Media comments are noteworthy!

MODIThey say fine to the PM’s long term vision. But the short-term is challenging. Two highlights of the PM’s speech were GST and demonetisation. Fine, fine.

But then are there only two critical issues for sustained economic growth?
We believe that the government economist writers or input givers there are more challenging questions.

What we have achieved so far, in three years. Sustained growth or hesitant growth?

Now for the other sectors, there is not only no clear road map, for education, health and social security etc.There is also no clear road map for other more critical challenges. How to combat corruption that has seeped into the system so seamlessly!

Only an institutional mechanism, LokPal, Lok Ayukta can solve or tackle the issues in a systematic manner.

Also, the very many anti-corruption agencies?’ Are they free from blatant political interference?
Let the public opinion pronounce on it.

You see the recent very many raids by the CBI are seen to be targeted only on the Opposition leaders or the ones who might strengthen the Opposition unity.
This, the PM, must remove this misconception or the real motives behind the series of the raids.

No, this won’t do for a mature democracy, the largest democracy in the world.
There is no point in playing with words as for the events like Quit India etc. Also, the RSS activities in Kerala are worrisome.

Please arrest the violence, the record of communal violence and those lost the lives are every blatant. Between January and May this year, points out the editorial in The Deccan Herald, 296 communal incidents! Data released by the Home Ministry in Parliament, these communal incidents cost 44 people dead and 900 others injured. Too much or too little?

So, there are reasons to worry why the PM didn’t say anything as to what the government would be doing. There are many other horrors, like the Gorakhpur children deaths, also in TN too there are reports from government doctors neglect at the Ambur government hospital, in Vellore district, because of doctors absent!

To add to the story is the TN government’s pleas to restore exemption from NEET exams. So, the Central Government and the top court were to be commended for not giving to political blackmail.

There are also issues of judicial independence and also judicial delays. What the common people think of the government’s achievements?
The media must be free to report and criticise.

“I, me, myself” doesn’t make for a government. There is the media freedom and also the media fear!

Agriculture is a dear area where farmers’ have risen in protest, in Jaipur, Haryaya, Gujarat and in TN and also elsewhere.

The land owning, middle level farming and dominant community, Jats, Patidars and TN farmers badly need freedoms to do their professions, buy, sell and invest and cultivate and start new agro-industrial ventures must be given the freedoms that keep up their social status in terms of the social hierarchy. You can’t change the rural social transformation in a day.

So, go slow but go in a realistic manner. The quota demand from Maharashtra gives an indication where the wind is blowing.

Be realistic and become socially tuned for a peaceful transition from a feudal economy to a largely urbanised agriculture sector.

So too the many concessions and freedoms in the panchayat raj. Computerisation of land records and also the services of the lowest revenue officials can reduce corruption that in endemic in the system today. So, modesty and self-effaced talk might convince more than any forced propaganda stick!

The world’s first civilization in classical Greece!
That gave birth to democracy first!

Chairman3Yes, the visit I had the good fortune to undertake, after a life-long quest and seeking, not just opened my eyes, the visit made me dumb-struck for days and, it looks, even by months! The one side is that I don’t know how to bring back my old self to make normal conversations with all the old friends and acquaintances. The other side is that only after the visit and after having recalled and reconnected with what I had seen and absorbed the sights and sounds and also after I had tried to reabsorb the whole lot of books and pictures, the whole story of all the civilizations I had read about, from Arnold Toynbee to Will Durant and others and also my own personal encounters with the Good and the Great, at Oxford and elsewhere, at Oxford itself, the ones like the late Sir C.M.Bowra, the greatest authority on Greece and all things Greek, from Homer to Greek way of life and much else and also many others from my own-time Oxford friends, the ones who came from Eton and studied the Greek language and literature and the ones who in fact aroused in me the curiosity of Greek and Roman civilization and of course, all through my life, from the original plans to make a visit to Rome and Greece along with my Oxford friends, the plan never came through and fell apart for many reasons and now, after some 50-60 years! It is a long stretch of time! My own dreams and imaginations!

Even after such a long time gap, I am caught up by this time gap. I am not yet able to bring myself back to the realities of the day. Why? I ask myself many times and am unable to account for my current moment of such dazzling. Anyway, what I have done after my return from Greece is to recall and reconnect with a range of questions.

