Why the world is so complicated?
We seem to be living in a civilised and yet a contradictory world!

Everywhere, from USA to China. Rulers are doing things that don’t seem to make s sense!

Why China is antagonising large parts of the world? In Hong Kong, Taiwan and South China sea?

As these lines are being typed there is tension and flare-up on the India-China border in the Ladakh area. And the minds of Indians and, even in the outside world must be disturbed. Are we living in a civilised world? Are we living in the 21st century or in some primitive times?

Only we have read in the histories of the Greek and Roman World we have read about the invasions. Of “Barbarians”, the term applied by the Greeks for all foreigners and only these later barbarians finally succeeded and the Roman Empire got weakened. And fell apart in the 7th century and the world went through a dark age. But today, the world is very civilised, yes, we live in a civilised world and we see a new type of barbarians seems to have still occupied with the minds of some regimes and some parts of the world.

Luckily, we live in a globalising world, the economies and communications and much else seem to have integrated the world and the large extent of the territories breathing easy in a fairly democratising socio-political and cultural International world.

In this time and historic point it is really galling to see some dictators. Are still indulging this luxury of indulging in territorial aggression!

Territorial aggression today’s world is perhaps the most uncivilised conduct. Yet you see what is happening in Ukraine and Belarus and in the middle eastern countries.

There is no other way in which we can find out how still some parts of the world suffers from such uncivilised conduct. And every day, we see in the news channels, TV screens are bloodied by violence and much tragedies and civilised people are forced to the streets and in spite of the knowledge and awareness people have to shed tears and cry to live in a more open world and open societies. India, next to China, ironically or otherwise carry the world’s largest populations, China with 1.44 billions and India 1.36 billions and yet the Chinese regime known for its finicky sensitivities don’t care for dialogue and exchange of views and learn to resolve disputes in a civilised manner. To come to underhand deals is not diplomacy and it is this underhand deals seem to have led to the latest flare-up.

Now, turning to the domestic scene there are issues and issues arising out of our day to day events. One the economy seems to be caught in a bind. The finances are in shambles and the Finance Minister is not seen in public and the banks are also in a difficult position. The industrial scenario is mixed. Auto sales seem to be picking up somewhat.

But it seems a long journey. As for agriculture, there is good news. The agri scene is upbeat, the extent of the Kharif sowing is picking up, thanks to improved rains. There is the very positive sales of tractors, the three major tractor making firms have reported almost doubling of units sold compared to last year and this must boost the spirits of the policy makers. However, that we like to draw attention is that the spirits at the grassroots are still confused, jobs are not coming along too soon and we need definite policy articulations that must enthuse the general public.

Yes, there has been good rains and much farming activity. But what about the generation of employment beyond the one scheme, the 100 days employment guarantee scheme?

The future of the cities in terms of governance and expansion are still vague. The Covid has proven that the urban density in the absence of real estate moving towards the suburbs is going to create more problems that solve future urban issues.

May be the need to get the mayors of the bigger cities must be elected directly by the city dwellers instead of the present day councillors methods so that the mayors might have more powers to spend the resources and also become more accountable to the urban citizens.

Also the future cities must be more widely disbursed with the current expansion of urban transport, with more and longer metro services so that there is enough space for people in the cities and the inevitable growth of slums are not going to disfigure our future cities. Much more important is the sort of society, we visualise in the future growth of cities.

Also the quality of governance is very much tied to the larger question of civil society participation in urban governance. We have seen recently many videos of European cities, the urban scene there is very different, very opitimistic and very open and we see a happy urban population going through their daily routines. There are so vast pedestrian spaces, all urban lines, both trains and trams seem to have been taken underground so that there is lot of space over ground and the parks are vast and green.

May be our planners must have toured the Western cities and have seen the very fantastic new architecture that makes some of these cities a delight and so much fulfilling !

The contrast between these cities and ours here is so striking. Where are our enlightened, public spirited citizens? Where is our new generation educated enlightened public spirited elite?

Here the sort of people who enter politics is anything but enlightened. You have to see some of the more well-governed States that have fallen into a rut.

How to expect the villages, the small communities, the minorities to fell secure and self-reliant.Self reliance country would emerge only where there is an air of freedom and democratic governing institutions. So, what we are advocating is a honest self-introspection and not feeling complacent and defending blindly all our mistakes in governance. Let us do many new radical changes in our rural governance.

