Niti Aayog: Agri task force in the offing

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We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.

  • Martin Luther King Jr.

The country’s policy think tank Niti Aayog has decided to set up a task force of state chief ministers and central ministers to prepare a blueprint for structural reforms in agriculture including strengthening logistics, produce marketing, food processing as well as changes to the Essential Commodities Act. The members of the task force and the timeframe for making recommendations will be announced shortly. Stating that India is targeting a $5 trillion economy by 2024, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while chairing the fifth meeting of the Niti Aayog governing council, asked the states to improve their respective economies by two to two-and-a-half times. This would result in an increase in the common man’s purchasing power and the states can focus on their export potential, he said. It is perfectly justified for the prime minister to lay out a road map and present his vision for the country. That, indeed, should be considered the principal objective of a head of government and Modi has done well to visualise ahead. The Prime Minister is very clear that the complexity of the task demands a good plan and a good strategy. Modi knows very well that his government has its plate full. It needs to increase employment and incomes; revive investments and growth; boost up agriculture sector, untangle the financial sector; navigate muddied-up international trade; solve the perennial problems of poor education and health, and the growing problems of environmental pollution and water scarcity.

There is no denying that Modi’s vision reflects a common man’s dream. In a directly proportional relationship, the rise in GDP, as per economics, is directly linked to an increase in purchasing power of layman. With the long-term goal set, the five years stand to pose uncountable obstacles which the Modi dispensation will have to face and overcome to realise such a dream. The water crisis is perhaps another great challenge for the country and the drought in various parts of the country has only aggravated the condition of the farmers’. Rainwater harvesting, drought, relief measures, transforming agriculture with emphasis on Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act and Essential Commodities Act (ECA) were also discussed at the meeting. The newly created Jal Shakti Ministry will have a Herculean task of surveying water reserves, mapping low-water areas, preparing reports and suggesting conservational and sustainable steps to save water besides using it judiciously.

Recognising a problem is the first step towards solving it and the Prime Minister’s vision needs to be lauded. It is for the state governments to aspire to reach the target. Given the case how the country reels under agrarian crisis bringing in structural reforms to agriculture now assumes priority and the proposed task force has its task cut-out.

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