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

Articles by R S DeshpandeSubscribe to R S Deshpande

Karnataka Elections

Political parties are gearing up for the 2024 general elections, and the recent assembly elections in Karnataka have provided a template for the opposition parties to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party. The success of the campaign pivoted on incubating and empowering local leadership as against the centralisation of power and high-handedness within the party.

Development Challenges for Agriculture in Maharashtra

Maharashtra is heralded as one of the economically advanced states, but this illusion crashed under the attack of Covid-19 virus and economic deterioration is expected to follow. It is argued here that the state policy dished out a raw deal to the agricultural sector and set the sector under severe stress. The path of this retrogression, reasons behind the trends and the possible policy platform for the last six decades are traced. Stagnation has gripped the agricultural sector, and it is losing cultivable land to other uses. This is accompanied by a sharp increase in small and marginal holdings. Surprisingly, the state has no agricultural policy document in place and the sector largely depends on only sporadic firefighting approaches with a policy paralysis.

Simplicity Incarnate

Intellectual humility and a knack for making complex ideas transparent made agricultural economist V M Rao's work both important and influential. A warm person and an excellent teacher, he will be missed.

Watersheds: Putting the Cart before the Horse

A continuation of the discussion on new structures for watershed development programmes (July 8, 2006; October 7, 2006 and December 9, 2006) and a highlighting of the issues that the National Rainfed Area Authority has to address if it is to be successful in revitalising watershed development and rainfed agriculture.

Sustaining Agricultural Trade

An examination of the trends in agri-trade for the post-liberalisation period for India shows that agri-imports have grown at almost double the rate of agri-exports. However, due to the initial higher levels, agri-exports continue to be higher than agri-imports by one and a half times for 2003-04. The implications for agri-trade from the vantage point of foreign exchange have become quite limited, but the impact on domestic agriculture has been deepening. While over the years policy has focused relentlessly on non agri-exports, the share of India's agri-exports in world agri-exports is higher than the similar share of India's total exports in world total exports. When the top 15 agri-exports are considered, we do not see any discernible change in the composition, though commodities with a lower share show higher rates of growth. India seems to have avoided abrupt disruptions in its agri-trade patterns.

Farmers' Distress

It has been five decades since independence, yet several policy initiatives framed by central and state governments do not really reach their intended beneficiaries - the farmers. Recent findings of the National Sample Survey Organisation's 59th round are revelatory of the plight of our farmers; over 48 per cent of them are indebted and nearly two-thirds of the farmers are frustrated with their profession. It is only to be hoped that the results will help in the framing of a long-range farm policy.

In the Name of the Farmer

The union budget seems to have been drafted keeping in mind the stability of the government, while the Karnataka budget has tackled a few of the real problems affecting farmers. Clearly Karnataka's farmer-turned minister comprehends farm issues more clearly than his union counterpart and is able to act upon them.

Irrigation Development and Agricultural Wages

Irrigation impacts agricultural wage trends through increased demand for labour, cropping intensity and shift in the cropping pattern from low value crops to high value crops. An attempt is made here to explore the relationship between irrigation development and wage rate of agricultural labourers using statewise cross section data pertaining to five points of time: 1972-73, 1977-78, 1983, 1987-88 and 1993-94. The results of the study show that there is a positive impact of availability of irrigation on real wages of agricultural labourers. Also irrigation helps to narrow down the difference between the statutory minimum wages and prevailing wage rates. The gender wage differential is found to be narrowing at a faster rate in the states where irrigation is highe

Developing Sinecures

Water User Associations in Andhra Pradesh by Jasveen Jairath; Concept Publishing Company, New Delhi (published for Centre for Economic and Social Studies, Hyderabad), 2001; pp 156; Rs 250.

Food Security in Drought-Prone Areas

The functioning of the Public Distribution System (PDS) in India has come under scrutiny because of rising burden of subsidy and storage cost and meagre coverage of the poor and the actual benefits received by them. It is argued in this paper that the existing system has become unwieldy and unsustainable and that the time has come to review it, especially in the context of panchayat raj institutions (PRI) and the role they are expected to play in regard to the rural poor. With the help of illustrative data from two drought-prone districts of Karnataka, an attempt is made in the paper to demonstrate the feasibility of a decentralised system operated by PRI based on the local staples consumed by the poor. The result seems encouraging enough to suggest that it would be worthwhile to have more substantive investigation as also pilot projects to test the workability of the decentralised system.

Suicide by Farmers in Karnataka

Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Punjab have been rocked by the suicides of a large number of farmers, posing a serious challenge to policy-makers. This paper attempts to identify the agro-economic situations faced by the farming community, as well as other factors, as reflected by the case studies of the suicide victims, and to suggest remedial measures to avert such tragedies in future.

Issues before Second Irrigation Commission of Maharashtra

Although irrigation is a state subject, central directives often change the course of the state policies. Maharashtra is the only state to have undertaken an analysis of the problems of irrigation with the help of the state machinery through various committees/commissions. The paper, in the context of the appointment of the Second Irrigation Commission in the state deals with the problems of irrigation at the country level as well as in some specific states. While privatisation has been a frequently suggested solution to all ills, it is necessary first to understand the problems and prospects of privatisation initiatives notably the Krishna Valley Project in the state.


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