Citizens' Issues
The tragedy of farmers in once prosperous Punjab
India's oldest serving chief minister, Parkash Singh Badal, has often highlighted the miserable condition of farmers in the Green Revolution hub Punjab, warning that the peasantry, facing huge losses, could revolt if nothing was done urgently. A new book rips apart the political leadership for the mess.
The book, "Punjab - A Frozen Tear/Hopes and Despairs of Farmers", authored by P.P.S. Gill (Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development), attacks Punjab's political leadership, pointing out that the state has been high on slogans and populism, leading to the once prosperous and food bowl state to a situation when it has to plead with the central government to help it get over its financial mess.
"For too long, Punjab has been high on political slogans, false and un-kept promises, often outpacing reality. Once a 'prosperous' state, Punjab today is a 'problem' state," Gill told IANS here.
A veteran journalist who recently retired as Punjab's State Information Commissioner, Gill says in the book that once a food surplus state, Punjab "is now a 'basket case'... once a frontline state, Punjab is now a fault-line state".
"Punjab was once a bouquet state of the country. Now, it is always presenting bouquets in New Delhi, seeking one or the other financial package for things that have gone wrong," Gill said.
Punjab, with a population of only 2.8 crore, contributes over 50 percent of foodgrain (wheat and paddy) to the national kitty despite having just 1.54 percent of the country's geographical area.
"The economic sheen in Punjab is off. Agriculture, the mainstay of the state, and rural life just subsist. The state has been grappling with the growing menace of drugs addition. 
"The younger generation in agricultural families don't see a future in agriculture as land holdings have become small and there is no financial viability. Most are seeking jobs, which are not available, or trying to go abroad by selling land and other assets," Gill said.
Gill said that rural Punjab was not only grappling with the crisis facing agriculture but also with increasing drugs abuse. 
In the past 15 years, various studies and reports have suggested clearly that a big chunk of Punjab's population was affected by drug addiction.
Quoting several studies and reports by experts, Gill has pointed out that Punjab does not have to go anywhere to find solutions to its present mess.
"There is no dearth of remedies available to put the state's economy back on the rails," Gill said. "The prescriptions in scores of studies (and) reports are gathering dust in government cupboards. Successive governments have long forgotten to make course corrections."


Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.



Janakiraman Rajalakshmi

2 years ago

Reading this makes me feel very sad. Punjabis do not deserve this. They are very hardworking & good hearted people.



In Reply to Janakiraman Rajalakshmi 2 years ago

Agreed. The govt put in huge funds and then paid for the best known agricultural scientific practices in the Punjab, to create the Green Revolution. Punjab must be helped. Begin with population control, since India does not and cannot have an endless number of jobs. Then set up de-addiction bootcamps.

As Pope Pushes to Help the Poor, Catholic Universities Leave Them Behind
Many Catholic colleges leave low-income students with big debts. And wealthy Catholic schools that provide generous support don’t enroll many poor students
Pope Francis has made serving the poor a central tenet of his papacy. “Wealth makes us poor,” he told Cuban worshippers on Sunday, urging them not to forget “the smallest, the most abandoned.”
As the pope makes his first visit to the United States, he might want to reiterate that message to the nation’s Catholic colleges. 
Six of the top 20 nonprofit colleges that are most expensive for low-income students are Catholic institutions, according to a ProPublica analysis of recently released federal data. At almost half of all Catholic colleges, low-income students graduate with more than $20,000 in federal loans. (See our Debt by Degrees interactive, which shows how American colleges compare in how much federal student loan debt students accumulate.)
At Catholic University of America in Washington D.C., where Pope Francis is scheduled to speak on Wednesday, the school’s poorest students pay over $31,000 a year in tuition, even after discounts from scholarships — more than any other research university in the nation. Students also graduate with a significant amount of debt: $26,000. And just 12 percent of its students are low-income. 
Gerald Beyer, a Christian ethics professor from Villanova University said schools should be doing more. “Empowering the poor is a key part of Catholic social teaching, and education is an essential means of achieving this goal,” he said. “Catholic institutions need to rethink their own policies.” 
Several schools, including Catholic University, said financial struggles have limited their ability to provide aid. Catholic University recently laid off a handful of staff members. The school also points to its relatively modest endowment: $308 million. 
“We are unfortunately not a school with an endowment that starts with a B,” said Christopher Lydon, vice president for enrollment management and marketing at Catholic University. 
Notre Dame, Boston College, and Georgetown — all Catholic schools with endowments worth more than a billion dollars — offer more generous financial aid to their poorest students. 
But like Catholic University, the schools don’t enroll many of them. The percentage of students who receive Pell grants — federal grants for students whose families typically earn under $30,000 — is less than 14 percent at each of the schools. Nonprofit four-year colleges on average have around 40 percent Pell grant recipients.
The wealthier Catholic universities say that they are working hard to enroll more low-income students. Georgetown and Boston College have… Continue Reading…
Courtesy: ProPublica


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