http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/Study-disputes-Gujarats-miracle-in-agriculture-growth/articleshow/6897547.cms#ixzz158BwAFjL

Rajiv Shah, TNN, Nov 10, 2010, 06.12am IST

GANDHINAGAR: A new study, meant for “restricted circulation”, is creating ripples among state’s policy-makers, who have, for over a year, cited an analysis by scholars Tushaar Shah and Ashok Gulati for the International Water Management Institute, Sri Lanka, to say that Gujarat’s “miracle agricultural growth” since 2000 is a trend-setter for India.

The new study, “Gujarat’s agricultural growth story: exploding some myths”, says the talk of “high growth in the early years of the new millennium” of 9.6 per cent per annum is “misleading” and “distorted”. Carried out by M Dinesh Kumar, A Narayanamoorthy, OP Singh, MVK Sivamohan, Manoj Sharma and Nitin Bassi for the Institute of Resource Analysis and Policy, Hyderabad, the study says the real “miracle growth” in Gujarat’s agriculture history occurred “during 1988-89 to 1998-99”, when it grew by 10 per cent. But from 2000-01 and 2008-09, the actual growth was “four per cent” against the claim of 9.6 per cent”. Even this growth was because of farmers using Narmada waters, not because of check dams, as claimed by Shah-Gulati.

The study says that the “miracle” argument fails to take into account a crucial figure – fall of agricultural output by 30 per cent during two drought years, 1999 and 2000.

Then, there is yet another distortion – the 9.6 per cent growth rate is on current prices, which means that the “figures are not corrected for inflation”.

It underlines, “The ‘growth’ observed in the recent past (2002 onwards) is nothing but a good recovery from a major dip in production occurred during the drought years of 1999 and 2000.” The state officials are examining the study.

The study also disputes the argument that dependence on rainfall went down in Gujarat due to a large number of check dams built in the state in 1999-2000.

The highest growth, 22 per cent, during 1980-2006, was on account of milk production. As for crops like cotton and groundnut, “with good monsoons, production grew substantially with steady expansion in cropped area or yield growth”, but in drought years “production suffered with shrinkage in area under irrigated winter crops, and sharp reduction in yield of crops sown in kharif, including cotton and groundnut”.

Insisting that water in these small reservoirs mainly “gets evaporated”, the study says, “though there has been a marked and consistent increase in the area under cotton cultivation during 1994 and 2006, this did not get translated into a production gain, and there was a sharp decline in yield during drought years.”

Suggesting that “sharp fluctuations” characterize the area under irrigation, the study adds, the area under groundnut cultivation has been “hovering around two million hectares (ha) in the past three decades after a slow decline from a peak of 2.3 million ha in early 1960s”.

In the Golden Jubilee Year of Maharashtra ‘facing worst economic crisis’

Thursday, March 11, 2010

In the Golden Jubilee Year of Maharashtra ‘facing worst economic crisis’ In the Golden Jubilee Year of Maharashtra ‘facing worst economic crisis’

  • OFFICIAL DEBT IS CROSSING THE 2 MILLION CRORE MARK
  • THIS YEAR MORE THAN 6 MILLION JOB LOST IN MAHARSHTRA.
  • DROP IN FOOD PRODUCTION BY 46% IV.DROP IN IRRIGATION FACILITY IN DRY LAND AL MOST 80% FOR VIDARBHA 1.5 LAKH HECTOR RABY TO JUST 20 THOUSAND UNDER CULTIVATION.
  • SEVERE WATER CRISIS IN RURAL MAHARASHTRA.
  • NO MEGA PROJECT OR SEZ HAS STARTED.
  • NO INCREASE IN POWER.
  • STATE FAILED TO CRATE ROAD AND HEALTH AND EDUCATIONAL FACILITIES AS PLANED.

