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A great majority of Indian farmers want to "shift to cities", says survey report

Counterview Desk
A recent survey report, prepared by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Delhi, for the a high-profile NGO, Lokniti, has found that, given an employment opportunity, 61 per cent of India’s farmers would like to shift to cities, and 50 per cent of farmers said they are “ready to quit farming” if such a possibility arises.
The report acquires significance form the policy angle, as top economist Arvind Panagariya, who is now vice-chairman of the Modi government’s new thinktank Niti Ayog, has cited the CSDS study, titled “State of Indian Farmers: A Report”, to prove why the 2013 Land Acquisition Act’s main provisions of consent and social impact assessment should be dropped.
The survey, conducted in 2013-14 in 274 villages spread over 137 district of 18 Indian states, by interviewing 8,220 randomly individuals 16.7 per cent of whom were women, 19.8 per cent Dalits, 11.9 per cent tribals, and 40.3 per cent OBCs. Non-Hindu constitutes 13.5 per cent of the sample.
The report says, “When farmers were asked whether they want their children to settle in the city, as many as 60 per cent said they want their children to settle in the city. Another 14 per cent do not want their children to settle in the city, whereas 19 per cent said they will prefer their children’s choice on this matter.”
It adds, “Better education was cited as one of the most important reason of why farmers want their children to settle in cities, followed by better facilities, and employment opportunities.”
“When asked whether they would like to see their children engaging in farming, only 18 per cent responded positively, 36 per cent said they do not want their children to continue farming as their occupation, and 37 per cent said they will prefer their children’s choice”, the report says.
It adds, “The sentiment that their children should not continue farming is strongest among landless and small farmers (39 per cent) and weakest among large farmers (28 per cent).”
In a separate interview with youths from farmer households, “60 per cent said that they would prefer to do some other jobs, whereas only 20 per cent said they would continue farming”, the report states.
Despite this the view by majority that farming conditions have turned bad in India, an inter-state comparison in the survey suggests that Gujarat – touting itself as fastest urbanizing state of India – has a special liking for farming. Thus, Gujarat 23 per cent of farmers said perceived overall conditions of farming as “bad”, which is higher than only two states – Madhya Pradesh (22 per cent) and Maharashtra (16 per cent).
Ironically, the survey finds, though majority of Indian farmers want to be part of the city life, 72 per cent still “like” farming, but the liking for farming is based mainly because it is a “traditional occupation” (60 per cent). Just about 10 per cent thought farming earns them good income, and 15 per cent said they are “proud to be farmers.”

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