The urban press sees it more as a status quo budget adjusted to inflation
The budget day becomes a nosy day for the urban media. The number of TV channels increasing, it is only natural the channels have to grab the Finance minister for attention and how many channels have had got “exclusive” interviews!

That is all. Now everybody sees to it what the budget had to offer for their own very narrow interests.As for the major themes, the budget is very populist to put it mildly. That too it is also very obedient to the Sonia Gandhi-led populism, the so-called aam aadmi vote banks. So, the 100 days scheme, grandly called with the tag of Mahatma, the PDS rice scheme and all are with an eye on the Assembly elections.

Pity the populism of this kind! In this game of one up manship, clearly the lead is taken by rivals like the DMK with such a massive corruption on its face to hide from the public.
We see the seat negotiation; actually, it is “climb-down”   by the Congress which also seems to have lost its nerve to threaten the DMK to concede even its very tame aspirations. For a share in power, for a co-ordinating committee and a minimum programme, they are all routine now for coalitions. But in TN, the DMK with all its exposure, with one minister in jail and other family members facing summons from the CBI and yet, here we have a state party that browbeats the Congress.

And also see the 10 lakh colour TV sets bought by tax money and thanks to the timely announcement of the polls, the entire lot of the TV sets are now kept away. Who knows where the sets find their way!

This sort of populism is the undoing of Manmohan Singh’s lament of “the compulsions of coalition” politics?

Now, Mr.Mukerjee, the finance minister is a seasoned politician and he must be the best person to know the ills of this sort of populism that had kept the poor poorer and the hopes of uplifting the poor, the people below the poverty line a Himalayan task.

So, with all our otherwise impressive growth, in particular the growth rate, the Indian HRD index doesn’t give the country a respectable rank in the world ranking.

India is still below; Amartya Sen doesn’t tire of saying and reminding us, that India lags behind Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in some of the sensitive parameters.

Now, as for the budget allocations in the budget, we find that agriculture has some definite schemes and they have been identified. We don’t want to tire the readers with them. But the government, in our opinion, hasn’t been yet sensitive to the agri sector.

What are the critical issues before the farmers, the average farmers?
There are still, say farmers leaders from Karnataka for instance that 50 per cent of farmers don’t get institutional loans and the farmers suicides for debt burdens continue, in states like Karnataka and Maharashtra.

Let us hope the finance minister, among one minister, who must be aware of this sad state of affairs.The Karnataka government has come out with a separate state budget for agriculture and announced crop loans at one per cent.

One hoped a leader of the stature of the Prime Minister must have gone out of his way to congratulate a state Chief Minister for such a bold move.

Unfortunately, the PM’s image today stands so damaged and he seems to be pulling on without knowing what to do and where to turn!

Now, as for agriculture, we in this journal have been doing so many new initiatives.

We don’t just complain and we try to do what we can in bringing out a new awareness about the market opportunities for new investments in various, small and not so small agribusiness ventures.

Of course, we promoted one rural, educated entrepreneur in biotechnology and after paying a hefty sum to the dept. of science and technology in charge of the biotech promotion division, we lost touch with them.

This is the way the government functions. We have ministers who talk celevrly, yes; they deny the whole corruption ever taking place! And they of course make fools of themselves when the Supreme Court comes out and blasts the blatant wrong and even shall we say cynical wrong doing and stand before the public without any remorse!

So, this is governance?

Now, for the positive side of things, we find the market scenario is changing in India for the better for the agriculture sector.

There are now new and young would be entrepreneurs who come from NRI and from IT sectors and who like to take to agriculture for various reasons. That is a positive development.

Our sister concern, Vadamalai Consultancy Services (VCS) has taken some projects like polyhouse agriculture and the market is developing in an encouraging way.
We are down to earth and operate from the grassroots.

We don’t have fancy ideas, fancy foundation to promote innovations for the innovative fancy sake!

We don’t call our activities as NGOs or for-profit and by such names.
We are approaching as a pure business proposition. We are yet the perfect the business model.

There also now new sources of investments, not necessarily commercial banks.
It would be nice if the finance minister who has talked so much on banking reforms has come out with some definite rural development branches, radically different and adopting an innovative, venture capital like funding for new entrepreneurs in agri/food sector.
This is the only way to accelerate investments, generate more incomes for traditional farming families which now have new generation youngster who look to some hope from their traditional occupations.

This is also the PPPs.

We have also published elsewhere in this issue about the state of the micro, small, medium enterprises (MSMEs) and how they are generating employment and exports, almost without any institutional support whatever from the government!

The urban media doesn’t talk of agriculture.TV channels have no use. But we in the media venture, have been pursuing the course and let us hear what our readers say!

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