What the new MP Chief Minister Mr.Kamal Nath says about preference for only locals is not acceptable!

imagesHow can we ban the imigration, yes, the seasonal migration of farm labour from one state to another can be controlled by any state policy?

This is unwise and must be curbed at the very beginning. Who doesn’t know there is an intensive internal migration of labour, farm labour and even educated youth from the North East to deep South and also the now well-known and well-established practices of internal rural labour from UP and Bihar  to Punjab and even other states like MP can be curtailed ,let alone banned. This is an election-time propaganda that might have paid off well in MP but flawed in principle.

What is the cardinal principle?

The Indian Constitution gives equal rights to every citizen of the country, to live and move about in the whole territory of India, right?

The same principle applies to the rich and the poor, to all the entrepreneurs. Even Mr.Kamal Nath is an entrepreneur who made it big in Kolkata!

There can’t be any more chauvinistic feelings, based on language, race and religion. India is a diverse country and this has been reiterated many times by many, big and small, so we have to eschew the thought fully from all our people.

In fact, the migrant labour made things easy for the Punjab and Haryana and why even the Western UP agriculture operations viable and practically solved of its many problems. Also, why MP state, known for its own regional diversity and levels of growth must now think in terms of broken ideas.

Separatism is bad and even an evil. We have seen how the many separatist movements that arose even in Independent India, in Punjab and Tamil Nadu had held back progress of people, both culturally and even psychologically.

It holds back progress in education too.  We, from the South often see in the Northern states how even the educated persons with M.A. degrees can’t speak a word of English.

This has held back the progress of youngsters from some of these states. Now, at the far end of the development process why rake up the issue of outsiders, as migrant labour.

They are all part of the Indian development warriors, their hard work and earnings could offset the many issues in the parent states both in terms of education and health progress.

So, please, Mr.Chief Minister, give up the idea. You are one of the bright and talented leaders of the Congress party. You may rise up further in the political hierarchy and could serve the nation in more ways.

So, please give up the idea. Also you can give a new meaning and depth to the crop loan waiver issue.

Crop loan waiver is no permanent solution to the emerging agri issues.
We need more science and technology in the   rural sectors people must be  given new hopes and solutions through science and technology.
The IT industry can take roots in MP?

The younger generation must be given many such new opoportuntiies.

So,let us ban from our own minds new ideas in backwardness. Banning migrant labour, outsiders is not a positive thought.Please let us all think in positive terms.

In three crucial Hindi heartland states!
What does this election win means?
Means the rural distress in the agri sector nearly over?
Rahul’s new found confidence justifies his current speeches and even his threatening postures?
Yes, yes, he has every reason to be enthused about his hard-won battles!

rahul-gandhiBut then write-off of farm loans in MP and Chattisgarh, may be in  Rajasthan too might trigger further demands for the BJP-ruled states too! Why not?

It will take some more time, may be only after the 2019 big test, that further promises and even some write-off might be demanded.
Already the Karnataka write-off is half way.

The hard reality is that write-off of farm loans are never easy and never solved the current persisting farm distress. This needs hard thinking too.

Let us be a bit realistic and also so honest that even in the
Congress times of old there never was such a proposal, write-off of crop loans. It needs experts and also much field level experience.
At the micro level and macro level issues and realities.

At present even the well-meaning Prime Minister Mr.Narendra Modi couldn’t do more than what his government has done for the farming community. We just don’t have some really well-meaning capable people at the top.

You see experts are urban-based?

And when the agri ministers or officials, let alone the Prime Minister don’t even speak out? Rahul Gandhi has promised write-off farm loans within ten days of coming back to power! Can he do this? Is there going to be any practical action in the time before the general election in 2019comes fast! Whom to trust when it comes to agri issues?

Very rarely we get to know of the farmers issues. Agri issues don’t make to it to TV news headlines unless it is a massive march or a big rally as it took place on November 30   in Delhi where came farmers in large numbers from all states, and the much-publicised 200 odd farmers organisations managed to gather such a large crowd of farmers. Only such massive rallies make good TV news and not when you discuss problems in cold print. And there are some critical factors like who organises the farmers.

Certainly political parties and they only one interest, that is of the coming elections and the parties gather together to win elections only.

