Elections and the rural rich!
How rich-poor divide will keep Indian villages always exploited!
Rich candidates vs. the poor voters and the constant picture of rural India!

Agriculture, the largest employer still and yet the rich politicians, the dynastic successors will define the future of the villages and the future of India as well?

We need a grand vision. Who can provide the same?
Yes, we want to write about the agriculture sector more. More about lives in the villages.

It is very tempting to do so we just now read about the elections at Uttarkhand state where 54% of farms are less than two hectares. The hill districts, 11 mountain districts read life a tragedy.

No politician in the elections spoke about agriculture! Why, this is the same story in the agriculturally rich Punjab where the two contending leaders, Mr.Badal and Amarinder Singh are the richest and the biggest land owners! Who cares?

Money, more so the liquor flowed and yet the poll was peaceful, though the six TV channels and the three major dailies were issued show cause notice.

So, this is all too electoral politics?

The rich candidates and the poor voters, or the rich vs. the poor will widen only.

That is politics and that is also economics too!
So, for a change we want to ask some hard questions.
Will there be villages in the India of the future?
Will there be a rural society?

India is a large and diverse country. However, the Indian growth story, as it is called by insiders and outsiders, is what catches the attention of many sections of the Indian audience as well as the foreigners.

Now, there is a slowdown, if not a plain fall in the growth rate. The current rate is something like 7.5%.This is compared most often with what China has been achieving, growth in 2011 at 8.9%, without taking note of the two countries very much diversity.

The two countries are facing different set of challenges. In China there is this great urban migration on a large scale, it seems. China is a great exporting country; it is the Chinese export-led growth that is in contrast with the largely internally growing economy that is one big contrast.

China is now concentrating, we are told (see the latest Economist magazine) on building railways, roads and housing. So far it is noted that about 160illion migrants from the countryside to provide the cheap labour in coastal cities that concentrate on export industries. Now, there are reports about unrest in the industrial factories, there are demands for higher wages and even there are unrests in village administrations and also there are political changes with the latest 18th Congress of the Community party since it was established in 1921 and  a new set of leaders are going to take parting the change of leaders.

We in India don’t have any such situation.

In India, we have democracy and now there is a sense of pressure in India for change with Prime Minister Singh running off steam, as such, with a series of corruption scams that have tested the patience of the people.

What is talked of now in India is the subject of a policy paralysis.
What is this policy paralysis?

There is a series of confusions since the starting of the 20-G scam came to the fore.

The UPA-II has proved to be a coalition of vested interests. The political allies of the Congress have developed their own vested interests; the Trinamul wants to take cover under some imagined state autonomy. This is another name for non-performance and in fact the regional ally like Trinamool is faced with a serious policy paralysis. Even the basic minimum administration is missing. The CM has taken too many gambles to prove how ineffective her g hold on the administration is. The series of unforgivable infant deaths would have removed the last bastion of any sympathy for her even from her own admirers.

So too in the South for the AIADMK.

The CM had won such an overwhelming election success but once in power she proved that she has no other agenda except to undo whatever development projects the DMK might have done.
Of course, this is no excuse to leave out the vast number of scams the DMK ministers and their strongmen like land grabbing has indulged so far.

These are two examples of how the coalition parties have proved their use or non-use.

So, the question is both political and administrative.

In terms of politics we see the Congress has no great vision whatever and whatever little it had it evaporated under the ineffective leadership of the poor PM.

He is not a naturally elected leader.

Unless, the Indian polity evolves as a genuine democracy, it adheres to some basic democratic and parliamentary principles; it can’t manage the great many challenges.

As per the latest opinion polls, the Congress stands a very slim chance of winning in the next elections.

So, there is the big question mark.
How to compare China with India beyond a point?

In China, the Communist party dictatorship is there, in spite of the latest news about unrest in large parts of rural China and also in industrial establishments for higher wages.

But it looks, that India must become a place where large private investment, both FDI as well as investments by private sector must come from.

To make the next plan, the 12th plan, a success, it is noted by all, even by those who all attended the World Economic Forum, both the Indian participants as well as the foreign experts, world bank and IMF officials and  others, India must attract more FDI, more investments.
This is said so many times and we in India must also realise what outsiders say.

