The South vs. the North! Some general observations!

Villages of India (6)Too much of political news is not good for any society. More so, in India where we see some of the curious scenarios.  One is more about party politics and that too after the 2014 elections there is too much distortion of certain issues of society. So many communal flareups! Why should people resort to violence in the name of cow slaughter?

Or, crimes of all sorts, too many to describe here  Delhi tops as the crime capital! May be as the sociologists say  Delhi is near UP, another crime state  of dubious nature?

One doesn’t know. What gives anxiety when we want to write and reflect on such issues, it is the  media freedom. Anyway, it is all agreed by almost all sections of opinion is that the state in the North, UP, Bihar and MP and also Rajasthan and some too make up  the Bimaru states, that are the most backward by all indications of social development. In education, healthcare and why even in terms of poverty, nutrition and girls education, women’s advancement these state are still backward.

Now, as for the states in the  South with which we are a bit more familiar ,may be the two states, namely Andhra and Telangana are the rural ones, we mean predominantly rural ones. We have some experience of travelling through AP and we were shocked  to see how backward AP interiors could be. In particular we have driven through Chitoor district, one the way and also back to Bangalore to Tirupathi, we were shocked and surprised at the state of backwardness.

All the villages in this district are remote, not any new reads and the more you drive in the interior, towards Madanalle, the more you are intrigued but the remoteness of some of the villages. What was common to these villages was the statues of leaders made in bronze (or painted in gold?), we don’t know. But then the poverty  still prevalent adds to the political  advantage of the parties? We don’t know. Once driving through the southern part of the district, from Chitoor to Bangarupalayam we were really dazzed by the remoteness. May be we  would be attacked by some maoists? We shuddered for some time till we really reached the Bangalore highways!

Now, looking at the Telangana state and the politics and the new schemes announced for the farmers it looks the state is really  for some definite change for the better. The new agri reform policies announced by the Chief Minister only warrant for an optimistic opinion. Now, Karnataka. Bangalore had brought a new image for the state as the IT capital, even an international hub for IT outsourcing. There is no doubt the  capital attracts the best talents, more capital and thus a gateway for modernisation in all respects. New housing, new roads, new social infrastructure and also as the centre of some vibrant culture, science and art and literature.

But when you travel outside Bangalore, be it to Mysore or North to Gulbarga and or even to the West Coast , Mangalore and e beyond w you sometimes think time has stopped. Times stand still! Why even on the way to Mysore, you  sometimes see the old village, on the way to Somnathpore, the temple town, on the way we saw some of the old villages, they seem to have stopped changing! What we used to see in the old Tamil Nadu villages some  fifty years ago, the same entrance, the same doors, and windows and there is not much movement of people too in these idylic  and cute little village fronts.

The development in some social indicators, villages without any degree education holders, other indicators of literary, healthcare are abysmally low.

Of course Tamil Nadu and Kerala are f different ball games, so to say! In Kerala you see the most advanced social statistics. From women’s emancipation to women nurses going out all over the West, the Gulf migration had changed the very landscape. In Quatar in the Gulf wherever  we went in the little time the Quatar Airways transported us, we saw all the good coffee shops, we were told one chain was owned by a Gulj Malaya lee. They are all so enterprising and  the money pouring in from  the Gulf into Kerala is unbelievable!

So, Kerala tops in any development chart. So too the Malayalee bureaucrats in Delhi! All the government offices are filled with these enterprising people.

But then  the one blot  is no major industry has come to the state. Rather reverse is the case. All the major heavy industries on the way to Cochin, the FACT, being the large one  are closed. The Communist culture has done much good but some pretty bad habits to  go on strike are a special Kerala contribution to labour welfare.

Now, Tamil Nada. So many contradictions! The state is the most highly urbanised one. The roads are fine and literacy is high. But the state has some notorious character. In terms of corruption it sets a world, record, it seems.

And  violence is also on the rise. It seems the only state where major office bearers of political party are put in jail under the Goondas Act!

Film heroes are now agitating to enter politics in a big way and likely further to make matters worse! Even the spread of education hasn’t led to improvement of standards in politics and reduces corruption in public life. The two former CMs were embroiled in corruption on such an unprecedented large scale. This sets TN apart from other states. Either in the South or in the North.

