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On Golmej, the discussion for December traced India’s development up till 2020: the target achievement year for Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam’s vision for a developed India. Even as participants acknowledged that India had come quite long a path, they outlined the need for targeted reforms and optimistic efforts to be able to deliver according to our potential.

2020 was a turbulent year for public health as was for the economy. In this year, the Government of India sought to bring a major change in the agriculture sector by bringing three laws to change rules around sale, pricing and storage of farm produce. These laws also allowed private buyers to hoard essential commodities for future sales, which only government-authorized agents could do earlier. They also outlined rules for contract farming, where farmers tailor their production to suit a specific buyer’s demand. In essence, these laws sought to open doors to the free market for farmers, which had remained restricted before and after independence. The introduction of these laws resulted in protests from farmer representative groups claiming the laws would put the farmer interest at peril. Government attempts at discussion with the groups for resolution only resulted in a deadlock as demands to repeal the laws were made.

India looked on as the debate on farmers versus corporates raged. It understood that, this change, whichever way it goes, will be directive for India’s development course since it was about its agriculture: often called the backbone of India. The sector that engages around 25% of its population, 90% of its unorganized labour force and that contributes around 15% to its GDP.

M S Swaminathan, Padma Vibhushan, known for his role in India’s Green Revolution, had said, “If agriculture goes wrong nothing else will have a chance to go right in the country.” Agriculture mattersa lot to India: a country where 1 in 5 persons is poor. It concerns our annadata, our food security, our health, our environment, and our development. The observant Indian noted as TV channel fights and protest clashes created a question: how to look at India’s Agriculture? Do we know enough? A Golmej discussion was imperative.

The first Golmej of 2021 took up a discussion on “India’s Agriculture: Sentiments or Economics?” This time, we had Shivam make a presentation. Explaining how agriculture has been intrinsic to India culture, it took the viewers through the journey of agriculture in India, through the phases of the Sindhu civilization, the British era, the post-independence phase and the revolution phase.

While the British era saw the destruction of traditional systems of agriculture, India tackled food scarcity in the post-independence phase. The major disruptions in India’s agriculture include land reforms, the green revolution, the cooperative movement. The green revolution proved a watershed, pushing India towards self-sufficiency in food. Whether the farm laws of 2020 get implemented and prove to be another is to be seen.

India is among the largest producers of pulses, rice, wheat & sugarcane. Our agricultural exports stood at US$ 38.54 billion in FY 19 but productivity lower than the world’s average. Today, our agriculture is faced with the challenges of high dependence on rainfall, stagnant farmer incomes and lack of adequate knowledge of good farm practices.

What we know for sure today is that leveraging our technology in the agricultural sector has immense potential of spurring growth and productivity. On the positive side, India is the world’s largest manufacturer of tractors, has seen a funding of Us$244.59 million to its agri-start-ups in 2019 and is increasingly building on scientific knowledge to undertake modern farming including organic and vertical farming and aquaponics.

The concerns with the Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMC) Act and the provisions of the new farm laws were discussed before exploring how agriculture becomes a sensitive topic in India. As a country that immensely respects its food producers, India is sentimental about its farmers who, ironically remain one of the most vulnerable groups.

The discussion opened with participants Aditya and Prajaktta agreeing that economics, being a social science, does not function bereft of the sentiment aspect. Sentiments not only influence but also drive economics and economies. The actual debate was, should a technicality-oriented and statistics-based economic perspective take precedence over a sentimental one in analysing agriculture and its policies?

The discussion opened with participants Aditya and Prajaktta agreeing that economics, being a social science, does not function bereft of the sentiment aspect. Sentiments not only influence but also drive economics and economies. The actual debate was, should a technicality-oriented and statistics-based economic perspective take precedence over a sentimental one in analysing agriculture and its policies?

Golmej being an open platform, viewers are free to share questions that arise to them about the topic. Good questions decide the course of the discussion! Viewers’ questions brought the discussion to the point of the tax exemption of agriculture in India and the challenge in profession-based classification of agriculture in India’s laws. The participants debated whether total tax exemption for the agriculture sector suits India’s development aims.

The discussion opened with participants Aditya and Prajaktta agreeing that economics, being a social science, does not function bereft of the sentiment aspect. Sentiments not only influence but also drive economics and economies. The actual debate was, should a technicality-oriented and statistics-based economic perspective take precedence over a sentimental one in analysing agriculture and its policies?

There was agreement that the Indian farmer is ready and open to benevolent reforms including introduction of technological innovations in the farming system to increase productivity. India needs indigenous solutions to its indigenous challenges.

The discussion opened with participants Aditya and Prajaktta agreeing that economics, being a social science, does not function bereft of the sentiment aspect. Sentiments not only influence but also drive economics and economies. The actual debate was, should a technicality-oriented and statistics-based economic perspective take precedence over a sentimental one in analysing agriculture and its policies?

When we talk growth and development, the agriculture sector comes to be compared with the services’ sector. We understood the role self-confidenceplays in actual development and how it had become necessary for India’s farmer to stride. While one may think that the government needs to do more to check the trend of more and more farming families going away from the profession, we saw the panellists discuss how an actual reduction in the number of people engaged in agriculture was necessary to bring in incentivization. The short and long-term effects of this on India’s imports was an interesting point of discussion.

The discussion opened with participants Aditya and Prajaktta agreeing that economics, being a social science, does not function bereft of the sentiment aspect. Sentiments not only influence but also drive economics and economies. The actual debate was, should a technicality-oriented and statistics-based economic perspective take precedence over a sentimental one in analysing agriculture and its policies?

India’s farmer is looked at as vulnerable to exploitation and an entity with low bargaining power. Whether the new laws would better or worsen this situation was discussed. The Modi government has announced the target to double the income of farmers by 2022. The panellists discussed how much of a success this could become with the new laws. They opined that the laws would not bring a market disruption but would yield slow results as has been the case with India’s agriculture.

The discussion opened with participants Aditya and Prajaktta agreeing that economics, being a social science, does not function bereft of the sentiment aspect. Sentiments not only influence but also drive economics and economies. The actual debate was, should a technicality-oriented and statistics-based economic perspective take precedence over a sentimental one in analysing agriculture and its policies?

This Golmej saw elaborate discussion on India’s agriculture. It concluded with food for thought for the viewers: when we say agriculture, does your mind think of that activity undertaken to give us food or does it think about a sector contributing 15% to our GDP? Your answer solves the topic question!

The discussion opened with participants Aditya and Prajaktta agreeing that economics, being a social science, does not function bereft of the sentiment aspect. Sentiments not only influence but also drive economics and economies. The actual debate was, should a technicality-oriented and statistics-based economic perspective take precedence over a sentimental one in analysing agriculture and its policies?

In February 2021, Golmej is all set to discuss the ‘Censorship of OTT platforms’. There is a fiery debate with words being thrown around: freedom, morality, social interest, art, respect, liberty,…

The discussion opened with participants Aditya and Prajaktta agreeing that economics, being a social science, does not function bereft of the sentiment aspect. Sentiments not only influence but also drive economics and economies. The actual debate was, should a technicality-oriented and statistics-based economic perspective take precedence over a sentimental one in analysing agriculture and its policies?

Let’s meet for an informative discussion with exchanging ideas.   

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