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Biplab Deb’s Terrible Cow Idea – India Needs Fewer Peasant Farmers, Not More

It’s entirely – and obviously – true that giving things to farmers aids in gaining the votes of those farmers. Other than that this is a terrible idea from Biplab Deb, for the one thing that India really doesn’t need any more of is peasant farmers. In fact, that the country actually needs is tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions, of current peasant farmers to stop being peasant farmers. One the very simple basis that that is how a place develops, becomes richer, people stop doing low value things like keeping one cow each and go and do high value things like bash pieces of metal in a factory.

Deliberately creating more farmers just isn’t the right thing to be doing:

Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb on Sunday announced that the Chief Minister’s residence in Tripura will domesticate cows and consume its milk. He said that this would also inspire other people of the state to do the same and will help them fight malnutrition.

That’s also not very sensible, smacks far too much of Gandhi and his infatuation with the spinning wheel. The result of which was to keep India poor as things were not mechanised, value was not added and economic wealth thus not created.

Days after advising the youths to milk cows for livelihood, Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb has announced that he will distribute cows to 5,000 families to motivate cattle rearing in the northeastern state.

Having a cow each might provide some marginal value for those with the cows. But in terms of economic development this is a nonsense. A place doesn’t get rich by having more peasants:

Biplab, who had earlier insisted on rearing cows as means of employment for the youth, said that unlike setting up big industries in which “one has to invest Rs 10,000 crore for employing 2000 people”, giving 10,000 cows to 5,000 families will help people start earning in “6 months”.

Indeed so but those in the factory will be adding a lot more value that those shovelling cow manure. Which is the point here, the creation of value. The very last thing that India wants or needs is that more farm out there in the villages on one or three hectares of land. Those small farms need to be consolidated, into the 300 and 3,000 hectare sizes which can best make use of modern technology and equipment. And a good 99% of those currently making their living on the land need to go off and do something else. For that’s just how economic development occurs.

The US has 1% of the population on the farms, the UK perhaps 2%. They’re rich countries and they’re rich countries because near no one is left standing around in muddy fields. And that’s how and when India will be richer – fewer people doing low value farming.

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