The Forgotten Manifesto and the Harsh Reality

(A study to analyse achievements in economic and agriculture front vis-à-vis promises made by TMC before 2011 West Bengal assembly elections in their manifesto)

Promises vis-à-vis reality


Promise 1:

Productivity of rice to be increased to equalise the same with that of better performing states like Punjab[1] (Page No. 14, Bengali version of manifesto).

Situation:

West Bengal remained far behind Punjab. Moreover, four other States were observed to be ahead of West Bengal in terms of paddy yield.[2]

Promise 2:
Irrigation infrastructures shall be improved (Page No. 15, Bengali version of manifesto).

Situation:
West Bengal ranks 8th among 12 highest paddy producing States of India in terms of area under irrigation (only 51.1%)1 during 2015-16.
Micro-irrigation scenario is also dismal, wherein only 66.69 thousand hectare land could be brought under micro irrigation till March, 2019. The corresponding coverage in Rajasthan, AP, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat are 18.90 lakh hectare, 17.85 lakh hectare, 17.05 lakh hectare, 15.21 lakh hectare, 14.22 lakh hectare respectively. A good number of other States are much ahead of West Bengal in this aspect.

Promise 3:

Agriculture average growth rate during 1965-66 to 1975-76 was 17.3% which declined during the period 2000-01 to 2006-07 to 7.8%. All initiatives to be taken to regain glory of West Bengal in agriculture. (Page No. 14, English version of manifesto)[3].

[3] http://aitcofficial.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Manifesto-WB-Assembly-2011-Eng.pdf

Situation:

The average per annum growth rate of gross value added (GVA) by agriculture and allied sector (in 2011-12 price) during period 2011-12 to 2017-18 was observed to be meagre 3.15%[2] only. Moreover, in term of gross value added by agriculture and allied sector (in 2011-12 price), West Bengal was found to be behind many States. Thus this Government has miserably failed to maintain even the so called poor growth rate of 7.8%; leave apart, taking West Bengal to an era of agricultural glory.


Promise 4:

Technological advancements shall be carried out to attain self-sufficiency in production of pulses and oilseeds. (Page No. 15, Bengali version of manifesto).

Situation:

Pulses provide important protein supplementation in diet and therefore plays significant role in arresting malnutrition. However, production of pulses in West Bengal offers dismal scenario. Rank of West Bengal in pulses production was 11th among States with 0.44 million tonnes which was only 1.54% of National production during 2017-18.[5] As far as productivity is concerned, West Bengal was behind Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh. The scenario reflects the State’s dependence on other Indian States in terms of pulses. Among pulses produced in West Bengal, masur has the highest share. However, with production volume of only 0.15 million tonnes[6], it contributes only 10.20% of total National Production of masur. Further, in respect of masur pulse productivity, the State is behind Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan.

[4] Page No. 29; Agriculture statistics 2019, Directorate of economics & statistics, DAC&FW, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, GoI. [1]

[5]Page No. 61; Agriculture statistics 2019, Directorate of economics & statistics, DAC&FW, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, GoI.

In 2017-18, West Bengal had produced 1.13[3] million tonnes of oilseed; which was only 3.61% of National production. In respect of yield, West Bengal was, at least, behind six major States.

Promise 5:

Farmers shall be encouraged and supported for increase in production of wheat, and sugarcane. (Page No. 18, Bengali version of manifesto).

Situation:

West Bengal does not appear in the list of top 10 producer States as far as wheat[1] and sugarcane[2] production during 2018-19 is concerned. It is therefore obvious that since 2011, the State Govt. has failed to register substantial production growth of these crops. Additionally, presence of smaller States like Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand in the top 10 is sheer indication of gross failure on part of West Bengal Government in this aspect.


[6] Page No. 67; Agriculture statistics 2019, Directorate of economics & statistics, DAC&FW, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, GoI.

[7] Page No. 67; Agriculture statistics 2019, Directorate of economics & statistics, DAC&FW, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, GoI.

[8] Page No. 51; Agriculture statistics 2019, Directorate of economics & statistics, DAC&FW, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, GoI. [1] Page No. 83; Agriculture statistics 2019, Directorate of economics & statistics, DAC&FW, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, GoI.

[9]Page No. 83; Agriculture statistics 2019, Directorate of economics & statistics, DAC&FW, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, GoI.

Promise 6:

Huge emphasis shall be given on development of large number of cold stores. Target shall be developing 5 cold stores per subdivision in next 5 years. (Page No. 15& 18, Bengali version of manifesto).

Situation:

Adequate cold storage infrastructure is essential to minimise loss of perishable agricultural commodities; and thereby protecting farmers from menace of distress sale, ultimately resulting into increased return to farmers. In 2011, the National Centre for Cold Chain Development (NCCD), under Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India (GoI) estimated cold storage capacity requirement for West Bengal at 1,05,66,000 MT. Till 2011, there were 463 cold storage units in West Bengal with capacity of 56,82,000 MT[1] (Average capacity per cold storage unit being 12,272 MT). As on 31st March, 2019 there were 510 cold storages with total capacity of 59,35,416 MT[2] (Average capacity per unit being 11638 MT).

