Unintelligible to policy makers?
You see we as an agri/rural media are enough experienced and also enough foolproof to any sort of scepticism! Agriculture is the most important and high priority sector everyone would jump to endorses it and yet why this sector is one of tears and no joys?

Gajendra Singh Shekhawat

Gajendra Singh Shekhawat

See the number of schemes, unpronounceable at the latest-the latest Prime Minister’s scheme is-PM-Asha, expand it as Pradhan Mantri Annadata  Aay  Sanrakshan Abhiyan! Why make these poor men’s schemes so mouthful?

Anyway, if you ask the reasons that can be too many and too complicated too! Politicians might have their own public and private reasons, isn’t it so?

Just recently, we collected some ideas from the agri ministry. There are two ministers, one Radhamohan Singh who often talks of some interesting schemes, the latest we read about is about tapping the milk potential from the desi cows! WE see his deputy, MoS Agriculture, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat talking about congress receiving money through hawala sources!
Is this his domain? There are so many other pressing issues in the agriculture ministry itself. Even if he takes one topic a day his time won’t be enough. But we see the ministers these days talk without inviting some feedback about their own performance.

We have the rural development minister Narendra Singh Tomar talking about his own ideas. For a question as to what he has been able to achieve the outlined agenda on rural development, the hon’ble minister answers that there is a need for self-employment in rural areas as all  want to get a job!

Is this all he has got to say?

There is a crying need to create jobs. It is becoming a scandal and that too as elections   are coming up  in many states and the TV channels flash day in and day out that for each job, be that is a constable or a peon hundreds are lining up, even PhDs are there for the very mean jobs.

What has happened to this country? The decibel level of the political rhetoric has also deteriorated and all sorts of unprintable words are bandied about and you can call yo0ur political opponents in any way you like?

No, this sort of politics must end and be it Rahul Gandhi or the PM or the FM, they have to show much restraint and people would judge for themselves who is a clown and who is not. The rural development minister promises houses for all by 2022.This is of course a tall order and he and his successors even cant hope to aim for such heights.

There are very many high policy issues, education must change, it is already changing, young men and women are deserting the bogus engineering colleges, as in TN and elsewhere, also the craze for English medium in secondary schools, even in LKG and UKG would wane once the school system expands and the various progressive features of new Acts see to it that everyone, every aspir9ing child or parent gets his or her wishes fulfilled. That is the aim of the government and it must be so.

Unfortunately, the HRD ministry, as the Agriculture Ministry is poorly led by people who are first not suited for their tasks. We have to say this here, right now, for we are a media committed to the lost causes! We don’t have a commercial backing, no CSR nor other media agency, government’s ones are so far from the ground level realities of this country.

We don’t want to be seen as the crying babies! Unfortunately, none so far in the Information ministry has reformed the ministry and there is priority ad support or other subsidies to enable such media like the ones that cater to high priority but low in attention value!

Indian agriculture is so high priority that you need to have panels discussing the several critical aspects of assuring farmers price support, other supports. We talk too much and too much empty talks and exhortations!

The ministers must travel ext5ensively across the states and meet the men and women in action. The ministers must engage themselves with   the civil society, NGOs and why not even the Opposition leaders and also must know how the farmers are doing in the respective regions.

There are farmers agitations everywhere, the agitations have been increasing as per one report and there is farmers’ unrest! We want the hon’ble ministers to take our critical comments in good spirit. From our own village we wrote to the PMO at the very beginning of his term in 2014! Only now, after four and half years, there is some response and yet the rural development official at the district level had responded. They say there is enough funds. Fine. But when will the project would be implemented, we all in the village wait in anticipation. May be by the time the next step is taken the government’s very term might have ended!

After all this is India where bureaucracy has its own terms and conditions!

But one thing must be clear to everyone. The people of the country, the voters of the states are all awake. If any government doesn’t perform, if the government is seen as only talk and not much performance the governments are voted out.

May be that is the beauty of democracy. Long live democracy!

The  Union  Agri Minister Radha Mohan Singh has not been much in the news. His portfolio is agriculture.

radhamohansinghMay be, the political transformation under Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi has been gogging headlines all the time that many of his ministerial colleagues don’t get noticed for what they have been  doing. Mr.Radha Mohan Singh in a recent article that is published in a business daily (The  Business line dated August 10 has given a summary of what his department has done so far.

As far as the narration goes the agri ministry seems to have taken a great many initiatives. We can just briefly summarise the same where for the benefit of our readers. Almost some 20 odd schemes and initiatives the dept has taken. The narration runs like a science-based management of resources and sustainable production. Nation-wide soil health card scheme tries to protect the  degrade soil etc. One related scheme is neem-coated ureas as mandatory. The other is nitrogen use efficiency.

