ECONOMIC TRENDS

SECTION ii―ECONOMIC PROSPECTS

Traditionally the economy of Ahmadnagar district is characterised by capricious rainfall and unprofitable agriculture. It is a palpable paradox that agriculture, though uneconomic and unstable as a source of livelihood, is the main-stay of the majority of the population. An average husbandman in the district, though has a narrow range of intelligence, is not without manly qualities, and in fact, meets with a stubborn endurance the unkindly caprice of geographical factors with which he is wedded. He reconciles himself with the vagaries of Nature and the incidental poverty with stoic recklessness and resignation. He regards misery as a matter of natural course. Traditionally an average peasant and landless worker is driven to this sort of submission to economic suffering because of recurring famines and droughts which have had devastating effects on the life of all sections of the people. [An extract of the account of famines furnished in the previous edition of Ahmadnagar District Gazetteer, given below, throws a light on the miseries caused by famines in the district:—

" Wild vegetables were eaten boiled with a pinch of rotten wheat flour. Young tamarind leaves were mixed with white earth and made into a jelly. Hindus ate the cow, Musalmans the pig, and in some cases parents ate their children. The streets of large towns were strewn with the dead."]

The above narrative is particularly characteristic of the southern region of the district which receives scanty and uneven rainfall. The northern region though it shared the economic miseries with the southern parts in the past has witnessed the conditions of agricultural prosperity on account of the provision of irrigation facilities during the last ten decades. A further analysis of these conditions is given in the pages to follow.

A grim paradox of the economics of agriculture in Ahmadnagar district is that agriculture is not conducted on the principles of industry though it is the most important industry. As narrated above and elsewhere in this volume Nature is very unkind and capricious as regards rainfall which makes it impossible for a cultivator to apply considerations of output and inputs to his industry. He is also faced with manifold problems which are the crystallised results of the accumulated neglect and blunders of generations. Some of the problems are the bye-products of institutional forces which could have been met effectively only with the corporate wisdom and resources of the then Government. Besides, an average cultivator does not have the resources and resourcefulness to conduct agriculture on principles of business or industries. The laissez-faire tinkering of the British rulers was also unhelpful towards achieving higher productivity of agriculture. All these factors drive the cultivator to reconcile with erratic Nature.

The trends in the agricultural economy of the district are analysed below against this background.

Agrarian economy: There are however some remarkable facts which should be noted in the context of the study of economic development of the district. The areas of Shrirampur, Kopargaon, Rahuri, Sangamner, Ahmadnagar and Nevasa have achieved commendable economic development during the last few decades. The prosperity of these areas is attributable to sugarcane cultivation which has transformed the economic face of the region to the very core. The dry stretches of wilderness, which were often vulnerable to recurring famines and scarcity in the past, have started twinkling with rich and luxuriant sugarcane plantation. This luxuriance has been the result of the boonful Bhandardara dam and the irrigation project on the Mula river.

Sugarcane cultivation in its turn gave rise to the growth of agro-industries which have contributed towards the prosperity of the region in general and the sugarcane cultivators in particular.

In contrast to the areas in the northern part of the district mentioned above, the areas of Pathardi, Shevgaon, Shrigonda, Karjat and Akola have lagged very much behind in respect of economic development. They, even now, present a gloomy spectacle of dry farming below the subsistence level which very frequently than not is vulnerable to the pangs and arrows of outrageous famines and conditions of scarcity. The economic progress in these areas has not been commensurate with the areas in the northern part mainly because of the lack of irrigation facilities, as also because of the hilly tracts which are far from fertile.

Industrialisation also could not take any roots in the southern region because of the lack of economic overheads and the necessary raw materials.

This imbalance in the economic development of the northern region and the southern region of the district is a patent fact to be borne in mind in the context of the study of economic trends of Ahmadnagar district. The parts of Akola taluka in the northern region which are under hilly tracts have also lagged behind on account of the infertility of land and the habitation of adivasis who are, by and large, averse to progress. These features of the district economy are important from the point of view of economic history.

The structure of the agrarian economy of the district can be judged from the pattern of land utilisation and the salient changes therein. The trend of land utilisation during the last about twenty years shows that the net area under cultivation has increased gradually, while the area under culturable waste land has decreased to a considerable extent. This trend is obvious from the fact that the net area sown increased from 66.83 per cent of the total geographical area in 1938-39 to 70.10 per cent in 1948-49, 73.40 per cent in 1957-58, 73.42 per cent in 1965-66 and 74.15 per cent in 1970-71. The culturable waste land classified under current fallow and other fallow land, etc., registered a consistent decline from 10.69 per cent of the total geographical area in 1938-39 to 8.22 per cent in 1948 49, 4.37 per cent in 1957-58, 3.52 per cent in 1965-66 and 3.51 per cent in 1970-71. This is a very remarkable trend from the point of view of the agricultural economy which also brings home the fact that scope for extensive cultivation in the district is limited only to about 3.52 per cent of the total geographical area. The development of agriculture in the future will therefore mainly depend upon the intensive cultivation of available land. The desired increase in production to feed the increasing population will have to be achieved through implementation of a medical programme of development including adoption of hybrid seeds, chemical fertilisers, pesticides, plant protection measures and expansion of irrigation facilities. The trend of the percentage of area sown more than once which increased from 2.20 in 1938-39 to 2.36 in 1948-49, to 417 in 1957-58, to 3.10 in 1965-66 and to 5.82 in 1970-71, is also relevant in this context. In view of the increase in irrigation facilities in the district this increase in percentage of the area sown more than once should have been higher than it is.

The pattern of crops over the last about ninety years exhibits certain salient changes which are important from the point of view of the goal of commercialisation of agriculture. The change in pattern of crops is highly remarkable in respect of sugarcane which occupied an area of 2,219 acres in 1880-81 and increased to 95,870 acres in 1965-66 and to 1,28,513 acres in 1970-71. As it is quite well-known, sugarcane is by far the most important cash-crop which has been instrumental in contributing to the prosperity of the northern region of the district. The trend in the cultivation of cotton, ground-nut and jowar also showed a considerable increase in the area under them. The other crops did not show a consistent and definite trend. Table No. 3 shows the trend in the pattern of crops over the period from 1880-81 to 1970-71.

The trend in agricultural production also brings home the fact that the production of commercial crops registered a higher rate of increase than that of food-crops with the exception of jowar. The increase in the out-turn of sugarcane, cotton and ground-nut shown in Table No. 4 is quite illustrative of this. The increase in production of jowar is to be viewed in the context of the growing awareness among the agriculturists regarding the profitability of jowar cultivation as against that of pulses and minor oil-seed crops. The trend in out-turn of principal crops over the period 1938-39 to 1970-71 is illustrated in Table No. 4.

The complexity of the problem of agriculture has been a matter of observation and comment during the last few decades. Agriculture in this district, as elsewhere, cannot be conducted on the commercial principles of industry as mentioned earlier, because of a number of factors many of which are difficult to harness to the goal of development. The geographical and climatic conditions in the district are hostile and unagreeable to the development of agriculture in a considerable part of the district. This is particularly so in the Parner, Shrigonda, Karjat, Pathardi and Shevgaon talukas which are vulnerable to conditions of scarcity. The crop pattern in these talukas is also

TABLE No. 3 — DECADE-WISE DETAILS OF CROPPED AREA IN AHMADNAGAR DISTRICT FROM 1880-81 TO 1970-71

(Area in acres) [Figures for the years 1969-70 and 1970-71 are in hectares (1 hectare =2.4711 acres).]

