The recent spectacle surrounding the release of Rs 20,000 crore under the PM-KISAN scheme has left many scratching their heads. What should have been a routine disbursement of funds has been turned into a grand event, with the prime minister himself making headlines for distributing funds that have long been promised.

Let’s break it down. The PM-KISAN scheme, initiated in the interim budget of 2019, was designed to provide Rs 6,000 annually to farmers in three instalments. Sixteen such instalments have already been paid out, each consisting of Rs 2,000. Now, as the 17th instalment is released, one might expect it to pass quietly into farmers' accounts, given its regularity over the past five years.

Instead, we witness a lavish ceremony in Varanasi, with the PM addressing the nation and interacting virtually with millions of farmers. The optics are clear: it’s not just about disbursing funds, but about political theater. The timing, right after a significant electoral loss in rural areas, suggests an attempt to regain ground and rekindle support among farmers.

What’s more concerning is the lack of substantive change in the scheme itself. Despite widespread expectations and demands, the amount remains stagnant at Rs 2,000 per instalment. Inflation erodes the real value of these payments year by year, yet no adjustments have been made to reflect this reality. It’s as if the government expects applause for merely fulfilling its own promises.

Beyond the financial aspect, the symbolism of this event raises questions. Why the need for such pomp when the issues plaguing agriculture are far from resolved? Farmers’ protests, concerns over minimum support prices, inadequate procurement systems, and a host of other critical issues remain unaddressed. The government’s focus seems misplaced – more on grand gestures than on addressing the systemic challenges faced by farmers.

Moreover, the role of women in agriculture is glaringly sidelined. Even in an event supposedly celebrating farmers, women are relegated to the sidelines as 'volunteers' or 'Krishi Sakhis'. It’s a stark reminder of how gender disparities persist in rural India, where women play crucial roles in agriculture but receive little recognition or support.

The BJP’s electoral setback should have prompted a rethink on rural policies, including agriculture. Instead, what we see is a continuation of old strategies packaged as new initiatives. The need for comprehensive agricultural reforms, including sustainable farming practices, equitable land distribution, and robust support systems for farmers, remains unmet.

In conclusion, the PM-KISAN event of june 18 may dazzle momentarily, but its long-term impact on improving the lives of farmers remains questionable. It’s time for substantive action, not just symbolic gestures. The real 'much ado about nothing' lies in the stark disparity between the grandiosity of the event and the ground realities of indian agriculture.

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