"Tobacco farming is like a double sword demanding the governments to walk a tightrope balancing public health and livelihood of poor farmers."Elucidate.

Tobacco is an important cash crop for India. India ranks third in the world in the production and export of tobacco. Indian tobacco is exported to about 100 countries.
It must be noted that tobacco is a demerit good and it has negative externality on public and private health. There are many health issues associated with the consumption of tobacco like lung cancer, stokes, heart attack, hypertension, etc.
Tobacco farming is a sensitive issue as it has a bearing on the livelihood of growers. The government has to balance the public health and poor farmers cultivating tobacco. To address the livelihood concerns of the farmers who are engaged in tobacco farming, the states can help the farmers to shift to farming of alternative crops. According to FCTC, the government is required to half tobacco production by 2020. In this gap of four years in hand, the government can undertake efforts to help the poor farmers engaged in the tobacco cultivation to shift to alternative crops.
Being an important cash crop, it would not be desirable to discontinue its production, but looking at the larger picture where health issue shadows the cultivation, it would be desirable to discontinue its production. (199 words)

Question for UPSC Mains:
“Tobacco farming is like a double sword demanding the governments to walk a tightrope balancing public health and livelihood of poor farmers.” Elucidate.

Published: March 17, 2016 | Modified:June 27, 2019

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