Farmers play a vital role in our lives. Apart from ensuring food security in a world ravaged by conflict, farmers also gain 37% of their income from farm activity. Hence, a strategy focussing on increasing farm incomes is only right as it prepares ground for sustained and robust growth of the entire economy.

This strategy has received an affirming push from Prime Minister Narendra Modi ever since his government took to service in 2014. The Modi government has undertaken a bouquet of measures to fix various ends of farm activity, leading to greater stability and economic viability of farms. In this direction, the government set up a committee in 2016 to suggest measures to double farm incomes, and has acted on its recommendations thereafter with sustained effort and ease.

At the head of these measures is Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN). Touted as one of the largest Direct Benefit Transfer schemes in the world, PM-KISAN provides an annual financial support of Rs. 6,000 to all landholding farmers across the country. This support is playing a vital role in making agriculture not only remunerative but also productive. Till now, benefits amounting to over Rs. 2.61 lakh crore have reached more than 11 crore farmers in the country.

Apart from this direct support, the Modi government provides a host of subsidies to farmers, cushioning them against rising input costs and securing reasonable incomes from farming. It is worth noting that fertiliser subsidies alone cross a budget of nearly Rs. 2 lakh crore annually. However, as much as the government wishes to stabilise farm incomes, it is also conscious of promoting sustainable agriculture along with maintaining fiscal discipline. An initiative like One Nation, One Fertiliser, apart from neem-coated and sulphur-coated urea, is a concrete step in that direction. It not only increases transparency and affordability of fertilisers but also leads to input-use efficiency in the agriculture sector.

State governments also add on to these initiatives by supporting farmers with abundant power subsidies, especially on irrigation. Yet schemes like PM Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) and PM-KUSUM intend to make this support inclusive and effective. Per Drop More Crop under PMKSY intends to increase water use efficiency by promoting micro irrigation technologies like drip and sprinkler irrigation. A Micro Irrigation Fund has been established for this purpose even as the data reveals that an area of over 78 lakh hectares has been covered under micro irrigation since 2015-16 with the release of central assistance of over Rs. 18,000 crore to states. This not only reduces input costs for farmers but also increases overall farm productivity besides ensuring resource health.

PM KUSUM, on the other hand, provides solar alternatives to the extensive power consumption in agriculture. It promotes solarisation of existing diesel pumps at farms, setting up of small solar power plants on agricultural land, among other things—promoting use of renewable energy and providing additional income avenues to farmers. Nearly 2.46 lakh farmers have benefitted under the scheme as of August 2023.

The biggest motif of the Indian farm story is the Indian monsoon. Agriculture in our country is largely rainfed, extensively prone to droughts and floods. This problem is further compounded by extreme weather events revitalised by the problem of climate change. For example, government studies indicate that in the absence of adaptation measures, rainfed rice yields in India can reduce by 20% in 2050 and 47% in 2080. These events not only impinge on our nation’s food security but also impact the farmers negatively.

In a bid to make farming risk-free, the government launched the PM Fasal Bima Yojana in 2016. The scheme secures farmers, both prior to sowing and post harvesting, from crop loss due to factors including natural calamities, pest attacks and diseases. Insurance coverage under the scheme along with financial assistance to farmers ensure their continuance in agriculture apart from encouraging them to adopt innovative and modern farming practices. Since 2016-17, over 5.5 lakh farmer applications have been insured with Rs. 1.5 lakh crore paid out in claims.

Broadening the safety net for farmers, the Modi government introduced a new Minimum Support Price policy in 2018. The new policy raises MSP for kharif, rabi and commercial crops by at least 50% over the cost of production. Further, farmers are ensured better prices through e-NAM, a unified national market for agricultural commodities. As of today, a total of 1,389 APMC mandis are integrated to the platform across 23 states and 4 UTs, facilitating trade in nearly 209 commodities. Over 1.76 crore farmers are enrolled in this platform as of December 2023.

These efforts have been decorated by multiple other initiatives like mechanisation of agriculture and use of technology at a wider scale. Mechanisation is essential to reduce input costs, modernise agriculture, and give a futuristic outlook to farm activity.

Towards this end, the Modi government has disbursed funds over Rs. 6,000 crore to states between 2014-15 and 2022-23 towards a spectrum of activities like testing, training, establishment of farm machinery banks, development of hi-tech hubs et cetera under the Sub-Mission on Agriculture Mechanisation. In addition, a commendable 15.24 lakh units of farm machinery and equipment, including tractors, power tillers and automated machinery, have been distributed at subsidised rates via state governments.

