Skip to main content

Why India's average crop yield is worse than China, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia

By Battini Rao*

Farmers’ agitation against the three agrarian laws of the Modi government has snowballed into a major political challenge to the regime. When important institutions of the state like the parliament, and the criminal justice system including judiciary have been systematically hollowed out, and opposition political parties are falling to regime’s moneybags and threats, it is important that large sections of the rural people of India have taken a stand, and are standing as bulwark against government’s transgressions.
Modi government has been monumentally shameless, perfidious and vindictive in its aggression. When the ordinary people of the country were suffering from corona epidemic, economic downturn and unemployment, this government found the moment opportune to force the three agrarian laws on Indian peasantry. It did the same with labor laws.
In its arrogance, it thought that suffering people will fail to organize protests, and even if they do, its police will be able to contain them through brute force. Police of BJP ruled sates of Haryana and UP did try that. They erected concrete barricades, dug up roads, used water cannon and tear gas to stop farmers from marching towards the national capital.
However, the brave farmers of India, particularly form the northern state of Punjab and Haryana, have shown that the political machinations and aggression of even the most authoritarian rulers cannot break the will of the people. Now, when farmers have blocked important entry points to the national capital, the regime, its godi media, and digital goondas are following their time tested dirty tricks and spreading falsehoods against protesting farmers.
Their communal mouth-pieces have tried to brand protestors from Punjab as Khalistanis. Simultaneously regime’s mercenary intellectuals are trying to argue that protests are limited to pampered rich farmers who do not want to lose state subsidies on MSPs, fertilizers and electricity bills. Against such dirty politics of the regime stands the solidarity of farmers, and their will to struggle for what is rightfully theirs.
The significance of farmers’ struggle actually goes beyond opposition to the three agrarian laws of Modi regime. These laws are motivated by the neo-liberal agenda of the Indian ruling establishment, which has been followed by all governments in the past three decades. What distinguishes Modi regime is its complete disregard of popular opposition, its ruthlessness and eagerness to exploit every opportunity.
While earlier governments had to negotiate this agenda politically, the electoral successes of Modi government’s hatred-filled Hindutva politics have meant that it sees no need for such negotiations. It has reduced parliament to a rubber stamp. It has torn the federal structure of the Indian state to bits. It has used central government agencies to target state governments, passed laws like the three farm laws which violate the constitutional division of legislative powers between center and states, and broken up and turned the state of Jammu and Kashmir into union territories without the consent of its assembly.
A pliant judiciary has greatly helped it in these misdemeanours. Modi regime is the union of three most anti-people currents of Indian politics and economy. Authoritarian centralization of state power, revanchist nationalism and communalism, and neo-liberal crony capitalism are its three planks. Farmers’ protest hits at all the three. These are a direct challenge to the hold of a pro-corporate cabal on state economic policy. Hundreds of thousands of farmers sitting on national highways for three weeks in biting cold have shown that popular mobilizations relying on the organized strength of people at large, and under principled leadership can successfully counter authoritarian state power. The failure of regime propaganda against protestors shows that Indians are not buying every fascist falsehood.
Neo-liberalism is the class attack of the rich and the privileged against working people, and it works at diverse levels. Its first target is economic functions of the state, which are used to weaken the bargaining power of working people. ‘Reforms’, ‘deregulation’,‘market freedom’ etc. are ideological tools to confuse people.
Hired intellectuals and establishment media retail these notions to cover up the way neo-liberal economic policies strengthen the rich, and dis-empower the poor. Markets provide freedom to sell and buy. However, buyers and sellers enter market along with their already endowed economic and social power. There cannot be any equality between a wage worker who has to sell his/her capacity to work to survive, and a fat capitalist who buys labour power for the sake of earning more profit.
A small farmer has little equality in market dealings with big corporations which deal with thousands of farmers, and hence have the real freedom to pick and choose. Since the private ‘freedom’ to buy and sell has an inbuilt bias towards the powerful, the latter want it to remain a private affair. On the other hand, the weaker parties in market have always tried to put out their conditions of subjugation into the public domain.
Protests, marches, strikes, or riots are diverse ways through which the weak try to bring their condition in the public domain, so that the public authority is forced to take remedial measures. Laws for minimum wage, workers’ safety, trade union organizing, and market regulation, and against child labour, and alienation of land from peasants are different policies that people who otherwise are at the mercy of the bigger fish in‘free’ market, have forced state to undertake.
Farming for market is an especially precarious activity.Production is linked with plant life cycles and weather. Any disruption in either of the two can play havoc with production.Demand for agricultural produce on the other hand is inelastic. Demand for food cannot be satisfied by any other product, nor can excess agricultural production be consumed in alternate ways. Prices crash even with little over production, while they sky rocket at the whiff of a shortage.
Hoarders, traders, stockists and speculators regularly make a killing in agricultural commodities markets. Marginal, small and middle farmers, who use their own and their family labour in production, are caught in the cycle of crop to crop debt. They have no capacity to hold their produce, and are at the receiving end of market forces, both when production is good, as well as when it is bad.
Pauperisation is an ever present danger. Agrarian distress has broken millions of farmers in capitalist India. Finding no way out, many have committed suicide.Even the colonial government thought it better to intervene in agrarian economy. It passed laws to stop dispossession of peasant land by money lenders and traders.
