Mart , an organisation founded by Mr Pradeep Kashyap (also known as father of rural India), celebrated its 30th anniversary yesterday. Mr Kashyap emphasised on developing a market led eco system for the rural folks. He said that rural marketing should not act as a one way street to extract money out of the rural masses. He said that all the inputs for Roti Kapada and Makaan comes from Rural India and contribution of rural labour is commendable.

The first session had some good insights which I would like to share with you now. It was moderated by great thought leader Sh Arun Maira ji . Dr Amar Patnaik , Rajya Sabha member and Dr Pronab Sen Ex Chief statistician GOI were other participants.

Anonymity versus Community

Mr Maira distilled the initial thoughts by relating Urban with anonymity and rural with community. It is so true in today’s context. How many of us really know about our next door neighbour(s)? The road to rural transformation goes through achieving scale at a good speed without impacting the environment.

Dr Pronab Sen shared very interesting data on reverse migration during Covid and subsequent status on rate of urbanisation. He said that practically for the last few years the rate of urbanisation is happening at a very low pace. Opportunities in rural areas, government support schemes and high cost of living in urban areas. This has also created huge demand for FMCG in rural areas along with higher inflation in FMCG rates.

At the end Dr Amar Patnaik shared his thoughts on the road to rural transformation from a policy and advocacy perspective. He gave a three step formula of –

  1. Creating equity
  2. Consciousness towards climate crisis and
  3. Maintaining the sanctity of Democracy

Now, I would like to apply these points in the life of Laxmi – my brave woman dairy farmer.

Equity through inclusion

The equity is attained through unbiased inclusion of all sections of rural society. Women create the social capital of both rural and urban India . A rural woman shows almost three times higher participation in contributing to a family’s income than their urban counterpart. However the urban woman is more righteous in getting her share from the family income.

In the dairy ecosystem Laxmi is considered as a part of financial inclusion drive but on paper only. The proceeds of milk come in her joint account with her husband. There is no control of Laxmi on this income thus zero equity in social capital thus built up in the dairy space.

Climate crisis

“A wound that goes unacknowledged and unwept is a wound that cannot heal” are the golden words by John Eldredge. Same is true with our orientation towards the climate crisis, which is waiting over the next turn. We are not even acknowledging the severity of methane emissions on one hand and focussing on low yielding indigenous cattle on the other. Low yielding cattle may have higher methane emission.

The government has allocated Rs 1.75 Lakh crore subsidy on chemical fertilisers. The allocation to support organic or natural farming can be seen under the GOBARdhan Scheme in establishing Bio gas plants only. The allocation is around Rs 10000 crores in next three years. However next year is an election year and there may be a change in allocation again. This allocation is around 58 times lesser than the one given to chemical fertilisers.

True Democracy

Let us examine two news articles which were prominently placed in almost all national dailies in the last week. Firstly it was about 4 political leaders in some state dairy cooperative who joined the ruling party. Two days later there was news that the ruling party in that state has got full control over a state dairy union for the first time in history.

The democracy in cooperative society is defined as by the farmer, of the farmer, for the farmer. It can never be defined as by the party, for the party, of the party. There are doubts that such a noise by the ruling party would do justice to the demand of true democracy at rural level.

I thank all the eminent speakers and especially Pradeep ji, (who also mentored me to become at least a learner in rural space and inclusion in last two decades) for their wonderful insights and sharing.

I would seek inputs from all of you on how to transform the life of Laxmi and of the rural ecosystem through her.I also wish Team Mart and Pradeep ji with Purpose, Peace and Prosperity on their 30th anniversary.

Source : Dairy blog by Kuldeep Sharma Chief editor