India is seen as the clear favourite when it comes to investment. Though at present China might be attracting more investment, our democracy and open society must be seen as a long-term advantage.
How to ensure that such a democracy and open society addresses the great concerns of the largest number of people, the mass of the people, the poor and the disadvantaged.

Here only the role of rural India, the role of our villages come into top priority areas.

One great disappointment is that we have some clever men as Cabinet ministers. But they have proved flops: P.Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal and even lately Jairam Ramesh.

They have suddenly become non-performers. Why, even the health minister is seen nowhere.

Thus, critical areas like education, health, rural development; our much-hyped panchayat raj is not discussed lately.

This of course includes the very top issue of agricultural transformation.

Of course Sharad Pawar is talking lot of practical common sense. But as a policy maker, as a great growth strategist what is his contribution?

He is seen as a cricket-loving man. So too his one or two other party colleagues. Thus, our agriculture suffered. In the sense our farmers continued with their suicide tales, there is much neglecting terms of policy reforms, no emphasis on rural credit expansion. We expected him, as great Maharashtrian leaders with an impressive track record in co-operative sugar industry would take forward the co-operative principle to launch some big schemes like an all India co-operative bank etc.

This is surely a great disappointment,

As for civil aviation, it proved a disaster under Proful Patel, his valued colleague.

So, somethings stick in public mind. We associate with some leaders for some failures; success rare is noticed, of course!

We have to see that the Indian villages won’t go away! Indian villages would continue to define Indian unity, Indian values and Indian mindset.

There are now talks of smaller states. More smaller states welcome! But let us not forget with more states our rural mass of people will get their due.

More schools, education opportunities, more panchayat raj institutions getting more funds and autonomy, with the latest technologies, a better and justice-driven distribution of foods and opportunities, more employment and the Indian youth and the Indian future become more tuned to a stronger India.

It is about decentralised development!
Corruption, populism and the general awareness of issues and the role of media matters!
Picture postcard scenes from other India!
Arent our villages still beautiful?

Pastel green paddy fields still cheer us! Bullock carts, the very many, though still unfinished, rural roads and much of the average village faces look happy and contented, let us know!

A recent writer, who obviously a traveler and a researcher in the rural affairs had travelled around in Bihar and UP and has much so say and capture the realities at the ground levels. She says that is much more truthful and reliable and help us to form judgments than those bureaucrats -turned rulers, cosy, urban living families and leaders of the families who make rules and pontificate and lecture us to do this or that while in the end you end of disappointed and become rather frustrated with the unfulfilled promises of those in power.

You in fact end up as the greatly cheated people while piles and piles of evidence  comes out as the listed assets and bank balances are trotted out ,more because of the court cases and police cases on land grabbing and other offences, as it is doing just now in Tamil Nadu!

Yes, there are always two sides to the coin.

While there is much democratic politics and that means that in the name of democracy, liberalisation and globalisation there are always news and new developments that impact people. There are now Chinese-made umbrellas sold at throw away prices.

Very soon we are told that Chinese retail shops would be flooded with cheap Chinese merchandise.

It is already there in countries nearer us, say, in Sri Lanka where on the roadsides even the Chinese -made kites sell for a premium!

In Bihar, we are told that squalor still stares in our eyes, the visitors, feudalism, caste prejudices are still real forces to put us off and create some disquiet! In West Champaran, in Bihar, we are told that children loiter around, and yes, they say they don’t go to school! You just speak to the children and you find that out. This, under Nitin Kumar, you may wonder. But then that is reality! Children who do say that the masterji, the teacher comes only one or two hours a day!

On West Champaran, on the Bihar govt’s Website, you find that the district has a literacy rate of 39.6 per cent. It has 1,340 primary schools, 284 middle schools and 69 high schools. And yet, why there are still so many students out of the schools and what they are doing?

No food and no education, teachers’ absenteeism and worse still the caste status of the village. Enter the village and you will find the women would first rush to meet you and say what the caste status of the village is! This is Bihar; you have to remind yourself once again!

Why has the teenager dropped out of the class VIII?

