Sharad Joshi, a pioneer of the organised farmers’ movement in Maharashtra who formed the Swatantra Bharat Paksh and Shetkari Sanghatana and contributed to the paradigm shift in the agricultural economy, died in Pune on 12 December after a prolonged illness. He was 81.
He is survived by daughters Shreya Sha hane, who lives in Canada and Gouri Joshi, who lives in New Jersey.
Joshi was a passionate supporter of globalisation and free market economy for farmers. His organisation raised issues like securing remunerative prices for agricultural produce and freedom of access to markets and technology. This resulted in a significant mass movement in the 1980s, breaking the hold Congress leaders of the time had on the cooperative movement.
In his forty years of public life, Joshi took stands which created controversies.
He raised the Bharat versus India debate, which had become a focal point in discussions on agricultural policy. “Bharat is that notional entity which continues to be exploited by the same policies as those of the Colonial rule even after the British left, while India is that notional entity which has obtained the inheritance of Colonial exploitation,” he had said.
A Rajya Sabha MP from 2004 to 2010, Joshi was the only representative to vote against the Women’s Reservation Bill in 2010, saying that it would create bitterness against the women’s movement in India and also affect electoral politics.