Or, who knows today’s villages better?

rural-india22It is our firm belief that only those who live in the villages or those who have links with the rural India as landowners, traditional owners of agricultural lands, are those with much stake and can speak for the villagers’ points of view.

Unfortunately the Indian media industry, both the print and the new style TV news channels like to print or present the rural India still in standard old-fashioned ways.

Villagers  are still, after 70 years of Independence  and also a great deal of economic development where you see almost every village has changed, why transformed  into sort of well-connected roads and telecommunications, the Internet and the mobile phones have really put even the illiterate people in the know of things.

In states like Tamil Nadu, to cite one example, rural roads are such an advanced development while in the nearby AP, in the border district of Chittoor which was once the constituency of Chandrababu Naidu where once we missed one rural route and the struggle and the fear we went through till we reached the Bangalore highway, it was a nightmare. The AP rural roads is a hell even now. This is one instance again.

The point is that rural India is still neglected in the over-all development perspective of the governments.

Also, for the rural distress we have to add the related political culture, the parties, more so the regional parties have added the multiple issues of widespread corruption, poor media reporting, the corruption-ridden administration means the many government services are not reaching the people, pensions are not paid and the 100-days work schemes don’t pay the wages and so on.

Again, taking TN as a state for reference, the TN state was once well-administered but not anymore.

The two regional parties, DMK and now the AIADMK have played extreme populist policies that   there is a breakdown of the state machinery. The police is at the beck and call of the local village party functionary and the rural issues, a combination of social, caste and other issues, too many to describe here, have led to, as we have seen right now in the state a series of suicides by the very poor people who have been caught in the web of usury.

Just as we write a series of suicides, from the Southern state to the capital where people have borrowed at very high rates of interests.
So the spread of usury means what?

It means that banks are not lending money to the very many segments.
So, what reforms needed?

A whole range of administrative reforms!

How to ensure the future of the villages would be set on some rational grounds?

We need to recognise the rural realities as they are emerging.We need to recognise, we say, by recognising the existing traditional social and economic hierarchies, right.

There will be social and economic inequalities, right?
Inequities right?
How to deal with inequities right?

As of now there is no such rational approach. The current chaotic political culture is one party when captures power dominates the entire society. From universities to the village panchayat, the local party functionaries dictate terms to even the Vice-Chancellor!

The District Collect, Superintendent of Police and even others, we restrain ourselves from mentioning the other branches of the government, these government agencies instead of operating in some independence depends upon the almost whimsical powers exercised by the incumbent Chief Ministers.

So, we are now living in a democracy which is becoming more and more authoritarian. So, the time has come to study the rural issues in some new objective manner.

So, please appoint a high-power commission to suggest the new rural institutions and thereby giving some new freedoms to citizens to become farmers, to buy lands and rent lands and cultivate crops and invest in rural professions and services.

We have to generate employment. One sure way of generating employment is to give freedoms to people, farmers to invest funds in farming.
Today, we have to resort to much illegal means to get things done in the rural areas.

We know much of the same corruption on a larger scale is indulged by the persons in cities.

Corporate corruption we all know. Some of the more powerful politicians have been punished and some are inside jail. Still many are outside the jails and are awaiting sentencing!

All this is now reported in the media for fear of the authorities only.
So, what to be done?

We have to debate. Teach rural sociology in all colleges in the first degrees like B.A. Teach rural sociology and conduct department-led research in all universities.

Let the Prime Minister and the Chief Ministers talk on the great rural issues of the day.

Introduce reforms with well-qualified to do it
Education’s many new challenges!  Education is a public cause!
Not a private profit!   This is the School Journal’s motto!

chairmanBut then there are many new challenges to education as a current ideal. There are practical issues and also theoretical and even philosophical issues. First the current issues. There are great many shortages in the education sector. There are no qualified teachers, you know in many areas like Maths and Science. In the UK they are looking for maths and science teachers. If you have the skills, you get the visas which are sought by Indians for all other jobs. So, there are education skills shortages you must know. Then there are shortages within India itself.

One top public school in India recently advertised for the headmaster’s job. The School advertised at huge costs in all Indian newspapers. Almost a whole year was wasted in the search for a qualified HM. But alas! Only two or three finally turned up! So, the Selection Board, very decoratively titled; panicked and then they wanted another search, after spending huge money on foreign recruiters!

Alas, there are not good graduates from any of the reputed colleges or elsewhere. One from such unheard places like Rohtak and some remote institutions are the ones that helped to send candidates. What is the message here? The message must be loud and clear!

