Economic growth slows down?
No, not at all!
See, the World Bank’s projection for the next year!

The very next day after the Prime Minister met the economists, came the World Bank projection of 7.3% for 2018 and 7.5 % in the next two years.

modiYou see the economists these days have become more timid, academic and pro-government. The talents at the NITI Ayog seem limited.

It is the practical men, the politicians and the leaders who can take a broader view of things. It is the classes, in the Indian case, the caste groups, the privileged and the disadvantaged sections who can give policy makers a sense of robust reality and therefore some practical policy inputs.

One newspaper full page advertisement by a trade body put out even a crass claim of “How the Indian economy can grow at 10% per year for a decade”.

Is this not a certain madness, if not plain stupidity to trates the serious issue of economy growing or otherwise?

You see, we seem to be living through a particular way of politics and doing business and many other areas of national life.

First, economy is a tough field and its growth or slow-down depending upon various factors, politics included. Even the Prime Minister has not responded to the news about the economy slowing down. There are also various viewpoints as to why the economy slowed down. May be there are certain objective factors like the policies like Demonetisation or GST etc.

We need a more detailed analysis of policies we have adopted so far. The last three and half years are certainly a crucial period. Nor can we simply jump to the conclusion that the Indian economy under the UPA regime was all that good. The peoples’ perception certainly matters. There was large-scale corruption and the people were faced with many other issues like unemployment etc. The poverty ration, when compared to China, was still higher here.

And also, there is this reality that in the last three and half years there has been no doubt  the Indian economy has undergone a great deal of  structural  shifts, there is transformation of the economy, there is solid growth in several key sectors.

There are external factors too like the crude oil prices that impact the Indian economy significantly. The chief statistician says that advance estimates indicate there is higher growth ahead. From one quarter to another there can be significant variations. Anyway, these are too serious issues for the government to take stock of the economic performance of the various sectors. Each issue needs separate and in-depth discussion.

It is another matter how the politician opinion is being shaped by the ruling and the Opposition parties. You see ours is a democracy and unlike, say, China, we have so many parties and also the highly extreme political polarisation in the polity. The PM also has characterised that there has been a paradigm shift. This is a fairly correct statement, it seems.

The important point here is however that the economy is big, next only to USA and China and as such we have to be very moderate in expressing opinion unless we are committed to the Indian story.
Our political institutions are fairly stable and we have a particular way of conducting ourselves, the media has a role, a responsible role and how the public opinion and public perception is shaped by these institutions.

As for particular sectors, we as a media devoted to the agri sector, has to note that a 2.1 per cent growth is certainly disappointing but not totally unexpected. We are sure the PM-NITI Ayog meet would deliberate on the agri sector issues in a more realistic way.

You see, agriculture would from now onwards become more complex, given the many related sector developments, from faster urbanisation than before, the coming of more National Highways and other infrastructure, telecommunications and of course the spread of education and the entry of more educated and skilled workforce, the traditional land-owning families getting consolidated or in the reverse, the disintegration of such families and also the land ownership further getting reduced.
You see, we are not just routine media in agriculture; we are committed to the agri sector’s future consolidation and strengthening of the rural livelihood future.

As such, we like to see that the industrial development that is taking place side by side of the rural development forces. This means certain new insights into the India’s villages’ future. You have to have a policy that enables the forces that make rural living a viable economic possibility in ten years to come.
Our view is that you have to make agriculture as a viable profession. Either as a small-farmer holding or a commercially viable business activity.

A feature of agri policy making in independent India was the abolition of zamindari system and the enactment of the many land reforms legislation. We saw the extreme features in Kerala which in 1959 under the Communist regime of EMS Namboodiripad, made the traditional tenants (under the traditional zenmi system) overnight land owners!

In other states, like Tamil Nadu too we saw the various land reforms, ceiling limits, tenancy protection etc. that in effect saw the gradual decline of agriculture.

Now, in our opinion, we pay the price for such “restrictive” land laws that there is an all-round decline in the profitability and viability of farming.

So, in our view, the only way to rejuvenate the agri sector is to make agricultural holdings viable. Viable in the sense we encourage more investments in agriculture, make agriculture high-tech, make possible for introduction of many new innovations in agri production or agri services, agri trading etc.

Vadamalai Media is carrying out so many stories that make anyone, including the policy makers, wonder even otherwise, under the older system of restrictive agriculture, such and so many innovative farming is possible.

So, instead of labouring the obvious truth, let us make agriculture sector more liberalised. A sort of 1991 economic liberalisation!

Yes, there is a strong political aspect to this sort of agri liberalisation. Politics? Yes, economics is not just devoid of politics. There is  a whole new paradigm for agriculture reforms.
Agriculture trade,imports and exports and also there are many other aspects to agriculture production and of course distribution, the PDS, the consumer price and inflation that gets more media attention than the farmers’  woes.