Our plea is that the Indian elite must learn to live in this contradictory world!
We, the people, must become more committed and learn to live more courageously and Independent mindedly!

By KAUSTAV BHATTACHARYYA

“The House of Savoy which led the Unification movement of Italy became the ruling dynasty of Italy and ended up being the prime kingdom from 1861 until 1946. In 1946 the Monarchy was abolished in Italy. The affiliation with the House of Savoy bestowed upon the Piedmontese ‘Nobility’ a special prestige and legitimacy when compared to the rest of the Italian Nobility. The rest of the numerous Italian small monarchical states were perceived as residual vestiges of foreign conquests rather than products of pristine Italian history with continuity from ancient past.

In conversations with Professor Isvarmurti he often lamented the ignorance of educated Indians about the Continental high culture and society, our textbooks and pedagogy heavily concentrated on the British nobility or elites and took a complete detour with regards to the Continental Europeans.

In this specific article I explore the Italian Nobility and specifically the Piedmontese Nobility and their role and status in Italian society.

Why Piedmontese nobility?? The Piedmontese nobility enjoyed a special status amongst all the principal Kingdoms of Italy being part of the House of Savoy which led the Unification movement of Italy or ‘Risorgimento’ in late 19th century. Piedmont is a North-Western region of Italy located on the foothills of the Alps with borders with France and Switzerland. Prior to the Unification Piedmont was one the numerous Principalities of Italy and was affiliated to the Savoy Kingdom. Piedmontese nobility or the Lords were members of the House of Savoy centered in Turin.

The Piedmontese nobility which after the Unification or ‘Risorgomento’ in 1861 lost a lot of the privileges endowed through legal and official statutes created a nice enclave outside the political sphere for their elite status amongst the upper classes which included the newly emergent elites of industrialists, bankers, propertied rich including landed elites and professionals, based upon their aristocratic ‘heredity’.

They relied upon social and cultural institutions to exercise their cultural hegemony by shaping them according to their own noble values, morals and manners. The 3 institutions which Piedmontese Nobility exercised influence and shaped predominantly were private schools, army and Gentlemen’s Clubs.

In this article we will consider particularly the case of the Gentlemen’s Clubs which were the enclave of this Piedmontese Nobility in Turin; Società del Whist and the Accademia Filarmonica.

Although many of these private clubs were porous in terms of their membership and did allow a certain percentage of nouveau wealthy bourgeoisie elites it was the old Noble pedigreed ‘family’ elites who emerged as mediators of conduct, manners and values.

What’s so interesting about the Piedmontese Nobility?? Personally I find it fascinating how this particular nobility exercised influence and power in the cultural and social sphere operating independently of the political sphere. This fact appeals to me as a lesson at a point in time when politics and politicians dominate our imagination to the exclusion of all other refined pursuits.

DESCRIPTION OF THE 2 GENTLEMENS CLUBS:
There were 2 posh Gentlemen’s private exclusive clubs based in Torino towards the end of the 19th century; the Società del Whist and the Accademia Filarmonica. These clubs were inspired by the model of Gentleman’s Clubs in London and Paris.

Both these clubs were merged shortly after the end of the Second World War in 1947and were renamed post-merger as the Società del Whist Accademia Filarmonica.

The merged club is housed in the magnificent edifice of Palazzo dell’Accademia located on Piazza San Carlo in Torino: the same premises as that of the erstwhile Accademia Filarmonica. The physical structure of Palazzo dell’Accademia was built between 1644 and 1656 and designed under the aegis of Benedetto Alfieri, one of the illustrious architectural proponents of the “classicism-baroque” style. The aristocratic or noble touch is glaringly evident from the architecture of the edifice employing the finest mind of the time.

The Philharmonic Academy:

Was formed in October 1814 as an informal coalescence of 50 amateur musicians along with the appointment of its first President, the Count Luigi Mocchia of San Michele, to celebrate and cherish Classical music.

The school was financially supported by the Patrician Carlo Alberto during his lifetime and physically located at the palace of Marquis Solaro del Borgo. Philharmonic Academy was engaged primarily in musical performances, conducting study of music and dancing involving professionals, academics and amateurs.

