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

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Revitalising Higher Agricultural Education in India

Agricultural education and R&D in India have grown overwhelmingly over the years but funding levels have not kept pace with growth in the number of programmes, institutions, colleges and universities. Restricted funding and vacant faculty positions are not allowing institutions to modernise the programmes and infrastructure to catch up with the changing needs of agriculture and agro-processing. This article proposes a comprehensive programme to revitalise higher agricultural education.

Farm Size and Productivity: Understanding the Strengths of Smallholder and Improving Their Livelihoods

During the 1960s and 1970s there was an intense debate on the observed inverse relationship between farm size and per hectare agricultural productivity in India. It was subsequently argued that the higher productivity of smallholdings would disappear with the adoption of superior technology, modernisation and growth in general. However, close to half a century later, National Sample Survey data from the initial years of the 21st century show that smallholdings in Indian agriculture still exhibit a higher productivity than large holdings. These smallholdings however show lower per capita productivity and the incidence of poverty is widespread. Strategies for Indian agriculture and smallholding households should include reducing the inequality in land distribution and promoting off-farm work in the rural areas itself. The strategy of improving the crop land-man ratio by facilitating migration from rural India has not worked and will not work. The lives of smallholding families can be improved only by building on their higher per acre agricultural productivity and by promoting off-farm rural employment.

Water Harvesting Traditions and the Social Milieu in India: A Second Look

India has a variety of local community traditions of water harvesting. There are a number of scholars and activists who tend to valorise premodern wisdoms without critically evaluating their sociocultural context and realising how deeply they were embedded in the social hierarchy of their times. There has been, of course, a great deal of stress lately on a kind of "eco-golden age". This is clearly a case of an "anachronistic projection of modern phenomenon on to the screen of tradition". Seen from such a perspective, all pre-industrial societies would exhibit a kind of harmony with nature. However, most of the times, it was the demographic and technological factors that made these societies less harmful to the environment. It was not that they wished to protect the whole canopy of nature. This reappraisal demonstrates how precepts and rites, culture and customary practices and state policy interact to lay the bases of water harvesting traditions. Social customs are the necessary conditions for sustaining these traditions, while local autonomy in resource management is the critical sufficient condition but it never results in equitable access for all.

Farmers' Suicides in Punjab: A Census Survey of the Two Most Affected Districts

This is a report on the first-ever census survey conducted on suicides by farmers in the two most affected districts of Punjab, Sangrur and Bhatinda. It tries to arrive at the number of farmer suicides, the reasons (whether they were caused by economic distress alone or they were due to the interplay of the forces of economic distress, social conflict, cultural backwardness and lack of community/state support) and also the present economic status of the families of the victims.

Spread and Economics of Micro-irrigation in India: Evidence from Nine States

The adoption of micro-irrigation projects has resulted in water saving, yield and income enhancement at the farm level. However, the overall impression is that they are capital-intensive and suited to large farms. In this context, a study was undertaken in nine states, mainly to examine the actual area covered compared to the potential area and to understand the adoption level of mi as well as to analyse the cost and returns under different farm categories. The results indicated that only about 9% of the mi potential is covered in the country. Key suggestions include reduction in capital cost of the system, provision of technical support for operation after installation, relaxation of farm size limitation in providing subsidies and the establishment of a single state level agency for implementation of the programme.

Irrigation in Telangana: The Rise and Fall of Tanks

Agriculture currently produces only 30% of total income in the Telangana region, but it remains the basis for survival of nearly 78% of the population. During the 53-year period, 1956-2009, Telangana lost 2.92 lakh hectares of tank irrigation. Meanwhile, despite the high cost of irrigation - both in capital and operating costs - over the same period the area irrigated by tube wells has grown up. The latter is entirely dependent on the recharge of groundwater and the availability and cost of power. Whatever the future irrigation policy and its implementation, it will need a close ground level, local district and regional governmental efforts in Telangana.

Extending the Coverage of Minimum Wages in India: Simulations from Household Data

There is a debate in India about the possible extension of minimum wages to all wage-earners. This study provides some benchmark figures on the effects of either making the national minimum wage floor compulsory or extending the coverage of state-level minimum wages. Using the 2004-05 Employment- Unemployment Survey along with the Consumer Expenditure Survey, it estimates that the extension of minimum wages at existing levels could improve the earnings of 73 to 76 million low-paid salaried and casual workers. It also shows that if an extended minimum wage is perfectly enforced, it would substantially reduce inequality, poverty and the gender pay gap, even if there are some disemployment effects.

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