Saturday, March 20, 2010

Well, now we know where...

The 1031 money went.
The Yadavs are members of a new economic caste in India: nouveau riche farmers. Land acquisition for expanding cities and industry is one of the most bitterly contentious issues in India, rife with corruption and violent protests. Yet in some areas it has created pockets of overnight wealth, especially in the outlying regions of the capital, New Delhi.
By Western standards, few of these farmers are truly rich. But in India, where the annual per capita income is about $1,000 and where roughly 800 million people live on less than $2 a day, some farmers have gotten windfalls of several million rupees by selling land. Over the years, farmers and others have sold more than 50,000 acres of farmland as Noida has evolved into a suburb of 300,000 people with shopping malls and office parks.
That has created what might seem to be a pleasant predicament: What to do with the cash? Some farmers have bought more land, banked money, invested in their children’s educations or made improvements to their homes. In Punjab, a few farmers told the Indian news media they wanted to use their land riches to move to Canada. But still others are broke after indulging in spending sprees for cars, holiday trips and other luxuries.
“They go for Land Rovers,” said N. Sridharan, a professor at the School of Planning and Architecture in New Delhi. “They buy more televisions, and quite a lot of money also goes into drinking. They try to blow it out.”
Much of this conspicuous consumption is bad financial planning by farmers who have little education or experience with the seductive heat of cold cash. But some sociologists say such ostentatious spending, especially on weddings, is rooted in the desire of lower castes to show off their social mobility, partly by emulating the practices of the upper castes. [More]
Meanwhile, back at our ranch, the hot money is either farmers who thought $3000 dollar ground wasn't expensive enough, or investment funds.

Call me a closet colonialist, but examples like this make foreign ownership of farmland look slightly  less imperialist, and slightly more responsible conservationist.

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