As things stand today, the Philharmonic Academy is endowed with a valuable musical library which remains as an artefact of the musical teaching tradition including well-preserved original handwritten scores from the 6th and 7th century.

These handwritten scores were donated by the Marquis Alessandro dAngrogna who was a member of the Philharmonic Academy and descendant of Count Luigi Cotti of Brusasco. Interestingly it was the intervention of Marquis Alessandro dAngrogna saved the archives from destruction by Napoleonic forces. A special music hall or room was built by the architect Talucchi in 1840 titled ‘Odeo’ with higher quality acoustics for concerts and exercises.

Società del Whist:

Or ‘Whist Society’ was founded sometime in March 1841 as a personal dream ‘project’ of the Count of Cavour, Camillo Benso and was located in the chic and elegant CaffeFirio of Turino.

Initially it was conceived as a warm cozy location for meeting to play Whist (being a trick-taking card game), Chess and have conversations with ‘politely educated’ people. There were 40 founding members who were friends of the Count Cavour, which included both aristocrats and upper bourgeouisie, amongst whom 10 were affiliated to the exclusive aristocratic club of the city, Patriottica Nobile Societa del Casino which restricted membership to the highest strata of the nobility primarily those who were titled prior to 1722. The key aristocratic personalities who were part of the founding team apart from Count Cavour were Cavalier Pietro Santa Rosa and Count Vittorio Filippi di Baldissero.

This notion of being ‘politely educated’ traces its origins to the Renaissance ideal of a cultivated, cultured person who is blessed with a generalist education which clearly betrays the aristocratic ideal of education.

‘Polite’ education implied acquiring knowledge and learning much beyond the confines of professional learning with clear practical defined goals and objectives; a kind of ‘Knowledge for Knowledge’s sake’ ideal.

Admission criteria of being ‘politely educated people’ is another manifestation of the aristocratic temper and tone of the Club.

Another aristocratic influence on the Club was the fact that gambling was strictly prohibited within the precincts of the Society.

There existed a library existed with a good collection of books along with the games. Clearly this Club was influenced by the aristocratic ideal of cultivation of mind, body and spirit laced with haute cuisine and fine wine.

Piedmontese Nobility was closely connected to the military this manifested in terms of the members contributing to the war efforts earning battlefield glory; there were 19 gold medals awarded to Whist Society members. This battlefield track-record stretched from the First War of Independence until the Great War (First World War) and the Resistance.

The Whist society insisted on being totally apolitical and despite having members who were political heavyweights: the nobility types, diplomats and serving ministers. There was maintained a calibrated detachment from the humdrum world of politicking.

Rather the philosophical abstract world of political ideas were acceptable and welcomed. As a matter of fact quite recently, about 20 years back, one of the senior members had to step down due to his close affiliation with the ruling political dispensation of the day.

In the summary one can appreciate and understand the way Piedmontese nobility went about creating a special niche for themselves in the sphere of socializing and aesthetics independently of political elites. This demonstrates that there are multiple ways in which fading elite can retain its prestige and exude glory without craving and conniving for political power.”

More attention to the ground level realities. The social and economic and the panchayat level reforms are critical. These further details call for critical analysis on policy implementation.

The revival of the economy seems to be very much dependent upon the agri sector. All other sectors, industry, infrastructure etc seem to be still in the lockdown mode.

This kharif season agri output is projected at 108.22 million tonnes, as the kharif acreage hits all time high as a newspaper headlines scream!

The government has put lot of emphasis on small and marginal farmers in the revival of economic growth, rightly so therefore!

As the vast majority of farmers belong to this category only, it is only right that we seem to care much for these two segments of millions of farmers, the small households in the rural India. Indian agricultural transformation depends very much on what we do for this farming segment and what is happening already is a question we have to examine much more carefully and also what we find from the ground realities. These two segments lie at the very bottom of the pyramids to say.

In our experience the old regime is also like what the new regime with all its noise is going. Agriculture and rural development doesn’t get wet we are all talking about!

Technological revolution is transforming Indian society. including the agri sector. There is this smart phone revolution. Now, in almost every household in the villages, the new generation of boys and girls, the IT tech has transformed their lives, they are educated and aware and they use smart phones and the governments must do much more than what is being done and more so now, after the Covid menace online usage is increasing.
In agriculture, there is also the digital revolution. From now onwards technologies are becoming everyday reality. This is a new field and a vast territory and only more qualified. Hands can do justice by taking up this awareness campaign.