India, in all its long history, never once seems to have gone back in history to the long stretch. Greece, it seems, has had a very long history from the Neolithic age to Bronze Age (5000BC to 1000 BC).

We went to see the Mycenaean civilization at Mycenaean deserted mountain today. It made me fall aside by surprise and shock. The long drive from Athens already made us tired. Once we reached the mountain range lying in between two higher mountain ranges, at the very distance of our sight I saw a slight mountain on which the humans walking, they were yes, tourists at such heights!They looked like ants! The more we neared them the more they looked remote!

C M Bowra

C M Bowra

At the very entrance to the stone fort, lay some dug-up pits. They were funerary sites. Yes, the whole sight of the open field looked very eerie! The rest of the story I have to leave it for another day. The period of the Mycenaean is dated 1200-1125 BC! Trojan War is dated 1250 BC! It was the classical Greece, the age of Pericles; Parthenon built 448-432 BC!

When were Indians woken up to these births and birth pangs of civilization, when was the Democracy born? I wondered. If we can say, never, would it be considered arrogance or ignorance? We talk of Bengal Renaissance, right? Would it be wrong again, if we say that the modern Indian renaissance too missed the outside world, the world outside the British trap? Yes, the British colonizers left out India and the Indians from any learning; they trapped us within the Macaulay’s narrow imperial trap. All our otherwise great men, great souls limited the Indian vision only to a narrow trap, right? I like to ask some uncomfortable questions before I bring myself to reality of the current scenarios.

I stood at the very spot where Socrates (469-399 BC) stood and walked on his very steps, his usual stopping, the shoe shop, the owner, Simon, the prison where he drank his cup of poison and passed away! What a blessing and fortune. It is exactly after 2416 years! I was dazzled and lost my senses! We in India were not told about the birth of democracy in the world.

Our historians, first, the British writers and now the Indian historians, in the pre-independent India and also in the post-independent India, we don’t seem to have realised in our study of Indian history. This is a serious lacuna in our appreciation of historical studies and in our education system.

Give more freedoms to farmers!
That is the way to increase investments and agri production!

Indian agriculture is now orphaned!  For lack of patronage and awareness!

Satyendranath Tagore

Satyendranath Tagore

Corporate support is almost nil and the government is no less negligent. Why we say this at this juncture?

For the obvious reason that even otherwise, there is a traditional bias against agriculture and the issues associated with the sector.

You become better informed about the issues in the current state of agriculture. The sector is almost burning with frustration, helplessness and by the apathy of the government.

We, Indians, rate ourselves very high when it comes to government jobs. We, the educated sections, consider still government jobs are heaven-born and heaven-given! Any government job is so. From the village level revenue collectors, up in the hierarchy to the district collector. Yes, during the British days, the revenue clerk was highly rated. The district collector was beyond the reach of even the high-born Indian families.

Do you know that the first Indian ICS, one Satyendranath Tagore, from the Tagore family became the ICS officer but was never elevated beyond the district and he ended up as the Satara(or Kolhapur?) collector only? Only the white man was good enough for the job! Now, do you realise that there is a sort of disquiet among the IAS officers, in some states, there is disquiet even among the IPS officers?

The reasons are many. First probity in public life is a scarce thing and so too other factors that discourages, rather than encourages the youngsters once considered the heaven-born occupations.

Why this preliminary?
For the simple reason things are much more worse today. It is easier to become an MLA or an MP or much better even a minister! Once you get political power the temptations to misuse are irresistable. So, the corruption issue crops up and no one seems to realise whether you are worth your salt and worth listening to.

In such an environment and when you want to draw attention to the agriculture sector the thought or doubt comes whether you are qualified to talk on a subject like agriculture.

Even after 70 years of Independence, you don’t seem to have got a grip over the vital sector like agriculture. Dr.M.S.Swaminathan says that 50% of our working population are farmers. As he rightly says the Seventh Pay Commission pay is given to the government servants and insulated from inflation while the poor farmers are subjected to the wild swings in prices and punished!