Nagpur- 12th March 2010, When last in august 2009 it’s first economic survey before submitting the budget Maharashtra Govt. has admitted that state is not economic growth map when it was told that last year Maharashtra lost 2 million jobs in the year 2008-2009,food grain production dropped by 25% before drought has been declared ,outstanding debt mounting to Rs.1,58,520 crore, interest payment on debt is Rs. 12,953 crore,30% drop in employment provided under National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), poverty ratio in the State is 30.7 per cent as against All-India average of 27.5 percent and more than 6000 farm suicides and lacs of tribals death due to malnutrition and starvation but same time rosy picture was shown regarding massive job creation and investments in infrastructure ,increase in food crop production ,reduction in the debt and restoration basic facilities to poor like food ,shelter, health ,education and rural employment ,industrial growth but nothing has happened and economical crisis further deepen and in the golden jubilee year of it’s formation Maharashtra is set to face worst economic crisis and fiscal collapse due to poor governance and massive corruption in ministry , Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti(VJAS) president kishor Tiwari informed today regarding economic collapse of Maharashtra and urged central Govt. intervention to avoid systematic failure of fiscal structure of Maharashtra . VJAS has drawn the attention towards the drought situation in more than 20,000 villages that has effected sharply drop in kharif and raby crop and first food production has like to be drop below 102 lakh MT first time in history of Maharashtra .it was told that Total 14,957 industrial projects with an investment of Rs. 5,04,689 crore and employment potential of about 27.54 lakh have been registered with the GoI to set up units in the State till the end of December, 2008. Out of these, 6,778 projects with an investment of Rs. 1,10,149 crore have already started their production and employment of about 6.93 lakh has been generated. The compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) for the last five years for investments in registered and commissioned projects is 16.1 and 2.6 per cent respectively but in ground reality nothing has happened. Regarding power sector growth it was told that ,the total available installed capacity of electricity in the State at the end of March, 2008 was 21,654 MW as against 17,984 MW at the end of March, 2007. During 2008-09, the generation of electricity in the State upto the end of November, 2008 was 51,465 million KWH, higher by 6.0 per cent than that in the corresponding period of 2007-08. The State is facing a power deficit of about 4,500MW. The transmission losses of MAHATRANSCO were 5.0 per cent and the distribution losses of MAHADISCOM were 24.1 per cent during 2007-08 but net incrase in power is almost nil . Major high light of economic survey was An ambitious project for setting up a world class Multi-modal International Hub Airport at Nagpur (MIHAN) is being developed by Maharashtra Airport Development Company Ltd. (MADC), the State owned company. The project covers development of existing domestic airport at Nagpur as an international Passenger and Cargo Hub Airport, along with a huge Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and with overall world class facilities such as road infrastructure, separate road and rail terminal that will handle 14 million passenger traffic and an estimated 8.7 lakh tones of cargo per year. The unique feature of this project is ‘Maintenance Repair Overhaul (MRO)’ base for comprehensive maintenance of aircraft, the first independent MRO in India but after year MIHAN is turning out to be hoax has it failed to give single job to skilled or unskilled worker of the region more over it has been become land mafia activity centre. ‘As Maharashtra chief Minster Ashok Chavan was full year busy in land allotments and land lease ,touts have taken over the administration and Maharashtra in it’s golden year of creation is going toward bad phase of economic condition of one time very progressive state Maharashtra due to huge mounting debt, massive administrative corruption coupled with administrative failure of present Govt., It’s matter of serious concern of all tax prayer of Maharashtra ’ kishore tiwari of VJAS informed today. As per last year economic report ,it is informed that the revenue receipts of the State Government are expected to be Rs. 79,911 crore during 2008-09 as against Rs. 79,860 crore during 2007-08. The tax revenue of the State is expected to be Rs. 60,839 crore in which State’s own tax revenue is Rs. 51,893 crore (85 per cent). The non-tax revenue is expected to be Rs. 19,072 crore.The revenue expenditure of the State Government during 2008-09 is expected to be Rs. 78,946 crore, higher by 19 per cent over the previous year, of which interest payment is Rs. 12,953 crore (16.4 per cent).The total outstanding debt during 2008-09 is expected to be Rs. 1,58,520 crore (25.8 percent of the GSDP).The food grains production for kharif and rabi season in the State is estimated to be 117.19 lakh M.T. as a preliminary forecast, less by 24 per cent compared to that of the previous year. A steep fall of 49 per cent is expected in production of oilseeds. Sugarcane production is also expected to be much lower by 43 per cent (at 508.13 lakh M.T.) mainly due to reduction of 30 percent in the harvested area.The estimated employment in the State, based on National Sample Survey, which was on rise till 2004-05 at 4.3 crore, declined to 4.1 crore in 2007-08 clearly indicating the footprints of recession.The employment provided under National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) during 2008-09 was 4.2 crore person days as against 6.0 crore person days provided under Employment Guarantee Scheme (EGS) and NREGS during 2007-08.The poverty estimate provided by the Planning Commission of India, reveal that the poverty ratio in the State during 2004-05 is 30.7 per cent as against All-India average of 27.5 percent. Though the results at various points of time show decline in poverty ratios, the number of persons living below poverty line is gradually increasing since 1973-74 and increased by 12.2 lakh persons in 2004-05 as compared to 1993-94.Kishore Tiwari of VJAS has asked today to central Govt. to review economic crisis in Maharashtra due to uncontrolled plan and unplanned expenses of state Govt. and on going fiscal deficit of state Govt. as bureaucratic control is of executive is missing and corruption in administration is at it’s peak hence fiscal monitoring and central review is needed.. “this is election year but people of Maharashtra will have to pay cost of political misdeed in future ,more hardship are in pipeline if corrective steps are not taken today” tiwari added.

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At Farm's hand

http://www.downtoearth.org.in/full6.asp?foldername=20090331&filename=croc&sec_id=10&sid=1

At farm’s hand

An assured income for farmers will make agriculture viable and ensure food security
In his budget speech finance minister Pranab Mukherjee claimed that agriculture, services, manufacturing along with trade and construction were drivers of the country’s growth in the past few years. But actually agriculture should not be slotted in the same bracket as manufacturing and services. Agricultural growth averaged 2.5 per cent in the past five years. This pales in comparison to the 10 per cent growth achieved by manufacturing and services in the same period.
Agriculture, in fact, touched a terrible low between 1997 and 2008 with 182,936 farmers committing suicide—according to government records. The returns from agriculture are paltry in comparison to other vocations. Let us consider some figures. Between 1997 and 2007, salaries of government employees increased by over 150 per cent—we are not even looking at the hikes proposed by the sixth pay commission and the earnings of our mlas increased by 500 per cent, but the farmer could manage only a 25 per cent increase in the prices of his produce. Prices of non-agricultural commodities, meanwhile, shot up by 300-600 per cent. The prices of agricultural inputs went up by 400 per cent.
This disparity has struck the farmer hard. The Arjun Sengupta committee on the unorganized sector reckons that an average Indian farmer’s monthly income is Rs 2,115 while his expenditure is Rs 2,770 every month.
Successive governments have tried to keep agricultural prices low to ensure cheap labour—the rationale being that cheap food will make labour cheap. But the farmer’s bill on other inputs has gone spiralling. The minimum support prices do not ensure a fair return to the farmer who has to spend a fortune on hybrid seeds, GM crops and new generation pesticides. And in any case, the government announces msps for only 33 agricultural commodities and intervenes in market operations only for rice and wheat. So farmers growing other crops are left to the mercy of markets.
The National Commission on Farmers has stated the government should ensure farmers earn a “minimum net income”, and also make sure that agricultural progress be measured by the increase in that income. It should appoint a statutory body—a Farmers Income Commission—to examine the real income of farmers every year across the state.
The government should ensure remunerative prices for agricultural produce. The prices for agricultural commodities should be based on the real cost of production and linked with inflation. msps should be announced before the beginning of each crop season and procurement must be timely.
Today agricultural workers don’t find employment and at the same time farmers cannot afford to pay for labour. The government should provide input subsidy in the form of labour wages (up to 100 days in a calendar year) to farmers to monetize family labour or to pay other farm labourers. This subsidy should include all agricultural operations from sowing to harvesting. It can be operationalized on similar lines as the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, or by extending the scheme to agricultural work. This will also help agricultural workers.
The net income of farmers can be increased by promoting post-harvest oerations at the village level. Agriculture-centered small scale industry can give the rural economy a boost
But these measures will only help partially. It is essential to provide direct cash payment to make up for the shortfall. All cultivators should be given fixed cash support to ensure them a fair living standard. This could be set at Rs 15,000 per family and revised every year by the commission.
If we consider the 9 crore farmer families in the country, the government’s annual expenditure on this support will come to Rs 1.35 lakh crores. If we add the labour wage support, the government’s subsidy bill will go up by another 1 lakh crores. But by spending Rs 2.35 lakh crores, the government can extricate more than 50 per cent of people from the below poverty line trap.

