A few farm laws or a few superficial corrections passed as reforms will help only minimally. What Indian agriculture needs at this point is a deep and integrated reform that takes care of farming, rural economy, and rural sociology as unavoidable essentials of growth.
l Kshetranam pataye namah(Salute to the owner of the land) -Yajurveda
l Krushi Karyarata Ye Purushaah Graamvasinaah/
Dambhasooyadi Muktascha Paraspara Hitaishinah//
(Those engaged in agriculture should be free from hypocrisy, jealousy etc, seeking(serving/ preserving) mutual interests.
Gobhoomidevabhaktascha Nitaram Satyavaadinah/
Parakoolyanirataah Santatam Tushtachetasah//
(They are devotees of cow, earth, and gods; are absolutely truthful in speech, intent on being agreeable to others, and always contentful in mind)
Parasparam Snehabhajah Sahyakarmaratascha Ye//
(They are without any vice like drowsiness, idleness etc, devoid of excessive desire, anger etc, mutually friendly and are always ready to help).
Te Tuttamaah Samadishtaah Purushaah Punyadarshanaah/
Jalashay Tadadeenaam Kulyadeenaam Cha Rakshakaah//
(Farmers are said to be excellent, of holy appearance, and are real protectors of water reservoirs, canals etc) - Kashyapiyakrushisukta (Agricultural treatise by Kashyap)
THESE representative assertions about ancient India’s agricultural society speak volumes by themselves, and also demonstrate what is lacking in today’s approach of ours towards the agricultural sector. The effort here is to draw attention to the truth of what kind of consideration did ancient India have for its rural culture in which farming was woven integrally alongside the care for water resources etc. And more importantly, these ancient texts showcase vividly what kind of polished and refined people were engaged in agriculture.
May this not be misunderstood as indulging in an incorrect comparison between those times and the current times. The effort is to bring to fore in our thought process of today the fact of the quality of life associated with agriculture in ancient India. These verses are only representative in nature, but enough evidence is available in ancient literature to show the kind of importance attached to agriculture in India of those olden days.
It is here that we must ask of ourselves one simple question: Are we attaching a similar importance to the comprehensive concept of agriculture as a union of two ideas -- agri and culture?
Countless numbers of research papers are available in public domain in modern times, written by scientists and social thinkers, to highlight what kind of wide-ranging poverty has invaded the current-day Indian agriculture -- poverty of resources, poverty of scientific knowledge of farming, poverty of appropriate appreciation of the social eco-system to support the activity of farming and allied services, poverty of a thorough awareness of what our villages actually need against the background of ancient experience and collective consciousness on the issue ...!
Despite all this, India’s rulers and planners for the past seven-plus decades have chosen quite inexplicably to neglect the concept of agri-culture as a critical factor of overall growth and prosperity. And even though there were many learned men and women among them, they all chose to overlook the warning issued by Kautilya who said that long ago:
Anavekshnaat Krushi Nashtati
(Agriculture is destroyed if not looked after, cared for).
Just as modern India chose to treat agriculture casually, as is evident from countless examples (whose dossier keeps bulging all the time), our villages started getting bereft of the care they needed as repositories of prosperity, in the process inducing a rather unstoppable outflux of people to cities.
Of course, going by the current manner of our consideration for agriculture, it is only preposterous to expect the powers that be to pay real and honest attention to the issue. Yet, it is necessary to point out this flaw in a fond -- and rather insane -- hope that some correction will get underway. That may be a slow process all right, but it would in the long run help the country by attaining a welcome balance between the urban and rural sectors of the socio-economic scene.
When many elements in the current society talk of agricultural reforms, their attention needs to be drawn to these dimensions of the sector. At this point, it is also necessary to stress that whatever is being done here is not just a word-play around agri-culture. The stress is on acknowledging the truth in the concept and also recognising the flaw that we allowed to ruin our rural sector in a big way over time.
In the past few years, social and historical researchers have brought to fore the terrible neglect the British heaped on Indian agriculture as part of a deliberate plan to destroy India’s vitality. This ideation needs to be extended backward to accommodate the ancient Indian thought on agriculture that has two distinct and co-existing components.
Some people may try to trivialise this assertion by dismissing it as hollow word-play. But it is necessary to understand that a deeper consideration will bring us to the correct comprehension of what our agriculture needs at this stage.
A few farm laws or a few superficial corrections passed as reforms will help only minimally. What Indian agriculture needs at this point is a deep and integrated reform that takes care of farming, rural economy, and rural sociology as unavoidable essentials of growth. The suggestion, therefore, includes a strong reference to our nation’s agricultural history in modern context. We do not have to imitate what our forefathers did literally, but we do need to replicate the thought-process with appropriate changes suiting modern times.