Agriculture not for the experts alone!
Brazil a big agriculture and forestry country is a unique planetary gift of mankind to fellow humans.

Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro

Here is a country that needs to be studied in detail for its contribution to many of the current farm issues like climate change and deforestation, tree logging and cultivation of major agri crops like soybeans and can contribute to subdue much of the current abuses of environmental goods. Many issues of great impact, like for instance, the emerging problem of climate change is not often understood by the ordinary people. Yet, the so-called experts, policy makers or other high level bureaucrats, as we see in India itself, talk and go their own ways, giving a damn to the need for the vast mass of people who stand to be impacted, positively or negatively.

This vast gap in knowledge between the great issues of agriculture and the related questions like environment ,why even the production of food, food shortages and even such broader issues like food distribution and the solving of poverty and malnutrition, all great problems in themselves, this prevailing ignorance and the need to educate the public opinion is at the very central core of any agriculture issue. The purpose of agriculture journalism, always a losing proposition, thus acquires enormous priority.

We read a recent top editorial in The Economist(August 3rd,2019).It is about how the South American Brazil’s Amazon forest has been contributing to the human kind’s long sought food, fuel, timber and sublime inspiration. It is indeed a great inspiration for the rest of the world if we read the bare statistics about its contribution to every kind of man’s need to feed and seek land to grow many vital food needs.

First, it is still a livelihood for 1.5 billion people! Forests provides for local and regional ecosystems. And for the other 6.2 billion, a buffer against climate change. Now droughts, wildfires and other human induced changes are compounding the damage from chainsaws!

Brazil’s President Mr.Bolsonaro has also helped much damage from anti-environment lobbyists, because there is much logging, most of it is illegal, 70-80 per cent, trees have been disappearing, writes The Economist magazine, at the rate of two Manhattans a week! Pessimists fear that the rate of degradation and disappearance of trees can further contribute to the environmental destruction. Brazil is a big agricultural country in the world.

Soybeans cultivation is big business – Soybeans and beef is big agri market and also big exports. The drought is contributing to maize farmers in the central lost a third of the harvest. Food companies, pressed by consumers should spurn soybeans and beef produced illegally.

Brazil is a big agriculture country and also a big agri exporter. China is a big Brazil trading partner, as China needs Brazil’s soybeans for livestock feeding and oil. Deforestation in Brazil is also a contributor of world’s 8% of global green house-gas emissions.

But it earns only 3% of aid for combating climate change.

Brazils’ agriculture minister says the country as a member of the Paris climate agreement is aware that deforestation is a big issue for the country and ordinary Brazilians should press their president must take steps to reverse some of the actions that foreign boycott of Brazilian farm goods.

What policies needed in the current situation?
Good governance is a top priority!
There are worrying signs!

There is an economic slowdown, no doubt. There are some unprecedented indicators. For one, the auto industry is in serious crisis. Unsold vehicles are piling up. Maruti, the major player with a 50 per cent of market share saw a decline of 33.5 per cent. As we write some 2 lakh jobs are laid off in the last 3 months in thus sector alone. This deceleration is very likely to lead to other complications and the slowdown might become very serious. Education in GST is one first cry. One can’t be sure of government’s response given the sort of mind set of the ruling combine.

Industry captains, some respected faces have come out to voice concerns. Deepak Parekh, Rahul Bajaj and A.M.Nayak have come out with concerns. Others, more vocal voices and familiar faces on the TV screens have been warned by the government t not to speak further on such concerns like tax raids and the word tax terrorism has become a bad word!

There are other indicators.49 public figures have written to the PM warning about mob lynching and hate crimes and other social issues like rape etc. Against this 62 odd intellectuals have opposed such a narrative. This clash of narratives is good for educating public opinion.

Of course the (so-called) public opinion today is very much confused and splintered into various managed and manipulated streams. There is no coherent body of opinion makers, even the highly placed and much respected voices of dissent are sought to be silenced. There are widespread panic and even terror-like fears. Instead of a free and vibrant public opinion we have a widespread public disturbance of am n eerie silence!

