What Is Agriculture
Agriculture is the "Art and Science" of cultivating the soils, growing crops and
raising livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary
human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surplus
that enabled people to live in cities.
Agriculture In Terms Of India
India is a global agricultural powerhouse. India is the world's largest producer
of milk, pulses and spices and has the world's largest cattle herd as well as
largest area under wheat, rice, cotton. India is the second largest producer of
rice, wheat, cotton, sugarcane, fruit, meat, vegetables and tea. The country has
some 195mha under cultivation of which some 63% are ranified while 37% are
Nearly, three-quarters of India's families depends on incomes which come from
agriculture. Agriculture is the primary source of livelihood for about 58% of
India's population. The recent data of economic survey shows that the share of
agriculture in gross domestic product has reached almost 20%. Agriculture was
the "Only one" sector which recorded "Positive growth" of 3.4% in the first
quarter of 20-21 when other sectors slid because of first wave of covid-19.
In short agriculture is India's sheet anchor when it comes to providing
livelihood and a square meal.
But in recent years, India is facing crisis in its agriculture sector and
agriculture sector is facing several problems and this sector is going through
most stressed phase.
What Is Federalism
Federalism is the system of government in which the same territory is controlled
by two levels of government. Generally an overreaching national government is
responsible for broader governance of larger territorial areas, while the
smaller subdivisions, states and cities govern the issues of local concern.
Federalism represents either a "Coming together" or a "Holding together". The
holding together view of federalism is applicable to India. The holding together
view of federalism also called "New federalism" represents an attempt to
decentralize responsibilities to state and local government to overcome regional
and local discontent with central policies.
Federalism In The Context Of India
Article1 of Indian constitution clearly states that "India shall be a union of
states". Federalism in India mentions the relationship between central govt. and
state governments .In India both central as well as state govts. enjoy certain
level of sovereignty and state governments are not inferior to the union
Our forefathers who were part of making the "Great Indian constitution" were
very serious about the decentralization of power. Because according to them
India is a very diverse and vast country and it is not possible for a govt. "AT
THE TOP" to control this huge country. Therefore the constituent assembly
decided to include "7th Schedule" in the Indian constitution. The 7th schedule
of Indian constitution defines and specifies allocation of powers and functions
between the union and various states.
This schedule consists of 3 lists namely:
- Central list
- State list
- Concurrent list
It is evident from this picture that "AGRICULTURE" Is in a "STATE LIST".
And states are empowered to effectively regulate this sector as well frame
policies for growth.
Problems With Indian Agriculture Sector
Agricultural sector is one of most important sector of India. It's contribution
and crucial role in Indian economy cannot be denied. Indian's agricultural
history candidly tells us about its "Great agricultural efficiency, excellent
climatic condition and abundance of resources".
But after the LPG REFORM of 1991 where every other sector was blooming at its
highest rate the agricultural sector started facing crisis.
Here I would mention some of the problems which are faced by India's
agricultural sector and then elucidate my topic.
- Less use of modern farming equipment
- Insufficient water supply
- Over dependence on traditional crops
- Poor storage facilities
- Transportation problems
- Lack of scientific method of farming and technology
- Lack of infrastructure
- High interest rates
- Over dependence on raining water
- UNIFORM MSP for all states which is decided by central government.
What Is MSP
The abbreviation "MSP" stands for "MINIMUM SUPPORT PRICE". It started in
1966-67. The MSP is a minimum price that acts as a sheet anchor for Indian
farmers when they go to sell their crops after harvesting ends. Under "MSP
SYSTEM" these crops are purchased by central government and it's agencies at a
MSP is a minimum price that governments provides to the farmers as an aid. It is
also the price that govt. agencies pay whenever they procure the particular crop
from farmers.MSP acts as a safety nets/insurance for farmers and their crops.
The MSP secures the agricultural sector when the price fluctuates or goes down
because of various environmental, national, international causes.