Dr.M.S.Swaminathan

Dr.M.S.Swaminathan

But then at the same time, we see agriculture issues and topics are still debated in highly artificial jargon which most of the farmers might not understand. Issues like Ever Green Revolution, even MSP and the procurement and other policies that are routinely dished out. It looks even this is the current buzz of the government, as repeated by the PM on the Independence Day, of doubling the farmers ‘income in five years! Is it well-thought out policy, or just one more slogan?

How the government hopes to do this, no one bothers to ask or bother to explain.We also don’t seem to know even who the agriculture minister is today, for he never speaks or appears in public or tours the states!
Anyway, here we are in the journal labouring for years and years. No one bigwig, not speak of others, in the public life or corporate world comes forward to call us or express any opinion, let alone any appreciation, to give advertisements from the corporate funds.

Yes, we did ask one or two, one from a person who sat on Sonia Gandhi’s National Advisory Council (!)Who flatly said no!

Where are our high profile corporate heavyweights? The ones who also speak a lot on public platforms and yet who seem only interested to seeking instant publicity!

Where are the corporate social responsibil9, CSR, funds going to?
Education or medical education? Or, public health covers?

See the hospitals in Gorakhpur or in the advanced state of TN, in Ambur where two persons died for there were no government doctors present! The much more damaging sight was to see a small girl’s body was lifted on a two wheeler for lack of ambulance service!

There are so many, much more serious issues for farmers! Dr.Swaminathan doesn’t say so but we say: every average Indian farmer today is either a debtor or a litigant!

Farmers commit suicide out of shame to live a honest life! Shame for being unable to pay back loans kills them. So, too other harassment is the daily living struggles. How many know that the farmers are tied to many antiquated laws, land reform laws passed in the initial years of zamindari abolition and other laws like land ceiling ad tenancy protection and other rural-related laws were passed long time ago.

Today there is labour shortage, ironically in agri sector, do you know?
There is a fast urban migration, many had abandoned farming. So too the younger generation has been migrating. What impact this trend would have on agriculture? Anyone with an answer?

We have to strengthen agri trade and agri exports! Time has come to integrate with the WTO decisions for the developing countries. Now, we have had economic reforms but not in agri sector! Why? Because no one has an answer!

Now, market forces are in full play and yet agri sector is tied up with some of the antiquated laws that constrains and controls farmers from continuing with farming as a business proposition.

In the private sector environment who would invest in agriculture, for crops or for new generation agro industries, if you don’t allow the farmers to own some viable farm size?

Yes, agri sector is more complicated than what the government servants sitting in the government offices or engaged using public funds!
The point is that farmers don’t live in a liberal rural society.
Our justice administration is as antiquated as any other. No civil cases end any day soon. The life span of the average farmer is not even better than the life span of the court cases!

So, you have a mouthful of issues to talk about. That is for another day, it looks like!

Who doesn’t know the Indian psychology?

NewdelhiEvery Indian citizens, not necessarily, the ordinary citizens but only those who are government servants or already in the charmed circle of IAS or IPS officers, the IFS lost its old glory and other services are on the whole a disgruntled lot. Why? It is because the very ways in which the New Delhi Lutyens’s bungalow zone is built and where the ones who live for long are constituted. Those who live there are seen as the most privileged. There are of course enough number of the retired politicians who might have doubled up as politicians, or others retired judges and other department personnel.

The way the British built the bungalows with large lawns and long walks and the very imposing look from outside might give a sense of power and prestige. Once you get in or if god favours you, you get to occupy one of these often leaking colonial structures, then you realise how unreality hits your illusions!

The subject here is the state of bureaucracy and the disquiet that pervades there.

A recent news item put out is about the new promotion policy for the bureaucrats. There is disquiet for the reason that the government has bundled two years, two batches, of 1984 and 1985, and also 1987 and 1988, the government wants to hold on some officers and also promote or hold up the promotions. So, in sum, the hopes of the officers are dimming when it comes to the aspiration for every officer to retire as secretaries of departments.

Poor souls, from the news it seems that most of them seem to be innocent and seem to be vegetating in Delhi for the favours they expect from the political establishment.

