Welcome to an easy season for school education

After a long time there was this easy season for the school education. The secondary education lately has become a mad house for all sorts of ills and inequities and a sense of suppression and oppression for the parent community. There is a mad rush for admissions for all sorts of schools and the parents, the middle class and for also, not the so-called uneducated poor families, the education system has been wronging them for too long.

No education minister of any sort, seniors and junior leaders have thought of this self-inflicted injury to one’s own self-esteem. We seem to have become a new type of illiterates!

Don’t we see our children at home and understand the tensions and bad behaviours. The children are pressed for performing at schools. All sorts of transports are busy the whole early mornings and also in the late afternoons. Are there any education ministers speaking? Even the Central education establishment, from the ministers to secretaries don’t seem to be concerned. Only if you feel oppressed or you think it is your obligation to the parents you would speak out and share your concerns. If you don’t feel anything at all then what can the public expect from you – the person in charge of this hell-hole, so to say, that holds the innocents to ransom!

So, there is this unspeaking evil we are all perpetuating in the name of modern education. There seems to be along queue for getting licences for establishing new CBSE schools even in the remote areas of the states. In one city, for instance, like Erode in Tamil Nadu, there is an intense competition, and if anyone gets this certificate to start an institution, a group of people join together and they decide the initial investment and with no infrastructure they manage to collect together a minimum number of students and a success story in education entrepreneurship.

So, education is all about competition, mindless competition for crushing the young minds with utterly unqualified founders to produce exam results. Immediately the very next day the rank holders are advertised full-page in colour these days in all the neighbourhood newspapers and you get so disgusted and degenerated. For what these so-called schools and colleges do is sheer exploitation of the fear and uncertainty about their own children. So, luckily, after so much of public disgust the government has come out banning the advertisement of the innocent faces of the so-called successful students.

Tamil Nadu has come in for public criticism that this year the education department has come out banning many so-called engineering colleges, in fact a record number of 92 engineering colleges from admitting students for lack of infrastructure. Why many more have been banned in admitting students for BE, M.E etc. Of course the very political atmosphere is that there are many capitation fee colleges wherein you can walk in and join any of the courses.

So, this year’s surprise results where many thousands had got 100% marks and that too in social sciences is a great news! Also there are newspaper reports that the correction of the question papers was done in a record time and with a very squeezed number of examiners. More to the point is the report that there might have been one more angle for the exercise of an easy valuation. What is it likely? Could there be a political angle? The 2019 general election also came in timely. So, the powers might have thought to give the voters, the much harassed parents to come forward to vote the incumbent dispensation!

Please let us all ponder over the freak season of this year. Of course these sort of views have to be articulated and assessed by education observers and experts. We can only ask some questions that are both comfortable as well as uncomfortable. Anyway, the School Journal sends its good wishes and congratulations to all youngsters for performing so well in this year’s exams!

Nothing gives more pleasure than finding youngsters to feel so confident and morally courageous to face the future in such a scenario.

Agriculture is both economics and politics!
Do you know that currently Lok Sabha MPs are 147 times more richer than rural households! The time has come to realise this utter unreality of the Policy makers empty talk and the ground level realities!

32 years after the first farmer suicide in Maharashtra, nothing has changed! This is a lament we hear from Maharashtra where this tragedy saw a farmer who (name: Saheb Rao Karpe) killed himself along with his wife and four children in 1986. Anything changed after this tragedy? In the last five years(2014-2018) 14,034 farmers ended their lives( eight farmers a day).Even after 4,500 farmers committed suicide and the State government announced Rs.34,000 core loan waiver scheme in June 2017.Anything changed in farmers’ lives?

None at all is the dark reply!

Yes, it is a curious feeling we have noticed for long the right-now the much discussed rural distress, agrarian distress and called by various other names that problems of the Indian farmers continued to be couched in the same simple terms like loan waivers or minimum income-guarantees! And another curiosity, this remains essentially an urban debate! Not the agricultural realities we see in actual villages!

