Agriculture is most profitable and lucrative profession


For the first time in many years, the Indian agriculture received its share of space in mainstream mass media. It’s not that there have been some sea change or transformation but it has suddenly become lucrative and attractive profession (to highlight agricultural distress, farmer’s suicide and off-course Padyatras of Young Emerging Political Scion).

Suddenly all the punditry become expert in agriculture and started to offer their opinions and expert advices on how to improve agriculture and how (illiterate & ignorant) farmers should do the farming.

But if we take critical view and take benefit of hindsight, we can see that agriculture has always been most lucrative profession, after all we are known an ‘Krishi Pradhan Desh’ and it become a instant social media hit when someone put his/her photo in lush green mustard farm. It’s also miracle that most of photos have mustard in background while it’s grown in very small areas and oil-seed are one of agricultural product which India imports.

After a bit of sarcasm, now let’s takes hard look at harsh, brutal and dark realities of agriculture in India:

  1. India’s planner never wanted to promote agriculture. They have same disdain for agriculture as Urban Indian has for people coming from rural areas (normally addressed as ‘Dehati’). This is sole reason that we have always set targets for agricultural growth much lower than manufacturing, services and overall economy. Take example of 12th Five Year plan – The growth target for agriculture is set at 4% while target for overall economic growth is set at 8%. It’s another matter that even these lower targets are rarely met.
  2. This deliberate, planned and sustained efforts to (de)promote agriculture has resulted in reducing share of agriculture in economy from ~50% at time of independence to less than 15% in 2015. Since it has happened by deliberate neglect, we didn’t care to create employment opportunity for populations depended on agriculture which continues to remain almost same (more than half of total population) as at time of independence.
  3. But in democracy, its majority which rules. Why such a large population lost its clout and repeatedly ignored? The reason lies in fragmentation and division among them by identity of region, language, religion and caste.
  4. While we routinely blame the skewed subsidies in form of power, fertilizer and MSP to farmers but don’t see the invisible subsidy provided to urban dwellers in form of assured electricity, piped water supply and transportation facilities. We don’t see and question lakhs of Crore subsidy to Metro rail as subsidy (here urban commuters need not pay full fare. Its infrastructure creation not subsidy!) But power provided to farmers needs to charged at market rate. We blame farmers lobby for all the ills of state distribution boards, power sector and economic woes while ready to elect a government in National capital (having largest per capita income in country) which promise them free water and subsidized power.
  5. Well, these are not double standard! It’s their legitimate right, because urban dweller pay taxes so they must have claim over the resources. Why the hell on earth, we should care for Nange Fakirs living in hinterland. What do they provide for us? Oh yes, we can express solidarity with them when one of them commits suicide. Suicide would make interesting story , especially if it happens in full public view, and we can always find motley crowd of activist who care for global food security & campaign for rights of poor and marginal farmers without even having any iota of understanding about how it feel to remain a hungry even for a day.
  6. Now take a look at some aspects of agricultural economics. We complain about food inflation. Governments have been toppled on this very serious issue. Why the dumb, non-responsive government is doing when onion is sold at Rs 30/kg in urban area? The political class & bureaucratic, mainly coming from this crowd itself, take steps to reduce price. But we ever see the government moving into action when potato are sold at Rs 2/kg by farmers. Where the government did goes? Oh I forgot, the Price stabilization funds are meant only to subsidize urban consumer, not to compensate farmers for their distressed sell.  Stupid they are, as they have produced bumper crop.
