THe Blog

May 04, 2015

Understanding Rural India

Rupa Subramanya writes in Foreign Policy- "Roughly 600 million Indians are farmers -- the majority of whom would happily give it up for another job. So why is the Congress party so determined to keep them as peasants?"

She casts the ongoing debate about the Land Acquisition Bill in terms of the requirements and relaties of rural India. She writes:

 

"Joining the political left are a motley group of far-left communist parties whose vote shares have shrunk drastically over the years and that are trying to stave off political extinction by beating the drum that the Modi government is working in the interests of large corporations rather than ordinary people. It’s ironic that while the Chinese Communist Party has ditched the ideology of Marx, Lenin, and Mao, preserving only its political control, Indian leftists continue to oppose economic reforms that have lifted millions out of poverty, a goal they should presumably share....

 

Ironically, it is the very unviability of small-scale farming that is the best argument in favor of the government’s bill. To improve their lives, farmers need a way out of agriculture and into the manufacturing or services sector. In fact, polls show that most small-scale farmers would happily sell their land, if only they could...

 

survey of some 5,350 farmers across country conducted in late 2013 and early 2014 by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, a nonpartisan Delhi-based think tank, suggests a dubious future for Indian agriculture. Twenty eight percent of those surveyed said they did not like being farmers. But of the 72 percent who said they did, fully 60 percent claimed they were farmers only because it was a traditional occupation, while only 10 percent said that farming actually led to a good livelihood. Sixty two percent of the respondents said they would give up farming if they could find a better alternative in the city. And tellingly, a whopping 76 percent of farmers’ children said they would like to get out of farming. India’s farmers, present and future, feel trapped.

Another key statistic: Nearly half of India’s population works in agriculture, but produces only 14 to 18 percent of India’s GDP."

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