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G V Ramanjaneyulu is with Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, Hyderabad. He can be reached at gvramanjeyulu@gmail.com

Extraordinary circumstances calls for ordinary solutions

Devinder Sharma

It was a very busy and hectic day for me. Hopping from one TV studio to another, talking to the print media in between, essentially called upon to analyse the interim Budget 2009-10, presented by Pranab Mukherjee today in Parliament.
Extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary solutions. This is what Mr N K Singh, a former bureaucrat and now advisor to Bihar government, had written sometimes back in an article on economic meltdown. I am sure he may not have then realised that this particular sentence would be used aggressively by the corporate world and of course the electronic and print media — many of them working as their lapdogs — to seek more and more sops from the government. No wonder, this sentence reverbrated throughout the day today in media analysis. The corporate honchos made ample use of it, and so did some of the media.
The reason was simple. The corporate world had expected a series of sops and concessions in the interim budget. The real estate, the automobile sector, the exporters and you name it; they were all in a sombre mood, you could see their sullen faces and you knew what pained them. Mr Pranab Mukherjee had certainly failed them. He surely had upset all their calculations. How could Manmohan Singh’s government not realise that extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary solutions? Agreed, that this was an interim budget but how would the national economy run in the next four months? How come Manmohan the economist didn’t think about it?
I was feeling amused. I silently looked at their faces, trying to read their expressions. I realised how indignant the rich and elite feel when denied alms from the state treasury. I recall the time when the former Finance Minister P Chidambaram had opened up the state chest for the business class, it was promptly termed as a Dream Budget. They gave him 10 out of 10. Today, they were reluctant to give Pranab Mukherjee even 2 or 3 out of 10.
We talk of the booming economy, of the unprecedented economic growth trajectory. I wonder how many of us know that the net economic wealth of 36 individuals in India is equivalent to one-third of country’s 9 per cent GDP. If ever these 36 families were to migrate to say Switzerland, Indian economy will crash to 6 per cent.
So much for country’s growth. With exports down, manufacturing down, industrial production down, agriculture down, you begin to question what is driving this economic growth.
And that makes me wonder what is this Budget all about. And what are these extraordinary times? Aren’t we already living in extraordinary times? After all, over 200,000 farmers have committed suicide in the past 15 years or so. More than 837 million people, about 77 per cent of the population is living on the edge, somehow asurviving on less than Rs 20 a day. Have we ever given a thought as to how do these millions survive if they are spending less than Rs 20 a day? Do they even manage to get two square meals a day?
The per capita intake of food is going down ever since Manmohan Singh had unleashed economic reforms in his previous avtaar as Finance Minister in 1991. We were told as people earned more their food habits change, they begin to eat less of grains and shift to more nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables, milk and eggs. For several years, mainline economists and agricultural scientists used this argument to defend the fall in food intake, a sure indication of growing hunger and malnutrition. The latest projections of the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) have proved them wrong. The NSSO tells us that not only the food intake is going down, the intake of fruits, eggs and milk is also on the decline.
Aren’t these extraordinary times?
And yet, the former Governor of Reserve Bank of India, Mr Bimal Jalan, told a TV channel that this government and successive governments should make heavy capital investments meaning more money to be made available for infrastructure. What for? To stimulate the economy faced with a slowdown. What a shame, I thought. Why don’t these economists realise (and I know they were never taught this in their colleges) that feeding the poor and hungry too is an investment. The poor and hungry too can stimulate the economy. Give more money in the hands of the poor and you will surely generate more demand, and that is what is required to trigger off the economy.
But who cares? The poor and hungry are nothing more than statistics. When I talk of the poor, the farmers, the unorganised farm workers on the TV programmes, the fellow panelists look at me with disdain. I can see their faces, and I know how uncomfortable it is for them to even listen to me. It happened to me today. But it didn’t upset me. I give a damm to what they think. To me it is an opportunity to voice the voice of the voiceless. And I will continue to do that, for slowly and slowly I find the message is getting across. More and more people call me, talk to me and back my analysis. I realise that this world is full of people with good intent, and they are willing to stand up and walk along you. Truth eventually triumphs.
We surely are living in extraordinary times, and believe me it requires only ordinary solutions. #

 

