INDIA’S AGRICULTURE MINISTER COUNTS ‘LOVE AFFAIRS AND IMPOTENCY’ AMONG REASONS BEHIND FARM SUICIDES

Now this is really crass and sounds blasphemous when it comes from the Agriculture Minister of India.

India is the world’s largest democracy.

It is also the world third largest economy.

It is now the fastest growing economy of the world.

It is also projected to have the world largest share of middle class by 2030, a ‘must’ market for transnational corporations and economies.

It is the founder member of the New Development Bank of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) grouping, an important global block of emerging economies with potential to drive the world economy (and the geopolitics). It also joined Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) this month.

It is a proven global power in space technology.

Its information-technology industry is among the best in the world.

India is being seen as a true global power. Nations across the globe are accepting it. Suddenly, Pakistan is no match for India. Until now, the comparison has been about how China is far ahead of India – especially on economic indicators – and therefore, the development they bring. Now, the analyses are mostly about how China is slowing down and saturating and how India is poised to become the next global economic powerhouse.

It has had a Narendra Modi led government since May 2014 that is seen excelling in promoting Brand India on different global platforms.

But, in spite of the all the claims and realities, India is still an agrarian economy – with number of people dependent on it.

But, in spite of employing some 55% of the populations, agriculture’s share in the national GDP has shrunk to just 14%.

In spite of the fact that GDP has expanded and services and manufacturing have major shares now, the share of people dependent on agriculture has not come down in that large a proportion. It means a GDP contributor that has seen consistently reduced pie in the overall chart has much more people to support than other sectors of economy. If we follow the simple logic of ‘supply and demand’, ‘supply’ of people dependent on agriculture has far outdone their demand for a resource that is growing scare in, i.e., land area has remained the same but has always been cursed to support an ever increasing number of population directly dependent on it. That leaves most of its dependents in a perpetual state of instability, i.e., farmers.

Growth in the number of agricultural labourers since the independence has surpassed that of cultivators by a large margin. India had around 70 million cultivators in 1947 while agriculture labourers were at around 27 million. But in 2011, agricultural labourers surpassed cultivators by around 26 million (118 million cultivators to 144 million labourers).

P. Sainath writes that some 2035 farmers lose their ‘cultivator status’ daily. They obviously join the class of landless farmers or agricultural labourers.

Every year, thousands of farmers are forced to commit suicide due to financial problems and dependent social evils. And it has been an unending black spot on India for decades. Unseasonal rains during first few months of this year forced more than a thousand farmers to take their lives in Maharashtra alone.

In spite of all its economic advances and industrial growth, India has not been able to address many glaring sociological gaps prevalent in the country.

In spite of its increasing global stature, India is yet to find a way to address its increasing social disparity, the widening gap between haves and have-nots.

India has still hollow and questionable answers to debates like ‘India Vs Bharat’, Metro India Vs Small Town India and Urban India Vs Hinterland India’.

And the ways to the way go through our political establishment, elected to run the country, since the first elections were held after the independence.

And when a minister from that political establishment, from an elected government, expresses such insensitive remarks, we feel so low – the nation, once again, is forced to feel that India would never be able to bridge its ‘class gaps’ with such policymakers.

And Radha Mohan Singh’s is not a standalone case.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

CLOSER ECONOMIC TIES BETWEEN INDIA AND CHINA MAKE SENSE

They are the world’s two most populous nations.

They are poised to be the world’s second and third largest economies.

They are the world’s biggest markets.

One has grown at around 10% for 30 years.

The other has grown around 6% for 20 years.

And as China, the one with an average growth rate of 10%, is slowing down, India is slated to become the fastest growing economy of the world.

And it is in process. India, that has grown at around 6% for past two decades, is expected to grow at 7.5% this year compared to China’s 6.8%, as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reports.

According to a report by the Harvard University, the projections say India will grow annually at 7.9% for eight years till 2023 while the average annual growth rate for China for the same period is expected to be 4.6%.

India is poised to become the world’s youngest nation by 2020.

India has 65% of its population under 35 years of age – that corresponds to over 81 crores (810 million) of India’s population of 1.25 billion.

When its prime minister, Narendra Modi, who started his first official tour of China today, talks of a demographic dividend, he has reasons to say so.

India is poised to have the world’s largest middle class surpassing China by 2030. The criteria used by the BBC for this projection was an earning potential of US$ 10 to US$ 100 per day. The study projects India’s middle class to be 475 million strong by 2030.

According to a study by the World Bank, United States was at the top of the middle class consumption pecking order in 2009 with 21% global share (US$ 4377 billion). In 2020, China is projected to be at the top with 13% market share worth US$ 4468 billion. India will make a grand entry there with projected market share of 23% worth whopping US$ 12777 billion.

China’s is a manufacturing powerhouse and India is trying to be the one with the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) led government’s ‘Make In India’ campaign.

Global companies are vying for Chinese and Indian markets and India and China are eyeing for each other’s market as well.

And closer economic ties between the two giants, the projected second and the third largest economies of the world, the two largest middle classes, the two Asian superpowers and the two neighbours, make sense.

Right now, China is ahead of India in every comparable aspect – in social sphere, in military technology, in infrastructure and in economy – China’s economy is over four times the Indian economy.

But India is the world’s largest democracy and is slowly adopting the features of a free market economy while the Communist China with a one-party system did it very fast.

Now, China is stagnating and is coming around a sustainable growth rate.

And India is poised to take up – at least for a decade to come.

And the two counties together make the largest marketplace of the world – with 24% of the middle class consumption by 2020 that is slated to go up by 17% to become 41% by 2030.

India and China, the world’s two fastest growing economies, are home to over 2.6 billion people now – that is around 30% of the world.

And they are big markets for every country – including themselves.

Xi Jinping’s India visit last year and Narendra Modi’s China visit this year should be seen in this context only – two large economies that see gains in mutual cooperation – even if it means pushing back the contentious issues – including the border issue.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

FARMER SUICIDES AND POLITICAL APATHY

Agriculture employs some 55% (54.6% exactly) of the people of India but over the years, its share in the national GDP has reduced. As of now, it contributes just 14% to the GDP.

So, even if the GDP has expanded and India is slated to become the third largest economy of the world soon, the share of expansion gone to agriculture has been less than what went to services and manufacturing.

Services, manufacturing and other trade related activities getting prominence over the agriculture – that was bound to happen in an economy advancing to enlarge itself.

And so, it was expected from the policymakers that they would do something about it.

But they didn’t have any answer to this expectation. And over the years, the sensitivity with which they looked at the problem gave way to apathy.

Results – tens of thousands of cases of farmer suicides each year – in official records (say National Crime Records Bureau) – irrespective of which political group was at the helms of affair!

Think of the unofficial estimates! Sure to outdo the official figures.

And the trend has continued over the years.

With increasing insensitivity of the political establishments and total apathy of the governments!

So much so, that debate now has elements like ‘why to become a farmer when it is economically suicidal’ to ‘small Vs big farmers’.

75% farmers have land-holdings up to 1 hectare only. 10% farmers have holdings of 1-2 hectare while just 0.24% farmers have land-holdings above 10 hectare. And these are official figures, drawn from a report of the National Sample Survey Organization.

So, the smallest land-owners form the largest chunk and they have to be ready to bear all the anomalies and brutalities – man-made and natural.

Even in normal course, their expenditures outdo the earnings. So, think of the times when nature plays the villain and when the man acts apathetic.

We cannot do anything with the nature even if this is partly political – at least, not in the short term.

But when we have to say the same thing about the ‘men acting apathetic/insensitive’, it is outrightly humiliating – because that is totally political.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/