When the economic liberalization policy was announced in 1991, the government spokesmen had said that "the government sought to make small industry a vibrant and dynamic instrument of industrial change in the country."
WTO trade regime in the decade of nineties has brought a crisis of livelihood in rural Indian. The prices have fallen since id '90s threatening the viability of small farming.
The village still remains the essential category in people's mind as the core of India's National Agriculture is a way of life, a tradition which for centuries has shaped the thought, the culture and the economic life of the people of India… Agriculture, therefore, is and will continue to be central to all strategies for planned socio-economic development."
The Economic Survey (2002-03) admitted the adverse impact of WTO agreement on agriculture, viz. flooding of Indian market with cheap agriculture imports though imposition of tariffs (bound rates) under WTO which in respect of nuts, tea and cotton are 15%, food grains 70% to 100%, edible ails 45% to 300% and 40% to 50% for fruits.
The WTO trade regime in the decade of nineties has brought a crisis of livelihood in rural India.
The price of all primary commodities (including wheat and rice) has fallen since mid '90's. It threatens the viability of medium level farmers, is used to advocate removal of land ceilings and tenancy regulations.
In 1991, according to census figures, 90% of the workers are in rural and unorganized sector, which comprises Dalits, SC, ST, and majority of OBCs, minorities and economically backward classes. Now this percentage has gone up to 93 under the impact of globalization and the depressed state of Indian economy during 1993-94 to 1999-2000. The number of cultivations in agriculture has gone down by six million while the number of agricultural workers has gone up by three millions.
The process of liberalization and economic globalization and economic globalization has been depriving the already marginalized sections or rural communities of their access, right and control over land, water, vegetation and common property resources. For example, the Government of Tamil Nadu, in May 2002 declared to lease three lakh hectares of common land for agri-business, storage and market.
The proposed land leasing plans, it is reported, leasing plans, it is reported, are because the state is falling prey to the pressure from IMF, WTO and World Bank. This programme deprives 30 million agriculture labours and 15 million landless Dalits of their right to work, water and food. Direct impact of globalization is increasing land consolidation - lifting or diluting ceiling laws leading to corporate farming. There are plans to hand over degraded lands and forest lands to corporate sector. The globalization induced privatization has given rise to contract labour. This contract-based employment, mechanization and an unregulated price mechanism have resulted in marginalizing the poor and impoverishing small and medium farmers.
The experience of the last decade shows that the agreement with the trade regime ultimately has hastened the process of integration of Indian agriculture with the world agriculture market, which is only in the interests of rich farmers in India. They have gained proportionately more in terms of incremental output than small and marginal farmers. It has also been in the interest of European Union, Japan and North America. India's agricultural imports were of the order of US $ 1.86 billions in 2000-01 and they increased to 2.29 billions in 2002-02.
If this trend is not halted, it will destroy agriculture as a way of life, pauperize the Indian peasantry, undermine food security and ultimately destabilize politics. It will further lead to enormous displacement of peasantry with out alternative avenues of employment.
When the economic liberalization policy was announced in 1991, the government spokesmen had said that "the government sought to make small industry a vibrant and dynamic instrument of industrial change in the country." But the report of the third census of small scale industries prompts anxiety. The vibrancy and dynamism anticipated remain unrealized.
Lakhs of artisans in the villages have been rendered jobless and destitute. The plantation sector-tea, coffee and rubber -has been hard hit. Because of closure of tea gardens thousands of jobless tea plantation workers have been surviving on rats and snakes. According to a survey conducted at the behest of the Supreme Court in connection with a P.I.L. petition "thousands of jobless families have survived by eating rats and snakes in their village."
Even the poor in the USA are victims of economic globalization. There are two Americas: "One America - middle class America - whose needs Washington has long forgotten; another America -narrow interest America - whose every wish is Washington's command." Lubec's locals do not fit into either.
Lubec is a small town with a well-knit community of 1652 common people in North USA which is as much victim of economic globalization as any village in India. Take Deniel Fitz Simmons - who used to employ around 50 people in a business making Christmas wreaths. When the North American Free Trade Agreement came in he went out of business, from Canada.
"It's free trade to some people, but it ain't free to us because we're losing everything we had" he says. Mr. Fitzsimmons, 41, turned to digging for clams, scallops and urchins until he found himself short of breath one day and fell on the ground. With no health insurance, he had to make himself bankrupt before he could get financial assistance for the bypass surgery he needed.
"The bills were enough to give you a heat attack if you didn't have one before." Now he is back to digging in the bay early every morning to catch whatever the season washes in. he says, "if you are making a life fishing then you eat chicken on one day and chicken feathers the next day."
To sum up, super power-sponsored economic globalization as distinguished from globalization as a normal long-term evolutionary process in history has been by its very nature and by virtue of actual experience anti-poor, anti-common man and anti-human values everywhere. Be it India or the USA, the basic structure, of regime under WTO Charter, specially the philosophy underlying WTO agreement on agriculture, is against "agriculture as a way of life". Its ultimate objective is to make agriculture an industry or industrialise agriculture.
The government in India in the national policy on agriculture has accepted this WTO philosophy.