Nagpur, Sep 28 (IANS): Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti President Kishore Tiwari said that Maharashtra was always dear to the heart of renowned agricultural scientist Dr. M.S. Swaminathan -- who passed away on Thursday. Tiwari said"he was a friend indeed of the farmers in need".
"Dr. Swaminathan was like nothing seen in centuries by humanity. A visionary, scientific giant who single-handedly changed the image of Indian agriculture forever on the face of Earth and continues to inspire agro-economies all over the world," said Tiwari.
His passing away will be an 'immense loss' to the farmers of the country, especially eastern Maharashtra's Vidarbha region, which was fond to his heart, said Tiwari, who is the farmer face of Shiv Sena (UBT).
All India Kisan Sabha President Ashok Dhawale said that "accepting Swaminathan's C2+50 formula for Minimum Support Price is the path to the combat the deep agrarian crisis and farmers’ suicides in India".
"In the 'M.S. Swaminathan Committee Report' of 2006, the good scientist had made some equally revolutionary recommendations to boost farm incomes, but unfortunately his suggestions were never fully implemented," rued Tiwari, who worked with him closely since 1999. He said that if the present Bharatiya Janata Party government at the Centre had implemented Dr. Swaminathan's recommendations on credit-supply policy, "it could have arrested the ongoing 'genocide' of farmers all over India, especially Maharashtra," said Tiwari.
He said the result is that India has witnessed over 200,000 farmers' suicides since 2014, and till the end of its tenure (by early-2024), the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi conveniently side-stepped the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission.
"I had met Dr. Swaminathan three years ago to discuss Maharashtra and Vidarbha farmers' problems when he said that the cost of cultivation plus 50 per cent profit is calculated as per the MSP formula, without taking into account other expenses including the labour of the farmer and his family," recalled Tiwari.
However, MS felt the MPS was falling far short of the cost of cultivation, and had expressed "serious concerns" over the government policies on subsidised crop loan policy for cultivation of food-crops, increasing the area of pulses and oilseeds and the emerging policy of using global technology and research, said Tiwari.
During his several visits to Maharashtra, the VJAS had felicitated Dr. Swaminathan and his wife Mina with the 'Vidarbha Mitra Award' (2005) in Yavatmal, and accorded a public reception by the then Mayor Anil Tiwari.
"Dr. Swaminathan was deeply perturbed about farmers' suicides and the plight of their widows and orphans. At one time, he interacted closely with several such widows in Pandharkavada. He had later brought forth many schemes for women farmers of Wardhan, Yavatmal and other districts that became notorious for farmland suicides," said Tiwari.
"Later, he took up the cause of women farmers formally as a MP (2007-2013) by introducing the private 'Women Farmers Rights Bill' which presented a complete, integrated programme for the welfare of farmland widows and the orphans in the country. Sadly the government did not even bother to allow a simple discussion on it in the Parliament till now," said Tiwari.
With Maharashtra dear to his heart, he had selected Wardha as the state base for his 'MS Swaminathan Research Foundation' (2005), but it shut down in 2015 after the Centre starved it of funds, said Tiwari.
Tiwari said that implementing the Swaminathan Commission Report fully "will be a true and lasting tribute" to the great son of India and will save lakhs of farmers' lives in the coming years as the world prepares to grapple with the vagaries of global warming and climate change.