The adults don’t bother about such questions. They have more pressing things to do and attend to. The prices of food are high, they say.
The writer here says that the prices of kerosene are now reduced thanks to the new CFL light but they complain about the prices of pulses, milk and meat.

But there is some contradiction here. In a state like TN, every aged person in the villages is given a pension of Rs.1, 000, now even the Sri Lankan refugees are eligible for this amount. In addition there is the 35 kilo of free rice and 25 kilo for the others, in fact for everyone.

So, where is the PDS in Bihar? Where is the pension scheme, health insurance, the Bharat Niorman and other such Central and other state schemes?

Now, populism is running riot in all states and why Bihar seems to tell a different story!

It is also a bit contradictory to say that only people in villages spend much more than those in urban centres more on food. No, this too seems a bit exaggerated. Now, consumerism is the driving force, everywhere, in the villages and in the cities.

There are malls everywhere, or mall like retail stores and the rural transport system is expanding and every morning, every village seems getting emptied. Everyone is on the bus to towns and only late in the evening you see the returning buses are filled like jelly fish to over capacity!

There is now too much cash chasing the goods and services.

Oh, villagers, even those who might entertain too much superstition, are now great pilgrims and temples and god men are becoming the centres of large crowds.

So too the eateries. Even in small towns you see new, new fangled name boards and new food items. People have become great consumers of all foods.

So you have people putting on weight even at young age.

All the good and mostly bad habits have come to occupy the minds of people. So too you find new hospitals and even in remote areas you find the new hospitals growing in size and money-grabbing new medical instruments.

Some small town hospitals advertise heavily about their new acquisitions, MRI scans and much more new complicated machines and the ads are very scary.

This is the new contradiction about the new prosperity. So, why our Bihar visitor asks such old-fashioned questions, literacy, food and teacher absenteeism! Budaun district in UP. Is it true that milk comes at Rs.3? It costs anything like Rs.10-15 in TN. Pulses cost Rs.50 per kg, the very same price in Delhi? Then someone complains that the local vyapari (trader) hoards and raises the prices. No, this too seems to be impossible in better off states like TN where there is always the PDS outlet that sells these pulses too.

It seems, perhaps true that families keep growing in size in these two backward states, Rekha in Tamkuha village, Bihar has six children, only two go to school. Shanta in Ujhanni, UP, has a brood of five, despite the fact the eldest is a son!

No, there is no room for any theories here and the plain fact is that the governance in the states might be different.

But there are some inconvenient questions to be asked but nobody asks. In the states well-governed, where there is less corruption, as we believe in Bihar, perhaps there is still neglect of the poor, no populist freebies as in TN. Nitish Kumar has a reputation, all India reputation for being clean, while in TN, both the DMK and the ADMK chief Ministers are reputed to be highly, personally corrupt! So too in UP!

So, it is not theories of rural development that are relevant here, it is how reputed your Chief Minister is.

Image Source : thehindubusinessline.com

But our top-heavy New Delhi decision-makers thinks otherwise!
UPA-II caught in multiple issues

National Advisory Council (NAC)’s ideas rejected by the rural development ministry, food ministry and others. NAC is National Food Security Bill (NFSB) is facing resistance from various administrative ministries.

With no idea of entrusting the jobs scheme to monitoring by panchayats and social audit by villagers and also ensuring subsidized food to poor families, there are on-going debates by all and sundry who have no legal authority to do what they are now doing.

There are various groups of do-gooders, busy bodies and others who adorn NAC, Planning Commission, and various PM’s advisory councils. The result is the present chaos, the scams and drift in governance.

NAC has acquired a special mystique and much incoherence at the same time. What is it doing? What are its new schemes? Simply because Sonia Gandhi heads it and as Sonia Gandhi is seen as the power behind the throne or the plain PM chair, it is because of this political conundrum, we see some skewed views about our own ideas of what constitutes development.

Are there many persons these days, who believe what the Prime Minister says about economic reforms? Very few and that too for the sake of form. There are too many busybodies in the corridors of power in New Delhi.

There are armies of members of the NAC, the Planning Commission and God knows how many are there in the various Prime Minister’s advisory councils. No one has a latest count of these busybodies. At least one expert or an observer of the New Delhi bureaucracy has come out with some cogent reasons why the Planning Commission, as an example, is an anomaly right now!