So, you, the government ,has to deliberate, consult farmers leaders and other lobbies. We like to see that farming becomes a viable activity, more so to the new generation of youngsters from traditional farming families and also new generation of educated and also technically qualified persons who are entering into farming sector. Again, we like to refer the more serious readers to the pages of our journals and also our websites(www.agriculturalinformation.com).

The last issue carried a few pages on the US agriculture. There too there is the usual drought in US agriculture and also water shortage etc!

So, after a certain period we in India too must realise that we have to treat farmers vs. consumers as vote banks!

The time will come and force us to look at agri sector as an attractive investment destination! These are some of the  thoughts to help agri policy makers.

Who doesn’t know the Indian psychology?

NewdelhiEvery Indian citizens, not necessarily, the ordinary citizens but only those who are government servants or already in the charmed circle of IAS or IPS officers, the IFS lost its old glory and other services are on the whole a disgruntled lot. Why? It is because the very ways in which the New Delhi Lutyens’s bungalow zone is built and where the ones who live for long are constituted. Those who live there are seen as the most privileged. There are of course enough number of the retired politicians who might have doubled up as politicians, or others retired judges and other department personnel.

The way the British built the bungalows with large lawns and long walks and the very imposing look from outside might give a sense of power and prestige. Once you get in or if god favours you, you get to occupy one of these often leaking colonial structures, then you realise how unreality hits your illusions!

The subject here is the state of bureaucracy and the disquiet that pervades there.

A recent news item put out is about the new promotion policy for the bureaucrats. There is disquiet for the reason that the government has bundled two years, two batches, of 1984 and 1985, and also 1987 and 1988, the government wants to hold on some officers and also promote or hold up the promotions. So, in sum, the hopes of the officers are dimming when it comes to the aspiration for every officer to retire as secretaries of departments.

Poor souls, from the news it seems that most of them seem to be innocent and seem to be vegetating in Delhi for the favours they expect from the political establishment.

Who doesn’t know that the whole bureaucracy has become politicised and it is like a lottery and no one knows for sure that who will get what.
Lately, there is utter chaos in the bureaucracy and in the states it is pure political play. A police officer in TN is promoted just on the day of his retirement as the DGP! In the neighbouring Kerala one DGP was installed in his post on the orders of the Supreme Court. In Karnataka it is a free for all. The whole country knows thanks to the high profile AIADK leader who is provided with all luxuries and for having unearthed the scam the lady IPS officer had been transferred.

All these are routine in the services. Also, down the line there is so much cruelty and so much corruption and even risks to life when it comes to attacking corruption.

So, why this craze for government services?

It is the result of our long rule of colonialism and our education that taught us, thanks to the colonial masters, how to live and seek your mokshas through servility, subordination and compromise with the corrupt politicians whose tribe seems to be growing by leaps and bounds!

Corruption will only grow further and see the new tribe of politicians who spring up almost everyday, from various individuals, former police officials and former Income tax officials and others.

Also, the bad example set by some very eminent experts.

Also, lateral entries, even Rhodes Scholars who were supposed to be leaders of society and polity but alas, they too after sometime, they think it is better to enter and end up as bureaucrats, that is the way to heaven!

At the end of the day there is no alternative, except to join the devils who have to fall at the feet of bigger devils who are politicians who too seem to come from very many streams of humanity!

You see that a democratic government is one that is supposed to be a guardian of citizen rights, right?

In the current context, how far the citizens cutting across all class barriers feel about their rights and well-being safeguarded by the elected government?

amartyasen-621x414Then, also, how do the citizens come to know about what is the truth at the ground level?

It is the media, both print and the TV news channels and of course, the latest social media outlets.For the vast majority of people, it is the popular media, print and TV  news channels only.

How is the state of media and also the status of media industry today?
We are almost at the threshold of the new media culture where freedom of the press, freedom of the speech and freedom of thinking, asking critical questions, ultimately what is the latest buzz, the role of argumentative society.

Prof.Amartya Sen is now at the centre of a storm, his words and expressions were ordered to be removed from a biopicture of him. There are also developments.

Recently, one respected research journal, namely, the Economic and Political Weekly, founded by a former RBI employee, Sachin Choudhury and later edited by N.Krishnaraj, friend of the Vadamalai Media and right recently by another well-known senior journalist, namely, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta has come for cersorship.This time, the censors are none other than the Trustees of the Sameeksha Trust whos members are some of the past RBI Governors and one Leftwing historian, namely Romila Thapar.

Recently, EPW published (?) two articles on a leading corporate house, namely, Adani Power Limited and the trustees asked the editor to “take down the articles with immediate effect”. This had led to protests from some 150 odd academic and public personalities. No explanation from the trustees nor any due procedures either in such swift action!

