Wednesday, May 25, 2011

AGRICULTURE vs. INDUSTRY

 [ This article was originally published in Hindustan Times, Lucknow edition on 25th May, 2011]

The recent political drama by Rahul Gandhi and the UP government has reopened the age-old debate –should we compromise agriculture with industry? Can we overlook a sector, which employs nearly two-third population? Though the very same debate has rocked the media time again, but still this debate finds no conclusion.

Agriculture is an indispensable part of country’s economy. More than that, it feeds the population of the country. So, there is nothing to exaggerate that country cannot survive without agriculture. But, keeping industries out of radar isn’t a solution for country’s development. For an all-round development, agriculture and industries both should flourish.

But how can government run both side-by sides? Firstly, government should try to set up industries in those lands, which are either unproductive for agriculture or barren. India has a vast reserve of barren lands. These lands are either not suitable for agriculture due to lack of fertility or shortage of natural resources such as water and minerals. Such areas can be found in western region of the country, which includes states like Gujarat and Rajasthan. Regions of black soil such as Deccan pleatue and central India are less fertile than river plains and can be used for industries. Areas, which have very less food production, can also be utilized for industries.

But setting up of industries in such lands are not always possible. The location of an industry depends upon several factors, which includes availability of raw material, cheap labour, communication and other economic viabilities. So, government is left with no option, but to use agricultural land for setting up industries.

In such circumstances, government must ensure that the farmers are compensated adequately. The compensation may be in the form of money or in job, whichever viable.

In India, more than two-third population depends upon agriculture. But, as production is concerned, the per-capita outcome in agriculture is much less as compared to other countries. This is because more people are employed in agriculture than required. Economists term this phenomenon as disguised unemployment. If we compare the situation with United States, as of 2008, approximately 2-3 percent of the population is directly employed in agriculture. But still US is only of the major exporters of the food grain.

So, even if a large percentage of agriculturists are replaced in secondary and tertiary sectors, the food production would remain unaffected. This would certainly result in increase of per-capita income as well as growth in the GDP of the country.

It should not be a matter of debate whether we should opt for agriculture or industries. But the basic issue must be how to lead both simultaneously.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

US Fighting For Oil In Libya

US Protester against war on Libya
Finally, United States with the support of United Nation gets into Libya to bring down Gaddafi’s autocratic rule. Barrack Obama, the Nobel laureate for peace, has launched “Operation Odysseys” by firing Tomahawk missiles on Gaddafi’s military forces. Most of the counties back US intervention to end Gaddafi’s regime in Libya. But, in my opinion, US intervention is a threat for sovereignty of Libya and its neighboring oil-producing nations. History is full of such instances where US has always tried to get its hand on the oil reserve of the gulf countries. So how can we believe that US won’t do the same with Libya?

There are reasons in Gaddafi’s saying that US is seeking opportunity to use political turmoil in Libya to get its hand on oil deposits. Libya has a large share in petroleum production and is one of the leading producers of the same. Whereas United States and its administration are concerned, US have a tendency to pick up a war to seize the oil reserve of gulf countries. The ‘war on Iraq’ is the prime evidence of the very same fact. In the name of ‘war against terrorism’, US have actually tried to grab its hold on its petroleum reserve.

Nothing can be achieved through wars. Though war can change the government but it can never bring solidity and peace. The same theory works in the case of Libya. Moreover, foreign interference is strictly against the sovereignty and autonomy of the country. It can further deteriorate the stability of the country, as we saw in Iraq.

So, how can the world deal with the crisis in Libya? Firstly, peace should be initiated immediately in the country. Revolution must be peaceful. For that, negotiation must be done between the opposition and the ruler. If required, some compromise should be made so that violence comes to a halt. Secondly, international community must try all non-military solutions such as arrest of international trade and financial aid. Though the economy of Libya would be affected badly, but such pressures would bring down Gaddafi from his office. 

Gaddafi's millitary tank being captured by rebels

The world condemn Gaddafi’s autocratic rule on Libya and use of state military power to suppress the rebel. There is no doubt about Gaddafi’s appalling acts are intolerable and he must be dealt with heavy hands. His ouster is a need of the hour for the growth and well being of Libyans. But foreign military interference or war is truly a rubbish plan to work upon. United States and its allies must arrest military intrusion in Libya.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Egypt Without Mubarak

Democracy is the worst form of the government
Except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.
-Winston Churchill
Protest at Tahrir square in Egypt

The 18-day long protest finally ends three decades of despotism in Egypt. Mubarak has finally stepped out of his presidential palace. Undoubtedly, it’s a day of liberation of the Egyptians. But would Mubarak’s fall out really make any difference to Egypt. Can democracy alone eradicate corruption and financial and political instability from the land of pyramids?

To find the answers of the above questions, we must scan the present scenario of Egypt. Egypt is a semi-presidential republic under emergency rule. Egypt has been under emergency rule since 1967. Under the emergency rule, virtually every action against Hosni Mubarak has been made illegal. Censorship has been imposed on media, depriving them from freedom of press. Free election has become a dream for Egyptians. Restoring democracy would perhaps, bring political equality and stability in the country. It is quite reasonable to expect that democracy in Egypt would break the emergency rule and consequently bring the rights back to the citizens.

But can democracy wipe out the corruption that exists in every corner and every institution of the government? Perhaps, not. If we excavate the previous records of democracy, it becomes clear that democracy has failed to handle corruption. In fact, the biggest loser is India. Being the world’s largest democracy, it remains to be the most corrupt in the world. So, democracy itself cannot stamp out corruption. However, it’s the people of Egypt who can make pearl of sand; their active participation in politics can, certainly, make the government less corrupt.

On the other hand, financial stability is the need of the hour for Egypt. As economic equality and stability is concerned, democracy fails again. If we compare the economies of all democracies and dictatorships between 1950 and 2000, we find that countries under dictatorship regimes are economically better than that under democratic regimes. The statistics show that within democracies also, there are wide economic inequalities. For instance, in South Africa and Brazil, the top 20% owns 60% of the country’s wealth and bottom 20% earn less than 3% of the total income.  So, democracy is not a guarantee for economic development. 

So, does democracy suits Egypt? Well, from the following arguments, it seems that democracy is nothing more than old wine served in a new bottle under eye-catchy tag. So, should Egypt slip back to the era of Mubarak? Never, because democracy is much better that autocracy. We must remember that democracy is not Harry Potter’s magic wand that would end their miseries just by chanting magic charms. Democracy only creates conditions, which will ensure equality of citizens before law of the country and enhance the dignity of individuals. But, for proper functioning of democracy, the citizens have to know their rights and duties and enforce them. After all, in democracy, people are their own masters.