With record procurement of wheat and rice
India can play a great role
In promoting much goodwill and diplomatic strength
Indian agriculture is becoming a leading world export
Must use agriculture as a strategic tool and an enhanced international role.
The Indian agriculture economy is one of the largest in the democratic world. As of now, after our long-winded farmers agitation comes the rather positive news that India has procured wheat and rice to record levels.
We take China and Russia as the other two largest geographies and political powers, it is India ’s democratic political structure that makes us unique on the world stage. When it comes to issues like world peace and prosperity India is also well-placed to play a more active role.
The world sees us as next to the USA in this respect and also the largest agricultural economy as well. With all the advantages like free press and an open society given our strengths as a free nation with all its existing disabilities, the poverty and other social issues like malnutrition of children and mothers and why there are much more other disabilities deaths from hunger, arising out of food shortages, and many other factors that are all listed in the World Human Development Index. There are other issues like the absence of reliable statistics in the current political context. Media freedom is also a new perspective to our debate.
Let us all leave these factors aside and see what we can do as a leading agriculture power. Yes, the time has come to recognize our inherent strengths.
How many in India know that India is now a leading agricultural exporter? Many might not know this crucial transformation of Indian agriculture. Our trade relations are growing and India now exports agricultural products. To a number of new countries (as we believe) like new names in Africa and South East Asia and also we now export new products like Indian mangoes and pomegranate to the USA. These developments must help to expand the growth opportunities for Indian agriculture. Of course we are yet to come out of our current political tensions with our peculiar communal politics and must come out to the world outside and engage ourselves in the international affairs with more open-mindedness. And more commitment for larger issues like promoting world peace and prevention of likely war threats as we are now facing the Russia and Ukraine front.
Yes, India must be seen as a real inheritor of the past legacy. The Singapore Prime Minister, the honorable Mr.Lee has chosen to mention the Indian political legacy. In the past and at present! He has chosen to draw attention to the fall in values, the distinguished PM has mentioned the fact there is a growing criminalization of MPs in the Indian Parliament.
We must take the criticism in the right spirit and must be seen by the outside world as a growing open society, values etc. Unless India becomes more open-minded and reaches out to Asian neighbors and also to the African continent India would remain an isolated continent. We have only to recall the old times, the times of Pandit Jawaharlal. Nehru and our own Non-Alignment Policy V.K.Krishna Menon, our then foreign spokesman used to say: India counts on the international stage.
The country, today though our indefatigable Prime Minister has raised the Indian image abroad, we are yet to win over the hearts and minds of the world leaders and the intellectual public opinion, when it comes to big issues of the day. Be it in Ukraine or other oppressed peoples in China and other countries, be it human rights or other freedoms of the people, the press freedom and the role of opposition parties and also the spread of democracy ,the role of the commonwealth where we are the dominant player. We seem to be lagging behind the times, given our past reputation since the time of Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Nehru.
It is not mere electoral strength of parties that matter these days. See the role of other political parties. They don’t seem to matter in the larger context and the world doesn’t seem to care for our Hindutva or Dravidastan or other narrow narratives.
The world cares for greater humanitarian issues like migrants, refugees and also poverty and illnesses, the Corona being the. deadliest of the latest concerns, Now, let us come to one of the most critical areas namely agriculture and food production policies.
Indian agriculture is no more a concern of food production for self-sufficiency alone. India has the largest agriculture geography and we have a favorable climate spread. And in the last 70 years since Independence. India made a remarkable recovery through the Green Revolution when we were left by our colonisers as a hopeless economy and a country of endemic poverty.
We have now become one of the most successful agri exporters and now we seem to re-emerging as a dominant rice exporter. We, as per the latest data seem to be the favoured exporters to all of our Asian neighbours, not only that we have also made our presence in many of the new countries on the African continent.
What Indian agriculture holds for the future, both in the near and far future. Our media, both the print and the online ones have become more urban-biased, most of the editorials in the mainstream media, why even the front page headlines are focused on the English speaking, professional middle classes, and the clerical population. And more also are tabloid format presentations.
There are issues like public education of India’s modernisation policies, propaganda of anti-liquor social propaganda and anti-drug menace. We cited only these two social evils. The state governments with very many small parties are only focusing on very dubious issues like anti-NEET and other such issues and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting must select high priority issues of great public education consequence and must get attention.
So, too the agri ministry also must focus on some very rare publications (like our, of course) to discuss and debate the very tricky issues. As for the agriculture sector we have mentioned many times before, agriculture is a very complex area where all sorts of issues and social forces interact.
Society, caste, religious beliefs and the very many government policies, to put it mildly had only accentuated the situation. There is, in spite of many positive developments, so much strife and disharmony in the rural areas, in the villages development, in whatever complexity and simplicity you want to analyse and argue, the natural responses to what is being done by the political Parties, new issues are cropping up. Take the instance of corruption. This has reached all limits.
The courts and other forums set up to deal with criminalisation of politics are overflowing with overloads of pending cases. To revert back to agriculture. The per capita land ownership is less than one hectare. And the average Indian farmers, as we have said many a times either a debtor or a litigant or both!
Some ticklish and sensitive questions! How do we expect a farmer to become self-sufficient?
The one new innovative step is to set up farmers’ producers societies. This is a very complex idea. Is this a new collective on the lines of the Soviet model? Or, any other co-operative or voluntary models?
The rural society won’t respond to these models, in our view. Maybe we have to allow a new consolidation of the tiny plots of land leaving it to some benign new market realities.
In the meantime, we have to liberalise the tenancy laws and the land ceiling laws to allow some economical sizes farming that would also attract new investments in new technologies.
The concept of start-ups can also be experimented. We have to learn from other European countries like the Netherlands and Israel. Big agricultural states like Punjab and Haryana can also contribute to this debate. As on date the many states also have contributed record levels of procurement of rice and wheat, nearly 80 million tonnes while as per latest reports our requirement. Is only around 55 million tonnes. This is one more opportunity for India to look out and expand our trade with more countries and participate in more world food aid programmes.
India has to be a liberal democracy and an open society.
Democratic values must pervade in our polity as well as economics.
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