They complete a story!
Agriculture can thrive in India only when the agri sector gets credit from banks through some streamlined channels like a kisan credit card. Now so many channels are in place and new techs like the Adhaar have enabled an average citizen to do things hassle-free. Yet there are age-old hurdles for an average farmer persists. An average Indian farmer is still a debtor! Still a court-bird. The lower level bureaucracy, revenue dept and the Taluk courts have accumulated issues that are pending for year and years.
So too life in the average village. Many issues like sanitation, roads, and telecommunications are poor.
Youngmen and more so women can work from home, if there are focused policies to create rural BPOs. Some of the best brains are there in the country. What is needed is a willingness to invite and go by experts’ guidance. You can the big picture from any angle and do things. The micro, small, medium enterprises, MSMEs, alone keep 11 crore people in jobs.
We guess most them are in rural and semi-rural areas. So, what we now do is to focus on agri sector and also rural sector as a new focus area. This would only strengthen the agri sector with all sorts of new and innovative startups. In fact a new special fund for encouraging start-ups in the agri, food and services sectors could usher in a new revolution.
Big Corporates must have some minimum social commitment under the CSR head. So too the new MNCs also must carry a minimum commitment. As for institutional credit, the banks must really be mandated a minimum priority lending.
Why, even the panchayat raj reforms must carry a supervisory role over some of the new roles.
There are any number of NGOs involved in the grassroots developments.
Get the best man for the job, as minister. Give a high profile role.
Agriculture needs high profile. Send farmers, even farm, now announced in Karnataka, on foreign learning tours so that there is a new sense of liberation in the countryside.
The story of how Indian agriculture’s delicate balances with the largest number of peoples’ lives are linked or disrupted by the new growth strategies!
Yes, Indian agriculture is recognised by everybody, from the run of the mill average politician to the entrenched corporate lobby to claim their own share of advantages, be it the votes or the rights and concessions from the natural resources, and be it coal blocks or ores and other basic resources for their own growth strategy.
There is a mad rush in this new found enthusiasm to applaud and praise the Prime Minister’s own agenda and vision. The point here is not about what the PM would do or don’t.
The point here is that in this new enthusiasms for effecting the ‘ease of doing business’ there is still many serious issues, issues of strategy and also ideology. Agriculture is India’s greatest strength and the very eco system of Indian strength, the largest number of people are engaged in this sector and also the very rural Indian socio-cultural sector is also profoundly affected by any narrow and short-term centred industrial and also urban-cantered approach.
Rahul Gandhi and his other deputies, also we saw Mr.Scindia, the young heir to the Gwalior Maharaja, are speaking about farmers’ welfare. Oh, how wonderful! we see farmers are sought after the Congress debacle and yet what sort of politics, these two younger heirs who have otherwise no claim or interest or commitment to promoting India’s over-all vision in the long -run.
Agriculture policy making in India has a long history. In the pre-Independence days, yes, we had has certain policies. Lord Curzon had some ideas. He established the Indian agriculture research institute. Yet, under the British we had had only intermittent famines and hunger and large scale death.
After Independence we had our problems, food imports and then came the Green Revolution.
Now? Now, under Mr.Modi what sort of agriculture vision we see? None, to say the least.
The very selection of personnel, ministers is a problem for the Prime Minister. Agriculture, as we have said is about the largest segment of people, in different states of well-being or deprivation. One marked feature of the current agrarian scenario is the unstoppable farmers’ suicide! This should be a great shame for every one of us, be farmers or non-farmers.
Second, the uneven economic development in many states. Some states are well developed agriculturally, say in TN, Kerala or Karnataka or Maharashtra. But there are parched of acute deprivation, as in Maharashtra where the scourge of farmer’s distress is very persistent.
Ideas seem to be in short supply. We have to welcome big investments, FDIs and also MNCs in retail. Fine. But the anxiety is that unless the policy makers are sensitive enough, in the sense unless they, be they minister or MPs or experts have some rural base or touch, either they should have lived there or should have owned lands or engaged in some rural industry, they can’t be expected to-do justice to the great cause of evolving a national consensus for agriculture development and rural upliftment.
Agriculture will be with us, almost forever, right?
So too the villages and villagers, right?
So, how we will make room for these eternal verities, so to say?
Have we ever given thought to make villages at least attractive enough for the new generation rural India where there will be land owners, landlord, if you don’t shy away from the reality.
Unless the village environment is attractive enough to enable new, educated and entrepreneurial youth to stay back in a rural environment and do business, to venture into innovative entrepreneurial enterprises they would all migrate. Fortunately, we many new trends today and we, in this agriculture media, both print and online, we have featured new entrepreneurs, success stories, surprisingly a wide variety of entrepreneurial enterprises that have taken venture capital funding and created history.
There are youngsters who went to the USA for higher education, obtained degrees and came back and instead of going back to big employers, IT companies or others these new generation of entrepreneurs have taken up challenging activities. Supplying fruits and vegetables and thus creating a market for farmers, suppliers to sell at a market rate and also thus enabling consumers to get fresh produces at the lower prices.
This one particular venture(in Chennai) has proved, as many others, we feature such stories regularly, had done a great grassroots revolution by eliminating the traditional middle men and also on e eternal consequence is the entrenched role of private money lenders.
One of the tragic stories of traditional agriculture is the role of private money lenders. No government could eliminate this evil.
Not even the much- debated nationalisation of banks by Indira Gandhi.
Even today, Modi’s many well-intentioned schemes like rural/agri credit, crop insurance, stand a sceptical change of success because, not the schemes per se are not good. The major challenge is the larger picture.
The traditional nature of farming and rural living. There are any number of hierarchies here. There are very entrenched inequties, injustice to inequality, in many dimensions.
There is a gross inequity, castes and traditions that deny equalities of opportunities and also lack of education and awareness etc.
Then there is the modern disabilities created by the state itself. The political parties, their caste and creed based oppressions of all types and therefore there can’t be a modern secular debate about how to build an equitable society and polity.
Agriculture and rural India is not simply an economic picture. There is politics and the traditional oppressions of all sorts. Modern state and society also contribute to the inquities. Political parties-funding, corruption and black money etc.
The media is also skewed. Media, print and TV, English language press is again insensitive or ignores the weak sectors like agriculture and rural India.
The big corporate operate in agriculture and this is a subject we have debate separately. So too the big talk about the MNCs and FDI etc. So, Capitalism also comes in.
Corporate Social Responsibility is anti-agriculture and anti-villages! This is our practical experience. Rahul Gandhi says that the Modi government waived of loaned of 15 big corporates to the tune of 3 times the amount of lands of Rs.70, 000 of the UPA government. There may not be many takers for this argument. Let us all be honest and serve our own selves.
Agriculture Industry Survey wants to sensitize the big corporates and ask them to come forward to join us in creating a new sensitivity and a new paradigm shift in raising the priority of agriculture to a new high profile.