Crop

1880-81

1890-91

1900-01

1910-11

1920-21

(1) Total food-crops

18,44,733

25,14,068

20,49,744

23,55,623

16,07,075

(2) Total non-food-crops

1,01,365

2,57,704

2,10,307

4,56,294

24,498

(3) Rice

7,046

12,292

11,065

14,201

16,024

(4) Wheat

1,71,960

2,84,492

68,627

1,51,168

45,346

(5) Jowar

9,17,958

12,39,527

5,41,624

7,42,226

11,86,837

(6) Bajri

5,28,713

7,06,917

11,31,278

9,98,613

2,18,644

(7) Maize

--

--

--

--

--

(8) Gram

90,425

1,13,178

22,861

85,907

19,314

(9) Mug

--

-

--

--

--

(10) Tur

18,083

32,225

57,177

64,050

9,195

(11) Udid

--

--

--

--

--

(12) Math

--

--

--

--

--

(13) Sugarcane

2,219

2,758

1,030

1,875

6,923

(14) Chillis

--

--

--

--

--

(15) Cotton

11,055

64,464

75,371

2,14,127

3,051

(16) Linseed

2,087

13,723

5,569

17,319

2,826

(17) Ground-nut

--

--

--

--

--

(18) Sesamum

2,618

7,340

23,443

52,021

1,450

(19) Tobacco

5,705

8,946

779

4,329

1,465

continued..

Crop

1940-41

1950-51

1960-61

1969-70*

1970-71*

(1) Total food-crops

25,05,452

27,17,200

27,85,900

11,35,786

10,60,730

(2) Total non-food-crops

4,81,530

3,46,900

N. A.

1,88,434

1,93,525

(3) Rice

20,750

18,900

24,700

7,586

7,752

(4) Wheat

1,58,493

1,28,900

1,25,200

49,027

46,576

(5) Jowar

10,91,865

14,75,300

16,56,400

4,95,842

5,19,999

(6) Bajri

8,05,317

7,11,200

5,74,200

3,79,853

3,61,520

(7) Maize

1,151

2,200

1,400

--

--

(8) Gram

76,673

81,900

73,400

20,097

20,251

(9) Mug

--

20,100

36,400

26,316

20,738

(10) Tur

48,608

29,200

35,000

22,554

21,593

(11) Udid

--

6,100

3,800

--

--

(12) Math

--

23,600

29,600

--

--

(13) Sugarcane

36,542

48,500

89,200

51,960

52,047

(14) Chillis

--

6,400

8,600

--

--

(15) Cotton

1,75,236

46,600

80,100

25,073

28,954

(16) Linseed

28,408

9,000

4,900

--

--

(17) Ground-nut

43,761

23,100

77,600

24,907 †

21,275†

(18) Sesamum

18,247

N.A.

4,700

--

--

(19) Tobacco

1,708

2,300

1,300

229

282

* Figures for the years 1969-70 and 1970-71 are in hectares (1 hectare =2.4711 acres).

† Besides, safflower occupied an area of 59267 hectares.

N. A. =Not available.

characteristic of subsistence farming with little hope of attaining prosperous conditions in the near future. Another limiting factor is the poverty and ignorance of an average farmer who is apathetic to a radical change in his economic environment. He is both a poor agriculturist and a bad businessman. The resources at his disposal do not permit him to take any decisions regarding investment in land. Traditional methods of farming have resulted into decreasing fertility of his land. Faulty methods of cultivation coupled with the lack of the necessary inputs have impoverished the land to a very great extent.

TABLE No. 4—DECADE-WISE PRODUCTION OF PRINCIPAL CROPS IN AHMADNAGAR DISTRICT

(Figures in tons
except otherwise specified)

Crops

1938-39

1948-49

1957-58

1965-66

1970-71*

Rice

8,066

7,761

5,200

3,805

6,200

Wheat

46,593

9,096

21,000

26,804

24,300

Jowar

1,33,202

1,45,336

2,68,400

1,98,667

90,500

Bajri

60,889

72,589

86,300

44,475

1,21,800

Ragi

7,880

5,013

4,500

N.A.

5,900

Gram

15,870

14,491

8,900

7,359

6,300

Mug

N.A.

N.A.

6,200

3,655

3,600

Tur

11,662

8,390

10,500

11,949

9,700

Horse-gram

N.A.

N.A.

5,300

2,869

N.A.

Sugarcane

N.A.

N.A.

3,00,400

3,72,678

4,11,500 ‡

Cotton

N.A.

5,609†

24,700†

7,359†

16,500 ‡

Ground-nut

N.A.

N.A.

21,900

15,758

15,000

Sesamum

N.A.

N.A.

70

387

600

Safflower

N.A.

N.A.

N.A.

N.A.

N.A.

Linseed

N.A.

N.A.

70

313

500

N. A. = Not available.

* Figures for the year 1970-71 are in metric tonnes.

† Out-turn in bales of 392 lbs.

‡ In terms of gur.

It is however remarkable that the advent of planning encouraged the implementation of progressive ideas with the result that during the last about two decades, the agrarian economy has witnessed considerable progress. The persuasive influence of Government propaganda and progressive measures coupled with enlightenment on account of educational progress as well as a number of other factors have been working against the impulsive indifference of the traditional farmer. The farmer is now made to realise that only intensive methods of cultivation would help his salvation from the economic rut with which he is embedded from centuries past.

It should however be noted that the process of change in the agrarian conditions as also in the attitude of an average farmer, which is referred above and in the following paragraphs, is more perceptible in the areas known as sugarcane belt. There is a remarkable difference in the degree of economic growth in the sugarcane belt and the areas in southern portion of the district.

The agricultural development schemes under the five-year plan-, have initiated the process of growth. Agriculture in Ahmadnagar district, as in the entire State, is going through a process which is styled as the 'green revolution'. The Government of Maharashtra has initiated this process of revolution and has allocated considerable funds and organisational efforts towards the realisation of the results. This has generated unprecedented enthusiasm and confidence among the agriculturists. In fact the very slogan of the ' green revolution ' and the phased programme of development have initiated a process of multiple development.

However, the fruits of the 'green revolution' are still to be reaped by an individual agriculturist who regards the revolution more pale than green. The 'green revolution' could not be realised by a fanner due to his inability to invest in essential inputs. He has necessarily to depend for the same on institutional help from co-operatives or the Government. In the very nature of things institutional help is not available readily and timely. The cost of inputs is also prohibitively high as compared to the economic condition of an average agriculturist.

Even after giving credence to these conditions it is found that the better-off and enterprising agriculturists have availed of the opportunities extended by Government authorities. The propaganda measures of the Government have generated an awareness of the essentiality of deep ploughing, systematic sowing, inter-culturing and scientific rotation of crops. A good proportion of farmers are found to use chemical fertilisers and various crop protection measures including pesticides, fungicides and disinfectants. Though the necessary statistical data regarding the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, etc. are not available, on-the-spot investigations lend support to the contention that the agriculturist has learned to adopt the various measures as stated above. The cost of these inputs however works as a limiting factor with the result that these inputs are not used in adequate quantity.

