NEW DELHI: Keeping in view the agrarian crisis and increasing discontent in rural India, the government has asked NITI Aayog to prepare a roadmap to revive the agriculture sector and suggest measures which can be included in the forthcoming Union Budget.
“We have been clearly told to target the rural India in general and agriculture sector in particular. The focus is to increase the earnings of farmers, to come up with the minimum support price without causing inflation and to promote rural employment scheme. We have already done several meetings in this regard. In the next few days, we will prepare a final presentation with recommendations that can be included in the Budget,” said a senior member of NITI Aayog, on condition of anonymity.
Even when the member did not rule out increased allocation on rural schemes such as MNREGA, he said that the focus would be more on adopting “holistic approach” than subsidies and incentives.
“The subsidies are required, however, that alone cannot fix the agrarian crisis. There have to be a complete policy measure and a well defined timeline to fix the problem. Also, we have to look at fiscal constraints. We are working on the numbers,” the member added.
In Budget 2016-17, Rs 38,500 crore was allocated to the MNREGA scheme, which was later revised by 23 per cent to Rs 47,499 crore.
The move came after sensing the increasing discontent among the rural voters in the Prime Minister’s home state Gujarat. Even when the Bharatiya Janata Party managed to save the home turf and woo urban voters, it performed poorly in rural pockets due to falling farm incomes and lack of rural employment opportunities.
With some more state Assembly elections coming up in 2018, and with an eye on the 2019 general elections, the government is planning to put a larger focus on the rural voters.