We all know that Agriculture was the basic structure for a sustained economy, but that conception was slowly replaced by service sector and manufacturing sector too, gets the prominence. According to most of the pro capitalist policymakers thinking, Indian farmer was now more the spine of the country and he slowly losing his ground in Government policy making. But according to me it is nothing but cutting the ground under its own feet and moving to abysmal. Although we are having bumper crops and increased food production but outputs from that, neither reached the farmer nor the 22 percent impoverished Indian citizens. Share of agriculture in Indian GDP for the year 2014 was 13.9% and it decreased from 51% of its share in 1951 but still it provides employment to nearly 54.6% of people. To give more importance to agriculture, 2002 NDA government declared agriculture was the prime moving force for the Indian economy determining its significance. According to Rangarajan, 1 percent growth in agriculture indirectly leads to growth of 0.5 percent in industries and 0.7 percent growth rate to GDP. Agriculture sector is the base for the industrial sector, as 40 percent of industrial output depends on agri based inputs like cotton, sugarcane jute as raw materials.
Moving back to the history, although Indian economy was agrarian based in pre-independence days but we can’t rid by the frequent famines due to lack of policy administration during British Raj. Great Bengal famine of 1942 , which results to death of 2 million people and showed the lacunae’s in Indian agriculture sector. On the lines of Soviet socialist and other capitalist economies, Nehru made Industries as prime moving force of the economy, which is the much debatable issue even today. To prevent food shortages and to promote agriculture, Nehru started investing in various mammoth irrigation projects, called them as temples of modern India and institutionalized, Food Corporation of India (FCI) and Commission on agriculture costs and prices (CACP). FCI has functions ranged from procurement, storage and issue of food and later to recommend prices for government procurement of different crops. But still the productivity was less and depended upon foreign aid from US in the form of PL-480 program and imported wheat grains. It relegated the position of India in international arena being labelled as a nation surviving on a “ship-to-mouth basis” and influenced the foreign policy greatly. So there was dire need for self reliance in Indian agriculture and then Prime Minister Lal Bhadur Shastri gave a famous excerpt “Jai Javan Jai Kisan”, came to know the decisive importance of farmer. Thanks to torch bearers like M.S. Swaminathan and then agriculture and food minister C.Subramanium, who gave his wholehearted support for spreading high-yielding varieties on a large scale, together with irrigation water, minerals and fertilizers. Government of India in 1967 introduced high-yielding varieties programme in wheat, rice, maize, jowar and bajra and there was quantum jump in food grains production leading to Green Revolution in India. It is having an enormous impact on Indian economy; wheat production increased by 13 times and cotton, potato production increased by 8 times, improvement in employment opportunities due to 2-3 crops per annum and poverty decreased due to increase in income levels. There exist some kind fundamental flaws in first green revolution as it was confined to few crops like rice, wheat, bajra, jowar and maize and neglecting the remaining crops and restricted to some areas like UP, Punjab, Haryana, AP and Tamilnadu leading to wide spread disparities and regional imbalances leading to income inequalities. It also impacted the ground water tables in states of Punjab and Haryana, increasing the alkalinity of water and making the soil infertile due to over usage of fertilizers.
Coming to current state of affairs, learning the lessons from it, now we are in the stage of second green revolution or evergreen revolution for sustained growth in agriculture like use of bio-pesticides in place of chemical pesticides and extensive research before the usage of genetically modified crops for consumption purposes and their impact in ecology. India achieved bumper crop production and achieved self sufficiency in food grains and physical access with nearly above 200 million tons of grains every year and 57 million tons of buffer stocks. Although India achieved physical access but economical access is still a day dream to nearly 31 million citizens. It is tight rope walk for every government, as millions of grains rotting in FCI warehouses and millions of Indians suffer from chronic hunger. The critical paradox was India is one of the largest producers of food grains and also home to largest hunger in world. Providing Minimum support price (MSP) to farmers, giving various input subsidies to agriculture like fertilizers, electricity is imperative to make agriculture viable for the farmers. Indirectly MSP’s on selected crops leading to inflation on food prices causing a burden on common man to spend his income mostly on the food and indirectly reducing the consuming capacity, which is having huge impact on the manufacturing sectors. On the government side double subsidies to farmers and subsidies on food securities for alleviating poverty adds further weight to fiscal regime. The main reasons behind all these problems were lack of infrastructural facilities in agriculture sector like warehouses, agro processing units, deeply rooted corruption in FCI and pilferages in public distribution system. Present Modi government try to address some of these problem by forming high level committee on FCI restructuring under Shanta Kumar. Recommendations include replacement of PDS with Direct benefit transfers, Caps on maintenance of buffer stocks and regulations for giving MSP’s etc. Agriculture is the primary sector not only economic terms but it should be given primary importance in policy making too for its upliftment along with manufacturing sector and service sectors. These sectors growth are complimentary towards each other and there is a need for a flagship program in agriculture like “Make in India” and “Digital India” programs.