Campaign against 'Conspiracy of Silence' on Agrarian Crisis

India – smugly described to be the largest democracy on earth is witnessing increasing demise of villages and the hapless people who happen to be farmers. With villages getting desolate and farmers compelled to opt for noose to terminate life that has become an everyday disgrace, contemporary India presents a picture of orchestrated silences on the part of government and corporate governors. Today the only largesse farmers get are a death trap, debt, and utter callousness at the hands of our much-hyped democratic establishment. One must be alert to the fact that the destruction of farmer is an organized act. All through the six decades of independence our democratic dispensation has persistently kept silent on the fundamental questions determining the fate of the huge populace dependent on agriculture and allied activities. In its quest to oust agriculture from national economy, the establishment has
continuously resorted to manufacture false definitions. Thus the category of ‘common man’ has been emptied of a farmer eventually leading to the exit of farming as a source and mode of livelihood.
One would do well to look at how farming has fared in the over all national economy. In 1947,according to official statistics, agriculture and allied activities accounted for 67 percent in the gross domestic product, however down the years it has plummeted to as low as 17 percent in 2008. The phenomenon is that agricultural production during this period has become fourfold. Thus valuation of this fourfold produce has nose-dived to one-fourth in relative terms
or one-sixteenth in absolute terms. How could one explain the anomaly that while the actual agricultural production has witnessed a four-fold increase, the price, to the contrary, has registered as much fall?
The fall in prices of agricultural produces has to do with the definition that governments have thrust upon it. It could not have been otherwise unless the governments struck at the very root of it by fixing up Agriculture as an unskilled vocation. It is precisely this enlightened conspiracy that has forced agriculture into a strait jacket. Thus it is not surprising to see that a farmer can earn only 30-35 rupees a day while as per the sixth pay commission fourth class government employee gets away with as much as 400 rupees for a day’s remuneration. And instead of any concern about this gross injustice, the vision document of UPA and NDA, projects with pride the share of agriculture and allied sectors at 6% in 2020. The share of `Top 10′ in the country that stands at 60 % in 2008 and may easily move up to 70% in 2020. 
But now the farmers cannot take the drubbing anymore. No matter if political parties refuse to take cognizance of the plight of them. Farmers have woken up to the challenge: now they will interrogate leaders and send directives to political parties from Village Assemblies. This is the sentiment that has emerged from a two-day meeting of National Campaign for Eradication of Inequality.
Deliberating various issues that might be included in a common programme of action, the participants focused on issues like 

1. Why work in agriculture has been classified as unskilled? This is a direct attack on farmers’ honour!
2. Why two principles for wage determination are in vogue simultaneously, one for the organized sector, that is one person should be able to earn for the family, the other for the unorganised where no such stipulation is honoured? This duality is a fraud on the people of India.
3. Why compound interest is levied on agricultural credit in total contravention of the spirit of the law in that regard? How were the doors of law courts slammed against farmers in 1984?
4. How is force and even provisions of civil jail used in recovery of credit that abrogates fundamental right of the victim?
The meeting ended on a consensus on a three-point action plan that would comprise the following, to begin with, that may grow with experience of struggle in the field and people’s response there to. Firstly, Village Assemblies in the country would issue directions to the Parliament and State Assemblies to amend the relevant laws. This
may be the beginning of people-centric structural change that has been ignored and now totally dropped by the rulers.
Secondly, the realization of dues based on levy of compound interest would be directly resisted. The banks shall be told that this blasphemy is not acceptable to the people. The 1984 amendment in Companies Act may be challenged in the Court of Law. Lastly, all political parties may be called upon to place before the people their formal stand on these four vital issues. The Campaign is of the view that the entry of members of those political parties who may fail to place their position, positive or negative, on these issues before the people may be politely requested not to enter the
village as members of political parties. They are welcome as ordinary citizens minus their politics. This will be a modest beginning towards fulfilling the constitutional commitment and national resolve to establish an egalitarian social order.
National Campaign for Eradication of Inequality has been initiated by a number of people’s movement groups. The launch meeting organized at Sahyog Pustak Kutir, New Delhi was attended by some of the groups including Bharat Jan Andolan, Kisani Pratishtha Manch, Jan Adhikar Sanghtan, Jan Mukti Sangthan, Bagar Kisan Majdoor Sangthan, Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Construction Workers Panchayat Sangam, Jagaran Jan Viaks Samiti, Parivartan etc. Meeting was
presided by former Commissioner of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Dr. B D Sharma of Bharat Jan Anlodan.
Dr. B D Sharma Gian Singh Pankaj Pushkar (011-24353997) (09416358044) (09868984442)

UPA neglects Agriculture the most

Submitted by editor on Sat, 10/25/2008 – 18:27

Rajnath Singh
India today is on the brink of a protracted recession. Almost every economic indicator in the country is putting immense pressure on all economic activities in the country and painting a gloomy picture of our economy. Inflation is in high double digits, GDP growth rate is faltering, Industrial growth rate has touched a record low of 1.3 percent and the growth of our agriculture sector has turned bad to worse.

Declining capital formation and steep reduction in public investment in agriculture sector during the UPA rule has led to a complete stagnation of Agricultural growth in India. In other words the UPA Government has proved to be a big disaster on the economic front.

Agriculture is considered a recession proof sector as it does not face decline in demand even in a worsening situation. Being a predominantly agrarian society, India has the potential and resources to deal with any challenge posed by recessionary atmosphere in the world.

Eminent thinkers and economists around the world have started chalking out detailed action plans for agriculture and predicted that food security will be the top agenda of all the Governments in future. It clearly indicates that the world is now awakening to the growing importance of strengthening agriculture sector but the UPA Government’s slumber has deepened further.

