Trump election victory!  Why this turn of events?

In Rome where the concept of Republican government took shape!

In Rome where the concept of Republican government took shape!

Media today plays a critical role in political campaigning.24 hour news cycle and social media biases also contribute to an emotional pitch rather than facts and factual analysis of rival candidates’ intrinsic worth. This is called post-truth syndrome.

However this aspect of winning and losing elections is concerned, we in India needs to debate openly and strives for a transparent and open democratic structure. Now, what we see is that many critical truths are buried in silence for the benefit of all parties and sections of public opinion.  This has to change.

Widely expected and predicted candidate was Hilary Clinton, the most articulate and sophisticated Vis a Vis Donald Trump, the most aggressive and most vituperative candidate who had no respect for the niceties of restraint as a powerful alternative to the Democratic candidate. In the ended everyone was shocked and surprised and silenced in the end!

How this has come about? This result in a democracy which is powerful and based on strict Constitutional safeguards.

Yes, there is a long history of democracy in the modern world. But today, in the wake of globalisation and mass migration and refugee exodus in Europe we have some new and unsuspected feature of democratic process emerging in our minds.
One the breakup of the European Union with the Brexit vote in UK. Now, Trump win.

There are new questions and new books. One book’s subtitle is: Why Elections do not produce responsive government (Princeton University).The gist of the new argument is that the latest US elections don’t give any clear guidance.  As for the rest of the world and also in particular for Indian democracy, we can draw some conclusions nearer home. In some states, in particular, in TN we have seen how the Dravidian movement, the Dravidian parties that came to power in 1967 onwards have gone about electioneering with utterly irresponsible empty rhetoric.

First they raised partition of India along with the Pakistan demand came about in the 1930s. E.V.Ramasamy Periyar put forward a similar demand for Dravidastan! He even met Jinnah and at that time no one took much note. EVR originally aligned with the Justice party, one that wanted the British rule to continue. When Independence came in 1948 EVR called it a sad day!

The demand for separation, separatism as a political slogan had many resonances in many other countries too. Even now, there are separatist movements. There is even one such demand in California, within the USA itself. Also, the old and new demands for separatism within Europe too. This resonance finds echoes with the recent rise of Nationalist politics in France and in some other fringe groups. Some columnists recently have called attention to the 1947 Partition and the million dead and the 15 millions displaced and the latest Indian-Pakistan stand offs and this points to the secession existential dilemma.

The unceasing terrorism originating from Pakistan and the developments in the Western nations raises many questions. Questions for our future and the very future of democratic polity.

The very first day protests erupted across the USA against the election of Trump and 1,100 CEOs wrote to him to unite the United States. This has no precedent.  Parliamentary Democracy we have derived from UK but the Constitutional Republic we have got from the US, says many. They cite Dr.B.R.Ambedkar’s long stay in the USA.

But the more recent fear is the rise of the Hindu right wing inside and also outside in the USA itself.

Once this mistaken view gains ground, it is not the illegal migrants of Muslims and Mexicans but also the Hindu groups that have to face the heat. Cumulatively, if the Trump ideology gains ground, to that extent the idea of the USA would face decline and this would impact India greatly.

Inside India, we have much to be concerned. The secessionist, right wing regional parties, not just in the South but also elsewhere could contribute to destabilize the polity.

Any political ideology, if it is couched in extreme terms, without any historical relevance, then, there is danger.

If that turned doesn’t destabilise the unity of the country, the tendency to resort to extremism of any sort, be it racial or linguistic or hero-worship of the leader, even in the face of so much democracy gains, we find the latest leader-worship phenomena in some parts of the country, not alone in one party but in many parties, there is much to worry about. Democracy is only a cover for undemocratic deteriorations.

Be it unaccounted election funds, from the corrupting corporate contributions, but also the mass-elected leaders themselves become so undemocratic and corrupt to the core that even other Constitutional institutions, the judiciary, bureaucracy and even the media, not to speak of the political party structures where there are no well-defined internal party elections and dynasties thrive, with so much unaccounted funds at their disposal there is real danger for the survival and unity of the polity. This surface democratic cover with undemocratic and even autocratic exercise of power is a reality in many countries even now. From Philippines to Cambodia to Thailand to other South East Asian countries to “Agony in Europe”.