What distinguishes Modi regime is its complete disregard of popular opposition, its ruthlessness and eagerness to exploit every opportunity
Investment in rural infrastructure, regularisation of agricultural markets, minimum support prices, institutional credit and input subsidies were some of the measures taken by the Indian state after independence to stabilize peasant economy and make farming sufficiently remunerative so that agricultural production could increase. These measures were concentrated in the north-western part of the country comprising Punjab and Haryana and were restricted to essential grains like wheat and paddy. Ideally these measures should have been extended to all crops, all over India.
In essence this is what the MS Swaminathan Commission of 2004-06 advocated. Besides recommending that the MSP should be 50% above the production cost, it called for assured and remunerative market opportunities, and an agricultural produce market within a 5 km radius. However, as soon as the threat of mass starvation due to insufficient grain production was overcome, Indian state did not extend such measures to other parts of the country.
Farmers in most of the country were deprived of one set of policies which had helped stabilize increased productivity in the north-western part of the country. Despite high yields in Punjab, the average crop yields in India are about half of those in China, where family farms are even smaller than in India. Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Indonesia -- all these countries have higher yields than India.
A common argument against the MSP and the existing pattern of grain procurement is that godowns of government owned FCI are over flowing with grains. This is also used to show that India is self-sufficient in agricultural production. This is a complete lie. 
Availability of grains per capita in India is about 180 kg. In Bangladesh it is 200kg. It is 450 kg in China, and 1100 kg in the US. In the global hunger index for 2019 India was ranked at 102 among a total of 117 countries. All countries of South Asia barring Afghanistan are better able to feed their people than India. Citizens of Nepal (rank 73) Bangladesh (rank 88) and Pakistan (rank 94) are better fed than Indians. 
The most recent family health survey has shown that close to one third Indian children are malnourished, underweight and stunted. Food godowns in India are overflowing because the Indian government does not care if a significant proportion of Indians, including children, go hungry every day.
At the minimum, India needs to produce double the quantity of grains it produces now to properly feed its people.Public expenditure in agricultural infrastructure, and assured markets and prices to incentivize production are urgently needed to fulfil this dire need. Both positive and negative lessons from the institutional arrangements which expanded grain production in the north-west of India need to be learnt, and their successes replicated in other parts of the country.
Modi regime’s farm laws are meant to precisely undo these institutional arrangements. Their aim is to create a completely unregulated private market in agricultural products in which big capitalists with deep pockets have a free run at the cost of Indian peasantry. It should be noted that at present only about one fourth of the agricultural produce is routed through state regulated mandis, and receives some form of MSP. However, this is the most productive sector of Indian agriculture.
Most of the trade in agricultural produce in other parts of the country is already in private hands.Free markets in farm produce here have done no wonders to increase farm income and productivity. Big capital is not much interested in these markets. How much profit they can extract from an already squeezed peasantry, which barely survives at subsistence level! Their target are the most productive sectors of Indian agriculture.
Modi government is committed to fulfill monopoly capitalist greed. Its farm laws are tailor made for this purpose. These laws create a favourable terrain for private trade, as it will be free from any public regulation, and would not pay any transaction fees and local taxes. Any dispute between farmers and traders/capitalists will be settled at the level of corrupt lower bureaucracy with judicial recourse available only at the level of high courts and supreme court. How many farmers can afford this?
The first mantra of the neoliberal fascist agenda of Indian rulers is private loot at the expense of public welfare. In the pursuit of this aim, if the relatively successful parts of the economy, like the highly productive farming sector in the north-west of the country, need to be destroyed, so be it. Modi regime is the most aggressive and violent agent of Corporate houses. It has no public morality. It shamelessly spreads lies, and tries to divide people. Indian farmers have seen through its dirty game.
However, it will also be suicidal to overlook this regime’s social base. All economically, socially and culturally privileged strata of Indian society, urban svarna castes, and richer classes of the society are behind the union of Hindutva, neoliberalism and centralized authoritarianism forged by this regime. Enough Indians have bought into Hindutva fascist fold to see violence against minorities, degeneration of institutions of governance, and declining economy as normal state of affairs. They are ready to clap for all vainglorious follies of the leader, even while they end up suffering due to his misdeeds.
India is fast sliding towards fascism. Popular mobilisations of farmers, workers, youth, students and enlightened citizenry are urgently needed all over India to stop and reverse this slide. As the history of Germany and Italy shows, once societies get stuck in fascist trap, they come out of it only after wholesale disaster. Will farmers’ agitation enlighten further resistance to neoliberalism, Hindutva and the Modi regime? Or, will it prove to be a temporary flare in the road to darkness?
All left-progressive organisations, democratic forces and citizens of India should come out in support of the ongoing farmers’ protest against agrarian laws and authoritarian rule of the Modi government. This is the moment to forge a practical unity of organized and unorganised working class, peasantry, youth and democratic citizenry. Modi regime represents the most reactionary, anti-people fascist forces in Indian society. Only such a unity with socialist goal can defeat these forces and take Indians towards a democratic and prosperous future.
---
*President of Progressive Organization of People (POP)

