Where were your scientists?  When you held the Science Congress?
What is the contribution of scientists to agriculture, rural development?
Scientists don’t show interest in country’s problems!

Kapil Sibal

Scientists don’t contribute to agriculture, biotechnology, seeds and environment and climate change etc?
Science Congress President
Spoke in the face of the Prime Minister!
“Don’t take away precious fertile lands under your SEZz policy?”
“How do we produce enough food for self-sufficiency?”

The 95th Science Congress was held in Visakhapatnam and the attendance was poor. Out of 41 science labs under the CSIR, the heads of only two came! This when their boss, the science minister and the Prime Minister were present!
No scientists from the atomic energy and space establishment gave the Congress a sort of boycott! Its also were a bare minimum.

Most heavyweight scientists, including the PM’s science adviser C.N.R.Rao and his colleagues didn’t turn up!

Only M.S.Swaminathan with his contingent of his NGO was present and hogged the show.

The theme was as hyped as ever. What else but the same old sustainable development. This was held without the environment ministry scientists turning up at the Congress attended by the PM and his science minister!
There are eight scientific secretaries. But only one, namely, T.Ramasami came.
Pushpa N.Bhargava, the founder -director of the Hyderabad based Centre for Cellular Biology said “Without scientists in numbers whether you can describe this as  science Congress! “Dr.Madhavan Nair, the ISRO chairman was present in the first two days because he is supposed to take over as the next year’s president.

The entire body of the ICAR, or the agri universities scientists seem to have not seen, as there was no news about any serious deliberations about the agriculture crisis in the country.

What was the saving grace? What the president of the Congress R.Ramamurthy who, uncharacteristically, came out against the government’s current preoccupations with granting vast areas of fertile agricultural lands in thousands of hectares to private corporate giants like Reliance Industries and other players who are all setting up the Special Economic Zones in prime agricultural lands.
The farmers community in the country is understandably agitated over the way the government is going about in a very casual and even a callous manner(see Nandigram and Singur in W.Bengal)and agitations in Haryana and in Thane near Mumbai and elsewhere in Orissa and other places.

So, Ramamurthy told the PM in his face and asked:” where from food will come when you give away such fertile lands for SEZs?”

The PM was mum all the time and what is ironical when the time came for the PM to talk he skipped the sensitive questions and much of the crisis in the farm sector and what needs to be done and what scientists can do for agriculture, biotechnology or climate change etc, the PM chose an academic issues like how to teach science! This is the tragedy of the Indian situation today.
Neither the scientists seem to care for what the government does or what  it should be doing. The scientists whoever were present were content to let the show go on.

Ramamurthy’s speech was not fully reported. Neither The Hindu nor any other national newspapers chose to dwell on the themes.
Only the Bangalore-based  Herald chose to highlight Ramamurthy’s speech.
So, what would happen to agri research agenda or biotech research, new seeds or climate change or environment etc?

No one seemed to have bothered and everyone was playing the sycophant!
What all this shows? Our  governance, be it science administration or other field, is now dull and uninspiring. It looks that there is no proper political leadership. All high offices are devalued. One doesn’t know whether this is done by anyone but the process had sapped its political springs and what we have to day in Delhi is a mere ritual of a government, not many at the helm are directly elected by the people as in the olden days.

If scientists don’t do their jobs, then, populism takes hold!
Populism can be of two kinds. One leftwing extremism, or rightwing extremism!
Jean Dreze represents the leftwing extremism!

Now, Jean Dreze, the economist and a visiting professor at Allahabad University and a high profile member of the Central Employment Guarantee Council which was headed by Sonia Gandhi has just written about his pet project, the NREGA. He says the extension of the scheme to the whole country, instead as it was in the beginning confined to some backward districts, and is a great thing.
Now, as news comes the scheme is proving a great embarrassment to the Central government, here is a self-confessed Left economist and a collaborator of Amartya Sen, thinks the extension good thing must have some bee in his bonnet!
This is how the so-called leftists and the Marxists would press for more state action where it had already failed.

The NREGA is seen as a working class protection scheme. This is not just true and it is another kind of madness  on the part of leftists whose job is always to stir troubles where there is none! In Orissa there is a massive funds diversion, stealing. In TN, the scheme is not fully implemented. One can be sure that may be in Rajasthan it is a fair success. But the current figures show the scheme is not taken seriously. By the workers as well as by the state governments. In TN, the farmers don’t want the scheme as it takes away precious farm labour during paddy planting and harvesting season.

So, what do you do? To push the scheme or to listen to the ground level realities.
The Central government has no clue.
Simply because the youngman, Rahul Gandhi in the first flush of enthusiasm said the scheme be extended to the whole country an over-obliging PM did say immediately “Extended to the whole country”. In fact, no progress had taken place!

Now comes another kind of extremism, the Congress variation that was made perfect by the DMK extremist populism! DMK has expanded the government-sales points, the Tasmak shops that sell liquor as a public sector service! The income from liquor sales is phenomenal, something like Rs.30,000 crores in the last three years. So, a series of freebies are driving the state government which is on the front pages of the newspapers as the state government carries paid advertisements of its programmes which range from street folk arts to what not.Rs.2 per kg rice is the crucial freebie. This scheme, in fact, is the original brain wave of the late NTR in AP and now the Congress under Rajasekhara Reddy is reviving the NTR scheme, ironically to challenge NTR’s son-in-law, who is none other than the formidable Chandrababu Naidu!

What about the costs? Who cares for the costs when the stakes are high!
So, there are schemes like Jalayagnam, Irdiramma Housing Scheme, Rajiv Arogya Sri, employment generation mission then, as any government does, recruit  1500-2000 youth for government jobs. Getting a government job is still the dream of the Indian youth and AP is no exemption.

Village revenue officers is another lucrative job scheme, the VROs are the very heart of any village administration and the species are the most corrupt and the most exploitative of the agencies in the villages. But who cares?

In TN too there is a mad scamble for the VAOs and for the recent recruitments, even the highly qualified graduates applied for these posts! Asking of the total fall in any sense or any moral values on the part of the rapacious political  class which wants to use all the means to capture and retain power, come democracy and you go to hell! In AP, we now learn there are only 1000 vacancies for the VROs, but the government okays for recruiting 6,237 village revenue officers. One can be sure that the villages won’t develop in our life time!

Now for heavens sake, don’t take Chandrababu Naidu lightly. He has taken on the need for an image changeover. You will get the flavour of the new avatar of the “once lap top-toting politician on the IT fast track of yore is giving place to a humble friend of the poor” he visits student hostels, sups with the poor and the patients in hospitals.

And don’t forget the critical fact that both the leaders, one the CM and the other the ex-CM, are famously rich as their counterparts in TN!

Yes, it is the disparity between the rich CMs and aspiring CMs and the poor voters that is going to be the new definition of democracy for development!

Image Source : alumni.puchd.ac.in

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