The future of democracy certainly looks uncertain. We in India have much to worry about. Trump’s is only latest in a series of authoritarian and demagogic leaders who have received massive mandates from the electorate. Trump only added to this discomfort!

As we have seen in largest developments inside India, the very same institutions name anyone, be it governments or parties, media or black money hoarders, those who evaded taxes and ill-gotten wealth, the ones hiding in UK and elsewhere, are all guilty parties. We have seen how the media is manipulated, that has paid huge sums to the PR machines and so too the undisclosed donations to politicians by big corporate house.

So, there is no one-stop solution nor any one-time solution. Citizen vigilance is the only hope. So, beware of the critical issues before the country.

Prospects for rice exports seem good!

bl04_agri_samba_bl_1708740fThis year’s untimely rains have however helped, farmers in the rice belts of North, in states like Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh say, that that paddy output this year might be higher than the official estimates.

Rice, we must know is an export commodity these times and hence what is happening to the paddy growing segments is critical importance.

This year’s government target (FY17) is 108.50 million tonnes. Farmers says this target, both kharif and rabi taken into account might increase by 7.5 per cent. Sanket Thakur, Director, Chattishgarh Agricon Samithi, a non-government organisation working on agriculture in Central India has said that the rainfall has compensated for the initial dry season.

Says another farmers’s leader. Karamchand Asrani, President Madhya Pradesh Chawal Udyog Mahasangh that a major part of MP was hit by floods but still the state is set for a record paddy production. The production could be high as much as 25 per cent the farmer says. The untimely rains have helped the medium and long duration paddy crops. The good output of paddy is likely to keep the prices stable. While the production prospects are good, not so the optimism of the farmers who grumble about the Minimum Support Price, MSP which is four percent while the production costs have increased.

Of course, the most important point is that from a larger point of view it is the exports opportunities for the Indian paddy.

Traders says the exports are likely to go up this year. Though there is a sharp fall in the acreage of paddy, that is the basmati variety, the regions growing basmati are of course Punjab and Haryana, the rise in exports of other varieties of rice, there is a likelihood of rise in rice exports. Mohinder Pal Jindal, president, All India Rice Exporters’ Association says that there would be arise of 5-10 per cent in the basmati variety. These states export about 4 mt of basmati every year.

In non-basmati variety Chattisgarh exports over 1 million tonnes to African countries. The state plans to export this year 10 per cent more. Though over-all, the prospects for Indian agriculture, Indian rice exports are all seem good enough to entertain some optimism.

Over-all, the total countrywide rainfall in the official monsoon season (June to September) remained three percent below average. In some big states in the South, both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu had huge deficits and thus the Cauvery water dispute prolonged the agony for the people, not necessarily for the farmers. Trade between the two states suffered hugely.

Otherwise, over all the monsoon this year has not been bad, the kharif crop plantings has been fairly good and thus the government official machinery is satisfied and predicts a an all time high output of almost all crops. The agri minister expects a nine percent growth in the overall kharif grains.

Fine. A 60 per cent spurt or jump in the output of pulses and 40 per cent in oilseeds. Two critically import-dependent commodity groups are these only.
The 91, again critically important for agriculture and otherwise, major reservoirs has surged 25 per cent above the last year’s levels. It is just 2 per cent short of a previous 10 years’ average.

So, it looks fine? Not so from many other parameters’ points of view. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has once again failed to get its long range monsoon prognosis right, right?

The short range forecasting capability has attained a distinctive improvement. Actual rainfalls have turned out to be well below the IMD’s forecasts. As much as nine per cent of its prediction point below. Farmers, those too Indian farmers are the most neglected lot from many points of view.

One the weather forecast. Second, assuming the monsoon rains are good, any bumper harvest means also a lower price prospect! This is the eternal dilemma of the Indian farmer!

Unless there is some assurance for a price support system in place the Indian farmers would continue to suffer. This is where a framing strategy is called for. Is there a farming strategy in place in India at present?

Even after all our talks about using the latest technology tools?

Niti Aayog drawing up agri reforms!

nitiAgri sector is long neglected in fundamental policy thinking and hence there is no policy reforms for long. Now, we learn that Niti Aayog, the old Planning Commission-type policy making body set up by the new government seems to be really serious bout agri reforms.

The external factors for this push, not just for agriculture but also for the other sectors spring from some of the obvious recent developments in the economy and polity. The Indian economy is not generating enough jobs for the aspiring youth segment, right?