First, there is the current mood of disenchantment. Our economy, whatever the PM or his obliging advisers might claim to see or say, the economy is now scam-filled, it is now clear that there is vast corruption at the highest levels of the government. There is black money hoarded abroad. Now, what is news is that it is not the usual suspects, the underworld or the corrupt businessmen who would always break the law of the land and take the money abroad to put in Swiss banks or tax havens, it is the new class of politicians and bureaucrats who are the new practitioners of this art of taking bribes and transferring and hoarding abroad, who are now beyond the reach of the law and to put it differently, the new governance deficit which was pointed out by the new class of left-over good corporate leaders. But then what is the chance of a response?

Very little, it seems.

There is a case for new thinking for decentralised planning process. Let us activate the panchayats to monitor the 100-days work scheme. Or better abolish the scheme or merge with the agriculture development schemes. Otherwise, the welfare of rural labour, or landless labour in small and medium industries need many protection, social benefits, education and medical benefit.

Let the government give up the grand talk of economic reforms. The economic reforms is now driven by FDI and the big corporate initiatives. So, regulate and make the corporate venture adhere to law. Strengthen the governance culture. Choose the right persons for big ministerial assignment. The Prime Minister must strict to high standards. The PM must be seen as speaking the truth, taking Parliament into confidence.PM must interact with the common mass of people as often as possible.

The current practice cost his credibility dearly. Let us hope he decides to function differently or make way for others.

There is no inner -correction mechanism, there is no inner resilience in the political system.

That is the current tragedy.

It is now plain that there is internally huge diversion of funds for the 100-days work scheme, grandly called by some strange name associated with the Mahatma Gandhi. Please let us drop Gandhi from this scheme.

It is hugely misused and the states are becoming bolder and the Centre’s writ doesn’t run in these states. In TN, the ally DMK did the maximum damage. Two ministers, one in National Highways and another in the Telecom, did what others dared not to! Notorious corruption came to engulf the UPA_II and even after removing the two ministers, one by force and another by 2-G scam getting into the net of the Supreme Court. But then the development got hurt. National Highways is yet to recover its original momentum and telecom, one can’t be sure of when the whole mess will be sorted out.

The Prime Minister and his officials are rhetorically focused on economic reforms. Now, even the phrase economic reforms sounds a joke, if not worse still. What economic reforms in a state of oligarchical growth of favourites among the corporate honchos.

The Cairn-ONGC dispute on royalties, there are disputes about the royalties and the FDI in oil and gas, the ONGC would pay 100% royalty while it would hold only 30 per cent of the share holding. The government is yet to clarify the issues here.

This is not yet done and when it will be cleared up? Who is the minister in charge? What he is thinking and what are his thoughts?
There is no more any need for silence on this score. The public must know about the government’s thinking. Unfortunately, our MPs are not what their predecessors used to be. Knowledgeable MPs seem to be in short supply. It is for the Sonia Gandhi and PM duo to answer this question.

Yes, we can’t just talk in compartments. One issue and that leads you to the government and another lead takes you right into the 10 Jan Path conclave where very different set of operators with different mindset are perched as advisers and states-in charges!

As for winding up the Planning Commission it was set up by an executive order. It continues to exist. That is all. Under the Constitution public expenditure is scrutinised and approved by Planning Commission. Fund flows to the states takes place through Finance Commission, PC and Central sector and Centrally-sponsored schemes (css).Let us strengthen and revive the original Constitutional body. The issue needs in-depth study and one obvious case is the misuse and misutilised funds under the various Central sector schemes. No one knows the number of css! Once it was 455 and now pruned to 150.Not sure even now! There is no clarity about Plan and Non-plan schemes!

India still is a country of small scale enterprises and the bulk of the labour is unorganised and lacking all social protection .
It is this class of labour, hard-working and yet lacking in social benefits, the Sonia Gandhi led National Advisory Council must give priority.

Not the fashionable labels or other such wild schemes that might drain resources but lacking in sustainability.
11% of  world carpets produced here. 41% of labour migrates to distant states for jobs.