This is now a sadly neglected area and given the current environment when most of our exerts are urban based professionals, economists or retired bureaucrats, the grass roots realities of India seldom get attention.

Though Covid is a great tragedy and disrupted much of our normal life and created much agony and great losses it seems that Indian won’t be the same again unfortunately. Digital transformation of much of our society must be welcomed for what it is capable of doing and also still newer techs like AI and Cloud and others could help to impact the life of the people outside the offices and let us hope much of our farming scenario would be impacted by the many revolutions including the much-touted digital one!

Our point is that right now, the many tech revolutions seem somewhat far away or far ahead. The people at the bottom level are yet to seem to get the benefits in their day to day lives. The potential for much change seems visible and yet the lives of the hapless farmers who had suffered much for lack of priorities for so long remain where they were. For much of our post-Independence period, right?

There are many other issues at the grassroots level. One is the panchayat raj institutions

We restrain further comments or such revelations might antagonise the local vested interests. As we have been long saying as of today a small farmer is either a debtor or a litigant or both.

Life in the villages is not so easy and pleasant, as we all seem to imagine.
So, one more lesson for tackling the rural realities that stand in the way of further progress is to realise, for the experts and the expert professionals, in the Indian scene, either an economist and bureaucrat is that these category of experts also live in fear of the incumbent governments. So, you really don’t get realistic appraisal of many of the policies.

Now, we feel the time also has come to realise that we shouldn’t simply talk of policies in general, vague terms. We need not mention. The government policies in vague terms, we have to further analyse the implementation details and then come to comment, be it the ease of doing business or many other bureaucratic hurdles in policy implementations. One more aspect of rural development policies is the state of public opinion at the grass roots levels, the media is not a free media anymore and everywhere. These are stray thoughts and we need a more open society and a commitment for values like truth and honesty in politics. Perhaps, the education spread and growth in social media can partially rectify the current deficiencies.

It can only be a slow process!

The very global surface, it seems, is one of vast barren land, stretching miles and miles of unending desert land, looking like newly discovered forests and uninhabited empty spaces or other desolate stretches. That never end. This is the impression I got recently after seeing a series of new videos of Soviet Russia, the transSiberian. Railway journeys and also the transAustralian jobbers. From Perth to Sydney. What a waste of Nature’s bounties, I wondered.

Yes, agriculture everywhere, in every continent, including in Europe seems to be struggling for its legitimate place, legitimate existence. A recent write-up in the prestigious London Financial Times daily says that agriculture is on the wane and farmers concerns, that is finance for farming just one per cent of the requirement. Though India being the poorest country in the world in terms of various parameters, from the point of virw of per capita income or other indicators. And in spite of various promises, election promises included ,made for such a long period since independence, our villages remain poor and our livelihood indicators are also very disappointing including the post Modi period. So we find now in a very difficult context when we have to really seriously think about how to raise agricultural incomes, when we also have a separate department called, the Department of doubling agricultural incomes!

Is it so straightforward to raise incomes from the agri sector? Very relevant that we are all now. Caught up with the problem of rising. The income levels and also raising agricultural productivity. By all means. How to create more jobs in agri sector? How cogenerate more employment? How to really make agriculture a paying proposition? Theft write up begins with the first sentence: farming is a risky proposition>Of course we who had been under the British rule know well how many famines and how many deaths, in fact mass deaths, the British rule caused over the many centuries they ruled. The writer of this column lives in a city, though he has agriculture as his traditional occupation. So when we write on agriculture the writer knows well that he is touching upon a subject with which he has been struggling almost everyday. Only those who have some direct touch with farmers and farming only can speak the truth or truths about farming sector challenges.

There is food shortage in the world and there are countries and where food supply is still in severe shortages. So we needn’t elaborate here more on the usual official versions of schemes and promises made and implemented partially or fully. The fact remains that farming is still in distress; the many schemes are based on leaders and parties who live in the cities and draw schemes for others to practice and for the scheme makers to win votes and perpetuate their rule.