The propagation of hybrid seeds is an important aspect of the ' green revolution '. The progressive agriculturists are found to have responded to the propagation of hybrid seeds of jowar and bajri. The average yield of hybrid jowar and bajri is about three times the yield of traditional seed-crops. In certain cases the yield of hybrid jowar has been recorded at twenty quintals per acre. It is widely believed that the hybrid seed movement, if carried to the logical end, will change the economics of agriculture in Ahmadnagar district.

Cotton cultivation has assumed great importance in the context of improvement of agriculture during the last about quarter of a century in the district. As a matter of fact, this district accounts for a considerable proportion of the total production of long staple cotton in the State. The statistics of cotton cultivation are given below:-

AREA UNDER COTTON CULTIVATION

Year

Area in acres

Production in bales

Deviraj cotton (CO2)

Laxmi cotton

C02 Deviraj

Laxmi

1968-69

12,600

27,600

17,809

12,576

1969-70

7,185

20,340

N.A.

N.A.

1970-71

6,036

28,218

N.A.

N.A.

N. A. = Not available.

The Agriculture Department of the Government of Maharashtra is found to implement the programme of propagation of improved cotton seed which is suitable for the climate and soil conditions in the district. The following statistics show the cotton seed distribution programme in the district:—

Year

Seed in quintals

Deviraj CO2

Laxmi

1968-69

634.40

556.91

1969-70

248.96

717.84

1970-71

192.32

815.83

Economic Planning: Third Five-Year Plan: After the establishment of the Panchayat Raj institutions with the avowed goal of decentralisation of democratic institutions and greater participation of the masses in the entire development effort, the various development schemes were classified into State-level schemes and district-level schemes. The outlay on both the categories of schemes for the third plan period is given below:—

(Rupees in lakhs)

Head of development

State sector

Local sector

Total

Agricultural programme

3,39.61

43.67

3,83.28

Co-operation and community development

73.92

1,12.79

1,96.71

Industry and mining

9.43

0.86

10.29

Transport and communications

33.60

28. 23

61.83

Social services

76.17

70.81

1,46.98

Total

5,32.73

2,56.36

7,99.09

In the nature of things agricultural development was accorded the highest priority during the third plan period. The agrarian development programme included measures such as agrarian research, better cultural practices, use of improved seeds, fertilisers, plant protection, soil conservation, better implements, expansion of irrigation facilities and extension of sugarcane and cotton cultivation. The various schemes under this programme accounted for 48 per cent of the total plan outlay. The agricultural development programme was divided into nine sub-heads which are mentioned below: —

Sub-head

Expenditure (Rs. in lakhs)

Percentage to total expenditure

Agricultural production

57.17

15

Land development

1. 68

--

Soil conservation

2,55.92

67

Minor irrigation

55.65

15

Animal husbandry

1.35

--

Dairy development

3. 50

1

Forests

2.43

1

Fisheries

0.18

--

Warehousing and marketing

5.40

1

Total

3,83.28

100

It is evident from the plan outlay that soil conservation was accorded the highest priority since it was expected to play a vital role in agricultural development of Ahmadnagar district. The planning authorities very aptly visualised that bunding and terracing would help conserve moisture from scarce rains and arrest soil erosion. This programme accounting for about 32 per cent of the total plan outlay made a remarkable achievement. During the plan period an area of 4,57,000 acres was bunded, while the total area covered under bunding stood at 8,24,388 acres by the end of 1965-66. The percentage of area covered under bunding to the total bundable area was about 43 by the end of 1965-66.

The agricultural production programme with an outlay of Rs. 57.17 lakhs, distributed as Rs. 18.82 lakhs in the State sector and Rs. 38.35 lakhs in the local sector, was accorded a comparatively low priority. This programme included distribution of improved seeds, better implements, green manures and chemical fertilisers. During the plan period 4,570 quintals of improved seeds of food-grains, 3,890 quintals of cotton seeds and 50 quintals of improved oil-seeds were distributed; while under implements 519 iron ploughs and 269 dry farming sets were distributed. Under the programme of distribution of fertilisers the physical achievements were as under:—

Variety of fertiliser

Quantity distributed in tons

Ammonium sulphate

54,161

Super phosphate

27,551

Fertiliser mixture

57,134

Urea

16,758

Others

1,66,758

Besides, 1,31,115 tons of compost manures were prepared and distributed, as also 5,184 acres of land was covered with green manures.

Under the minor irrigation programme subsidy was granted for construction of wells and installation of pumping sets. During the plan period 11,724 new wells were constructed and 1,964 were repaired, and 6,207 pumping sets were installed which together brought an additional area of 49,000 acres under irrigation. The afforestation programme covered an area of over 10,000 acres of land at the cost of Rs. 2.43 lakhs.

Fourth Five-Year Plan : Agricultural production received the highest priority in the Fourth Plan as in the earlier three plans, and there was a definite emphasis on development schemes which were calculated to yield quick results. Besides agriculture, there was a definite stress on the development of the co-operative movement and irrigation which have an important bearing on the acceleration of agrarian growth and the rural economy.

As the draft of the Fourth Plan could not be framed prior to 1966-67, the plan schemes were framed into Annual Plans. The outlay on the Annual Plan of the district for 1966-67 and 1967-68 is given in the following statement:—

(Rupees in lakhs)

 

1966-67

1967-68

State sector

Local sector

Total

State sector

Local sector

Total

1. Agricultural programme.

1,30.70

24.87

1,55.57

1,10.00

21.54

1,31.54

2. Co-operation and community development.

2.88

31.59

34.47

6.23

18.93

25.16

3. irrigation and power

61.81

--

61.81

55.09

--

55.09

4. Industry and mining

5.82

1.25

7.07

1.57

1.53

3.10

5. Transport and communications.

0.71

34.34

35.05

1.14

8.96

10.10

6. Social services

15.31

23.47

38.78

21.68

43.09

64.77

Total

2,17.23

1,15.52

3,32.75

1,95.71

94.05

2,89.76

The agrarian programme under the Annual Plan of 1966-67 with an outlay of Rs. 10.67 lakhs included horticultural development in 404 acres, rejuvenation in 216 acres, and renovation in 211 acres of land. Fertiliser demonstrations were held on 657 acres of private land. Subsidy was granted to purchase 562 quintals of sann seed and 185 agricultural appliances. Under kharif and rabi crop campaigns. 1,200 acres were brought under paddy, 400 acres under hybrid jowar, 100 acres under hybrid bajri, and 1,200 acres under hybrid maize cultivation. Besides, matching subsidy was given to the cultivators for purchase of pesticides and other plant protection measures. Under the soil conservation programme an area of 1,09,094 acres was brought under bunding with an outlay of Rs. 79.17 lakhs. The development of minor irrigation was allocated an amount of Rs. 57.58 lakhs in the plan of 1966-67. Expansion of irrigation and rural electrification was allocated Rs. 61.61 lakhs. The economic significance of rural electrification lies in the fact that electric power encourages the installation of pumping sets for irrigation purposes as also the development of small-scale industries in rural areas. It is remarkable that whereas 140 villages were electrified during the Third Plan, the scheme covered as many as 84 villages in 1966-67.

