New Delhi: The UPA government is planning a massive loan waiver for small and marginal-income farmers.
Far removed from the disappointment of falling stock prices, families of farmers who are unable to repay loans of a few thousand rupees are committing suicide.
In an attempt to provide these farmers some relief, the UPA government is planning to write off small, marginal and big farmers' loans over four years.
"For the last few months, we are have been seriously working on how to support farmers suffering from indebtedness," says Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar.
Although the pressure on Pawar has primarily come from the Shiv Sena, the benefits of the proposal will go to farmers throughout the country.
Even though the Finance Ministry initially opposed the plan, it is now seems to be coming round to the idea. In financial terms, it is a waiver of Rs 65,000 crore over four years, a hit that banks may not agree to.
"It's not easy. We have to protect the burden of the financial institutions or else they will collapse,” Pawar says.
Coming just ahead of the Union Budget, even though the scheme looks good on intent, it is as political as it gets. However, how much of the scheme will translate into action, and what will happen to the farmers trapped in debt is yet to be seen.
“Don't take loans from private money lenders and don't return the money is all I can say," Pawar suggests.
At a time when the UPA's dream schemes, including the NREGA, seem way off the mark, this new plan looks like yet another desperate attempt to latch on to the common man.