  7. Oh, now come to main point of farming being a very lucrative profession. One simple way to measure profitability of any profession is ratio of output/input prices. In farm sector, this is measured by Terms of trade. Here are some sample statistics to see for yourself :  harsish
  8. Very newspaper editorial and economic expert have blamed high MSP for runway food inflation in past year. But have you ever care to read how MSP are calculated? I would just provide some of novel assumptions followed in calculation of MSP
    1. Only the number of hours that bullocks work on farm is used for calculation, as if the animals don’t need to fed on other days of year.
    2. Interest on working capital is calculated for half the cropping season, presuming that farmers would repay the loan when the crop is half grown.
    3. Post harvest expenses are not accounted for
    4. .All members of a family engaged in farming are valued just as non-skilled laborer. No concept of managerial remuneration leaves apart the profit, oh after all what they contribute?  Industry requires manager, not farming.
    5. Cost of factors of production is one essential component. But it is presumed that farmers own hereditary land, so they are not entitled to seek market rent for their land.
  1. Ok well, this is story behind the much celebrated MSP number. Now come to much broader issues of farmer’s subsidy. You must have heard that more than 1 lakh subsidy per year is provided to farmers. Its pure misnomer and deception. When world cotton prices are at Rs 8000/ per tonne, the farmers are paid Rs 4000/tonne. Shetkari Sanghathan has done some background calculation to show that government is extracting lakhs of rupees from farmers and distributing it among affluent urban consumer directly (by suppressing prices of cereals, pulses, vegetables) and indirectly (by ensuring cheaper industrial raw material e.g. cotton for textile industry). By governments own admission (as per submission to WTO), the farm subsidies to wheat are in negative.
  2. It’s not a new story. Farmers are always there to sacrifice for the national development. They should readily provide land for affordable housing and social infrastructure without their consent. They should produce pulses and oilseed, even if they are not remunerative, to meet national demand. Their property rights do not matter. If we adopt non-discriminatory attitude, we should build affordable housing in Lutyens Delhi rather than by acquiring land in NCR periphery.
  3. Come to Economic reform. We demand reform, choice and liberalization in all sector but farming. Farmers are not capable of making independent and informed choice. They needs hand holding. This is reason that they can’t sell outside designated area (due to APMC restrictions) , they can’t sell directly to customers & then can’t share global price rise due to export restriction but need to share losses due to fall in global prices.
  4. Need more proofs on why farming is most profitable and lucrative profession and business? You need to ask this question to our political farmers who have fortunes out of farm land. They can earn crores; yes you heard it right, in between their election cycle from their farming land.
  5. But previous government has not much to alleviate the status of farmers. Oh yes, MNREGA did wonder for farmers as per studies of social scientist and activists. It is responsible for rising farm wages. Oh, then its good na! that a labourer is benefiting from higher wages. But their impact wiped out for laborer by high inflation.
    1. If 100 days of labour has been reserved for 250 days of lean season, it would have doubled the employment generated, without more investment.
  6. Oh if not MNREGA, then Farm Loan waiver was definitely good for farmer. The sad reality is that it helped only those farmers who have defaulted on institutional credit (not the regular payer or nor the non-institutional debtor).
  7. Unfortunately the sad and hard truth is that no one cares for so called Ann Data (grain producer). There is no organized body to represent their interest, they are given short-shrift by political class and bureaucrats are simple unable to comprehend the complex problems due to their elitist background. The same failed policies which haven’t changed anything are advocated by media punditry and social activist.