The agricultural production programme in the Annual Plan of 1967-68 with a financial outlay of Rs. 6.06 lakhs included horticultural development in 832 acres, hybrid seed production in 300 acres and crop campaign in 5,000 acres in the district. The land development scheme under the plan included consolidation of holdings in 669 acres and levelling of uneven land in 5,195 acres.

The soil conservation programme with an outlay of Rs. 69.10 lakhs achieved bunding and terracing in more than 80,000 acres. Minor irrigation with an expenditure of Rs. 48.63 lakhs achieved the construction of 1,437 wells, installation of 614 pumping sets, and construction of an irrigation tank with an irrigation potential of 1,947 acres of land. Five irrigation tanks were under construction in the year 1967-68.

Irrigation: Irrigation is by far the most important factor which has contributed to the development of agriculture in Ahmadnagar district. As a matter of fact the picture of agricultural prosperity in the Shrirampur, Kopargaon, Rahuri and Sangamner talukas is the crystallised result of the irrigation facilities during the last few year The major irrigation projects at Bhandardara, Visapur and the Mula river have virtually harnessed capricious and unkind Nature to the growth of agrarian luxuriance. The agriculturist who was required to submit to the difficulties of recurring famines and die resultant outrageous misfortune in the past now feels assured about the productivity of his land. The cultivation of sugarcane, Cambodia cotton and rabi jowar which has transformed the economic face of the areas mentioned above has been made possible and profitable by the availability of irrigation facilities. The stretches of wilderness have been converted into paying grateful fields. The existing agro-industries such as sugar factories and gul manufactories are also the result of the development of irrigation in the district.

The statistics of irrigation which are furnished below show a very remarkable rate of development from 1890-91 to 1970-71:

AREA IRRIGATED BY DIFFERENT SOURCES IN AHMADNAGAR DISTRICT

Year

Area irrigated in acres

1890-91

83,503

1900-01

66,649

1910-11

90,575

1920-21

3,25,106

1940-41

1,28,340

1950-51

2,29,200

1960-61

3,81,700

1970-71

10,30,488

PARTICULARS OF IRRIGATION IN AHMADNAGAR DISTRICT

Particulars

1938-39

1948-49

1957-58

1965-66

1. Total gross area of crops irrigated..

2,27,403

2,01,647

3,35,700

4,47,246

2. Percentage of total gross area irrigated to total area sown.

7.76

6.55

10.3

15.38

3. Area irrigated by canals

92,681

78,289

1,23,300

1,47,042

4. Area irrigated by wells

1,34,722

1,23,313

1,61,900

2,42,949

Thus, the area under irrigation during the period from 1890-91 to 1960-61 increased by about 460 per cent, and that during the decade between 1950-51 and 1960-61 by about 75 per cent. The percentage of gross irrigated area to net area sown in the district was 13 in 1961-62 and 15.38 in 1965-66. As regards the percentage of gross irrigated area to net cropped area, Ahmadnagar ranks third in the State, next only to Bhandara and Chandrapur districts, the physical features of which lend themselves remarkably to the construction of irrigation tanks. It is however remarkable that the percentage of gross irrigated area to net irrigated area, viz., 116 in 1966-67, is higher for Ahmadnagar district. This indicates that irrigation facility in Ahmadnagar district is used in a greater proportion for double cropping.

Of the talukas in the district, Shrirampur has the maximum percentage of net area irrigated to net area sown which is followed by kopargaon, Rahuri, Sangamner, Ahmadnagar and Shrigonda. Shrirampur and Rahuri talukas receive irrigation facilities from the Bhandardara dam on the Pravara river, and Kopargaon from the Gangapur dam in Nasik district.

Besides the Gangapur dam in Nasik district, there are three important irrigation projects in the district, viz., Bhandardara dam (1926). [Year of completion of the dam.] Visapur dam (1929). [Year of completion of the dam.] and the Mula river project which is expected to be completed by 1972 [Cost of construction of this project is estimated to be Rs. 14,54.60 lakhs.] The relevant details about these projects are given below:—

(Area in hectares)

 

Bhandardara dam

Visapur dam

Mula dam

1. Gross area commanded

79,522

37,200

1,10,074

2. Cultural area commanded

62,975

32,000

65,498

3. irrigation potential

22,779

10,400

65,498

4. Area irrigated—

 

Perennial

10,175

66

--

Seasonal

14,594

870

--

Agricultural marketing: Agricultural marketing in the past was frought with the excessive number of middlemen who intervened between the cultivator and the final disposer of the crop. The ignorance and poverty of the farmer deprived him of the full fruits of his production. The local money-lender used to purchase the produce from the cultivator at distress prices. Ignorance of market conditions and price fluctuations used to place the cultivators at the mercy of money-lenders and middlemen. The malpractices of the traders included a number of deductions, false weighments, delay in payments, etc. This state of affairs was sought to be improved by the enactment of the Bombay Agricultural Produce Markets Act of 1939. This Act was subsequently amended in 1963 in order to rectify the drawbacks of the old Act. The new Act, viz., Maharashtra Agricultural Produce Marketing (Regulation) Act of 1963, has laid down a modus operandi of regulation of transactions in agricultural produce, and a code of conduct for buyers, sellers and other market functionaries. The market committees are supposed to be the custodians of the interests of the cultivators, and are vested with powers consistent with effective regulation of trade.

At present all the important markets in the district, viz., Shrirampur, Kopargaon, Rahuri. Ahmadnagar, Sangamner, Akola, Shevgaon, Pathardi, Nevasa and Shrigonda are regulated and supervised by the respective market committees. This has not only regulated all the transactions, but also assured a fair price to the cultivator for his produce. Price fluctuations on account of speculative activities are also reduced to a great extent.

Communications : The condition of transport and communications in the district was extremely unsatisfactory in the past. There were only a few roads which were fit for bullock-cart traffic. The undulating topography of certain parts of the district hampered the construction of roads. The rugged hills in Akola taluka and the stretches of wilderness in the southern parts of the district make road construction prohibitively costly.

However there has been considerable progress in respect of road communication since the planning era. The development of sugar and gul factories in Kopargaon, Sangamner, Shrirampur, Rahuri and Ahmadnagar areas further encouraged the development of new roads and improvement of existing ones. Consequently the areas in the sugarcane belt possess a net-work of roads, while the southern areas in the district are still not provided with good roads. The susceptibility to famine and economic backwardness of the southern region have been responsible for the lack of road development in those areas.

The proportion of road-length to 100 square kilometres of area which was 18 kilometres in 1961 increased to 24.55 kilometres in 1968. This shows a considerable increase in road-length during the period of seven years, but this increase was mainly in respect of other district roads and approach roads. Of the total road-length in the district, highways accounted for only 20 per cent. This state of affairs suggests that road development in the future will have to be in respect of improvement and upgradation of district roads.

Industrialisation: The northern parts of Ahmadnagar district are generally regarded as industrially developed. A good number of sugar factories (12 in 1971) and gul manufacturing units, which have sprung up after the availability of irrigation facilities, have been instrumental in bringing about industrial as well as general economic prosperity to the areas around Shrirampur, Kopargaon, Rahuri, Sangamner and Ahmadnagar. This region has experienced a momentous change in its economic structure, and it can be compared favourably with the other regions in the State whose prosperity can mainly be attributed to agro-industrial development.

