THE AARHTIYAS & A MAHARAJA
Amarinder is Pride of this Community - 'Fakhar-e-Qaum'
- PT Agricultural Correspondent
Amarinder is Pride of this Community - 'Fakhar-e-Qaum'



CHANDIGARH: Hours after Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh appealed to the Aarhtiyas not to charge exorbitant interest rates on loans they extend to farmers, the aarhtiyas honoured him with the title of 'Fakhar-e-Qaum' -- Pride of the Community.

A statement issued by the Government of Punjab said the honour was "in recognition of (the CM's) outstanding contribution towards ensuring hassle free and smooth procurement of wheat."
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Badal called it Nauhn Maas Da Rishta, Amarinder says Age Old Bonds. Within 24 hours of CM Amarinder asking aarhtiyas not to loot farmers, the aarhtiyas confer upon the title of Fakhr-e-Quom, the pride of the community. Farmer leaders & farm economists have been urging the government to end the system of aarhtiyas. At today’s function, aarhtiyas hailed the CM as best friend of farmers, the CM called them saviour of farmers. The farmers were nowhere in sight.

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Amarinder Singh received the honour in person at an event organised by the Federation of Aartiyas Association of Punjab. He received a plaque, inscribed with the words 'Fakhar-e-Qaum' at what the Punjab Government called "a mega felicitation function" at Kisan Bhawan in Chandigarh. 
Amarinder thanked the aartiyas "for the honour bestowed on him." Punjab's farming experts said with this move the farmer unions in Punjab can now give up any hope of ending the aarhtiya system. 

A study, titled "Commission Agent System in Punjab Agriculture,” carried out by Punjab Agricultural University's farm economist, Dr Sukhpal Singh, and Tejinder K Dhaliwal, had concluded that the time has come for the procurement agencies and government to deal directly with the farmers without the middleman called aarhtiya.

Former MP and Bharti Kisan Union president Bhupinder Singh Mann, who is now a staunch supporter of Amarinder Singh, had then said that not making payments directly to the farmer and involving aarhtiyas was "illegal, unethical and anti-social” policy. 

In stark contrast to the strong and well known views of most factions of BKU and other farmer unions on the need for aarhtiyas, Amarinder Singh seemed to be rather appealing and cajoling the community, asking them "to extend full support and cooperation to the state government to bail out the distressed peasantry from the current agrarian crisis."

In words that absolutely replicated the stance of his predecessor and political rival Prakash Singh Badal, Amarinder "appreciated the age-old ties of farmers with aartiya community and hoped that these bonds would be strengthened further to win over the confidence of the beleaguered farmers."

Such "age old bonds" were exactly the reason Badal had cited – nauhn-maas the rishta – for not ending the aarhtiya system. Incidentally, the Aarhtiyas' bodies similarly honoured Amarinder's predecessor Parkash Singh Badal, too, for similar achievements. Clearly, all CMs without exception are the pride of the quom of aarhtiyas.
Interestingly, the event saw a top office bearer of aarhtiyas' body hailing the CM for timely payment to farmers in Punjab. Why the farmers have failed to express their gratefulness to the CM was not clear immediately.

The event was attended by Bal Krishan Singla, who holds the very academic sounding title of 'President Emeritus of the Federation', federation president Vijay Kalra, Senior Advisor to CM Lt Gen (Retd.) T.S. Shergill, Media Advisor to CM Raveen Thukral, Advisor to CM BIS Chahal, Secretary Mandi Board Amit Dhaka and Deputy Principal Secretary to CM Amrit Kaur Gill.

No reason was cited for the absence of state's agriculture director, commissioner for agriculture, secretary agriculture or any farmer union leader at such an event where nothing but the cause of Punjab's farmers and farming was discussed.

Interestingly, while the CM urged the commission agents earlier this week to guard against charging such high interest rates to farmers, the state government has no record of prosecution or action against any aarhtiya found doing so. Even more interestingly, not a single aarhtiya objected to the CM putting the community under such a cloud. Instead, today, 24 hours after Amarinder's appeal not to loot the farmers, the aarhtiyas honoured the CM.

An earlier statement by the government said the issue of direct payment to farmers through cheques also came up and the CM was of the view that "the farmers were free to decide whether they wanted to take payment directly or through aartiyas."

However, currently, the law does not permit such direct payment and there was no mention of changing the rules of the game.
 
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