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Indian agrarian crisis ?

Is everybody in crisis?
Who is in crisis?

1997 onwards
The period of neo-liberal reforms has
seen a significant curtailment of
purchasing power in the hands of the
working people, especially in rural
India, which has caused growing
distress on the one hand and an
accumulation of unwanted
foodstocks in the hands of the
government on the other.

Patnaik 2003

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Second level
Third level
Fourth level
Fifth level

First suicide
Lee Kyung-Hae, a south Korean
farmer was the first farmer who
committed suicide.

WTO Kills
farmers

Suicides
Cumulative 16-year total from 1995 when
the National Crime Records Bureau started recording farm
suicide data

2,56,913, the worst-ever recorded wave of


suicides of this kind in human history (Sainath).
It has been seen as effect of privatisation of
inputs, changing cropping pattern and deregulation of prices
(Utsa Patnaik 1997, Muzaffar Assadi )

Formal definition
Farmers are those who work in
agriculture for more than 150 days per
year or those who have 50 percent of
income from agriculture are to be
categorised as a farmer in India?

lots of ambiguity.

Three fold classification on


landholding size
Large farmers- more than 10
hectares
Medium farmers-4-10 hectares
Semi-medium 2-4 hectares

Small farmers(1-2 hectare


Marginal farmer below 1 hectare

Tracing agricultural development


through class caste relations
1950s: Daniel Thorner
1960s-90: Utsa Patnaik, T.J. Byres.
1990-2000: Srivastava and Lerche,
2000 onwards: V.K.Ramchandran,
Henry Bernstein

Daniel Thorners three-fold classification

Differentia is drawing a living from the land. These


were malik, kisan and mazdoor.
The maliks were landed proprietors who derived
their income by employing tenants and labourers.
Kisans were those cultivators who live primarily
by their own toil on their own lands
Mazdoors as those who gain their livelihood
primarily from working on other peoples land.
emphasis on possession of land, relations of labourhiring and land-renting between the proprietary
maliks and landless mazdoors, with the kisans
occupying the middle rank.

Only land size is not enough, after


the green revolution particularly
Factors of production
Landholding alone is found inappropriate
by many.
Other factors like capability to invest and
adopt new technologies, capability to
invest. So mixing capital and labour and
how one does that becomes parameters
of classifying classes among farmers.

Utsa Patnaik (1987)


Factors like family size, cropping pattern
and intensity of cultivation, level of
technology employed etc.
One main indication of this is the extent to
which a household hires outside labour and
the extent to which the household
members work for others.
This and the exploitation criteria are used
in Patnaiks method of labour use index for
identifying classes.

She identified five rural classes


Big landlords, rich
peasants
Middle peasants subdivided
into upper and middle
peasants
Poor peasants and Wage labour

First two are net exploiters of labour, the next two combine self
cultivation and hired labour.
The landlord class is reluctant to invest in agricultural modernisation
since profits in agriculture are lower than that earned from investing
surplus in non agricultural sector and rent from leasing out land
upper middle peasants generate surplus;
Poor peasant and wage labour: no ownership of land and sustain
themselves through selling labour alone.

John Harriss (1990)


Caste and class are co-terminus
Upper class constitutes of upper caste
Middle class constitutes of middle caste
Lower class constitutes of lower caste
The relationships between objective differences
between groups of people, in terms of their relations
with productive systems is class
The subjective categories in terms of which people
experience and understand their roles are castes

Position of class and caste may not


always be the same
The Green Revolution has changed group positions; for instance, other backward
classes (OBCs) coming from middle peasants have gained economically becoming
surplus producing farmers and now often command the position of a dominant
class in states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh (Srivastava 1999, Lerche 1999).
The government of India has classified certain castes as socially and economically
backward and termed them as other backward classes.
The GoI provides 27 per cent reservation for these castes in public sector higher
education and employment.

V.K. Ramchandran- Big farmers and


Landlords
Landlord is not used to refer to a feudal
category, but rather a class which has its
origin in feudal mode of production but
has assumed a new character with
technological advance. It is a term used
to refer to capitalist landowners, who do
not engage in cultivation. This surely is a
differentiation arising from land-reform
and tenancy reform.

Capitalist farmers
Byres (1981) argues that a new capitalist farmer class
developed in India, as capitalist production and peasant
differentiation took root.
A capitalist farmer is one who may originate from a big or
middle farmer background but has adopted technological
innovation to make agriculture profitable, investing surplus to
upgrade capitalist production, sees agriculture as important to
accumulation even if they have other means of income and do
not undertake self cultivation.

Large farmers are more suitable to adopt high-value


crops. Evidence has been presented in previous sections
which show already prevailing skewed access to both
land and credit along class lines. (Minot and Roy 2006)
Technology in Green revolution was seen as scale
neutral but not resource neutral (Byres 1981)
In this structural situation that policy brought in change
in cropping pattern.

characteristics
The landlords are those who are urban-bound and do not have
stakes in the rural sector. They earn from farming but the
surplus is diverted to the urban sector.
Ramchandran, Rawal and Swaminathan (2010)
landlord households have the largest holdings and their land
is of high quality.
Cultivation does not involve participation of family members.
Enjoy land monopoly, hence economically dominant, but
given their high social status and direct or indirect access to
political power, they also dominate traditional social and
modern political structures.

Big farmers like Patels


The big farmers are mostly from upper-middle peasant
families, and sometimes from rich peasant families.
It is by generationally investing the surplus that they
have acquired more land and in the present situation
They employ others to cultivate the land. They commonly
derive income from money-lending, salaried employment
and trade (Ramchandran, Swaminathan and Rawal2010,
pp 24-25).

Gentleman farmers
Gentleman farmers are those who invest surplus
generated from other sectors in agriculture. Their
holdings size vary, starting from 5 acres of land.
They have made good use of the opening up of
borders since liberalisation by investing in high
value crops, oriented towards export market.
Speculation is one thing that they understand and
maneuver well, thus selling their produce when
prices are high.

Interlocking as a characteristic of Indian agriculture


which has been responsible for policy
Overlap between factor and credit market is common.
Land, labour and credit market interlinkage.
Same class is accumulating through various sources,
education and urban/overseas jobs, trading, agroprocessing
and moneylending; as well as possible land. Who are they?
(Pranab Bardhan, Lerche )
The mahajan of the village is a big farmer and has now
started a small business in seed. Often he sells seeds to
small and marginal farmers.

Even for research-categories are


crucial
A graduate has bought 10 acres of land near
Bangalore city and started a nursery.
Exportable flowers are grown there.
A Gujarat farmer owns a sugarcane factory
then who is he?
A farmer s son has bifurcated into contract
farming in Dharwad. Who is he?