By pursuing disoriented and confused economic policies the UPA Government has jeopardized our national food security. No wonder, India’s record on hunger today is worse than that of nearly 25 sub-Saharan African countries and all of South Asia, except Bangladesh.

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)’s 2008 Global Hunger Index says that with over 200 million people insecure about their daily bread, Indian scenario is ‘alarming’ in terms of hunger and malnutrition.

According to the World Development Report, “To reduce poverty and hunger, the growth of the agricultural sector is the only solution.” But the higher cost of production without a corresponding increase in prices has made agriculture a non viable profession in India.

In the absence of remunerative prices, coupled with lack of timely, affordable and adequate credit and high interest rates have forced the helpless farmer either to quit farming or to commit suicide. More than five thousand farmers committed suicide in different parts of the country.

The Prime Minister’s ‘Vidarbha Package’ for the farmers has failed to address the key issues. The farmer’s loan waiver scheme also met the same fate as it left majority of the farmers agitated and disgruntled.

Both these schemes have proved to be a cruel joke on farmers and the Congress led UPA Government will have to pay a heavy price for it in forthcoming assembly elections and the General Elections scheduled next year.

The UPA Government has remained unconcerned over the gravity of the situation and adopted a casual approach while dealing with a sensitive subject like Agriculture.

I am happy to note that the BJP ruled states have performed better than the Congress led Governments on the agriculture front.
We have the shining example of Gujarat State before us which registered a remarkable 13 percent growth in agriculture in comparison to meager national agriculture growth of nearly 1.8 percent.

After coming to power the BJP led NDA Government will introduce a paradigm shift in agriculture where it will synthesise the old and the new, and focus on the economics of small land holdings.

The BJP will increase the quantum of public investment in agriculture and mandate banks to earmark 30% of their total loans for credit to the agriculture sector. We will take immediate steps to see that the farmers be given loans at not more than 4% interest for agriculture and allied activities.

The NDA Government at the Centre will implement the recommendations of the National Commission on Farmers and assure the farmer of actual cost of production plus 50% over and above this cost as the MSP for his produce.

BJP led NDA Government will also implement Farm Income Insurance Scheme to ensure guaranteed income to all farmers in the country.

India facing economic terrorism

UPA Government’s soft and weak-kneed approach to deal with terrorist activities is a fact well known. Unfortunately the issue of internal security which warrants national consensus among all political major political parties and other prominent stake holders in our society has become a casualty of UPA Government’s vote bank politics.

During the 42 months of UPA rule terrorists and anti-India forces have galvanised its cadres and gained strength to strike India anywhere, anytime and at will. They have developed a multi-pronged strategy to damage India at every possible level. Recently we have witnessed a big surge in circulation of fake Indian currency notes in the country. It is well thought strategy of anti-India forces to unleash economic terrorism in the country.

Pakistan’s intelligence agency the ISI has pumped in counterfeit currency worth billions of Rupees into India through Bangladesh and Nepal borders. According to recent estimates by a Government panel, fake currency worth 1 lakh 69 thousand crores Rupees are already in circulation.

Fake currency notes have been recently confiscated in many States. Even at the branches of the Nationalised banks and their ATM’s fake currency notes have been confiscated. Counterfeit currency is being used to fund terrorist operations. I urge the present dispensation at the Centre to take effective steps to plug the supply of fake currency notes in India.

The BJP demands the Government that it should come out with a white paper on circulation of fake currency in India.

Agrarian Crisis and Farmers' Suicides


Source: Agrarian Crisis and Farmers’ Suicides in India

Srijit Misra, IGIDR

The larger agrarian crisis has two dimensions. On the one hand, there is a livelihood crisis that threatens the very basis of survival for the vast majority of small and marginal farmers as also for agricultural labourers. On the other hand, there is an agricultural developmental crisis that lies in the neglect of agriculture arising out of poor design of programmes and allocation of resources and having resulted in declining productivity and profitability. This twin dimensions could also be equated with the developmental discourse where the former is about displacement of people and the latter is about displacement of ideology. The outcome is that planning is not people-centric.
In monsoon India, abundance or paucity of water has always been considered as a major source of agricultural uncertainty. Today, this yield risk could also be because of spurious inputs or inappropriate use of technology. Increasing costs, price volatility, non-availability of credit from formal sources and other risks further compound it. Social responsibility of education, healthcare and marriage instead of being normal activities add to the burden. All these would even put the semi-medium farmer under a state of transient poverty.
An extreme response to this distress is the increasing incidence of farmerss suicides. Between 1995 and 2006, more than 190,000 farmers have committed suicides, 83 per cent of these being males. The suicide mortality rate (SMR, suicide death for 100,000 persons) for male farmers increased from 10.5 to 19.5 whereas that of male non-farmers has more or less remained around 13. The major states with SMR for male farmers greater than the all India average of 18 during 2001-06 are Kerala (233), Maharashtra (53), Chattishgarh (47), Karnataka (39), Andhra Pradesh (35), Tamil Nadu (31) and West Bengal (21). It is to be reiterated that suicide is a symptom of the larger crisis, and its absence does not in any way indicate the absence of a crisis.
It is only in Kharif 2008 that one observes a substantial increase in the minimum support prices of the 16 major crops. In fact, the absolute increase would be almost equal to increments in the entire decade. Though welcome, this vindicates the established fact that returns to agriculture had turned out to be abysmally low. Per-capita per day returns to farmer households from cultivation in 2002-03 was eight rupees. Another recent public policy intervention has been the Rs.70,000 crore debt waiver package. This is just a book keeping exercise and at best will reduce the burden from formal sources. Indebtedness, like suicides, is another symptom.
Risk mitigation has to go beyond suicides and debt. What is more important is to spruce of public investments that will increase returns to cultivation. Skill enhancement and linking of opportunities to local resources are required to spruce up non-farm income. Success of the credit and input markets require effective regulation. There is a case of encouraging technological and financial products that would reduce costs while increasing returns. Institutions that can organize farmers are required.
My earlier blog on a related theme is Indian Agriculture in Doldrums.
Selected Readings:
Bhaduri, Amit (2008), Predatory Growth, Economic and Political Weekly, 43 (16), 10-14.
Government of India (2007), Report of the Expert Group on Agricultural Indebtedness, Chairman: R Radhakrishna.
Mishra, Srijit (2007), Agrarian Scenario in Post-reform India: A Story of Distress, Despair and Death, Orissa Economic Journal, 39, (1 & 2), 53-84. IGIDR Working paper version is WP-2007-001.
Mishra, Srijit (2008) Risks, Farmers’ Suicides and Agrarian Crisis in India: Is There a Way Out? Indian Journal of Agricultural Economics, 63 (1), 38-54. IGIDR Working paper version is WP-2007-014.
Reddy, D. Narasimha and Srijit Mishra (eds.) (2008) Agrarian Crisis in India, Oxford University Press, forthcoming.
This is the abstract of a presentation at a one day international seminar, “Environmental degradation and food crisis – Lessons for India” being organized by Greenpeace India on 24 October 2008 atIndia International Centre, Lodhi Road, New Delhi, India.

