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New York University

Publication Date

Spring 2007

Program Name

India: Culture and Development


In India, 50% of children under five years of age are malnourished amidst a yearly surplus in grain production. Approximately 40% of food is lost in transport on a daily basis, yet the country has been able to prevent major famines for over 60 years. In a country with a GDP of 8-9% and an ever-growing presence on the international economic stage, these double standards cannot be tolerated. 260 million Indians live in extreme poverty, and 40% of those depend mainly on agricultural labor. This sector accounts for approximately 26% of India’s GDP, and provides employment for about 70% of the workforce. Yet there is an agrarian crisis, with a collapse of employment growth, falling export prices, and a rising spiral of farm debt . Thus, in combating poverty, improving food security, and maintaining influence in international forums, it is vital to both stabilize and strengthen agriculture in the country. Growth in economic power also signals the need for natural resource management and conservation. The negative effects of the Green Revolution are already being felt by the nation’s farmers, and modernization is taking its toll on access to water, power, and soil fertility. Therefore, strengthening the agricultural sector implies an environmentally sustainable approach. However, “by liberalizing agricultural trade, the depression in the global markets is being imported into the Indian economy,” and thus pushing agriculture as an export market puts a fragile industry and many fragile lives at risk . In fact, it is argued that there is an inverse relationship between a primary export thrust and domestic food availability. With these considerations in mind, a domestic market for organic food can positively affect the lives of millions throughout India while maintain the rapid economic success of the nation.


Agricultural and Resource Economics | Growth and Development


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