One billion rail tickets are sold every year. Add the ticketless travel! This under-class contribute 43% to our exports.
Tiny non-agricultural enterprises employing less than 10 workers have increased by 110%in the last two decades.
In the organised sector 46% of the workforce belongs to the informal sector.

That is why formal employment figures remain rather constant, at 24 million, while the production in the organised sector has risen, it is because of the ragtag labouring class that has risen in numbers and hence the growth in production.

India still is a country of small scale enterprises and the bulk of the labour is unorganised and lacking all social protection . It is this class of labour, hard-working and yet lacking in social benefits, the Sonia Gandhi led National Advisory Council must give priority.

Not the fashionable labels or other such wild schemes that might drain resources but lacking in sustainability.
11% of  world carpets produced here. 41% of labour migrates to distant states for jobs.

One billion rail tickets are sold every year. Add the ticketless travel! This under-class contribute 43% to our exports. Tiny non-agricultural enterprises employing less than 10 workers have increased by 110%in the last two decades. In the organised sector 46% of the workforce belongs to the informal sector.

That is why formal employment figures remain rather constant, at 24 million, while the production in the organised sector has risen ,it is because of the ragtag labouring class that has risen in numbers and hence the growth in production.

PC has failed to decentralise the planning process. It is now the reverse. For every small thing, we, both the state agencies and individuals travel to New Delhi and pay small and big bribes to get things done!

It is noted by one critic that most of the PC documents are rehashes of First Five Year Plan documents!

Much more damaging is to note that the Planning Commission members retired bureaucrats or failed politicians and as the current practice of nomination culture, you can get a nomination if you hang around, nomination for NAC, for PC or Rajya Sabha are all through a crony culture! Wiki Leaks has done a great national service by highlighting the weak governance mechanism at many levels of the government and the party. Let us not forget what Rajiv Gandhi said of the PC, a bunch of jokers! How unkind, one may wonder.

But now, considering the number of scams and scandals, what one to understand the reasons could be?

Tamil Nadu and West Bengal are cited as typical states with reportedly 2lakh crores and 2.5 lakh crores debt.

In TN it is wreckless populism and in W.Bengal no less. In W.Bengal you have an insatiable supply of cheap labour that travels all over India for jobs. In TN too there is migration of cheap labour for construction industry and the state continue to remain poor, despite its otherwise claims of development.

The point is that NAC which came out with the 100 days wage labour is now bedeviled by large scale corruption and diversion of funds.
We need a revamp and a new way of fixing responsibility to implement the scheme. There is also a clamour for scrapping the very NAC itself, whose members randomly and even whimsically selected and they come out with all sorts of wild schemes like the “free food for all” and other such highly populistic schemes that had already been shot down by the PM’s economic advisory council! What sort of work for these councils in rivalry?

Now, as for one more white elephant which the PM knows and yet he keeps mum and the whole non-work is funded. That is none other than the Planning Commission itself. Planning Commission, it is also pointed out, is not in the Constitution. There are so many constitutionally -mandated bodies and yet the Planning Commission that gathered much glamour in Nehru’s days and it retains its existence on that faded glamour.

Image Source : stockmarkettoday.in

From villagers to experts: what they say?
There is popular fear after the Japanese Fukushima nuclear disaster!
But experts surveyed here say, almost uniformly, nuclear power is a superior solution to the all other alternatives.

Coal has ruined the environment, in USA and China, notably.
Oil and natural gas in short supply and prices fluctuate beyond affordability in s sustained manner.

Solar, wind and biofuels have their own limitations.Time to give a pause, some time and space for a relook at India’s nuclear vision and ambitions.

India has to articulate a new energy policy vision Growth, environment and alternative energy sources Now no clear vision for alternative energies Solar, wind power, biofuel are developed in the West. What about India?

A pause button would encourage anti-nuclear protestor’s agenda?
So, go ahead with the project as it is?

That seems to be the mindset of the new thinking?

Yes, this how the latest editorial in The Hindu (April 29, 2011) puts the current thinking in New Delhi. Yes, it seems so considering the very many ironies in the current decision making and the current engulfing confusion that makes the government’s functioning in Delhi.
See first the dates. The PM chairs the meeting, ironically and tragically also on the very day when the world, yes the outside world, not in any noticeable way in India, remembered the Chernobyl tragedy of the world’s biggest nuclear disaster. There have been many articles on the occasion. The PM or his colleagues might not care to remember that day nor did any of the high and mighty in the hierarchy said anything.
But the media said many things on that occasion.

