Chapter 3

Modernization Icon

January 31, 2022

PROUT advocates maximum modernization in agriculture and industry. In the cooperative agricultural system, modern equipment must be utilized because such modernization will facilitate increased production. For example, tractors can dig the land very deeply, bring low level soil to the surface and force the the top soil below. The fertility of the top soil is diminished as a result of continuous cultivation, so when the lower soil is brought to the surface through the use of tractors, the productivity of the soil increases. In addition, the depleted top soil has the opportunity to become revitalized for future utilization.

This is one benefit of tractors. A second is that farmers do not need to maintain cows for ploughing the fields. Where cows are kept for farming, they are unutilized for six months in a year. During that idle period, many costs occur to maintain them properly. The present age is not the age for utilizing large animals. In Europe horses and elephants are no longer used. To adjust with the times, tractors should be utilized today. One tractor equals the service of at least eight pairs of bullocks. Those who have half an acre or three acres of land need to maintain a pair of bullocks. This is wasteful duplication.

If modern equipment is used in agriculture, agriculture will not remain labour intensive and people can be utilized in other activities to enhance the development of the country. For this, new arrangements will have to be created. If fewer people work in agricultural cooperatives, there will be substantial savings. Simultaneously, women and children will be freed from related work so they will get scope to develop themselves. In addition, increased mechanization will link the villages to the cities and towns, and as a result the standard of living in the villagers will be increased.

No Intermediaries

In PROUT’s system of agriculture there is no place for intermediaries. Those who invest their capital by engaging others in productive labour to earn a profit are capitalists. Capitalists, like parasites, thrive on the blood of industrial and agricultural labourers. Those who act as intermediaries in the agricultural sector are called “agricultural capitalists”. They get their own land cultivated by others and take the profits.

In India, intermediaries have been in existence since ancient times. Different types of landowners such as zamindars, pattanidars, darpattanidars, sepattanidars, jotedars, vargadars and adhikaris constitute the intermediaries. In modern India the zamindary and sharecropping systems have been abolished, but the feudal psychology has not disappeared. The present feudal rulers are not the actual owners of land. They take land on lease from others and pay a certain percentage of the produce to the owner of the land, thus they exploit both the actual owner of the land and the agricultural labourers. The number of these intermediaries is steadily increasing.

PROUT does not support these kinds of intermediaries. Slogans like, “The land belongs to those who work the plough,” or, “Those who sow the seeds should reap the harvest,” are untenable. Policies based on such slogans lead to the creation of a petit bourgeois class.

Agrarian Revolution

According to PROUT, in the first phase of agrarian revolution private ownership of land within the cooperative system will be recognized. People should have the right to employ labour for cultivation, but in such cases fifty percent of the total produce should be distributed as wages to the agricultural labourers who work in the cooperative. That is, the owners of the land will get fifty percent of the total produce and those who create the produce through their labour will get the other fifty percent. This ratio must never decrease – rather it should increase in favour of the agricultural labourers who work in the cooperative.

The managerial staff body of the cooperative should only be constituted from among those who have shares in the cooperative. They will be elected. Their positions should not be honorary because that creates scope for corruption. Managers will have to be paid salaries according to the extent of their intellectual expertise. In addition, the members of the cooperative may also employ their manual labour if they so desire, and for this they should be paid separate wages. Thus, cooperative members can earn dividends in two ways – as a return on the land given to the cooperative and on the basis of their productive labour. For this, the total produce of the cooperative should be divided into equal parts – that is, fifty percent on wages for labour, and fifty percent for the shareholders of the land.

Solving Unemployment

For the development of agriculture there is also a need for agricultural specialists and technicians. Producers cooperatives should employ such skilled labour. Thus, educated people will not remain unemployed, and they will not leave the villages for the cities. This will ensure rapid agricultural development.

PROUT believes in a decentralized economy. So policies must be adopted which not only develop one particular region, but accelerate all-round development at a uniform pace throughout the entire socio-economic area through the planned utilization of all local resources and potentialities. To achieve this aim, local people must first be employed in agricultural cooperatives.

In modern India there are two distinct areas – one of surplus labour and the other of deficit labour. That is why people usually migrate from surplus labour areas to other regions. However, the very concept of surplus labour is a relative one. Where adequate opportunities for proper economic development have not been created, there is surplus labour. Labour becomes surplus in all undeveloped socio-economic areas. When surplus labour moves to another region, the undeveloped area has every chance of remaining undeveloped forever.

According to PROUT, wherever there is surplus labour, top priority must be given to creating employment for all local labour. This policy will raise the standard of living of the local people and the whole area. If this policy is not implemented and surplus labour is allowed to move to other regions, and the Marxist policy that, “those who sow shall reap” is followed, then all tea plantations, coal mines and other natural resources will be controlled by outside labour. Local people will lose control over their natural resources. This will create a very dangerous situation.

PROUT’s opinion is that local people must have first priority in employment opportunities. As long as there is not full employment for local people, continuous efforts must be made until all local labour is fully employed. In addition, no fresh developmental programmes will be started until there is further demand for labour. Scandinavian countries did not commence any new development schemes for this reason.

While creating employment for the local people, consideration must be given to local sentiments. For instance, many areas of India are regions of surplus intellectual labour. People in this category are ready to work as clerks for the very low wage of thirty rupees a month, but they are not prepared to work as porters and earn more money.

The problem of surplus intellectual labour is a special one and should be solved in a proper way. In these areas industries which require less manual labour should be established. Thus, different development schemes will have to be adopted in different socio-economic units depending upon time, place and person.

Agricultural Taxation

The present system of collecting revenue on agriculture cannot be supported because it is inconvenient for both the tax collectors and the farmers. Even the zamindary system which was established during the British period for tax collection was defective. Farmers had to pay a specified amount each year to the treasury for the land given to them by the zamindars. In cases of flood, crop failure, or any other reason, this fixed amount still had to be paid to the treasury.

The zamindars enjoyed life as social parasites. Even today land tax is determined by the area of land. In cases of crop failure in any year, the government has to reduce its taxes. In cases of abundant harvests, the government has to increase taxes through levies. This system causes great inconvenience to the farmers.

The best system of taxation was in vogue in the ancient Hindu Age. In those days only twenty-five percent of the entire produce was given to the king as taxes. The farmers could also give cows, horses or sheep as taxes. In such a system farmers did not face any inconvenience. Today, however, farmers face much inconvenience because they have to pay their taxes in cash. Farmers cannot always arrange cash by selling agricultural produce, because a proper market does not always exist.

According to PROUT, a certain percentage of the farmers produce should be collected as direct taxes. It is also convenient for the government to realize taxes in the form of goods, because it needs to store produce as insurance against future contingencies. Taxes in such a form can easily be distributed from government stores when the people are in need. Moreover, this system will easily meet the requirements of people in the towns and cities. Such a system can rapidly transform the Indian economy.

If agricultural labourers only raise slogans of agricultural reform and assault and kill the landowners, they will not change the agricultural system. It is only possible to consolidate the economy through a constructive approach. Sadvipras will have to shoulder the great responsibility of implementing this approach to ensure the welfare of all. date not known

Footnotes

(1) China has approximately eleven percent arable land, whereas India has about eighty-nine percent arable land.