That was one of the controversial remarks I had made recently on suggestions of how to make a prosperous India. I am using this forum to defend myself.
Let me start with a few data points:
For simplicity let us assume that there are 1 billion working Indians and the size of economy is $1 trillion.
|GDP by sector
|agriculture: 13.7%, industry: 21.5%, services: 64.8% (2013)
|Labour force by occupation
|agriculture: 49%, industry: 20%, services: 31% (2012 est.)
So it takes 490 million Indians to produce $137 billion worth of agricultural produce, while $648 billion worth of services are produced by 310 million individuals. Essentially1 service sector worker produces 7.5 times more wealth. No wonder, on an average, they are paid better and are better educated.
Secondly right from the birth of industrial revolution in 18th century United Kingdom to post world war 2 development the only common factor is fall in the workforce employed in agriculture as the country prospers. Urbanization is inevitable for the country to develop and only dictators like Pol Pot would try to reverse the trend.
Thirdly, the extent of disguised unemployment is so high that in US less than 2% of the workforce is employed in farming. Yet the value and quantity of agricultural produce exceeds that produced by India. Considering that India has 50% of the workforce employed in agriculture and our workforce size is 3-4 times larger, the inefficiencies are staggering.
With the help of technology almost every farm can reduce its workforce by 50-60%. Schemes like MGNREGA are designed to weed out this disguised unemployment without impacting the productivity of the farms.
No child of a farmer, rich or poor wants to pursue farming as a career if they have a choice. The hard work, uncertainties of weather and long gestation period often don’t result in commensurate compensation. The rich farmers are modern day zamidars who live a lavish lifestyle without even touching the soil. Most of them are trying to buy political influence so that either their land gets acquired for highway/canals or some infrastructure projects or they can sell the land to a property developer. The taxes from farming is minuscule while subsidizes staggeringly large. The faster our country’s farmer let go of their ploughs, the faster we could prosper as a nation.