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Editorial : Farm friction: on the malaise in agriculture


Since June 1, many farmers are on an unusual 10-day ‘strike’ to draw the government’s attention to distress in the fields. A federation(महासंघ/संघ) of 130 farmer bodies has decided to stop supplies of vegetables and dairy produce to major cities and hold a dharna on 30 national highways, without
blocking vehicular passage. Prices of vegetables and fruits are inching(उग रहे हैं) up in urban centres given the supply shock created by this ‘Gaon Bandh’; in cities like Mumbai fishermen have joined the cause. The farmers’ demands are not new — enhancement(वृद्धि/तरक्की) of the minimum support price regime(व्यवस्था/प्रशासन) for crops in line with the M.S. Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations(सिफारिशों/अनुशंसा), higher prices for milk procurement and loan waivers to offset low or negative returns on investment. Leaving out vegetables, food prices rose by just 0.55% in the first four months of 2018 — almost a fourth of the average 2% rise recorded in the same months between 2014 and 2016. There is a supply glut(भरमार/प्रचुरता), and with a good monsoon expected, a healthy output could put additional(अतिरिक्त) pressure on prices. But this stir, which ends with a Bharat Bandh call on June 10, is not about the immediate crisis(संकटकाल) faced by specific(विशिष्ट/असामान्य)sections of farmers (such as the cash-strapped sugarcane-growers for whom a cess is being considered(मानना/विचार करना ) under the GST regime). It is a culmination(पराकाष्ठा/परिणति ) of multiple attempts(प्रयास/आज़माना) made over a year to red-flag the systemic malaise(अस्वस्थता/व्याकुलता) in agriculture.
On June 6, 2017, some farmers were killed in police firing in Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh, during (दौरान/की अवधि में) an agitation for better crop prices. There have been agitations(आंदोलन/उत्तेजना) across the country since then,(समेत/सहित) in Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra (where thousands of farmers walked nearly 200 km to the State capital in March). The current stir also derives(पैदा होना/प्राप्त करना) from lack(अभाव/कमी होना) of tangible(ठोस/वास्तविक) action on assurances(आश्वासनों) made earlier and imperceptible(अजीब /अव्यक्त) movement(आंदोलन/गति) on the Centre’s grand promises such as doubling(दोहरीकरण/दुगना करना) farm incomes and raising MSPs. That the general elections are just a year away adds a political sub-text to the protest. Rural distress(संकट/विपत्ति) has dented the BJP’s electoral performance in recent months. Too much of the structural reform agenda to free agricultural markets from the grip of government rules and intermediaries(बिचौलियों) remains pending. There has been dithering even on simple things like strengthening(बढ़ाव/वृद्धि) the food processing sector. Take one instance — 100% FDI was allowed in the food retail business in 2016, but little money has come in as retailers want permission to stock a few non-food items like soaps and shampoos for customers. The minister in charge had promised this over a year ago, but nothing happened. Blaming the agitators is easy; policy responses are where the heavy lifting(भार उठाना) is needed.

Important Vocabulary
1.Additional(अतिरिक्त)
Synonyms: added, further, increased, new, other
Antonyms: necessary
2.Culmination(पराकाष्ठा/परिणति )
Synonyms: apex, climax, completion, pinnacle, acme
Antonyms: anticlimax, nadir, base, beginning, bottom
3.Malaise(अस्वस्थता/व्याकुलता)
Synonyms: angst, anxiety, despair, discomfort, disquiet
Antonyms: calmness, cheer, comfort, ease, good health
4.Derives(पैदा होना/प्राप्त करना)
Synonyms: acquire, assume, collect, determine, develop
Antonyms: decrease, doubt, forfeit, give, halt
5.Assurances(आश्वासनों)
Synonyms: affirmation, assertion, guarantee, pledge, promise
Antonyms: break, denial, breach, confusion
6.Tangible(ठोस/वास्तविक)
Synonyms: palpable, touchable, actual, appreciable, corporeal
Antonyms: abstract, conceptual, imperceptible, intangible, unreal

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