Agriculture Agriculture in History

Recalling Gandhi’s wisdom for Indian Agriculture

Being a  great leader, he acknowledged the role of agriculture in development and upliftment of this nation, thereby envisioning an agri-centric nation, which is well defined in his famous statement: The future of India lies in its’ villages.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, fondly regarded as the father of our nation, is well known for his Non-Violent and Nationalist Policies, thereby injecting hope for the upliftment of a diversified nation. Being a great leader, he acknowledged the role of agriculture in development and upliftment of this nation, thereby envisioning an agri-centric nation, which is well defined in hisfamous statement: The future of India lies in its’ villages. By providing employment to 49% of working population and contributing 16% of GDP at present, Agriculture is still a backbone of Indian Economy and has the capacity to pull people out of poverty.

Gandhi vision for indian agriculture

 

Saviour of Agriculture

Gandhi was eulogised as Saviour of Agriculture when he was directly involved in the Peasant Protest in Champaran (Bihar) and Kheda (Gujarat). In Champaran, the issue was the system of indirect cultivation where Peasants leased land from planters, binding themselves to grow Indigo in a year by getting some money in advance (famously called as Tinkathia System). But it was exploitative, raising the debt burden of Peasants. Raj Kumar Shukla, a representative of farmers from Champaran, convinced Gandhi regarding the issue and invited him to visit. After Gandhi’s concerned efforts, Colonial Government appointed Agrarian Committee with Gandhi as one of its members. It recommended for abolition of Tinkathia System.

In 1917, excessive rain considerably damaged Kharif Crop in Kheda. It was aggravated with price hike of basic commodities that severely affected  the lives of Peasants. So they demanded remission of land revenue but that was refused by Government. Gandhi decided to launch a Satyagraha Movement on 22 March 1918, urging the Peasants not to pay their Land Revenue to Government. When the Movement reached its peak, the Government issued instructions to provide proper assistance to affected Peasants.

It could be wise recall the recent farmers protest like Long March of farmers in Maharashtra and Kisan Mukti Sansad in Delhi closely recall the Gandhian way of expressing their concerns. It was greatly non-violent, with wide participation in families, support from urban class and  groundwork by learned intelligentia and civil society group is nevertheless recalls the Gandhian movements. 

Vision for a Clean  India

Gandhi’s vision for Clean India also has its roots in Agriculture. Gandhi in the article in Harijan (dated 28-12-1947) stated that “Organic Manure ever enriches, never impoverishes the Soil. The daily waste, judiciously composted, returns to the soil in the form of Golden Manure causing a saving of millions of Rupees and increasing manifold, the total yield of Grains and Pulses. In addition, the judicious use of waste keeps the Surroundings Clean. And Cleanliness is not only next to Godliness, it promotes Health.

Now, this idea becomes one of the important campaigns by Government as Swachh Bharat to ensure Sanitation and end open defecation with waste management for the healthy way of life. Gandhi’s vision for composting as quoted above now implemented as Gobar-Dhan Scheme in rural India.

Vision for Sustainable Agriculture

Gandhi gave glimpse on relationship between Ryots (Cultivator) and Zamindar (Landlord) in his Weekly Journal Young India (dated 5-12-1929). “A model Zamindar would therefore at once reduce much of the burden the ryot is now bearing. He would be in close touch with ryots and know their needs and inject hope in place of despair which is killing the very life of them”. He also stated that “the Capitalist if he follows the Samurai of Japan, has nothing really to lose and everything to gain”. Now Zamindari System is abolished but his statement could be interpreted now as, it is the responsibility of Big Farmers to take care of small and marginal farmers. This type of Trusteeship principle will reduce the improvises the agrarian community and also complements Government.

“ Mechanisation is good when Hands are too few for the work intended to be accomplished. It is an evil when there are more hands than required for the work, as is the case in India. I may not use a plough for digging a square yard of a Plot of Land”

Gandhi’s view on Mechanisation of Agriculture was published in Harijan (dated 16-11-1934) that “ Mechanisation is good when Hands are too few for the work intended to be accomplished. It is an evil when there are more hands than required for the work, as is the case in India. I may not use a plough for digging a square yard of a Plot of Land”. Mechanisation not only marginalizes millions of labourers but also create the problem of idle hours which can have harmful health impact according to Gandhi.

M.K.Gandhi’s Nonchalant Policies are highly influential around the world  and inclusive in nature by encompassing everyone. Through such policies, Gandhi tried to fight India’s extreme Poverty, backwardness and socio-economic challenges. In the current scenario of over-exploitation of natural resources, consumerist culture and a heavily mechanised world, his ideas are of paramount importance.  Let’s work to realise the Gandhian thought for the welfare of the society and Agriculture.

“Earth provides enough for every man’s need, not for every man’s greed”

Mohamed Jayalani is a graduate of Sericulture and also in History. He is interested in Reading Books and Creative Writing. Here he writes about historical legacy of Agriculture by linking it to present day scenario. mohamedjayalanis@gmail.com