American Journal of Economics and Business Administration 2 (2): 179-184, 2010 ISSN 1945-5488
© 2010 Science Publications
e-Choupal: Hope or Hype?
Neeraj Dangi and Harjit Singh
Department of Management, Institute of Management Education, Sahibabad (Ghaziabad), India
Abstract: Problem statement: This case looked at the cost benefit factor of e-Choupal model in rural India from socio-economic perspective since it is being projected as one of the models of rural empowerment. Questions were raised whether its growth both horizontally and vertically might be detrimental to sustainability of traditional agrarian economy. It also examined the role of ICT and government policies in this context. Approach: The study examined the above mentioned issues from the context of rural India. Empirical literature was referred to build a link between various rural issues and eChoupal. Results: e-Choupal model may not be leading towards a holistic development since the individual income increase of participating members may be at the expense of non-participating members of the rural commune. Conclusion: The results indicated that the present modus operandi of e-Choupal may perhaps lead to further rural consolidation through corporatization rather than rural empowerment. Key words: Rural India, agrarian economy, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), socio-economic development, e-Choupal, supply chain
Traditional Indian agriculture: Role in rural
sustenance and challenges it faces: The spectacular
story of Indian agriculture is known throughout the
world for its multi-functional success in generating
employment, livelihood, food, nutritional and
ecological security besides its cultural significance in
our customs and traditions.
With arable land area of about 168 million ha,
India ranks second only to the US in size of agriculture.
India has 52% of cultivable land with varied climates
and soils affording scope for much diversity in
agriculture. India is characterized by a complex mosaic
of distinct agro-ecosystems, differentiated by their
climatic, soil, geological, vegetational and other natural
features. It is within this diversity of habitats that an
amazing variety of crops and livestock has developed
over the millennia of Indian farming (Kothari, 1992;
1994; Sahai, 1993; Menon, 2007).
The Indian region is in fact one of the world’s eight
centers of crop plant origin. At least 166 crop species
and 320 wild relatives of crops have originated here
(Kothari, 1992; 1994; Menon, 2007). But it is the
genetic diversity within each species which is even
more mind-boggling. For example one species of
mango has diversified into over 1000 varieties of
varying sizes (Kothari, 1994).
India perhaps also has the world’s largest diversity
of livestock, with some 30 breeds of cattle, 40 of sheep,
“India lives in villages.” This axiom is as true today
as it was 60 years ago. Agriculture has been one of the
fundamental foundations of the Indian economy, as it
accounts for 23% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
and feeds a billion people and employs over 65% of the
workforce (Kothari, 1992; 1994; Sehgal et al., 1992;
Ramakrishnan, 1992). Despite a steady decline of its
share in the GDP, it is still the largest economic sector
and plays a significant role in the overall socio-economic
development of India.
In reality, the role of agriculture in India has been
not just to produce food but to sustain and contribute
towards overall socio-economic development in rural
societies. Overregulation of agriculture along with
promotion of unsustainable high input technologies in
tiny, fragmented unproductive landholdings has
increased costs, price risks and uncertainty. The
agricultural system has traditionally been unfair to
farmers. Farmers by law cannot trade directly with
consumers and have to route their produce through
traders at a local, government-mandated marketplace,
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