Saturday, March 17

two percent

I don’t know how far I would get with this line of thought. I have just started writing this without any idea of how is it going to go. It started with a light bulb. I had to replace the light bulb, the one thats right in front of my house. Well, it was the kid who had been the guest for or neighbors. The switch was right by our door, and He was just playing with it - switching on and off, again and again, and When he switched the bulb on for the 378th time, it blew the filament off. The last time I had to buy a bulb, as I could remember, the price was the same as that of petrol (gasoline). No, not at today’s price tag of 49 rupees/liter. I don’t remember the date or year, but the price of both the bulb and a liter of petrol costing somewhere around 15 rupees. I also guess, at that time the exchange rate for a dollar was just around 18 rupees. I may be wrong about exchange rate, but I am sure about the price of bulb and a liter of petrol.

Today a bulb a the ‘Lakshmi hardware store’, here on the Madhapur main road, just costs just 10 rupees. What ever the inflation is doing to everything else, it ain’t doing nothing to the bulb. I had a conversation with my room mate. Both of us work for IT companies. Here I go…

“Do you know, the bulb costs only 10 rupees ? Now a days, you don’t even get a kilo of rice for that price” (Unless, of course, there is a government’s subsidy. You can get a kilo of rice for two rupees. Or thats just part of our politicians rhetoric. My point is - You don’t get that price in a “free” market)

“You sound quite positive about the trend. But I don’t think its really positive”

“Uh, Ohh. A lot of times, my modulation deceives my intention. No. No, its not your ears. I am just bad ‘punching’ my dialogues at the proper moment. I was, in fact, trying to sound negative. I mean, look at this irony. Our GDP has grown to 9%, primarily because of growth in Industry and Services. But our agricultural growth in just around 2%, driving prices of agricultural commodities. Both, you and me work in services industries actually driving growth in services, which is already growing at 11%. Hence, If you really want to contribute to our economy, I advice you this - Get some land and start farming.” (OK. The actual number is 2.7%)

My intention was to sound sarcastic about the role of our jobs in our economy, and probably sound it as a pun. But my room mate, whose father is a farmer, took my words seriously, and replied “You are right”. I wasn’t surprised. He often wonders about the future of their farm and their farming, after his father is done with it. He belongs to that generation in his family, that departed from farming, and chose an option for the only reason that is economically sexier to be some executive in an IT company, than be one of the few farmers in his village. He reflects about it a lot. Accidentally, I had found the serious audience for my satire.

But I wonder, what is that I can really do, other than just paying taxes, to improve that 2.7%. In a sense, it is true that just by working in a services industry, and learning, discussing about the 2.7%, I am indirectly contributing for the paltry growth of agriculture. Looking beyond this observer-observed philosophical dilemma, What can I really do ? I thought I would get some ideas if I look further in this year’s Economic Survey of India. Hey, look at that !! Services account to 55% of our GDP! When we were studying at school, we were told that India is an agriculture based economy. If some one is still telling you that, they are lying. We have already become a services based economy. I wonder, what they are teaching in Schools, now a days. Probably that a student should learn Java/C++ and make himself/herself “employable” by Infosys/TCS/Wipro ? (Yeah, I learnt the same thing at college.)

Probably a little bit of history would make me wise! If I knew the growth rates of agriculture, and overall GDP, probably I could know where we went wrong. Well, there are too many resources on the internet to analyze Virendar Sehwag’s past batting averages and make suggestions, but are very little resources when it comes to analyze our country’s economic indicators. Irony is that - I think I can make a real and direct contribution to the Indian Economy, than to Virendar Sehwag. So lets go for the official web site of Indian Economic Survey to learn some numbers.

Year 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06
Growth in GDP % 8.5 7.5 9.0
Growth in Agri % 9.3 0.6 5.8

I got that numbers from Table 16,but I am not sure if it is right table. But one thing is sure that compare to our agricultural growth, Sehwag’s batting average seems consistent. I would love to dig deeper to really understand this numbers, but I am short of time.

And so, I went looking for ideas in our national budget. All over the forums, there has been insane amount of whining about 3% educational cess. Actually, that explains nothing but the demographic of bloggers and internet users in India. I just searched for the words “agri” in the highlights.

  • Rs 100 crore for recognising excellence in the field of agricultural research.
  • Manufacturing sector grows at 10.7 per cent, agriculture at 1.5 per cent during October-December 2006-07.
  • A number of proposals to perk up agriculture to be announced.

100 crores seems to be real good money, some money the Ocean’s Thirteen would love to have their hands on. Of course, I do not have any credentials to receive even a rupee of that research fund. But neither does our country’s babu-dom has any credibility to deliver it where its due. Well, to know about other proposals, I would have to read the whole Budget, for which, I am short of time.

The only idea that really makes sense for now, even though it was intended as a joke, is to get some land and do agriculture. But my education is of no use to do that now, anything useful . But, a really big but here… BUT, hey, what if some one decides to build a car factory, to satisfy the nonexistent need for a car costing Rs. 100,000 ? They, then, probably would grab my land. Uh,Oh! That isn’t so encouraging. If not me, what about others, especially children, who might still be able to choose their profession. What should I answer if those people ask me ‘What would it take it do agriculture in India ?’ ? I guess I should answer them that they should be ready to give their life to protect their land, and their profession.