A distinct possibility is the very same distinct character of the Bengali renaissance political and cultural history.

West Bengal is no more the  strong hold of any party other than Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool  Congress. And Mamata, remember, is a stormy petral of the Indian National Congress itself.

The 35 year old dogmatic ideology of the Marxist Party is now gone. Not many can  recollect the leaders of the old CPI(M),leader like Jyoti Basu and many other veterans who were both formidable theoreticians as well practical achievers. Nor the current crop of Trinamool grass root workers any way lacking in the muscle and other grassroots skills including indulging in violence.

mamathaNow, the BJP is struggling to build up its cadre in a state where the cadre -based politics is also the strength of the Trinamool.

The RSS is strong but not at the very heart of Bengali politics. They are somewhere near the borders of Bangladesh and where Muslim vote is concerned it is very strongly in favour of the Trinamool only.

The BJP hasn’t been able to build its base for ,as observed by many observers, Mamata herself is a devotee of the Hindu gods and the Hindu icon like  Bankim, Tagore, Vivekananda, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Bose! So, however hard the BJP may try to appropriate these Bengal icons they are already appropriated  by a wider section of the Hindu society not just inside Bengal but also outside.

And it may not be irrelevant to point out that again however hard  you try to appropriate  the icon of Swami Vivekananda he Swamiji is already a secular Hindu icon as well. To put the Swamiji’s  robust secularism into the rather un and even anti-intellectualism and such serious  rationalism of the Swamiji’s exposition of Hinduism itself doesn’t make sense and that is the only genuine explanation, in our view why the RSS or the BJP leaders like Amith Shah and Narendra Modi doesn’t cut ice with the well-evolved  Bengal middle class elite as well as the mass of the Bengalis society and polity.

That was one significant reason why Amit Shah couldn’t muster  enough credibility when he called to see the intelligentsia and that section roundly refused to take the bite!

So, it is very likely that after the much debated and much controversial panchayat elections in which 34 per cent of the seats went uncontested and that explains the hold the Trinamool has over the imagination of the Bengali mass.
Yes, Bengali mass is still in a sort of Dark Age ,when seen from the other extreme of a similar  state like  Tamil Nadu where too the hold of the Dravidians eths of similar ethnic identity holds the BJP at bay.

In neither of these states the BJP can hope to make any advance for the people in these states have gone  further and further away from the so-called mainstream like advance the BJP made in one swoop in the year 2014.

Bengal had adopted an eclectic sort of  Hinduism in  the likes of lives and service of the saints like Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. So, any number of slogans like Jai Ram and the processions of Ramanavami and Hanuman Jayanti won’t cut ice with the voters.

So, what chance for the BJP in Bengal?

May be one or two marginal rise in vote share or seat share. Given Mamata’s penchant for energy and  a daring thrust at the enemy camp, be it the CPI(M) or the Congress where the leaders are very weak and  also from the BJP ranks where too leaders like Mukul Roy and Ritabrta  Benerjee are no match to Mamata’s current crop of energised new leaders, there are too many to narrate here their individual  contributions to the collective strength.

What is the chances for Mamata’s claim for New Delhi crown?
Her sheer numbers. She could hopefully bring to the table the entire 42 MP seats.

Once she demonstrates her pull, may be the other alliance partners who are also otherwise allergic to the dynastic claims of the Congress, the party might have no other choice but to fall in line.

The Eastern Indian segment might also opt for Mamata.

Why, even other states might coalesce  with the others in the very jockeying for a share in power.

The only question is how we draw agri and rural development policies!
Liberalise the agri sector!
Introduce the Niti Aayog’s model land reforms laws!

Once you do this, the agri, rural sector would rebound with new energy and development activities!

nitiThere is every reason to hope that Indian economy in the perspective of world bodies like the World Bank and IMF is doing fine. Indian economy has overtaken France  as the world’s  sixth-biggest economy as per the latest World Bank data. The IMF on the other hands says that India will be the world’s fourth largest economy by 2022.There are other indicators from within India that show India is the only country in the world that is f growing respectably both in terms of growth and stability, compared with its peers like Turkey and Brazil. Commercial vehicles sales grew at over 3 37 per cent in June this year! Air passenger growth 45th  straight month growth in May.

There is other much more solid performance in other sectors as well. The point here is that the overall economic growth is very positive.  But where does problem come in?

There is widespread unemployment in the youth sector, given the fact that educated youth today can’t find suitable well-paid employment. So,there is much talk about skills development.

Also, the IT sector is currently lagging in gorwth.USA is also having full employment and other export markets are opening up.

Indian policy makers have to look at the major issues without any narrow political spectrum and also keeping in mind only the winnability in their 2019 elections. You see that good economics is no guarantee  for good politics.

