The book under review is the outcome of a seminar organized by the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), New Delhi, at the behest of the Ministry of External Affairs. As stated in the foreword written by the Director of ICRIER, the objective of the seminar was to ‘address two core issues, namely, agriculture reform and prospects of agri-business investment under the aegis of the USA-India Agricultural Knowledge Initiative.’ All the seven papers in the book deal with various aspects of the agricultural sector and argue for privatization and liberalization of several government policies. Emphasis is also put on the need for reduced and specific role of various government bodies that deal with input supplies and disposal of output of agricultural goods. The focus of the discussion is, among others, on issues like the trade policies, commodity exchanges and supply chain management and the Indo-US collaboration in agri-business.
The scope of the book is thus limited to the views of Indian and the US business interests. The buzz words are global trade, privatization and limited role of the government. It is argued that government intervention should be limited to providing infrastructural facilities where the private sector doesn’t want to invest.
The essay on Indian ‘Agriculture and Policy in Transition’ by M.R. Landes is part of the research conducted by the Economic Research Services of the Department of Agriculture, United States to assess changes in consumer demand, technology, market structure and India’s changing role in the global markets. The writer argues that the government policies for achieving self sufficiency in foodgrains along with protecting agricultural employment and the intervention in the foodgrains market is largely responsible for creating distortions in the agricultural market. He points out that output growth in agriculture has slowed through the 1990s so has the rate of investment in agriculture.