Films seem to dominate the imagination of the people.TV news channels run by rival political parties further likely to lead to deterioration of public taste and also public morality. On the whole, the states in the South are developing faster towards modernity while the states in the North, including West Bengal are lying in some medieval age.

Only healthy political culture can wake the Indian state and society. God bless us! The population growth, the new census towns and the number of villages that are getting the status of new census towns must all contribute to up gradation of our villages.Now,electriciy to the villages is another goal. Plus the new highways must all contribute to  the modernity of Indian society and polity.

Telangana Chief Minister’s revolutionary farm reforms!
Let us congratulate the hon’ble Chief Minister!

Agriculture is never easy. It is a tough field. It requires tonnes of nerves and unlimited will power. For politicians lately, agriculture has become a plaything. How many Chief Ministers, the ambitious and the cunning ones, specially have promised instant farm loan write offs!

Yet, how long the Indian farmers are in distress?
Who dares to ask and who is ready for an honest answer.

Chandrashekhar RaoAgriculture at the national level is an election stunt. At the grassroots, it is a bi bundle of outdated laws, landownership laws to land leasing laws are steeped in antiquity! Anyone who lives in the villages knows well it is a hell out there!

That is one reason we believe why the elder politicians, past the 80s and beyond are all so choosy to live in Delhi and do “politics” in the cool Lutyen bungalows!

Who among the rich and well-off choose to retire to their states and that too to their villages?

The one big leader we remember is the late N.Sanjeeva Reddy whom we travelled all the way from Bangalore to meet and he chose to live in his ancestral house in the distant Ananthapur. Even he had to shift to Bangalore in his last days for various reasons. Now, medicare and other needs drive people to urban centres and as for politicians the money factor has to be taken into account. The point here is that in the face of so much neglect of our agriculture, you see there is still, after four years of the Modi government and much of the modernisation of the e-market in the farm goods mandis, the latest heart-rending news is the farmer in Madhya Pradesh in Vidisha district had to die, horror of horrors, in the scorching sun in which he stood in a queue for long   for four days!

And yet he could get his crop to be weighed and sold! What use the e-market; one is tempted to ask the government. So, here is some green news. The TV channels show the green Telangana, full of cheering faces, the farmer ploughing his land, the rice fields full of latest ripe crops, the farmers’ wives smiling and as they attend to the haystock and every moment is a joy to watch a such promising land reform package, the Telangana government has announced. First the land records updating. Oh, this is almost an impossible task, given the age-old laws, the age old revenue department and the corruption that grips this one of the oldest government departments. How many reforms had come about in this sector and yet, you please take this as a test and ask any ordinary farmer!

How to get your basic land record? Then you will understand the age in which our hapless farmers are living. Life for an average Indian farmer is hell. Either the farmer is a debtor or a litigant! Or, both! How the rest of the society thriving on this hopeless mass of poor farmers.

So, the Telangana government has announced the Rythu Bandhu scheme under which land records would be cleaned, creating satisfied farmers. The budget allocation is Rs. 12,000 crores. 93 % of the farmers would be turned into litigation free! Oh, the hon’ble Chief Minister! If you can do only this and not any other programmes, the country would salute you! We salute you just for this one step of reform of the land records. 1.43 crores acres would be covered, says a government advertisement in all some 58 lakh farmers would benefit, and says the government.

Pattadar Passbook cum Title Deed with 17 security features and the first Cheque to be distributed to 58 lakh farmers.  From 10th may 2018!

This really a herculean programme of updating and purifying the revenue records in just about hundred days. The programme has already deployed 1,523 teams in 10,823 villages in 568 mandals of 30 districts in Telangana (excluding Hyderabad), verifying a mammoth total of 2,38,551 acres of land! Only those who do  actual farming, one who lives in the villages know the hardships suffered by the farmers!

The government proclaims that this  is a novel initiative  by a visionary government, the first time in the history  of India! Yes, the Telangana government has attempted this bold Rythu Bandhu reform. We know the many hurdles in the way of implementation. But why not?

Come what may! We wish the hon’ble Chief Minister to taking up such a revolutionary step! May the Telangana government deserves all praise and let other states, their chief ministers  draw inspiration from what the hon’ble Chandrasekhar Rao  has  done for Indian farmers’ welfare!