India was the food deficient country in 1947 and in today's world India is a
food surplus country and let me candidly say that it Is MSP which turned the
table and revolutionize the agricultural sector. Today India is among few
countries who supply foods to different countries, so the credit should be given
to MSP.As of now CACP recommends MSPs of 23 commodities which comprise of 7
cerels, 5 pulses, 7 oilseeds and 4 commercial crops.
Who Decides MSP
MSP is decided by Central government in the consultation with the CACP.
Problems With The MSP
The main and foremost problem with MSP is its "UNIFORMITY ACROSS INDIA". MSP
which is mainly decided by "CENTRAL GOVERNMENT" is same for all the regions of
this DIVERSE country. A country which traverse from 17000ft above mean sea level
to 20m below the ocean, and consists of plain, plateaus, coastal plains, ghats
,mountains, deserts, islands And jungles the one fits all approach is not
neither acceptable nor feasible and practically possible in such a diverse
Even though this immense problem is not noticed by our governments, activists,
and agricultural scientists at close quarters this problem is most harmful for
small and marginal framers because they are thrown into debts as the gaps are
getting widened between the input costs and income from the yield because of
this practice.India is a very diverse country having different kinds of
environment, soils and ecological situations so one uniform approach to MSP is
not a viable.
Uniformity of msp across india is widening a gap between production cost and
input cost and it is the small farmers who are bearing the burnt of this
evil.There are extremely diverse agro-ecologies in the country.
Consider for instance cropping patterns of Himanchal Pradesh, Punjab and
Rajasthan. States are better equipped and in better position to design and
implement policies in accordance with their's strengths and weakness Msp system
which was started in 1966-67 to provide a kind of safety nets for the farmers is
now proving counterproductive because of msp's uniformity and geographical
dissimilarities among the states.
This is the very important and serious question which is not in big draw in
today's world. It is the responsibility of government, economists and
agricultural scientists to come home to this problem and take a holistic
approach on this
problem. Msp system which was started for providing support to small and poor
Indian farmers is now proving broken reed. We all know that cost of production
varies from state to state and is depend on the type of soil, availability of
water supply, irrigation, environmental conditions, agricultural methods among
others then it is absolutely unfair to declare msp in uniform manner.
As we can't compare and say that a washing machine is same as a refrigerator in
the way we can't say that cost of production is same for Rajasthan
(which is water deficient) and Punjab (which is water efficient) . It is unfair
and might prove counterproductive to compare the ecological conditions of
farmers of Punjab who are relatively richer than farmers of Bihar.
In 1960's after india faced acute shortage of food supply pertaining to multiple
years of drought policies were designed to maintain reserve stocks of food,
providing price support to farmers by declaring and procuring at msp for various
commodities and selling the grain at subsidized rates for those who can't afford
it, this was the main aim and motto with which msp was started but still msp is
not able to achieve what it was aspire to achieve.
We know that after lpg reform India's agriculture sector is not flourishing as
fast as other sectors so now all the onus is on msp to provide relief and
provide small farmers with some amount of money but because of its uniformity
the vicious cycle of poverty, frustration, debt, low produce prices and natural
calamities which add flame to the fuel goes on and results in the suicide of
farmers. The second most important problem with msp is
that it is decided by central government and not by state government. Now I will
discuss the role of state government in this debate.
Role Of States
The constitution of India is the supreme law which is governing the country. It
frames fundamental principles, rights, procedures, practices, powers, duties of
governments at various levels. The constitution provisions in India on the
subject of distribution of powers between centre and states are clearly defined
in the various articles and 7th schedule of Indian constitution of India.
Article 246 of Indian constitution deals with the division of power between
union and states government. It contains 3 lists namely- Central list, State
list, Concurrent list. However the const provides the federal supremacy to
parliament on concurrent list items in case of conflict.
The state list contains 61 items (originally 66) in the 7th schedule. Means the
respective state government have exclusive power to legislate and administer as
well on matters relating to these items.