Comments

Anonymous said…
punjab average paddy yield is about 27 quintals / acre. It is above that of vietnam and bangladesh. Possibly the all india story is different. the wheat story may be even better for punjab
raj taj said…
raj taj said

agriculuture sector recorded positive growth, unemployement rate improved now its 6.8 from 8, gdp growth rate improved from 27.9 to -7.8 and positive growth by 2021.this laws for betterment of farmers.oposition funded mandi protest.unity against truth not working why farmers not going to court.rich farmers with trailors tractors. many companies coming to india.

TRENDING

North Gujarat gram panchayat bars villagers from dealing with Muslim hawkers, traders

By Our Representative  A gram panchayat in North Gujarat has barred its residents not to buy anything from Muslim traders and hawkers. An order of the Waghasan group gram panchayat of Tharad taluka of Banaskantha district dated June 30 states that the decision has been taken in the wake of beheading of a Hindu tailor after he posted a derogatory writeup on Prophet Mohammad in Udaipur. The gram panchayat resolution says, anyone seen buying or selling any commodity from a Muslim hawker or trader would be fined Rs 5,100. Bringing this to light, Mujahid Nafees, convener, Minority Coordination Committee, in a letter to Gujarat chief minister Bhupendra Patel, says, the state government should take legal action against the panchayat chief who has signed the “unjust” order. The letter says, the act of the sarpanch and other signatories is a violation of rule of law of the state and threat to peace, pointing out, the move is in violation of Article 15 of the Constitution, which says that none

Unlike Soviet Union, Russia is no friend to India: Ukrainian scholar tells 'Indian friends'

Counterview Desk In an open letter to "dear Indian friends", Anastasia Piliavsky, born in Odessa, Ukraine, studied at Boston and Oxford Universities (on a Rhodes Scholarship), and now teaches at King’s College, London, has said that she faces "deep moral dilemma", personally and professionally, over the "astonishingly unified Indian response to the war in Ukraine." Based on her interaction with a "number of thoughtful and caring Indian friends", in this letter, she says, she is "reeling at the ubiquitous silence at, justifications of or outright support for Putin’s terror, which now prevails in India, at the ubiquitous #IStandWithPutin and #istandwithrussia hashtags." She insists, India must understand, "Unlike the Soviet Union, Russia is no friend to India. Soviet leaders, beginning with (the Ukrainian) Nikita Khrushchev – who declared hindi rusi bhai bhai – built up deep political and cultural exchange with India." Text : I

Technocratic globalism, tyranny? Health Ministry warned: bill to 'enslave' Indians

Sandeep Pandey, Tushar Gandhi By Rosamma Thomas*  Union of Concerned Citizens, a group comprising Magsaysay Award winner Prof Sandeep Pandey, human rights activist Tushar Gandhi, former judge of the Bombay High Court BG Kolse Patil, pediatrician Dr Jacob Puliyel and several renowned Indian citizens have written to the Union Health Minister cautioning him against tabling the draft Public Health Bill in the Monsoon Session of Parliament. “The Public Health (Prevention, Control And Management Of Epidemics, Bio-Terrorism And Disasters) Bill, 2017 and a Prospective Bill of 2022 as discussed in news articles, is straightforwardly violative of Fundamental Rights of the citizens of India and therefore, Ultra Vires of the Indian Constitution. It contravenes several International Treaties and Conventions including the Nuremberg Treaty of 1947 which was enacted to ensure that no country would repeat such inhuman medical atrocities on fellow human beings”, the 12-page letter reads. “Strangely, t