The law and order situation in some states, including the largest state, UP is widely commented in a negative manner. The Supreme Court’s intervention in transferring the cases outside to Delhi speaks for itself. The question of governance is uppermost in the minds of the citizens. The very general situation in the country is far from normal and there is widespread sense of insecurity over raids and other acts. New legislations in the Lok Sabha and the passing of the same legislations without much discussion and debate are a new phenomenon in legislation-making. It is sad development, the way the Rajya Sabha members walked out to enable to get those legislations passed without discussion. This is very new development and might lead to set a bad precedent.

In the atmosphere prevailing in India, the current trend of an economic slowdown with major sectors, core sectors, also reporting very low growth rate is something about which the government can’t remain silent for long.

Industry captains would always choose to be circumspect and that is their tragedy! While those close to the ruling regime might find benefit to remain silent and invisible, those who who have credibility might also have some visibility and others among them might be really honest to the core and even give some inner urges to speak out in the greatest good of the greatest number. It is these really public good-makers who would at times invite the wrath of the government. This has happened already as the public might have noticed.

The media, print and visual, in India is in a real tragedy. The print media, in particular the high-end class media really faces an existential crisis. The really ones that are dedicated to the public good has to be very very careful. Some really choose to write not on what is good for the countrymen and they write some educaitual on the US Fed, not on the Indian RBI! Why invite trouble!
The others sometimes take some risk and do indeed comment freely. As for professional economists, they were very prominent in the past. Not anymore. Has any competent economist has come out to enlighten the current economic phenomena?

Economists like Dr.Manmohan Singh could do a great deal of good. As a man of authority he must voice his views, give a statement and enlighten the unfortunate public about what are at issue. Only we have seen Bimal Jalan, a former RBI Governor and a professional have given us hope of citing the current phenomenon as a cyclical turn and in one or two years ,growth will pick up.
As to what the government does in a variety of ways is first to revamp the 100 days work a year scheme, formerly known as Mahatama Gandhi a national Rural Employment Scheme, aims to pull out 10-12 million rural families out to impart skills and create durable assets.

This is a very weak construction. There is no real insight here. Rather this assertion is very vague. There are of course much more than tinkering with the existing schemes. Mr. Amitabh Kant, the CEO of NITI Aayog has come out with a series of reforms and ‘to dos'(that makes much sense given the current context.
The Economic Times,August5,2019).Of course he goes far and wide taking on from Lord Keynes’s own prescription for unleashing ‘the animal spirits’ and stimulating the aggregate demand. Revving demand is the key. For this to happen he has outlined many of the schemes and reforms.

Kant’s list is rather very long. As it should be. The very title of his article says much: It reads:”Gotta Grow, Grow Up, And Go”. Fine. Very inspiring.
However, in a sober reflection, we have to warn and alert. There are so much otherwise worrying problems. The arbitrariness in governance. The UP state, as an example, the many happenings and the top court’s interventions in ensuring good governance. Should we need to spell out what is reported in the daily press?
Then there are many major reforms like LokPal and LoK Ayukta. Tax collection is sluggish. The deployment of raid and tax agencies and the very rise in crime and criminal cases are ominous signs.CJI has noted that one crore criminal cases are pending.

The way the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha are functioning. The Deccan Herald captioned one editorial as” Subversion of legislature”. The image of India abroad. We are a democracy. But then democracy demands high moral standards. The way we play with the anti-defection law. Dr.S.Radhakrishnan, the first chairman of the Rajya Sabha said : The Rajya Sabha is not just a legislative, but a deliberative body. The outside world would be watching how India runs its democracy. Short-sighted tricks won’t make India great. But only observing a visionary moral code!

The Prime Minister in his Independence Day Speech made many bold and new announcements to lift the economy from the slowdown. These schemes like empowering the farmers with several hopeful positive supports are welcome.
Considering the tone and temper of the day and mood with the Jammu and Kashmir developments heavy in the background every Indian was in a receptive mental framework.