So, the problems of farmers and villages  continue to suffer

We are glad to see the Prime Minister’s visit to the Left-Wing  Extremists-affected Chhattisgarh  districts is very inspiring and timely. Why not the much talked about technology-enabled schemes, the rural BPO programmes take off in such remote villages?

Very fine. We congratulate the PM and ask for such progressive programmes reach out to other states and remote villages. The Bastar Internet scheme under which a 40,000-km network of fibre optic cables would be spread across seven districts of the tribal region.

EMS Namboodiripad

EMS Namboodiripad

Likewise, we also want the agri/rural sector needs some radical changes and reforms in many areas of legislative changes.
In this issue itself we have featured the latest legislative programme, a model land leasing programme prepared by the Government’s NITI AAYOG is featured. This is for the wider public understanding of the issue that lies at the very heart of the current agriculture distress and the tragedy of large scale farmers’ suicides and the many related issues.

Land ownership issue is very old and persisting.  The various land reforms legislations in different states are also featured and we will carry the same in the coming issues.

The publishers of this magazine live at the interstate border of TN and Kerala and in these states the land legislations saw extreme swings, under the Communist regime of EMS Namboodiripad and also in TN under the Dravidian extremisms.

They net result, as on today in both these states is that agriculture sector is one of extreme poverty and zero investment.
Everyone knows, more so the current politicians too that that to own and old on to agriculture landed property is a curse!

The average Indian farmer, often the marginal and small category, is a debtor or a litigant or both!

No wise person would invest in agriculture and the present land holdings are fast turned into real estate and the result is  more smaller parcels of land you can see everywhere on the outskirts of the towns. This true in Karnataka too. This must be the same in Noida and the outskirts too!

So, when the Prime Minister says he would double the frames incomes it sound so hallow and unconvincing for all who know the subject.

Like all slogans and catch phrases, this too sounds like Indira Gandhi’s ‘quite poverty’ slogan!

This will never be possible unless we realise that the current very regressive land tenancy and ceiling legislations are e relaxed as set out in the government’s own NITI Aayog proposals.
But then the question is who, whose government would do this sort of radical and progressive legislation?

This is progressive legislation and we all must realise this.
The agriculture media that is non-existent today must be encouraged by the government and the corporate sector so that more publicity and awareness is created.

We have persisted in this mission for very long. A correspondent from Agri writes that while the agricultural publications are all suffering from financial troubles how we at the Vadamalai Media survive! A good question and we are thankful for such wider awareness as to how difficult it is for good news or good word to spread than fake news and what has you. Fake news might suit the Trump regime in the USA. Not here! This is our view.

We hope radical legislative changes are made in our existing laws, some of which are old and British colonial mindset must also change.

Let us relax our land legislations, let new generation of youngsters, young entrepreneurs come forward to invest, work and live in the rural environment so that much of the priority development goals like  sustainable growth and development, inspirational district programmes, the PM is speaking about become a reality sooner than later!

New technologies, new mindsets and new and open-minded programmes only can save rural India and our much distress farmers. Jai Hind!

The Prime Minister more often talks on agriculture!

narendra-modi-on-prasar-bhartiFarmers’s agitations matter   a great deal in the current Indian context! They are becoming more and more urgent and insurmountable. Invite the experts and rural leaders, opinion makers for interaction with the PMO. Let us become practical and do things in a radically refreshing manner. No one is an  absolute truth-wielder!

The response of the government is not adequate. That is what we like to highlight here. The dominant sections of society, more so the urban classes, the urban middle class and the  dominant media  too leaves out the “unglamorous” basic issues. In fact, we need a new media policy, from the government, from the Prasar Bharati, DD and other ministries to support the agri media so that the farmers are keep informed and educated. Hopes are kept up for what is a very difficult public interest sector.

You see, agriculture is such a  basic economic reality for India’s masses  that unfortunately, that Indian politics and society, why even the economy and the news that we read every day in our mainstream news papers or what we see in the TV new channels, we never seem to get things right when it comes to basic issues and  certain basic realities.

The other day we saw on the TV channels that 67 farmers associations would meet in Delhi for a large scale agitations and protests on March 26 where some of the crucial demands of farmers  would be raised. Not a day passes when we don’t read some farmers issues or other, be it  interstate river water disputes or other.

It is natural. The only trouble is that a government like the present one at the Centre is no different in responding to the farmers issues.

There is no party politics here when it comes to farmers issues.
What we need is  certain empathy from the ruling party  as for the exact  sort of response to issues.

