Of Agri-Culture! - IX
   Date :15-Jan-2022

Our nation will never prosper in a true sense if we continue to subject our villages to a modern socio-economic rationale of suspect gender.
l India’s National Agricultural Policy is “to promote technically sound, economically viable, environmentally non-degrading, and socially acceptable use of the country natural resources ...”
- Official statement
l Sustainable agriculture involves a “practice of farming and production of maximum agricultural yield or meet the needs of the present generation without endangering the resource base of future generation ...”
- Another globally-acceptable definition of
sustainable agriculture
l “An integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will over the long term ... enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agricultural economy depends ...”
- American official definition
BY NONE of the standards highlighted above is the current Indian agriculture sustainable in any manner. There may have been a few good projects to prove that agriculture is a viable pursuit. But the overall experience is that the farmers are finding agriculture an unsustainable activity -- almost driving them to poverty and even suicides in large numbers. So even when India claims to be a foodgrain surplus country, the farmers continue to languish in poverty. And that is the actual concern -- far beyond the treacherous political fabric woven around the three farm laws that the Government introduced with so much fanfare and vehemence and later withdrew those without even a whimper.
Of course, the country can still boast of countless successful experiments that prove that agriculture is a viable -- and also enjoyable -- activity that can give its practitioners a gainful and meaningful living. These experiments have proved how the recourse to traditional agriculture can lead our society to prosperity the like of which modern agriculture cannot even think of, dream of, and live by.
Let us travel to the countryside around Kolhapur in Maharashtra where the Kadsiddheshwar Ashram at Kaneri has been leading a terrific agriculture revolution based fully on organic farming. There, under the guidance of the chief seer of the institution, countless numbers of people are engaged in gainful agriculture on one-acre plots which give them an annual income of around one million rupees.
The Kadsiddheshwar Ashram has also created a revolution in dairy activity fully based on indigenous breeds of cow whose population, too, has gone up by countless thousands in about a hundred villages around the Ashram.
These activities are no longer experimental in nature -- since their efficacy has been proved beyond doubt. The entire community enjoys the success of this approach that has taken care of the comprehensive expression that agri-culture actually is: farming and culture.
Unfortunately, the country’s official agricultural establishment has found little time and inclination to learn the details and possibly include those in the national policy for active implementation on nationwide basis.
If the Government’s machinery finds time to search, it will come upon several, several such projects in whose confines are concealed the secrets of successful practices of agri-culture. Going by those norms, it can be said safely that we, as a society and a nation, have the wherewithal to create a great agriculture-based rural sector in which can be a great contributor to the national economy as well as balanced sociology.
Yes, India can and does boast of its great Green Revolution, all right. There is no denying the success of that initiative led by our farsighted national leaders in politics as well as science. Despite that, India’s rural economy has continued to totter and has been pushing farmers to suicides in shocking numbers, leaving India’s villages bankrupt economically, culturally and socially and dominated by ungainly politics.
No matter the repetitiveness of this assertion, it must be stated again and again in this series of articles on agri-culture that our nation will never prosper in a true sense if we continue to subject our villages to a modern socio-economic rationale of suspect gender. There may be some people who offer a lot of lip-service to agriculture and rural uplift and brandish the name of Mahatma Gandhi as a shield against criticism. But very few of them have actually found time to pay heed to the actual ground reality of India’s rural sector. Many of such people are expectedly going to debunk these statements, all right. No matter that, they cannot deny the reality of the average Indian villages that have almost fully lost their sheen in the past half a century -- only because the nation adopted a policy that is so terribly bereft of sincere application of mind to the actual needs of the rural sector. Most unfortunately, our political leaders fell prey to the glitter of wrong brand of development and denied the village their due place of honour in the national scheme of things. On one hand, they kept giving lip-service to the Gandhian ideals, but on the other hand, totally threw that approach out of the window.
That was nothing less than a massive national deception of the worst kind -- whose ill-effect we are now suffering from, for the past half a century. In the process, we denuded our farms, but also juiced out the traditional cultural and cream of our villages. In the process, we allowed the traditional artisanal entrepreneurship of our rural sector to go bankrupt. This naturally led to poverty-stricken rural people to seek employment outside their traditional domain and keep up a steady and ever-expanding stream of people moving towards cities -- where, too, they got only menial jobs on most counts. This harsh reality is still not being looked at in full seriousness it deserves. That is the misfortune we have been hit by nationally. And if we do not find effective answers to the issues therein, we will destroy ourselves.