21.20       ndian     onom
     from the institutional sources. It may be explained    for the farm community. Given the
     in the following way:                                  monsoonal and climate-related variability
              Among the institutional sources, the          increasing, it looks even more apt.
              micro-finance agencies have spread with       Majority of weak and marginal farmers
              much faster pace in recent years—the          fail to take benefit from the institutional
              Government giving them liberal spread         sources of loans. This should be addressed
              aimed at promoting financial inclusion        on priority basis.
              in rural areas in general, and farming
                                                            Minimum support price operations
              community in particular.
                                                            should be able to include all of the weak
              Though micro-finance agencies are easily
                                                            farmers.
              accessible, their interest rates are not less
              exploitative than the local money-lenders.    To serve the purpose of creating
                                                            additional sources of income to the
              Besides, the loan recovery method of these
                                                            farmers, the current scheme of ‘skilling’
              agencies lacks a ‘human touch’, which is
              not the case with money-lenders due to        and promoting agro-processing industries
              their feeling of belongingness to the same    at the local level are needed. The scheme
              society or village.                           of ‘smart cities’ should be also linked to
              The case of banks is not much better other    the farmers.
              than some interest subsidies they give.       Allied activities to agriculture such as
          In the event of crop failures or for some         dairy, poultry, fisheries, etc., should be
     other reasons, indebted farmers are available with     promoted in a targeted way.
     no alternative of repaying their debt and even         Awareness regarding farm insurance must
     sustaining life. In absence of any other financial     be enhanced among the farmers on high
     support system, such farmers are highly prone to       priority.
     committing suicides.                                   The actions of the banks and micro-
                                                            financing institutions should be
     Possible remeDies
                                                            monitored from all possible perspective
     Given the current situation, allocation of higher      at the local level.
     funds for farm loans does not look serving the
                                                            Once the proposed idea of ‘UBI’ is
     purpose (the Union Budget 2017–18 allocating
                                                            launched, small and marginal farmers
     Rs. 9 Lakh Crore for it!). Such acts, on one hand
                                                            should be necessarily included in the
     have been increasing the financial burden on the
                                                            very first go (in case it is not launched
     exchequer, on the other hand they have not been
     able to protect the farmers from bankruptcy and        universally, as the Government of India
     indebtedness in the real sense either. In the changed  has indicated) taking clues form the latest
     scenario, to handle the crisis, the following steps    findings of the NSSO reports.
     look more suitable:                                    In general, the causes of ‘agrarian
              Other than enhancing the penetration          distress/crises’ should be re-examined and
              of formal/institutional lending (which        addressed with suitable policy actions
              increased fourfold in the last decade)        on priority basis—a more holistic policy
              there is a need of putting in place           framework is need of the hour for the
              ‘complementary income’ support system         agriculture sector.