There was this delightful column: Lunch with FT! The fun-like but more insightful column in the famed London Financial Times weekend review. This time it was with one 25-year old heir apparent of the famous Italy’s Fiat Empire! An interview with the heir of the biggest industry conglomerate! What he said? The dashing youngman, very much like our political heirapparents, but in Indian our young boys and girls of political families don’t talk but in Europe they articulate in more sophisticated manner. Or, the clever media guys make them do articulate in such a way!

Anyway, the youngman said this: ”In Italy today there is so much of gerontocracy and bureaucracy! I want to see this changed!” Oldmen and bureaucrats running the country? Yes, here we have the curious phenomenon, here the old men also often happen to be bureaucrats turned politicians! That is the trouble!

We have all well-meaning men and women, no doubt. We have a highly competent team, we have to admit. But what is happening? In the country at large? In the countryside?

The New Year opened again with a record number of farmer’s suicides, 37 by mid-January! Is this something we can all feel proud about? We have no interest to take on the names. What is the point, we often wonder. Yes, we have so many worthy schemes, institutions to promote a range of innovative projects, all for agricultural rejuvenation.

We have the Tifac, the technology innovator to bring new and innovative technologies, to many sectors, in particular in the agricultural sector. We have CSIR and its many affiliates, in particular, the Mysore-based CFTRI. We have the National Horticulture Board, now one Mission too, and then we have the food processing ministry itself for so many years. There is the National Medicinal Crops Board and others. All are declared to be serving the revitalisation of agriculture, to bring about value addition in the much subsistence-cum-tragedy driven present depressing scenario. The sector doesn’t grow in spite of so many weighty pronouncements, from the Rashtrapathi to PM and down the power spectrum! What use?

What pleasure we derive, readers might wonder, by bringing in the farmers suicides so often? Then, how else we can sensitise the oldmen and the bureaucracy? The gerontocracy and the bureaucracy that is holding up so much of pent-up energy and power within the Indian people, more so in the new generation young India that is bursting forth in so many other sectors.
Don’t we know that the average IT software entry level engineer or graduate is just 23 and coming down to 21! So, there is this power and fire of the youth in the countryside as well, at the grassroots.

We have to sadly draw attention to the great souls sitting in Delhi, occupying such august offices!

The Rashtrapathi knows well, he is a technology man and so also he headed the Tifac previously. To get the licence from Tifac to start innovative agri enterprise, it takes so much bureaucratic hassles! Our much-admired Rashtrapathi is keenly interested in agriculture and the medicinal crops. So, he must only know too well the projects that are being initiated. It is nearly impossible to get any information from the Delhi based offices for an average farmer or entrepreneur. We can’t be more specific or more direct. So, we remain by highlighting the fact that it is next to impossible even now, in the year 2007,to start an agri enterprise in any of the  areas we have mentioned with so much rule-bound, always questions and objections bound bureaucratic ways of Indian mindset!

We have to atleast welcome the market forces, the market changes that might bring about a radical change in the demand and supply chains in the agri sector.

We ofcourse need very carefully thought out policies to protect the sector’s many geo-political and strategic importance in the larger scheme of things. That is why the WTO Director-General, Pascal Lamy is camping in Delhi for so long. India has such a strategic value for the entire world agri sector!

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