The debates, lately in particular, on the TV news screens is more about catching the attention of busy viewers and also the debator, be an active politician or a smart anchor man or a lady end up in quick succession about some catchy phrases like loan waiver or better in some acronm, like Nyay etc. More and more the debates, especially when the election dates nears the deadline more noisy and you lose interest in rural distress and try to catch what the parties’ leaders pronounce for the occasion. Thus, the Congress announced a scheme whose details missed our attention. As for the BJP, anything the PM says goes as a hoary text.

As for others, the state level politicians’ agriculture issues is all about state level election rhetoric! Drought in 2,150 Karnataka villages or many more such news about prices fall or excess output for particular crops, like potato in West Bengal or turmeric in TN are all what we hear. Suicides even don’t evoke anymore!

As for the national level issues or even for the international perspectives, we don’t even know or care to know what is going on between Trump’s US and the Chinese trade wars. In India agriculture is not an international issue or a trade and tariff dispute, though India is now the number one country in agriculture exports in the world. Also, what is happening in our villages lately? There is of course widespread migration to urban areas. Also, for the youngsters, there is a great deal of migration from the Northern States like Bihar, Assam, Bengal and even from UP to the Southern states where the job opportunities are growing faster.

In the villages in TM there is rural distress in the sense there is no incentive invest in agriculture. There are also in many other States there are land reform laws, like ceiling laws, tenancy laws and loans many other complications to own agricultural lands and take risks in engaging in agricultural activities. It is also true that good and well-informed and committed leaders don’t become agricultural ministers. Modi’s regime had grossly neglected agriculture. All agri talks seem to be geared to election-eve announcements. All short term issues and solutions. No long-term
perspectives.

When the Indian economy is growing the agri sector is caught up in a small, marginal farmers perspectives. Farm sector is witnessing a slow growth. Farm growth and farm prices also get low even when the farm production rises. The size of land holdings, the average size was two hectares, now it has come down to less than a hectare. It is obvious to anyone that farm growth is unsustainable. Prices are much lower than the MSP, while long-term low-capital formation in agriculture persist. Public investment in the sector as a percentage of GDP is also stagnant. Besides these factors are drought etc. Also, the persisting debts, legal cases owing to rent payment and other issues. Anybody talks of preventing suicides? And other social sector issues like education, health issues and the very latest buzz word, medical
and crop insurance or pensions for older farmers and their families. The list of untouched subjects is long!

The Nabard man says that 23% of rural income from the agri sector, the rest comes from non-farm sector activities. How to generate jobs in the agri sector?

No one seems to have any clues, except to let the market forces work to drive away unemployed youth to the cities, or as in the Northern State to migrate to states where jobs are plentiful, as in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, why even not then Silicon Valley, Bangalore. We like to ask some hard questions with politicians!

Why don’t you seek to relax the land reform laws that have now become a hurdle to own lands, invest in new generation agri-related business and food processing sectors? Wiping out of all the farm loans. How long and how many times you would do this? And who would believe these politicians? Banks are already facing distress! So, you can’t say very irresponsibly going on promising wiping out farm debts.
No farmers in the villages would look like a perennial debtor and the farmer is the most sensitive soul in the rural communities and any bad talk about his credit-worthiness touches his very sense of social disunity and seeks to end his life once for all!

Also, it is another rural reality that there would be economic and social inequality in the rural, feudal communities. So, recognise this gross rural reality and allow somewhat some liberal legal provisions to own agricultural lands in an open society manner. Let also be a situation in the villages that there is incentives for labour to live and work. Unless you allow the freedom for the land owners to engage rural labour at higher wages agricultural activates would slow down further. There has to be many freedoms for both the land owners and also the wage labourers to negotiate a higher wage for their activities. Wages are also going higher lately and let there be a liberal market for wage earners.

Let there be new legal provisions and protections for farm wage earners like social security, insurance so that there is village harmony and village solidarity. The present political atmosphere in the villages is such that election-time only politicians come and talk and also seek to bribe the voters. Already in States like TN, the money for votes is losing its attractiveness. Only an open and liberal situation for agriculture would create a favourable environment for commercial banks to lend freely. As of now only 54 % of institutional credit is available. This can be further raised only if we liberalise the many restrictions on farm activities.