All these problems ultimately comes to the Niyat’ or Intention of policy makers and other stakeholders. If there is sincere intention, nothing is impossible as being shown by excellent performance of Agriculture in Madhaya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Gujrat who have delivered more than 7% agricultural growth for more than decade from 2001-02 to 2011-12.

India’s farmers would be better served if they are left to themselves. Yes, there is scope for extending irrigation, providing high yielding seeds. removing restriction on trade of agricultural commodities and creating a national market for them,  extending credit facilities in simple & convenient ways and creating a viable income insurance and weather insurance to reduce unpredictability. But above all , what is require are honest and genuine intention. Political dramabazzi or scoring political points to secure their vote are most fatal for farmers.

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Making the meaning of Independence


What does Independence mean for us ? What is importance of Independence day for a common man ?

Are we really Independent ?

Jawaharlal-Nehru

Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru looks down on the crowd during India’s Independence Day celebrations at Red Fort, New Delhi, India, Aug. 15, 1947

Today is 64th Independence Day of India. British left India on 15th August, 1947 after the centuries of colonial raj and looting of natural resource and India became a sovereign nation.

So what had changed after the independence? What does Independence mean for us? Does this mean 1.Economic Independence 2.Social Independence or 3.Cultural Independence? What is importance of Independence Day for a common man? Are we really independent (as a nation and as an individual)?

Yes, we can beckon of emerging global power of world but what about the plight of 40 % population which is living below the poverty line and lacking the access to basic amenities? Well, such an occasion helps in sustaining the general euphoria of “Mera Bharat Mahan” among the public. It’s good to have  a sense of proud in one’s own country but this shouldn’t be a momentous phenomenon. Are we really proud of present status of country? (Crippling with tonnes of problems like widespread poverty, terrorism, internal security, corruption, inefficient governance, price rise and lack of efficient and affordable education and health care etc). Some may argue that “Cribbing about the inadequacies and shortcomings is never the solution. It’s up to you to make the best out of this situation.” This confirm to saying of Gandhiji “Be the change you want to see in world” .Don’t like it change it!

I agree to them to a certain extent. We (the common citizens) are responsible for present status of country (Good or Bad or whatever). We need to take responsibility for everything that happened around us and can’t remain a silent spectator for changes taking place in and around the society. There is no shame in accepting that our country in not the best in many areas (like Governance, security, infrastructure, and education, healthcare) but as the same time we should also rejoice our achievements. Acknowledgment of failure and strategies to improve on failed (or weak) frontiers are need of hour. There is always a scope for innovation and improvement.

It would be wrong to undermine the progress made by India in last 63 years after the independence but there is need to raise the concern about the way of development and unfold the truth about the real beneficiary of development. We need to ensure the accountability at each and every level and it shouldn’t stop at the “lofty promises of inclusive development”

I have tried to present my own perspective on few areas which would be crucial in shaping the future trajectory of India.

1. Education

Education is foundation stone of any nation. There has been an increase in the spread and reach of education in various hinterlands of India but we had failed to provide quality education to a larger section of people. This had undermined the growth potential and marginalised some section of society from mainstream growth story. Continue reading

Election results postpartum


A Great Election period is over and now the market of some MLA  is picking a new height particularly in the Haryana.There were not many surprises except the Haryana where the INDL had buried all the pre-poll estimation and exit-poll results.

Well,this was a first major election after the Loksabha election and many people took interest in it.Some of Enthusiastic people volunteered and tried their best to educate the people about the importance of their vote.This helped some young minds to get their electoral Id first time and some also exercised their option.Some loudly announced after the results "why No-Vote were not taken into consideration".

Well,this will continue to happen in every election and stories will keep repeating with some twists.

Here are few my observation from this election

  1. Dynastic Politics is OK-After the victory of many political successor of their family people (Specially media and elite class) started to believe that Dynastic politics is here to stay(in India) .People with desirable credential without political backing of family have very little Chance of survival in this political battle.
  2. The Haryana poll has shown that Caste based politics is here to stay and Media has very less sense of people’s thinking in the Rural and Non-metro areas.Omprakash Chautal’s Journey could be  described as "Rise from ashes like a Phoenix".Where the Exit poll results gone?This can be related to some extent to the influence of Media over the decision-making power of public !Media play an important part in opinion making

Gandhi’s vision


On the independence night I was watching Movie  “Gandhi”.Few lines which was quoted by character of Gandhi in a Indian National Congress meeting caught my attention and touched the heart.I wondered How much has changes after the 62 years of Independence. “I have been travelling to India for last few months and I know that I can spend still years to know the India. yet I already know that what we say means nothing to masses of country. Here we make speeches for each other and those English liberal magazine may grant us few lines.The people of India are untouched. Their politics is confined to bread and salt.Illiterate they may be but they are not blind.They see no reason to give their loyalty to Rich and Powerful man,who simply want to take over the role of British in the name of freedom.This congress tells the world-it represent the India.My brothers India is 7 hundred thousands villages NOT a few hundred lawyers in Delhi, Bombay and Calcutta.Until we stand in few in the millions who spoil each day under the hot sun we will not represent the India.We will not represent the India .No one will ever be challenge the British as one nation.” Continue reading