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!

Farmers agitate and come out on the roads and show their anger and helplessness!
Of course, agriculture, as we say, is always a difficult sector.

droughtIt has become more and more so simply because we tend to take the disorganised, inequity-ridden sector for granted. The very many antiquated land laws, from agricultural landownership to tenancy legislation has g driven genuine farmers to courts and district collector weekly meetings and this had also led to accumulation of debts, genuine and otherwise.

Now, you can see how much we have all gone with the rising farmers’ suicides becoming no more news. TVs don’t show these uncomfortable scenes while we lap up the latest scandals and meaningless corporate shows, often each show is dependent upon the other, newspapers and TV companies have to survive and so they show their own other activities! Conclaves and what have you. The visual media is infected with other gamblings and games, cricket is what? Is it a sports or a medium for making money through advertisements.

The very society is becoming more and more selfish and self-cantered and so too politics! Democratic politics too seems to be deteriorating with one party taking revenge on the other! How much time is devoted to governance, the one word that hides so many other hidden meanings! So, we have here a situation that the much-advertise farmers’ crop insurance scheme seems to be declining in farmer’s enrolment.

Do readers need any statistics? We have but we don’t want to bore the readers who are already disinclined to read anything on agriculture, a very discoursing field.

Also, to see farmers from Haryana and Punjab coming to the highways to disgorge their unwanted vegetables and milk.  Of course, this sight is very disgusting and also very painful when we consider how much more nutrition the country’s children need when we pour the dear milk on the road this way.
But alas! No central minister or thinkers or other votaries of the Hindutva had spoken out on the farmers’ distress.

Why this state of mind?

The Union Agriculture Minister, of all the other ones, had come out with a shocker! He called the farmers protests a “Gimmick”! We don’t think there can’t be a more rude and uncharitable remark from the very minister who is supposed to be a guardian of this unfortunate lot of people.

You see agriculture is so basic to our life and it won’t go away. Agriculture would be there, tied to our very soul, our body and life id tied up with our life, economic and social, why with our very politics. And alas. It is sad to think that our Prime Minister has a style; he doesn’t utter a word on such occasions.

This mindset of our leaders, new and the not so new must change.  Please don’t show how much you’re an ignomorous, you who want political power but you don’t have the capacity to rise up to your chance!

Politics also won’t go away. Democracy is all about two and more parties. There can’t be any other way in politics.

Please nominate to the heavy portfolios the right people. People in the rural areas are much more shrewder that their counterparts in the urban areas.
Public perception and public opinion are the two critical elements in any politics, more so in democratic politics.

Every five years the people have the choice; this no one can take away.  So, in the coming next elections, in 2019, there are enough indications that the Opposition parties might unite one way or other. The issues are also getting clearer. Farm distress is going to be one crucial issue. Many promises remain on paper only. This harsh reality must hit all those who have stakes.

So, please take immediate steps to ease the farm distress. We have highlighted issues many time. It is for the wise and the prudent to act in appropriate ways.

In many states, 100 and odd farmers groups, on the roads!
What prevents purposive actions and decisions?

ModiThe Prime Minister Narendra Modi had spoken well and in an eloquent manner at Khekhda in Meerat on the occasion of inauguration of the 135 km Easter Peripheral Express way in Bagpat on the role of farmers in development. Yes, when the farmers’ lives rise, the country’s development rises! Yes, very inspiring indeed.

But then why his colleague at Krishi Bhavan does has spoken this way? Is this the way for a heavy-weight portfolio holder, the Agriculture Minister of the country to call farmers protests as a gimmick? This is to rub salt in the wounds of a section of the most high priority area of the country’s development agenda, agriculture and rural prosperity that is visibly in deep crisis. This is the time for the government that has completed four years and one year is left for the likely fierce battle for a new government in 2019. Surely, the PM is also faced with what we see as a dilemma as to how to go about reforming the moribund economic sector.

Yes, as a responsible agri media we too are concerned with a critical agenda of agricultural reform.

As we see the NITI AAYOG’s new radical proposals as how to reform the much-maligned restrictive tenancy legislations that were conceived in a different era of newly abolished landlordism days. Today the very rural economic and social and cultural scenario has changed.

Almost unnoticed there is a whole new revolution of aspirations and dreams among the new generation. India is now a young nation.

There is expectation at all levels. So too at the farm families’ levels too.
This has not been openly spoken about, namely, to recast the very restrictive and a negative tenancy laws that don’t serve any purpose whatever.
No land holder ,even the very marginal ones whose full time jobs may be in non-farm areas, including the daily labour where there is high wages be it the construction sector or any other jobs. Comparatively, there is every risk if one resorts to traditional farming.

So, no one wants to remain on the farms. Everyone likes to quite or migrate to cities. And yet, the politicians in the thick of winning the next elections have no time to think of radical changes. Every political party wants to repeat the past practices and give as many false promises as possible and thus, the same rising debts and litigations and what have you, the farming sector is caught in a web of corruption and corrupt practices at the ground level.

That is why Indian agriculture at the grass roots remains the most risk profession. So, we ask the government, the PM and the agri minister and all others concerned, please understand the distress in which the farming is caught up with.

chandraThat is one reason we also look forward to see more and more state governments  follow the lead given by the hon’ble Telangana  state CM,K.Chandrashekhar Rao in devising many radical changes, from cleaning the old style, conditions-ridden land records and giving boldly a new system of investments for the farmers and many of his innovative farm assistance systems.

Only if you had lived in AP or Telangana know well how the states are still steeped in the old style feudal system and how it is a Herculean task for the governments there to revive rural lives without some big modernising industrial ventures. Tamil Nadu with all its political disabilities, large scale corruption etc, has managed to lift the people out of poverty thanks to the great days of the late Kamaraj who brought some of the biggest industrial  ventures and  thereby created a momentum for the later governments to improve the lives of the poor  and the weaker sections.

So, Indian agriculture needs some unusual approaches. One would be the current achievements like accelerating the National High ways so that as the PM rightly said that way we might be able to tackle a whole host of issues like pollution in bigger cities and also integrating the rural hinter land and thus accelerating the agricultural markets and ensuring the chances of farmers getting higher prices for their produce.

Now, to the nitty-gritty of things. The Central government must intervene immediately to address the agitating farmers. The PM’s silence is misplaced. The agri minister has to apologise for his remarks.

Some immediate responses are called for. There are states like MP that has introduced to stabilise agri prices whenever it falls. A price stabilisation fund is needed to arrest the price falls. Other measures can be thought of. The government must think of such steps.

Immediate measures. Short-term measures. Medium and long-term measures.
In our opinion, liberalisation of the many laws that govern our agri/revenue/legal/justice systems. Special and innovative schemes as adopted in Telangana state for farmers.

Empathy for farmers must from the government!

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.