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

Review of Rural AffairsSubscribe to Review of Rural Affairs

.

Agrarian Transformation and New Sociality in Western Uttar Pradesh

Over the last three decades, rural western Uttar Pradesh has undergone rapid change. The ongoing changes in agriculture, the decline of Jat political dominance, and the rise of the marginalised caste–communities have changed socio-economic and political relations, and have produced a new sociality shaped by new technologies and changing land–labour relations. The new sociality, which is a result of altering agrarian landscape, rural–urban dynamics and technologies of communication, mobility, and entertainment has provided fresh grounds for communalisation and communal violence.

Are Gold Loans Glittering for Agriculture?

Credit is essential for small and marginal farmers in India, whose low incomes limit savings, making them more vulnerable to several risks. Priority sector lending norms have channelled more formal credit to this sector. The interest subvention scheme for short-term crop loans makes formal credit more economical for farmers. However, there are issues of accessibility, most notably arising out of difficulties in presenting documentation, giving rise to a prevalence in the use of gold/jewellery as collateral. Loan data from three districts in Karnataka has highlighted some important lessons. The use of gold tends to exclude poorer farmers from availing all the benefits of the scheme, and poses issues of accessibility to formal credit. Digitisation of land records and farmer information, coupled with reduced recognition of gold loans in priority sector lending can be valuable to the Indian agriculture sector.

Widows of Farmer Suicide Victims in Vidarbha

Farmer suicides due to agricultural distress are a tenacious and recurring tragedy that plunge the lives of the unprepared widows into chaos. First, the widows must struggle to survive in the same circumstances that claimed the lives of their husbands, but with much less experience and guidance. Second, the widows must emerge from entrenched invisibility imposed upon them by the state, the community, and even the family. However, the study of five widows of the farmer suicides across a decade in Vidarbha reveals differential dependence and autonomy. The widow-headed households of earlier cases appear to succeed with time as compared to the later cases, and mostly through their own individual agency. The study, originally conducted through the years 2014–17 in 18 villages of six tehsils of two districts of Vidarbha, also points to normalisation of distress of widows that leads to their continuous exclusion from the state understanding of farmer suicides.

Contemporary Farmers’ Protests and the ‘New Rural–Agrarian’ in India

What are the reasons behind farmers’ protests? Using narratives collected from various parts of India, the underlying processes of socio-economic transformations, which have created a dual-identity crisis among farmers, are explained to argue that anxieties have manifested in large-scale protests, producing a new politics around rural–agrarian questions.

Agricultural Revival and Reaping the Youth Dividend

In recent years, “youth” has emerged as a distinct category of population to be governed in India. Policy efforts to realise the “demographic dividend” amidst an agrarian crisis have however not met with success as suggested by reports of jobless growth on the one hand and poor quality of employment generated outside agriculture on the other. What are the prospects of improving youth livelihoods within agriculture? Can the youth revive the prospects of agriculture? Improving incomes within agriculture while also paying sufficient attention to caste and gender relations that shape labour hierarchies, access to land, youth preferences and mobility aspirations is critical to imagining a future that sustains agriculture and youth livelihoods.

Insights on Demonetisation from Rural Tamil Nadu

Drawing on survey data from rural Tamil Nadu, the effects of demonetisation are documented. Serious concerns arise with regard to the achievement of its stated goals. The rural economy was adversely affected in terms of employment, daily financial practices, and social network use for over three months. People came to rely more strongly on their networks to sustain their economic and social activities. Demonetisation has probably further marginalised those without support networks. In a context such as India, where state social protection is weak and governmental schemes are notoriously subject to patronage and clientelistic networks, dense networks of supportive relatives, friends and patrons remain key for safeguarding daily life. With cashless policies gaining currency in various parts of the world, we believe our findings have major implications, seriously questioning their merit, especially among the most marginalised segments of the population.

Rural Construction Employment Boom during 2000–12

Amid (near) jobless economic growth during 2000–12, construction employment boomed at over 9% annually. It was part of a 10 percentage point rise in fixed capital formation rate in 13 years, to 35% of gross domestic product. The boom was rural, growing 2.5 times (at over 12%) as fast as in urban areas (at a mere 5%). National Sample Survey Office primary data reveals that a rise in rural private residential construction is the principal factor explaining the boom. This suggests improvements in rural housing status: conversion of kutcha houses into pucca houses. Decline in price-to-income ratio—of cement to rural wages—expanded rural construction demand. The popular perception (or explanation) for the rural construction employment boom in terms of rural–urban migration—of short-term, circular or seasonal—does not hold water.

Changes in Rural Economy of India, 1971 to 2012

The transition in the rural economy in the last four decades is examined based on the analysis of growth and composition of output and employment. A reduction in the share of agriculture, and a dominance of non-farm activities in the rural economy is noted from 2004–05 onwards. However, agriculture continues to be the predominant source of employment. Employment in the construction sector increased substantially, but was not large enough to absorb workers leaving agriculture, resulting in a decline in rural employment after 2004–05. A serious imbalance has emerged in output and employment in different sectors in rural areas requiring urgent attention to create jobs in manufacturing, services, and construction. Creation of jobs in rural areas requires a complete rethink of rural industrialisation.

Comparing Public and Private Agricultural Extension Services

Using primary data from the Brahmaputra Valley of Assam, a comparative analysis of the impacts of public and private agricultural extension services on acreage share of horticultural crops in total cropped area, and on farm business income generation is presented. It is revealed that farmers accessing either public or private extension services devote larger proportion of cropped area to cultivation of horticultural crops relative to farmers who do not access any type of extension services. Public extension service has been found to be marginally more effective than private extension service in this regard. Further, only public extension service is found to have a significant impact on income generation. It is suggested that outreach of the public extension services should be improved.

How Does Government Microfinance Impact the Rural Poor?

While microfinance companies have been studied and there is a growing consensus that they exclude the poorest, the impact of government microfinance programmes is relatively less understood. The National Rural Livelihoods Mission, which aims to reduce rural poverty by organising women into self-help groups, building capacity and providing access to microcredit is evaluated through a survey of 2,615 households in five districts of Madhya Pradesh. The focus is on four key questions. Who benefits and who gets left out? What is the pattern of household investment priorities? Is sustainable asset accumulation happening? What should be the exit strategy? It is found that the NRLM benefited the poor, while the very poor are struggling to repay the loans and getting left behind in poverty.

Agriculture Insurance in India

The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (during kharif 2016) and Weather-based Crop Insurance Scheme (kharif 2007–kharif 2014) are assessed by considering a set of performance indicators, namely average sum insured per insured cropped area, percentage of loanee and non-loanee farmers covered, average area insured per farmer, total claim ratio, farmer claim ratio, premium as percentage of sum insured, gross profit to insurance agencies. The study finds that claim payout can increase farmers’ coverage under PMFBY while subsidy and actuarial premium rate significantly impact farmers’ coverage for WBCIS. However, as recourse to complement the performance of two schemes, we propose a total insurance package like seed insurance through replanting guarantee programme, crop cycle insurance, prepaid insurance card, to name a few.

Pages

Back to Top