ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Too Little, Too Late

The last budget of the Modi government comes against the backdrop of severe agrarian and rural distress. It is also the last opportunity to undo the damage caused to the rural economy by this government in the last four years. While the government has finally acknowledged the gravity of the situation, its response has been limited to empty rhetoric without any financial commitment. Going by the past record of the government, it is clear that it is serious neither in its commitment nor in its intent. The half-hearted measures are not only too little and too late, it is also clear that this budget is unlikely to revive the rural economy.

Impediments to the Spread of Crop Insurance in India

The Government of India aims to double the crop insurance coverage to 50% through the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana by 2018. By analysing the agricultural household data, this article comments on the feasibility of attaining this target by looking at the past performance of similar schemes. Few critical areas where efforts need to be concentrated in order to increase coverage are discussed.

Making Sense of the Agrarian Question in India

Critical Perspectives on Agrarian Transition: India in the Global Debate edited by B B Mohanty, Routledge India, 2016, pp 300 + xxviii, ₹895.

Paddy Yields in Pre-industrial South India

This paper assembles data on per hectare paddy yields in South India from the 10th to 19th century and notes the existence of very high paddy yields during this period. The methodology used to arrive at the estimates is specified step-by-step and in detail, and the difficulties in making these estimates are indicated as well. This allows other scholars to rework the data and arrive at alternate estimates using different assumptions to those used here. It may also serve to stimulate further interest and initiate more work on this subject.

What Does the Rural Economy Need?

The agricultural sector has performed worse than the other sectors over the years. The shares of non-agricultural employment and output have increased, while70% of agricultural householdscannot meet their low consumptionneeds even after diversification of sources of income. An analysis of budgetary provisions for the rural economy suggests that the government has not done enough to address some of these well-documented problems, and does not have the required vision to substantially increase rural employment opportunities.

Indebtedness among Farmers and Agricultural Labourers in Rural Punjab

The paper examines various hitherto unexplored aspects of indebtedness among farmers and agricultural labour households in rural Punjab. It analyses the extent and distribution of indebtedness among farmers and agricultural labourers, their sources of debt and the per household debt incurred for various purposes. The paper also compares and contrasts variations in the rate of interest paid by different categories of farmers and agricultural labourers.

From Feudalism to State Developmentalism

Himachal Pradesh is often held out to be a model case of development, moving from the bottom of economic and human development indices to the top of the tables in the course of its post-independence existence. This article traces the nature of its pre-independence political economy and the social structures that sustained it and then describes the manner in which changes occurred in the post-independence phase. It marks out the successes as well as flags the continuing areas of concern.

Migration, Bachelorhood and Discontent among the Patidars

Juxtaposing data collected in the 1950s with data from 2013, this paper describes some of the consequences of a crisis of agriculture in India as a crisis of values and aspirations. Among a relatively prosperous Patidar community in western India, agriculture continues to be economically remunerative while farmers are considered poor. Instead, the ability to secure a job away from land, to move out of the village and possibly overseas have come to constitute new markers of status in a traditionally competitive society. The paper departs from common representations of the caste as an upwardly mobile and successful group, and focuses instead on the discontent and on those who try to achieve the new values of the caste, but fail. As a consequence of failure it shows how Patidars recur to what, from an outsider's point of view, may seem paradoxical: in order to "move up" and participate in the culture and economy of the caste, they have to "move down." In this respect, the paper also contributes to understanding the unevenness of India's growth and the contrary trends that work both to strengthen and weaken caste identity.

Village Restudies

An account of the inception, management and initial conclusions of a research project which "restudied" three villages, one each in Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat is presented. These villages had been first studied in the 1950s by British anthropologists F G Bailey, Adrian C Mayer and David F Pocock. The new research was to focus on the sociological conditions of life in these villages today and compare the results of the new surveys with the data from the 1950s. The material presented here also points to some of the strengths, weaknesses and idiosyncratic charms of "restudies."

Revisiting the Rural in 21st Century India

The Review of Rural Affairs this time focuses largely on "restudies" of villages that were studied by social anthropologists and economists in the 1950s. The papers are not simply about documenting the unfolding evolutionary process of development, but bring new perspectives of social science understanding to the study of rural society, and also reflect on the enterprise of anthropology and fieldwork. Jamgod in Madhya Pradesh, Sundarana in Gujarat, Bisipara in Odisha, and Palanpur and Khanpur in Uttar Pradesh were restudied, while one paper presents the results of a fresh study of villages in Nagaland.

National Agricultural Market

The creation of the National Agricultural Market in India is a welcome move against the backdrop of the agricultural produce marketing committee reforms, 2013 and APMC Model Act 2003. With the twin objectives of spot price discovery and real-time price dissemination, the NAM is aimed at introducing a technology-enabled trading environment at regulated markets and integrate primary and secondary markets at the regional and national levels. To improvise the market structure, appointing a diverse and discursive group of market agencies/service providers is essential.

Doubling Farmers' Incomes by 2022

How realistic is the objective of the Government of India to double the income of farmers by 2022? Is there a precedent? From estimates of change in income of agricultural households over the period 2003-13, this article suggests what needs to be done to achieve a doubling of real incomes. A focus on income from cultivation alone will be inadequate. Policy aimed at increasing net income from animal farming will be key.

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