India is not producing the required quantity of talents in a wide variety of fields! How can you become a first class nation with first class citizens. The corporate leaders gathered in Delhi and feted each other on the great strides they have made in economic growth. But do they think of the sectors outside their sphere of activity? We fear they don’t. So too others like politicians, social leaders or the cultural, religious and intellectual thinkers. There is a scarcity of talents in many critical areas, not to speak of education in particular.

Recently, there was this Kerala senior writer and intellectual in his own right, Paul Zacharia, the Malayalam writer and he spoke how the Indian media had destroyed the renaissance spirit in India.

May be this is an extreme view and in our view it is the moneyed class, it is the fund givers to the political parties and the new generation of politicians, selfish and unconcerned for the wider issues, it is this political and, if we can use such an expression, the capitalist class that are contributing to the rise of an authoritarian regime, authoritarian political culture, where the uneducated low caliber political worker calls the shots, the state machinery, the bureaucracy responds to the local police and  the local goondas that runs the state.

Corruption is an area we avoid. Why, now, education itself has become the very corruption breeding sector, where you needn’t study, learn and work at all. You have the money, you get the degree you want! From an LKG admission to a medical degree!

Unless we, the thinking sections wake up, there is every likelihood of Indian society turning to submit itself to an authoritarian regime. No democracy. Not even the semblance of anti-corruption measures taken by the Communist leader XI. Yes, education may be a public cause. But it is has become a business and an exploitation of the helpless society! So, please take education seriously!

We support Prime Minister Modi’s approach
Finance ministers don’t make for economic experts!

modiYaswant Sinha is a senior BJP leader who was once the Finance minister in the Vajpayee government. Now, his family members, many, son a minister, his family members, one an ambassador and another a direct in a high profile IT company and others are all in high positions. In normal times he should not have any grievances at the government. Sinha, the senior, had also been given some high profile assignments as in J&K.

And yet, he had come out with a savage attack on Modi’s economic policies pointing out at the slowdown in the Indian economy. Fine. But then he had taken some personal shots and that had irritated the government. Ironically, this has come to the help of the Congress party from which Mr.P.Chidambaram had come out in support of Mr.Sinha.

Now, Arun Jaitley, naturally had responded with some sharp comments. The point here is that three finance ministers, two former ones, Jaitley the incumbent one are calling names. This is no use.

Let us remember the three ones are not economic experts, one, why the two are lawyers, the third, Mr.Sinha, a former bureaucrat.

Why we say this is that economics is a serious science and expertise in the science doesn’t come easy.

Unfortunately or fortunately, there are too many economists in India and most of them are in academics or in government service.
I studied economics when Dr.Manmohan Singh was a PhD scholar at Nuffield College in the early Sixties.

Dr.Singh’s career is unique. He was government servant and also became the Prime Minister. I think there is unity of view that he was a brilliant economist in government but a political disaster as a politician. Under him we saw unprecedented corruption in government and this decimated the Congress party in 2014.

Now, I studied economics under Sir Roy Harrod who was an associate  of the great Lord Keynes(John Maynard Keynes)and also J.R.Hicks who won the Nobel for economics. But I never became a typical student of economics. I turned to politics at the early age and I have no regrets. I contested for the Madras Legislative Council in 1968, defeated the DMK founder, C.N.Annadurai’s candidate as an Independent. Besides being a colleague of “Anna”, I became closer to Kamaraj. The rest, as they say, is history!

Here is how I see the Indian economy. Economic growth right now is in a slow mode. May be. But India has now become and seen as the fastest growing economy in the world.

Simply because there is a current hiccup doesn’t mean Indian economy is going down. This is where I like to differ from former finance ministers. They seem to want to score points and even create a scare of sorts.

This is simply irresponsible. They should debate issues inside Parliament and try to build public opinion. Now, they want media publicity, in my opinion.

Mr.Modi had done the impossible. He had defeated the Congress and got an absolute majority and in power.

He had in fact, in my opinion, transformed the economy. See the sort of changes in the very many sectors. As for the economic growth, there is every chance the economic growth would pick up seed and momentum once the global scenario changes and some stability come to the world scene.
One can cite the great many structural changes that had been effected in the last three years.

Also, not only in the economic sphere but also in the social and even in the political sphere.

The corruption scare is laid down, the process of poll funding is getting transparent and also the very society and the various classes, upper, middle and the working classes have their outlets to criticise and let out steam, so to say.

Japan, China and even the USA have come in to give us the perspective and momentum, in my opinion.

