Abstract The purpose of this article is to highlight the agricultural reforms and socio-economic conditions of farmers in India. This article gives the opportunity to investigate the condition of Indian agricultural sector before, during and after the British Raj. Various schemes initiated by the Government of India are also been included.
Keywords: zamindari system, Green revolution, Kisan scheme, Kisan credit card, the 3 new farm bills., scarcity
Before the rule of Britishers, Indian economy was a prosperous, agrarian economy and was globally known for its handicrafts industries. However, during the british rule, the policies that were implemented by the british government were more oriented towards the british economy, they promoted and protected the british economy more than the Indian economy. These policies changed the Indian economy from a supplier of raw materials to an importer of finished goods.
About 80%of the Indian lives was depending on agriculture circumlocutorily. But policies which were introduces by the britishers bought a stagnation in the agricultural sector which made the agricultural sector totally handicapped and backward. There were various reasons for stagnation in agricultural sector :
a). Zamindari System : In this system, profits earned from the production of crops were given to the intermediaries / zamindars were in form of lagaan. Zamindars were only interested in Lagaan / taxes irrespective of the poor financial conditions of the farmers.
b). Commercialization of agriculture: British government promised to pay high prices for cash crops like cotton, jute. However, this did not improved the financial status of farmers. Rather than producing crops, like maize, potato, rice farmers were producing cash crops which were utilized by the britishers. Lack of food crops lead to massive famines in India. Cash crops which were produced by farmers were taken to England to manufacture finished goods which were later on were sold in Indian markets at high prices.
c). Low productivity : Low level of technology, sprinkling and spraying provisions and trivial use of fertilizers and pesticides resulted in low level of productivity.
d). Scarcity of Investment: Since agricultural sector was sinking in losses, no one had incentive, resources or technology to invest in agriculture.
Even during partition most fertile land which had high irrigation facilities were given to Pakistan and whole jute producing area became the part of Bangladesh.
Other reasons were mass illiteracy, disguised unemployment, high dependency on rainfall and low per capita Income. So, at the end of British rule, Indian economy was a backward and underdeveloped.
In order to bring a solution to all problems in agricultural sector, Indian government planned measures to promote growth in the agricultural sector. The government introduces 2 measures:
In Land Reforms, the govt. abolished the zamindari system and bought the farmers into direct contact with the govt. They were also given the ownership of land. This gave a lot of incentive to the farmers to work harder for the economy.
‘Land Ceiling’ was another reform introduced under land reforms measure. In this the govt. set a specific limit of dry land which could be possessed by a person. This reduced the concentration of dry land ownership in few hands. Land Reforms were successful in West Bengal and Kerala.
The ‘Green Revolution’ strategy was introduced under the Third plan during 1960s. The traditional methods of agriculture were generally replaced by modern technology and agriculture practice. Green Revolution refers increase in production of food grains due to use of high yielding variety (HYV) seeds. The ultimate aim was to increase agricultural productivity. It included the modern inputs like fertilizers, credit facilities etc.
Thanks to green revolution, India achieved self - sufficiency in food. It is no more dependent on other countries for its stomach. Land reforms and green revolution were greatest achievements of Indian govt. in agricultural sector.
NEW FARM LAWS
In recent years, the Indian govt. has launched various successful schemes to improve the socio-economic conditions of farmers.
PM – KISAN SAMMAN SCHEME Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana is a scheme of Government of India which gives financial support to small and marginal farmers. It provides, small or marginal farmers who own less than 2 hectares of land, Rs 6000 per year as minimum income support. As of January ,2022 Government has transferred 1.8 lakh crores to 10 crore farmer families.
Pradhan Mantri Kisan Maandhan Yojana Pradhan Mantri Kissan Maandhan Yojana is an old age pension and social security scheme for small and marginal farmers who have land holding of 2 hectare. Under this scheme, 5 Croce marginalized farmers will get a minimum pension of Rs. 3000 per month on attaining the age of 60.
Kisan Credit Card (KSS) Scheme KSS was introduced in 1998 to facilitate short term formal credit to the farmers. It was a scheme of NABARD. It aimed to provide adequate and timely credit to farmers.
Apart from these 3 schemes, Indian govt. has launched various schemes to make farmers conditions better. The Govt. of India has also launched National agriculture Market (e-NAM). It gives an e-marketing platform at the national level and support creation of infrastructure to enable e marketing. This brings transparency and improved remunerations for their production, establishing ‘ONE NATION ONE MARKET’.
Recently govt. of India introduced 3 new farms bills
The Farmer’s Produce Trade & Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 let the farmers to sell their output in markets apart from the agriculture produce Market Committee (APMC’s) without paying any tax / fee.
The Farmer (Empowerment & Protection) agreement relating to price assurance and Farm services Bill 2020 focuses on contract farming and direct marketing between farmers and buyers.
The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill,2020 removes the restrictions on the production, storage, movements and sale of several foodstuffs, like cereals, pulses, edible oils, except in extraordinary circumstances.
However, these farm laws were not open heartedly welcomed by everyone. Farmers held a protests and urged the Government to repeal the new farm laws. They held various protests like Chakka Jam (choking all the busiest roads of the Capital for 3 hours) and Tractor March which was held on 26th March 2021.
The reason for this protest was that farmers believe that these farm laws were bought to dismantle the APMCs. These laws will lead creation of private mandis, destroying government markets and APMCs. Also, there is no provision relation to MSP (minimum support price) in the new laws.
SC stands on the Farm Laws
After reviewing a petition filed by a law student, stating the farmer protest has become a nuisance in the Capital, people living in the area of protests are having severe hardships due to the blockades and emergency services are being severely impacted. The Supreme Court developed a portal to take individual opinion of farmers on the Farm bills 2020 to give a just and equitable decision.
Author Navya Saxena, A law student from CLS,
Gitarattan International Business School, Delhi, India.