read this: The idiocy of urban thinking
Read Sagarika Ghose's article in HT dated 15-02-08 titled "The idiocy
of urban thinking".
Her point that several schemes (like the NREGA) are just saving the farmer
from the brink and not an inch more was spot on. Further, her question about
why should the farmer not migrate to urban centers was also very valid.
But her analysis based on these points is totally baffling.
She mentions 60% population accounts for 20% GDP and we should mimic
the Chinese model and move to manufacturing/producing goods.
While this might be rosy in theory, it is not clear how it will be practical.
First of all, what will we be producing and for which markets?
How will this ensure solving the poverty problem? There are studies which show
that income disparity in China has grown over the last couple of decades and
Even if we consider that employing large number of people in the
manufacturing sector is possible, what do we about the energy scarcity?
The rate at which urban centers are growing and the lack of basic energy needs
in rural areas, our energy needs are only set to increase. Coupled with our
rapidly shifting to a westernised/energy-intensive lifestyle and depleting
cheap energy sources, can we afford to add to this mix an additional
The next question is about our food security and that of liberalizing
the farm sector. If farmers are encouraged to migrate, who will
produce food? The in-vogue answer is of course, the corporates. Why are we so keen on
supporting a handful of rich companies and totally ignore 60% of our population?
Instead, Why can't we make sweeping policy changes that transform the
anachronistic, rustic farmer such that he becomes proud and self-sufficient in
his profession and the rest of us become proud of him rather than hold
on to some naive romantic notions of the Indian farmer? Is it not anachronistic
that agriculture as a profession should have a secondary status as compared to any other?
Yes, education and health must be provided to all, but why does that have to be connected to a choice to leave the land?
Why can't the choice of holding on to the land and working it be made
as attractive, by introducing incentives, schemes and innovations that will help the
farmer produce more and control his own destiny? This will not only help us with our
food security, but will ensure employment to a large section of the community and in
the near future, may be our only bet to slow-down our unrealistic energy demands.
-- Anjali Kanitkar, Puru Kulkarni