Who doesn’t know that the whole bureaucracy has become politicised and it is like a lottery and no one knows for sure that who will get what.
Lately, there is utter chaos in the bureaucracy and in the states it is pure political play. A police officer in TN is promoted just on the day of his retirement as the DGP! In the neighbouring Kerala one DGP was installed in his post on the orders of the Supreme Court. In Karnataka it is a free for all. The whole country knows thanks to the high profile AIADK leader who is provided with all luxuries and for having unearthed the scam the lady IPS officer had been transferred.

All these are routine in the services. Also, down the line there is so much cruelty and so much corruption and even risks to life when it comes to attacking corruption.

So, why this craze for government services?

It is the result of our long rule of colonialism and our education that taught us, thanks to the colonial masters, how to live and seek your mokshas through servility, subordination and compromise with the corrupt politicians whose tribe seems to be growing by leaps and bounds!

Corruption will only grow further and see the new tribe of politicians who spring up almost everyday, from various individuals, former police officials and former Income tax officials and others.

Also, the bad example set by some very eminent experts.

Also, lateral entries, even Rhodes Scholars who were supposed to be leaders of society and polity but alas, they too after sometime, they think it is better to enter and end up as bureaucrats, that is the way to heaven!

At the end of the day there is no alternative, except to join the devils who have to fall at the feet of bigger devils who are politicians who too seem to come from very many streams of humanity!

You see that a democratic government is one that is supposed to be a guardian of citizen rights, right?

In the current context, how far the citizens cutting across all class barriers feel about their rights and well-being safeguarded by the elected government?

amartyasen-621x414Then, also, how do the citizens come to know about what is the truth at the ground level?

It is the media, both print and the TV news channels and of course, the latest social media outlets.For the vast majority of people, it is the popular media, print and TV  news channels only.

How is the state of media and also the status of media industry today?
We are almost at the threshold of the new media culture where freedom of the press, freedom of the speech and freedom of thinking, asking critical questions, ultimately what is the latest buzz, the role of argumentative society.

Prof.Amartya Sen is now at the centre of a storm, his words and expressions were ordered to be removed from a biopicture of him. There are also developments.

Recently, one respected research journal, namely, the Economic and Political Weekly, founded by a former RBI employee, Sachin Choudhury and later edited by N.Krishnaraj, friend of the Vadamalai Media and right recently by another well-known senior journalist, namely, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta has come for cersorship.This time, the censors are none other than the Trustees of the Sameeksha Trust whos members are some of the past RBI Governors and one Leftwing historian, namely Romila Thapar.

Recently, EPW published (?) two articles on a leading corporate house, namely, Adani Power Limited and the trustees asked the editor to “take down the articles with immediate effect”. This had led to protests from some 150 odd academic and public personalities. No explanation from the trustees nor any due procedures either in such swift action!

Also, the trustees seem to be acting as owners and even proprietors or investors! It is not clear what really happened.

But one thing is sure:  the editor is supposed to have his or her freedom to do what he or she had done. Also, the trustees, given their background and eminence are supposed to be acting as role models for others in similar situations. But the trustees don’t seem to have bother themselves either.
The protestors, also very eminent names, Martha Nussbaum and one MIT academic, among others.

The protestors has pointed out that the free press is for the  freedom of intellectual expression and also this is largely an academic journal read by only very specialised audience.

The protestors had also drawn attention as to how the corporate takeover of the media industry, both print and TV channels has been going on unrestricted way.So, economic policy making, if it hurts the corporate sector, it, the corporate sector can swing its powerful arm to muzzle the press and there is no one to ask.

In recent times the establishment send CBI to raid media houses and the next day news is flashed and credibility is sought damaged. So in recent times two journalists in Karnataka was punished for having caused defamation to legislators. Much more seriously now privacy of individuals is sought to be decided by the 9 member bench of the apex court.

Please consider the poor farmers, the most disorganised lower sections of society, whose  rights and safeguards, from tenancy rights to right to  fair rent are all sought to be muzzled by a set of policies that have brought to the farm to the present almost irretrievable crisis.

So, there must be freedom first from fear of the government, democratic or the opposite in practice. Let the ground level realities impart some common sense need for restraining unbridled power of the corporates that fund and also control the ruling dispensations. If that is democracy then god only can save the poor and the weaker sections on the economic spectrum!