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

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Punjab Water Syndrome

The current groundwater crisis in Punjab is a combination of paradoxical consequences - extreme depletion in some areas and water logging in others. This paper provides a brief description of the contours of the crisis and pinpoints possible reasons for its emergence in failures of policy as well as implementation. It also proposes a package of approaches as part of a paradigm shift for Punjab that can simultaneously tackle the twin challenges of water logging and a decline in groundwater levels and quality.

Women at the Crossroads

While the transformation of rural gender inequalities was not an intended goal of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, this study draws on evidence from two villages in western Tamil Nadu to show how the scheme has benefited rural women in particular. Major attractions of the MGNREGA work include local availability through the year, it being perceived as relatively "easy" work with fixed, regular, gender equal wages, and free from caste-based relations of subordination and discrimination. The gendered impacts of MGNREGA are partly due to the universal, right-based and women-friendly nature of the policy, and partly to the specific ways in which this policy is implemented in Tamil Nadu, where it has received significant cross-party political support.

Direct Cash Transfer System for Fertilisers

The challenges in implementing a direct cash transfer system for fertilisers are daunting. This paper points out that they range from the very large number of beneficiaries to volatile fertiliser prices, necessitating market price indexation of cash transfers and controlling the market power of dealers, especially in remote areas. The imbalance in the use of different fertilisers is also a growing problem. If designed properly, a DCT should be accompanied by significant investment in soil testing and the payment should be tied to balanced use of fertilisers, including micronutrients.

Sorghum and Pearl Millet Economy of India

Coarse cereals such as pearl millet and sorghum, the hardiest and least risky cereals, are mainly grown in India's arid and semi-arid regions. These crops possess high nutritive and fodder value and are primarily consumed by their producers. On the supply side, there has been a large shift in the area under cultivation to rice and wheat and other commercial crops. On the demand side, the distribution of rice and wheat at subsidised prices through the public distribution system has led to a fall in the consumption of sorghum and millets. The decline in cultivated area could result in a problem for the livestock sector in many regions. It is crucial that the sorghum and millet sector be supported by strong government policies and programmes for food, fodder, and better nutrition through value addition and demand creation.

The Stunted Structural Transformation of the Indian Economy

India's economy has accelerated sharply since the late 1980s, but agriculture has not. The rural population and labour force continue to rise, and rural-rban migration remains slow. Despite a rising labour productivity differential between non-agriculture and agriculture, limited rural-urban migration and slow agricultural growth, urban-rural consumption, income, and poverty differentials have not been rising. Urban-rural spillovers have become important drivers of the rapidly growing rural non-farm sector, which now generates the largest number of jobs in India. Rural non-farm self-employment is especially dynamic with farm households diversifying into the sector to increase income. The bottling up of labour in rural areas means that farm sizes will continue to decline, agriculture will continue its trend to feminisation, and part-time farming will become the dominant farm model.

Using Cost of Cultivation Survey Data

This paper offers a critical discussion of the rich source of information on farm-level data, the Cost of Cultivation Survey datasets, collected by the central and state governments. The paper also analyses a recent proposal to modify the schedules and mode of collection of data and concludes with a few specific suggestions on collection, documentation and dissemination.

Drivers of Non-Farm Employment in Rural India

This paper attempts to understand the processes of growth in rural non-farm employment based on the 2009-10 employment and unemployment round of the National Sample Survey Office. The rural non-farm sector has undergone major restructuring which has led to an increase in the share of casual labour in the non-farm sector accompanied by a continuous decline in the share of self and regular employment. On the basis of multivariate analyses at two levels, this study concludes that though non-farm employment in rural areas is primarily distress-driven, there are some significant entry barriers for rural workers in the nonfarm sector in terms of education, age and gender. Considering the overall deceleration of rural employment until 2009-10, the paper emphasises the importance of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in rural employment generation and the consequent process of feminisation of casual workforce in the non-farm sector that has emerged in the last five years. The results indicate the crisis of joblessness would have been more acute without the scheme. The overall quality of rural employment, driven by distress factors, has deteriorated in 2009-10 over 2004-05 in a significant way.

Major Insights from India's Minor Irrigation Censuses: 1986-87 to 2006-07

Based on data from the four minor irrigation censuses conducted by the Ministry of Water Resources between 1986-87 and 2006-07, this paper points out that India's groundwater sector has slowed down since 2000-01, most markedly in eastern India. It examines the reasons for this and also looks into how farmers have been responding to lowered groundwater tables. Besides identifying some factors that have not changed since the mid-1980s, it emphasises that there are wide regional variations in the country's groundwater economy and management strategies need to be crafted accordingly.

Changes in Wages and Earnings of Rural Labourers

This study aims to capture the changes in rural wages in different states of India and tries to relate the observed variations in level and trend to some plausible explanatory variables. This study is based on rural wage data taken from various rounds of the National Sample Survey and mainly focuses on the level and trend in wages during the first decade of 21st century. It makes an attempt to identify several variables that could explain the observed variations among Indian states in levels and trends during this period.

An Inquiry into the Composition of Farm Revenue Risk

In a liberalised economy, a fundamental understanding of the components of farm revenue risk through the relationship between yield and price risk is imperative. This study decomposes the changes in revenue risk over two decades of cotton cultivation in six districts of the Vidarbha region in Maharashtra into changes in price risk, yield risk, and the natural hedge. Examining data in two periods, 1991-2002 and 2003-11, it shows that though there has been a reduction in price variances, the increase in covariance between yield and price and the change in yield variance have caused increased riskiness in cotton revenues. It also indicates directions for future policies.

A Future Orientation to Agrarian Livelihoods

This paper argues that a future orientation to livelihoods research is needed which pays explicit attention to the trends and dynamics of household livelihoods. An analytical framework is presented that consider: dispositions of different groups, the influence of sociocultural environments, the different role of actors in reinforcing or transforming sociocultural environments, and the broader structural conditions including exclusion and terms of incorporation. This framework is applied to the analysis of different groupings of farmers in two villages in the Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh to highlight processes that result in upward and downward mobility for different social groups. The paper concludes that a future orientation to livelihoods research provides a more nuanced picture as compared to economic calculations of farm viability and the ability and willingness of different household groupings to invest in agriculture. Second, by employing this approach, the identification of groups that will suffer chronic poverty, or alternatively, those at the risk of downward mobility is enhanced. Finally, a future orientation to livelihoods helps to identify institutional and structural conditions that adversely shape livelihoods, and therefore where priority investments could be made.

Agrarian Structure and Land Lease Arrangements

The Indian rural economic structure has been undergoing changes. One aspect of this is the growth of households who own land but do not cultivate it themselves. An implication of this is the potential for tenancy acquiring increasing importance in the rural sector. This study uses data from nine villages in Andhra Pradesh to present the relative significance of these households and analyse the resource adjustment process in the land lease market. The presence of non-cultivating peasant households in rural areas and tenancy contracts becoming the dominant institution for resource adjustment can act as a shackle on agricultural growth and development of the economy.


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