SLAMS CONG
Appealing to people of Punjab to support the “development-oriented mission” of the SAD-BJP alliance, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal again targeted the Gandhi family and blamed the Congress for adopting a biased approach towards Punjab when they were in power.
While asking people to reject the parties like Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Badal said the Congress had always opted anti-Punjab and anti-Sikh policies. He said even AAP had followed the footsteps of the Congress by demolishing Piau Sahib at the historic Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib in Delhi.
SMRITI IRANI ON SCHOOL FEE ROW
Concerned over the fee hike effected by private schools in Punjab, Union human resource development minister Smriti Irani said the Centre was serious on the issue and private schools would not be allowed to hike fee without consulting the parent teacher association. She also asked Sukhbir to take steps in this regard, while adding that private schools would not be allowed to make a mid-term hike.
Other present on the occasion were BJP national general secretary and Punjab affairs in-charge Prabhat Jha, state BJP chief Vijay Sampla, Rajya Sabha MP Shwet Malik, Union food processing minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal and state ministers Bikram Singh Majithia, Tota Singh, Surjit Singh Rakhra, Gulzar Singh Ranike and Anil Joshi.