Gone are the days when Punjab had earned the title of “India’s bread basket.” The state was viewed as the most dynamic and progressive state of the country, particularly on account of its success in the agrarian sector during the green revolution. Of all the states of India, Punjab’s agricultural growth rate was the highest during the 1960s to the middle of the 1980s which was the first phase of the green revolution. Today’s Punjab is the storey of famers’ suicide, youth unrest and the storey of a dying civilisation. The Badal Government has put the whole community of Punjabis to slow death. Farmers and the youth are the worst victims of this crisis. 15 farmers have committed suicide in the State within a span of 45 days.
It is a life and death question for Punjab now, particularly, for its farmers and youth. Punjab is a land famous for realising the dream of ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kishan’. Now, both are dying, one is the victim of drugs and another of political apathy. Can’t we stop our great civilization? We can and answer lies in corrective political action. What is required is an agriculture model tailored to the needs of market and that should be the government’s answer to the crisis. The government should be clear on which direction to go keeping in mind the requirement of all sections of the farmers of the state.
Agrarian distress and its manifestation in the form of suicides have to be dealt with in all seriousness, beginning from soothing broken-both mentally and financially-families to longer term remedies of correcting the crisis itself. There can be no short cuts, only patient, persistent efforts by learning, adapting, adopting and implementing.
(The author is a Supreme Court advocate and National Media Panelist, The Indian National Congress – Jaiveer Shergill)