The third is the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchavee Yojana (PMKSY). To ensure proper water use. The other very important scheme in our view too is the NEETI AAYOG designed Model Agricultural Land and leasing Act to make the interests of the land owners and the lease holders.

We would say that perhaps this is the greatest change aimed at changing the very face of rural lives that are now marked by so many restrictive clauses in the many land leasing acts, Tenancy, Tenancy Recording, Land ceiling etc. As a result of the continuation of these acts that there is a standstill in agri investments and production and productivity levels. Almost there is a stagnation and even desertion of even productive lands by well-off tenants and their families to leave the villages and go for non-farming activities.

Some states like Kerala, why even Tamil Nadu and much more the Karnataka state too have enacted acts to protect tenants that even if the tenant doesn’t pay rents they can’t be evicted from the land.

Now, times have changed there are radical changes in the socio-economic and cultural  areas, the younger generation rural youth, both boys and girls are educated and no youngster wants to remain in the villages and do agriculture. Even after the government resorted to crop loan write offs and also giving compensation for farmer’s suicides, we can see as in Maharashtra, one of the progressive and industrialised states, we see the unabated farmer’s suicide cases. Why, even in Punjab and other states we see the farmers ‘s distress reaching extreme levels.

So, this one act by the Modi government has brought some  realism in the thinking of the government. But then as in other areas too, Modi’s many promises don’t seem to take off. Now, there is much talk about the 2019 Lok Sabha elections there is very much scepticism whether any substantial land reform are possible.

This is the one  rub!  The rest of the mantri’s narrative again reads like a bureaucratic notings. Yes, there are progress no doubt. Like the eMarket connecting  the country’s 585 Mandis. So too connecting 22,000 rural markets.

There is talk of promoting indigenous livestock etc. Fisheries is one growth area. All narration has a propaganda ring.  What about the current major issues? Plantation sector is one such instance. Excess production of tea and milk. What about exports?

International trade wars are looming on the sky. What is the role of agri exports? This may be the key for future agri progress of the country. No word!
So too alternatives to the crop loan write-off and also crop insurance schemes. More premiums is collected than what the private insurance companies paid to farmers. Any radical step? Or, thought?

We are  rather disappointed by the mantri’s understanding of the crucial agri sector and there are many inter-connected issues like rural development, urbanisation and also the future of farming on the basis of anew radical thinking on relaxing land ownership so that new entrepreneurs enter this sector and invest and create new food processing industries.

Agriculture sector under the Modi regime is a fixed bag. There are certain bold thoughts and policy initiatives. Also, there is much inaction that has led to their present agrarian distress.

A major flaw in our land reform policies!

Agriculture is the Achilles Heal of the Indian politics! No politician of any worth speaks   the truth when it comes to the agriculture sector. Vadamalai Media is committed to agriculture and so we must be having lots of experience and expertise! But who cares? Care for  truth and  honesty?

agri landWe know most of the farmer leaders  who have contributed to the agriculture policy-making in the country. From Charan Singh, son Ajit Singh and the Maratha leader, Shetkari Sangahtna Sharad Joshi to Swanga Reddy of AP and others down the South, from the redoubtable Narayanasamy Naidu to his lieutenants, Dr.M.R.Sivasamy  to Dr.Nanjundaswamy of Karnataka to many others. Of course we also know Sharad Pawar, undoubtedly the tall leader of farmers today.

Yet, what we see today about the plight of farmers. Prime Minister Modi talks tirelessly on the farming scene. He must be only knowing too well that many of his policies haven’t taken off. For instance, the much-meaningful farmers crop insurance policies. Today, in a leading Tamil daily we read about the many detailed statistics about the collection of insurance premiums collected by the private insurance companies and the amount paid as compensation. What an irony!
There are so many mismatches and yet there seems no way to draw more farmers who are deserting the scheme. The statistics makes for a very discouraging reading. Why farmers commit suicides in an unabating manner? The much touted farm loan write-offs don’t seem to discourage farmers to desist from taking the extreme steps. Why there is so much farm distress?

Agriculture is becoming more and more a complex sector. No single one solution  seems to work.  We at the  Vadamalai Media  have so much first hand knowledge. We are also practising farmers! We own lands in the village and we do cultivate crops and we do incur so much losses! Yet, we stick on to farming. May be, a family tradition and  emotional attachment to the soil?

