With the death of eminent farmers' leader and founder of 'Shetkari Sanghatana' Sharad Joshi an eventful era in the farmers' politics came to an end. An ardent supporter to the cause of farmers he was at the vanguard of many farmers’ agitations. As a parliamentarian he represented Maharashtra in the Rajya Sabha from 2004-10. Joshi is survived by two daughters settled abroad.
Born on 3 September 1935 at Satara, Maharashtra, Sharad Joshi was son of Anant Narayan and Indirabai Joshi. He did his Post Graduation in Commerce from Sydenham College, Mumbai, in 1957. After higher education he devoted himself for the cause of farmers and displaced.
To give organised face to his struggle he founded Shetkari Sanghatana, an organisation for farmers. It was a non-political union with the aim to "Freedom of access to markets and to Technology". Under his banner many mass agitations were organised to highlight the plight of the farmers. He took up agricultural issues like about the prices offered to the farmers. He came into limelight with an agitation of onion growers in 1980 to demand remunerative prices for the produce. In duo course if time he also founded Kisan Coordination Committee (KCC) with representation from almost 14 states across India. He led a number of agitations in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana and many other states against price hike, electricity tariffs, for remunerative prices of onions, sugar cane, tobacco, milk, paddy, cotton, and for liquidation of rural debts and against State dumping in domestic markets. He was a regular contributor in various dailies like 'The Times of India', ' Business India', 'Lokmat' etc., and also wrote number of books on agricultural issues.
Sharad Joshi was a man behind the foundation of Shetkari Mahila Aghadi (SMA) which is one of the largest organisations of rural women. Lakshmi Mukti programme of this organistaion helped in conferring land titles on lakhs of rural housewives.
During his lifetime he advocated SEZs for areas like organic farming, aromatic and medicinal plants, manufacture of hybrid seeds and horticulture. He was vocal about the establishment of credible certifying agencies for organic farm products. A visionary he suggested exclusive Zones for growing variety of onions to avert shortages. In December 2005 he tabled private member legislation in the Rajya Sabha, demanding deletion of the word socialism from the Representation of the People Act of the Constitution of India. He was also the only member in Rajya Sabha to vote against the bill providing 33% reservation for women in Indian parliament and assemblies.
Sharad Joshi died on 12 December 2015 after prolong illness. His death was mourned by many. Though tweet Prime Minister Narendra Modi also expressed grief over his death “ PM expressed grief on passing away of Shri Sharad Joshi. PM stated that Shri Joshi devoted to welfare of farmers & improving agriculture.”
Sharad Joshi will always be remembered for his contribution towards agrarian economy in India. He did all to uplift the socio-economic status of farmers. May his soul rest in peace.
(FAN OF Shri SHARAD ANANTRAO JOSHI)
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