One of the key factors in the general economic slowdown is the rural distress and the agrarian crisis.

Indian agriculture is perhaps the most neglected sector in the country and now, given the flood devastation and the loss of lives and the need to attend to rescue and rehabilitation task the burden on the government resources is too high to think of any other aspect of the agriculture life and economy.

The average farmer is in distress and in great many handicaps. Let us say this to ourselves in the first place. Now, the issue of climate change and the latest floods and many land slips have accentuated the timeliness of the climate-related actions that are overdue. Unfortunately, the government has not come out in the open and said anything that make an impact on the minds of the concerned sections. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has added a new dimension to the fight against climate change.

The urban media is full of scholastic deliberations on green house gas etc. One important issue is that even such unthought out political action like free electricity to farmers has added to great land degradation, so too deforestation and such new unimagined consequences.

Politicians played their own negative roles in providing populist politics and these actions for so long let unchecked had contributed to the current crisis and the climate change debate.

If we can add here one more critical factor in farm distress is the consequence of a regressive land reforms such as tenancy act where the cultivating tenant in no more an actual cultivator but often an absentee tenant who take land long ago and now does many other things, not actual cultivation nor pays any rent, fair or unfair, the law permits him in his delinquency.

In TN in particular if you visit the temples in Thanjavur district there are notice boards prominently kept with the name of delinquent tenants, some of them bigger than any actual landlord? So too the land ceiling act that doesn’t allow an economical size and therefore most of the actual land parcels are below one or two hectares.

The BJP government simply talks in vague terms about doing this or that relief to farmers.

Actually what is their land reforms proposals? The PM has spoken many things about farmer’s reliefs, like crop insurance, actual cash transfer etc.
But not one has heard him deliberate on farm reforms in detail. There must be structured land reforms, given the very radical socio-economic and even cultural transformation that has taken place in the rural India.

As per one latest report on actual farmers, not just in India but also in the Western countries that average farmers’ age is advancing. No more younger age groups are forth coming to take up farming as a modern profession.

The harsh reality is that farmers are a very dejected lot, more debts, pushing them towards suicides, India iks one of the prominent countries in the rate of farm suicides.

What sort of talk we make when we talk of farmers’ policies? The very phrase doesn’t occur in any of the government policy documents.

There must be a drastic policy to prevent farmer’s suicides. The topic is very timely but stop at this. Second, the farmers must be made to feel they are respected and attended with great sensitivity by the society. If the farmers to the Weekly District Collectors’ grievances day how farmers grievances are solved or attended to?

There is a picture that we like to show to our readers. In one biography of the Austrian emperor, Ludwig Joseph, he is shown to have got into an actual farm and ploughing the farmer’s land! How much it would be if our PM or President stops on the wayside and gets a farmer’s plough and actually seen ploughing the mother earth’s soil, sacred soil! Then, the very ground level officials, high and low, must attend and answer the farmer’s issues on the smartphones, online and every farm households have educated young boy or girl!

Then, there is the agriculture media!
Do we have any policy to support such media outlets with suitable subsidies? Why you neglect the rural media?

The late trend towards partisan propaganda slant in ads and news distortions have made the matters worse! Let us show that as politicians, MPs and MLAs, we respect the farmers, we visit the villages?

The agri ministers must be seeing, they must travel and they must be seen by the people. Now, do you see any of these things happening?

Let us shed hypocrisy. Let us award farmers Padma awards and such other recognitions!

Agriculture is a vast subject. It touches our lives and actions and our beliefs and core convictions at many levels. Let us recognise the serious side of agriculture. No way otherwise!


But doesn’t talk of agriculture and its problems?

Prof.Amartya Sen

Agriculture, rural issues are assuming critical crisis levels. Further agriculture productivity farmers require lots of incentives including farming viability. So too panchayat raj reforms. Prof.Amartaya Sen can contribute a lot if he lends his moral prestige to such reforms, new ideas and polices.