It’s high time farm pricing got a booster dose

Amrita ChaudhryPosted: Sep 26, 2008 at 0110 hrs IST

Ludhiana, September 25 With theWorld Bank giving a call to shift focus on agriculture to tackle food crisis, data gleaned from Punjab’s villages only add to its urgency.

The national census for the year 1991 showed Punjab as having 11 lakh farming families. Of these, 45 per cent were small or marginal farmers who owned fields measuring less than five acres. This figure in the next census in 2001 slid to 9.7 lakh and the percentage of small farmers to 30 per cent.

In other words, 30,000 farmers on an average quit agriculture each year. The primary reason for this has been the decline in profitability of crops, particularly paddy and wheat—a phenomenon that agricultural experts are trying to tackle along with suicides by farmers. For example, take the case of Gurdip Singh, a small farmer from village Mehla Kalan. Gurdip, who owns two acres of land, says, “I can just manage to raise food grains for my domestic use from these two acres.”

The situation of Avtar Singh, a farmer with 20 acres of land in Alamgir village, is no different. “My inputs costs over the years have skyrocketed while the prices of crops haven’t risen. And what we all forget is that farmer too is a consumer. I have to pay the college fees for my two children, which runs into lakhs per annum. Then there are the medical costs of my family.”

To drive home his point, Avtar Singh says, “A couple of years ago, one of my kidneys was damaged in an accident. I could not afford treatment. I know there will be a day when all my 20 acres will be lost in medical treatment.”

R S Sidhu, head, Department of Economics, Punjab Agricultural University, agrees as he explains, “The data speak so. The best period for agriculture in the recent past was between 1990 and 2000, more precisely till 1995. While the crisis in agriculture began around 1995, it was nationwide then. Now, however, Punjab alone is suffering. Our calculations have shown that while input costs have gone up dramatically, the rise in Minimum Statutory Price (MSP) of crops is very slow and this has resulted in reducing of profit margins for the farmers.

Sidhu adds, “Since 2001-2007 the input costs have risen by 8-9 per cent while the MSP growth has been hovering around 2 per cent. The wheat MSP announced this year (Rs 1,000 per quintal) had brought a relief for farmers and when the picture was easing out the latest news of Rs 850 as MSP for paddy this year is like a bolt from the blue.”

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Food Crisis: The Moral Failure of Liberal Economists

August 30, 2008

Time was when writers lampooned economists for “knowing the price of everything but the value of nothing.” Today, they seem to be unaware even of the price of things!

By Aseem Shrivastava

From Hardnews (Delhi, India) August 2008
(Original title: (Stiglitz and Sen: Profit and Pain”)

An economic transaction is a solved political problem. Economics has gained the title of queen of the social sciences by choosing solved political problems as its domain.
— Abba Lerner

Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz has recently expressed his views on the ongoing food crisis around the world. Given his pre-eminence in the profession and his vast experience as an advisor to governments, his views deserve to be scrutinized carefully.

The Stiglitz diagnosis

Stiglitz traces the problem of inflation in food and energy prices around the world to the policies that have been enacted in the US and elsewhere during the past few decades. He finds fault with the massive financial deregulation and generous tax cuts for the rich in the Anglo-Saxon world since the Thatcher-Reagan years, attributing to them rightly the “huge increase in inequalities in most countries,” the dramatic fall in household savings rate in the US, significant declines in employment prospects for most people everywhere and most worryingly, threats to nutrition standards even in the so-called developed world. A less flattering catalogue of global failures would be hard to summon.

The proliferation of opaque financial products in the wake of deregulation didn’t so much manage risk as enhance it, converting the world economy into a gambler’s paradise (since most countries were made to choose similar policies of deregulation — by the IMF and the World Bank), which has been systematically transferring wealth and real income from the poor to the rich globally, relying on the unerring precision of market forces.

Additionally, Stiglitz points to two significant policies of the Bush administration that have exacerbated food and energy crises in recent years. He points to Washington’s war on Iraq. Bush’s foolish policies have made the connection between food and energy markets tight, thanks to a misguided biofuels programme during the past few years.