Good politics requires a corruption-free environment and also a transparent  administration. Much more critical is how the public opinion and public perception of a multi-party polity functions.

Here astrology wont help. What will help is the intentions of a ruling combine, the NDA allies themselves have to figure out the likely new allies and the battle of the elections.

You have to recognise that the time has come for all Indian political parties to realise that Indian democracy is becoming mature and poised about  releasing the full potential of giving people, to the last man, his or her fully realisable rights and freedoms and the  realisation of the democracy’s all the powers of citizenship.

Unfortunately, we don’t have the leaders right now and here to give the Indian people what is their due.

We seem to have been caught by our own limitations. Pandit Nehru used to say: “we are all small men and women. With great powers and responsibilities entrusted to us, as leader”. It is the inadequacy of our own limitations as political and social leaders that is holding on   this full realisation of our own aspirations, dreams and what have you.

So, given this historic perspective, from the 2,500 years old Greek democratic beginning to the Roman full flowering of the Republican ideals, the laws and the governing institutions, down to 1789  French Revolution to the 1772 American declaration of Independence to our own times, we ,in India owe to ourselves this citizen freedoms and citizen rights to full realise what is best in ourselves.
So, rulers, please awake and hand over to the citizens what is due to them!

There were at one point just 10 MPs out of a house of 533 PMs!
On farmers’ issues, this is the involvement, how many of you know?

Parliament sessionMPs are the most privileged lot of the political class. They are paid high salaries, many perks; it is a sort of spectacle to be an MP in India today! The media buzz around them! At any time.

After the emergence of populist politics in most states, there are any type of MLPs, they are colurful and also in some ways character, making news all the time. Often for the wrong reasons!

But Parliamentary democracy demands the MPs elected by an electorate, in some states by purely for reasons that are not discussed openly.

What subjects the MPs debate more often? Here is one such instance. There was a debate on agriculture recently. The major media reported the debate thus:
Yes, this is the stark reality of the status of agriculture in the national priorities. The Central government, more than the states, is more vocal often when it comes to farmers’ distress, the farmer’s suicides and other forms of natural disasters like floods and other devastations. Even in the recent reports from all over the world we find it is the rural areas, the countryside, the rivers and lakes issues we see the rural people greatly affected. Fires in Greece, dam burst in Laos, of course floods and fires in China and Japan we see these natural disasters and the people missing and died!

How many of the rest of the population in the countries concerned are showing sympathy and help, one doesn’t know. As for India, the farmers are being neglected in spite of the repeated number of times politicians expressing sympathy and solidarity with the much-disorganised farming community.

In a recent Parliamentary debate, the media has reported one instance when the house debated on the situation of floods and drought in parts of the country, the house witnessed a strange picture of empty benches and a depleted number of MPs. In an afternoon debate there was a steady outflow of the hon’ble members and at one point of time, the be exact at 4.35 PM, when the house started at  2.25 PM and the whole discussion, government reply took five hours to conclude that at one point, at 4.35 PM, the house was virtually empty! There only 10 MPs in a house of 533 MPs!

Luckily, the report is s in such a detail that we are given to know how the MPs conduct themselves on such high priority issues. The members prioritised the topics and they skipped other listed bills and took up the farmers’ distress. From 61 members from the beginning the number steadily declined and though the number increased at one point to 61,21 from the Opposition, you please note, the numbers present also declined below the minimum required to form a quorum.
There were of course three ministers, the one name you might not have heard is the Union minister for agriculture, Radha Mohan Singh, his deputy G.S.Shekhawat and of course the more active  MOs for home, Kiren Rejiju! Of course they assured the members to give all that they can.

But what is the point here is that the very low status the highly priority agriculture sector commands in the scheme of things. Every politician of any grade comes out with assuring crop loan waiver, the latest highlight in national politics if what the Karnataka Chief Minister, the much-admired H.D.Kumaraswamy’s bold write off of the crop loans to the extent of some staggering Rs35,000 crores!

The others are also waiting to make such stupendous announcement and grab headlines. At the same time, there are some silly insensitive remarks by the ministers to question the honesty of farmers to say that they are committing suicides over their unbearable d burden of debts! Even in Karnataka one influential minister had questioned the wisdom of linking farmers suicides to their debts Mr.D.K.Shivakumar had said this on the same day when the news about the absentee MPs came in the media. Of course the TV channels have lately blacked out the farmers’ suicides. For that sort of news don’t draw viewers. More interesting news is rape cases, mob lynching and other breaking news categories only.

Also, the agri media is an endangered species category!  If you stick to such high national priority issues, you would be considered a crank or you can forget your aspiration for any government recognition. Forget any thought of PadmaSri!