Prof.Amartya Sen is a celebrity and an icon! The Nobel Prize winner in his wisdom and deep thinking has some insights of which Indians and farmers in particular must give some attention. Prof.Amartya Sen is a well-known economist and thinker and has the unique distinction of winning the Nobel Prize for economics, a unique recognition for an India, for an Asian and a universal citizen. Prof.Sen is closely known to the Vadamalai Media family, as both were students of Santiniketan, Visva Bharati University foudned by Rabindrnath Tagore. Sen family is closely associated with Tagore of whom Prof.Sen’s grandfather, Kithimohan Sen was a colleague and Sanskriti scholar.

We joined the Oxford University, UK on the urging and inspiration of Sen who went to Cambridge and made his name there.

Now, the point here is that in a recent lecture in Kolkata Prof.Sen had observed that land reforms under the CPI (M) rule in West Bengal produced a well-anticipated social and economic reform, though Prof.Sen also noted that the destruction of industry was its flipside.

Prof.Sen has always been an admirer of the Left rule in Bengal and though he now notes that compared to West Bengal Bangladesh Bengal has fallen behind it in terms of projecting a combined Bengali identity. Readers must know that Sen was born in East Bengal and grew up also there for some time.

Now land reforms are s sensitive subject. As a former student of Santiniketan which is located in the most backward district of Birbhum and Burdwan and also as one who travels often to Santiniketan from Kolkata by road we know well that how backward is the West Bengal state. The 121 and odd mile stretch is a visible evidence of the backwardness of the state where not one tea shop can be found worthy of attention. Such is the sight of poverty and backwardness.

And to cut the story short Prof.Sen hasn’t given any statistics or Human Development Index to show his claims. In education and healthcare it a great shame for the Bengalis that so many cruel deaths of children and other issues of malnutrition etc are really condemnable in this time of great advancements.
In Chennai alone you can see swarms of poor people from Bengal rural sides around major hospitals for treating many of the diseases for which in the great city of Kolkata too there are not facilities. Or, no one these days believes in the efficacy of the Kolkata medical facilities. What a pity? What a tragedy?

Also, the politics of the state is so deplorable with Mamta Banerjee fighting multiple battles with the CPI(M) and now, the BJP are nowhere to take on the highly street smart Mamatadi!

Prof.Sen, we have to beg to differ, from the great thinker when he makes some statements about the solutions the reduction of poverty. Rising income levels only can reducing poverty. Not a great insight coming such an life-time thinker.
Yes, we need rising incomes? How?

Sen of course shies away from observing we need modern industry. Mamata destroyed the Tata car factory. Also the State has been hostile to the coming of the IT industry?

Oh, so many hundred reasons can be cited and we need a whole lot of reforms. Of course reducing corruption has to be mentioned.

Also the need for creating many new institutions like Lok Pal and Lokayuktha also needed. Prof.Sen unfortunately doesn’t touch any of these solutions. Without touching political reforms, party reforms, electoral reforms you can’t ensure growth and sustained growth as well. Prof.Sen is a great economic theoretician no doubt. But he has not practical experience of the ground level realities that are critical at the present times.

An illusion or a reality?
Some style and much pretence!
Media in India both print and TV needs much introspection!
So many IT tools? Yet, what are their effective use for the farmers and general public?

You see Indian agriculture is in distress. So much has been said all through the election campaigns and also in the speeches in Parliament. But what is the progress? After Adhaar, there is no public awareness that they are helped by the government in constructive schemes and programmes. We read that only 14% of farmers are registered on eNAM marketing platform. eNAM, the much talked about (talked about in around 2016) electronic National Agricultural Market, has yet to take off in an important way so that farmers feel benefitted. Only 14% of farmers benefited and it is more noteworthy that 51% of farmers have not benefited from the trading platform.

eNAM is a pan-India electronic platform. Why don’t you get is more active and get a separate CEO appointed?

It is an irony of sorts, that instead of talking something that would benefit farmers, given the spread of the mobile phones use among the farmers and the rural people, the newly appointed agri minister, the Hon’ble Tomar and also his predecessor, the Hon’ble Singh are indulging how many farmers have committed suicides since they came to power, since they are in the hot seat of the krishi ministry!

