Strategies against the Threat to Rural Poor
- A.Maria Alphonsal and J. Delphine Prema Dhanaseeli
Department of History, Jayaraj Annapackiam College,
Periyakulam - 625 601, Tamil Nadu, India.
Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 13 (2003), 181-3.
The new economic policy of India includes the three elements
- Globalization, Liberalization and Privatization. Globalization integrates
Indian economy with the global economy through the reduction in import duties
and export restrictions, promotion of foreign investments and permission for
free flow of foreign technology and skills (Buggi et al., 2001). Globalization is itself global and all
encompassing. It acts through structural adjustment process and aims at growth
oriented, revolutionary and enormously promising development. When
Globalization encourages multinational corporations, all the corporates
including public, private and service sector have no other way but to
restructure their firms. As competition from global companies is increasing, in
India several entrepreneurs have chosen to sell out to such companies or join
forces with them. Though globalization is a powerful vehicle for economic
growth, it poses threat to economic and social stability, challenges national
sovereignty and tradition.
Globalization brought both opportunities for growth and
challenges for overcoming the weaknesses on all fronts of the national economy.
Post globalization reveals that tourism is coming up as the growing industry
(Sah, 2003). With the advancement of science and technology and the improvement
of markets, the earth has turned into a global village (Sharma, 2003). Even
after fifty years of independence, India still keeps the dichotomy that has created
two distinct geographical, social and economic areas of the country - rural and
urban, which are characterized by their individual identities (Subramaniya,
2003). The resource optimists have started convincing the people that the
laizsez faire market economy, property rights, technological progress and
globalization will solve the problems.
Globalization brings about profound changes in the life
styles and working habits of people in their own native countries. As national
economies are inter-linked, a crisis in one country may rapidly spill over into
other countries which is disruptive. It also results in the emergence of global
mass culture due to the increase in consumerism. It may make increasing
similarity in life styles around the world evading local cultural heritage.
Globalization also calls for a paradigm shift in higher education, from the
classical mode of education to need-oriented education. It has an impact on our
social and political fabric. It results in new markets, increased investments
and opportunities and benefits for the population at large. But it increases
competition and loss of some jobs. In the agriculture sector, it results in the
abandonment of channelizing the trade to determine the value or the nature of
imports and exports, dismantling of most of the quantitative restrictions on
agriculture and reduction in tariffs (Buggi et al., 2001).
According to the National Accounts Statistics (NAS), real
per capita consumption has been growing at about 3.2 percent a year since the
economic reforms while the National Sample Survey (NSS) data have shown little
or no growth throughout the 1990s (Deaton, 2003).
Impact on Agriculture
The emerging trends towards urbanization in a more spatially
dispersed pattern in the Indian context is not good. This involved reduction of
labour force in agriculture and contributes less to national income and a
corresponding increase in the non-farm employment in rural and urban areas
(Subramaniya, 2003). The
five basic problems of global concern are rapid growth of population, abuse of
natural resources, reduction of agriculture production, increased industrial
production and heavy pollution.
Globalization resulted in the neglect of agriculture that
adversely affected the vulnerable classes of rural society in their employment
conditions, income and consumption pattern, their education and health status.
The small and marginal farmers are affected as there is a reduction in the
fertilizer and chemical subsidies and in the budget for poverty alleviation
programmes as well as shift of area under food production to export oriented
commercial crops (Buggi et al., 2001).
The disintegration of rural economy brought about by globalization lead to the
disintegration of village communities, their society, culture and religious
The Human Development Index shows wide gap between the
developed and developing countries. India stood 135 in the HDI value list of
Human Development Report, 1996. According to Swaminathan (2000) "more people
are watching T.V, and talking on phone and communicating on line, but it is
also true that the world today faces huge backlogs of deprivation and
inequality that leave huge disparities within countries and regions". India's
growth rate was 5.8 per cent between 1980 and 1990 while it was 6.9 per cent
between 1990 and 1999. But there has been an increase in poverty also. Increase
in growth rate has no much significance when it can't help the poor people of
India (Verma, 2001).
74 percent of India's population lives in villages. Their
livelihood mainly depends on agriculture and related activities. The village
economy had been independent throughout the ages and even the industrial
development has not reduced its importance. It played a crucial role in the
economic development of India by providing food and raw materials, employment
to 2/3 of work force, capital for development and surplus for national
development (Buggi et al., 2001). The
Indian agrarian structure is dominated by 90 per cent of small and marginal
farmers. The extent of landholding is associated with caste and social status.
The small and marginal farmers and agricultural labourers constitute the vast
majority of rural society.
In the villages, farmers are not much aware of global
economic system. Most of the food crops are converted into cash crops. Sugar
cane farmers are getting advance loan from banks and MNCs. They used to supply
hybrid seedlings, fertilizers and highly advanced equipments. This equipment
utility reduced the human labour force. Hence the rural people are shifting
from place to place for want of labour for their livelihood. Natural manure is
replaced by synthetic fertilizers. As there is a shift from food crops to
export crops, the prices of food items went on high, and the poor people
couldn't buy from their meager income. Similar trend continued for clothing,
housing, transportation, health etc. So people were forced to consume less of
even basic necessities.
