THE Green revolution from the late sixties onwards, owing to its markedly greater success in Northern and North western India compared to other parts of the country, had led to increase in the regional concentration of foodgrains output, to a degree of which few are aware. Over a decade ago we had worked out the changing structure of the various regions' contribution to aggregate food output in India for the period 1960-61 to 1987-88 and presented the summarised data in the form of snapshots of three sub-periods, in Table 1. This shows a marked, indeed dramatic shift. Total food output in the regions considered rose by 82 per cent from the early sixties to the mid-eighties. Accounting for just around a quarter (26 per cent) of total food output during 1959-60 to 1961-62 (taking the average of the three years), North and North-Western India had increased its share to two-fifths (39.8 per cent) by the mid-eighties, taking the triennial average for 1983-84 to 1985-86. All other regions of India showed a greater or lesser decline: Eastern India from 23.2 per cent to 20.2 per cent, South India from 21.5 per cent to to 17 per cent and West-central India from 29.1 per cent to 23.1 per cent. Of the addition to grain output during this period, which was 65 million tonnes, nearly 37 million tonnes or over half came came from North India alone.read ms.utsa patnaik's glib explanation of how this severely distorted growth has been good for india- read and understand that the grotesque edifice of food security in india has been built and rests on growth in a few states in the north and north-west and the concomitant decline in food production across the majority of states! food security at the national level sorely depends on food insecurity in most of the states!
and that is exactly the point i've been trying to make in this series [ (1), (2) and (3) ] of posts. i'd outlined how difficult it is for most indian states to think of producing enough food for all the residents living in any given state. it's not possible because a) the country already produces enough food for everyone, and b) the government distributes surpluses from a few states in all the deficit states so that the total market for local farmers in any given state stands diminished. why should farmers use 100% of the resources at their disposal to produce enough food for 80-90% of the consumption needs in any particular state? any producer would produce only as much as his market demands- in deficit states in india, the government of india ensures that the deficit (5-70% of total consumption needs, across various states) is bridged by bringing in surplus grain from punjab and a couple of other states. so where can the farmers in that state sell their produce if they produce enough for 100% of the consumption needs in that particular state? they can't a) sell in their own state all their produce because the grain sold through the pds takes away 5-70% of their market- their produce can't compete with pds grain on price, and b) they can't sell in other states, because of increased transactional costs, trade restrictions and because their grain, in all probability, would be costlier than grain from surplus states like punjab which have over the years achieved certain economies of scale (i shall touch upon these reasons again, later).
in the final analysis, what the governnment of india does in all the deficit states is to follow precisely the kind of ugly, neo-imperialist strategy that patnaik and sainath and many like them accuse the e.u., and the u.s., of adopting in most of the third world- dumping cheap, subsidized produce and driving the local farmers to suicide.
to survive, any food-deficit indian state needs to produce enough food for all the citizens in that state - it is also necessary for the overall development of the economy of that state that agriculture, and farmers, should be able to grow. that isn't possible for most indian states as long as they remain indian states.
older posts in this series: , , .