Struggling for Existence - a Vicious Spiral


By

Dr. Sachi Rana
Faculty - Economics
Icfai National College
Meerut
 


Scorching, service sector with 28% of average growth during plan period and 11.0% growth in the year 2006-07, formidable manufacturing sector, registering 10.9% in the year 2006-07 and the eroding bedrock of Indian economy which could accumulate mere 2.7% for 2006-07 of growth. Not only this over 1, 00,000 suicides and millions migrating to the cities in hunt for job and shelter. The figures bring out the gloom that is hovering over the life sustaining sector of India which is the abode of poverty, hunger, misery, destitution, gloom, illiteracy, virtual death and heartbreaking existence where the poor sons of mother India tussle with all the hardships all alone and finally lose to death

* Jal Kaur of Lehragag village in Sangrur district of Punjab, both of whose sons, 30 and 25 committed suicide (story of Granary of India)

A piece of news appeared in the April issue of Business World in the "Cover Story- Money Lending by Raghu Mohan and others"and similar others which  effortlessly creep into the newspapers, are given a thought for few seconds, marked a twaddle and forgotten.

The Misery

This is just an excerpt from the woeful tale of Indian "Farmer", the "Kisan", the "Khetihar", and the "Jota" which goes by the famous saying that Indian farmer is born in poverty, lives in poverty and dies in poverty. Indian farmers, unlike their counterparts in developed nations, comprise the lowest strata of society and lag behind not only in terms of income, education, and social status but even the life security whereby if hit with bad crop is compelled to commit suicide.

Lagging Behind

Scorching, service sector with 28% of average growth during plan period and 11.0% growth in the year 2006-07, formidable manufacturing sector, registering 10.9% in the year 2006-07 and the eroding bedrock of Indian economy which could accumulate mere 2.7% for 2006-07 of growth. Not only this over 1, 00,000 suicides and millions migrating to the cities in hunt for job and shelter. The figures bring out the gloom that is hovering over the life sustaining sector of India which is the abode of poverty, hunger, misery, destitution, gloom, illiteracy, virtual death and heartbreaking existence where the poor sons of mother India tussle with all the hardships all alone and finally lose to death or despair.

The following tables published in April issue of Business World Cover Story Agriculture p37) establishes this fact more firmly

TABLE 1
Yield in wheat (kg / ha)

Country

2003

2004

2005

2006

% change in 2006 over 2003

China

3,931.96

4,252.07

4,275.39

4,455

13.30%

France

6,249.89

7,578.74

6,988.67

6,740.72

7.85%

India

2,610

2,713.18

2,601.57

2,618.96

0.34%

USA

2,971.67

2,902.91

2,902.17

2,825.28

-4.93%

              Source: FAO


TABLE 2
Yield in rice (kg / ha)

Country

2003

2004

2005

2006

% change in 2006 over 2003

China

6,060.78

6,308.73

6,250.83

6,265.15

3.37%

India

3,117.66

2,975.6

3,152.08

3,123.8

0.20%

Indonesia

4,542.65

4,536.49

4,574.62

4,771.93

5.05%

Vietnam

4,638.74

4,855.26

4,883.32

4,891.43

5.45%

              Source: FAO


Table and the bar diagrams articulate that wide gap exists between the performance of India and other wheat producing countries. In terms of percentage growth also condition is very grim as it could register only 0.34% increase in the year 2006 over 2003 in a span of four years. Similarly, it could register only 0.20% increase in the year 2006 over 2003 in rice production, resulting in a meager food grain growth of 0.48% over the past 10 years, which caused a decline of 15% in per capita availability of food grains in the past 15 years.

Factors Responsible

The deplorable condition of farmers is entwined with several factors. Firstly, while the output is stagnating, food consumption is increasing at an alarming rate, secondly, highly fragmented landholdings of India make farming less lucrative, thirdly, lack of inclination and policy framework for contract farming, low performance of cooperative farming, lack of knowledge and spread of organic farming, fourthly, lack of delivery by the banks to support this volatile and less remunerative sector, lastly lack of knowledge in the fields of water management, pest proofing, drying, threshing, harvesting and warehousing.