Some of Modi’s Ministers are outstanding, we can say openly. Chinese economy is now giving competition to India in many areas of economic development, from infrastructure to heavy industry. There is the capitalist mode of development where we have to encourage private sector investments in a big way. We have to motivate and mobilise the big industries, both indigenous as well as foreign companies to come and invest. The GE investment in loco-making is good news.

The bullet train technology has the potential to revolutionise rail technology.
The competition is severe here. So too civil aviation and also telecom. We have to take a broad view and also an open-minded view.
Our exports too need much acceleration. Private industry captains need to be interacted with.
So, let us create a climate of optimism and also a confidence in the government.
We are from the Congress stable! Yet, how can we deny the reality.
There is an upsurge in the public perceptions, society seems optimistic and people of India seem to be ready and alert to integrate with the outside world.
We learn as we go. The NITI Ayog is reformed and a new economic Advisory Council is constituted.
In agriculture too new ideas are added and we on our part would be contributing new ideas. How for instance, Netherlands, is contributing to the new agri researches in seeds and also in the cultivation and exports of agriculture products and foods. Netherlands is the world’s second largest agri exporter, next to the USA. How the one university there has created a Food Valley, as on par with a Silicon Valley in the USA. These news and agri research developments, we would be bringing to the attention of the government.
In national building, how to combat many of the problems like hunger, abolition of poverty and creating jobs in agriculture, there are so many opportunities.
Modi’s many social reform missions are timely.
People are enthused and that is what matters. After all economic growth must give many of the services Modi regime had launched.
Economics, let us not forget, is to give largest happiness to the largest number of people. In this mission Modi had succeeded beyond any doubt.
So, everyone who is competent and committed can contribute to the growth of the economy.
Yes, we can differ from the government policies but the criticism must be constructive not negative.
And let us remember we have to do things in a spirit of collective endeavour. Narrow partisan views in such a subject like economic growth won’t take us any far.
Let us also remember economic growth is always in single digit only for most of the history. There are no magic wands to accelerate the economic faster. However great an economic expert is he or she can only stimulate the economy only within sharp limits.
Yet, somehow, we have made economic science a mystery science. In the earlier times, economics was used to create awareness of, say, over population (Ricardo) or creation of wealth (Adam Smith) or even government intervention in times of economic crisis(Lord Keynes).Even later, economists like John Galbraith and even Schumacher(Small is Beautiful)made economic to serve the larger public interest.
Only afterwards economics as a science or art, has become an esoteric subject, only legible to fellow practioners of this mysterious world.
Now, as far as India is concerned here economists got jobs first in government or in universities.
So too much theoretical solutions (like for reducing poverty, to accelerating growth) have become fashionable.
But economics is all about people’s happiness and people’s fulfilling their needs, their satisfaction, and their happiness. In this sense, we have to see economics and there is a limit to pure economic reasoning. After all, we should remember that originally economics was called political economy.
Please recall the famous words of Lord Keynes. He said that any politician searching for some light would be seen as a slave of some defunct economist they might have learnt in their student days! The point is that anyone in power or authority must be willing to learn new ideas and new policies from experts. That is the purpose of a Niti Ayog or the Economic Advisory Council.
Please remember economics is a serious science and it is a complex issue to make economic policy that has elements of politics and also social and even ethical questions like equity and justice. So, please don’t expose oneself and lose credibility!

What is its future prospects for power?
Now, it is simply seem as a cash-machine on which a group of discredited men and women are sitting up!

They are hoping against all hopes of standing up to face an aggressive Mr.Narednra Modi!
Rahul Gandhi’s American tour and the image-building can the Congress party revival?

ChairmanAsks one US-based observer, Sadanand Dhume who is a resident fellow  at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington who attended  Rahul Gandhi’s meeting and had seen in close quarters where in New York  at a hotel auditorium  and also interacted somewhat. He has now written an edit-page article for the Times of India, September 21, 2017.

This article sums up what the made-up Rahul image, made up by some interested people like Sam Pitroda, former adviser to Rajiv Gandhi and quite a capable technocrat.

The edit-page article describes with no hesitation as a some sort of half-witted man-child, quoting social media and WhatsApp.

The young Gandhi must prove his capabilities at the elections; no amount of body-building can help. Once he is seen as a loser in the political arena who else can help him to become a leader, a worthy heir. There is no new idea, no credible ideology even when compared with the patch-up Hindutva, right?

Even what the Indian media had reported doesn’t give much hope as far as I am concerned.
Before I proceed further I have to share with readers may own background in Congress party. I had moved closely as a student at Visva Bharati, Santiniketan when Pandit Nehru was the chancellor there in the years, 1955-59.

