HAVING ONE MINISTER FOR RURAL DEVELOPMENT & AGRICULTURE
03, Jun 2019
Prelims level : Governance Mains level : GS-II Governance, Social Justice and IR
Why in News:
- The appointment of a single person as Union Minister in charge of both agriculture and rural development marks the start of an effort to integrate two departments that have tended to work in isolation with markedly varying performance.
- The government’s track record on rural development has been considered generally good. Following reasons can be attributed to its success; Flagship rural development schemes have been well-funded. They have been target-oriented with clear deadlines
- Dashboards tracking implementation on a near real-time basis
- The success in the rural sector has, however, not been seen vis-a-vis agriculture owing to the reasons stated below; Lack of imagination and focus.
- Sense of purpose and scale has been missing in agriculture-specific programmes. For example – Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, is alleged to have benefited insurance companies more than farmers. Not only have the gross premiums collected by insurers far exceeded the claims paid out but even these have been made with considerable delays.
- Inability to make any tangible impact on the ground.
- Not appointing full-time directors in most Indian Council for Agricultural Research Institutions. The average annual growth in the agriculture sector’s gross value added from 2014-15 to 2018-19 was just 2.9 per cent in real (constant prices) terms and 7.6 per cent at current prices. This is as against the required 10.3 per cent growth required for doubling in seven years.
How will Agriculture and rural coming under a single minister is a good thing?
- It will help bring in synergies. For example, MGNREGA is viewed as a pure rural scheme when one should be looking at greater convergence with agriculture for achieving the doubling of farm incomes. MGNREGA’s focus would be increased at asset creation on individual farms, as opposed to community-based works.
- But even as Agriculture and Rural Development has been brought under a single minister, the Centre has created a new Ministry of Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries. Along with it, the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Food Ministry and the Department of Fertilizers would ensure continued fragmentation