A few days after the release of the latest census information I happened to hold upwards participating inwards a TV give-and-take on the continuing distress inwards agriculture. After all, with almost 2,500 farmers quitting agriculture every day, too with the seat out of cultivators owning dry reason declining to less than the seat out of landless farm labourers for the commencement time, the enquiry that was asked to me was whether this was practiced tidings or bad.
“It for sure is bad tidings for the country,” I replied, adding: “But it must take maintain come upwards every bit a dandy disappointment to India’s planners too policy makers. They were anticipating a bigger shift inwards population from the rural to urban areas, too it shows that all their efforts to forcefulness the farmers to abandon agriculture take maintain non worked so well. They take maintain non been able to encounter the economical prescription that the World Bank had prescribed.” Needless to say, the economist on the panel wouldn’t agree.
At a conference organised yesteryear M south Swaminathan Research Foundation, inwards Chennai, agency dorsum inwards 1996, I vividly shout upwards a presentation made yesteryear the too so Chairman of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) too also a vice chairman of the World Bank, Dr Ismail Serageldin. He said every bit per World Bank’s estimates the seat out of people migrating from the rural to urban areas inwards Republic of Republic of India inwards some other xx years – yesteryear 2015 – would hold upwards equal to twice the combined population of UK, French Republic too Germany. The combined population of these 3 European countries is around 200 million. So the World Bank had anticipated 400 ane 1000 m people, to a greater extent than than the population of United States, moving out of rural areas inwards Republic of Republic of India inwards the side yesteryear side xx years.
I thought this was a warning. Perhaps the World Bank was telling us to hold upwards doubly careful too initiate appropriate policy approaches to bound the population shift, which is laced with disastrous socio-economic every bit good every bit political ramifications. No, I wasn’t correct. The World Bank was truly spelling out an economical prescription. This becomes apparent when y’all read the subsequent World Development Reports, annual publications of the World Bank. Reading the 2008 World Development Report, I was shocked to honor the depository fiscal establishment truly shout for Republic of Republic of India to speed upwards the population transfer yesteryear encouraging dry reason rental markets.
At the same time, the depository fiscal establishment made it abundantly clear that the younger people inwards rural areas do non know anything but farming. Displacing them from agriculture without teaching them the skills to acquire industrial workers volition alone add together to the rural workforce. It so suggested setting upwards a network of grooming centres where these youngsters could hold upwards trained to acquire industrial workers. And no wonder, inwards the 2009 Budget speech, simply before the elections, the too so Finance Minister made a budgetary provision for setting upwards 1,000 industrial grooming institutes.
I wasn’t so surprised when Dr Raghuram Rajan, the novel governor of the Reserve Bank of Republic of Republic of India (RBI), parroted the same economical prescription. In an interview with the New York Times, this is what Rajan had to say: “In price of where volition increment come upwards from, it doesn’t demand to come upwards from fancy materials similar extraordinary excogitation of ane sort or another. Just getting people from agriculture into services too manufacture itself is growth.” He has repeated the same solution to the economical woes inwards a Walk the Talk he had with Shekhar Gupta sometimes ago. And every bit I said earlier, Rajan besides is disappointed. In some other interview, he admitted that the leave of absence of people from agriculture has non kept measuring with economical growth.
Soon after assuming office, when Rajan said he is non looking for the seat out of ‘likes’ on the facebook but is contemplating some tough decisions, my impression was truly he wanted to bring was that he volition opt for ‘tough love’ – tough for the aam aadmi, too honey for the rich — because this is precisely what the marketplace position economic scheme textbooks prescribe. Allow for unbridled privatisation of profits, too when the bubble bursts socialise the costs. It’s the wretched who must brand sacrifices to popular off on the wheels of economic scheme churning. This is precisely what happened at the fourth dimension of the 2008-09 economical melt-down. This is what after led to the Eurozone crisis, too this is what has been at the dorsum of India’s economical downturn.
Moving people out of agriculture may hold upwards the ultimate goal, but at that topographic point are some ways to prop upwards the economic scheme inwards a short-term. Sometimes back, senior journalist too writer M J Akbar had inwards ane of his columns given us an first-class idea. He quoted a Russian Finance Minister, who inwards wake of declining gross domestic product inwards Russia, truly asked beau Russians that the to the lowest degree they tin do to aid the economic scheme grow is to start drinking to a greater extent than vodka. The Economist besides has with other things suggested opening upwards of c4sin0s to ensure that people with surplus coin do non flock to Sri Lanka on weekends. As if this is non enough, the Thai take maintain proposed setting upwards of massage parlours nether the Indo-Thai gratis merchandise understanding that is existence renegotiated. Massage parlours are of course of didactics a service industry.
If these are the options available to heighten the sagging economy, at that topographic point is something terribly incorrect with the agency nosotros perceive economical growth. But allow us commencement await at the flawed thinking that is aimed at destroying domestic agriculture. The fail of agriculture is deliberate too component division of a bigger design. In a province where roughly seventy per cent of the population lives inwards the countryside, at that topographic point tin hold upwards nix to a greater extent than disastrous than to programme for a massive population shift inwards the coming decades. Just because the World Bank/IMF too the American universities take maintain been flouting the crazy hypothesis, does non hateful that nosotros should follow it blindly. What Republic of Republic of India needs so are leaders with vision too wisdom too non ideological gratis marketplace position brats who cannot regard beyond the G-20 mandate.
Agriculture provides livelihoods for almost 600 ane 1000 m people. They are for sure underemployed, too undernourished. The challenge so is to brand them gainfully employed, too non to uproot them too plough them into agricultural refugees. Like the immature graduate from a draw organisation school, a farmer is also an entrepreneur. He needs improved skills for which he needs training, too also needs a launching pad. Take the illustration of a poorest of wretched women inwards a village. When she goes out to purchase a goat, she needs microfinance. She eventually ends upwards paying 24 per cent involvement to MFIs, which at weekly repayment programme turns to hold upwards 38 per cent. With such a predatory interest, she volition perpetually stay inwards the poverty trap.
If steel tycoon Laxmi Mittal tin hold upwards advanced Rs 1,250-crore at null involvement for investment inwards Bathinda refinery, or if Ratan Tata tin hold upwards provided dry reason at a throwaway cost too fiscal credit at 0.5 per cent charge per unit of measurement of interest, I wonder why the wretched are penalised. Provide the wretched women credit at null percent, too I bet she would hold upwards driving a Nano machine at the destination of the year. Give the farmer a decent monthly assured income, too brand appropriate investments inwards rural infrastructure, too I tin enjoin y’all he volition non alone seat the country’s economical increment on a much higher pedestal, but ensure that the gains of economical evolution are distributed widely too equitably.
India so provides a unique chance for neoliberal breed of economists similar Raghuram Rajan to de-learn too un-graduate. As mortal said, that’s the alone agency nosotros volition larn to challenge all that nosotros take maintain accepted every bit time-tested truths. Move away from the increment fetish, take away the IMF/World Bank cap, too start looking afresh at economic science every bit if people mattered. If a non-descript hamlet similar Hiware Bazaar inwards Maharashtra tin boast of threescore millionaires, too that besides without whatsoever forcible dry reason acquisitions nether public-private partnership or sucking the province exchequer dry out with revenue enhancement sops too revenue enhancement holidays, each of the almost 6.4 lakh villages that dot the province tin do the same.
What Republic of Republic of India needs is a production arrangement yesteryear the masses, too non for the masses. That’s what Mahatma Gandhi said. And he wasn’t wrong. #
Source: Tehelka, Vol 10 Issue 38, Sept 21, 2013.