Rahul Gandhi’s grand promises of writing off farm loans within ten days of coming to power is a myth and of course no one cares to ask such questions. It is the heat and the buzz that is all matters for the multiple TV channels and each channel makes lots of noise and some even screams hoarse and the louder the more viewer rating, right?
Yet the grand realities remain the same. A full page write up in the Hindu newspaper, of a 1,200 km travel by road by the newspaper’s correspondent  brings into sharp focus the  grim realities of rural living in the mostly desert state of Rajasthan and the various combinations of the castes of Rajasthan  had rejected the Vasundare Raje Scindia.

The villagers don’t show any unity as farmers and farmers are divided by castes and also classes.

There are rich farmers and poor farmers. It is not possible to gauge how the farmers are divided by political affiliations. In Rajasthan there is a sort of anger over the Rajasthan pride over the Padmavati film and also the manner in which the Rajasthan sentiment if hurt by the BJP not treating the senior Rajasthani leader, Jaswanth Singh who is ill and his son, Manvendra Singh who was with BJP and walked over to the Congress which had put him against the Chief Minister Vasundara Raje Scindia, a non Rajasthani!

It is widely predicted soon after the election process was over that the BJP might lose and the Congress might form the government. In Madhya Pradesh too, the Chief Minister Chauhan too face a tough Opposition, though he might scrap through and yet he would lose his shine, widely predicted again.

The point here is whether one part wins, the other loses, and the status of Indian agriculture, right now is one of deep distress.
No one seems to have any clue.

In the issue of the newspaper on another page it is highlighted how M.S.Swaminathan has co-authored a column, published from Bangalore, finally throwing out his hat and saying  that the GM cotton has failed, nay, all the GM crops a failure and GM technologies  won’t help, a  sustainable food production and nutritional security not possible by the GM technologies. So, we are left with no other alternative assurance, this government neither promises you these goals.

Now, what are we left with?

The same persisting rural distress and that means what?

Farmers suicides, as we write, in Maharashtra and UP as we write, and the government’s untrustworthy promises are only we are left with, ironically, every time with the every approaching elections!

So, it looks as though the time has come to see agriculture distress only in terms of electoral battles. Even the much hyped farm loan waiver in Karnataka is getting delayed.

And very soon the people, why, the farmers everywhere, seem to be ignored even in   Madhya Pradesh we saw police firing at Mandsaur where five farmers were killed in police firing!

While the Government’s Principal Scientific Adviser K.Vijay Raghavan had disputed the MSS research paper as deeply flawed, what is the real answer?

Alas! There is none in the official hierarchy to come out with an honest response. Nor we have any public intellectuals who can speak out.

Of course, it is not a scenario where we can leave with such a negative outlook when it comes to agricultural sector. In the outside world agriculture, food production and much else like ensuring nutrition to children and all such larger goals visionary goals are called for.FAO and other agencies have predicted serious consequences and emphasised future food needs of the world with higher populations. So let us think positively.

As far as this journal is concerned there are certain deeply entrenched policy prejudices that govern even today the agri sector in the country.

One, as the NIITI Aayog has come out with a model land legislation that suggests some bold reforms, make farming an equitable activity between the land owners and the tenants.

Currently, the tenancy and land ceiling and other issues are government by a rigid set of laws that have made farming unviable, among other factors.

Unless farming is seen as a possibly viable activity, more farmers would leave farming sector and move to other profitable activities like construction and other service industries.

There is a furious urbanisation process and many able-bodied people have left their rural habitats. In the north, from Bihar and UP, why other states like Odisha there is a seasonal migration to cities. From the other states too there is great migration process started, as for instance, most educated young man and women have moved to Bangalore and other cities. So, how do you care for agri productivity and production?

There two views for agriculture. One, the micro view and other macro view. The micro view is just look at problems in particular rural pockets. Life in the villages is becoming tougher every day. At the macro level we have bigger problems like Indian agriculture vs. the global agri issues, like agri trade and agri exports in particular.
WTO, why even the big agri economies like USA and China, they object to Indian agri subsidies. Now, India speaks a new agri export policy, doubling of exports. Fine!