Let also big farmers, owning sizeable land holdings invest and also live in rural communities. If you further restrict the farming communities only the lands would be left as drought-prone or some other activities like real estate and also rural areas might be abandoned altogether. Politician’s class is also becoming hostile to farmers. Once you enter politics and seek money making and accumulate wealth and indulge in corrupt practices then you only help to accentuate disparities. Also, select rural leaders as MPs and MLAs. Not the family dynasties! And lo! You know that currently, Lok Sabha MPs are 147 times richer that rural households, you know? So, let us not cheat each other talking in around about way!

Also, private sector capitalism accelerates economic growth and political compulsion like write-off of corporate Rs.5 lakh crore debts creates tensions and farmers become angrier and marches of farmers to Delhi are likely to become more intensive in the future. So, agriculture is not just an urban drawing room talk, it is both, economic and political issues of great urgency and top priority for any political party of commitment.

Hopes and despair in the agri sector persists!
May be we have to learn many more things in agriculture policy making!

There are reports from the Northern parts of India, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Haryana about the hailstorm and unseasonal rains in these major wheat growing states. Varying stages of Wheat crop harvesting are reported. Favouring some who had harvested the crop already, others who could harvest and were waiting for the suitable times also reported to have lost much of the half-growing fields.

The reports are very detailed and much as it is encounters with the actual farmers and farmers’ spokespersons, leaders in their own right. Let us hope the government had taken notice of the same, it is very
important for the country for safeguarding food security. As we also read in others parts of the world there are food shortages and the FAO, World Food Programme are attending to this problem. The point here is the importance of agriculture in any nation’s development priorities.

Food security comes first for any country. And for countries like a large populated country with a long history and still a long memory of repeated colonial history of repeated famines and vast devastations of the people it is almost a national mantra to secure for food security and for this goal to be achieved any sacrifice is worth taking. And luckily or unluckily even now in the 21st century when India is rated as one of the five big economies and in terms of population, the number one country in the world, any election promise, either by the biggest parties or by the smaller ones, it is food security that is seen now as top priority. The PM promises the moon, the other party assures a minimum income level security.

Either way, we have to recall agriculture as India’s great industry and everyone, the young and the old, the rich and the poor must dedicate their energies and their time for some time in their life to the great, why even the holy and divine crop of agriculture. See how countries like Janapoa where the emperor walks into the muddy field and plants the rice crop! In Thailand the emperor ploughs his tool with the bullocks drawing the plough and starts the agricultural season as religious rituals. Here in India, our political leaders have become hard minded ruthlessness when they make false promises to farmers.

Wipe out the farm loans! Write off the farm debts! Make farming profitable. Relax the regressive land reform laws! Let market forces come into play, step by step. Let the market forces push the educated, unemployed youth to the urban centres for productive jobs and decent earnings! These are the ways to move. Let not the past institutions setup long ago, during the Green Revolution days and before go away. Let us create afresh new institutions, be it for e-Marketing or even for Producers Associations, give power and funds and put in place experts and scientists in charge for new research, alternative crops, micro irrigation, new crops and new growing strategies, from Israel or from Netherlands.

The one university in Netherlands is the world’s largest exporter of flower and fruits, you know. We have to establish collaborations with the leading US agri universities, European universities and once we set up such high profile collaborations our laziness, as we see today in many of the agri universities may go away. We have to act, act fast. We cannot sit here and bemoan the crisis, the distress and the sad
talk of continuing farmer’s suicides. This is intolerable.

We appeal to all leaders of all sort of political parties, casteist or non-casteist ,please give some time for new thinking in agriculture. We at the Vadamalai Media, as we say, are dedicated to agriculture or more than half a century. We run many online initiatives, we run website www.agriculureinformation.com and videos, we interview agriculture experts and success stories and cater to lakhs of farmer’s subscribers. We answer all your queries. We invite all the state agri ministers to this service. Let us debate and discuss issues. So that we can hit at the right answers for many of the daunting questions!
Single handedly.

Please all of you support us, the state governments and the Chief Ministers, please do take notice of our appeal! Jai Hind!

Issues like climate change, monsoon changes and natural disasters seas rising. Complex issues for the educated society to give some thought from where their food is coming from!
India is a youthful country, with majority young age groups!
But is Indian agriculture a youthful area of development?