So, hypocrisy surrounds any thought of lofty political goals like eradicating poverty and under development in the country.

Just talk of development, use any jargon that sounds sweet, Vikas? Or you can count any new terms? Please do it, you  are welcome in the government circles!  So, dear unfortunate farmers, you please  take note of your status in society.

Again, you make sense only when you talk of some other populist schemes like Anna Bhagya! Is it 5 kgs or 7 kgs? The food and civil supplies minister was questioned for talking about this! How can he, as a minister can  talk of these topics, it is insensitive, an NGO can speak but not a minister, said the rival BJP spokespersons!

So, agriculture, food, nutrition, rather malnutrition are sensitive issues, the insensitive part comes only when you  talk about a rational solution to such issues!

After the Amartya Sen-Rajiv Kumar TV Debate on the economy
Now, the great game of the 2019 election!

amartyaYes, there are some dramatic  moments in  the political and  economic debates in recent times. One was of course the much-talked about No-confidence debate in the Lok Sabha. In a significant sense, this debate gave Mr.Rahul Gandhi the much needed boost to prove his credentials as a leader of the great national party, the Indian  National Congress. It looks as if the ruling party, namely, the BJP  seemed to have imagined itself as a powerful party that wanted to replace the INC, the slogan was the Congress-mukth  India! This won’t cut much ice, everyone knows and yet the very boost the party gave itself showed that they really believed in creating such a scenario.

Now, after the no-confidence debate and the outcome, though everyone knows, were as expected. The  BJP gave in to the way Mr.Gandhi came out with a well-prepared and  well-rehearsed  speech that took everyone by surprise and even with some shock. Rahul Gandhi with this s;pee3ch seem to have arrived on the national stage, we have to admit, however grudgingly. Yes, he produced an impact and the ruling party itself was take a back with Gandhi’s    flow of speech which had itself and flow and ended with a shocking hug he gave to Mr.Modi. The PM himself was unprepared and we have seen how he was caught unawares and yet managed to respond in a way that also gave him some credit. The real bonhomie brought the much need civility and some dignity also to the very  august house and that is how it should be at the end of the day.

So, of all the old times, starting from the 1963 Acharya Kripalanai’s  no-confidence speech against Pandit Nehru to the other such events, in all some 26 no-confidence motions in the Lok Sabha, this one too was a landmark event. After all, Mr.Modi managed to avoid any such move in the last four yats and also it is a fact that the very massive setback to the Congress made the party unnerved to move a motion on its own. So,  the current move gave rise to a new development.

A new confidence to take on Mr.Modi on the coming Lok Sabha elections in 2019. Also came in before the debate in Parliament another well-timed debate, this time between the government economists, Rajiv Kumar who heads the Niti Aayog, the planning body of the m Modi government. The debate on the NDTV, well-timed and also well-titled, “Prove it!”And the “Challenges accepted.

We saw after a long break, Prof.Sen  taking on Modi government for its lacklustre performance on the economic front, as Sen Saw it. After all Sen is an expert on the Indian economy, why even on the global economic scene and so we had for the first time saw Sen quoting enough evidence, statistics from a range of issues, from education to health  to the very economic growth scenario, from Bangladesh to Indonesia to Sri Lanka to show ,to prove that on sheer general data, these countries were performing much better than the great Indian economy.

Yes, Rajiv Kumar quoted enough date to show how under the Modi regime  many sectors of the Indian economy were performing very creditably. And yet, as Sen proved ,yes with a touch of sarcasm and with, that we have to prove by credible data. Yes, on this basis, we have to concede why we need a much more better account to prove that we are doing really well. We have to take our economic experts, advisers and independent experts with a pinch of salt, as we saw from Sen’s type of analysis that we need a much more critical insights.

As Sen said that we need more critical economists, very credible economists, unfortunately, the official economists are a bit unreliable, see how many were sent out or they themselves migrated as soon as their official tasks are over here!

This sort of “patriotism” nor the lack of it somehow dents the credibility of the USA-based Indian economists. Fortunately, Sen said that he spend more time these days in India. That is welcome and does him much good, we  feel! If one Sen had based himself more on the Indian soil his wisdom and credibility would have much more good for the larger good of  the country.

Now, the latest buzz is that the coming great challenge for Mr.Modi is the 2019 general election. Now, after the no-confidence debate we see the Congress is having a rethink, that is not to project Rahul Gandhi as the Prime Ministerial candidate that is how it should be.

Instead they should project a candidate who has really credibility. Not necessarily, a female candidate, Mayawati or Mamata Banerjee. But others too are also in the race. H.D.Kumaraswamy or a Chandrababu Naidu. We need a much more broad based debate, an objective debate. Not the media-inspire prejudiced  media-led talk.