However the fact remains that an adequate industrial base has not yet been built up in the district as a whole. The co-existence of the modern sugar and gul manufacturing industries in the north with the deep troughs of traditional industries depending on abjectly primitive techniques in the south brings home a paradoxical situation in the economic development in the district. The development of sugar industries even in the northern region was not preceded by the growth of light capital goods or consumer goods industries as it should happen in the process of sound industrial development.

The southern region which is still far off even from the ' take off' stage has remained industrially backward mainly because of five reasons. Firstly, there are no facilities of economic over-heads and external economies which are so very essential to reach the ' take off ' stage. Secondly, there is the question of the removal of impediments to incentives and enterprise. In the third instance, private business enterprise is conspicuous by its absence. Fourthly, the famine-stricken and tradition-bound economy of the region is such that it can hardly supply any of the raw materials required by any of the modern organised industries. And lastly, a major portion of the district lacks in the necessary infra-structure in the shape of transport and communications, water-supply, power and other facilities which are required for industrial development.

The Maharashtra Economic Development Council have studied the state of economic development in the various districts of Maharashtra, and have applied five criteria for determining the degree of development. The study, entitled Maharashtra—An Economic Review (1967), has examined the position of the district against that of Maharashtra State in the light of the criteria given below:—

Criterion *

Ahmadnagar district

State average

1 Number of agricultural workers per 100 acres of cultivated land.

22

25

2 Percentage of urban population with respect to total population.

11

28

3 Percentage of workers engaged in secondary and tertiary sectors.

25.4

38

4 Percentage of literate and educated persons in population.

26.45

29.82

5 Proportion of workers in household industry and manufacturing in the total working population.

8.14

11.28

* A district is classified as under-developed according to criterion 1. if its position is above the relevant State average. It is under-developed according to other criterion if its position is below the relevant State average.

Ahmadnagar district is under-developed according to these criteria as its position is below the State average in respect of criteria Nos. 2 to 5.

The above-mentioned study has also furnished the pattern of factories and employment in the district which is given below:

PATTERN OF FACTORIES AND EMPLOYMENT IN AHMADNAGAR DISTRICT IN 1965

Industries

Number of factories

Employment

1 Cotton ginning and baling

29

1,552

2 Spinning, weaving and finishing of cotton textiles.

3

123

3 Sugar

12

5,501

4 Gur

32

573

5 Edible oils (other than hydrogenated oils)

6

79

6 Other food industries

2

23

7 Tobacco

132

10,934

8 Basic chemicals (including fertilisers)

1

49

9 Miscellaneous chemical products

1

500

10 Bricks and tiles

3

79

11 Petroleum, coal, glass, pottery, cement and mineral products.

2

64

12 Basic metal industries

1

11

13 Machinery (other than electrical)

10

713

14 Repair of motor vehicles

5

198

15 All other industries

21

803

Total

260

21,202

The analysis of pattern of growth and decay in factories over the period 1956 to 1965 as revealed by the above-mentioned study shows that the number of factories in the district declined by 180 in 1965 over that in 1956. It is remarkable that while some industries showed a growth in number, gul factories decreased by 248 in 1965 over that in 1956.

The analysis of industrialisation in Ahmadnagar district suggests that development of agro-industries is of crucial importance in its economic progress due to the very nature of its economy, the conspicuous feature of which is the concentration of industries in the sugarcane-growing belt. Planned and well-thought-out development of agro-industries will have a very healthy impact on its agrarian economy as well. Agro-industries will not only utilise agricultural raw material but will also strengthen the agrarian base. This in its turn will increase the scope for increasing production of cash-crops.

Availability of sufficient agro-based raw materials is indeed a springboard for the rapid and sustained development of various types of resource-based industries. For accelerating the growth of these industries, therefore, it is imperative to devise measures to increase agricultural production.

The Master Plan of Industrialisation of Bombay State: The Master Plan prepared by the then Government of Bombay in 1960 recommended the establishment of some industries in the district on the basis of feasibility study. The Master Plan had suggested that with the increase in irrigation facilities sugarcane cultivation would expand which would facilitate the establishment of more sugar factories. The sugar factories in turn would encourage development of paper mills which would utilise baggase as a raw material. It also recommended cold storage and refrigeration facilities at Rahuri, Kopargaon, Shrirampur and Sangamner which are famous for fruit cultivation. The Plan recommended the establishment of alcohol-based chemical factories in the proximity of distilleries.

The authors of the Master Plan also suggested a number of ancillary industries including manufacture of baling hoops, industrial rubber goods and steel re-rolling mills.

Price trends: The oldest information about prices available for the district pertains to the period beginning with 1772. The account of prices in that period shows that the value of rupee was considerably high in relation to the present-day situation. The extremely low prices during those golden days may sound as incredible to a student of economic history who might compare the same with the present market conditions. It would however be fallacious and unrealistic to say that there was bountiful abundance in those good old days. Economic history does not furnish any evidence testifying affluence during those days. The sordid economic facts show that if the prices were considerably low, so were the income-earnings. An able-bodied worker had to struggle with the sweat of a day to earn a quarter of a rupee.

The Ahmadnagar District Gazetteer published in 1884 gives an account of prices since 1772 which is furnished below:—

"In the three years ending 1775 rice varied from 16 to 25 pounds the rupee, jvari from 59 to 72, and bajri from 33 to 64 pounds; in the five years ending 1795 rice varied from 8 to 16 pounds, jvari from 14 to 52 pounds, and bajri from 18 to 43 pounds; and in the five years ending 1809 rice varied from 5 to 40 pounds and bajri from 4 to 50 pounds. The details are given in Table No. 6.

From 1810-11 to 1821-22 the average price of jvari was 40 pounds and of bajri 36 pounds in Jamkhed and 35 pounds of jvari and 42 pounds of bajri in Korti that is Karjat and Shrigonda. By the end of 1821-22, 3,75,000 acres (5,00,000 bighas) of waste land had been brought under the plough, and, as the next year (1822-23) was one of extraordinary production, prices fell one-third below what they were in 1820-21. Nothing approaching such a fall in the value of produce had taken place in the Deccan within the memory of the oldest inhabitants. In Ahmadnagar town jvari sold at 176 to 192 pounds the rupee and bajri at 128 to 144 pounds and in the district prices were a fourth lower. In 1821 grain was so plentiful that the cultivators found it difficult to find a sale for the produce of their land. Though the two next seasons (1823-24 and 1824-25) were years of great and general failure and though the crops were again greatly deficient in 1832-33, during the ten years ending 1833-34 all field produce prices fell to nearly one-half below what they were during the ten years ending 1821-22. From 1834-35 to 1837-38 the average rupee price of jvari was 64 pounds and of bajri 65 pounds in Jamkhed and 88 pounds of jvari and 65 pounds of bajri in Karjat and Shrigonda. For the next six years ending 1843-44 no prices are available. In 1844-45 jvari was sold at 117 pounds in Sangamner and bajri at 93 pounds in Sangamner and at 90 pounds in Kopargaon. The next year (1845-46) was a year of scarcity and jvari rose to 57 pounds in Sangamner and bajri to 39 pounds in Sangamner and to 33 pounds in Kopargaon. The three years ending 1848-49 were years of very low prices, jvari selling at 120 to 270 and averaging 209 pounds and bajri at 72 to 220 and averaging 148 pounds.