PM Modi has often urged innovators and researchers to think about ‘an inch of land and a bunch of crops’. This is a call to find instant technological solutions to farmer problems. In this regard, the government has come up with National e-Governance Plan in Agriculture. Under this, funds are made available to state governments for projects involving the use of modern technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, robotics, block chain, among others. Additionally, a Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) for agriculture is also being built to enable farmer-centric solutions through relevant information services including around farm inputs, market intelligence, credit, and insurance. Efforts are underway to mainstream drone technology for use in agriculture. The government provides financial aid covering 100% of drone costs and associated expenses for on-field demonstrations. A total of Rs. 138 crore has been made available for farmer-centric drone initiatives. Recently, Rs. 1,261 crore have been allocated towards the NAMO Drone Didi scheme—aiming to train 15,000 women SHGs to offer rental services to farmers for activities like application of fertilisers and pesticides.

Helping farmers with their short-term working capital needs, the government has enhanced their access to institutional credit, taking it from Rs. 7.3 lakh crore in 2013-14 to a targeted Rs. 18.5 lakh crore in 2022-23.

These efforts have been supplemented by incomparable initiatives like Kisan Credit Card, the benefits of which have now been extended to farmers engaged in animal husbandry and fisheries. The total number of operative KCC Accounts as of March 2023 is 7.35 crore with a total sanctioned limit of Rs. 8.85 lakh crore.

Logistically, unique initiatives like Kisan Rail and Krishi Udan traverse the agricultural landscape with ease and accessibility, taking the Indian market to the farmgate.

Evidently, the government has upped the ante by taking an all-inclusive approach towards advancing the cause of farm incomes. Other initiatives like Soil Health Card, promotion of organic farming, formation of Farmer Producer Organisations, pursuing additional income generation through ethanol production, and promotion of agri-exports are some of the many dedicated efforts that the Modi government has launched to enliven agriculture as a remunerative activity.

Besides over 1.60 lakh PM Kisan Samridhi Kendras act as central hubs, helping farmers with vital information around soil testing, fertilisers, seeds, farming techniques, and all government schemes, among other things.

The commitment of the Modi government towards enhancing farm incomes is unmatched. Besides increasing the budget of agricultural and allied activities by more than 4.35 times, from Rs. 30,223 crore in 2013-14 to over 1.3 lakh crore in 2023-24, the government is providing an average of Rs. 50,000 to every farmer in some form or the other. The results are for each of us to see. According to the latest Situation Assessment Survey of NSSO (2018-19), monthly agricultural household income has increased from Rs. 6,426 in 2012-13 to Rs. 10,218 in 2018-19.

Apart from these programs and policies to make farming remunerative, Prime Minister Modi’s government has in fact worked admiringly to reorient the entire sector towards inclusivity and sustainability. Promotion of environment and farmer friendly crops, like millets, is a shining example of this approach.

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"Building Atmanirbhar Bharat Through Comprehensive Job Creation"
February 24, 2024

One of the most effective pathways of aspirational and practical self-actualization for citizens of a nation is employment generation at scale and expanse. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has been cognizant of this need and has moved the needle comprehensively so that job creation today is happening across the spectrum: in the formal and informal sectors, through direct and indirect opportunities, in conventional and unconventional fields, and via self-employment and the opening up of multiple avenues for gigs, start-ups and novel entrepreneurship.

Government Initiatives
If on the one hand, Bharat is seeing the exponential growth in the number of start-ups and a conducive environment has made it one that has the largest number of unicorns, on the other hand a record number of Mudra loans sanctioned have fuelled unprecedented women-led growth, and the Agniveer scheme that aims to recruit youth into the Armed services has seen adoption in record numbers. According to a Harvard University research, India is among the top quartile of fastest-growing countries till 2029 and is undergoing a historic transition towards becoming a more formalized and technologically advanced, digitally evolved nation.

In the three years between 2017-18 and 2020-21, total employment increased by 8.4 crore which is a manifestation of several key factors such as demonetisation, rationalisation of taxes, the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), digital inclusivity and digitisation of financial transactions, inclusion of skill development and vocational training in the National Education Policy, increasing the number of Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs), a fillip to the hitherto marginalized segments such as rural and tribal populace, and effective incentivization for a highly labour dominant unorganized sector. An example is how PM Street Vendor’s Atmanirbhar Nidhi (PM SVANidhi), has benefitted more than 56 lakh rehri or street vendors from June 2020 to November 2023.

Immense positive impact can be seen in the nation’s formal employment sector. India is the 5th largest economy in the world with 1.12 crore net additional employment created between 2015 to 2018. This is a result of the confluence of progressive, pro-industry policy decisions, leveraging of advancements in technology, reforms to ease business investment, and a focus on skilling. An example of how this translates on the ground is that with the PM MUDRA Yojana More than 15 crore people have been employed in the MSME sector out of which 3.4 crore are women.

