By P.R. Sarkar
(February 1982, Calcutta) – Providing food, clothing, housing, education and medical treatment is most important for social security. These five minimum requirements are indispensable to raise the living standard of the people. To guarantee these, the principle of production based on consumption has to be adopted. Special emphasis should be placed on agricultural production because the provision of food is of vital importance, and for this the cooperative system should be rapidly expanded.
According to PROUT, too many people should not be engaged in agriculture. Rather, a major part of the population should depend on industry. Not more than thirty to forty-five percent of the population should be employed in the agricultural sector.
"In the fourth phase of implementing the cooperative system, there will be no conflict over the ownership of land."
Land is usually divided into economic holdings and uneconomic holdings, according to productivity. Economic holdings are those where the market price of the produce will exceed the cost of production including capital, labour and machinery. Lands which produce economically viable agricultural wealth – that is, where output exceeds input – are called “economic holdings”.
Uneconomic holdings are those where the market price of the produce is less than the cost of production after including the costs of all the inputs. As uneconomic holdings are not profitable, the landowners usually refrain from producing any crops. In the rural economy of a country such as India, if a village is accepted as a production unit, then there may be many plots of land in a village which are not used for producing crops because they are uneconomical.
While implementing PROUT, the question of agrarian revolution will automatically arise. As I have already said, agricultural land should be brought under cooperative management, but the cooperative system should be introduced in two stages. In the first phase of the socialization of land, PROUT will not raise the demand for land ceilings, but the sale of agricultural land will be prohibited and uneconomic landholdings will be brought under cooperative management. The responsibility for cultivating this land will not lie with the landowners but with the cooperatives under the aegis of the immediate government, and with its assistance.
The landowners of the uneconomic landholdings in each village will become the members of the cooperatives in this phase. Thus, cooperatives will only consist of those who merged their land together to make uneconomic landholdings economic. The landowners will give their land, and in this phase they will remain the owners of the land. In cases where the landowners employ labour for cultivation, fifty percent of the net profit will go to the landowners and fifty percent to the labourers who work in the cooperatives.
In this phase, the rivers and streams in a village should be harnessed for the collective welfare. For instance, by constructing embankments and small dams on the rivers, large-scale irrigation, electricity generation, and industries based on local needs should be established.
The first steps must also be taken to alleviate the population pressure on land. An increasing percent of the rural population will have to be employed in industry by establishing agrico-industries and agro-industries. There should be provision for the preservation of crops by building stores and cold-stores under the control of local administrative boards. The cooperatives should be supplied with tractors, manure, seeds, water pumps and other farming equipment through producers cooperatives. Consumers cooperatives will supply the commodities necessary for daily consumption to the rural population.
In the very first phase of establishing cooperatives, agricultural labourers, landless labourers, day labourers and sharecroppers will come within the scope of cooperatives. From this phase, the education system in rural areas should be thoroughly reformed. To arouse the cooperative spirit among the people, there should be extensive training and education, but moral education must take precedence over everything else so that people do not give greater importance to individual interests at the expense of the collective interest.
In the second phase of implementing agricultural cooperatives, the economic holdings of the landowners should be brought under cooperative management. Only after all the uneconomic holdings in a village are brought within the scope of cooperatives should the economic holdings be brought under cooperative management. In this phase it will be easy to apply science and technology extensively in agriculture, increasing the amount of production.
In this second phase, all should be encouraged to join the cooperative system. The net profit will be increased in favour of the labourers working in the cooperatives so that twenty-five percent of the net profit will go to the landowners and seventy-five percent to the labourers. Here labourers means those who employ either their physical or psychic labour in the cooperative. The landowners will benefit in two ways. First, as landowners, they will get twenty-five percent of the net profit of the produce from the land, and secondly, if they are part of the cooperative labour force, they will be entitled to a portion of the seventy-five percent of the profit distributed among the cooperative members.
In this phase, there must be emphasis on the rapid and large- scale establishment of agrico-industries and agro-industries so that the rural population will be dependent more on industry than on agriculture. With the development of such industries, there should be simultaneous emphasis on educational and cultural reforms to further develop the cooperative mentality of the rural population.
From this second phase, production for consumption will increase the standard of living of the rural population, and the basic criteria of social security – that is, the minimum requirements of life – must be arranged for the people.
In the third phase, there should be rational distribution of land and redetermination of ownership. The rational distribution of land will depend on two factors – the minimum holding of land necessary to maintain a family, and the capacity of the farmer to utilize the land. In this phase, the landowners will not be able to employ individual labourers, landless labourers or sharecroppers for the cultivation of land, so it will be more beneficial for them to participate fully in the cooperative system.
In this phase, it will be easy to establish big cooperatives with the extensive application of science, but these cooperatives will not be anything like the huge collective farms of the Soviet Union or China. If cooperatives are allowed to become extremely large, it will be difficult to utilize natural resources efficiently and this will lead to complications in the sphere of production. One of the main defects of the collective farms in socialist countries is their unmanageable size.
In PROUT, the farmers cooperatives themselves will determine the size of the cooperatives. But while building up the cooperative system, two factors should be kept in mind – first, the high quantity and quality of production should be ensured through the application of science and technology while keeping production costs at a minimum; and secondly, the cooperative members must be encouraged to attain maximum psychic and spiritual development at their highest level in exchange for their minimum physical labour.
In the third phase of implementing the cooperative system, one hundred percent of the net profit will be distributed among the cooperative members. The former landowners will identify fully with the cooperatives in this phase.
Through these three phases it will be possible to reduce the excessive population pressure on land and to engage thirty to forty-five percent of the population in agriculture. In the second phase, the problem of unemployment will be tackled through the large-scale establishment of industry, and by the third phase there will be no unemployment problems for the agricultural labourers. By the end of the third phase, the rural sector will be freed from the vexing problems of agricultural and industrial production, unemployment and social security.
In the fourth phase of implementing the cooperative system, there will be no conflict over the ownership of land. The agrarian problems of every village will be solved. All the social security arrangements concerned with food, clothing, housing, education and medical treatment will be easily provided to the people. In this phase it will be possible to make the maximum utilization of the collective physical, psychic and spiritual wealth of every village.
For the total implementation of the cooperative system, there must be proper psychic preparation through internal urge and external pressure, adjusting with the time factor, because people will never accept a system which is forcibly imposed on them. Such a change in the collective psychology will not occur overnight, but will depend on the sentiment of the people.
The time period from the first phase to the fourth phase of the implementation of the cooperative system can be called the transitional period for the implementation of PROUT.
From: PROUT in a Nutshell Part 20 Copyright Ananda Marga Publications 2012