No, Not at all. We still read about farmers’ suicides, one story of suicide is more grim than the next! Why is the scenario so bad for agriculture and more so for the villages. What is happening to the younger generation in the rural India?

We read every day that how youth migrate from villages, from agriculture to the nearby smaller cities.>it is a natural process as we see. Just now we also read how Indian IT sector is booming. Something like 1 million youth are in one segment, called the Global Capability Sector in the Informational Technology sector and in one city, Bangalore alone this number is concentrated. Migration to smaller cities, interstate migration is now accelerating almost every day when you see stagnation in agriculture, agriculture prices are depressed, most segments of farming, in most of the states are drought-hit and the current positive story seems to be this accelerating g internal migration of the youth.

The youth with some basic education, even a school -pass or school-dropout is good enough and incomes are attractive, ample employment opportunities and what is new feature with comparatively low living costs are driving interstate migrant population is a pervasive sight in most of the Southern states. Go to Chennai for instance by road transport and enter into a roadside restaurant you see you are politely welcome and served and if you strike a conversation you find soon the Youngman is from Assam or Bengal! What brought them there?

Word of mouth information from someone in the distant home environment or on a vacation back home he or she, yes there are many girls from North East who run many homes or work at more attractive prices jobs in various types of establishments, beauty salons or why even at the reception counters in high class hotels. Some hotels and restaurants in Oory are now run by these North Eastern youngsters!
Some towns, some enclaves are now looking like new colonies, these peoples make for a nice change in a dull environment. The point here is that Indian agriculture is no more what it was yesterday!
Today’s agriculture is a changing occupation for the vast majority of traditional farming families and in these families there are educated youth, both boys and girls and there is a steady migration of youth towards cities. Yes, cities draw well-educated youth and for instance today in a city like Bangalore it is virtual dreams come true, totally 1,250 MNCs are alone in India, in a city like Bangalore and also in others like Chennai, Pune, New Delhi-NCR they are concentrated. The new phenomenon is that this urban migration has now spread to smaller cities too. In Surat, Faridabad and Ludhiana, says a report, that over 55 per cent of in-migrants fill the city spaces and other state capitals like Jaipur is turning into an urban agglomeration with migrants spreading across the suburbs. Why, take remote villages in Tamil Nadu. Every small village is now crowded with ‘outsiders’, out own villagers say to us whenever we return in the week-ends(from Bangalore) @we in the villages don’t know who are the new comers!@.Such is the rapid changes taking place in the rural interiors.

Now, in this fastest change environment what chance is there for traditional type of farming? Tenancy farming is no more the standard farming type. In Kerala the tenants have vanished! Instead, have come new types of contract farming. Just for one crop, say, banana cultivation for one crop, one season! No risk and no complications.

We are talking of the South. May be in the North too the farming patterns must be changing. There are issues like tenancy contracts not being enforceable, paying land rents are defaulted and no way to recover rents. There is vast corruption in the revenue departments the original sinners! Revenut department proceedings happen in sheer anarchy! If only you own a piece of agricultural property only you would realise that paying bribes is the routine.

Just now we read a High Court direction in Karnataka where the Joint Director of Land Records had refused to correct the mistakes in land records and there are plenty such cases in every land record noting, you can take it!, and the Joint Director has been ordered to be enquired into! Do you know how long this process would take> May be the litigants’ all the life time!

So, we have an agricultural social system where there is feudalism, inequity, inequality and also social ostracises when it comes to borrowing loans from private lenders and also from banks that to survive today as a land owners is almost an invited hell on your future!

So consider the dilemma of the farming families, the younger generation in particular as to what to do today?
To stick to traditional farming or give away the effort and simply board the next bus to nearby town?

Besides, agriculture is today in great distress. There is drought, water shortage for drinking purposes and for irrigation. The nearby lakes are dry. Drought creates a clutch of problems like retaining the cattle or selling them off. And lo! Today agriculture is becoming more integrated with the outside world. Farm prices are dictated not by the local traders but by the international commodity markets.
The future of farming is going to be much more challenging. There are international agricultural trade wars between big countries like America and China. Also there is this natural phenomenon of natural disasters, psunami to climate change. So, it is time the society at large must give much thought for the future of Indian farming.


