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

R S DeshpandeSubscribe to R S Deshpande

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.

Agricultural Growth in India-A Review of Experiences and Prospects

A Review of Experiences and Prospects V M Rao R S Deshpande While the agricultural sector has witnessed some startling breakthroughs, doubts are now being expressed whether the growth is fast enough and sustained enough to carry the economy through the next few critical decades. This paper examines the shifts in the sources of growth since the sixties from area increase to improvements in yields; growth in irrigation and in the use of modern inputs; and takes a brief look at the recent changes in the agriculture's terms of trade. Against this background the authors pose the complex question of the relationship between agricultural growth and the welfare of the rural masses and identify three major frontiers which need to be crossed to push agricultural growth beyond its present limits.

KARNATAKA- A Report on the Drought

question of autonomy and accountability is proposed to be tackled accordingly. What will be considered is action to create conditions under which public sector units will become accountable to the government as the main investor and shareholder and accountability would be judged by returns on investment. It is also to be considered in this context if the base of shareholding can be enlarged in the case of public sector units by attracting savings directly into the public sector enterprises by offers of debentures and equity to the public.

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