Shankkar Aiyar, Visiting Senior Fellow at IDFC Institute, writes in the New Indian Express on the political economy of agriculture, and the 'electoral economies' of crops like paddy, jowar, bajra and ragi. Excerpts:
"As Herbert Hoover said, "blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the national debt!"
It is helicopter economics alright, but with a difference: it has an electorally beneficial flight path. Appreciation requires dismantling the economics and politics of the announcement and disaggregation by crop and geography. The per quintal MSP for paddy has been hiked by Rs 200 per quintal, for maize by Rs 275, forbajra by Rs 525, for jowar by Rs 725, for ragi by Rs 997, for sunflower seeds by Rs 1,288 and moong by Rs 1,400. Map out the details on the political landscape—the states where the BJP didn’t do well in 2014 and add the states where it now faces a rising index of Opposition unity—to get a perspective of the potential for electoral dividends.
Take the political economy of paddy first. Paddy is India’s biggest crop by acreage and output—nearly 44 million hectares and 111 million tonnes. The top 12 large states on the production chart accounting for over 86 per cent of output are West Bengal, UP, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Assam, Haryana, MP and Telangana.
The list includes two poll-bound states, 336 or 62 per cent of the Lok Sabha seats, and nearly half of its 2014 tally. Most significantly, the BJP tally in eight of the 12 states is in single digits. In the double-digit states, it faces an uphill task in UP and Bihar and 15-year incumbency in MP and Chhattisgarh. Also, 73 of the 115 backward districts now shepherded as “aspirational districts” are in these 12 states.
What about the electoral economics of jowar, bajraand ragi?..."
Read the whole article here.