The dependency theory was developed by Raul Prebisch at the United Nations Commission for Latin America. This theory engages with the failure of the trickle-down effect of benefits which were intended to flow from the advanced industrialised nations to developing countries. Developed countries were becoming richer and the developing countries poorer.
Dealing with this, the theory makes some key assumptions that in the global commodity market, there is a core which is formed by the advanced industrialised capitalist nations and a periphery, comprising of poor, developing nations. In this setup, raw materials are provided by the periphery to the core where in turn they get finished goods. But the value of the finished goods is much higher than the price of raw material and hence the countries in the periphery are often exploited and what results is a relationship of dependency.
Bringing this theory to the Indian post-colonial economy, we find the very famous slogan of the second Prime Minister of India, Sri Lal Bahadur Shastri, ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan’, which at some level, tries and argues the same proposition. It was meant to correct the dependency created by colonialism.
On one hand, ‘kisan’, the farmer who takes care of the land by cultivating it and worshipping it. On the other hand, ‘jawan’, the soldier who takes care of the land by protecting it. Both kisan and jawan were primarily from villages. And in this way, he tried to strengthen the villages of India which form the periphery in the dependency model, so that they no longer needed to be dependent on the cities and metropoles. This would make India more self-sufficient and reduce its dependency in the global commodity market.
Gandhiji was very well versed with the fact that India lives in its villages, and hence his idea of “Oceanic Circles“, where he suggested making villages the core and the cities to be woven around like an ocean. But the present political climate of the Indian state has misunderstood or has yet not understood India. India is not limited to Hindutva. We need a more prosperous and powerful primary sector in India before ‘Make in India’.
And today, we are recklessly omitting portions from history books – portions which might have provided solutions to some of the most complex problems of global politics. There is a reason today that these measures to capitalise on and strengthen the cities more have failed. We can see an ilk of revolution in the form of farmer protests against demonetisaton – against policies which have severe effects on their lifestyles leading to high suicide rates.
Just going digital would not serve the purpose and goals India wants to achieve. To get access to the digital, one needs money, so sufficiency is firstly required and then we can think of going cashless. Today’s political climate has got India wrong.
Within the egotistic shroud of nationalism, we veil vigilantism that can be legitimised by the government. We need vigilance among people and need them to be critical of government policies. Dissent and opposition are the major pillars of democracy. But what we get instead is vigilantism and moral policing in the form of Salwa Judum, Love Jihad, Anti-Romeo Squads, Gau Rakshaks, etc. These groups lead to the grossest forms of human rights violation. A false sense of some reign of terror is being created.
Finally, rising above all this, we need the people and the government to realise that the true India lives in its villages. Agriculture is one of the main contributors to the GDP. Instead of focusing on these kinds of unproductive moral policing, the Centre must try to achieve economic goals to help India reach sufficiency as directed by Shastri and Gandhi to fight this global problem of dependency with the ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’ model. I am not objecting to growth in the tertiary and secondary sectors, but we do not need it at the cost of agriculture and farming. This will help India to realise sufficiency and fight the dependency within itself and against others too.
Keshav Narnolia is a Law student at the Jindal Global Law School