It is our view that only when the agri exports rise, the farmers would get decent prices for their produce, as other countries, the USA, EU agri subsidies show. Let us feel confident on the agri front.
New governments must think on these lines. Jai Hind!

Why mainstream media ignores the agri sector?
Or, for that matter, issues in rural development?

farmer_710x400xtThe mainstream media, mostly the English  language mainstream media writes of issues in agriculture and rural  development, the two high priority  areas where the largest number of people are engaged  is almost pathetic. For quite some time we were fed with stories of farmers’ suicides and the administrative bungles that denied timely help to the very distressed family members of the affected farmers. Only one major newspaper hired a high profile leftist correspondent who went over to the families in the rural areas and
that high strung prose brimming with much rhetoric drew readers. That was in itself a great contribution to point journalism.

But you see we are in India and we don’t have that luxury of the British media, in particular, the famed Guardian newspaper which for a very long time used to have a special correspondent who wrote a regular column about the countryside. But then the British has some snobbishness, they used to imagine the very paradise in the greenery of the countryside.

But we then live in the Indian villages and where there is much illiteracy still and much poverty and very much social segregation. This media is very much village based and village attached, we write not from the capital Delhi but from the rural interior in the South.
So, what we write might not have much relevance in the North and yet we know much of the Indian countryside ,from Rajasthan to West Bengal to much else in the rest of the country where ,we believe, the reality is much the same.

Now, when the rural migration, from the rural countryside to the urban centres have changed the picture of agricultural realities. UP and Bihar are two big states contributing to heavy migration, now even the reality is so changed that much of the migrants from Assam and Bengal to the South has created little islands of mini-Assam as in Kerala and in Karnataka.

The population diversity is now very fast changing to create almost permanent employment in major cities in many new industries, from hotels and catering to domestic help to many other sectors.
The net result is that even in the older states like TN and AP and other Southern states that there is an acute scarcity of labour, more so the farm labour and  the term landless labour is not to denigrate in any manner the grip realities of life in the villages. The point here is that those urban-based newspapers and magazines, some are also in the regional languages and yet they have to function from urban point openly write as though the rural India is what they present in their writings.

No, this is not the total reality! Even the small and marginal farmers with one or two acres of land find it hard to do agriculture for there is no labour available to work on the land. The youngsters had gone away. They are urban-based now, for there is work only there. There is no chance to live back in the village and find year-round work on the small patches of land, mostly dry lands, and also the current realities of demand and supplies in farm products, vegetables and other short-term crops where the price fluctuations are so common that there is no chance for a secure livelihood in the villages.

So, what the urban readers are given as farm news is that only patchy distress stories. So, the news that 92 farmers died from suicide across the Rajasthan state on the eve of the Assembly elections is no news, more so when the statistics where three died in the Hadoti region in the Baran district and also the news item is so heroic, with the local suicide helpline, Hope Helpline at 0744-4333666 is like adding more irony to the distress stories elsewhere. After all how many such stories you can carry in a day when there are other items that are more glamorous that is needed to engage the busy readers!
So, who will summarise and articulate the farming stories and also who would take up the cause of championing the farmer’s priorities, the rural priorities.

It looks agri media business to seem hopeless. How can you compete with the larger media houses, why even the larger ones are struggling already?

The government in the States and at the Centre have big ad budgets but then they have their own priorities. The PM, the CMs have to advertise their own programmes and also ask for votes and so we at the agri media are almost in a hopeless situation!

So, where is our chance to survive? The big corporate in their pursuit of profit-seeking have their own priorities, so they have their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) obligations, they look to the ruling party and allot their funds!

So, we have to survey it seems with our wits, so to say and unless there is a growing awareness among the wider society, the more enlightened sections of society, all talk of reviving vigour in agriculture and the food sectors, in order to raise Indias score in the Global Hunger Index and also on the Human Development Index would continue to be a lost cause!

So, we invite sensitive readers whoever they are, big or small, to take some extra interest, some commitment on the part of policy makers, to join us in the mission of sensitising public opinion. Agriculture is such a top priority that needs no further labouring of the same points.

Agriculture is so part of the global concerns from environment to climate change to pollution etc.

Food shortage is also, great many minds have warned us ,m looming food crisis in the year 2050 is very likely, with the population growth threatening our very survival.