The serious socio-political consequences can be seen from the number of social agitations, the social unrest is reflected from the number of events. The Patel agitation in Gujarat, Jat madness in Haryana, as one expert terms it, Gujjar movement in Rajasthan, most recently the Maratha marches in Maharashtra reflect the emerging social realities.

Each state, from the advanced to the most backward ones show signs of various types of social maladies.

From the unreasonable populist policies as in TN where the free, almost free alcohol shops to again almost free PDS where cheap rice and other essentials, why even cheap Amma food canteens to other states where similar subsidies are not so openly are in operation but nevertheless so much of freebies have made people, especially the youth to a lull in their aspirations. How long you can keep the educated and aspiring youth to purposeless existence.

So, the segments that are left out, no land, no jobs and no hopes either, so you see the rising tensions in society. If you don’t run a state on rational grounds and you simply hold forth on empty slogans then a time comes where there is no real growth in the economy frustrations take different shapes, including sometimes violent ones. So we welcome the Niti Aayog’s new farm reform proposals.

Liberal contract farming is one new concept.This do away with the old tenancy laws. We hope this time it is real reform. For long we have held back any progress on farm front by tying the owner and the tenant into an impossible existence.

The tenant doesn’t invest, neither the owners have any interest in invest. The result was a stagnating rural economic system.

To double rural incomes by the next five years is a worth goal. We support the Niti Aayog’s proposals whole heartedly.You see that agri sector issues are too many and too complicated.Land ownership in the villages is highly skewed.

There are very few big genuine traditional landlord families, others are absentee land lords who own rural properties but do other business and live in the cities.You can wish away theses categories of land owners.

What we would recommend is that you have to first recognise the rural realities.
Make actual farming by those who are willing, tenants as contractors for fixed period. There must be freedom for owners, investors and others, with high-tech agri skills freedom to lease out lands for fixed periods.

Otherwise, no owner would part with his lands easily. As things are there is no way you can remove the un-paying tenants from lands. So, all lands are barred from investments. Once you give the freedoms to owners to lease out to fixed periods there is a chance you can bring in new investments and once investments come in there would be a chance to raise agricultural productivity.

This aspect needs to be further debated and resolved in mutually acceptable way.
Can the Niti Aayog can do it? Time only can tell!

Rotten in the state of Denmark? Horror stories!

That is how one is tempted to ask when we read the continuous stories of human depravity, total loss of a sense of belonging and whether people there care to worry about their what is seemingly their daily on-going increased neglect of the people by the government and the elite classes?

48 deaths of encephalitis in four weeks?

maxresdefaultIn Kalahandi, daughters dismantle roof for mother’s funeral. Then of course the repeated news about the lack of ambulance to carry the dead or the ambulance abandons a body on the way to hospital..

Can anyone hear such horror stories from a state ruling by a party and a leader who can’t speak his mother tongue and only English he speaks and yet he is loved by his people and repeatedly elected for the many terms!

This is from a state which is so rich in so many resources, minerals and other resources where the foreign investors love to invest and where there are so many opportunities to give a good governance and yet this sadly is missing and hence to series of such heart-rending, heart-breaking stories.

The Central government authorities be it the health department or the other departments that must have acted to set things right. So far as we are able to make out no further criticism from the larger public or the tech savvy Prime Minister who sends out dime a dozen tweets on all sorts of issues did it seem to have expressed his own horror.

Are we creating a health infrastructure, the latest developments in telemedicine and policies that must enable even the poorest must be able to access modern facilities, must be able to utilise the services like ambulances.

A minimum and decent healthcare must be at the disposal of the poor, right?

We have so much expertise, so man y experts and so much technological tools. Why not the Odisha government call for experts like Dr.Devi Shetty or the IT wizards like Nandan Nilekani to give some blueprint like a total coverage and emergency services that would go to help everyone at the remotest of the parts of the country.

Surely, there must be a special package of help in health emergencies in states like Bengal too where too we hear often horror stories in infant mortality.  Eastern Indian states are poorly served.

That is clear. We are just outsiders and we don’t know much of the ground reality. But from the many statistics that are published from the mainstream media India’s health sector needs urgent priority.

Niti Aayog is doing some very wonderful initiatives and it has to turn its attention to healthcare issues in the rural Indian space. Tele-medicine is one tool that must be at the disposal of the primary health centres.