During the twelve years ending 1860-61, though there were considerable fluctuations there was no decided or long continued rise in prices. During these twelve years, in the villages, jvari sold at 58 to 140 and averaged 100 pounds, and in Nagar at 48 to 79 and averaged 59 pounds. In 1861-62 jvari rose to 33 pounds in Rahuri and 29 pounds in Nagar. During the fourteen years ending 1875-76, in the villages jvari sold at 33 to 99 pounds and averaged 58 pounds, and in Nagar at 21 to 67 pounds and averaged 37 pounds. The four years ending 1879-80 was a time of famine and suffering. In the villages jvari sold at 20 to 45 pounds and averaged 26 pounds, and in Nagar at 19 to 34 pounds and averaged 24 pounds. The next two years, 1880-81 and 1881-82, show a gradual fall in prices, jvari falling in the villages from 46 to 77 pounds and in Nagar from 41 pounds to 72 pounds. In 1882-83 jvari was sold in the villages from 46 to 60 pounds and in Nagar at 56 pounds." [Gazetteer of Bombay Presidency, Ahmadnagar District, 1884, pp. 322-23.]

The supplements to the old Ahmadnagar Gazetteer which were published in 1904, 1911 and 1926 furnish statistics of prices for the period 1894 to 1922 which are furnished in Table No. 5.

The Statistical Atlas of Bombay State (1950) : This Atlas furnishes statistics regarding wholesale prices of important commodities in Ahmadnagar district from 1924 to 1947 which are given in the Table No. 7.

The Great Depression of 1930 slumped the prices of agricultural produce. Since the economies of the U.S.A., the U.K., and France were adversely affected by the devastations inflicted by the Depression, there was a momentous slump in the demand for and prices of Indian goods in the international markets. This trend in the national economy had an inevitable impact on the general economic as well as price situation in the district. The out-break of war in 1939 was another event which inflicted economic hardships on people in this country. There was an acute shortage of consumer goods which caused an unprecedented rise in prices. There was a deplorable trail of black-marketing, speculation and hoarding. The scarcity of consumer goods such as cloth, foodgrains, sugar, kerosene and a number of luxury articles made it necessary for the Government to enforce statutory rationing. The prices of most of the commodities however came down after the cessation of hostilities in 1945. The Korean War boom was the next important event which had an impact on the price situation all over the country. The inflationary trend of prices in the international markets during the Korean War found its reflection in the Indian Economy which in turn affected the conditions in Ahmadnagar district also. The Korean War boom was followed by a short period of recession in prices.

TABLE No. 5—PRICES IN SEERS (80 TOLAS) PER RUPEE IN AHMADNAGAR DISTRICT

Year*

Wheat

Rice

Bajri

Jowar

Salt

1894

16

11

18

22

12

1895

20

11

21

24

12

1896

16

11

20

25

12

1897

9

8

9

10

12

1898

7

7

15

12

12

1899

13

14

20

23

12

1900

7

8

8

9

11

1901

8

8

15

14

12

1902

9

11

15

16

13

1903

14

10

23

25

1 5

1904

16

10

23

25

13

1905

15

10

16

19

16

1906

9

9

10

11

18

1907

10

9

18

19

21

1908

8

8

12

13

22

1909

10

8

14

16

18

1910

10

8

15

15

17

1911

13

8

14

16

17

1912

10

6

11

12

18

1913

11

6

11

11

17

1914

10

6

13

14

16

1915

8

7

12

15

19

1916

10

7

12

17

16

1917

7

7

10

12

12

1918

5

5

5

5

11

1919

4

4

5

5

14

1920

5

5

6

7

16

1921

4

5

5

6

14

1922

5

5

7

6

10

* Prices during the last fortnight of March.

The recession which began in the middle of 1951 was reversed after March 1952. As a matter of fact prices in general rose by 2 per cent between March 1952 and March 1953, although the average level of prices for 1952-53 as a whole was lower by 12.4 per cent than that of 1951-52. Prices of most of the commodities remained fairly stable though they recorded a rise of only 2.3 per cent over those in March 1953. Broadly, prices remained comparatively stable during 1952-53 and 1953-54. This period of stability was followed by a downward trend in 1954-55, the decline being particularly marked during the second half of the year. The downward trend was reversed after June 1955, and prices were brought to the level prevailing in December 1954.

The period beginning with June 1955 witnessed a rising trend of prices which persisted throughout the Second Five-Year Plan. The prices of foodgrains as well as those of industrial raw materials of agricultural origin registered a steady rise. Barring a slight decline of nearly 0.2 per cent from March 1957 to March 1958, the general prices registered a rise in each of the remaining four years of the Second Plan, the extent of rise being 7.6 per cent in 1956-57; 6.6 per cent in 1958-59; 5.7 per cent in 1959-60 and 7.2 per cent in 1960-61. An interesting feature of the price situation during this period is the preponderance of food prices in the rise of the general index upto 1959. The rising prices of foodgrains could be explained by the fact that the production of foodgrains lagged behind the rising demand throughout India. The rising demand for foodgrains, in turn, could be explained by the high income elasticity of demand for food, which is very much characteristic of an under-developed area. [ Money Supply and Prices in India, by Prof. P. K. Mukherjee, p. 65.]

In the first year of the Second Plan, the general price index rose from 98.1 in March 1956 to 105.4 in March 1957. In this rise, the share of food prices alone was 10 per cent, that of industrial raw materials 7 per cent and of manufactures only 3 per cent. Similarly, between March 1958 and March 1959, the general index was higher by 6.6 per cent; but food articles group recorded a rise of 11 per cent as against a rise of 4.4 per cent of the industrial raw materials and 0.5 per cent of manufactures. It was only in 1959-60 for the first time since 1950-51 that the relative pull of food prices in raising the general index ceased. This trend was visible in the next year, 1960-61 also. Although food prices remained more or less steady in 1960 and 1961, the indices of industrial raw materials and of manufactures recorded a substantial rise. [Ibid.]

TABLE No. 6—AHMADNAGAR PRODUCE PRICES (POUNDS THE RUPEE), 1772-1809

Articles

1772

1773

1774

1775

1790

1791

Rice

16

25

16

20

12

12

Jvari

59

--

72

76

36

44

Bajri

64

33

64

64

40

40

Wheat

--

29

48

48

32

33

Tur

48

26

44

38

24

20

Gram

28

25

48

40

32

32

continued

1792

1793

1794

1795

1804

1805

1806

1807

1808

1809

8

10

14

16

5

15

12

17

40

40

18

14

52

48

--

--

46

--

--

--

18

25

43

37

4

25

38

48

48

50

10

10

29

33

6

18

28

48

--

48

12

19

29

27

6

7

20

24

--

--

12

16

24

32

6

13

18

48

--

--

TABLE No. 7—WHOLESALE PRICES AT AHMADNAGAR TOWN

Year

Rice husked

Wheat

Jawar

Bajri

Gram

Tur dal

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

 

Rs.

a.