Just now we have travelled and had come back to Bangalore and a journey by train by the rural  countryside gave us a new sense of realism as to the challenges and the opportunities  in such a critical area like the farming sector.

On the outskirts of  Hosur which lies on the border of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, a very dry belt and  yet the climate is such that suits to take up some of the profitable areas of agriculture, for instance, that of cultivating  cut-rose  cultivation for exports.
This time, we had travelled by train after a long gap between Coimbatore and Bangalore and in such a dry summer when the sun was so scorching but what we were pleasantly surprised was the extent of  green houses in such an unfriendly sun outside the vast number of green houses this time seem to have spread far and wide!

New concrete homes are come up reflecting the sources of income from  the new opportunity have really expanded. So, we have a new opportunity to get Indian agriculture to become once again profitable in a new climate and a new export market opportunity.

So, we thought and wondered : is this  not once again a source of innovation, innovative entrepreneurship, a new hope for  Indian agriculture cause as it is by multiple challenges.

Also, at the same time we read in the newspapers reports from abroad, as in Canada (whose Prime Minister Tudor is right now on the Indian soil!).

So, we thought that the world is still a hopeful place for mankind to survive with intelligent co-operation and mutually helpful manner if only we can jointly plan and execute some of our policies, in this case in agriculture.

India is running short of some commodities, mostly pulses and Canada is a source of supply for such pulses like rapeseed.
And also we were  delighted that the world’s three big agriculture research companies, Monsanto, DOW Du Pont and Bayer are just engaged in seed research and there are again some excited news on the seed research front. New research is being carried on into finding the solutions to the transfer of one pollen from one canola plant to another so that a new breed of vegetable oil -producing crop becomes possible.

It is here we  have to draw attention to the many deficiencies in the Indian agriculture policy making.

We don’t want to indulge in any partisan politics but like to draw attention of the countrymen from all ranks and professions and like to impress upon the educated sections, especially and also the corporate, especially to realise that India needs an enlightened society and social commitments.

We at the Vadamalai Media are committed to agriculture sector and rural prosperity and that is a tall order, everyone should know.
Also, an agriculture media company is not easy to run. Yet we are at it for a  long time simply because that is the greatest service we can render to the country and society.

What sort of support we get from the government and the large corporate sector?

That is an uncomfortable question indeed. There are any number of spokespersons for the agriculture sector. We need such people to. But it is our feeling that for long we have persisted in sloganeering, demanding this or that particular line in agriculture.

Now the government is committed to double the farm incomes. Fine, fantastic even!

We welcome such sentiments. But only those of us who actually live and farming(as we are) know well the ground level realities.
You have to create a new environment in the rural areas where to do farming becomes profitbale, conducive.

Our media hasn’t done good job. They don’t tell you the real success stories or the real, genuine interviews with those who actually live in the villages and persist with actual farming.
There are some important issues, arising out of the old land reform issues, land ceiling and tenancy reforms.

The last half a  century land holdings also became progressively reduced and now the farmers per head land holding is somewhere like 2 acres of even below.

In reality, agriculture is becoming unprofitable, so farming is risky and almost almost all farmers are debt-ridden and hence the suicide phenomenon is so widespread. There are here many other socio-economic issues of farming at the grass roots level.
All these issues need wide debate and also serious policy-solutions.

One more dominant mindset when it comes to farmers issues-discussion is still by the bureaucrats, nowhere you see the actual politicians, ministers, even bureaucrats. As we were typing these lines we saw the programme where bureaucrats, Siraj Hussain and Ashok Dalwai were holding forth! What else the government programmes, doubling farm incomes in 2020! Otherwise the routine government schemes like marketing, crop insurance. Land reforms, the debts or litigations in which the farmers are drowned right now! No, room not a single word. This sort of mindset must change!

The vast mass of farmers distributed at many social strata levels, the rich and the not so rich, the educated and the not so well-informed, the new generation of youngsters from  these families, all  who live and toil on their soil, all who dream about a better future would be greatly feel assured if only the Prime Minister talk of the farmers at least once a while.
Any national level transformation  of the Indian countryside would come about only when the actual tillers of the soil get new  hopes and new aspirations. Such a confidence only the top leadership gives the needed  push, a new dawn and articulates the inarticulate farming community.

