Only for the urban sector, urban elite?
Why there is no agri/rural media of any significance in India?
In a country that always takes pride in the Green Revolution!
See the new challenges!

The vast tracts of agricultural, forest lands are being taken away for mining, power plants etc.
Agri/rural sector is being squeezed into more and more defenseless shrinking spaces!

The London-based Financial Times(FT) recently carried a long article on India’s booming media scene. There is something like a  10 crore English speaking, English-reading public for the Indian English-language newspapers. The Times of India, FT concedes, is the world’s No.1 newspaper! Also, when it comes to the Indian language newspapers, they are also booming, and they overtake TOI, and TOI comes only as the sixth largest sold newspaper in India.
But then what about the credibility of the Indian media, both the print and the TV news channels?

Oh,they are the most prone to corruption of all  sorts!
Indian media has not much credibility!
Which country has much media credibility?

Though the FT didn’t pose that question, we like to pose it here?
Certainly, the UK press-both print and the TV, has some degree of high credibility. May be next we might put the USA, may be the French and even the German media.

The Western liberal traditions have much to do with their media credibility too.

In India, there is now so much condemnable fall in standards!

The paid-news is now a menance and menacing proportions of the Indian media fall is now widely  seen and spotted out.

The Press Council(with a much admired no-nonsense chairman) seems not capable of doing anything about this media corruption.

Now, as for the agri, rural media scene, it is as good as dead or plainly unequal to the challenges of the times. Now, with the new economic reforms, announced, the agri/rural sector is very likely to lose much with the latest round of talks and discussions within and outside the various  ministerial groups.

There is certain new legislation like the land acquisition bill that is at the stage of final clearance for tabling in Parliament. Then, there are certain other bills like the new SEZ policy etc.
The point is that the current phase of accelerated development, the speedy urbanisation there is the threat to much of the agri/rural sector.

More and more of the agriculture lands are to be taken over for industrial and housing projects.
The tragedy is that the agricultural land acquisition issue is getting more and more politicised.
Sonia Gandhi, along with her son, Rahul Gandhi, seems to have emerged or projected as the champions of the agriculture lands and rural households!

Anyone cynical about the agricultural lands issue might be in sympathy with the agri/rural sector spokespersons.

This magazine, in its 25th year of publication may be one of the few survivors of this squeeze!
What chance for the agri/rural future in this country.

When the audacious scene is that those who are simply cut off from the rural people, the very people whom are variously described by the power-hungry urban elites who in their bid for arbitrary power could muscle into the rural vote-banks promising the moon and may try to take over huge quantities of land with no room for any chance for the genuine rural survivors.

We, the publishers of this magazine, are directly engaged in  agricultural cultivation! This is not for publicity sake. But to send it the message that full-time politicians, the political class now have also become the country’s new generation or new class of new capitalists! The new oligarchs, the new wealth creators, if not the genuine entrepreneurs. Those who grab agricultural lands, those who are in power or who have just lost power and yet they had engaged while in power in grabbing agricultural lands cheaply and had resold or holding back those very lands for future high prices.
The examples are now abounding in many instances.

Some are high profile cases, why high celebrity cases!

So, we need not elaborate when we ask: what chance for the future of genuine farmers?
Genuine, traditional farmers, farming communities a new charter of rights to protect and also prosper as farmers in this new emerging and  threatening environment where there is so much competition to accumulate wealth, usually, more agriculture properties are being grabbed (acquired legally is a very  improbable current scenario).

Now, we need some definite legislation to protect individual farmers, traditional farmers, also the so-called big farmers!

There is a conspiracy of silence when it comes to defend the traditional farmers.
All the current agricultural policies are staked against the farmers who are full-time into farming.
There are no incentives to invest in any significant way in farming activities that might form onwards might go into next stage of modernised farming enterprises.

New investments, new technologies, why new business models in farming. Say farming for exports, tieups with foreign markets….

Such new opportunities are coming up.

We at Vadamalai Media are getting so many new enquiries as to what government policies are there.

Our experience in promoting new entrepreneurs in agriculture, in biotechnology(in tissue culture in various crops)are all disappointing and very discouraging. What we are writing here might be very evident for our own current agriculture minister, namely Mr.Sharad Pawar himself!

Knowing his present pre-occupations with the current goings on in his own backyard, he would only  realise that make money, big money, create wealth through legal means must be simply next to impossible in traditional farming. At least he must be  talking out about the difficulties in what we are talking about here.

