UPSC SOCIOLOGY MAINS SYLLABUS
Paper 2 -Indian Society and Structure
(i) Rural and Agrarian Social Structure:
(a) The idea of Indian village and village studies-
(b) Agrarian social structure –
evolution of land tenure system, land reforms.
(ii) Rural and Agrarian transformation in India:
(a) Programmes of rural development, Community Development Programme, cooperatives, poverty alleviation schemes.
(b) Green revolution and social change.
(c) Changing modes of production in Indian agriculture .
(d) Problems of rural labour, bondage, migration.
India’s economy is primarily dependent on agriculture and its responsibilities fall squarely on Indian women, with 71 percent of economically active women being employed in the agriculture sector. Due to the agrarian crisis, more men are migrating to urban areas and giving up farm jobs. This means that the Indian farmlands are increasingly being handed over to women. The Economic Survey 2017-18 calls this the “feminisation” of the agriculture sector.
Agriculture sector employs 80% of all economically active women in India; they comprise 33% of the agriculture labor force and 48% of the self-employed farmers.
In India, 85% of rural women are engaged in agriculture, yet only about 13% own land. The situation is worse in Bihar with only 7% women having land rights, though women play an important role in various agricultural activities.
70% of all women engaged in cultivation are from households witnessing migration. (Report released in 2014 by IHD, New Delhi).
FEMINISATION OF A SECTOR
Generally speaking, the term feminisation is used to refer to the increasing participation of women in an activity. With regard to employment, the term can be used to denote feminisation of a particular sector or industry where there is a disproportionate concentration of women; for instance, in the service industry, agriculture, or the garment industry.
REASONS FOR FEMINISATION OF AGRICULTURE
- One reason for the feminisation of agricultural labour is that capital prefers to employ women. Women are more willing to accept low-paid irregular work, are easy to hire and fire, are thought to be docile and hardworking, and certain jobs are typified as women’s work.
- The participation of women in the rural, non-farm economy is few and far between, and depends on local socio-cultural value systems. In this context, women often remain in the villages, and therefore in agricultural work. At best, they are supplementary income earners; the concept of a ‘breadwinner’ is strongly associated with men.
- With male out-migration, women have additionally taken on the role of providing for their households on a daily basis, since remittances are irregular. This means that they now have to take care of their own farming and also work as agricultural wage labourers.
- Feminisation of agriculture is also linked to women’s unfree labour, and it is precisely this unfreedom on the backs of which men’s freedom is built—to migrate, to engage in comparatively better jobs, to escape social discrimination in the villages.
IMPACT OF AGRICULTURE ISSUES ON WOMEN
These problems are multi-dimensional in nature, and compared to men, involve a disproportionately larger level of deprivation in terms of rights to land, to inputs and to markets, inter alia. Compared to men, these women lack equal access to opportunities and even to the decision-making process. As per Agri Census 2015-16, only 14 per cent of the operational holdings in agriculture were owned by women. Such lack of collateral adversely impacts a woman farmer’s ability to access institutional credit, subsidies like fertilizers, seeds, etc. and benefits like installments under PM-Kisan or other governmental schemes that are mostly designed for land owners. Data on daily wages from the Labor Bureau suggests that, for seven activities specific to agriculture, wages received by women were, on average, 35.8 per cent lower than wages received by men.
Creation and promotion of women-led micro enterprises will go a long way in validating female agency both on micro and macro-levels. Specifically, in agriculture, due to increasing feminisation of farms, providing cultivator status to women will be critical. This will help them in accessing benefits under multiple agricultural schemes that are only reserved for landowners. Adapting extension services to the needs of women farmers will be beneficial. Under farm mechanisation, a focus on innovating farm machines that are better suited to female use will be rewarding. Continued efforts to aggregate women under Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs), and organising and training them via women self-help groups (SHGs) will also be crucial towards their empowerment. Gender budgeting is another area where much can be done.