World economic slow-down affects Indian growth
Food prices on the rise world over and so our food self-sufficiency goal at risk
Climate changes can impact India’s agriculture prospects and we need a new agriculture strategy
These are now the world scenario as far as India’s agriculture prospects are concerned.
Yes, as for the economic growth rate for India to be maintained, there are now certain realistic constraints. Constraints no ministers or the Prime Minister as the top brain or the Planning Commission boss as the top economic expert or anyone who is worth listening to or capable of articulating the ground level realities are not just talking out. Not even talking about!
Yes, the third front of Chandrababu Naidu, Mulayam Singh Yadav and the others are serious politicians who have to articulate their view and they have to come into the tightly located Indian political space! There is no space, it looks as of now for a third force. But the present two-party alliances, one led by the Congress is in the limelight for the simple reason there is going to be soon a general election. So, the Congress led UPA seems stable. But it is not. The CPI (M) had over-played its hand on the nuclear deal, a deal for which Manmohan pledged his head and his honour! In fact, the deal won’t be an election issue nor the Congress would care for saving Manmohan who is not an election winner at any rate! So, the UPA might or might not come in its full strength.
The Congress stands to lose if it carries all its present allies. The CPI (M) would be a drag. Nothing would fetch the Congress in W.Bengal. In Bengal itself the Left unity is in crisis, the RSP and the Forward bloc might not calculate their advantages, nor is the CPI any shape. So, for the Congress to tag on with the CPI (M) would be suicidal. Again, in TN, to align with the DMK is also suicidal. The DMK had become a bully, plain and simple. It wants all power to itself, not willing to share power for which only the election results showed the DMK in a minority status. Besides this insult, the Congress had conceded too much of its prestige and territory to the DMK’s rather aggressive pursuit of grabbing every major ministry. Also, now it started humiliating the Congress over the LTTE and also over Sethu project, neither of which showed the Congress in any advantageous position. In fact, these events only showed the Congress in a pathetic and helpless situation.
So, a new alliance with the film start Vijayakant is very much favoured by the Congress sympathisers as well as the general public as shown by the 7 per cent popular vote that went to the film actor’s party, without much party infrastructure as such.
The DMK with its latest show of strength through another extravaganza of a so-called youth conference, it is nothing but an attempt by the DMK supreme to overawe his opponents as well as to subdue the Congress to once again to fall in line.
This bait Sonia Gandhi must understand and resist in time.
The Congress woes are too many.
Even if it manages to form a coalition, it is still a big problem to draw up a credible manifesto.
How the people would view the rule of the UPA in the last four and half years?
Manmohan Singh would be seen as the Prime Minister under whose tenure India saw the maximum number of farmer’s suicides.
Also, agri sector didn’t oblige the PM’s rather timid responses. Neither of his many farmers packages, the famous Vidarbha farmers package didn’t dent the issue of farmers suicide continuing to expose the government’ lack of a strategy for economic growth.
The world outlook for 2008 looks rather bleak. Very modest.
The so-called 9 per cent growth, now projected to grow at 8.6 per cent comes at a time when the world economic slow-down is threatening a number of countries, more so the US and Europe.
So, what chance for the UPA to sing the same old tired tune of a 9 plus economic growth. There is simply no 9 plus growth now possible. Except China (10 per cent growth), there is no other country that is betting on high growth. Only India is put at a lower, at 8.4 per cent The US is put at 1.9 per cent growth.
There are a host of issues before the government when it has to go before the people with a manifesto for the next elections.
There is also the incumbency factor.
Indian agriculture needs some radical thinking and it is only right the third front has already started with an emphasis on farm sector.
Food security in the old sense of production for self-sufficiency would be a new challenge. One needs lot of radical new thinking and also responsible thinking. Wishful thinking, coining of new slogans won’t help really.
Dr.R.K.Pachuri, this year’s Nobel Prize for Peace recipient says that already there is evidence on decline in the wheat productivity in the country. He also says that it is high time that farmers in the country also know that why their yields are not growing.
Monsoon rains and also the water use patterns have to be taken into account when we plan for land uses patterns in the new century.
Water scarcity, free power and free water for irrigation all have to be re-evaluated and a new consensus on a new farm strategy is called for.
Pachuri also addressed the questions of how annual monsoon is expected to change resulting in severe droughts and floods in various parts of the country.
Farmers need to change their cropping patterns, he says. Farmers have to be trained to adapt to climate changes.
Government must develop new strains of crops which are draught-resistant. Can handle higher temperature and also they can thrive under lower water availability.
Scientists predict a rise in 3-5 degree Celsius in temperature and a 20 per cent rise in all summer monsoon rainfall.
Of course industrialisation for the past 150 years had led to this climate change and emitting of green gases on a large scale. Now to reverse the trend is a big challenge and big industrialised countries must co-operate and must take the lead.
Also, what is left unsaid is the ideological baggage of the past, like out-dated land reforms as in W.Bengal and Kerala, the two states which are now seen as economically and socially very backward, the human development indicators, education and public health is very poor in the two states. Their public health is so undepndable that when some public health disasters take place ,as seen in recent times, the states are unable to cope up with.
So, there is a case for making agriculture, rural areas stronger and this is possible only when educated and traditional farming families choose to live and do some modern farming possible.
How to create the climate for such a rural socio-economic conditions to prevail?
A million dollar question, as they say! Nevertheless a serious question and a time for much self-introspection for leaders, the CPI (M) allies in particular.