History Optional Paper-2 Solution – 2006: Q.3

Q.3 What do you mean by commercialization of Indian Agriculture? Discuss its result. [60 Marks]


Commercialisation of agriculture

Commercialisation of agriculture is a phe­nomenon where agriculture is governed by commer­cial consideration i.e. certain specialised crops began to be grown not for consumption in village but for sale in national and international market.

Commercialization of agriculture in India began during the British rule. Commercialization of agriculture became prominent around 1860 A.D (during American Civil War which boosted demand of Cotton from India to Britain as America was not able to export Cotton).

The commercialization of Indian Agriculture was done primarily to feed the British industries that it was taken up and achieved only in cases of those agricultural products which were either needed by the British industries or could fetch cash commercial gain to the British in the European or American market.
For example, several efforts were made to increase the production of cotton in India to provide raw and good quality cotton to the cotton-textile industries of Britain which were growing fast after the Industrial Revolution in Britain. Indigo, tea and coffee plantation were encouraged in India because these could get commercial market abroad. Jute was another product that received attention of the English company because the jute made products got a ready market in America and Europe.
Most of the plantations for commercial crops were controlled by the English.

Results of Commercialisation of agriculture

Negative Results

(1) Increase in inequality

Commeralisation should have acted as a catalyst in increasing agricultural productivity. But, in reality this did not happen due to poor agricultural organization, obsolete technology, and lack of resources among most peasants. It was only the rich farmers; who benefited and this in turn, accentuated inequalities of income in the rural society.

(2) Major benefits went to planters, traders and manufacturers

The commercialization of agriculture was beneficial to the British planters, traders and manufacturers, who were provided with opportunity to make huge profits by getting the commercialized agricultural products at throw away prices. The commercialization also partly benefited Indian traders and money lenders who made huge fortunes by working as middlemen for the British.

Commercialization did not encouraged growth of land mar­ket because major profit of commercialisation went to company traders and mediators.

(3) Increased dependency on moneylenders

The poor peasant was forced to sell his produce just after harvest at whatever prices he could get as he had to meet in time the demands of the government, the landlord, the money lender and his family members’ requirements. This placed him at the mercy of the grain merchant, (who was very often also the village money lender) who was in a position to dictate terms and who purchased his produced at much less than the market price.

Indian money lenders advanced Cash advances to the farmers to cultivate the commercial crops and if the peasants failed to pay him back in time, the land of peasants came under ownership of moneylenders.

(4) Decline in food crop production

Commercialization resulted in reduced area under cultivation of food crops due to the substitution of commercial cash crops in place of food grains. This had a devastating effect on the rural economy and often took the shape of famines.

(5) Regional specialization of crop

Regional specialization of crop production based on climatic conditions, soil etc., was an outcome of the commercial revolution in agriculture. Deccan districts of Bombay presidency grew cotton, Bengal grew jute and Indigo, Bihar grew opium, Assam grew tea, Punjab grew wheat, etc.

(6) Linking agriculture sector to the world market

Price movements in the world markets began to affect the fortunes of the Indian farmer. The farmer in his choice of crops attached greater importance to market demand and price than his home needs. The peasant class got adversely affected owing to imbalances in market condition. They had to face competition prevailing in the market and in the competition, the ordinary peasants were adversely affected.

(7) Adverse effect on self sufficiency

Commercialization of agriculture adversely affected self sufficiency of vil­lage economy and acted as major factor in bring­ing the declining state in rural economy.

(8) Effect on traditional agriculture-industry relation

Commercialisation effected traditional relations between agriculture and industry. In India, tra­ditional relations acted as factors for each other’s development which were hampered.

(9) Peasant Revolts

The worst effect of commercialization was the oppression of Indian peasants at hands of European. This found expression in the peasant revolts such as Indigo revolt in 1859.

Positive Results

(1) In spite of having many negative effect commercializations in one sense was progressive event. Commercialisation encouraged social exchange and it made possible the transformation of Indian economy into capitalistic form.

(2) Commercialisation linked India with world economy. It led to the growth of high level social and economic system.

(3) The important contribution of commercialisation reflected in integration of economy.  It also created a base for growth of national economy. Commercialisation led to growth of na­tional agriculture and agricultural problem acquired national form.

(4) It brought about regional specialization of crops on an efficient basis.

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