Thursday, August 23, 2007

India bad example of agri liberalisation

In 2006 , 1,044 suicides were reported in Vidarbha alone officially – that’s one suicide every eight hours. “This is a human rights violation.It’s a mass genocide of farmers.”..says farm activist Kishor Tiwari.

A noted Indian economist recently warned of a negative impact of liberalisation of agriculture on Bangladeshi farmers, saying the acute problems now being experienced in rural India could be repeated here.

Utsa Patnaik, professor of Jawaharlal Nehru University of India, said economic liberalisation and reforms had exposed Indian farmers to intolerable burdens that had led to sharp increases in the number of farmer suicides. In India, more than 100,000 rural farmers had committed suicide since 1998, she said.

According to Patnaik, liberalisation leads farmers to shift from food production to export-oriented crop production. However the prices of such export-oriented products in international markets are declining gradually, she said.
Patnaik was outlining the impact of liberalisation on the agriculture sector in her country during a lecture titled 'Whither Agrarian Development Under Neo-liberalism' at Dhaka University campus yesterday. Department of Economics of the Dhaka University and Unnayan Onneshan, a local centre for research and action on development, jointly organised the lecture.

The professor said along with India many other Asian countries are being targeted for economic reforms and liberalisation by the international financial organisations including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB).
The IMF and WB prescriptions to these countries include cutting government expenditure, tightening monetary policy, the devaluation of local currencies and reducing the ratio of budget deficit to GDP, she said.

These moves are forcing the countries to take contractionary macro-economic policies, which are basically "nonsensical theories" of the IMF and WB, she said.

She said the high growth of the Indian economy is based on the country's service sector. The contribution of the service sector in the Indian economy is more than 50 percent, while the contribution of agriculture came down to only 20 percent after the liberalisation.

Liberalisation has meant the Indian economy has witnessed less than 1 percent employment growth, while the unemployment growth is growing very fast. In 1980s, employment growth was 2.8 percent, which came down to 0.7 percent in 1990s, Patnaik said.

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