Panchayat Raj ministry also must be brought in when it comes to medical emergencies in the panchayats. As of now, more so in the South and may be this is also true of the North, Panchayat raj bodies are more revenue-departments controlled?

There is no other way except to involve and entrust the grassroots institutions to take care of the core health emergencies at the grassroots. There is no virtue, we say, when one political party gets elected term after term.

These parties often leave back a legacy of much wrong, not just corruption alone.Bad governance has many facets. This one instance of health emergencies at the grass roots is one such bad legacy.

Please do something!

They complete a story!

narendraModi’s two years in office needs some balanced comments. Such comments are missing in the Indian media, both pint and the electronic media. The media, we should call it now more realistically, the Indian media industry is also at the cross roads. First, there is the olden day freedom is missing in the very elite circles. The media owners and the media professionals, though belonging to the same family, in the sense they belong to the same company, nowadays the very media industry scene had changed. The TV channel is a new industry and the spirit and the working conditions now changed.

There are so many TV news channels, to take one segment, that some names like the Sun family owns so many channels and others like the one name, owned often by a politicians, political party or some weak ones owned by new entrants and there are others like the Thanthi Tamil newspaper, almost a giant industry now, the quality of the products varies. Some serious ones struggle for vieweship, other thrives by entertainments, mostly film serials and also the quality of their political coverage is dismal.

So too the quality of politics.TN made big news in this election because money flowed like water or liquor, as in the TASMAC shops nearby!

We don’t know other states but Kerala, Puducherry too is not alien to money and liquor politics. As for Assam, we don’t know much. But politics, elections have all now become dictated by money power, black money and unaccounted

Agriculture can thrive in India only when the agri sector gets credit from banks through some streamlined channels like a kisan credit card. Now so many channels are in place and new techs like the Adhaar have enabled an average citizen to do things hassle-free. Yet there are age-old hurdles for an average farmer persists. An average Indian farmer is still a debtor! Still a court-bird. The lower level bureaucracy, revenue dept and the Taluk courts have accumulated issues that are pending for year and years.

So too life in the average village. Many issues like sanitation, roads, and telecommunications are poor.

Youngmen and more so women can work from home, if there are focused policies to create rural BPOs. Some of the best brains are there in the country. What is needed is a willingness to invite and go by experts’ guidance. You can the big picture from any angle and do things. The micro, small, medium enterprises, MSMEs, alone keep 11 crore people in jobs.

We guess most them are in rural and semi-rural areas. So, what we now do is to focus on agri sector and also rural sector as a new focus area. This would only strengthen the agri sector with all sorts of new and innovative startups. In fact a new special fund for encouraging start-ups in the agri, food and services sectors could usher in a new revolution.

Big Corporates must have some minimum social commitment under the CSR head. So too the new MNCs also must carry a minimum commitment. As for institutional credit, the banks must really be mandated a minimum priority lending.

Why, even the panchayat raj reforms must carry a supervisory role over some of the new roles. There are any number of NGOs involved in the grassroots developments. Get the best man for the job, as minister. Give a high profile role.

Agriculture needs high profile. Send farmers, even farm, now announced in Karnataka, on foreign learning tours so that there is a new sense of liberation in the countryside.

The story of how Indian agriculture’s delicate balances with the largest number of peoples’ lives are linked or disrupted by the new growth strategies!

Yes, Indian agriculture is recognised by everybody, from the run of the mill average politician to the entrenched corporate lobby to claim their own share of advantages, be it the votes or the rights and concessions from the natural resources, and be it coal blocks or ores and other basic resources for their own growth strategy.

There is a mad rush in this new found enthusiasm to applaud and praise the Prime Minister’s own agenda and vision. The point here is not about what the PM would do or don’t.

The point here is that in this new enthusiasms for effecting the ‘ease of doing business’ there is still many serious issues, issues of strategy and also ideology. Agriculture is India’s greatest strength and the very eco system of Indian strength, the largest number of people are engaged in this sector and also the very rural Indian socio-cultural sector is also profoundly affected by any narrow and short-term centred industrial and also urban-cantered approach.