Debate Over Centralization Of Power
Since 1950 the 7th schedule has seen a number of amendments by the Parliament.
As a result of which the items in the central and concurrent list have grown but
at the sma time items in the state list have gradually reduced. One of the most
controversial situation arised in the 1976 when during emergency the indira
Gandhi government again amended thr 7th schedule of Indian constitution and
education, forest, administration of justice and so on in the central list. Even
at that moment states were in logger heads with the central government. Tamil
Nadu's cm called this amendment as "BLOT ON DEMOCRACY".As a result of this
amendment M Karunanidhi constituted the "PV RAJMANNAR COMMITTEE" to look into
centre-states relationship. Even after observing the conditions of dispute
Indira Gandhi constituted sarkaria commission to look into centre and state
relations.However the recommendations of Sarkaria commission were not
implemented and materialized by any central government.
Assault On Federalism
Our constitution provides a clear cut divisions of power between the govt at the
centre and various state government. But despite of such clear cut instructions
the isisue of central state relation has been a perennial one.Mostly,such
disputes arise when the centre encroaches upon states' power or legislate a
matter which curtails the rights of states legislature.Most contemporary example
of this encroachment is uniformity of msp which is decided by the central
Uniformity of msp across India which is decided by central govt. is an clear
assault on federalism. The slogan "ONE INDIA,ONE MSP" is not healthy for India's
democracy at all. Entry 14 of state list mentions the item relating to
agriculture. If we were to deduce from this that agriculture is a state subject
it would be formally correct. However some other provisions in the union and
concurrent list have provide legal justification for central's encroachment in
the sphere of agriculture.
Factors Affecting Cost Of Production
Cost of production of agricultural comoodities depend upon various factors like:
- Internal factors-Yielding ability of soil, drought, flood, tolerance to
insect pets and diseases, quality of grains, etc.
- External factors-Precipitation, temperature, atmospheric humidity, solar
radiation, wind velocity, atmospheric gases etc.
- Biotic factors-Beneficial and harmful effects caused by plants and
animals on the commodities.
- Physiographic factors-Topographic factors, altitude, steepness of slope,
exposure to light and wind etc.
- Socio-economic factors-Society inclination to farming, Appropriate
choices of crops, Breeding varieties, economic condition of the framers etc.
These are the some factors which affect the cost of production of
commodities. It is evident and we all are aware of this fact that india is very
diverse country and these five factors vary from state to state menas they are
non-uniform. Then biggest question is how a uniform solution can solve a non
The Right To Decide MSP Should Be Given To The Respective States
As we have previously discussed that agriculture is a state subject and it is
completely empowered to govern this sector. Then a fundamental question arises,
does the parliament have the legislative competence to enact laws regarding this
The word "AGRICULTURE" finds mention 12 times in three lists.In list 1st ,it
appears in entries 82,86,87,88 and in list 2nd under entries 14,18,30,46,47,48
and under entries 6,41 of list 3rd .It would be observed that under list 1st in
entries 82,86,87,88 parliament's law making power has been circumscribed by the
words "OTHER THAN" agricultural income or exclusive of agricultural land or
other than agricultural land .This means that union list does not empower the
parliament to enact any laws on agriculture.
By enacting agricultural laws and deciding uniform msp for all the states
parliament is overstepping itself and upsetting the balance of federalism.
Though central government can argue that india is not federal nation rather it
is quasi-federal with asymmetric federalism and it is true but even B.R AMBEDKAR
said in the debate of constituent assembly that our constitution is both
"unitary as well as federal according to the requirement of time and
Means even constituent assembly was serious about the division of legislative
powers between states and central government.
Now it's a high time for states to recognize theirs powers and call a spade a
spade and should come ahead to protect the great India's agriculture as well as
This courage of state governments would not only endowed them with powers but
would also uphold the sanctity of Indian constitution.
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