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Agriculture Vs Industrialisation: Indian Economy pushed to a jump shift - I

"With the volume of import by India is going high every year, the market price has equally gone up at an unprecedented rate in the last 20 years. Controlling market prices has become the hardest task or almost impossible for the government as growth rate of agriculture sector is not matching the growing market demand."

Editorial : June 21, 2007

The way industrialisation is pursued in India, it seems that Politicians and Bureaucrats of the country have been maniac about it. Large-scale industrialisation at whatever cost is considered and propagated, by the so called development advocates, to be the key of development of India and the road to the club of first world nations.

As a part of the process of industrialisation the government plans and declares industries without taking the consent of people who are supposed to be affected or benefited by the industry; offers whatever the corporate houses want with the only motto of drawing maximum investment into the state. The amount of investment and proposed volume of employment are just thrown in the air as development publicity to make people believe that the projects are for their benefit although they don't have a chance to express their agreement or disagreement.

The process of mobilising foreign investment, which was initiated by NDA government, gave its fruits during the congress led UPA government by virtue of which India has attracted huge foreign investments in almost all sectors from Mining and Mineral based industries to IT, infrastructure, media, retail, education, health and all other fields that are essential and have better prospect in a consumer nation.

Industrialisation is no doubt an indicator of development of a country. But the kind of industrialisation pursued in India is completely different than the other countries involved in the development race. The bureaucrats and politicians of India plan for development without a proper understanding of the basic economy of 80% Indians living in forests, rural and underdeveloped parts of the country where most of the industries are planned so far.

Rich with mineral reserves, Orissa has become one of the experiment grounds for industrialisation. Big players like Arcelor Mittal, Posco, TATA, Jindal, Vedanta of Sterlite among many others are invited to the state for setting their industries, mostly mining and mineral based plants. The vast patches of land required for the companies are allotted in rural and forest areas where people's basic source of livelihood is either agriculture or forests.

Inhabited by mostly tribal communities, Kalinga Nagar  is in focus as the forth-coming steel hub with plants set by TATA Steel, Jindal Stainless, Visa Steel, Maithan Steel adding to Neelachal Ispat and MESCO Steel plants which existed before. Most of the lands marked for different plants are agricultural lands although revenue records don't compliment to the fact. People living in those areas are never consulted by the government agencies or corporate houses before planning the industries in their place.

The project of South Korean Steel major POSCO (Pohang Steel Company), considered to be the largest Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the sector, is planned near the port town of Paradeep on 4000 acres of land most of which is used for agriculture and betel leaf cultivation. Sterlite group is given more than 2000 acres of forest lands in Niyamgiri hill ranges inhabited by the Jerene tribal communities whose major livelihood source is the forest. Since there was no dialogue with the tribal communities while planning for industrialisation and they were asked at once to vacate their habitation sacrificing their home, lands and their livelihood sources, affected tribal members have raised strong opposition to the project and staged agitation as obvious.

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The reference of Orissa projects is the tip of the iceberg. Industrialisation, as it is pursued across the country, has been facing strong public resistance in West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharastra and other states also. Governments in the respective States try to curb the resistance by using their police force against people who are the essential pillar of democracy. In Kalinga Nagar in Orissa, Singur and Nandigram in West Bengal, trigger happy state police didn't bother to spray bullets on agitating people not even sparing children, old persons and women. The simple reason in all the cases is, people don't agree to sacrifice their land for the purpose of the industries as land has been the primary determinant of  their economy and is the source of their livelihood.

Acquiring land for industries has become the major problem now. If industrialisation is for the development of people at large then why do people oppose it? While this question finds no answer from planners and the corporate investors as well, people in power and decision making table talk like dream merchants and explain figures about the expected GDP growth in next 5, 7 or 10 years, if once the projects are operative. However most of the futuristic development statistics are prepared, probably, not taking into account the expected growth of population, changing consumer pattern, needs and choice and the fast-changing market.

Indian economy is primarily based upon agriculture not for how much it adds to the GDP but the part of total population that depend on it for their basic livelihood needs. About 80% of the population is directly or indirectly employed in agriculture and produce the major share of food grains consumed by more than one billion. It's again the fact that the total agricultural production across the country falls short to its people and we import pulses and other food materials to meet the consumption demand. Although India is an exporter of agricultural produces and processed food materials, the volume of import makes itself more a burden on the nation the giving some relief from how much it exports.

With the volume of import by India is going high every year, the market price has equally gone up at an unprecedented rate in the last 20 years. Controlling market prices has become the hardest task or almost impossible for the government as growth rate of agriculture sector is not matching the growing market demand.

The latest economic development survey reveals that growth rate of Agriculture has come down to 2.7% during 2006 - 2007 which was 6% in the year 2005-2006. If it goes further down in the succeeding years, India may face the problem of food crisis which is already experienced by many industrially developed countries. At such a point, agriculture should be taken as the highest priority sector and investment should be made in the sector to import better know-how for scientific practice for better production.

Every year allocation of funds is made for development and promotion of agriculture, high yielding variety seeds are provided and banks are directed to extend support to the farmers, high sounding programmes are announced. But the growth rate in agricultural production is dropping. What could be the reason? ...Continued >>> Next




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