The Reality of the Agrarian Sector in India

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)

Political Economy

People – as important to individuals as a society, are as much the driving force of any organisation as that of a nation. It is the people, as opposed to a certain emotion, that actually make the world go around. Every human action and reaction is either ‘for’, ‘by’ or ‘of’ the people, reference to democracy being irrelevant. The very basic need of all, is the one of real satisfaction of needs. Needs that are endless, overlapping and often conflicting; needs that may be important or selfish. People stir up politics the same way needs do to economics. And the struggle of each political system to fulfil their needs, prompted by economies or diseconomies is what we call ‘Political Economy’.

Since around the 16th century, when the term merely referred to the study of the conditions under which production or consumption was organized in nation-states, now stands for a branch of study encompassing elements of economics, political sciences, moral philosophy and sociology. Long been a subject of intellectual inquiry, Political Economy is a relatively young academic discipline. Even though ‘Economics’ by itself constitutes as a social science, the integration of human ‘thinking’ along with previously held ‘behaviour’ has paved way for fresh lines of thought giving the political aspect of general economics a very different outlook. Believed to have emanated as a reaction to ‘mercantilism’ in Europe, the term was restricted to practical theories and moral philosophies edging the promotion of governmental regulation of a nation’s economy.

Many conjectures and centuries later, warring economists have come to agree upon a definitive idea that the integration of economic and political objectives outside of theory is skirted by constant apprehension – of the homeland and of the alien countries. Be that as it may, it’s not only the economists who have been at war. In the years that ‘Political Economy’ evolved from being recognised as a mere retort to trade absolutism to its acknowledgement as an established framework, we fought our way through an epoch of almost relentless panic as which the modern world tried very hard to destroy itself and for all practical purposes: succeeded.

Continued analysis of the pre and post-catastrophe periods are greatly skewed towards the argument that military struggle can disturb the existing political economy in a country in turn making drastic political change possible. There is enough evidence to show that the unrest of war has been instrumental in probing a number of important inventions, the end result being ultimate superiority of select nations over others. The magnum opus that is enabling you to read this very article was a brainchild of the Cold War. However, the notion that the urgency of a war can lead to economic growth is no reason to ignore the horrible human tragedy that it is. Yet, even without certainty, the cold, hard economist in each of us propels over the fact that the superpower was not a product of greater peacefulness.

Amalgamating interests of politics and economics often make international relations replete with difficulty. We can draw so from the case of an existent global force and an emerging one. The US has been supporting the economic reforms involving the Asian giant due to a promising increase in trade between the two nations. But China’s resistance to domestic political liberalisation drew sharp criticism toward Uncle Sam especially after he was extended the ‘most-favoured nation’ trading status amid major controversy.

It is no secret that there is complex calculus involved as governments strive to intersect economic and political objectives, the above case in point is one of the clearer examples citing the emergence of an international political economy has been instrumental in marking the return of political economy to its roots as a holistic study of individuals, states, markets, and society.

– By Siddhi Parwani.
(Sub – Head of Department of Research, Writing and Photography)