Wednesday, May 25, 2011


 [ 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.