“Mass murderer of farmers in China and the Soviet Union are pretending to be the savior of farmers in India”
When farmers should have been harvesting paddy in their field and probably doing the preparation for the sowing of Rabi crops, the celebrity farmers have been launching rallies and protests supported by Communists who have been the greatest mass murderer of farmers in China and the Soviet Union, probably to score some brownie points in the short term. The issue of farmers is an issue that can’t be solved by any government until the sentiments are separated from the empirical reality. In India, the issue of farmers is a legacy of colonial rule which was accentuated further by the socialist economic policies pursued by the Indian state.
High percentage of workforce engaged in agriculture is the hallmark of every poor nation.
First and foremost, around 82% of the farmers who are small and marginal farmers, are essentially agricultural laborers who can’t survive on agriculture alone irrespective of any miraculous effort by any government. On top of that, the government and people take pride in saying that we are the land of farmers as if it’s something unique and virtuous. Every nation has been historically an agrarian economy which further moved in the direction of being a manufacturing and service economy depending on other circumstances. In the USA, the percentage of population engaged in farming was an overwhelming 80% in 1820 while the percentage is slightly above 3% today. So, the high percentage of the workforce engaged in agriculture is the hallmark of every poor nation.
Indian economy was decimated by colonialism and its consequent industrial revolution resulting in the sudden growth of agricultural labourers who lost their traditional occupation such as weaving, metalworking, woodworking, retailing etc who couldn’t be absorbed in the shrinking economy during the colonial time. The existence of feudal land relations merely made the issues worse and the much-celebrated land reform after independence was an exercise in futility as there was never so much of surplus land to distribute among everyone, and that too when you don’t have a Marxist government.
…but in the Nehruvian socialist world, such people didn’t have any opportunity other than to get employment in either government or PSUs
In every other profession, when people realize that the particular profession isn’t economically viable anymore, they tend to chose other professions but in the Nehruvian socialist world, such people didn’t have any opportunity other than to get employment in either government or PSUs. The private sector was never allowed to grow, but this ensured that informal sector grew which resulted in colossal shortage of jobs which could be considered as decent by any standard.
With the progress of time, the farmers have realized the grim reality and most of them encourage their offsprings to look beyond farming. Also, small and marginal farmers generally work as unskilled labourers throughout the year except during the months of sowing and harvesting, to secure themselves against the financial odds. While the large farmers corner the benefits of government subsidies ranging from fertilizer subsidy to the benefits of MSP, they’ve emerged as the powerful lobby to garner more and more largesse from the government for their group.
India is a systematic issue which can’t be solved by anyone until we can’t accept the grim reality that 60% of workforce can’t work in agriculture sector where each one of them will be prosperous.
It’s the medium farmers who are around 12-13% who are in precarious situation as they are still in farming but can’t get any significant economic benefits from agriculture. However, even this group always asks for the subsidies instead of asking for institutional changes which hinder their access to market by creating space for multiple intermediaries and restriction on the export of certain agriculture commodities. In the series of myth associated with the farmers is another myth that suicide rate among farmers is greater than the other segment of population but NCRB data from 2015-16 shows that it’s 12.4 for per lakh population who work in different sectors while 4.5 for farmers. Another study shows that the ratio of suicide of agriculture laborers and non-agriculture laborers between 1995-96 and 2015-16 is less than one except for Maharashtra and Kerala. Agrarian distress in India is a systematic issue which can’t be solved by anyone until we can’t accept the grim reality that 60% of workforce can’t work in agriculture sector where each one of them will be prosperous.