There are now some new developments due to Covid Pandemic and the lockdown gives us some new incentives to try new techs like Online Agriculture. Vadamalai Media has been in the print media business for a long time and now we have switched over to online agricultureinformation service providers. It is heartening to note that now more and more visitors come to our site and there is a gradual buildup of capacity and every day twice there is a respectable crowd of visitors to get the latest information about various new crops to be tried and new technologies to be deployed.

Much more encouraging is the fact that many new comers, like those educated and employed in highly lucrative sectors like IT companies and those who are bored with the high-tension jobs find agriculture a new outlet for a relaxed life style. So we can expect that in the new changed situation more and more highly qualified persons, from traditional or even from the new generation might find agriculture and rural environment more appealing. It is also the time and placebo devise more new avenues in agriculture and more so in the horticulture, fruits and vegetables’ very attractive areas for new investments. The governments must try new investment opportunities in these sector for these new non-traditional farmers and new entrepreneurs. Also, the new generation of educated families, youngsters from these families have entered into agri sector.

We need new schemes and investment opportunities for those educated generation of new entrepreneurs. We have featured in our online services of such new younger generation of agro entrepreneurs. There are other sensitive issues like land reforms. In Karnataka, for example, there are some new land reform law changes, to allow non-farmers to purchase agricultural lands. This change is welcome on the face of titbit and needs further consultations. Also certain age-old ideas of equality in society lasted to very inequitable laws. Who says that inequality originates only in agriculture?

Also, there is the current stark reality. An average farmer in India, we say is either a debtor or a litigant. This is the age-old problem. This social reality of thermal India and the life of farmers need much debate for new ideas, so that agriculture and rural India come to terms with the current socio-economic and cultural realities. We saw in the event Pandemic that some 50 crores of migrants returned to their homes in the vast stretch of North India. Now, we imagine the very same crores of migrants must have returned back to their old haunts. They must have done so for it is the new Indian reality no Indian agri policymaker might have suspected nor even if he or she knows, might not have openly said so. This is the new Indian rural reality.

Unless you create an environment that staying in the rural areas and making a living with dignity and honour is possible no amount of financial allocation can keep and retain the rural migrants in their traditional rural haunts. So, we are saying in conclusion that. You have to think radically, allow people where they are and employed, profitably, we hope and let the situation change gradually but with a steady commitment to give freedoms to farmers in the way they want.

Let the migrant labour remain where they are outside of their own states and gradually let us build a new changed rural context where the current many ossified laws get rejected and new, many more liberal laws come to govern the way agriculture is pursued with more freedoms in all areas and in all contexts.

Agriculture is always a sensitive and therefore controversial field and every media outlet, be it the mainstream newspapers or specialist magazines have their own priorities.

Today the entire world over we have a new crisis in farming looming large and that is this global level Covid-1 attack that had crippled societies and economies. The new Virus has brought to light, the inherent challenges in our global food supplies and the very economic crisis that had laid down the farming communities and as the rest of the societies the farmers are also confined to their homes in the fear the spread of this new calamity, specially for a country like India and why even big ones like USA and Brazil, not to speak of the other developed and developing countries.

When will the farming communities stand up and pursue their age-old practices. Agriculture is not an year-round activity, it is very much dependent upon the rains and climatic changes and when you come to Indian agriculture it is much more complex and divergent activity spread across many regions and agri and ecologies.

We at Vadamalai Media have our own agenda and goals. We come from an agricultural background and are still engaged in practical farming. So, you won’t see the usual academic or bureaucratic outlook, even our journalistic language might sound a bit old fashioned! Though these types of writing and speaking is common in India when it comes to agriculture and rural development.

One important difference for Indian farming and the non-Indian farming systems, like those of the USA and why, even the Chinese is the widespread traditional farming systems where we don’t see the inexcusable practices when it is some meat packaging industry and even the eating habits of people. Here the situation is very different. So, what is unique to Indian agriculture and food systems and cultures have to be kept in mind and we have to look at the priorities we assign to our agriculture and farming communities must be fully appreciated. That is one reason why we might sound different but more authentic and hence less elegant in presenting our views and opinions.

One has to be first of all skeptical when it comes to presenting an optimistic picture agriculture which we routinely do. Forbidding confidence about our food supplies and availability to run our ground level distribution system when it comes to predicating an optimistic picture as to food production targets. We too want to build confidence but at the grassroots level, not just at the Central government level.

