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Farmers' organisations rope in celebrities to endorse their cause

Joe C Mathew     November 17, 2017

In the run up to a farmers' agitation for remunerative prices planning in Delhi, All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) has roped in celebrities to endorse their support to the cause of farmers on the social media .

A campaign called "Indebted2Farmers", initiated on Thursday, saw Actor Kamal Haasan, actress Swara Bhaskar, singer Rabbi Shergill, Oscar nominee Vetrimaran, actresses Revathy Asha, Music director Prakash Kumar and Rohini posing for pictures with a placard that said "Indebted2Farmers" on Twitter and Facebook. Indebted2Farmers is the second leg of the social media campaigns launched by AIKSCC, a coalition of more than 184 farmers organisations demanding 'freedom from debt' and 'remunerative prices' as legal entitlements of all farmers. The earlier one, #KisanKiLoot was centred around capturing pictures of individual farmers and the low prices realised by them. The #Indebted2Farmers campaign highlights the debt burden of farmers and the debt of gratitude society has towards farmers by showing urban consumers extending their support to farmers.

"The #Indebted2Farmers social media campaign is not just an emotion being expressed, of a moral imperative that the nation has to support farmers in their crisis time. It is about pointing out that farm prices have been kept systemically suppressed, that input prices have been allowed to rise, that natural calamities have been devastating farmers who are left without any effective support, that investments in agriculture have been going down - this then means that farmers have been robbed of their dues all this while. They have been cross-subsidising the other sectors of the economy and nation, while they have been killing themselves. The nation is therefore indebted to farmers", said All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee in a media statement.

Official data shows that between 2003 and 2013, the average debt of an Indian farm household increased from Rs 12,585/- to Rs. 47,000/, an increase of 373%. And more farm households are indebted now than before. Informal debt at usurious rates is a major problem for small and marginal and landless farmers who are not in the institutional credit fold. A recent government commissioned study of 528 farm suicides in 13 states shows that crop loan was a major cause of indebtedness and suicides, and farmers were under pressure from non-institutional as well as institutional money lenders.

"Unless there is a mechanism to provide freedom from debt for farmers, including an immediate debt relief, given the several continuous disaster years that farmers have faced, farmers will not be able to recover their livelihoods. To press for their two demands on Freedom From Debt, and Full, Remunerative Prices for all farmers, as their legal entitlements, farmers are going to assemble in Delhi on November 20th 2017. In a Kisan Mukti Sansad that farmers will run on Parliament Street, two Bills around the two demands will be debated and passed," said AIKSCC.

Thousands of urban consumers were photographed holding a placard that said #Indebted2Farmers, and a Facebook campaign also saw many changing their profile picture frame to reflect the same message.


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