Everything indicates a new dawn, the world is becoming global, and the spectre of famine and pestilence is being controlled thanks to new technologies and new growth areas, and is it economic life or social life.

So, we request the Prime Minister to speak more on farmer’s issues.

Yes, in a significant way!
Yet the state governments would keep the issue for electoral politics!

Mr.Parshottam Rupala

Mr.Parshottam Rupala

The  Union minister for Water Resources Mr.Parshottam Rupala, was in Coimbatore the other day and he took the opportunity to reassure the farmers of Tamil Nadu to say that the Central government was not taking any partial stand with any of the Southern states, either Karnataka or Tamil Nadu on the Cauvery river waters issue.

There was no politics, he said!”That is good. Mr.Rupala also took the opportunity to inform that  the Modi government was their first in history, he said, that took the steps to benefit farmers, to assure that farmers incomes would be doubled and the government had set aside Rs.50,000 crores for 99 irrigation scheme that were pending for the last 25 years.

That was good news, we have to acknowledge and thank the minister. These sorts of information must be propagated more widely. We request the hon’ble minister to reach out to specialised media like the Vadamalai publications!

In high priority sectors like river waters, rural drinking water and electricity supplies, the concerned ministers must be more talking and more visible!
Cauvery river water dispute settled for good?
Yes, we have to say and move on!

The long-pending Cauvery river water dispute has been settled in a final manner by the sagacious judgement of the Supreme Court. The contending  states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have to settle for an amicable settlement by the decision of the apex court which acknowledged  the priorities of drinking water for the fast expanding Bangalore city and also at the same time the court recognising the potential of ground water capacity in the Tamil Nadu  river basin.

Yes, it was bit of wrenching for the Tamil people who for long years, under the historic past of the Southern  states of the old Mysore and the then Madras Presidency rule. In that historic context Mysore didn’t comprise the northern Karnataka, the so-called Karnataka-Hyderabad geography which also fell into the old Maratha  regions too.

The newly constituted Karnataka state therefore went on to claim its share for the new state which also meant more  claims of the  share of the  new state and also the state went on a spree of dam building that claimed more share of the natural resources.
For the Tamil Nadu that came into being in 1956, the geographical  area lost some claims on the water resources that came and also some amount that went to its own neighbouring states like Kerala and Puducherry.

In the new evolving shape of the new areas under the Southern states, Tamil Nadu too gained we have to say from the dams came along, namely the Aliyar-Parambikulam dams and reservoirs.
Now, one more positive development from the recent Supreme Court judgement is the declaration by the apex court that from onwards the inter-state rivers that pass through more than one state, the river water would be recognised as a national asset, the rivers would be owned by the  entire state, owned by the entire population of the country and not ,as it was so far, some sections some  regions, as for instance that Tanjore Cauvery basin claimed a traditional; high proportion of the water share or Mandya region in Karnataka that claimed more water in its dams for the sugarcane farmers.

The water lobbies that so far operated raised ugly situations, why even ugly scenes, as we saw the Tamil Nadu farmer s camping in Delhi at the Jantar Mantar area a central place in Delhi and  these lobbies went on creating more and more ugly scenes by conducting some unseemly agitations. Unfortunately such lobbies also didn’t get proper recognition from the Prime Minister’s Office(MO).

It is really unfortunate for people at large, in different parts of India did get a negative picture of the Central government was not sensitive enough to show sympathy and an emotional response to people in distress, especially in a subject like river waters for agricultural irrigation purposes.

The conduct of the Central government, more so the agriculture ministry conducted themselves in a very unfortunate manner. This we have to condemn as an act of insensitivity.

This is not the way for a democratic government to conduct itself in relation to a highly sensitive water crisis.
So too the issue of Drinking Water Missions of many types.

Here too we take this opportunity to stressing that rural drinking water is a subject, again of higher priority.
The Panchayat Development Ministry must be seen as high profile ministry and we must be hearing more on the actions and achievements and the targets covered in this, again, a sensitive ministry.

There are even in such advanced states like Tamil Nadu there are w villages where even after 70 years of freedom  there are villages as close as 25 kilometres from advanced cities(like Coimbatore) there are villages where there no sanitation facilities.

So too the electricity supplies in the villages.
It is not the Prime Minister alone who should be doing the talking and exortation. Ministers in such high priority sectors must be more visible and more audible!