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The Changing Scenario of Management Education in India
Prof. C. S. Venkataratnam, Member, FICCI Higher Education Committee & Director, IMI, New Delhi
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Need to change politicians’ attitude to farm crisis

by C Jayanthi


While economists grapple with policy issues, for the common man including the poorest of the poor, the rise in the price of essential commodities including food prices, constitutes “economics”. And a country that has failed to respond to this dire need has failed in governance.

P. Sainath, the 2007 winner of the Ramon Magsaysay Award, and a journalist, was in the Capital recently, to speak on the “Agrarian Crisis and Farmers’ Suicides”, said one of the major reasons was that the Union Agriculture Minister, Sharad Pawar, who has the task of feeding 1.2 billion people spent more time in BCCI cricket meetings than worrying over farmers’ suicides or feeding the populace.

Sainath said in jest that the Union Agriculture Minister of India had now taken over as the International Cricket Council president—rather than worry about people below the poverty line who have to be fed. The 2010 millennium development mentions that India is rather slow in major target which is to halve the population, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.

Lack of political will has been a major cause in transforming society to make inclusive growth a reality. Sainath quoted an Indian farmer who had told the media that the dream of an Indian farmer “was to be a European cow”. Seventy per cent of India is still agrarian, and poverty and indebtedness dogs them.

He said that while Rs 170,000 crore went into farmers’ debt waivers by the UPA government, Rs 500,000 crore went into corporate expenditure write-offs. He mentioned that post liberalization in the 1990s, the inequalities between the rich and the poor have increased. There has been a fundamental shift in the stance of the Indian state. Prior to 1990s, the Indian tried to mediate between the haves and have-nots whereas post 1990s, the Indian state has withdrawn its mediatory role in favour of the wealthy and the super rich. Earlier, Sainath said: “The Indian state tried to mediate on behalf of the poor.” It has come to such a point that “what is good for the elite is in national interest”.

The agrarian crisis in India has fundamentally occurred because farmers have switched to cash crops. Had they stuck to traditional farming this may not have happened as at the end of day a person can eat paddy but can hardly eat cotton. This, in a country that boasts of 49 billionaires in dollars (23 of them in Mumbai), who contribute one-fourth of the GDP of the country. Urgent policy changes are therefore required.