Prof.Amartya Sen and Dr.Manmohan Singh
What are their positions on critical issues?

Any  thinker like Sen or any one in  government like Dr.Singh can  continue to talk and get away. And yet nothing worthwhile happens as it is today. Because any theory, however brilliant in hair-splitting arguments, between niti and nyaya, as Sen displayed  here might remain untouched by ground level realities.

For this to happen one must have a  fuller understanding of how democracy works actually. Even how capitalism works in actual manner. So, what we have today is that the big corporates get away with whatever they want, be it Special Economic Zones or large PSU bank funds at concessional rates, the government sits tamely and just talks or at best gets the government carried on silently.

The poor continue to be excluded and farmers and rural India left to their own devices.

After all India and the Indian people have survived. For ages. Now, too the same survival strategy, if it is a strategy, might give the Indians the much sought after mukthi, niti and nyaya and what have you!

Prof.Amartya Sen and Dr.Manmohan Singh both appeared jointly the other day on Sen’s birthday celebrations. Dr.Singh and Sen started off their careers at the same time and both achieved eminence, no doubt.

One  participant who attended their speeches writes to say that the secret of their career success owes to their clever stand on most issues. They take central positions. So, it is difficult to pint them down ,so to say, on any issues. They are all things to all men!

Yes, that is why Dr.Singh’s many views are not known. Where does he stand, say, on rural India? No one knows! So too Sen. When asked about the choices to be made he often becomes vague, in New Delhi, later in Chennai he became visibly wobbly!

What does it mean to invest in social sector, day in and day out?
We have to have some conceptions, some basic ideological position whether we believe in rural transformation through panchayat raj or through market capitalism, let loose, through Special Economic Zones or  urbanisation that leads to land encroachments or through some
“planned” and dispersed and broad- based “small is beautiful”, government “regulated” path of “development”.

Singh won’t say anything. Nor does Sen.

That is one reason ,rather the major reason, I would say for the current patterns of rural development, large-scale farmers suicides, mounting  farm  indebtedness and yet  there is no “modernisation of farming or  modernisation of village services.
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Experts and political leaders of the people!
Why a new finance minister not appointed? What is the hitch?
Why the Prime Minister is keeping so many portfolios?

India just now, at the New Year eve, is inundated, so to say, with too many experts, economist of repute! Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel winner and professor of economics at Columbia University was here for a lecture. Not to let him go alone was our own Amartya Sen, on the eve of his 75th birthday which was celebrated by the New Delhi tribe of fellow economists. Sen gave a series of lectures as well, as expected. There was Raghuram Rajan, another heavyweight economist who is now also adviser to the Prime Minister. He is an IMF hand, as our own PM and his deputy in the Planning Commission Ahluwalia. In fact, one can go on and doll out names of economists who are crowding out the PM’s corridor at the South Block.
Why this crowd? Of course, it is holiday time in New York.

But then the PM must be feeling somewhat overwhelmed by receiving and entertaining old and new friends. Where is the time for the Prime Minister of India for all these small pleasures? And, consider the PM is also keeping for some unexplained reasons so many of key portfolios with himself. Finance, Coal, Information and Broadcasting and some other, something like six independent charges.

Why, why? Is this justified?

Is the country in a mood now to take things in a light manner?

The economic meltdown had taken its own toll. Jobs in key industries are cut and lost. IT is a first victim of the slowdown. And so too are many others key sectors, textiles and many other key sectors face the slowdown in the face of rising costs and falling export orders.

Even otherwise, there is a clutch of issues in banking and finance, infrastructure and the very formulation and announcement of stimulus packages, the first one didn’t enthuse, and the second one doesn’t meet the needs of the entire economy and so on.

A full-time Finance Minister must seem to be the urgent need in order to sit at the vantage position and take a view of the entire spectrum of issues.
The PM, more than any other person, including the Congress President, Sonia Gandhi, must be knowing the pressure on his time and energy.  Is the PM the person who takes this decision, namely, not to have a full-time Finance Minister? Or, even a part-time one? Or, is Sonia Gandhi is the person behind such a decision.

Given the background of the relationship between the PM and the Congress President, there is every reason to suspect that it is decision of the two together not to have a full-time Finance Minister for the time being or till the next elections are over.  Why?

Because there is reason to suspect the PM might perceive some threats to his indispensability in the scheme of things. Even, as it was rumoured, if a person of the stature of S.M.Krishna, the Karnataka politician is given the responsibility, who knows, if things so change or tilt, even a man like him could pose a challenge if the constellation of forces, if the other Karnataka politicians around Sonia poison her mind to go for a change or a choice at the top slot.
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Readers across the globe now have access to latest information in agriculture and related fields!

