Excerpts from “Episode 1-Entry and Exit in Agriculture” of ‘The Seen and The Unseen’
- Farm land in India is not allowed to be sold off for non-agricultural purposes.
- Corporations and Big agencies are not allowed to enter agricultural farming.
The Seen Effect
The intended effect of this policy was to ensure that farmers in India are empowered, protected and not targeted like in the past under the Zamindari system, where they were left at the whims of the land owners for employment.
The Unseen Effect
The farmer who is already over-burdened with daily farming chores of sowing seeds, planting, watering and purchasing farming equipment, now also has to concern himself/herself with the business aspects of
- what price to sell at?
- where to sell?
- what crop to grow?
A farmer may not necessarily have the acumen or the time to do this.
A beautiful analogy is given, wherein the farmers are compared to Software Engineers.
If the software engineers were not allowed to be employed by big multi-national companies drawing fixed monthly salaries, would the IT-revolution in India have been possible?
Would the current Software Engineers have taken risks and ventured out as entrepreneurs if this security is not offered and they would be paid only at the end of the year based on profits made.
Financial Security is important and any person would do best when they have that, allowing them to focus on their niche and specific skill set.
Why not fix it?
The farmers who are dependent the crop to succeed are in-turn at the mercy of the Government for receiving fair prices, security against crop failure and also loan waivers. If the farmers are truly empowered, they no longer are dependent on the Government, thereby the Government losing its leverage over a large population of the country. This has been smartly synonmized as Nationalizing the Zamindaari System.
Commercial Cash Crops show the way
Commercialization and selling of cash crops like Coffee, Dry-Fruits is permissible and this has led to lesser worries for farmers of these crops. You don’t hear about these farmers committing suicides due to financial burdens as their job is more-or-less guaranteed.
These public policies which started out to help farmers have in-turn actually entrapped them in a cycle of unending dependence on the Government.
Although, this was an unseen effect, what is unseen need not be unforeseeable . consult economists who can analyze longer term implications of your policies and pay heed to their advice.
Parallels to Computer Science
Lessen the burden on the farmer, helping him/her focus on their core skill-set crop science.
- Like when you build Software, you can’t have a one size-fits-all solution or rather, you can’t have one component responsible for all the heavy-lifting. You risk crashing the entire software. In a similar way, you don’t want all the burden(running business, crop science) to be on the farmer.
- Depth First Search wherein the algorithm sticks to one-chosen path until the path ends or the solution is found has significantly lesser overhead as compared to simultaneously examining all paths.