Protesters demand release of Teesta Setalvad, Sreekumar, seek review of SC order

By Our Representative  Protests broke out across India on June 27 following Teesta Setalvad’s arrest demanding her immediate release. Sabrang India , a site run by Setalvad, claimed she was “arrested on trumped-up charges after the Supreme Court dismissed the petition moved by Zakia Jafri demanding an investigation into the larger conspiracy behind the 2002 Gujarat violence.” The protesters also demanded release of former DGP Gujarat police RB Sreekumar, also arrested simultaneously. The protests were preceded by over 2,200 people from across the globe signing a statement demanding their immediate release. Leading signatories such as People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) general secretary V Suresh, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) convenor Medha Patkar, former Naval chief Admiral Ramdas. “The state has used the observations made in the judgment to falsely and vindictively prosecute those who had struggled for justice even in the face of state callousness and complicit

Electoral bonds scheme 'compromises' voluntary nature PM relief fund donations

By Rosamma Thomas*  The Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) is meant to collect voluntary donations from the general public, either individuals or organizations, to enable assistance to people in times of natural disaster, or for expensive medical treatment. That fundamental voluntary character of the fund, however, has changed in recent years.  The gazette notification of January 2018 announcing the Electoral Bond scheme states, in Clause 12 (2): “The amount of bonds not encashed within the validity period of fifteen days shall be deposited by the authorized bank to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund”. The Union government has, thus, through notification, directed funds to be deposited into what was meant to be purely voluntary. Commodore Lokesh Batra, who has been campaigning for transparency in government functioning, holds that once a gazette notification has been issued directing that funds be deposited into the PMNRF, the character of the whole fund has changed,

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

'Highly abnormal': AltNews journo's arrest suggests 'deterioration in media freedom'

By Bharat Dogra*  Leading media organizations have come out in strong support of recently arrested journalist Mohammed Zubair. These organizations include, among others, the Editors Guild of India, the Press Club of India, the Delhi Union of Journalists and DIGIPUB, a platform for several important digital media organizations. All these organizations have condemned the recent arrest of the noted journalist and demanded his immediate release. While leading human rights organizations and political parties have also made somewhat similar statements, the strong support of media organizations is particularly important as the effort of the authorities has been to try to present the arrested journalist as someone who has been indulging in irresponsible journalism.  In such a situation the support of those media organizations who are familiar with his work and who are most capable of judging the quality of his work is very important. In this context it is important that some media organization

Majoritarian silence helping Hindutva forces 'handover' national resources to corporates

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The majority of Indian citizens are witnessing the persecution and everyday violence against their fellow citizens who are Muslims and religious minorities. The growing assaults on reason, science, secularism, Indian democracy and constitution are going to be landmarks in Indian history of diminishing democracy and citizenship rights. It is clear that Hindutva ideology is directly promoting sectarian politics of hate which is dangerous for the unity and integrity of India, peace and prosperity of Indians. The majoritarian silence helps in empowering Hindutva and their electoral dividends. From witnessing the persecution in the sidelines to the active participation and cheering loud or silence accelerates violence against our neighbours and our fellow citizens. How and why do majority of Indians stay silent and contribute to the persecution of their fellow citizens who are Muslims and religious minorities? The question baffles me as an Indian because I have gr

Electricity Bill: Centre's reform measures contain 'carrot and stick package' for states

Counterview Desk  The Peoples’ Commission on Public Sector and Public Services (PCPSPS), claiming to be a network of eminent academics, jurists, erstwhile administrators, trade unionists and social activists, seeking consultations with stakeholders with those who are against the government’s decision to monetise, disinvest and privatise public assets/enterprises, has said that the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill-2022 will have far-reaching impacts on the finances of states. Insisting that the proposed Bill would lead to “assault on India’s federal structure”, in a statement, it says, it would weaken the finances of states’ power distribution companies, have adverse impact on utility employees, cripple the states' finances, impose a heavy cost burden on the smaller subsidized consumers (especially farmers), and benefit only corporate business houses. “States cannot afford to ignore the far-reaching implications of the Bill on their economy, finances, agricultural and industria

Cops 'refuse to register' complaint after BSF shot landless worker off Bangla border

By Our Representative  Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), and national convener, Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI), in a complaint to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), referring to the incident of “firing and execution” of a poor Muslim youth, has alleged that the 26 year old was was shot at “without giving any warning” one and half kilometers inside the Indian territory from Bangladesh border by an on- duty Border Security Force (BSF) personnel. Stating that the person, Ruhul Mondal, belonged to an Other Backward Class (OBC), and hailed from Ramnarayan Para village under Sagarpara police station in Murshidabad district, West Bengal, Roy in his representation said, the BSF person who shot at him is “attached with Singpara Border Outpost, 141 Battalion”, underlining, the BSF has now floated “self defense theory” to cover up its operation. According to the BSF officials, the incident took place in the jute fields in