Taking government front, though the burden of providing subsidy to the farmers has mounted from 7,500 crores in the year 1997-98 to whopping 25,425 crores in 2007-08 i.e. about 3.5 times in 10 years, yet it has added only to the misery of the farmers leaving 82% of the farmers out of 60, 33,900 farmer households in Andhra Pradesh, 64.4% out of 21,94,600 farmer households in Kerala, 61.6% out of 40, 41300 farmer households in Karnataka and 54.9% out of 65, 81,700 farmer households in Maharahhratra, 53.1% out of 19,44,500 farmer households in Haryana, 51.9% out of  37, 84,500 farmer households in Gujarat, and 50.8%  out of 63, 20,600 farmer households in Madhya Pradesh in the deadly clutches of debt spiral. Where, the poor creatures are groping in darkness of poor pricing and marketing policies, short sighted approach towards food security, and the dwindling public investment. All these inefficiencies on the part of government has deteriorated already grim condition of farm sector, which still supports 60% of the population, and employs bulk of Indian population and above all sustains us, is left alone to grapple with the tormenting weather of uncertainty in the economy.

Conclusion

The foregoing glimpse of drudgery of agriculture is good enough to show our indifference to this indispensable venue of growth and sustenance.

But have we forgotten the times? When agriculture used to be the only one sector which supported the newly independent nation and sustained India for more than half a century i.e.50 long years when industry was in infancy and service sector was not conceived even.

Aren't we neglecting the very vitals of our existence? The day is not far off when we the tweeters of manufacturing and service sector would certainly hold plates and beg to the granaries of grain exporters to feed us. According to National Commission on Population as the GDP is booming and population burgeoning at an alarming pace of 1.19% to touch 1.33 billion by 2020-21 the demand for food grains is projected to touch whopping figure of 280.6 million tonnes and there is no other way than resorting to imports in near future to satisfy the ever expanding demand. And why wait for it? we have started importing food grains, as more and more farmers are giving up farming. The reason is not difficult to understand "agriculture has got caught in the logjam of diminishing returns". According to a study a Punjab farmer on an average earns less than a class IV government employee than why should people struck to the hardships of agriculture.

Its never too late, come lets wake up to provide a help desk to farmers and initiate steps to herald an era of harmonious growth of all the three potential sectors. Why? Because it is the, question of development, prosperity, wellbeing and the very existence, of us all .Don't expect some "messiah" or "avatar" to emerge and conjure panacea. It's us, who can bring a dawn of new era, so what are we waiting for? Come let's gird our waist to combat the persistent ills and help our fellow brethren to live a life they deserve, as their wellbeing is ours too.  

References:

April Issue- Business World (Special Issue 7 April 2008)

1. "We Need a Second Green Revolution to be Self Reliant in Food Grain Production"  by P. Vaidyanathan Iyer with Dhanya Krishnakumar, Jayant Singh, M. Allirajan and M. Rajendran, pp-34-40

2. Cover Story Statistics "Slipping Out of Hand, Myopic Strategies and Faulty Pricing Mar Indian Agriculture", pp-42-43

3. Cover Story Guest Column "Food for Thought" by Yashwant Sinha, pp- 44-45

4. Cover Story Money Lending "Life and Debt" by Raghu Mohan with M. Allirajan, Dhanya Krishnakumar, Jyant Singh, Rajesh Gajra, pp 46-48

5. Cover Story Solutions "Beckoning Solutions" by M. Rajendran, P. Vaidyanathan Iyer, pp 54-57
 


Dr. Sachi Rana
Faculty - Economics
Icfai National College
Meerut
 

Source: E-mail April 10, 2008

          

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