So, this is a journal for much thought and reflection. Goodbye!

What chance for quality education?
Commercialisation of education and the rise of private sector education are having a negative impact!  What  the money-makers-turned educators say!

indian-students-1024x576Yes, everyday there are nowadays, almost everyday, there are educational ads in the newspapers, more so recently on the TV screens as well. More and more news-turned advertisements on education coaching institutes and  programmes inviting students, young and the not so young and also more importantly the parents  who are more and more becoming vulnerable and insecure  about the future for their children’s education. What is the meaning of education? Anybody asks? Anyone thinks it important?

The way our society is transforming, more materialistic instincts and more selfishness builds up inside of us, there more simple meaning of our very life is becoming more confused and more  we become insecure in more than one way.

There are so many tempting options; it seems, in our lives. The more and more of people get split into various socio-economic groups, from poverty to some initial hope for progress, of course materially and more socially, we become aware of the various options opening up in our lives.

Politics comes in very early in our lives, with the democratic political pressures impacting on our lives. Politics too today has become more corrupt and more low-endowment sections grabbing power through all sorts of ways, from bribing the voters to the accumulation of wealth, democracy draws more into the political and election fray, the chances for breaking rules and  conventions come in handy  for spreading opportunities down the line and we see today what is happening before our eyes.

Schools and colleges have also fallen prey to this degeneration and we see the schooling system completely out of all systems and social controls and  social obligations.

It is plain robbery when it comes to upper and upper middle classes, as for instance what you see in a city like Delhi.

Some of the big business practices you see in some of the big scale secondary schooling enterprises. Some of the bigwigs in business are in the schooling business. A socio- cultural and why even   the economic segments would show how big is the education business and enterprises.

What we see in Delhi is much more politically strong, in the sense of political connections and patronage, what you see in other cities like Bangalore and Chennai, not to speak of other metropolitan cities; education today is the most corrupt social practice. Once you ignore the old fashioned ideas of  teaching education ideals, or other old fashioned concepts of ideals and idealism, values like ethical conduct, truth and non-selfishness or other concepts like “Find thyself”, etc are completely out of date!

May be education in our times is changing, we are not sure. All the world over education is now a high priority issue in their countries socio-economic development goals.

There are many millennium development goals, there are targets and the big change in our generation is this global awareness for the need for education for all. There also many new legislations to ensure there is social justice, in India we have the Right to Education and other Acts that ensure these social justice goals, education is now a fundamental right, the rights of children, the rights of girl children are all changing the very outlook and quality of life in the countries.

There are also the issues like government’s roles in promoting education. In many countries there are various incentives, free distribution of laptops is one such inducements for enrolment and retention of the children in the schools.

Of course, there  are also issues like enrolment and retainment of children by distributing noon-meals and free uniforms, why even free cycles so that the girl children are freed from some constraints. The only distortion, as we see it, is the commercialisation of education and this has led to many other new social distortions.

The very foundation of education, good and healthy growth of society, the scope for exploitation of the vulnerable sections is the new phenomenon of commerce in education. In some states in India this sort of commercialisation and distortion and exploitation of the vulnerable sections has led to total distortion and the rise of the unemployable youth.

In TN, for instance, the state is otherwise categorised as an education all advanced state, is the growth of self-financing engineering colleges. In the neighboring states like Karnataka and Andhra this menance has reached risdiculour levels where any student walking into a “College” can be accommodated.

The menance in engineering colleges has spread now into the medical colleges as well. As a result the top body in medical education, the Medical  Education Council of India (MCI) is the most corrupt body that any number of times the MCI was dissolved and reconstituted. No less corrupt in the All India Technical Education  Council.

So too high costs of education even at the LKG/UKG levels. Afor admission into LKG in some cities a capitation fee of Rs.one lakh and above is charged.

What is the end result?
Today we see routines news items that for any government job, there are many times the applicants!

Unemployment in the educated youth segment is at an all-time high. Here we are much more concerned about the total fall in education’s great  strengths in shaping a society and contributing to the transformation of a society on culturally and civilisation lines.

Education must teach good values and shape good citizens. Can we say that we can this in today’s educational environment. High teacher vacancies, lack of qualified personnel at the universities, high corruption everywhere. We see the unpleasant plight of Vice-Chancellors some in jail serving time for high corruption. India is not making any progress in the international ranking of universities.