Bhargava and Dave (2003) argue that in a democratic set up
it is important that fruits of development are equitably distributed between
regions and among the various echelons of the society. Industrial and
agricultural transformations occurred during the nineteenth century helped the
rich than the poor people (Rathakrishnan, 2003). The industrial development not
only widens the gap between the rich and poor but also it promotes urbanization
and flow of rural poor to urban areas and diversion of potential cultivable
land to urban activities. As a result the food production is slowed down and
availability of food per capita also undergoes decline. Earth friendly economic
development must be our aim.
Deaton (2003) opines that more than one fourth of the
World's poor live in India. India's economic liberalization in the early 1990s
resulted in high rates of growth, whether it reduced the numbers of poor or
benefit only an increasingly wealthy urban elite is a question. Because of
growing inequality, consumption by the poor couldn't rise as fast as average consumption
and poverty reduction was only about two-thirds of what it would have been had
the distribution and consumption remained unchanged (Deaton, 2003). The gap
between rural and urban areas widened because of the vast differences in the
levels of literacy, availability of living facilities such as water, drainage,
housing, power, lighting, food and transport etc.
There is an urgent need for improving the social and
economic conditions of the tribal community and to solve their problems. India
has failed to have a national policy of tribal development, to provide them
with basic facilities like clean drinking water, education, employment and
access to health facilities. Due to widespread corruption and negligence, there
was ineffective implementation of programmes for development of tribal
communities. The tribals became oustees due to the construction of large dams.
They lost their habitats and livelihood. Tribal women had to walk several
kilometers for safe drinking water. Thousands of them die every year due to
starvation and epidemics. As the tribals are uneducated and ignorant, land
protection was not possible for them. When foreigners are allowed to exploit
their traditional knowledge about medicinal plants their livelihoods are in
Companies are now making their efforts to operate in the
international market. Even a small concern has to accrue new potential avenues abroad as a result of
extensive competition in the local market. Developing countries like India
began to open the door for foreign investments through global corporations to
welcome large inflow of technology, machinery, equipments and technical
know-how. Hence the multinational corporations (MNCs) are playing a major role
in the changing global business scenario. In a MNC, the holdings management,
production and market are extended to several countries, and it owns huge
resources between various countries with a view of increasing profitability
under centralized ownership and control. The MNCs from USA have the largest
share of foreign direct investment in India. The cost of production is cheap in
MNCs and they capture foreign market against international competitions and
offer competitive advantage internationally. MNCs will accelerate wealth generation
globally and such wealth has to be property distributed to the needy developing
countries (Mohamed and Nazer, 2003). Due to globalization food items are being
exported to India in the form of increased consumption of meat, western fast
food and sodas which may result in public health crisis as speculated by
certain researchers. The rich biodiversity of India has yielded many healthy
foods prepared from locally available organisms. But the marketing by MNCs with
large advertisement campaigns lead the people to resort to their products
NGO's have a moral obligation to call upon our political
leaders, businessmen, labour leaders to make economic decisions, so that first
priority is given to the basic needs of the vast majority of the people for
food, employment, housing, education and health care. Through organization,
collecting the small farmers, conducting formal and non formal education for
the adults to create analytical mind to be aware of the existing economic system,
how it affects their life directly or indirectly must be explained. NGO's
should come forward to organize a net work system - at District, State,
Regional and National level. They respond at a macro level.
In the era of globalization, the rural societies can adopt
certain strategies for safeguarding their existence, livelihood and culture.
The strategies include:
Mobilisation of the small farmers for regional campaigns.
Bulding good coalition with different likeminded
organizations (NGOs) and trade unions.
Establishing a mechanism, to challenge the MNCs
Having deliberations with bankers and industrialists in
order to consult them with NGOs.
Setting goals with specified objectives so that they reach
the grass root level of the rural societies.
Planning at grass root level with full people participating
in different levels.
Collecting more information on economic policy and
disseminate it to every individual for collective responsibility.
Keeping gender balance.
Forming net work among leaders in various levels with
solidarity and commitment.
Creating common understanding and purpose among the people
in all the sectors of the society.
Rural people must be encouraged to stay back in their rural
areas and to start their enterprises to get the same degree of satisfaction, an
urbanite gets while leading his day to day life. The dichotomy between urban
and rural societies must diminish leading to total elimination. Modern
industries could be split into various components which require simple
industrial skills and then have them manufactured in rural areas by giving them
training in addition to their own traditional skills. Planning for rural, urban
growth should be such that dichotomy vanishes automatically.
Bhargava P and Dave A, Inequalities in Rural Development:
study of Rajathan, Southern Economist, February 1, 2003, P5.
Buggi C, Reddy S and Gowda G, Impact of Globalization on
Agrarian class structure. Its implications of Indian villages. Third Concept,
January 2001, P 17-19.
Deaton A. Is World Poverty falling? Southern Economist,
January 2003, P. 21.
Mascarenhas M. Unpalatable truth. The Hindu, June 22, 2003
Mohammed C and Nazar M, The Role of Multinational
corporations, Southern Economist, February 1, 2003. P.24
Rathakrishan, Myth and Reality of Limits to growth, Southern
Economics, February 1, 2003, P.10-2.
Sah R.K., Indian Economy in the Post Globalization Mileu.
Southern Economist, January 2003, P.5
Sharma S, Markets, stable and society in the new age:
Towards Holistic Development and Management, Southern Economist, January 1,
Subramaniya S, Doing without rural urban Divide: issues
analysed, Southern Economist, Feb 1, 2003, P1-3.
Verma J.M.S., Globalisation and Economic Reforms in India,
Third concept April 2001, P.22-23.
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