India, being an agricultural economy, is under the spotlight for having more than 60% of this population engaged in the agricultural sector. Thus, this sector becomes a large vote bank for every political party.
Politics and the economy are highly intertwined, especially in the era of globalization, and only by understanding this can we understand how political decisions affect economic actvities.
Agricultural production, being such an important aspect of the economy, impacts all sectors of the economy and ultimately impacts the country’s economic development as a whole.
Initially, the agricultural sector contributed more than 50% to the GDP, but as industrialization took place, the industrial and service sectors grew stronger, and agriculture’s contribution declined to almost 14%. Although growth in the industrial and service sector may be the tell tale signs of an emerging industrial economy; there is the point to be considered that eventhough contributions of the agricultural sector have dropped, it still employs around 60% of the entire population – which heavily influences political decisions.
The political parties in government have made many populist projects like the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNRGA) and the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY), in order to keep the rural population happy. But, most of the measures taken by the political parties are over sold and under executed. These measures taken by the government have resulted in an increase in the agricultural production to some extent, but the gains of such increase have not percolated to the large number of small farmers. The reality of the situation is that the majority of the farmers are trapped in debts. New technologies, better seeds and irrigation are only benefiting the handful of large farmers. For the rest, the combination of bad seeds and poor rainfall results in little or no yield. This has caused mass suicides of farmers all over India.
Yet being in the political spotlight has been beneficial to some extent as some projects such as the building of canals to supply water to Kutch, the building of dams and introduction of new technologies have truly helped increase the agricultural output in some areas.
But at times, putting the agricutural sector in the spotlight has backfired on political parties. For example, the continous rise of onion prices in the market angered not only the general population, but the farmers as well, as they claim there isn’t that great of a supply shortage for such high prices. The political parities in power have been blamed for holding stock and inflating prices, and have lost popularity. The Modi Cabinet has recently tried to rectify the problem by enforcing control orders on onions and potatoes, claiming that anyone holding stock beyond a point will face legal action. The actual implimentation will be seen in due course.
Being a political football, the agricultural sector has been toyed with by political parties year after year without receiving much benefit. The millions of farmers working tirelessly to improve their livelihood have been used time and again as a vote bank, by giving false hope for betterment of their conditions.
– By Dhwani Pandya.
(Research, Writing & Photography)