What ails Rural Economy

(Dr. krishan Bir Chaudhary)

The saying “India lives in villages” is an all time truth and any attempt to downplay the reality and deviate from the path of rural reconstruction will be perilous to the body politic of this great nation, throwing economic resurgence into shambles.

The genesis for the downslide in rural economy lies in the lack of political will to perform, grossly undermining economic interest of the agro-rural segment.  There is no apparent reason as we see but for the past few years there has been a clear tendency to downgrade agriculture. 

Rising cost of agricultural production, unremunarative procurement prices of farm produces, squeezing domestic market, inaccessciblity to overseas market arising out of trade distortions post globalisation, unscrupulous trading indulged into by corporate houses and manipulative tactices adopted by MNCs are some of the pernicious factors which have contributed towards destabilisation of rural economy. 

It is highly erroneous to belittle its importance in India's context which predominantly is an agricultural country. It is capable of strengthening and sustaining all round economic growth of the country even in times of worst of industrial recession and stagnation that may come-up on account of unforeseen fluctuations in international trade. Agriculture in India still has ennormous employment generation capability.

This is not the silliness of the innocent but an utterly confused post WTO approach on the part of our policy makers which caused progressive devitalisation of our agro-system and rural economy.

The decline in rural economy can be arrested only if the policies are made genuinely realistic and crafted out on participative basis by associating the stake holders and in complete consonance to suit their needs and aspirations. What actually needed is a strategic planning.

To put it plainly, we can say that destabilisation of rural economy is a clear case of failure to evolve an strategy compatible to our needs. India has abundent potentiality to stand out as a self-reliant, self-sufficient and food exporting nation.  The deviant policies adopted post WTO are responsible for the present crisis. Rural economy was never in such a bad shape as it is today.

Policy drift and absence of a truly National Policy on Agriculture have thrown rural economy into disarray and may prove even more disastrous if the situation is not handled with deftness.  Agrarian well being has been thrown at the mercy of market driven forces. 

The Indo-US Knowledge Initiative may appear to be high sounding in letter but in spirit it will lead to bondage of our agricultural scientists, agricultural manpower, virtually our entire agro-system and will be obligated to serve the interest of the MNCs and the corporate sector. Neo liberalisation, corporate globalisation and the forced progression of India into a food importing and food insecured nation are really despairing. 

Although the situation is not analogous to Sub-Saharan Africa but the crux lies in the reckless and unwanted import of wheat under extraneous consideration. We are in a much better position than many developing countries and can do without import subsitution.  The fact of the matter is  there is no decline in food production and there is absolutely no need to import food grains on any pretext whatsoever.

What a travesty ? Worst, there is a plethora of committees, commissions, pannels and special packages but at the same time there is scaring rise in suicides committed by farmers. Do we need more evidence for a serious rethinking on our policy planning and fixing priorities.

We should explore our resources and potentialities and endeavour to become a super global entity in matters of food production, aiming to attain the status of a lead player in international trade rather than their exploitation by MNCs and the corporate sector.

The only 'Mantra' that can help resurge rural economy is to giving primacy to grassroot planning.



(Editorial : Farmers' Forum Magazine)