Primacy of agriculture in the economy of Hindusthan
There is no industrial-services-driven economic model which can provide for full employment in a situation where 65 per cent of the population is in the village economy. For the foreseeable future, urban facilities and employment opportunities have to be provided to this majority population dependent upon the village economy.
For the quarter ended December 2008, GDP growth by sectors has been presented:
Growth in services 106 per cent of incremental GDP at factor cost, growth in manufacturing remains flat, growth in mining 2 per cent of incremental GDP, growth in electricity, water, etc., one per cent and agriculture declines by nine per cent.
The staggering decline in agriculture has a devastating effect on the standard of living of the majority of the population dependent upon the village economy. Farmers? suicides caused by the inability of the farmers to repay the loans taken from moneylenders are only the tip indicator of the iceberg. The farm incomes have to become remunerative and the agriculturist has to get his/her due share of the national income. This can happen if a National Water Grid is put in place with assured 24X7 availability of water for irrigation. This Grid can bring about a veritable revolution in Indian economy. About nine crore acres of additional alluvial land with assured irrigation facilities can be created and distributed to 9 crore agricultural families at the rate of 1 acre per family. This will create the potential to have three or four crops per year, more than doubling the agricultural production and to feed the world caught in a deep recession.
This blue revolution accompanied by tough fiscal measures to repatriate stashed away wealth in Swiss banks and other foreign financial sanctuaries will usher in a new dawn for Hindusthan and place her on the map of global economy as an economic powerhouse. Hindusthan should also take the lead in forming an Indian Ocean Community of 50 Indian Ocean Rim states from Madagascar to Tasmania with a potential total GDP of over six trillion dollars as a counter poise to the European community. The IOC, in the context of the Special Economic Zone created in the Indian Ocean within a 200-km zone from the coastline will create opportunities for growth in a world caught in deep recession. Project such as Trans-Asian Highway and Trans-Asian Railway should be taken up to energize the IOC and make it a global socio-economic reality.
Hindusthan has 32 per cent of the world'sthorium reserves (circa 2,25,000 tonnes of thorium metal is available for nuclear power programme) and the development of fast-breeder reactor technology in Hindusthan, using thorium blanket has the potential to generate the electricity required to support the nation'sdevelopment imperative. India should also encourage researches into cold fusion technologies, consistent with her stature as a space power. Hindusthan'sspace technologies and competence in information technologies can be of significant benefit to the IOC nations. Given her geostrategic location, Hindusthan has to play a lead role in maintaining the security of the sea-lanes for navigation across the Indian Ocean.
(The writer is the Director, Sarasvati Research Centre and former Sr. Exec., Asian Development Bank.)