Mr.Nitin Gadkari and many others, everyone who is talking about the current corruption scams and scandals would realise that it is the agricultural land owners who face the threat of  “acquisition” of agricultural lands that are now cheap. This illegalities must be stopped.

A new thinking must be introduced in our land acquisition policy, specially for the private investors, the corporates into new agribusiness activities. There must be reservations for farmers for holding shares in whatever lands they hand over for capitalist ventures.

Farmers share holdings in the companies in their  traditional lands would only give a sense of justice and fairness of feeling, an emotional bonds with the soil that is a sort of sacred trust!

Traditional farming families wont part with the lands so easily and that is why whenever you talk of agricultural lands, you should realise the land is more than just a piece of property. Agricultural land holdings impinge upon a range of emotions, ways of life and belief systems and a sense of values, honour, truth and sense of shame etc come into play.

So you see the series of farmers suicides, farmers who can’t tolerate any sense of shame to his bearing prefer to end his life rather than to compromise and live!

This is just the opposite of what we see in the India of today where so much corruption is growing and there is no sense of  threat of punishment!

Let us learn to approach the agri/rural  sector issues in a more special  delicate manner!

But who will be in charge?
The current Prime Minister and his team lost their mandate!
It is the next government that will decide the FDI in many sectors!

This decision claimed and hailed as breaking into the last great China Wall.
But the public scepticism, in the context of the series of corruption scandals needs to be overcome!

Is not yet over. There are many hurdles. Timing is one. It was a bad timing. Raising the fuel prices and then immediately this FDI bombshell. But what a poor set of ministers we have now!

The very day the Cabinet decided on these reforms, the TV screens flashed the ministers announce this decision in a press conference.

What a pathetic sight!

Ambika Soni, the I&B minister was seen or shown as adjusted her glasses for quite some time. She was not even aware the whole country was watching her image and performance. She made such a pathetic sight.

She is after all the communications minister. If this is what the government has its communications talent, then, one can be sure this government might not survive the next elections. It is as good as a lifeless instrument.

And, God, forbid Ms.Sonia was digressing on her portfolio. No viewer might have caught her message that day.

Was she talking about FDI in retail, the big fuss others were making and threatening to pull down the government or was she content to take credit for her own ministry.
The next man was Anand Sharma, the Commence Minister. He was better but not as good as expected.

Anyway, these two leading lights of the UPA government were not obviously masters of the subject they were talking about.

FDI is no more a big news, not in the outside world. Every country knows what it takes to grow its economy these days of economic recession and global downturn.

And for a big economy and market like India we need to expand the market reach, Indian economy’s market potential and we have to open up the market for large scale FDI in various sectors.

If only the UPA ministers had visited China  and seen what is happening there, they would have realised  that the Indian economy must compete with Chinese economy in various spheres, infrastructure first and then other sectors. Every development project in China, be its airports or civil aviation or ports and national highways, why even the dams, the Three Gorges dam projects our ministers might have visited(do any of our minister did that?),everything in China is on a very big scale.

Their airports are planned in such huge manner that they, the airports might serve sufficiently well even after a century! Such is the scale.

After a visit to Shanghai we came back to Bangalore to see how pathetic our own Bangalore International airport is in size and various services! Still the concrete patches are unfinished in the very entrance and exits of Bangalore airport!

So too our national highways. We have almost, it seems, forgotten our highways minister. Who is he? When did you last hear of him, his pronouncements? The same for ports minister, for civil aviation, we have been hearing Mr.Ajit Singh because of the mess in which we find our national carrier. Air Asia, Malaysian airline, low cost, Air China  are all doing so well and patronised the world over. They are part of the Star Alliance. Is Air India a member of the Star Alliance?
The point here is that FDI, in every conceivable sector must be sought just to make our economy grow in size and rewatch and resilience.

We have dithered for so long.

But then, just to say we have made enabling provisions for the FDI in several sectors and it is for the states to choose or not, is again a sign of the weakness, weak-mindedness of the Central government.

The Prime Minister must come on the TV screen and aggressively push for the economic agenda.
The great pity is that in the process of his subservient continuance in the high office, Dr.Singh had lost all his reserve energies as an efficient performer.

The Indian media is also subservient when it comes to aggressively to put forward its views on the many aspects of our failures. Be it corruption or economic policy confusion, there is such deficiencies in many areas; it looks as if we have become a nation conditioned to crony capitalism.
Yes, it is crony capitalism that had led this government, step by step and one mistake by another mistake, from 2-G scam to the present, almost insurmountable coalgate scam.