I was greatly attracted by Pandit Nehru and also later when I registered my name as an ordinary member of the Congress party in 1962,I went on to work with great Congress leaders, then, K.Kamaraj, the Congress President who made both All Bhahadur Shastri and Indira Gandhi in 1966.
I worked at the AICC, then at 7, Jantar Mantra Road and thus I came to know most of the then leaders, from Morarji Desai and others.

I contested for the Madras Legislative Council in 1968 and was a member for six years.
I had remained in the Congress party ever since, perhaps the only Congress man in India who had not changed parties!

Now, I can bear witness to the fact, the harsh reality that the AICC over which Sonia Gandhi had presided for 19 years is as good as dead! There are office bearers like Gandhi, the president for years and years, for 30 or even forty years!
The party had not even changed peon. All the member of the Working Committee are family retainers only and they too haven’t changed for all these years. First, my question is what sort of a political party is the Congress where one family and its family retainers continue to remain there, how any change can take place either in terms of new ideas or new policies.

Mrs. Sonia Gandhi is a mere figurehead and she doesn’t bring any new energy to the party. She is sick and tired and doesn’t even care to receive visitors. There is a corrupt coteries that operates behind her and any hint of rebellion is nipped in the bud!

As for Rahul Gandhi, even now, the writer Mr.Dhume pays not a compliment but a devastating comment comparing his “intellectual stimulation, the Twinkle magazine”.
Most of his reported speeches, dutifully some TV news channels broadcast them, show they, some portions are carefully written and vetted for publicity only.

For instance, what does job creation Mr.Gandhi know about?
So too the polarisation, economic development etc.

Not one line or one word or one observation shows his maturity. To compare Mahatma Gandhi and at the same breathe Nehru and Ambedkar and Moulana Azad as NRIs, Non-Resident Indians is a joke and might even hurt the sentimental of the people.

What such descriptions and such observations could help to revive the Congress party in the country. The Congress party is losing, steadily, some of the senior states in many states, the latest being Narayan Rane in Maharashtra. Many had left in Karnataka, Gujarat and other major states.
Also, the mother-son duo are simply cut off from the ground level realities.IN many major Congress bastions like Tamil Nadu, the leadership had chosen film actresses, party defectors as key office bearers.

I myself had tried to revive the party in TN where the great Congress leader Kamaraj was the most popular. But no way. Today such a great nationalist party had pledged itself to the rival DMK in whose alliance the very 2014 general election was lost owing to charges of high corruption like “2G,coal scam” etc.

And yet the cynicism of the Congress leaders based in Delhi is such they bring in Dr.Manmohan Singh under whole leadership the party lost so heavily  often to sit with Sonia so that the image of things are normal. This is a great self deception.

There has never been a genuine international party election. Nor its funds are accounted. The Election Commission too got frustrated for the party not submitted its audited accounts.
So, a big deception is sought to be played. No state level leaders are even chosen by any consensus.
So, the whole atmosphere in the Congress party ranks is the senior leaders behave like sultans when the very sultanate had gone!

Politics is perhaps the most high priority pursuit of those who are already in it.
It is the most ambitious pursuit of the good and the bad, right?
Who said politics is the highest public morality? Whoever had said it or not what we see today, more so in India, is that politics as perceived at the top of the society is not ethics or ethical pursuit.
We may not be wrong if we say, in the pregnant phrase of Hannah Arenddt (1906-1976), it is “the banality of evil”.

The Congress party can be revived only on basic ethical basis.
There must be a honest self introspection.

Dynastic succession under the present mindset is a sure way for further disaster. No amount of outward tricks would do. Rahul Gandhi has to work under some other senior leaders for some more time if he still wants to continue as a full-time politician.

There has to be change in the mindset of Sonia Gandhi and her close associates. Most of them I have met them, they are all very dedicated Congressmen but they all seem to imagine that to keep quite is the only way to their own survival.

We met for instance one lady Congress leader who served as a successful Chief Minister of the Union territory. When we asked for her ideas she gave the impression she only was waiting for some “job” from Sonia Gandhi.

The same too we found from most of the senior leaders who prefer to continue in Lutyen’s bungalow zone, rather move out to their respective states!

A sort of rebellion would break out once in 2019 Rahul Gandhi doesn’t win. In such a post- 2019 scenario, we feel that that there could be an internal party revolt.