Rahul Gandhi and his other deputies, also we saw Mr.Scindia, the young heir to the Gwalior Maharaja, are speaking about farmers’ welfare. Oh, how wonderful! we see farmers are sought after the Congress debacle and yet what sort of politics ,these two younger heirs who have otherwise no claim or interest or commitment to promoting India’s over-all vision in the long -run.

Agriculture policy making in India has a long history. In the pre-Independence days, yes, we had has certain policies. Lord Curzon had some ideas. He established the Indian agriculture research institute. Yet, under the British we had had only intermittent famines and hunger and large scale death.

After Independence we had our problems, food imports and then came the Green Revolution.Now? Now, under Mr.Modi what sort of agriculture vision we see? None, to say the least.

The very selection of personnel, ministers is a problem for the Prime Minister. Agriculture, as we have said is about the largest segment of people, in different states of well-being or deprivation. One marked feature of the current agrarian scenario is the unstoppable farmers’ suicide! This should be a great shame for every one of us, be farmers or non-farmers.

Second, the uneven economic development in many states. Some states are well developed agriculturally, say in TN, Kerala or Karnataka or Maharashtra. But there are parched of acute deprivation, as in Maharashtra where the scourge of farmer’s distress is very persistent.

Ideas seem to be in short supply. We have to welcome big investments, FDIs and also MNCs in retail. Fine. But the anxiety is that unless the policy makers are sensitive enough, in the sense unless they, be they minister or MPs or experts have some rural base or touch, either they should have lived there or should have owned lands or engaged in some rural industry, they can’t be expected to-do justice to the great cause of evolving a national consensus for agriculture development and rural upliftment.

Agriculture will be with us, almost forever, right? So too the villages and villagers, right?

So, how we will make room for these eternal verities, so to say?

Have we ever given thought to make villages at least attractive enough for the new generation rural India where there will be land owners, landlord, if you don’t shy away from the reality.

Unless the village environment is attractive enough to enable new, educated and entrepreneurial youth to stay back in a rural environment and do business, to venture into innovative entrepreneurial enterprises they would all migrate. Fortunately, we many new trends today and we, in this agriculture media, both print and online, we have featured new entrepreneurs, success stories, surprisingly a wide variety of entrepreneurial enterprises that have taken venture capital funding and created history.

There are youngsters who went to the USA for higher education, obtained degrees and came back and instead of going back to big employers, IT companies or others these new generation of entrepreneurs have taken up challenging activities. Supplying fruits and vegetables and thus creating a market for farmers, suppliers to sell at a market rate and also thus enabling consumers to get fresh produces at the lower prices.

This one particular venture (in Chennai) has proved, as many others, we feature such stories regularly, had done a great grassroots revolution by eliminating the traditional middle men and also on e eternal consequence is the entrenched role of private money lenders.

One of the tragic stories of traditional agriculture is the role of private money lenders.No government could eliminate this evil.

Not even the much- debated nationalisation of banks by Indira Gandhi. Even today, Modi’s many well-intentioned schemes like rural/agri credit, crop insurance, stand a skeptical change of success because, not the schemes per se are not good. The major challenge is the larger picture.

The traditional nature of farming and rural living. There are any number of hierarchies here. There are very entrenched inequities, injustice to inequality, in many dimensions.

There is a gross inequity, castes and traditions that deny equalities of opportunities and also lack of education and awareness etc. Then there is the modern disabilities created by the state itself. The political parties, their caste and creed based oppression of all types and therefore there can’t be a modern secular debate about how to build an equitable society and polity. Agriculture and rural India is not simply an economic picture. There is politics and the traditional oppression of all sorts.

Modern state and society also contribute to the inquities. Political parties-funding, corruption and black money etc.

The media is also skewed. Media, print and TV, English language press is again insensitive or ignores the weak sectors like agriculture and rural India. The big corporate operate in agriculture and this is a subject we have debate separately. So too the big talk about the MNCs and FDI etc. So, Capitalism also comes in.

Corporate Social Responsibility is anti-agriculture and anti-villages! This is our practical experience. Rahul Gandhi says that the Modi government waived of loaned of 15 big corporate to the tune of 3 times the amount of lands of Rs.70, 000 of the UPA government. There may not be many takers for this argument. Let us all be honest and search our own selves.

Agriculture Industry Survey wants to sensitive the big corporate and ask them to come forward to join us in creating a new sensitivity and a new paradigm shift in raising the priority of agriculture to a new high profile.