Agricultural Trade Liberalization Undermined Food Security Jomo Kwame Sundaram and Anis Chowdhury

Agriculture is critical for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) notes, ‘From ending poverty and hunger to responding to climate change and sustaining our natural resources, food and agriculture lies at the heart of the 2030 Agenda.' For many, the answer to poverty and hunger is to accelerate economic growth, presuming that a rising tide will lift all boats, no matter how fragile or leaky. Most believe that market liberalization, property rights, and perhaps some minimal government infrastructure provision is all that is needed. The government's role should be restricted to strengthening the…

Agricultural Tenancy in Contemporary India Vaishali Bansal, Yoshifumi Usami and Vikas Rawal

The problem of tenancy -- informal, insecure, exploitative, and often unfree and interlocked contracts for leasing land that have been both growth-retarding and unjust -- has been central to the agrarian question in India. Along with an uneven and distorted penetration of capitalist relations in the Indian countryside, there have been significant changes in the extent of use of tenancy, in the class configuration of tenants and lessors, and in the form of tenancy contracts over the last few decades. With the state unwilling to effectively implement land reforms in most parts of India, tenancy relations have continued to be…

The real confusion over MSP C.P. Chandrasekhar

Speaking at the Krishi Unnati Mela 2018, Prime Minister Modi reportedly complained that confusion is being spread about the announcement on minimum support prices (MSPs) made in the Finance Minister’s 2018 budget speech. The speech had assured farmers that they would in future be able to sell the output of notified crops to the official procurement agencies at prices to be set at a minimum of 1.5 times the cost of production. The confusion being created according to the Prime Minister relates to how costs of production would be calculated. In an attempt to clarify, he stated that beside costs…

Agrarian Distress in India Jayati Ghosh

Across the country, farmers are furious – and rightfully so. Four years ago, they helped bring the BJP to power, believing Narendra Modi’s claims that they would no longer suffer official neglect. Cultivators were promised a doubling of their incomes in five years and many policies to increase their productivity and reduce their costs and risks. But since then, conditions in agriculture have got worse rather than better. Earlier problems have worsened as farm incomes have been squeezed by slower output growth, higher costs and increased vulnerability to changing climate. And there is a slew of new problems resulting directly…

The Budget and the Farmers: The government’s dilemma in 2018 Jayati Ghosh

It is widely expected that this Budget is going to be oriented towards farmers, at least in declared intent. The Finance Minister has already declared this – and even if he had not, the political pressures for it are now obvious. Persistent agricultural distress has been intensified by demonetisation; farmers have been openly protesting in various parts of the country; and the number of farm suicides has started climbing once again. But for this government, all that was not seen as much of a problem when elections were not around the corner. Now that there is a real chance that…

The Crisis in Agriculture C. P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

The dilution of government intervention in the form of minimum support prices, procurement and public distribution is undermining the medium-term viability of agricultural production in India. crisis_in_agriculture (Download the full text in PDF format) (This article was originally published in the Business Line on October 23, 2017.)

The Roots of the Agrarian Distress in India C.P. Chandrasekhar

The policy shifts of the reform era have not been in favor of agriculture. Trade liberalisation, deregulation and a greater role for market forces have not benefited the farmer, who is trapped in a persisting crisis. It is time for today’s policy makers to recognise their own disconnect, and learn from the evidence at hand. Agrarian_Distress (Download the full text in PDF format) (This article was originally published in the bloombergquint on June 27, 2017)

The Question of Farm-loan Waiver Prabhat Patnaik

The question of farm-loan waiver that is being demanded by the peasantry is much misunderstood. Such a waiver, it is argued by critics, would vitiate the credit-culture in the country: people would stop repaying loans henceforth in expectation of waivers on them. Since the UPA government had waived farm-loans a few years ago and now again there is a demand for a farm-loan waiver, peasants, they contend, are getting into a habit of not paying loans and demanding periodic waivers instead. Somebody, it is further added, has to bear the burden of the loan after all; and if the peasants…

The Economy Under Modi Prabhat Patnaik

The Modi government’s record in tacitly supporting the actions of  a bunch of vigilante thugs who have been terrorizing the country, especially the Muslims and the dalits, in the guise of gaurakshaks, or opponents of love jihad, or “nationalists”, has been so outrageous that it has grabbed all the critical attention. In the process the government’s abysmal failures in other spheres has gone virtually unnoticed. One such sphere is the economy whose dismal state is sought to be camouflaged by hyped-up figures of growth of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In fact, GDP figures these days engage one like an…

A Simple Arithmetic Prabhat Patnaik

The Modi government is completing three years in office amid much fanfare and propaganda about its achievements during this period. Aiding this propaganda is the advance estimate of GDP which projects a growth-rate of 7.11 percent for 2016-17, a shade lower than last year’s 7.93 percent, but apparently impressive nonetheless. Despite the fact that the Chief Statistician has clarified that these figures are based on data for only seven months (April-October) of the current fiscal year, and that the effects of demonetization are not captured by this figure the hype goes on undeterred. India’s statistical system has fallen on bad…