It is here we have to stand still and take note of what is possible in the present compete mix-up of issues and policies.

Simply because we have announced the new economic reforms policy for inviting FDI in retail, we can’t sit back and relax.

We need some new talents, efficient implementers.

This talent can’t be got from the political leftovers in the party and among its allies.
Any cabinet reshuffle, that seems inevitable in the present situation with Rahul Gandhi made to hover above everyone’s mind is that the allies quota would produce only some more worse likely offenders, itching to make some quick bucks before the next elections!

This danger is very there and so the PM might not really succeed in Unleashing the “animal spirits”.
It is quite laughable to borrow from Lord Keynes at this time of history.

In India, the animal spirits are sufficiently in action. It is the accumulated corruption deals.
If at all, we need to control the unleashed animal spirits, in various forms, in the accumulation of unaccounted cash deals in various portfolios, in the party coffers, in the sports bodies, in the foreign banks and elsewhere.

Also, we have to seriously lay down some strict ground rules so that our corporate leaders (and raiders) behave at least this time in a some dignified and restrained manner.

Government must become accountable at the last resort.

One person-rule, one-person decision making is a sure way to disaster. It is the arbitrary exercise of power that had done the party its Armageddon!

In a democracy, there is one sure way out. It is the elections. May be, sooner, rather than later, the next general elections might clear up the political confusions and contradictions.

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He is simply exhausted!
He had flown around 50 hours in one week!

His eight-day tour took him across 50,000 km in four continents!
Is such hard work worth? Why international diplomacy at this time of the crisis-ridden domestic situation?

What about the economic slow-down and when governance is almost at a standstill?

Prime Minister’s style of functioning!

Too ineffective and proving too unaffordable?

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had just now concluded an eight-day hard work schedule overseas by travelling grueling long flights and using so much time and energy in international diplomacy.

Of course, only on these overseas trips, that too in very remote and very long-distance geography we get to hear the PM’s voice a bit louder. Louder than what we used to hear him inside the country, be it in Parliament where he is usually a picture of silent listener and watcher and otherwise, we hardly even see him either in the media or on the TV screens.

He is by his very nature a very solitary man and keeps to himself and hardly seen in a crowd, he doesn’t seem to conduct any janata durbars in his Race Course Road or we ever hear him as a public person. He never seemed to have received any visitor or visitors, who are otherwise interesting people, poets or artists or even intellectuals, as Nehru used to do, even Indira Gandhi used to practice it as a contrived art and show piece!

So, we read this time that the PM’s present eight-day tour spanned across 50,000 km in four continents. The shortest leg of the journey was an eight-hour flying from Rio to Pretoria in South Africa. This is for what? What was achieved? Nobody knows. No media reports are available.

Then, he also undertook still more long hours of flying. This longest leg of flying took 11 hours and this is from Frankfurt to Los Cabos! Where is this place? What is its importance for India? Now we learn that Los Cabos is in Mexico. The Prime Minister has flown for around 50 hours in just one week!

By any standards this is a record for a Prime Minister of a country and that too to a man of Singh’s age and health history.

This is a grueling schedule for any person of even lesser age but for Singh who underwent a second bypass surgery not long ago; this is a realty torture of sorts.

Why this arduous foreign journey?

Obviously, the Prime Minister believes that India has a lot to contribute to the Rio-20 conferences. Ms.Sunita Narain, CSE, calls the Rio declaration, “weak and meaningless”. Singh had a number of bilateral conferences with all sorts of heads of states. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason, so to say to travel so long and conduct bilateral conferences. So many scarce resources, the Air India felt, now grounded owing to the pilots on-going strike must have come in handy for the PM and the party to use more than one aircraft. It looked like that from the fact that AI India cancelled some of the international flights citing the deployment of the aircraft for the PM’s overseas trips.

Anyone in his place would have simply stayed back and sent many of his younger colleagues to attend these summits. Though they called for high profile presence of top leaders, what Dr.Singh had done seems quite inexplicable.

He met and conversed in bilateral talks with almost as many as 11 heads of states, most of them Indian’s close neighbours, from Sri Lanka and Maldives and even from Bhutan and Nepal even!
Why travel all the long distance to meet these gentlemen?

At home he had left behind him insurmountable problems.

With Mukerjee busy with his presidential ambitions and much canvassing work, the PM is the only economist even to make sense of the economic mess left behind Mr.Mukerjee.