Surely, we feel that Mr.Naidu has the ideal qualifications. His proven administrative abilities make him an ideal candidate for the Prime Minister’s job in place of Modi, if the Opposition parties seriously give up their own narrow agendas and seek a nationally-credible fight.

Also, it is important to point out that the Congress must shed its obsession with dynasty. Mrs.Sonia Gandhi seems to be still playing an active role, not even from behind the scene and so too the dummy candidate of Dr.Manmohan Singh. Who knows the desires of people? Dr./Singh might still be projected as the dummy face of the dynasty. Such narrow dreams must be exposed and a real-well-debated candidate
or candidates who might emergence from a genuine democratic debate.

We need to sensitise the public opinion and public policies with greater doses of ground level realities!
The growing inequities, injustices and falling sensitivities make life for the common man more and more miserable!

In many social  sector policies, like education, health, why even other sectors that address issues for weaker sections and disadvantaged sectors like farmers, why even like prison reforms we as a country have not yet become serious enough to make policies that get attention of the general public public.

K.Sujatha Rao, former Union Secretary

K.Sujatha Rao, former Union Secretary

Even  the public and also the public opinion are not stirred by sensitive people, even highly educated  and well-placed sections like government servants and teachers and other professionals  like lawyers and doctors, we as Indians take many inequities for granted!

This we say from our own personal experiences and encounters with others in discussions.

Who cares for the prison population? We read today there are over many lakhs of under trials suffering inside jails, some 1,400 odd jails.
What are the Legal Aid activities? Do they make headline news?

No, never! Also the state of our children? Children caught in many situations like the Act, POCSO?

So too women inside jails, women as mothers inside the jails?
What about those who can’t pay for their bail and are inside the jails?
Or, the higher authorities who can do much and yet they remain silent in their high offices?

We don’t want to be seen as rocking the boat. That is why, in spite of our leaders, we mean politicians talking too  much we don’t cut ice with any other the national and much more with the international bodies doing some great work and that is get noticed.

When it comes to some of the larger issues like pollution, environment protection and why even bigger issues like war and peace, though India is one of the pioneers in international peace keeping operations, India doesn’t make news.
India can very well have all the credentials to bid for a Nobel Prize in international peace keeping operations and other efforts but we seem to be a nation too much concerned with our own narrow self interests.

We don’t seem to be a nation known for its great compassion or outwardness!
Now, what we started off was with the social sectors.

K.Sujatha Rao, the former Union Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare often writers about her domian. In a recent article she had highlighted the high costs of medical care in private hospitals and this caught our attention. The abysmal system of healthcare in the country must wake up concerned citizens and even policy makers alike. Even a well-placed state like Tamil Nadu has an over 30% shortage of medical and non-medical professionals in government facilities.
The highly motivated secretary has made many useful suggestions.

We need to upgrade the 150,000 sub centres into wellness clinics that provide 12 sets of services. We can then easily provide health security to 40% of India’s population requiring hospitalisation  through a health insurance policy upto a sum of Rs.5 lakh per year.

Fine fine.

What is holding us up from implementing the policy?

The explanation  for the current crises in  the public and private healthcare system could be a tortuous path!

There are crises from the very start. From the way the medical education is imparted with so many corrupt practices, MCI onwards and also, the way the private medical  practices, here we have to add the private sector-turned entrepreneurs class, from small towns to big metros  to organising the public healthcare providers in the rural areas to upwards in the towns and cities.
The private medicare is now a booming business.

The high cost of private medical services. The Union health secretary herself says that a three-day stay in a hospital in Hyderabad for a respiratory problem cost her Rs.1.8 lakh! A CT scan that costs Rs.19.080 in a Hyderabad hospital. While it costs Rs. 500 in government hospitals in Tamil Nadu. Of course the very same costs Rs.7,000in Tamil Nadu and Delhi, say the former Union Secretary. Perhaps, the Secretary is a bit out of date or out of touch! The very same CT scan test in Bangalore, at a top end hospital charges Rs.27,000 with all “concessions”!. Of course in the private hospitals in TN and Delhi must have learnt the latest practices from TN and  Bangalore!

Says the former Union Health Secretary: It is estimated that Rs.30,000 crore will have to be spent if the three tier primary healthcare system is to be brought to minimal health standards.

Anyway, it is becoming clear that private medicare is sought by almost all sections. To meet the demands of the public who seek often the private care we have to ensure at least some control over the exorbitant costs that are now sought for latest tests and drugs as well. This is already a well-trodden subject and all that requires is an update of the same issues to make it more  a reality-check!