So, what sort of society we are creating? Where are the policy makers?

The education ministries in the States and at the Centre are struggling  to make a sense in the education of the country’s development goals.

It is time for deep introspection in education and the cultural fields. It is a great irony when the new technologies, IT and Internet are here to make things easy for spreading quality education, India’s suffers from a poverty of ideas and idealism and any sense of purpose and meaning in these critical areas.

We don’t have enough public libraries even. In various States, the public libraries departments are not even functioning. It is time we wake up!

What happens when democratic governments led to many populist schemes? Is it okay when the government begins to distribute freebies, be it colour TV sets or wet grinders, cash handouts to win elections? There would be widespread corruption and mis-management of affairs. Already we have seen how the high and mighty has fallen?  The Chief Ministers have appeared in the court halls and even went to serve time in jails!

Criminalisation of democratic politics is now becoming an increasing reality. The outcome of such a public life leads to all-round deterioration. When it comes to many welfare schemes, education, healthcare and other services, be it pensions and other services the common citizens expect further ease in rules and regulations. In education, this expansion of further facilities, say, higher education in particular is seriously affected.
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The spread of primary education in the first phase of freedom, in the 50s and 60s saw very good positive developments and created a healthy society. First, opening of more schools and more infrastructure, class rooms and playgrounds etc. created an all-round good feeling and a sense of community and friendly feelings.

For instance in Cambodia a Leftist government was in power for some 30 years; even the present government is the same under the same old Prime Minister. Driving from the the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, through the countryside, some 300 and odd miles or so from the capital to the historic temple complex, Angkor Wat, we were impressed by the neat and clean primary schools in villages, all uniformly built afresh, white washed walls and tiled roofs. In contrast Indian rural primary schools were not so uniformly built or kept up. Only when you read the history of Cambodia you realise the country was ruled by the Communist regime!

The notorious Khmer Rouge regime, the ultra-Maoist group (1975- 1979) and the Pol Pot brought such havoc reminiscent of the Hitler years. Only once we know of what it means genuine freedom and democracy. We can fully understand the cultural and educational past and the present. Only in such dictatorial countries you seem to have such state-imposed discipline!

Recently two of the top leaders were given sentences to “life in prison.” India was a colonial country for long and what we had as education, in our opinion, seems a sort of uniformity, following the official line and our education even today is a sort of mechanical CBSE syllabus and there is no vitality in our education. This is about our secondary education pattern.

More and more it has become a licensing authority, we mean the CBSE. The result is that there is further commercialisation of education. Exams in Indian schools have crushed all originality and a sense of creativity. There are schools that promise 100% pass and the society has resigned to educators turned money spinners.

There are many instances; the Delhi University campus colleges, in one instance, the entire batch of students from the commerce stream are filled from one coaching school from down South! The very admissions policy of such a university like Delhi is so flawed. What is the rationale of taking only the pass marks as the entry criteria for a university course?

We in India have to look at some of the best universities in the world. At Oxford and Cambridge we see an entirely different admission process. For the whole of some 30 odd Oxford Colleges, there is only one common application form and the University has a  common test and interview to assess the aptitude of the student for pursuing a particular course, say, Philosophy, Politics and Economics(PPE) or a different course like Classics. The student must have an aptitude to pursue a particular course.

In the US still more freedom is allowed for a student to take a different combination of subjects. At least there is some screening for pursuing a higher education course.

Here in India, it is school exams and various competitive exams and marks in such exams are the only criteria for entry to a course. Just now we read that in India even an entry into, say, the agriculture university, there is only the marks and as a result, we learn that the major Agriculture University in Bangalore has admitted something like 60% girls and what these large number of girls would bring to agriculture which stands today marked by drought and large scale suicides by farmers.

Agriculture and related fields do not have conducive environment, especially for girls to pursue as careers. Maybe, even the boys who enter into agriculture universities opt for careers into non-agri sectors like banks or government jobs! We all know that how many educated youth are unemployed and for each even menial jobs; applicants come in such large numbers with even such degrees like Ph.Ds.! We need a radical thinking and mindset to radically reform the moribund education sector!