As the socio-economic realities also change!
Everyday news is all about, of course, corona and the various mutations of the virus. There also are so many other areas where too the changes are quite fast and unpredictable. Technology, politics, international concerns and so many other areas. Agriculture is the only area that is both significant and also at the same time much neglected. We see in the you tube some videos that list the world’s top ten agriculture countries, top ten poor countries, top ten countries with most poverty and malnutrition and so on. These videos are otherwise most significant and also demanding most urgent attention.
But then who cares and who are to be held responsible? The UN or its specialist agencies like FAO or World Food Programme or the world leaders, Joe Biden or Putin and China’s Zing or we, in India?
Of course, this is a very controversial question and there is no easy answer here. Here we are just concerned with the critical question of what is happening in Indian agriculture which is listed. As the second most important agriculture country, next to China. USA comes I think at the sixth place after Russia, Brazil, Indonesia and one or two other countries.
Of course the population of a country matters where agriculture is the basic supplier of food and agriculture and food production and supply are mattered and next is the size of the geography and also population density and natural resources.
In India we have a huge population and also population density and also a very high level of poverty and malnutrition and underweight children and many other ills.
What is the present status of Indian agriculture?
We live in the South and we are unfamiliar. With agriculture in the Northern Indian states, though we have travelled in the north as I studied in Santiniketan. Even in recent years we had travelled in rural Bengal, in Birbhum district and nearby ones and honestly were appalled by the primitive living conditions of the people. No one decent tea shop on our way to Santiniketan and Bengal, in particular Santiniketan has produced two Nobel Laureates and yet no expert thinker, there has been men like Satyan Bose of the Satyen Bose theory of statistics and why even the great statistician P.C.Mahalanobis who drafted the second five year plan and founded the Indian Statistical Institute and yet we have a situation today that Indian data and much of the statistical findings are not released and the Chief Statistician of the Government of India resigns questioning the veracity of data released by the government from time to time. These thoughts arise. As we dwell on the reality of the Indian countryside and the average life affirmers and their conditions of living today.
The recently released NSS data on farm holdings in India reveal the unbelievable reality and the truth of the gross living conditions of the farmers. The average per capita and land holdings has declined further and it stands like an unbeliever less than one hectare!
And how in the world we are to believe that this state of affairs can continue and we would produce any surplus of food and also export. We humbly submit that someone placed at the top of the bureaucratic hierarchy, either at the Niti Ayog or at the ICAR must come out with some honest heart searching and tell us that we can continue to produce any surplus year after year, if we continue to believe that the advance estimates of food production targets or some other such calculations.
Every year we see the same bureaucracy coming out with the same official version like “agriculture and allied industries”. What are the allied industries? Or, any critical analysis of the statistics.Who makes the advanced estimates?
Let there be some question and answer at the level of the top bureaucracy. Officialdom at the top, we all know how the top officialdom operates in Delhi. We don’t want to proceed further!
We all know who live in the countryside. Areas that today there is an acute shortage of landless labor. The Southern states are flooded with cheap Labor from the North, from Bihar and the North Eastern states. The living conditions of internal migrants are as worse as we read and see in the foreign countries.
Of course, not many countries talk of migrants today in any part of the world. The seas-crossing migrants’ conditions are unspeakable. The internal migrants case is no less misery. Of course no state government has any separate department to look after the internal migrants within their states.
Now to come back to the viability of Indian farming in the near or far future, it is impossible to make Indian farming productive and viable. With the rising rural wages, it is now something like Rs.800 for male labor and for female it is something like Rs.300 for female labor in TN and still there is a rising demand for farm labour. How a family owning less than a hectare can employ farm labor or engage the family labor to make their living.
So, there are hard questions we have to ask. Can we make family farming viable? It is becoming impossible right now. There are so many radical changes in the villages. Honestly there is no honest heart searching today. Every one of some standing and consequence is hesitant to speak out!
There are reports that the funds for the scheme are running in trillions! From where do the funds come from? Simple silence on the part of the leaders or from the top bureaucrats. Is no solution, right?
India has a breakthrough from learning from other major agriculture and agri export companies. We have to subsidize agriculture. A major issue. Better make farming productive and surplus oriented. Make relaxation in land reform laws. From Mughal times to the British times we had many land ceilings or land-donating feudalism.
Call it by any name that feudalism was the Indian rural reality. Then by one reason or other the British left India leaving much of the inequity and in justice in tact to the Indian feudal lords and the Maharajas. Since then we had abolished the zamindari and other inequities in the rural society.
Of course today, there are changes. We read about agriculture in Punjab and Haryana. What the farmers want from the Central government from there?
Maybe we too have to ask for any relaxations. We need many relaxations in land ceilings to make new investments in agriculture and introduction of mechanization of farming. Even now, there is much mechanization. Farming is taking place. The subject is vast and needs much further debate and discussions.
Right now there is much deterioration in administration, corruption is on the rise.
So too many other aspects of rural change today. Indian agriculture has to change and we have to make educated families return to their rural homelands and engage in the new generation of agriculture practices. And make agriculture earn profits!
Image Source : https://okcredit.in