Indian Economy Part 5 – The Goals of Five Year Plans 2

IAS Toppers (17)

AGRICULTURE

  1. During the colonial rule, there was neither growth nor equity in the agricultural sector.
  2. The policy makers of independent India had to address these issues which they did through land reforms
  3. Promoting the use of ‘miracle seeds’ which ushered in a revolution in Indian agriculture.

Land Reforms

  1. At the time of independence, the land tenure system was characterised by intermediaries
  2. They merely collected rent from the actual tillers of the soil without contributing towards improvements on the farm.
  3. The low productivity of the agricultural sector forced India to import food from the United States of America (U.S.A.).
  4. Equity in agriculture called for land reforms which primarily refer to change in the ownership of landholdings.
  5. Just a year after independence, steps were taken to abolish intermediaries and to make the tillers the owners of the land.
  6. The idea behind this move was that ownership of land would give incentives to the tillers to invest in making improvements provided sufficient capital was made available to them.

Land ceiling

  1. This means fixing the maximum size of land which could be owned by an individual.
  2. The purpose of the land ceiling was to reduce the concentration of land ownership in a few hands.
  3. The abolition of intermediaries meant that some 200 lakh tenants came into direct contact with the government.
  4. They were thus freed from being exploited by the zamindars
  5. The ownership conferred on tenants gave them the incentive to increase output and this contributed to growth in agriculture.
  6. However, the goal of equity was not fully served by the abolition of intermediaries.
  7. There were cases where tenants were evicted and the landowners claimed to be self-cultivators (the actual tillers), claiming ownership of the land.
  8. Even when the tillers got ownership of land, the poorest of the agricultural labourers (such as sharecroppers and landless labourers) did not benefit from land reforms.
  9. The land ceiling legislation also faced hurdles. The big landlords challenged the legislation in the courts
  10. They used this delay to register their lands in the name of close relatives, thereby escaping from the legislation.
  11. Land reforms were successful in Kerala and West Bengal because these states had governments committed to the policy of land to the tiller.
  12. Unfortunately, other states did not have the same level of commitment and vast inequality in landholding continues to this day.

The Green Revolution

  1. At independence, about 75 per cent of the country’s population was dependent on agriculture.
  2. Productivity in the agricultural sector was very low because of the use of old technology and the absence of required infrastructure for the vast majority of farmers.
  3. India’s agriculture vitally depends on the monsoon
  4. The stagnation in agriculture during the colonial rule was permanently broken by the green revolution.
  5. This refers to the large increase in production of food grains resulting from the use of high yielding variety (HYV) seeds, especially for wheat and rice.
  6. The use of these seeds required the use of fertiliser and pesticide in the correct quantities as well as the regular supply of water.
  7. The farmers who could benefit from HYV seeds required reliable irrigation facilities as well as the financial resources to purchase fertiliser and pesticide.
  8. In the first phase of the green revolution (the approximately mid-1960s up to mid-1970s), the use of HYV seeds was restricted to the more affluent states such as Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
  9. The use of HYV seeds primarily benefited the wheat growing regions only.
  10. In the second phase of the green revolution (the mid-1970s to mid-1980s), the HYV technology spread to a larger number of states and benefited more variety of crops.

Benefits & drawbacks

  1. The spread of green revolution technology enabled India to achieve self-sufficiency in food grains
  2. The portion of agricultural produce which is sold in the market by the farmers is called marketed surplus.
  3. Famous economist H. Hanumantha Rao, a good proportion of the rice and wheat produced during the green revolution period (available as marketed surplus) was sold by the farmers in the market.
  4. As a result, the price of food grains declined relative to other items of consumption.
  5. The low-income groups, who spend a large percentage of their income on food, benefited from this decline in relative prices.
  6. The green revolution enabled the government to procure sufficient amount of food grains to build a stock which could be used in times of food shortage
  7. While the nation had immensely benefited from the green revolution, the technology involved was not free from risks.
  8. Such risk was the possibility that it would increase the disparities between small and big farmers
  9. Only the big farmers could afford the required inputs, thereby reaping most of the benefits of the green revolution.
  10. The HYV crops were also more prone to attack by pests and the small farmers who adopted this technology could lose everything in a pest attack.
  11. These fears did not come true because of the steps were taken by the government.
  12. The government provided loans at a low-interest rate to small farmers and subsidised fertilisers so that small farmers could also have access to the needed inputs.
  13. Since the small farmers could obtain the required inputs, the output on small farms equalled the output on large farms in the course of time.
  14. The green revolution benefited the small as well as rich farmers.
  15. The risk of the small farmers being ruined when pests attack their crops was considerably reduced by the services rendered by research institutes established by the government.
  16. The green revolution would have favoured the rich farmers only if the state did not play an extensive role in ensuring that the small farmer also gains from the new technology.

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