In the IT Industry alone, around 20 lakh people have been employed between 2013-14 and 2021-22. Indirectly, about 6.24 crore jobs were created between 2014 and 2019 in India’s digital economy. When it comes to a boost in employment generation across sectors, let’s take the example of tourism – a revamped and increasingly attractive tourism and hospitality industry led to 1.9 crore indirect jobs being created in the tourism sector between 2017 and 2020. The overhaul in the hospitality sector has led to the creation of many such jobs directly, and indirectly; India is among the most visited countries in the world and has been experiencing a growing influx of tourists. This has led to business incentivization and a boost to local artisans, transport providers, and hotels and restaurants within the larger hospitality service industry. In Air transport alone, for every Rs. 100/- invested in the sector, 610 indirect jobs are generated.

Infromal Sectors
The winds of change can also be seen in the disruptive as well as informal sectors. Providing security and stability to the unconventional health and wellness, since 2014, about 5.65 lakh practitioners have been provided employment under Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, and Homoeopathy (AYUSH). The introduction of several new reforms, an increase in FDI, which have further helped in improving the ‘ease of doing business’ along with low data costs, improvised processes and ready adoption have created a thriving new ecosystem for employment – the gig and platform economy. Gig-economy jobs grew year-on-year by 13% and over 29.20 crore people have registered so far on the E-Shram portal. From 2016 to May 2022, ‘Hunar Haat’ has created employment avenues for over 10.5 lakh artisans and talented Vishwakarmas.

The continuing chain of beneficiaries in the government’s Gati shakti model include processes that act as catalysts for indirect job creation in sectors such as transport, logistics, mobility, food, consumer goods and manufacturing products. Up to 2021-22, 53,696 km of roadways were created which generated 21.8 crore man-days of employment. As mentioned before, round 6 crore people employed in unorganized sector between 2017-18 and 2019-20 have benefited from the SVANidhi Yojana – making PM Modi’s vision of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas aur Sabka Prayas a quintessential facet of employment for all.

People-first policies such as the flagship program for equitable housing, the PM Awas has created 2.39 crore indirect jobs up to 2022. Another great example of the ripple effect of employment generation can be seen in the form of Production Linked Incentive (PLI) schemes which enable the expansion of existing industries into larger ones, while promoting the creation of new ones. As an example, 5 lakh incremental jobs have been created in the mobile manufacturing sector due to PLI. As per the Economic Survey 2023, PLI schemes are slated to create 60 lakh jobs. In addition, India’s fintech adoption rate of 87% as against the world average of 64% has enabled the creation of an ecosystem that is touching the lives and livelihoods of all – including the self-employed and small business owners.

To this end, Rozgar Melas that aim to provide 10 lakh jobs in less than two years, and that meld employment opportunities and unique talent have been a boon for the economy. Rozgar Mela is a key step towards the fulfilment of the commitment to accord the highest priority to employment generation in the country. On 12th February, 2024, PM Modi distributed more than 1 lakh appointment letters to newly inducted recruits and also lay the foundation stone of Phase I of the Integrated Complex “Karmayogi Bhavan” to promote collaboration and synergy amongst various pillars of Mission Karmayogi. “Rozgar Melas are playing a crucial role in enhancing the contribution of our Yuva Shakti in nation building”, said PM Modi. Rozgar Mela will be held at 47 locations across the country this year with recruitments taking place across central government departments and state governments/UTs supporting this initiative. These melas ascribe gainful opportunities to the youth, the Amrit Generation, and create pathways for their direct participation in national development. Similarly, under the Prime Ministers Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP), over 43.77 lakh people have got employment and the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) has led to the placement of over 24.51 lakh candidates.

As policy making becomes efficient, so do its representative tools; more than 19.9 lakh people have been placed in jobs through employment exchanges between 2017-2022. The government has incessantly been taking many measures to tackle unemployment issues and stem the unemployment rate. The Amrit generation is benefitting from a multi-pronged approach; if on the one hand, Scheme of Fund for Regeneration of Traditional Industries (SFURTI), has benefitted around 2.94 lakh from 2014-15 to December 2022, on the other hand, over 1.80 lakh new job-creators and entrepreneurs are now operating under the Stand-Up India scheme.

New India – Naya Bharat – is one that thrives on a developed mindset with the aim of making the country Atmanirbhar, and a Vishwa Mitra – one the world leans on. As an example of this commitment, in the current financial year, Khadi has achieved a historic milestone by generating over 9.54 lakh new jobs. Be it our push towards renewable energy, creating a decarbonized energy sector which ranks India is 4th globally or the reduction of unemployment rate in rural areas, (decreased from 5.3% in 2017-18 to 2.4% in 2022-23) the commitment of PM Modi’s government to decisively mitigate unemployment stays foremost.

A spurt in the employment index is predicated on employment mobility to higher productivity jobs, rising job rates in secondary and tertiary sectors, promotion of women as economic catalysts and the increased formalisation of the unorganized, informal sector. PM Modi’s government has consistently come good on all the parameters which is the reason why milestone, upon milestone, Bharat’s journey towards becoming Atmanirbhar and the world’s third largest economy, is only a matter of time.