So, what future for rural India?
Imaginative transition from rural to urban India calls for new talents, imagination, and experience!
The Nobel Prize for Economics, this year!
This has gone to predict the growth of cities!
What does that mean for the future of agriculture and farming as an occupation?
This year’s Nobel Prize has gone to Paul Krugman, the American economist who has predicted that the growth of cities is going to be the future pattern of economic development and growth.
What has this to do with agriculture sector? What is going to be the new agriculture policy to promote and protect our farmers?
Ask Dr.Manmohan Singh or President Pratibha Patil! You will not get any answers. For they have no idea of what agriculture’s future is, themselves!
That is the irony. One, the Prime Minister Dr.Singh will be remembered for many things. But he will be remembered for one great achievement, that is only under Dr.Manmohan Singh, the much-touted economic expert, there were the largest number of farmers, in 13 years, something like one lakh and fifty farmers committed suicides. Peacetime voluntary killings by themselves, unlike in the past when large number of people, poor and farmers as well perished in long famines and natural disasters and droughts!
Is this to be a remembered or forgotten? Likewise, Pratibha Patil, our President of the Republic hails from Vidarbha, where this large-scale tragedy, shall we call it man-made tragedy (?), has taken place. And yet, neither the President nor the Prime Minister touches their heart before they utter the words like another second Green Revolution. This they do as a matter of routine without bothering about how the persons from the other side of the fence, that is, the actual farmers take their words.
That is the tragedy of Indian policy making.
India is a large agriculture country. And yet, it is in India we still carry the image of farmers as the most neglected segment in all our policy schemes. We don’t know who is the member in the Planning Commission in charge of agriculture. Never once we got any inkling whether this member or for that matter any agri scientist in the Krish Bhavan or for that matter in the biotech department, never ask any ministers, who ever read our magazines or care to read or write or call us to say, ah, this is the only agriculture magazine in the country in the English language?
What we say is that in India agriculture is not taken seriously by the government itself. Always, it is bureaucratic matters, postings, their pay or their promotions that make routine news!
And we have a Prime Minister who excels in these peripheral areas of politics or governance.
India doesn’t connect with the geography, ironical? Yes, it is sheer irony! India lives not in the villages. It now lives only in the cities. And our ministers of Sonia Gandhi vintage live only in New Delhi!
So, where are we? Our agriculture’s future?
Sharad Joshi, the agriculture spokesperson has called for an exit policy in agriculture! To enable the farmers in droves to move out! This is no irony. It is better to draw up a conscious policy and enable more farmers and rural people to migrate to cities.
This is now happening; it seems, with more acceleration, thanks to new researches as done by Paul Krugman, the American economist who is awarded the Nobel Prize.
Let us see what this insightful thinker has got to say.
He is a trade expert. He says that unlike in the past theory of international trade which took place where the comparative advantage lay, say, America produced cars and Indian produced food grains.
No, it is not so simple he says. It is now the patterns of trade are shaped by the location of economic activities. There is high volume of trade between two locations, say USA and Europe, where the similar endowments of labour and capital! Americans are buying the European cars and vice versa.
This has one significant lesson for us, in India and right now.
That is countries would specialise in particular product segments, like say as in software and BPO activities, and where Bangalore and Hyderabad and Chennai, Pune and Noida are the world hot spots.
So, economic activities would tend to organise themselves, specialised agglomerations to take advantage of scale.
So, more “Bangalored” would be the American jobs! A term made famous by the World is Flat theorist and columnist, Thomas Friedman!
So, this is good, the cities would grow around particular skills and what does this means for our rural India and the villages and farming?
There would be more special economic zones; SEZs are good this theory says.
And this is what is already happening.
Don’t fight for displaced persons, simple let them go to the nearby cities, more slums would come and that had been the past experience too.
More urbanisation issues would get priority, more funds are already being allotted to the urban mission and more roads, more urban infrastructure, more urban housing, urban water and power supplies and more flyovers and metro rails and life would sooner or later get organised only in large urban and suburban environments.
Old stories of slums would go away and new stories of more urban amenities would be the order of change.
So, where does this urban transition leave our farmers?
Our farmers would be left dry and hard for some time, it seems certain!
Our current crop of ministers are not equal to the task of making an orderly transition with an imaginative agriculture transition.
It is time, our ministers wake up.
We have to think hard and not take a cynical stand, as Sharad Joshi does!
We have to create really genuine decentralised governance, more rural roads and more social investments, in public education and a sort of genuine rural health services.
We have the technology, we have the funds and what we don’t have is the leadership.
We have to ensure people in the outlying villages live a decent life.
Telemedicine can revolutionise the rural healthcare. But who has the imagination to call up men like Dr.Devi Shetty?
IT can make a difference in e-governance. But who cares to call up a Ramadorai or a Narayanamurthy to get into the imaginative e-governance thrusts?
PPP, Public-private partnerships, is talked about. But our leaders shy away from venturing into bold steps. Simply because they are not properly elected and come through a democratic process.
We have to touch the many raw nerves. There is where the truth is!
So, we need despair! But how long we can go on cheating our trusting type farmers?
Let us at least do a real heart-search! Then only our hearts might melt!
No one is even willing to talk or write back or call up! So, where to go in this country for a free and frank exchange of views?
Image Source: thinkers50.com