All  these long years we had learnt a lot, both positive and negative. We have talked to leaders of political parties. So, everybody knows of farming issues. Yet there is some mental block when it comes to talking the truths. Farming has become more and more unviable. Droughts, excessive rains, as of now, in our part of the country and the uncertainties and the vagaries of weather etc.

One thing we see is that there is also the rapid socio-economic changes in the countryside. Villages are getting deserted, young men and women getting educated and moving on to urban centres for jobs and securing a more better future. Now, to cut the story short, we feel that the unviable holdings of the agricultural lands discourage many well-intentioned people to engage in agriculture.

So, one way surely is to relax the very stringent existing land legislation laws. The many tenancy, land ceiling laws  were enacted in the 1950s, 60s when there was so much inequity in the villages. No more the conditions exist today. So, when, for instance when Karnataka Chief Minister, H.D.Kumaraswamy recently  relaxed  the limits of incomes of those who wanted to purchase agricultural lands there were protests from his own colleagues.

Among the many land legislations of states, it seems only the Karnataka state land legislation  seems to be the most extreme, as far as we know. We just recently carried in the pages of this journal the latest NIITI AAYOG’s model land tenancy law which happily recasts the entire existing laws of the states and suggests crucially  the need for tenants to pay the rents and also agreement to vacate the land once the lease period is over.

The Karnataka legislation is more severe. In Tamil Nadu, the existing provision is that you can’t evict any tenant even if he doesn’t pay one rupee as rent!

How many don’t know the ground level realities in the  villages. There are many instances that political intervention  is the norm of the day! If the ruling political party functionaries so want they can use the police and revenue officials and evict any unruly tenant at their swee well!

Today, many temple lands in many states are under tenancy laws and in each temple you can see the notice boards that proclaim the names of the defaulting tenants ,some of them big landlords themselves! We were recently in Chennai and visited some high profile lawyers and also saw some   Law book  shops!

Madras is a very old British administered territory, as everyone knows and the Madras  High Court has a long and illustrious history. One law firm publishes a law journal that is now 126 years old!

Yet, with all the long traditions of law and justice system, the ground level realities is ,alas, very discouraging. Much force, police and revenue   forces and high pervasive corruption all contribute not to peaceful rural living but for brutal and violence-ridden social and economic living environment only.

So, let Rahul Gandhi talk of agriculture, jobs and education as his “Deep Dive” in search of an agri policy or the PM pursue his unfulfilled policies like the crop insurance scheme, or crop insurance schemes, nothing is likely to change in the villages. Farmers would continue to be oppressed and suppressed by the existing inequities and  the populist and superficial caste and other discriminations, some sections of castes would continue to be excluded by the way  the political culture is shaping up.

The only question is how we draw agri and rural development policies!
Liberalise the agri sector!
Introduce the Niti Aayog’s model land reforms laws!

Once you do this, the agri, rural sector would rebound with new energy and development activities!

nitiThere is every reason to hope that Indian economy in the perspective of world bodies like the World Bank and IMF is doing fine. Indian economy has overtaken France  as the world’s  sixth-biggest economy as per the latest World Bank data. The IMF on the other hands says that India will be the world’s fourth largest economy by 2022.There are other indicators from within India that show India is the only country in the world that is f growing respectably both in terms of growth and stability, compared with its peers like Turkey and Brazil. Commercial vehicles sales grew at over 3 37 per cent in June this year! Air passenger growth 45th  straight month growth in May.

There is other much more solid performance in other sectors as well. The point here is that the overall economic growth is very positive.  But where does problem come in?

There is widespread unemployment in the youth sector, given the fact that educated youth today can’t find suitable well-paid employment. So,there is much talk about skills development.

Also, the IT sector is currently lagging in gorwth.USA is also having full employment and other export markets are opening up.

Indian policy makers have to look at the major issues without any narrow political spectrum and also keeping in mind only the winnability in their 2019 elections. You see that good economics is no guarantee  for good politics.

Good politics requires a corruption-free environment and also a transparent  administration. Much more critical is how the public opinion and public perception of a multi-party polity functions.

Here astrology wont help. What will help is the intentions of a ruling combine, the NDA allies themselves have to figure out the likely new allies and the battle of the elections.

You have to recognise that the time has come for all Indian political parties to realise that Indian democracy is becoming mature and poised about  releasing the full potential of giving people, to the last man, his or her fully realisable rights and freedoms and the  realisation of the democracy’s all the powers of citizenship.

Unfortunately, we don’t have the leaders right now and here to give the Indian people what is their due.

We seem to have been caught by our own limitations. Pandit Nehru used to say: “we are all small men and women. With great powers and responsibilities entrusted to us, as leader”. It is the inadequacy of our own limitations as political and social leaders that is holding on   this full realisation of our own aspirations, dreams and what have you.

