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2 February, 2018 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 1 February, 2018 10:46:27 PM
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India appeals to key rural areas in last budget before election

AFP
India appeals to key rural areas in last budget before election
A live ticker shows 30 share index (Sensex) on the facade of the Mumbai Stock Exchange in India yesterday. AFP PHOTO

AFP, NEW DELHI: India promised hundreds of billions of dollars to develop poor rural areas and to help struggling farmers in its annual budget yesterday, looking to win over voters ahead of the next general election. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the government would build new roads and toilets and bring electricity to millions of rural villages in his last full-year budget before national elections due by May 2019.

He pledged to spend $220 billion on rural infrastructure and help farmers find alternatives to the post-harvest burning of crop stubble that every year blankets swathes of north India in choking smog. “My government is committed to the welfare of the farmers,” he said.

“We consider agriculture as an enterprise and want to help farmers to produce from the same land parcel at lesser cost, and simultaneously realise higher prices for their produce.” The majority of India’s 1.25 billion population lives in the countryside, and winning rural voters is key to election victory in the world’s largest democracy. The government promised in the previous budget to double farmer incomes in the next five years and bring 10 million households out of poverty by 2019. But many still live and work in near penury at the mercy of loan sharks and a harsh climate, and rural disaffection has stoked protests and a rise in farmer suicides in recent years.

Access to water is particularly problematic in India, where less than half of all agricultural land is irrigated, leaving farmers under the heel of the weather.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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