Stiglitz makes it a point to underscore how Third World agriculture has been put in severe jeopardy not just because of benign neglect by governments, international financial institutions and aid agencies, but also because of unfair competition from a systematically and heavily subsidized agriculture in the rich world. This last is a criminal hypocrisy (the West being at the forefront of the messianic crusade for ‘free’ markets) too

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banal to belabor. The powerful World Bank is once again waking up slowly to the resilient truth that there is simply no way to reduce (let alone eliminate) poverty in the world without paying special attention to agriculture.

The Stiglitz remedy

What according to Stiglitz is the solution?

“Rich countries must reduce, if not eliminate, distortional agriculture and energy policies, and help those in the poorest countries improve their capacity to produce food. But this is just a start: we have treated our most precious resources — clean air and water — as if they were free. Only new patterns of consumption and production — a new economic model — can address that most fundamental resource problem.” (The Guardian, June 15, 2008)

Other than a euphemistic argot all too familiar in Orwellian times and the habit-bound economist’s search for the universally right ‘model’ to implement everywhere, a technocratically enlightened formula for guaranteed success, the above words could have come from Jesus Christ himself.

So where does Stiglitz fall short?

Stiglitz wants rich countries to “reduce, if not eliminate distortional agriculture and energy policies.” But don’t we already know they will never do this? Stiglitz keeps appealing to a constituency he already knows has long been morally deaf. For someone sacked by the US Treasury from his plum position near the top of the World Bank not so long ago, Stiglitz certainly knows this. Under the revolving door system the Americans have between their highest public and corporate offices, it is a sure wager that it was precisely the annoyance at Stiglitz on the part of the global investor class that prompted his sacking. Then why does he pretend otherwise?

“The world” he appeals to for merciful economic policies in the future is in actual fact the world’s tiny and shrinking class of corporate captains, precisely the bunch which sponsors the lobbies and policy elites which have led the relentless, decades-long campaign for financial deregulation, the very phenomenon Stiglitz holds responsible for the mess around us. This band of global corporate czars lives better than the royalty of other ages of humanity. It takes a dozen flights on private jets every week and dines every evening on wine and caviar which have been flown half way around the world especially for their banquets. Why should they listen to mad men like Stiglitz?

For at least half a generation many have been trying to persuade the governments of the rich nations to remove the unjust agricultural subsidies that harm Third World agriculture. Why have the governments of the rich nations not followed this morally impeccable advice? Is it not because they are influenced by transnational businesses maximizing profits globally? Is it not because they are cynically Machiavellian?

The real world

The latter hypotheses can hardly be dismissed. Consider what US Senator Hubert Humphrey said 50 years ago:

“I have heard that people may become dependent on us for food. To me that is good news because before people can do anything, they have got to eat. And if you are looking for a way to get people to lean on you and be dependent on you, in terms of their own cooperation with you, it seems to me that food dependence would be terrific.”

So the idea, far from helping “those in the poorest countries improve their capacities to produce food” (as Stiglitz continues to wish in vain) is to keep them permanently locked into a state of fundamental economic dependence on the West. (Did we ever get done with colonialism?) If Stiglitz and his panglossian followers think that times have changed (and the West is more civilized after all these decades of folly upon culpable folly), they should listen to President Richard Nixon’s chilling words from a more recent decade: “Let us remember that the main purpose of aid is not to help other nations but to help ourselves.”

More recently, in 1986, John Block, the US Agriculture Secretary said:

“The push by some developing countries to become more self-sufficient in food may be reminiscent of a bygone era. These countries could save money by importing more food from the US.”

If Stiglitz thinks such an opinion is unusual, he might ask himself if it is fundamentally different from the following view:

“Food self-sufficiency is a peculiarly obtuse way of thinking about food security. There is no particular problem, even without self-sufficiency, in achieving nutritional security through the elimination of poverty (so that people can buy food) and through the availability of food in the world market (so that countries can import foo
d if there is not an adequate stock at home)…The focus has to be on income and entitlement, and the ability to command food rather than on any fetishist concern about food self-sufficiency…”

The words belong to Stiglitz’s illustrious colleague and fellow-Nobel laureate Amartya Sen. He gave an interview on the topic of world hunger to The Guardian in 2002.

Sen writes as though trade, income and entitlement were there just for the asking! He surely knows enough history to know that food has always been a weapon of warfare. He writes:

“There are situations in which self-sufficiency is important, such as during wars. At one stage in the Second World War, there was a real danger of Britain not being able to get enough food into the country. But that is a very peculiar situation, and we are not in one like that now, nor are we likely to be in the near future.”

Iraq was invaded by Washington, London and Canberra within a year of Sen’s interview.

Sen’s “trade fetish” is symptomatic of a global pandemic among academic economists. It only indicates his deep-seated conditioning by the economics profession as it has been shaped by a decadent intellectual culture in the western world after World War II. The intellectuals of the ex-colonies have never considered decolonizing their minds. Sen is the leading example. They might do well to read Tagore and Gandhi once more.

State of the dismal science

This sums up the professional consensus within “the dismal science.” The real world for most hungry people (we know for sure after recent food price inflation) is very different from what economists imagine it to be. In the latter’s world, poor nations, on the verge of industrial breakthroughs and massive transfers of labour away from agriculture to more “productive” and lucrative occupations (events which have not transpired yet in countries like India and China), can feed themselves much like Belgium or the Netherlands do — by importing food from abroad (from rich countries which do not even have to have a comparative advantage in the production of food, but have profligate treasuries and ignorant, gullible taxpayers to fund the subsidies and can thus let their agribusinesses sell cheaper than anyone else in the world market).