Only implementation is questioned!
Insurance regulator, IRDAI, asks the Insurance Companies to honour farmers ‘crop insurance claims!

High Court petitioned for enquiry over crop insurance schemes! The Karnataka High Court ordered issue of notices to the Union and State governments on a Public interest Litigation petition seeking directions for the disbursal of crop insurance to the farmers who suffered loss due to drought and to ensure effective implementation of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bhima Yojan (PMFBY) by strictly adhering to
mandated guidelines. The Division Bench comprising acting Chief Justice L.Narayanaswamy and Justice P.S.Dinesh Kumar passed the order on the petition filed by Akhanda Karnataka Raitha Sanga based in Shapur of Yadgir District.

The petitioner, obviously, representing many farmers and taking time and energy with not a little amount of money and travel etc must be having certain drive to fight for a public cause. Knowing how the judiciary is already burdened by a heavy backlog has also taken time and paying attention had many loopholes in the PMFBY! It is not a secret that the scheme, a new one and we have to support the government and also at the same time we have to look at these farmer schemes not in a routine way but with certain mental agony, knowing well how bureaucracy operates in the country with so many farmer suicides in Maharashtra where the bureaucracy tried to avoid payment of compensation on some technical ground, the crop insurance schemes are not making big positive news in any big manner.

The petitioner has claimed (The Hindu, March 22, 2019) the PMFBY has been implemented in an improper manner! The farmers in the state have been deprived of what is due to them. Farmers were deprived of their premium as well as the crop insurance loss compensation. The farmers vulnerability, claims the petition before the High Court, has been only exacerbrated. The petitioner further said failure to follow the full mandate and procedure of the scheme has resulted in denial of crop loss compensation.

Media reports also point out the short-comings of the scheme, the petitioner has asked the authorities to investigate the total amount being paid to private insurance companies and also why the companies, numbering some 18 companies for denials of funds due for the farmers for their legitimate claims. The petition has asked for constituting a committee representing the Central and the State governments and go into the details of the disbursal and the withholding of the premium rates and the premiums so-collected, the fixation of threshold yields, the crop cutting experimented and the settlement of claims so far done etc. We are not sure whether this petition has prompted the insurance regulator (IRDAI).Let us all remember how the bureaucracy works in India.

Given this very discouraging big picture and also knowing how the many rural development focused agencies, from Nabard to other newly constituted agencies, the newly promoted Indian AGRICULTURAL insurance Corporation is not yet taken off, do you know? The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bheema Yojana, the Restructured Weather-Based Crop Insurance Scheme (RWBCIS, cover a higher number of farmers. But large scale coverage has also resulted in higher claims from the sector (Times of India of the same date). The regulator IDARI has instructed insurance companies to meet with various stake holders and ensure there is adequate representation from all sides before rejecting claims. It is the election season, so it is in everyone interest if the government’s schemes are seen as succeeding!’So, the wider public can take it that the government’s schemes are having an election-eve urgency and publicity value!

Now, about the government crop insurance schemes spread and success. For the kharif 2016,rabi 2016-17 and kharif 2017 seasons, the total premiums collected by 18 insurance companies was Rs.42,114 crore, while Rs.32,912 crores has been paid out as claims. IRDAI’s 2017-18 that 4.7 crore farmers paid Rs.25,292 as cumulative premium. While the claims were Rs.26,051 crores. For the insurance industry it is unhealthy if the amount of claims is higher than the premium they collect. Despite a fairly decent harvest this fiscal, insurers continue to face high claims, says the insurance industry.

IRDAI instructed(on Wednesday) insurance companies ensure proper representation in stake holder meetings relating to crop insurance with deputation of senior level officers with adequate powers to decide major issues, if any. IRDAI also instructed the insurance companies how to conduct the meetings and, for each allocated clusters, in a collective manner for each major crops, not on an individual’s farm, to farm basis, also to put in charge senior level official to run the disbursal of claim amounts without any hitch. Also upload data on the National Crop Insurance Portal with the help of partner banks.
In case of an individual loss claims the companies should honour the request. In case of any rejection the same should be communicated to the individual in vernacular language, said the IRDAI.