Is this the time to do something positive and newsworthy? The very attitude of our politicians is very discouraging. This only shows how we respect and treat our helpless farmers. Farmers, perhaps, in the only social groups who are disrespected, disregarded and almost ignored and let to their own survival instincts.

It is a great pity. The very Indian attitude of the Indian people to their own much exploited and much suppressed rural segment is worse than how the
Indian society treats is very critical sector. Indian history is full of such ironies. Indian social system is such that we praise the farming profession as something divine, each language has enough songs and hymns in praise of farmers and farming profession.

Yet, the society has so developed, through famines and poverty, mass deaths and worst diseases, plague and what have you and yet we have survived as a nation. In the post-Independence period what we have seen is of course greater food production and food self-sufficiency, but also as a consequence of economic development, the new challenges of child nutrition, the impact on the children’s body, bodies, growth of many needed nutrients and much more worse the callous way the Integrated Child Development schemes are neglected. In Karnataka for example there are instances the very entire budget for the Child Development schemes remain unspent!

Under the Prime Minister’s many new initiatives we have bring the Integrated Child Development a separate CEO and close monitoring. One of the many ways in which the IT tools can be deployed is the child nutrition monitoring schemes and its budgets.

Also, we like to bring our readers to a new perspective here. That is the how the press and the TV media are helping the public or hiding the many new critical information for fear of antagonising the authorities.

The Broadcasting Ministry is using the DD for any positive propaganda or for propaganda for the ruling party’s many other fancy schemes. Here is a book before us. It is: The Indian Newsroom, Studios, Stars and the Unmaking of the reporters. By Sandeep Bushan. Publishedby, Westland. You see that we, the public, are misled by fashionable Brand Building that is indulged by the many TV news channels. NDTV, Times Network, Newsex, Arnob Goswami, Sardesai, Pronnay Roy and his partner, Radhika Roy and many others like Barka Dutt and others have built up a great reputation for their skills. But one thing that has been brought by this well-researched and insightful and also very objective and restrained research and writing skills, is that these TV channels tried to build a brand positioning and thus they make the viewers to believe them. But do you know what lies behind this smart looks and rhetorical words and phrases?

Lies, lies, sometimes total lies and plain unethical conduct and we can even say moral bankruptcy and plain misbehaviour?

During the Neera Radia tapes (You still remember and can recall?) some of the leading lights of these brands turned up as corporate lobbyists and plain Cabinet berth negotiators?

Some respected senior columnists even wrote some plain lies to promote some candidates? What came out? The 2-G corruption scandals that sent soke netas to jail!

Is this great media job?

Also, we see for the first time, we found that the upper crust youngsters, yes, most of them were and are from public schools. They all seem to be very smart in some stylish pretence, yet with much moral guilt!

What sort of respect this highly privileged or self-indulgent younger generation have for truth. For digging the truth that can reach out the under privileged and out of reach for the noble goals of life?

So, we are an empty generation. We don’t care to take part or become partners in the collective exploitation of three poor and weaker sections? Given this paradigm what chance the poor and the inaccessible have to get the benefits of development?

And lo! Behold the privileged group secretly helped the dynasty to benefit, exploit the rule over the country in the name of democracy and much else?
So, what value we can give when you carry stories of exploitation etc while you also try to help the guilty to hide themselves from public investigation?

If you, the print media and the TV media jointly help one party, one family to thrive, this applies now to the ruling party, whoever has captured power you will become a partner in the loot and black money or some other form of accumulating funds and fight elections and promote democracy or any party or ideology that is on display? Or, do you really have a hard core of some value?
These are some of the troubling questions that when we hope to run an agri media small outfit?

And at the end of the day where you are?

In deep debt? You are bought over by money lenders, whoever they are!
Oh, the smart, selfish set; there are some of these troubling questions. They will be there so long you continue to play partners and collaborators!