P.

Rs.

a.

P.

Rs.

a.

P.

Rs

a.

P.

Rs

a.

P.

Rs.

a.

P.

1924

7

5

8

6

2

1

4

9

5

5

1

0

3

15

0

6

3

2

1925

7

3

8

6

11

8

4

5

4

5

0

4

4

7

9

6

2

3

1926

6

5

11

7

0

11

3

11

9

4

15

6

5

4

0

6

0

8

1927

7

9

7

7

3

4

3

13

3

4

5

8

4

14

8

7

15

1

1928

7

5

8

5

12

0

2

15

8

2

10

9

4

14

0

6

10

11

1929

6

8

6

5

7

5

4

5

1

4

10

0

5

13

2

7

11

3

1930

6

0

4

4

10

2

3

4

3

3

13

7

4

14

0

7

3

6

1931

4

8

7

3

2

11

1

7

8

1

10

6

2

15

4

5

1

10

1932

4

1

11

3

4

4

1

13

8

2

3

8

2

5

0

4

2

3

1933

4

11

1

3

5

4

1

10

8

2

8

4

2

4

10

2

12

4

1934

4

2

8

3

1

2

2

0

1

2

10

2

2

11

1

2

14

1

1935

4

1

9

2

14

0

1

14

2

2

5

1

2

7

8

3

12

10

1936

4

6

3

3

8

4

2

2

6

2

9

4

2

13

2

3

9

11

1937

4

5

1

4

4

9

2

3

11

3

3

1

3

3

11

4

8

2

1938

4

13

9

3

7

11

1

14

8

2

4

11

3

4

5

4

14

4

1939

4

13

6

3

10

6

2

9

1

3

0

1

3

13

6

4

9

9

1940

5

2

6

4

4

3

2

12

10

3

8

4

4

2

10

5

3

11

1941

6

13

2

5

3

8

2

2

10

2

14

7

4

4

2

5

4

11

1942

9

2

11

8

6

10

3

5

0

4

4

7

7

5

3

9

12

11

1943

19

12

1

13

14

8

6

8

3

7

4

4

13

6

9

18

5

0

1944

22

13

2

12

10

10

7

3

5

7

12

7

11

6

0

12

3

5

1945

15

7

1

13

8

2

8

0

7

8

10

10

11

3

1

11

4

3

1946

14

9

10

10

2

7

8

1

2

7

9

9

11

1

7

14

5

0

1947

20

0

1

18

3

11

9

1

7

8

11

4

18

10

4

19

2

3

continued

Linseed

Gingili seed

Raw sugar

Cotton cleaned

Ghee

Tobacco

Kerosene oil per tin

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

Rs.

a.

P.

Rs.

a.

P.

Rs.

a.

P.

Rs.

a.

P.

Rs.

a.

P.

Rs.

a.

P.

Rs.

a.

P.

8

10

1

12

3

8

11

2

8

55

10

2

75

5

7

17

5

4

3

7

4

8

14

2

10

7

8

11

11

7

40

7

10

73

14

3

25

6

8

3

6

7

6

6

9

11

3

2

8

12

2

31

1

7

71

10

7

14

13

4

3

5

10

6

10

8

11

0

11

7

4

3

30

10

5

67

7

5

--

--

--

3

2

0

6

9

0

--

--

--

8

5

5

30

5

4

68

10

1

--

--

--

2

15

11

6

14

3

--

--

--

9

15

3

25

10

4

64

1

8

--

--

--

3

4

3

5

11

5

--

--

--

7

9

4

19

12

9

65

13

4

--

--

--

3

3

8

4

0

9

--

--

--

5

10

0

15

10

4

52

15

6

9

7

7

3

3

8

3

8

6

--

--

--

5

6

6

19

2

2

45

3

1

--

--

--

2

12

7

3

10

8

--

--

--

4

4

11

14

7

5

37

11

5

--

--

--

2

11

3

4

1

1

--

--

--

5

15

2

16

8

0

41

9

2

--

--

--

2

6

1

4

2

3

--

--

--

5

15

11

20

13

3

42

12

4

--

--

--

2

9

1

4

11

1

8

1

8

3

11

3

18

2

5

38

11

3

--

--

--

2

10

11

5

0

9

--

--

--

3

1

6

19

9

0

38

14

10

--

--

--

2

14

2

4

13

0

4

13

0

5

5

0

13

10

6

40

5

11

15

0

0

2

12

6

5

6

2

6

15

2

7

10

6

16

6

5

39

11

6

16

4

11

2

13

5

6

13

5

7

11

10

4

1

10

24

1

9

44

0

5

20

4

6

3

6

9

--

--

--

--

--

--

3

7

8

15

14

3

54

6

9

18

2

6

4

0

2

--

--

--

--

--

--

7

12

0

12

11

8

58

14

2

21

10

8

5

0

9

--

--

--

--

--

--

16

0

1

--

--

--

108

7

11

33

9

9

5

6

8

--

--

--

--

--

--

14

3

0

--

--

--

148

12

0

88

5

4

5

12

11

10

10

5

--

--

--

12

13

2

--

--

--

157

10

3

101

10

8

5

4

6

13

0

0

--

--

--

19

6

0

--

--

--

139

7

1

106

1

9

4

13

8

--

--

--

--

--

--

19

12

4

--

--

--

193

14

3

149

10

10

4

7

8

The out-break of hostilities with China in October 1962 initiated a process of momentous inflationary pressure. General scarcity of goods coupled with the mounting defence expenditure led to a sporadic trend of prices with the opening of 1963. Speculative activities and hoarding which are characteristic of an adverse economic situation contributed towards accentuating the rising trend through 1963 and 1964. The price situation deteriorated further with the out-break of war with Pakistan in October 1965. The mounting defence expenditure accompanied by conditions of scarcity in 1966 aggravated the problem of inflationary pressure. There was an abnormal increase in the prices of all consumer goods in 1966.

The common man who was already oppressed by the vagaries of the market situation was further perplexed by the outrageous behaviour of prices throughout the further period from 1970 to 1974. The entire situation appeared like a crisis to the common man as well as to a student of economic history. This made it imperative on the part of the Government to intervene. Government intervention was of little avail in easing the situation. By that time, however, the common man had reconciled himself with the oppressive situation.

The following table shows the average wholesale prices of certain commodities in Ahmadnagar district during 1971 :―

TABLE No. 8―AVERAGE WHOLESALE PRICES IN AHMADNAGAR DISTRICT IN 1971

Commodity Variety Average wholesale price (in rupees per quintal)

Wheat

Bakshi

87.34

Jowar

White

80.63

Bajri

Gavram

79.25

Gram

(i) Gavran

84.50

(ii) Niphad

85.80

Mug

Green

167.50

Ground-nut

(i) Dhobali

149.50

(ii) Ghungari

167.75

Gur

Yellow

92.29

Cotton

(i) Laxmi

240.53

(ii) Gavran

203.37

Source.―Bureau of Economics and Statistics.