So, given this historic perspective, from the 2,500 years old Greek democratic beginning to the Roman full flowering of the Republican ideals, the laws and the governing institutions, down to 1789  French Revolution to the 1772 American declaration of Independence to our own times, we ,in India owe to ourselves this citizen freedoms and citizen rights to full realise what is best in ourselves.
So, rulers, please awake and hand over to the citizens what is due to them!

There were at one point just 10 MPs out of a house of 533 PMs!
On farmers’ issues, this is the involvement, how many of you know?

Parliament sessionMPs are the most privileged lot of the political class. They are paid high salaries, many perks; it is a sort of spectacle to be an MP in India today! The media buzz around them! At any time.

After the emergence of populist politics in most states, there are any type of MLPs, they are colurful and also in some ways character, making news all the time. Often for the wrong reasons!

But Parliamentary democracy demands the MPs elected by an electorate, in some states by purely for reasons that are not discussed openly.

What subjects the MPs debate more often? Here is one such instance. There was a debate on agriculture recently. The major media reported the debate thus:
Yes, this is the stark reality of the status of agriculture in the national priorities. The Central government, more than the states, is more vocal often when it comes to farmers’ distress, the farmer’s suicides and other forms of natural disasters like floods and other devastations. Even in the recent reports from all over the world we find it is the rural areas, the countryside, the rivers and lakes issues we see the rural people greatly affected. Fires in Greece, dam burst in Laos, of course floods and fires in China and Japan we see these natural disasters and the people missing and died!

How many of the rest of the population in the countries concerned are showing sympathy and help, one doesn’t know. As for India, the farmers are being neglected in spite of the repeated number of times politicians expressing sympathy and solidarity with the much-disorganised farming community.

In a recent Parliamentary debate, the media has reported one instance when the house debated on the situation of floods and drought in parts of the country, the house witnessed a strange picture of empty benches and a depleted number of MPs. In an afternoon debate there was a steady outflow of the hon’ble members and at one point of time, the be exact at 4.35 PM, when the house started at  2.25 PM and the whole discussion, government reply took five hours to conclude that at one point, at 4.35 PM, the house was virtually empty! There only 10 MPs in a house of 533 MPs!

Luckily, the report is s in such a detail that we are given to know how the MPs conduct themselves on such high priority issues. The members prioritised the topics and they skipped other listed bills and took up the farmers’ distress. From 61 members from the beginning the number steadily declined and though the number increased at one point to 61,21 from the Opposition, you please note, the numbers present also declined below the minimum required to form a quorum.
There were of course three ministers, the one name you might not have heard is the Union minister for agriculture, Radha Mohan Singh, his deputy G.S.Shekhawat and of course the more active  MOs for home, Kiren Rejiju! Of course they assured the members to give all that they can.

But what is the point here is that the very low status the highly priority agriculture sector commands in the scheme of things. Every politician of any grade comes out with assuring crop loan waiver, the latest highlight in national politics if what the Karnataka Chief Minister, the much-admired H.D.Kumaraswamy’s bold write off of the crop loans to the extent of some staggering Rs35,000 crores!

The others are also waiting to make such stupendous announcement and grab headlines. At the same time, there are some silly insensitive remarks by the ministers to question the honesty of farmers to say that they are committing suicides over their unbearable d burden of debts! Even in Karnataka one influential minister had questioned the wisdom of linking farmers suicides to their debts Mr.D.K.Shivakumar had said this on the same day when the news about the absentee MPs came in the media. Of course the TV channels have lately blacked out the farmers’ suicides. For that sort of news don’t draw viewers. More interesting news is rape cases, mob lynching and other breaking news categories only.

Also, the agri media is an endangered species category!  If you stick to such high national priority issues, you would be considered a crank or you can forget your aspiration for any government recognition. Forget any thought of PadmaSri!

So, hypocrisy surrounds any thought of lofty political goals like eradicating poverty and under development in the country.

Just talk of development, use any jargon that sounds sweet, Vikas? Or you can count any new terms? Please do it, you  are welcome in the government circles!  So, dear unfortunate farmers, you please  take note of your status in society.

Again, you make sense only when you talk of some other populist schemes like Anna Bhagya! Is it 5 kgs or 7 kgs? The food and civil supplies minister was questioned for talking about this! How can he, as a minister can  talk of these topics, it is insensitive, an NGO can speak but not a minister, said the rival BJP spokespersons!

So, agriculture, food, nutrition, rather malnutrition are sensitive issues, the insensitive part comes only when you  talk about a rational solution to such issues!