Throughout India, the farmers are agitating for the loan waiver. The wave of agitation started with Yogi Adityanath’s populist policies in the state of UP. Yogi Adityanath waived loans of the farmers from UP and now he is raising loans from other sources to fund the state expenditure. The farmers in MP had to bear the police firing in which 5 farmers were shot dead. The state of Maharashtra saw a continuous unrest and they have been promised that their demands will be met.
What is the nature of this agrarian crisis?
India saw a strange economic development in the last 60 years. In the common pattern of the economic development, the country develops from agriculture based economy to the industrial based economy, before the occupation pattern changes in favour of the service sector. Traditionally these sectors are called primary, secondary, and tertiary sectors. India never has an implementation of the Agricultural policies, though it had Agricultural Policy. India’s industrial policy never paid any dividends and it is the perpetually stagnant area. This leaves us with the integrated service policy which India never had though we shifted the gears from Agriculture to the Service sector. Therefore, we must need to look at the failures of the Government policies as to why it has not paid much attention to the Agriculture but gave so much attention to the Service sector.
It has been said that the Agriculture income is less elastic which means that the income doesn’t rise much with the consumption. Having said this, it is important to know that more than half of India’s workforce is involved in the Agriculture and this sector contributes significantly to India’s GDP though the share is decreasing over the years.
Traditionally India never had land reforms the way other countries had like Japan. The land reforms are important for equity in the society and it creates a social welfare function that factors in the economic inequality in the society. The land reforms never redistributed lands according to the share of people. The lands were managed by a few feudal lords and they employed a lot of proxies to escape the net of laws. They succeeded. India needs redistribution of land based on the social configuration of the society. Dalits should get 20 percent of the total land in India. It is the land ownership that leads to social conflict and social tension. It is one of the reasons of the atrocities on the Dalits.
Consolidation of the small holdings
India is increasingly seeing the rise in small holdings of land. A significant amount of land is wasted in creating small agricultural plots. Therefore, Babasaheb Ambedkar advocated a policy where the state will intervene to create state supported farming practices. It does not mean the socialist or communist way of doing the things, but it can be called co-operative farming. With the landholding becoming smaller, the plight of the small and marginal farmers is increasing. This is one of the reasons that the small and marginal farmers are not able to repay the loans.
The Government has a duty to give High Yielding Varieties (HYV) seeds to all the farmers and provide the farmers with the inputs needed for high yield. However, the Government has failed miserably to provide agricultural inputs to the farmer.
Market Access to the farmers
For the High-Value Agriculture, it is important for the farmers to have access to the larger markets where they can sell the produce on the higher side. But the market access to the farmers is limited within their own range and the Government has not paid much attention to developing all India Agriculture commodity exchange. A move was made by the private body to create an exchange, but the Government did not make any efforts to create an exchange for the agricultural commodities which can provide larger Market access to the farmers.
In India, the soil conservation is at the dismal state. Besides regular soil survey, it is important to have a comprehensive policy to conserve the soil.
Most of the farmers in India do not have access to the organised credit facilities, and they access the rich and powerful individuals who try to exploit them with their power and muscles.
Indian agriculture has a lot of potentials. India is a rainfed country with perhaps one of the largest arable land in the world compared to other countries. China through its policy of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is converting Pakistan into a Food Basket. It will create an integration between the two neighbouring countries. If India needs to compete in the international market, it must work now to modernise India’s agriculture.
Another reason why agriculture is neglected is that this sector is dominated by the Shudras and the policy makers who mostly come from the Brahmin and other upper caste background are not serious about this sector. The caste apathy towards the Shudras is one of the major reasons that India’s farm sector is underutilised and neglected.
It is good that the farmers are agitating, but they should agitate to create awareness about their plight and to find the total solution to their chronic illness.
Author – Mangesh Dahiwale, Human Rights Activist