Yes, thanks to the spread of Internet and along without our website ( now in its 8th year of operations, there is a huge reservoir of demand for latest information in agriculture and related fields.

This need we now address to fulfill.

Thanks to this new venture and diversification to put the magazine’s content on the web, we hope to reach out to a worldwide audience and hope to provide them with a bouquet of services. The business potential for agri sector is thus multiplied many times.

Readers can now order their subscriptions over the web.
Now, our thoughts on what it is like with the Prime Minister taking over the finance portfolio as well in the wake of the Mumbai outrage that had shaken the country to its core value system.

What is the future looks   like?

Where is the agriculture debate? Where it is likely to head?
Agriculture won’t go away as long as there are experts are around! Yes, the agriculture debate is becoming more and more difficult for those participating in the debates. That is for the rich and powerful and influential. The rich, powerful and the influential are the corporates, those who want to seize the farm lands for their Special Economic Zones and even for factories like the just aborted Tata car factory in West Bengal .And also  the  powerful include the ruthless politicians of the present, like the Central and the state government functionaries, we see how the economic experts around the Prime Minister, including the Pm himself talk always in terms of rate of growth, fiscal deficit and also in terms of figures, quantity of funds allocated etc. The whole debate about agriculture has become quantity of grains produced and exported and imported.

We wonder whether any of our ministers really care for ideas, new or old. One wonders whether anyone among them, including the PM and his close colleagues, have read or remember Schumachar’s “Small is Beautiful”, a book that once helped to see the world in a more benign way. Read More →

Also a  desperate course correction of the PM’s one-track approach!
There is a clear disconnect with rural India as far as the UPA government is concerned.

Yes, there are schemes like rural employment guarantee scheme. So are other schemes focused on the “distribution” of benefits to the rural mass of people? Yes, all the social sector programmes have a rural focus, if you stretch the definition of rural focus. This is in a way, not even well-defined even here, is what the Manmohan Singh-led governance has come to.
There is clearly lots of dissatisfaction with this sort of view.

See what he is speaking about just on day one after the terror attacks which had shaken the very confidence of the Indian people. The Pm is talking about that Indian economy would grow at 7.5 per cent! Is the time to speak such prosaic topics?

Clearly, this government has been found wanting when it comes to agriculture, rural India, the very many institutions that are helping to lift the rural India and help to integrate it with the faster urbanisation process of development.

What about the funds so budgeted for the rural development? For the panchayat raj institutions. Have ever even for once, even for the token sake ever the PM had talked about the panchayat raj? Has the Pm ever talked about revamping the co-operative institutions, from banking to other producer co-ops like the milk unions or other units like co-operative sugar factories or other such  innovations that had sustained the rural India, rural Industries etc?

Not for once the PM had shown any visible empathy with the continuing distress in the farm sector. The recent injection of about Rs.750 crores for the distressed districts where the farmer’s suicides took ominous turns is not properly conceived.

The UPA government, the very many luminaries of the regime, the ministers or others, has not shown any interest in any systematic development of all regions. Even in the North East  there are issues of great significance, not just economic development, but migration, the great sense of alienation and the consequent displacement of people, the rise in violence etc needs addressing in a big way. Read More →

People must get at the truth fully!
PM’s talk of rate of growth, convening of teams and a lackluster image no inspiration!  Terror strikes India in a massive way!

Shakes our confidence and our collective response needs some hard questioning!

Is the government as it has responded enough of a guarantee for future security?

It is not easy to come to terms with the reality that had hit India in a brutal way. The 10-member gang of heavily-armed terrorists had caused havoc with the very   foundations of the Indian nation.

What started and how it ended would never go away from our minds and public memory, at least in this instance, won’t be anyway shorter. Rather this memory would lengthen by each passing day.

Now, how the government has responded leaves us rather not reassured, but rather more anxious about what would happen next.

The Prime Minister, for one, soon after the attacks, looked thoroughly shaken and his eye balls were rolling about as the nation watched the Chief Executive through his spectacles and he ,as usual failed for  words that didn’t rise up to the emotional pitch every other citizen reaches so  suddenly and so spontaneously.

It looked at first as if the government response would be more of the same, a quick flying visit by the PM and Sonia Gandhi and followed by the same routine, emotionless and bureaucratic language. Yes, it first looked like that and we have to admit that some people, like Shobha De took exception to the lifeless language of the PM and the very nation felt let down and the country felt like an orphan, to say the  least. No one seemed to be in control of the situation. Read More →