Also, the trustees seem to be acting as owners and even proprietors or investors! It is not clear what really happened.

But one thing is sure:  the editor is supposed to have his or her freedom to do what he or she had done. Also, the trustees, given their background and eminence are supposed to be acting as role models for others in similar situations. But the trustees don’t seem to have bother themselves either.
The protestors, also very eminent names, Martha Nussbaum and one MIT academic, among others.

The protestors has pointed out that the free press is for the  freedom of intellectual expression and also this is largely an academic journal read by only very specialised audience.

The protestors had also drawn attention as to how the corporate takeover of the media industry, both print and TV channels has been going on unrestricted way.So, economic policy making, if it hurts the corporate sector, it, the corporate sector can swing its powerful arm to muzzle the press and there is no one to ask.

In recent times the establishment send CBI to raid media houses and the next day news is flashed and credibility is sought damaged. So in recent times two journalists in Karnataka was punished for having caused defamation to legislators. Much more seriously now privacy of individuals is sought to be decided by the 9 member bench of the apex court.

Please consider the poor farmers, the most disorganised lower sections of society, whose  rights and safeguards, from tenancy rights to right to  fair rent are all sought to be muzzled by a set of policies that have brought to the farm to the present almost irretrievable crisis.

So, there must be freedom first from fear of the government, democratic or the opposite in practice. Let the ground level realities impart some common sense need for restraining unbridled power of the corporates that fund and also control the ruling dispensations. If that is democracy then god only can save the poor and the weaker sections on the economic spectrum!

Capitalism is good and needed for faster economic growth!

Unbridled avarice and greed bad! Capitalism as an economic growth engine!

narayanamurthyCorruption under Capitalism can be fought, as proved in South Korea and Brazil where elected Presidents were impeached and removed! Actually Indian politics needs to be sensitised over how to tackle the corruption that is now unbridled and almost unstoppable!

A recent controversy erupted over Infosys founder N.R.Narayanamurthy’s criticism of his own company now managed by professional management paying high salaries to the CEO and the COO, as high as Rs.50 crores to 40 crores. But then the board quickly justified saying the high salaries are in tune with the trend. Of course, other Indian companies to pay high salaries! The point here Infosys has set a target for 20 billion dollars in the next few years!

Some experts, from management and other sectors argue that capitalism is after all what it is and what it does. Capitalism is good and it creates wealth. So too jobs and cuts poverty. It is another thing that Capitalism had a very controversial past, starting from Karl Marx days.

Capitalism has a great history : Capitalism has also a great history. It is the economic system where the entrepreneur takes big risks and invests capital and triggers economic growth.

Now, in the new century, with India, China and the USA in mind, we have to see that it is the US economy, the engine of economic growth. But China’s growth rate is 6.7, India 6.6 and the US So, the whole world looks to India as the next big story! Also, China, a Communist country has adopted the capitalist system, with state enterprises and has shown to the world, it is now the world’s third biggest economy, India is predicted to become the third big economy. Russia is nowhere in the picture!

What if, if there are millions under poverty. At least we have found out new ways to accelerate economic growth. We have the technologies, Internet, also technologies like AI (Artificial intelligence, Robotics and many else!

Education has also spread as never before! In every country of the world, from Africa to Asia and elsewhere, there is a furious spread of education. So too medical help and healthcare. Take agriculture, a field in which we are engaged, in spite of much indifference and ignorance of policy makers, there is now the realisation that we can now feed the world. World hunger is attacked squarely by FAO and other agencies.

If you study the big economies there is great deal of poverty in the world and also inside India. To cut the story short, we have to see that Capitalism is the only way, it seems, that thrived and transformed the post-war world. In 1989 Communism collapsed that was hailed as the end of history! Even in the IT and Internet era it is Capitalist, the knowledge economy where you find the new IT billionaires coming from. The world under the new economy has produced unprecedented wealth on the global scale. It is rightly observed that we live at a time when we witness the world poverty significantly and world’s wealth production scaled new heights on an unprecedented scale.
The per capita income on the global scale has increased, though, as it is often quoted that still there are millions of people who live on 1.25 dollars a day!

This new wealth and new hope has to be welcomed and recognised by all concerned. So, the world is now a much better place than ever it had been!’

Capitalism now changed : It is now a caring capitalism, a compassionate system. Capitalism and the history of the modern world is a fascinating story. Max Weber’s (1864-1920) “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism” is one classic every one of us, who are all concerned with economy and the economic policy making must read and get some enlightenment. Max Weber saw capitalism as a rational organisation of formally free labour. Capitalism is also seen as dominated by the making of money. Economic acquisition is no longer seen as subordinated to man as the means of satisfaction of his material needs. We all seek material comforts and economic security. And so Capitalism is getting a good grade!