From the real world where the poor and the powerless live under hegemonies of forced production and consumption along lines dictated by the megacorps, the latter’s ‘international’ financial institutions, and also their State patrons, things couldn’t look more different. Global markets could never seem so innocent to hungry, suicide-prone farmers in India or Africa, as they do to technocratic dreamers in the seminar rooms of Columbia or Cambridge.

Why economists perpetuate misunderstanding

In times as transparently and confidently unjust as ours, it’s either dim-witted naiveté or outright knavery for economists to continue to keep their technocratic heads buried in the “innocent” sands of social “science.” They keep pretending that economics and politics belong to different planets.

Economists are dispassionate thinkers practicing disinterested science. Economics is on its way to becoming a pure science. Society and human communities are irrelevant. In any case, “there is no such thing as society.” Governments are a nuisance. They ought to stay away from markets. Markets are omniscient. They know everything that needs to be known (and not just about prices). Markets are free of politics. (What have they got to do with corporate power and influence?) They are the repositories of the best virtues in human nature. Therein rules liberal utopia.

Thou shalt not doubt these time-tested verities.

These are the kernels of truth that adorn the seminar rooms of the economics profession around the world today. America’s imperial conquests are more obvious in the ‘intellectual’ realm than in any other, with an obviously unscientific bubble economics (suitably insulated from facts) always leading the charge. Give or take a little here, some there, and you get the spectrum of opinions within the economics profession. They all must have not human communities — but the ‘free’ market at the heart of their conformist meditations.

Every economist — and Stiglitz and Sen are iconic iconoclasts within the tribe — is career-habit-and-hide-bound to pay his homage to the wisdom of market forces, even when he is critical of them (as both Sen and Stiglitz are in measurable degree). Such are the touchstones of the theology that today provides the primary justification for the widespread ecological and social ruin being precipitated by globalized growth around the planet.

The world has been “liberalized, privatized and globalized” with a messianic passion over the past few decades in the name of this putatively omniscient economics. It teaches the ancient virtue of patience. A little pain for some now, so that everyone can gain more tomorrow. As long as the masters of the universe are allowed a free hand to invest anywhere from the Mariana Trench to the moon. Trickle-down truths. Stale air. They all have faith in it, even if they are Sen or Stiglitz.

But as always, the cash-strapped housewife or the woman slaving at the construction site (or the one waiting in queue for one of those employed to break an arm) knows better than the pundits.

Time was when writers lampooned economists for “knowing the price of everything but the value of nothing.” Today, they seem to be unaware even of the price of things! They are desperate to rescue their fading conscience after having long back traded it away for professional success and career advancement. Moral failure was always on the cards. Now the writing is all over the wall for anyone with eyes to read.

The writer is an economist and independent researcher

Suicide Economy

http://archanapandey.com/?p=25

India is been almost a brand lately, esp. in last 5 years India is shining with all international brands, too many jobs, too much talent and every one in the world trying to lure the youngest population (read market with purchasing power). It’s India Inc. which is 3rd largest economy in the world in terms of purchasing power parity. Sounds impressive! Isn’t it.

When I was in school it was taught that India is agricultural based country and there was a time when India was independent for grains (“Harit Kranti”).

Then came the era when India became back office destination for global out sourcing and customer service. India is a major exporter of highly-skilled workers in software and financial services, and software engineering. Other sectors like manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, nanotechnology, telecommunication, shipbuilding, aviation and tourism are showing strong potentials with higher growth rates. Every thing started looking great! Too many jobs, Indians not only becoming one of the best work force but many entrepreneurs and new age businessmen emerged from India Inc.!! We all proudly said “I’m an Indian”

Everything was going right every rich, becoming rich, educated Indian thought things are great in India there was reverse trend people dumped their jobs in US of A and came to mother land to join better jobs or start a business. VC money started flowing in. Apparently every Indian was happy spending weekends in Mall incurring huge purchase bills, entertainment, amusement and what not. Gucci became god and Tommy became necessity of Time. Wow! Looks great….

But same time there was something happening to that 60-65% population who do farming for their living. 1997 reported 1st case of a farmer’s Suicide in Vidarbha – Maharashtra. More than 50,000 farmers took their lives for various reasons.

The global corporations changed the input economy overnight. Farm saved seeds were replaced by corporate seeds which needed fertilizers and pesticides and could not be saved.

As seed saving is prevented by patents as well as by the engineering of seeds with non-renewable traits, seed has to be bought for every planting season by poor peasants. A free resource available on farms became a commodity which farmers were forced to buy every year. This increases poverty and leads to indebtedness. As debts increase and become unpayable, farmers are compelled to sell kidneys or even commit suicide. In the state of Bihar, when farm saved corn seed was displaced by Monsanto’s hybrid corn, the entire crop failed creating Rs. 4 billion losses and increased poverty for already desperately poor farmers. Rs. 1 Lakh was given by Govt. to some of the families (yeah! That’s the cost of any life in India). I’m sure this money didn’t reach the deserving families either- It’s a different issue we may have to discuss that separately.

I will not give more reasons, facts and figures here because avg. Indian (read urban India which matters advertisers) has less attention span. Media is not doing anything about it as avg. Indian (read above definition) has no time to be concerned about it on weekends and watch it on News and such stories on channels and news papers wouldn’t get any advertisers. C’mon who likes poverty in India Inc. – they are busy in creating story of how one heroine dumped her boy friend for an old jerk.

Here I’m not supporting any “ism” or “ist” side of mine nor do I have any hopes of influencing even a single avg. India. But since it’s my blog and that freedom allows me to at least wonder why there is so much disparity amongst people? Why not at least 40% farmer driving a car of selling their crops in open market on their own terms.

I know avg. India would not even read this post fully as it seems long and he can’t relate to it. But I can’t help it and I’m ashamed that farmer is dying in an agricultural based country.