Republic Day Special Series

SHARAD JOSHI'S BOOK: Ch. VII, Part 5

 

WHAT WENT WRONG WITH INDEPENDENCE?

Chapter VII: A Second Partition (Part 5)

Fattening the Calves for Slaughter:

The agricultural production can be augmented by three means: 

Reinforcement of infrastructure, 
Advancement of technology and
Provision of economic incentives.

Villages in general are poor; in all infrastructural facilities. Lack of access roads, drinking water, power, marketing, credit are all scanty and poor. The land tenure was medieval, the farmers illiterate;land tied down by traditional rituals. The productivity of Indian agriculture was consequently very low. The cultivation practices were age-old, deeds, manure and pest control very primitive, keeping a part of the land tallow was only known method of maintaining fertility. 

It was equally necessary that farmers should have adequate economic intensive to put in labour and investment. The system of markets since hundreds of years had been such that the farmers be forced to rush his produce to the markets as soon as the harvesting was done and accept whatever he got in exchange. Consequently, for generations together farmers had lost the enthusiasm for soil conservation, irrigation and improvement of implements and technology.

Promoting formation of industrial capital at the expense of agriculture require that the agricultural production should increase but that the benefit of the increased productivity should not reach the producer. This explains why successive governance of independent India attempted to improve social economic and agricultural infrastructure and tried to improve the technology. This was a case of calf being fattened so that it should yield maximum meat on the day of the slaughter.

HISTORY OF AGRICULTURAL POLICY:
In the epoch of Pandit Nehru the emphasis was on building up the;infrastructure, improving irrigation, system of land tenure, building of model farms, establishing cooperative credit network, extension of network of A P M C (Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee) land projects of this type, were implemented. Soon it became clear that the cooperation has failed. Without going into the causes thereof, the government tried to push them to success through liberal state funding. The cooperative institutions got departmentalised. They offered an allure of economic gain that easily won over the new ruler leadership. which developed an added enthusiasm for the socialistic pattern of society.

Lal Bahadur Shastri's tenure of a bare 18 months, saw a radical transformation The Agricultural Prices Commission was created and radical steps were taken to imbibe the Green Revolution Technology. Thus, it was that during the period of 1965 to 1970 the farmers obtained some of their crops prices that heartened them. 

Indira Gandhi puts serious limitations on the politics initiated by Lal Bahadur Shastri. The Agricultural Prices Commission was muzzled by successive appointments as its Chairmen. Leftist economists which established anti-farmer credentials The support prices recommended by the Commission were used not to provide a floor to the prices in the market but rather the maximum limit beyond which no private trader need offer for purchasing the agricultural produce. The Green Revolution remained confined to the Northern States. The productivity even There soon reached a plateau. The Green Revolution did not move neither to the east nor to the west. The methodology of fixing the prices continued to be arbitrary and restrictive. till the advent of the Janata Dal government under the Prime Minister V P Singh. With that small exception, agricultural commodities were subjected to massive negative subsidies. Exports continued to be generally banned uneconomic imports were contrived to depress domestic prices. Compulsory procurement, restrictions on transport, storage, credit;and an artificially inflated exchange rate of the rupee, were all used to keep agricultural prices depressed and the terms of the trade continued to version against the agricultural section. The substance of the agricultural situation during the last 50 years can be summarised in two statistics.

At the independence, population;dependent on agriculture was around 74 per cent, while the contribution of the agriculture to the gross domestic products was 65 per cent Today, Agriculture contributes less than 25 per cent of the GDP while the population dependent on Agriculture remains at around 70 percent. 50 years back if the per capita income of an agriculturist was Rs. 10 then that of a non-agriculturist was Rs. 14. Today, the ratio has worsened so much that a non-agriculturist’s per capita income is over Rs. 104. 

All the consequences of the economic policies in the last 50 years are fully reflected in these figures. The government decided to give priority to cities and industry, rather than to villages and agriculture and made all possible endeavour to transfer the agricultural surplus from the farmer to the industrialist. The imperial rulers exploited the colonies,. to help solve the problem of capital formation of the metropolitan industries. The black British rulers after Independence followed the same policies. They created a new neo-colonial pattern, where one part exploited the other. It is these social, economic and political policies that are responsible for the decline and fall of Independent India. 

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