Now only we see slowly criticism coming out from other more senior and competent men like former finance minister Yashwant Sinha and others.

Sonia Gandhi also seems to be in a fix. She has to undergo her medical tests in the USA and her trip is now held up owing to many factors.

Who has to re=start the engine of economic recovery, now with Mr.Mukerjee out of the scenario?

The message from the private sector is also very ominous.
Most big corporates like Reliance, Infosys, wipro and others are sitting on plies of investible cash and there must be some momentum created.

The corporate heads, not long ago wrote to the PM about governance. Why not call them for a face to face chit chat?
What about FDI?

PM’s remarks on his return journey are very imprecise and very general.

How the Prime Minister hopes to stay in his job and yet do his day to day functioning.

Unless some new face or faces are brought into the government, preferably some fresh faces from the corporate sector, some faces like K.V.Kamath or a Deepak Parekh and bold and radical steps are taken to attract FDI, there doesn’t seem to be any hope.

Who knows the rest of the term, upto 2014, might prove to be a lameduck session for the UPA-II.

There is exhaustion everywhere, there is a sense of helplessness and at the same time, there is the crises in the Opposition ranks, BJP is undergoing a rumoil and that may be the only saving grace for the Congress to do what it seems to be doing.

As for the Prime Minister the only consolation is that he has got a two year grace period to stay on.

Who knows the real debate from now onwards might be who would be the next two Prime Ministerial candidates, one from the BJP and another from the Congress!

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Elections in the states
Does development gets any attention?

Or it is all votebank politics, big money and violation of election code of conduct? Everyone, even the media, is talking about UP elections outcome. It is the make and break moment for Rahul Gandhi, they say.

Is it all then about one person, one party and one state?

UP is, of course, the battle ground. There are four parties and the four are nationally important. The parties invariably invite comparison  with other similar parties and personalities. Punjab is an example of dynastic politics totally engulfing the entire state, the Badal family dominates and so too the Amarendra Singh’ royal tag encompasses the whole  clans across many families. Punjab is known to the outside states as a very prosperous state with high agri production and also much enterprise.

But the sort of dynastic politics practised by the Badal family, it is now seen as desperately  caught in high unemployment, 37 per cent rise in unemployment and also the flight of nearly  900 hundred industrial factories to nearby Madhya Pradesh or Gujarat. This is shocking news for a distant state like TN where too you see the rise in unemployment and also the similar unemployment allowance for unemployed youth.

Unemployed youth in Punjab? Unemployment allowance of Rs.1,000 per month in Punjab?

Yes, this is unbelievable and shocking indeed.

There is also allegations of corruption and bad governance.
Corrupt politics in Punjab? Bad governance? Again it looks other states to fall into the same pattern. Again, we can see the same pattern in TN, if not in other states too.

The point is that development, good governance and also safeguards against corrupt politics are also missing if not totally neglected?
The same sort of neglect of good governance, resort to caste and communal politics and  also taking extreme  positions of some sensitive issues, be it the anti-Sikh riots of 1984,as in Punjab or anti- or pro-LTTe or chauvinistic issues  have come to the surface.

Lately, as in UP, it is  blatant resort of violation of Election Code of conduct or use of big money, why even terror tactics, why event  threat of  President’s rule, if the Congress is not voted back to power are all signs of the times.

In this atmosphere of highly charged environment where is the scope for long-term thinking or some sober approach to realities.
The realities of politics   are about to rub in very soon after the dust dies down.

UP also raises the question whether the Congress can come back to power on the sort of propaganda and tactics adopted by the Congress.

A cool-headed analysis of the past history shows that after 1967  the Congress never came back to power in the UP.

In the 1990s it was always the non-Congress and BSP and SP were the contenders for power in the state.

Given the sort of divide in UP, it would continue to be a caste based divide and it would continue to be a corruption-driven politics that can survive in the absence of any other radical change.

As between now and before, it is the duo, Akilesh Yadav and Rahul Gandhi.

After March 6th,the results might show whether Rahul Gandhi would get the legitimacy and credibility to walk into 7,Race Course Road as the official occupant .

Otherwise, as M.J.Akbar, the veteran journalist notes that instead of the duopoly of Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi it might be a triumvirate. Rahul Gandhi might still continue to play a role. Age is on his side.

Then, in politics, it is not all about development and progress?
Yes, it looks like that also increasingly.

Who knows the coming Presidential elections the Congress could mismanage the elections and might be lost for the Congress. Then what happens?