There are as of now one or two faces, like the Karnataka Chief Minister, Mr.Siddaramiah, who could even emerge as an alternative leaders, even an alternative Prime Ministerial candidates the guts to!
Yes, in today’s Indian politics, it is money and social caste power matter. Mr.Siddaramiah too has the guts to take on Modi.  No one as it is dares to question Mr.Modi. It is the contest of personalities that would matter as long as Mr.Modi continues on an aggressive path.

Of course there are other contenders. Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Sharad Yadav and others from others states too could emerge.  The present day silence of conspiracy might disappear once it becomes clear that Rahul Gandhi’s artificial propping up doesn’t work. Comments welcome.

Why? People don’t want to read anything about agriculture!
Such is the current public interest in agriculture!
Farmers’ news has come to mean only farmers’ suicides and other distress news only. Why this state of affairs? We wonder!

sliderimage2Vadamalai Media is an agriculture media company engaged in its priority goal of highlighting agriculture and  rural India issues and we have been in this field for the past quarter century and more. We have been publishing not just in English but also the regional languages too. Our Tamil agriculture monthly is there for long and it is a highly popular and well-sought after publication in Tamil and also in Kannada language as well.

For those engaged in Tamil journalism, in the daily newspaper and also the more weekly glossies, rather in cheap newsprint, we are talking here more as a journalist fraternity, we like to share our experience that high quality magazines in Tamil, covering as we do on all topics of great public interest, also in some  very specialist niche segments like promoting of Tamil language  growth, why even in such abstract areas like the current philosophical and other fields like original thinking in new intellectual debates, we do write and try our hand in writing in Tamil where this sort of experiment has not been done, our success must be an eye-opener.

So too in agriculture. Many in the past had tried their hands in English language brining our annuals publications and also others who tried in agri/rural journalism they have failed, this is not a happy expression but failure is the blunt reality!

Of course, the very thin audience is a problem. But then even those who have launched broadsheet format they are visibly struggling for a market share.

Why, even the once glossy journalism in weekly magazines soon after the 1975 Emergency was lifted, they are all now suffering after the advent of the Internet.

Anyway, why we say all the things is just to encourage ourselves not to give up hope!

Yes, there is a need to have a media to cover the what is perhaps the largest segment of the Indian economy, the agri sector, and the rural sector. Of course every media expert would analyse this challenge to media existence in such niche segment.

Yes, we have learnt a login the sales and marketing and distribution side. Even the once mighty glossy weekly now writes and sends individual copies to prominent potential subscriber asking for a subscription!

So, we should feel shy of sharing this rather embarrassing details.
All this we say to show how much more challenges we face as a standalone media house.

Vadamalai Media now has achieved a brand status and those who search for serious writing in some serious fields, as we have pointed out be it politics or some public policies  where some sensitive issues are involved like say in the issue of freedoms, privacy etc, where do the Indian readers to look for?

We dare say we are the one media who dare not discard any serious questions of policy. Anyway, now here in this issue we have carried for the benefit of readers, the general readers as well as specialist ones interested in agricultural reforms, there are great many examples of what can be done positively in agriculture sector.

The story we carry in this issue is about what is a great agricultural country, small in geographical size but ranked in the first place in transforming   the favourable geography and climate, namely Netherlands.

Some of its achievements are unbelievable. It is the number two count try, after the USA, in the export vegetable seeds and vegetables and other services.

The point we want to convey to the agri policy makers in the country is to see what Netherlands is achieving. We often talk of Israel or even New Zealand is doing in agriculture and dairying.

Every country is unique in its own way. Even we can learn from some of the African countries.

Surely, India has to change in the agri sector in some radical ways.
For one thing, we have been long obsessed with the abstract politics like Socialism and Communism. May be it was a mistake to adopt the Soviet Russian model of economic development. May be not. But then it is a serious mistake, we say, right now, the ruling dispensation is simply not having grip on the agri sector.

You see agriculture affects so many people at various levels. So, one solution doesn’t fit for all, for all regions, for all income groups in agriculture sector. So, why not take up the Netherlands model of free house cultivation on a large scale?

Then you can also take up the Israeli experiences in some other areas.
Of course, there are examples of failures, as when Chandrababu Naidu took up the Israeli model and failed miserably.

Even such expression is wrong, we admit. So, one failure doesn’t mean the other experiment would also a failure. Some daring decision to learn from successful experiences, from agriculturally endowed countries we have to go for.

This month’s cover story is one such attempt to give the much suffered Indian farming community a best shot, so to say.

Only those who dare and act has the chance of success. Success seldom goes to the timid.

Given the Prime Minister’s darings to take bold decisions, urge the PM to turn his attention to Netherlands’ agriculture.