This state going to polls today is the picture of India's rising inequality

Reuters

  • Rural discontent will be a key issue as Maharashtra goes to the polls today.
  • Not all of the state’s farmers have benefited from the state government’s loan waiver and crop insurance schemes, with payouts from the latter being delayed due to bureaucratic inefficiencies.
  • In fact, even after a historic march last year, the demands of the state’s farmers are yet to be met.
  • Maharashtra is also facing an acute groundwater crisis, with groundwater levels in over 3000 villages dropping below the maximum depth of 3 metres.
The image of Mukesh Ambanis’ 27-storey house Antilla - dubbed the world’s most expensive residence at $2 billion - towering over one of the world’s largest slums in Mumbai is widely considered a prime example of the kind of income inequality the developing world faces.

On a more micro level, Maharashtra - India’s richest state by Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) - is also an example of rising inequality on a national level. A state that is home to Mumbai, India’s financial capital and most expensive property market, is also the home to millions of farmers who have campaigned for debt forgiveness every year without fail.

What’s more, the rapidly urbanising portions of the state leaving its rural component behind. Around 60% of the state is expected to be urbanised by 2030, compared to a level of 45% in 2016. Moreover, with the bulk of the state’s GDP coming from urban areas it will become harder and harder to justify the reinvestment of those funds in rural areas.

Rural discontent will be a key issue as Maharashtra goes to the polls today. Not all of the state’s farmers have benefited from the state government’s loan waiver and crop insurance schemes, with payouts from the latter being delayed due to bureaucratic inefficiencies.

In fact, even after a historic march last year, the demands of the state’s farmers are yet to be met. In March 2018, around 40,000 farmers marched 180 kms to Mumbai with a list of demands that included full waivers of their loans, land rights, pensions and higher rates for their crops.

The BJP-led Maharashtra government duly obliged, assuring them that their demands would be met, which lend to the end of the march on March 12th.

However, a year later, these promised hadn’t been executed which led to another march in February 2019 with similar demands. It was called off after a day, however, after the government was forced to give in again - providing more concrete assurances this time in all likelihood.

Maharashtra is also facing an acute groundwater crisis, with groundwater levels in over 3000 villages dropping below the maximum depth of 3 metres. In fact, as per draft rules issued in August last year, farmers of water-intensive crops will have to get an approval from a state-appointed committee in order to cultivate them.



SEE ALSO:

The amazing public relations of the farmer protests in Maharashtra

Maharashtra’s groundwater crisis is so bad that farmers might need special approval to plant water-intensive crops
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