Any trade deal with USA should secure
India’s agri goal of food self sufficiency!
As big agricultural economies, be it India, China and the USA, we can’t manage world economy without trade. More so the agricultural trade. So, India has to have a trade negotiation with America whose agricultural economy too needs a trade deal. But India should not deviate from its core strengths and core goals. Our food self-sufficiency goal is as critical for us as it would affect millions of people, poor and the disadvantaged. So, let us resolve to keep these crucial goals in view when US President visits India.
Agriculture is so basic a sector, it affects the lives of millions of poor farmers and people that everyone ,that is, every citizen is concerned about what is happening in such an important sector. As we often hear, everyone says and also means it, that still with all our economic progress, India’s emergence as a third large economy, India now the largest exporter of rice in the world and there is much to celebrate about what Indian agriculture has achieved.
There is many sect oral problems and also the larger question of an over-all vision and perception of what is the place of agriculture in the larger scheme of things. As we often say in these columns that India’s economic strength is our agricultural sector only, India is also basically an agricultural economy; about 50 and odd percentage of people are still dependent on the agriculture and the rural sector.
So, we may talk of many other things, glamorous and otherwise, but we have to have a social and economic vision that has to make account for the many other traditional values, largely rural society with so many diversities and economic opportunities.
So, the question today is how far we have taken the people in drawing up a blue print for action on many fronts, from crops, major and minor to other facets of agriculture and the food sector. There is still much poverty and deprivation; there are still so many other pending implementation burdens for malnutrition, under nutrition of children and the extension of the PDS and other rations.
There is also the status of the distribution of food from schools to other sectors. Education and healthcare, why even unemployment and jobs that are tackled by the rural employment generation scheme and also the problems of direct payments to many sections.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a bold leader no doubt and his many bold announcements from the ambitious goal of doubling farmer’s income by 2022 to other schemes from crop insurance and other schemes are now pending proper implementation. The new agri minister Mr.Narendra Singh Tomar has now started to speak out and the media is also reporting what he says and it looks the various schemes like the flagship crop insurance schemes in which certain new corrections have been announced. This is the first time for a long time that some new announcements have been made.
More such announcements would give some confidence for farmers who are known for their conservative skepticism!
We live in the village and confess we share the ordinary villagers’ skepticism too.
So, as a media committed to solely for agriculture we should be understood properly and taken seriously as far as our skepticism is concerned.
Especially a minister like the agriculture minister must be seen travelling to the states and also making some surprise visits to villages and see how things are implemented. There are States where agriculture has a strong social base and where there are genuine concern for agriculture welfare and other States where there are different ideologies, say like Kerala where Communist ideology drives agriculture, with radical land reforms, in TN where there are so much political issues where agriculture is well developed but caught in some issues like oil explorations and with a largely driven political divides.
Other social issues are also there, as in TN again there is a very entrenched alcohol, TASMAC lobby of the ruling party that almost has destroyed social health of the poor.
There are States like Karnataka where there is a more balanced social economic development and there is also progress in the agriculture and horticulture sector. The Maharashtra rural landscape is well-known with a perennial problem of farmers suicides, in a state which is otherwise more industrialised with the India’s financial capital, Mumbai located and yet we are unable to stop this tragedy of farmers committing suicide, may be the only spot in the whole world.
The very slogan of doubling farmers’ incomes in the next two years seem to be only slogan given the current political impasse. We have to develop many facets of the Indian economy and society, why even the polity so that our over-all Constitutional scheme of things, the legislatures, judiciary and the media, why even our universities give a wide spectrum of freedom and free from fear and anxiety about the confidence in the over-all ideology of an open society. Even secularism and equality and a caring society must be the fulcrum of an open society and the outside world. We are living at a time in world history when newer issues like migration, why, large-scale migration, refugees and also freedom from persecution for peoples ‘religious beliefs. There are many religious persecutions going on in the world, in our own neighborhoods and the international opinion is such that India, among other nations is right now in the world, attention.
Simply because we are in one segment, agriculture is not to mean that we can’t reach out to new issues. We are not able to conclude the trade deal with the USA doesn’t mean that such a trade deal is not linked to our defense and trade issues. Every big country today is invariably tied to its own strength and vulnerabilities, right?
So, whatever be the trade and economic deals countries’ own egos and illusions comes into play. What we mean here is that our own strengths, be it agriculture or IT skills colour and create prejudices and we have to be mentally prepared to listen to experts and intellectuals.
So, let us realise our agriculture’s strengths. Mr.Donald Trump, we write on the eve of his arrival in India, wants Indians to believe their own country is a ‘developed economy’! Fine, we also believe let us act like a developed country people!