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

Articles By Ashok Gulati

Tackling Food Inflation

Retail inflation, measured by the year-on-year consumer price index, reached 6.83% in August 2023, higher than the Reserve Bank of India’s upper tolerance limit of 6%. This surge was driven by soaring food prices. The government has implemented a series of measures, including an export ban on non-basmati white rice, export ban and stocking limits on wheat, a 20% export duty on parboiled rice, a minimum export price of $1,200 per tonne on basmati rice, etc, to contain food inflation. However, these abrupt and stringent market-depressing measures are impacting farmers’ income adversely. A more rational and dependable trade policy that balances the interests of producers and consumers while containing food inflation is advocated.

India–Africa in G21

The inclusion of the African Union under India’s G20 presidency has brought the challenges of the global South to the forefront. India and Africa confront quite similar challenges, including persistent poverty, high population growth and widespread undernourishment. The article explores India’s experience in achieving zero hunger and ending all forms of malnutrition by 2030 to facilitate south-south learning on this complex issue. It finds that access to nutritious food alone cannot address the multidimensional problem of undernutrition in these regions but this requires a multisectoral solution. Investing in women’s higher education and nutritional status can contribute substantially to bringing down malnutrition among children.

Reforming Indian Agriculture

Reforms in four areas should be the priority if the current government’s agenda of doubling farmer incomes is to be accomplished in the coming years. First, the focus of agricultural policies must shift from production per se to farmers’ livelihoods. Second, policies to improve the allocation and efficiency of land and water are essential if these critical resources are to be conserved. Third, reforms are needed to help farmers cope with the growing risks of weather and price volatility. Fourth, agricultural markets must be opened to greater competition and provided with better infrastructure if farmers are to realise better returns for produce, without trading off the low-income consumers’ nutritional security.

Putting the Cart before the Horse

The 2019 union budget has neither proposed any bold policy moves, nor any big allocations for investments in the agri-food sector. What it has is massive welfare programmes, predominantly the remnants of its predecessor government’s welfare policies. It appears that India has already become a welfare state before generating enough wealth. Has the budget for the agricultural sector actually put the cart before the horse?

Secret of Gujarat's Agrarian Miracle after 2000

Semi-arid Gujarat has clocked high and steady growth at 9.6% per year in agricultural state domestic product since 1999-2000. What has driven this growth? The Gujarat government has aggressively pursued an innovative agriculture development programme by liberalising markets, inviting private capital, reinventing agricultural extension, improving roads and other infrastructure. Canal-irrigated South and Central Gujarat should have led Gujarat's agricultural rally. Instead it is dry Saurashtra and Kachchh, and North Gujarat that have been at the forefront. These could not have performed so well but for the improved availability of groundwater for irrigation. Arguably, mass-based water harvesting and farm power reforms have helped energise Gujarat's agriculture.

The Dragon and the Elephant: Learning from Agricultural and Rural Reforms in China and India

What can we learn from the process of economic reform in China and India? Does the sequencing of reform and an agriculture-led package matter? What could other developing countries and countries in economic transition learn from the experiences of India and China? What could these two countries learn from their own as well as each other's experiences? How can the two largest developing countries cooperate in their agricultural and economic development and work together at multilateral negotiations, such as those conducted through the World Trade Organisation, to address the concerns of developing countries? This paper summarises the key findings of a number of studies that were prepared for two international conferences devoted to comparing the rural development and agricultural reform experiences of China (the dragon) and India (the elephant) over the last several decades.