The government might fall and new general elections might engage out attention.

Yes, the way the Congress is in desperation to anoint Rahul Gandhi(it is another question whether he willingly enters the Prime Ministerial race or opts out. The latter possibility is also possible given his visage and his pronouncements, he is less articulate than Akilesh Yadav, and we have to say).

Of course all this speculation might go wrong if Mayawati comes back once again.

This too is a possible scenario. Then, the very same game might start. Megalomania and the same wasteful expenditure that is becoming more and more the norm in some of the states.

So, there is no definite clue to the future of the question: development vs. caste and populist politics.

Of course, the bad examples are too many to talk of the good examples. West Bengal is also another example.

While there are some good examples like Bihar, Odisha, MP and even Chhattisgarh. Even a state like Kerala with its own positive  features is a well-governed state with its good press, education and grown political awareness.

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Prime Minister’ image suffers!
Senior ministers must not surrender their self-respect!

The 2G spectrum is now a test for national integrity, truth and honesty in public life. It won’t go away easily. This time at least. That is the national mood this time.

The appointment of the CVC, the Central Vigilance Commissioner P.J.Thomas has brought out a whole host of issues. The matter is now before the Supreme Court. The Advocate General G.E.Vahanvati is a highly respected and highly regarded legal brain. Yet his utterances before the highest court of the land has created dismay among the intelligentsia and the legal community. Already the apex court had restrained another legal brain, the current telecom minister who also holds the highly sensitive education portfolio. Such a high dignitary received from the apex court a warning to “behave with responsibility”. Any other person of such high position would have promptly resigned. But we seem to be living in some strange times.

Our highly regarded Prime Minister seems to have conducted the affairs of the country in such a way he is not even showing any sign of self-respect and dignity. He couldn’t remover the patently corrupt ministers from his Cabinet or thrown away the poorly performed ones. He is happy; it seems, with the job he is holding.

Yes, the high office of the Prime Minister of a democracy of 6 billion people is reduced to pathetic levels. The AG is telling such blatant audacities, the intelligentsia is watching with helplessness to his lies and the home minister, after a long silence is coming out to contradict the AG. What is this? What sort of government and governance values we are upholding.

So, now, who is telling the truth? Who is really hiding the truth?
Surely, the PM is a privy to this whole fabrication of falsehood, right or wrong?
Please for God’s sake, let someone in the government or in the party (after all the Congress is going to face the guit, the perpetuation of this giant lie?) tell us, the public who is lying for whose sake?

So, now Sushma Swaraj, the Leader of the Opposition who was one member of the three with the Prime Minister and the Home minister being the other two and who else knows what transpired in the meeting that selected Mr.Thomas.

Now, ironically, the sympathy factor would be in favour of him. After all, the poor man might not have bargained for this sort of treatment.

Or a gentle sign from the PM must have seen him quite this position long ago!
Now, the black money case.

The task given to the Finance Minister is also not easy.
Mr.Mukerjee is supposed to be the wise man of the team. Now he is just given the brief, it seems, to indulge in subterfuge and camouflage so that the truth doesn’t come out in the open.

Dr.Subramaniam Swamy, the other day on the Jaya TV, said enough to indicate why the government is reluctant to reveal the names. The Swiss banks and the German banks where the money is hidden say that for tax purposes we won’t reveal the names. It must be for substantial criminal involvement, for drug trafficking and such other serious frauds.

Dr.Swamy said that among the names are one, a son of a TN Minister in Delhi and the other the sister of a top leader in Delhi!

Are these indications point to some guess work and understand the compulsions of the government?

So, the reluctance of the government. Now the finance minister is giving out some alternatives. In fact the brief seems to be to stonewall the demands and come out with a grand tricks. The truth may not come out at all.

As in 2G spectrum too. Mrs Gandhi is now entering into an electoral alliance with the very DMK that landed the Central Government in such an embarrassment. So, what is Mrs. Gandhi’s political wisdom or logic?

Nothing. Sheer ignorance and sheer disregard for public feelings an concerns.
So, what is democracy’s value? Nothing?

We request our great men and women in Delhi: please take us seriously. Take our sentiments a bit more seriously.

Please look around the world. We seem to be living at a more sensitive time and age. Any insensitive government, be it in Egypt or in any other country, even in former Soviet nations now undergoing transformation, we see there is public awareness and public awakening and also public uprisings!

Please save the country and our dignity. For our own sake and for the sake of our future generation.

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