Wage Trends : The economic condition of agricultural labourers presents itself as a socio-economic tragedy which must be seen to be believed. It presents a picture of the sordidness of mean streets and the monotony of withered lives. India may be said to be a land of gigantic socio-economic contrasts with one section of society living in almost princely affluence and the larger section living under miserable conditions. The class of landless labourers whose lot is worse than even the industrial proletariat is at the bottom of the economic ladder. An average landless labourer is not infrequently compelled in times of stress to mortgage his personal liberty. In return for a meagre sum of money he agrees to serve the man from whom he has borrowed. He remains a life-long bond-slave of his creditor. He merely receives an inadequate dole of food. These conditions are particularly characteristic of the labourers in the scarcity areas in the district.

Apart from permanent labourers, there is a large section comprising casual labourers who are hired when required and fired away when not required. They are also the victims of a gradual process of expropriation by money-lenders who drive them into the ranks of serfs.

In the absence of any minimum wage fixed for agricultural labourers, the labour market is virtually a buyer's market while the unorganised labour force has no control over the terms of their hiring. The wage trends in the district are presented below against this background. The information about wages as furnished in the old Gazetteer of Ahmadnagar District of 1884 is reproduced below :—

" Wages : In purely agricultural parts where markets are distant as in Shevgaon and Nevasa, labour has always been and is cheaper than near cities. The wages of a common labourer throughout the district range between 2s. and 10s. (Re. 1 and Rs. 5) a month. In and near Ahmadnagar they are as high as 12s. (Rs. 6) a month. Near Ahmadnagar when land is tilled by hired labour, two men are generally able to manage a field of about thirty acres of which three may be garden or bagayat. The yearly money wages of each amount to about 1 4s. (Rs. 12). Besides these cash wages, each workman receives a monthly allowance of about fifty pounds (6 paylis) of grain and a present of salt and pepper. [Fifty years ago (1830) an able-bodied field labourer, in return for a year's work, used to receive four mans and 3 paylis of jvari valued at Rs. 8-5-2; six paylis of tur pulse valued at Rs. 1-3-7; three paylis of salt valued at Re. 0-9-8; chillies valued at Re. 0-12-0; and Rs. 20 in cash; that is a total payment estimated at Rs. 30-14-5. A female labourer received three-fourths of the amount of food given to the male labourer valued at Rs. 10-2-10; and clothes instead of cash worth Rs. 17-2-10 that is a total estimated at Rs. 17-10-10. In 1848 field labourers engaged for the season were paid Rs. 4 a month; if engaged for the year they were paid Rs. 25 to Rs. 30 with two pounds (1 sher) of grain daily and wheat bread, and raw sugar or gul on the twelve leading holidays, and five articles of dress. Bom. Gov. Sel. CXXIII, 175.] The services of field labourers are in special demand at harvest time and afterwards on the threshing floor, from October to March. At other seasons, the labourer has chance jobs in the fields, besides unskilled building work, cart-driving and brick-making. Reaping and threshing are paid in kind daily, and other work in cash weekly. Men or women reapers are given five sheaves in a hundred of the number cut or uprooted and tied. Children are not employed in reaping. For threshing two pounds (one sher) of grain are allowed for every 200 pounds (100 shers) trodden and winnowed. The wages of field labour paid in money are not more than 1d. (one anna) a day. For other work a man's day's wages vary from 3d. to 4d. (2 to 3 annas), and a woman's from 2d. to 3d. (1 to 2 annas), a child is usually paid 1d. (one anna) a day. Some villagers go to Bombay as labourers, and many land-holders after their field-work is over are hired with their bullocks by traders to carry grain and other exports to the coast. The wages of skilled artisans range from 9d. to 1s. 4d. (6 to 11 annas) for brick-layers, 1s. to 1s. 6d. (8 to 12 annas) for carpenters and masons, and 6d. to 1s. (4 to 8 annas) for tailors. Cart-hire is 2s.d. (Rs. 1-5/192) and camel-hire 1s. 6d. (12 annas) a day." [Gazetteer of Bombay Presidency. Ahmadnagar, pp. 321-22.]

Wage-rates did not show a consistent trend since 1894. The following statistics of wages show that while the monthly wages of some categories of labour increased to a great extent those of others lagged behind. The rise and fall in wages was also not in consonance with that in prices. The dictum that wages always lag behind prices appears to be true.

The statistics of monthly wages at Ahmadnagar for the period 1894 to 1922 are given in table No. 9. [Supplements to Ahmadnagar District Gazetteer published in 1904, 1911 and 1926.]

In the absence of reliable statistics it is difficult to analyse the wage-trend during the subsequent period. It is however obvious that the money wages of almost all categories of labour registered a rising trend since the beginning of World War II. The wage-rates of almost all categories of labour followed prices during the period under planning, though there has always been a tendency of wages lagging behind prices. This period is characterised by a consciousness and enlightenment generated by democratic and socialistic ideals on account of which an average worker insists upon his legitimate share in the produce. The growth of trade unionism has also been instrumental in educating the worker in demanding his right to a better wage. These factors, coupled with soaring prices, have contributed towards rising wages.

TABLE No. 9—MONTHLY WAGES AT DISTRICT HEAD-QUARTERS

Year

Wages

Mason

Carpenter

Black-smith

Able-bodied agricultural labourer

Syce or horse-keeper

 

Rs.

Rs.

Rs.

Rs.

Rs.

1894

15

25

25

8

6 to 8

1895

15

30

30

8

10

1896

12 to 15

15 to 25

20 to 30

4 to 5

7 to 8

1897

15

25

30

6

8

1898

15

25

30

5

8

1899

12 to 15

15 to 25

15 to 17

5 to 6

9

1900

15

22

15

6

9

1901

22

30

22

4

9

1902

15

18

20

8

10

1903

15

18

20

9

10

1904

18

18

18

9

10

1905

15

26

26

9

10

1906

15

26

26

9

10

1907

15

22

22

9

10

1908

15

26

26

9

10

1909

18

22

22

9

10

1910

18

22

22

9

10

1911

18

22

22

9

10

1912

19

22

19

8

10

1913

22

22

19

8

11

1914

22

22

22

9

11

1915

--

22

11

9

--

1916

--

24

15

13

--

1917

--

24

13

11

--

1918

--

28

15

13

--

1919

--

34

13

11

--

1920

--

39

15

11

--

1921

--

45

15

11

--

1922

--

45

21

17

--

The average rates of wages in the district during 1961-62, 1963-64 and 1965-66 are furnished below:—

TABLE No. 10—ANNUAL AVERAGE WAGES IN AHMADNAGAR DISTRICT DURING 1961-62, 1963-64, 1965-66 AND 1969-70

Year

Carpenter

Black-smith

Cobbler

Field labour

Other agricultural labour

Herdsman

1961-62

3.89

3.61

2.90

1.61

1.49

1.36

1963-64

4.40

4.01

3.35

2.04

1.87

1.56

1965-66

5.51

5.15

4.09

2.58

2.25

1.99

1969-70

6.00

5.67

5.00

3.00

2.00

N.A.

N. A.=Not available.

The above statistics reveal that the rates of wages of almost all categories of labour are much below what is called the subsistence wage. For the large bulk of workers, indeed, earnings fall far short of the living wage standard. It is widely accepted that under the present institutional set-up the immediate social problem is to enable the workers to cross the poverty line. However, it is an irony of fate that the search for a living wage standard is like the philosopher's quest for a black cat in darkness where it is not.

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