December 23- Rashtriya Kisan Diwas- a day of remembering the devotion and sacrifice of farmers-Puri
Jaswant Singh Puri
Farmers are the backbone of India’s economy and contribute a lot to rural prosperity. Farmers’ Day in India or also known as ‘Rashtriya Kisan Diwas’ is celebrated every year on 23rd December to honour and appreciate the farmers for their contribution to society. The day is also lauded and ceremonised to commemorate the birth anniversary of Choudhary Charan Singh who was the champion of Indian Peasants. He was the fifth Prime Minister of India for a short stint from 28 July, 1979 to 14 January, 1980. He is well known for Debt Redemption Bill 1939 which was instrumental in bringing a great relief to rural debtors. Land Holding Act, 1960, was introduced to lower the ceiling on land holdings to make it uniform in Uttar Pradesh. So he was the chief architect of land reforms in Uttar Pradesh.
It was in 2001 that the government decided to recognise Choudhary Charan Singh’s contribution to the agricultural sector and welfare of the farmers by celebrating his birth anniversary as ‘Kisan Diwas’. Since then, 23rd December is solemnised as National Farmers’ Day to create alertness among the people about the role of farmers and their contribution to the nation. Farmers’ Day or ‘Kisan Diwas’ is observed to remember the devotion and sacrifice of farmers. Its awareness calls forth the farmers’ social and economic advancement. The day focuses on imparting farmers with the latest agricultural knowledge to multiply their production.
People and the farmers commemorate Choudhary Charan Singh for his simple life and allegiance to social justice. He was a sincere public worker, master of eloquence, a gifted Parliamentarian, a pragmatist with courage of conviction. He is remembered as an author of books like ‘Abolition of Zamindari’, ‘Cooperative Farming X-Rayed’, ‘India’s Poverty and its Solution’ etc. to awaken farmers from slumber. The farmers do deserve appreciation who work day and night so that people of the nation are fed and they do not face lack of food grains. Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri’s slogan. ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan’ even now stands for merit and claims valuable appreciation. Choudhary Charan Singh also followed this befitting slogan to alleviate the plight of farmers. There is no exaggeration to say that ‘true India resides in its villages’. Amit Kalantri has well said: “To a farmer, dirt is not a waste, it is wealth”.
Farmers’ Day reminds us to thank each and every farmer of the nation for his unconditional dedication. Farming deserves respect and people should be encouraged to adopt this profession and contribute to the prosperity of the nation. There is a need to get inspiration from them who put their sweat and soul in the land. That is why all the countries celebrate Farmers’ Day and the farmers are honoured with awards for their contribution. Choudhary Charan Singh had always a soft spot for the farmers and the oppressed ones. He himself being a farmer was well aware of the problems of the farmers. So he strived for the welfare and betterment of Indian farmers. He took keen interest in the laws that were detrimental for the agriculture, especially small and marginal farmers. Due to his popularity among the farmers, he became the first non-Congress Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh in 1967 and later in 1970.
Agriculture and farming have been arguably the most important occupation since nomadic hunter-gatherers and the present day civilisation. Many of our holidays and festivals revolve around farming as the rebirth of spring and the harvest season. From manufacturing, marketing and tourism, farmers keep small and large communities in stronghold. Various products like leather, apparel, restaurants, beverages, textiles, railroad forestry, pharmaceuticals, transportation etc. rely on agriculture. The Farmers’ Day is thus a programme to assess the importance of farmers who need to be helped in education, training in scientific farming, loan sanction, storage and marketing of their products. Sophisticated irrigation and Water Storage Systems should be developed for a booming nation. There is a need to build sustainable nation where everyone should have a regular access to nutritious food and this relies on farmers. There have been government organisations like eNAM (National Agriculture Market) which deals in electronic trading portal; Small Farmers Agribusiness Consortium to implement eNAM under the aegis of Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Government of India; National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) to enhance agricultural productivity, water use efficiency, nutrient management etc.
Let every farmer be educated and trained to have an access to government schemes for a better and advanced India. Government of India is committed to accord high priority to water conservation and its management. Hats off to Farmers’ Day.
Note: This article is dedicated to Smt. Alka Puri, M.A. (Hindi, B.Ed.) who was the Secretary, Ladies Club, Punjabi University, Patiala during the tenure of Vice Chancellor Dr. S.S. Johal, awarded with Padma Bhushan in 2004. Smt. Alka Puri was the wife of Dr. Ajit Singh Puri and mother of Jaswant Singh Puri.
(The views expressed are personal)