Since, West Bengal has 66 sub divisions; and with 5 new cold storage units per sub-division as promised, there should have been 330 new cold storage units by 2016 itself. But what we found that only (510-463) = 47 new units have been set up, that too till, 2019, i.e., in eight years! What we can infer therefore is, in spite of passage of three more years than promised timeline, only 14% of the target could have been achieved. Moreover, if we look at per unit capacity, we find there has been a substantial per unit decline when new units were incorporated. This indicates that the new units are much less capacious than their predecessors. In this arena, the State Government has miserably failed! It was further observed that while West Bengal could increase only 4% of its cold storage capacity between 2011 and 2019; corresponding figures for Gujarat, Haryana, AP, Orissa, Rajasthan and Maharashtra were 199.08%, 108.49%, 107.33%, 94.59%, 83.83%, 80.18% respectively. West Bengal was far behind the National average of 50.39%, too. Among 13 major States, rank of West Bengal was 13th. This is in spite of the fact that there are massive Central assistances available under at least three Central agencies namely National Horticulture Board, National Horticulture Mission and Ministry of Food Processing Industries towards development of cold storage units. Therefore, it can be stated that due to utter negligence and inefficiency of the State administration, West Bengal farmers have been deprived of much needed infrastructural support to protect them from spoilage and distress sell of their produce; and thereby increase their income from agriculture.


Promise 7:

In terms of per capita income, rank of West Bengal is 10th. This has to be improved. (Page No. 21& 22, Bengali version of manifesto).

Situation:

In 2017-18, in terms of per capita GDP, i.e., GSDP (INR at 2011-12 prices), rank of West Bengal was 23rd (INR 72, 998/-) among all 33 States and Union Territories taken together. Per capita GDP of West Bengal was only 79% of National per capita GDP (INR 1,29,901/-). Also, in 2017-18; West Bengal ranks 23rd in terms of per capita Net State Domestic Product (NSDP at current prices) with INR 93,711/-, which was 82% of per capita Net National Income; and ranks 25th with INR 65,497/- (75% of NNI) at 2011-12 price.

Further, in terms of percentage growth in per capita GSDP and per capita NSDP between 2011-12[1] & 2017-18 (at 2011-12 prices), West Bengal was behind all, among 21 major States of the country with growth rates 28.76% and 27.07% respectively. Corresponding growth were much higher in Gujarat (63.59% & 62.76%), Karnataka (61.37% & 59.34%), Haryana (52.61% & 50.72%), Tripura (63% & 60.29%), Madhya Pradesh (42.30% & 40.95%) and in Maharashtra (41.33% & 41.77%) to name a few.


Promise 8:

Revival West Bengal’s glory in Industrialization (Page No. 9, 13 & 25, English version of manifesto) shall be done.

Before arriving at this promise, following observation was also made in the manifesto:

  1. Share of Manufacturing in state GDP registers a dramatic fall between 1976 and 2009. In 1975-76, share of manufacturing sector in state’s economy was 19%. By 2008-09, this figure had fallen to a mere 7.4%.
  2. Share of Industries in State economy was 27% in 1975-76 which declined to 18.4% in 2008-09.

Situation:

Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation data of the Government of India on gross value added by different activities[1]  reveals that gross value added by manufacturing sector in West Bengal at constant price in 2011-12 and 2018-19 were 13.95% and 14.00% respectively.

The same data source indicates that share of manufacturing sector during 2011-12 and 2018-19 in West Bengal’s GDP were 13% and 14% respectively. Further, secondary sector or industries, as a whole contributed 24% and 25% of State’s GDP during 2011-12 & 2018-19. This is interesting to note that in Gujarat, manufacturing was observed to be the single largest sector to contribute 32% of State GDP; and secondary sector or industries as a whole contributed 40% of the GDP. In contrast, largest share of GDP in West Bengal is contributed by Agriculture with contribution of 18%.

With economy tilted more towards agriculture, and as already discussed due to comparatively low productivity of crops in West Bengal, it is evident as to why there is such large scale unemployment and underemployment in West Bengal. Moreover, the dismal industrialization scenario also results into poor tax collection scenario. Share of tax earning is only 6% of the State GDP for West Bengal, and is one of the lowest among major States. This may therefore be concluded that, there has been no improvement in industrialization scenario in the state during TMC rule, leave apart; bringing back Bengal’s lost glory.


[13] http://mospi.nic.in/GSVA-NSVA

Conclusion

As revealed from above analysis, TMC Government has miserably failed to bring about any advancement particularly in respect of agriculture, industries and overall economy. Unemployment has therefore become rampant. People from this State are not even getting unskilled manual works in their own State! In COVID era, the villages of West Bengal got over flooded with returnee migrant workers from across the Country; majority of whom only migrated to do unskilled manual works; and it is an indication of economic bankruptcy of the State. MGNREGS has eventually become major resort to the State Government to provide sustenance to its rural citizens. And this is the very reason as to why the ruling party did not provide any chance to its political opponents to participate in Panchayat General Elections in the State in 2018. They desperately managed their control over PRI bodies, as good chunk of Central resources are channelized through PRI and unless the ruling party has optimum control over that resources, they would not be able to appease anti-social elements who keep terrorising people to ensure status quo in favour of the ruling party, in the State. It is therefore, in the interest of the State and its citizens coming assembly election would be extremely vital.