But for various reasons that capitalism always attracted criticism, from the time of Bible to the present times. Property was seen as a ‘theft’ and somehow man’s greed came in for much criticism. The Bible asked: “Why are the many poor?”No suitable answer is forthcoming!

Yes, it is for the profit seeking motive of man only Capitalism exists. As Adam Smith famously said:”It is not by the benevolence of the butcher you get your dinner. It is for the self-motivated benefit only the economic ends are met!

So, in spite of calling for an ascetic way of lifestyle, simplicity and restraint and all that, you have to admit that capitalism exists, existed for all the wrong reasons, as Marx would argue. Marx thundered about the bourgeoisie exploitation and the class conflicts that was to lead to the capitalist collapse and the rise of the dictatorship of the proletariat! We know how history has proved!

Karl Marx’s later years : But as I read in one of the latest biographies of Karl Marx(Karl Marx, Greatness and Illusion, by Gareth Stedman Jones, Penguin) how Marx too became a sort of bourgeois gentleman himself in his London days and enjoyed certain material comforts!

So, every one of us who speak of high moral principles have to be modest in our language and expressions.

The exploitative capitalism is still there, right here in our own midst.

But at the same time we have to see how capitalism also has changed over the years. It is now a lifeline for the millions of poor in one generation to get out of the poverty trap.

There is much optimism on India’s economic future

Fine! Then what are the Prime Minister’s priorities to reach out the poor?

modiThe Prime Minister, after the flush of victories in UP and other states, has now come to the theme that he would reach out to the poor. Wonderful! But are his new priorities to attack poverty? You see, it is an old theme. The poor are very much here and they also constitute the world’s largest population, you know?

So, no government honestly anywhere in the world had given any new mantra to accelerate the economic growth.

If the PM sits for a moment and thinks, then he would find himself against a rock! The UP farm loan waiver to the extent of Rs.35,000 crores is in a large state where the expenditure in the current year in agriculture comes to just 2-3%!

So, what sort of relief the farmers would get. And so too other states. The states are in heavy debts. So, the farm loan waiver is no sure remedy to help the poor farmers, not just farmers but other poorer sections. So you need serious policy framework. Rural India is a complex web.

So too the urban migration. Jobs haven’t been created at the rate as Yogi Adityanath imagines.

So, the CM has to spell out more job creating industries. More innovative industries. So, industrial investments also need incentives. The Yogi too has to go for full-page ads and global investment conference. But he seems to be still talking about other priorities, including a Hindurashtra!

Also, the PM has to have an all India perspective. The rivers, from Teesta to Ganga-Southern rivers link is a high priority. But there is no such indication from the PM’s pronouncements so far.

It is also important that other parties too much co-operate with the government.
It is for the Congress to realise that its persistence with dynastic politics doesn’t take it anywhere.

We have to say certain uncomfortable things about the opposition party. Manmohan Singh can help either the ruling party or the opposition party. Otherwise he has to just retreat. He seems to be giving conflicting signals. He should advise Sonia and Rahul what use he can have to the party.

Otherwise, he should allow the party to do things in a different way. The Congress is a large party. It is a historic party. It has to rediscover its mission. The party, to start with should conduct a weekly seminar, though a small seed, on the future ideology of the party. Every week, an evening one speaker must be speaking to a small audience on the critical next steps. It should be a political topic. Say liberalist politics for a multi-party and multi-cultural society.

There should be open discussions and debates within the confines of the party headquarters. Sonia or Rahul must receive visitors or they should make up their minds to retire and be advisors.

Let us all be a bit honest. Our meetings with senior leaders in Delhi show a pathetic picture. Every senior seems to give the impression that the existing state of affairs with some office and a bungalow seems alright and they seem to imagine they can hang on for an indefinite period!

This is a foolhardy affairs. We warn them. Politics doesn’t wait for messiahs! The bad guys are pushed out. Today, there is a wide awakening. Education has spread. Migration has woken up even the illiterates. Old time loyalties are weakened. Let there be a national consensus on the basic economic and Parliamentary political agendas! WE are a democracy. There is no point to look for any nostalgia. Let us look forward and move towards a honourable self-introspection! Thank you!

l say that the world did not prepares to deal with the emerging risks. Gates says that “getting ready for a global pandemic is every bit as important as nuclear deterrence and avoiding a climate catastrophe”. we are concerned with immediate military conflicts and refugee crises but then, as Bill Gates has warned in a recent speech that climate and technological threats are a reasonable probability ,catastrophe may cost millions of lives in the next decade.

Why, here is one more dire predictions! Next 50 years, we are told, are crucial and depending on how countries are able to cut emissions over the next 50 years will determine the conditions of people’s lives on earth. This is from the Stockholm university’s Resilience Centre! The dire predictions are too much and when we think of future we have to keep this aspect of the Paris climate agreement in mind as well.