Gap between suffering and shining India increases: Swaminathan

March 7th, 2008 - 4:21 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 7 (IANS) The disparity in the country’s growth was alarming and the chasm between shining and suffering India was getting bigger, India’s leading agricultural economist has warned. “A certain section of society is benefiting from the economic boom and the 8.8 percent annual economic growth but the marginalized sections remain neglected and poor,” said M.S. Swaminathan here Thursday.

Swaminathan is often referred to as the father of the Green Revolution in India for his success in introducing and developing high-yielding varieties of wheat.

“Inclusive growth is the way out. Industries, which till now had been ignored, need to be paid attention to in order for a collective India to move forward and grow. This prejudice against one section cannot continue for long.”

“A marriage between technology and sustainable agriculture and development is imperative,” added Swaminathan, pleased that the union budget had allocated a sum of Rs.600 billon for the agricultural sector. He commended the government for its timely action.

So how does one go about organising the largest unorganised sector of this country?

To this end, Swaminathan suggested a few ways, some of which included strengthening the role of women in the agricultural sector by giving them access to land holdings and credit facilities.

Setting up of Krishi aur Udyog Vigyan Kendras (agriculture and industry centres) and the establishment of Gyan Chaupals (rural knowledge centres) and farm schools in agricultural areas were some of the other proposals.

Even the use of a few specialised seed varieties like ‘deepwater’ rice and ‘true-potato’ seeds, both of which have the capacity to adapt to their environment making them durable and sustainable, were recommended by Swaminathan.

According to him, the farm sector was responsible for providing direct employment to 52 percent of India’s population, but had an annual growth rate of 2.6 percent - far behind the overall economic expansion.

Describing the plight of the agricultural sector where growth had fallen from 3.69 percent in 1990-96 to 1.65 percent during 1996 -2005, Swaminathan also pointed out that the share of sector in the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) had fallen.

“Assured and remunerative markets hold the key for sustainable income security,” said Swaminathan.

“Credit and insurance literacy should be provided to farmers. It is essential to free the farmer of the debt trap as only then would the agricultural industry be able to realise its potential.”

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