Dilemma of Development

Himanshu Shekhar

Mr. Prime Minister loves to sing the song of better GDP numbers. Manmohan Singh also speaks about booming share market. He projects these things as sign of development of India. But is it true? What about those, who are living in remote villages of country? What about farmers? They are still comitting suicide. It means the parameters of Mr. PM for development are not benefitting common man and farmers. But his government and party always talks about common man. It seems that government is playing for a privileged section of society and their policies are not addressing a larger section of society. So, it’s a kind of deception with common man.

In July 1991, Manmohan Singh came up with new economic policies. At that time he was finance minister. He came back as PM in 2004. In fact, in 2004 power was transferred to UPA from NDA but the character of both the governments, at least on policy level, is more or less the same. The basic character of both governments is anti poor. That’s why farmer’s suicide is not coming to an end and the number of those farmers, who are quitting agriculture, is increasing day by day.

Devinder Sharma was agriculture editor at Indian Express. He knows the nuts and bolts of agriculture. He says, ‘In Eleventh Five Year plan government wants to let farmers quit the farms and policy makers are getting success in doing this. In fact, government is planning to give agriculture in the hands of corporate houses through contract farming.’ We all know, what will happen after the implementation of contract farming. We have seen the face of corporate houses in retail sector. When big players were getting permission to enter in this sector, they were claiming that they will erode middle man and goods will be available on a fair rate to people. But, what happened? Rates of these stores are not different from traditional stores.

All these things put a question mark on the concept of development, followed by India. Our policy makers count development in terms of better GDP numbers and surge of sensex. Devinder Sharma says, ‘Any model of economic growth, in which the betterment of farmers and agriculture is not ensured, can not be justified.’ He said, ‘If you count development in terms of GDP then India is definitely going to move ahead on this path. But GDP does not give perfect picture of development.’

We should be aware of the process of calculating GDP. In very simple words, the transaction of money from one hand to the other determines GDP. It means, if you are planting a tree then it won’t be counted in GDP but if you are cutting a tree then it will be counted in GDP numbers because it creates wealth. Now, we can understand that GDP means development or detriment.

Meanwhile, government is saying that if agriculture will get growth rate of 4% then GDP of 9% can be achieved. Here, Devinder Sharma raises a question. He says, ‘Let’s suppose agriculture sector grows at the rate of 4%. In spite of that there will be no positive impact on the livelihood of a farmer.’ In fact, farmer of the country remain indebted and feel deceived.

Sharma feels strongly that the condition of agriculture is getting worse day by day. Then, How can the problems of agriculture sector be addressed? Sharma replies, ‘There is no need to provide loans to farmers. Government should try to increase the income of farmers.’ He further laments, ‘After sixth pay commission, average salary per month of a peon of the government is Rs 15,000. But according to NSSO data, the average monthly income of a family of a farmer was Rs 2,115 in 2002-03 and it has not changed much. We need to equal the average income of a farmer to average income of a peon. Without doing this, we can not expect improvement in this sector.’

This is the high time to take some decisive steps to solve the problem of the agriculture sector. Otherwise, we will be importing tones of grains in the coming years. Delhi based economists Bibek Debroy think that by 2019, India will be importing 30% of domestic demand for food-grains. Is Manmohan singh & company listening?

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