I feel good that the absolute backwardness of the farmers notwithstanding, India is one among the few nations that have dedicated a day to farmers!
Farmer’s Day (Kisan Diwas) is observed on the birthday of the former Prime Minister of India, Chowdhary Charan Singh (1902-87). Referred to as the Champion of India’s Peasants, he is one of the few politicians who stood unambiguously for the cause of the farmers. In pre- and post-independence time, he proposed several measures in favour of the farmers; notably, radical land reforms intended for the benefit of the farming community, during his tenure as the revenue minister and chief minister of U.P. He has the distinction of having founded a political party with farmers as the focus — Dalit Mazdoor Kisan Party, later renamed as Lok Dal.
However, the most striking slogan India ever put forward in favour of the farmers was Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan, a call by the second Prime Minister of India, Lal Bahadur Shastri, stressing that equal importance be given to food security as to border security. Slogans apart, the truth today is that while the efforts in line of budget, benefits and perks for border security are well in place, that of the food producer (annadata) is languishing in papers and files. While India has become food secure as per the statistics, the status of the kisan has become very vulnerable and insecure, to which thousands of farmer suicides in the past three decades of development bear witness.
Agriculture as the Basis of Annual Calendar
It is interesting to note that agricultural cycles are one of the crucial factors that lead to the formulation of a calendar (others being vegetational changes — leafing of trees, migration of birds, and the changes in the sky — sun, moon or stars). The early Roman calendar is said to be indicative of the predominant role agriculture had in determining human activities. It had just ten months, and the rest of the time, a little more or less than two months were considered off — the winter months which did not permit any productive (agricultural) activities.
J. Prasant CMI, holds a Ph.D. in Social Work (Community Development). He served as the Principal of Sacred Heart College, Thevara, Kochi, for many years. An environmentalist, his work focuses on environmental education, organic farming, bio-diversity and waste management. In 2021, he travelled across India on a motorbike as part of the Trust-Green-Peace campaign.