American unemployed are growing and hence there is a cry about food security there. Here too there is a concern about food security but both are very different perceptions. Anyway, it is good to see certain new parameters today that point to good harvest this season? What are the parameters?

The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) says that the agriculture sector emerges as a beacon of hope! That is very well said. Let us not be misled by the hyperbole. Such statements sometime prove to be specially a field like agriculture that depends upon so many uncertainties, let alone. The pre monsoon predictions often prove to be illusory. As our monsoon prediction technology is so primitive when we really reflect on the state of our science and technology. Let us not forget that the Kerala government has recently announced a payment to private monsoon predicting agencies in Kerala that took a government dependent upon many non-private sector initiatives!

Anyway we have no quarrel with the CII in taking the tree body’s pro-government stand. It always pays to stand by any pro-government view when it comes to economics and business bodies! However, a range of indicators point to some positive developments. GST collections is one good indicator. Railway-freight traffic, petrol consumption, peak power demand, electronic tool collections, among others have all given us a picture of incipient signs of the economy picking up some gravitas and strength and momentum. Though it is still too early to see the signs develop into a reality of success on the economics from the signs are welcome and must give the public much hope and confidence.

After all public opinion matters a great deal and the common man’s outlook also matters a great deal. The other recent steps to put the cash in the hands of farmers is yet to make an impact, the free rations and the 100-days employment scheme is also a stimulant, though we need a more sound and systematic agriculture proposals as the most critical requirements.

Yet the CII and through its Director-General, Chandraji Banerjee, has voiced his concerns. He notes that in order to carry forward the current positive signs he wants the prevailing restrictions on the industry to carry forward long-term plans.

This is a tricky issue. The Corporates always want to have things easy. The Corporates don’t have other broader and social and economic visions of sorts. Economics in India is also not merely about profits and losses. It is much more. Then these are about livelihood for the poor and also about caring for the community as well. That is one reason why the villagers have survived all through the hard times and there is a sort of social bonding that is a real altruistic age old values that held the Indian society as an integrated entity. Rural India in this sense is a great surviving force and these survival instincts distinctly an Indian characteristic today’s the materialistic politics or the value-absent money grabbing power politics that dictate our day to day politics we witness today.

Our democratic politics is no more democratic and it is all about mere jungle warfare!

What are the new agri policies that we hear about today? The government talks about putting cash in the hands of small farmers, right? That is fine but then there are long-terms questions. How serious we are about ensuring a sustainable, long term health of the farming systems and future of our farming families? Small farmers are fine people, they are still clinging to their age-old small pieces of lands but how long the government hopes or beliefs in their sustainability?

We need some structural farming systems, somehow we have to pool the farmers into some sort of co-operative or collective systems. The new concept of farmer’s societies is one new innovation and we need further thought and reforms. No politician or political class has given any thought beyond lip service and that too only when some inconvenient question comes up.

We need a racially new way of thinking, we need thinkers to think about these issues. Where are the dreamers, the rural utopia builders and there are still some youngsters left to dream these new collectives. One young IT professional came on our online agriculture video-conferencing with a community farming system and community farming living. That was inspiring.

There is no alternative to rural co-operative enterprises and we need further conceptualization in this direction. There are now new farming systems and experiments in new types of cultivation.

In horticulture, there is ultra density cultivation of mangoes and other fruit trees, mixed fruit trees and such experiments. These are a few examples where there is much enthusiasm and experimentation and we at our media venture introduce such new ideas though our video conferences. Instead of talking rural politics, helping to build rural vote banks that seem to be the end goals today, we need to pursue more constructive ideas in our rural development issues.

Of course, India seen in the context of developed world countries, remains pathetically poor in many areas and so there is enough time we think ahead in time to introduce new rural economy’s new opportunity.

In all European developed countries, all rural dwelling have been now converted into agritourism outlets. This is one new opportunity. Tourism is a thriving industry and our rural housing too must foresee such rural tourism projects integrated into our rural development. Our present tourism industry, even in the cities is poor or as good as nil!

So, the future for India’s rural hinterland is very rich our cultural heritage. Remains largely neglected. Our ministers must tour abroad and see how tourism has emerged as the biggest industry even in developed countries like UK, Europe and also in terms of tourism related services industry. So, should envisage for rural India and its rich geographic and historical heritage as a new opportunity industry.

The sky seems to the limit!