Academic journal article Journal of Financial Management & Analysis

Majority Poor Indian Peasant Farmers - - Victims of Middlemen Exploitation - - Are Rendered Perpetually Poverty - Stricken - Cum - Debt Ridden : Measures to Alleviate Perennial Rural Poverty through Village Democratization

Academic journal article Journal of Financial Management & Analysis

Majority Poor Indian Peasant Farmers - - Victims of Middlemen Exploitation - - Are Rendered Perpetually Poverty - Stricken - Cum - Debt Ridden : Measures to Alleviate Perennial Rural Poverty through Village Democratization

Article excerpt

Introduction

Writing on this subject is a difficult assignment as there may be as many interpretations of the crucial term 'poverty' as there are sociologists, financial economists and political scientists. It is true that, although causes have long been studied at research level by economists, the actual root cause of the disease of poverty has not been diagnosed by doctors of the economy, and all funding by national and international financial institutions has been watering merely the branches of the plant and not the roots causing the plants to dry up. For example, paddy crop dries up if it does not get water for a day. How is it the trees remain green even in the long period of drought? What is the reason for this? The roots of the tree have gone down to the water level, whereas the roots of the paddy crop remain on the surface. All efforts are to be geared to water the roots and branches of trees (as they grow from plant stage to small, medium and tree stage) and strengthen development efforts in order to make the roots of development touch the surface level to reach Rostow's take-off stage.

One of India's leading industrialists A. N. Mafatlal, with deep commitment combined with realistic programmes and plans towards eradicating extreme poverty from Indian villages, has expressed the view :

There has been an increase in the disparity between the affluent and the poor as also between the urban and rural population and this has aggravated the already miserable condition of the majority of our people ... in order to have a correct appraisal of the present malaise and develop an effective remedy for it, we should first of all, locate the cause of the distortion of the development strategy as it has evolved in practice .... one of the most glaring defects in our economic planning has been the undue importance and support given to the growth of the large-scale organised sector in the hope that this in turn will generate sufficient economic activity in the decentralised small scale sector .... the major problem before us is, therefore, to rectify the unbalance and to bring us is, therefore, to rectify the unbalance (imbalance) and to bring about a more rational and even growth through judicious division of investments between the large-scale sector and the small-scale sector. For this, there would have to be, first of all a fundamental change in the outlook and approach of both the large organised sector and the state. In particular, it is evident that the benefits of whatever development that has taken place have accrued almost exclusively to the upper strata of our society, i.e., about top 10 per cent of the population. Looking at the same phenomenon from a rational angle, the gains have concentrated in some of the larger urban centres and a few dynamic rural areas. Even in these areas there are pockets of poverty. It can safely be said that a large part of the country has remained bereft of the fruits of the economic development1.

In this context, the expert views on the catchword 'poverty' as enunciated by the renowned financial management economist. M. R. Kumara Swamy are highly pertinent to quote:

Each letter of the word 'poverty', has its own significance for policy making and refers to the following :

Poor (have nots) who are forced by economic circumstances to cooperate and help in Organizing middlemen's activities - - being unaware of their selfish motives - - have become

Vulnerable to

Exploitation by the

Rich (haves)

To widen the already-widening

Y(income) gap making the poor poorer and the rich richer2

In this context, the statement made by one-time Commissioner (Minister) for Local Government and Rural Development, Government of Anambra State of Nigeria is highly pertinent to recall :

In a typical rural setting, factors which hamper cooperative endeavors among villagers include:

* personality conflicts between traditional or modern elites contending for society leadership;

* perennial financial incapacity of rural dwellers;

* inter and intra-community squabbles;

* lack of probity on the part of some people entrusted with management of cooperatives; and

* lack of basic infrastructures in the rural areas. …

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