And much more crucial is the fact that the USA, the patron-saint of the current incumbent PM and the regime, though lately they had shown some courage and went ahead and chose the European jet fighters for the Indian Air Force.

The nuclear lobby is much more powerful. This time we have not been told, certainly not at the Jaitapur meetings, the protests and the police firings, no one told, as far as we know, that it is more than 30 years since the happening at the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster in the USA they had not built any more nuclear power plant, right?
So, the USA, the most energy-consuming nation didn’t think it right to go for new nuclear power plants since the Three Mile Island accident.
Now, the Chernobyl and the latest, the Japanese Fuskushima nuclear disaster.

Even before the dust, as they say, settled down the PM had undertaken a 5-day overseas trip and went all the way to Kazakhstan ,where is it on the global map, and for heaven’s sake he has concluded another nuclear pact and spoken  very enlighteningly about the advantages of nuclear power and this is where we stand now.

As the Hindu wrote in the editorial, every word in the editorial sounds ironical, official assurances of transparency, the promise to put the post-Fukushima reviews of nuclear safety in the public domain and the latest, enactment of a new law on independent safety regulatory body etc are all; very ironical indeed given the latest developments in Delhi. The very functioning of routine institutions, Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Lok Sabha has been reduced to a farce! There are grave questions of credibility and the legitimacy of the members of Parliament behaving as law unto themselves.

Can the PAC be converted into a shouting match and disruption and a new coalition with the SP and BSO MPs making for a quorum and also for joining hands with the DMK, the Congress MPs seem to set new standards of parliamentary behaviour.

So, where is the form and propriety, protocol?

The draft report of the PAC, for whatever it is worth, is now in the public domain. After Anna Hazare, everything in the Indian public life is now subjected to public curiosity and public scrutiny.
So, the draft report only makes the public fears and the public scepticism confirmed.

The PM, the PMOI, the Cabinet Secretariat and  the former Finance Minister P.Chidambaram, the way they went about in the sicharge of their functions would raise serious questions of the credibility of this government.

Manmohan Singh whatever may be his claims; he can’t justify much of what he had done so far in office.

There can’t be any easy excuse of get-away from facing the realities and the consequences.

The 2G scam is before the Supreme Court and it makes one extremely worried and concerned as for the health of the Indian polity and its democratic credentials. It looks as things are in the moment that Dr.Singh can’t go on as he imagines he is capable of.

The protest at the Jaitapur nuclear complex, the proposed complex is not going to any simply affairs of routine ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The protest again the nuclear power as an energy option is now dim.
The Indian public won’t be reassured any more by the bland reassurances by the PM nor by the very smart-talking Jairam Ramesh, the environmental minister.

The latest issue of the “Fortune” magazine (April 11 2011) No.5 has carried out a survey of opinion of six experts from the very filed where they have contributed some significant wisdom an expertise. Steward Brand, the editor of the White Earth Catalogue, Whole  Earth Discipline and Ecopragmatist Manifesto notes that  the 1986 Chernobyl, before that the Three Mile Island accident, now Fuskishima, he says the radioactive spread, the release of radioactive stuff is not yet on such a vast scale.

The media handled the coverage with restraint. Mr.Nathan Myhrvold, 13 years in Microsoft, now founded Intellectual Ventures says that older nuclear plants are different from the new ones being built by Westinghouse and GE. The real problems with the nuclear plants are the spent fuel storage. In the US Yucca Mountain storage consumed more billions and decades. No solution. In Tarapur also, no solution!
These our scientists too don’t talk about openly.

Can we trust the Singh regime to change all that with its proposed “independent regulatory body”?

The experience so far doesn’t raise any panic. Yet, now, whether the world can go forward for new nuclear renaissance?

The new WESTINGHOUSE AP1000 DESIGN IS SAFER, IT HAS A PASSIVE COOLNG SYSTEM, and the FUKUSHIMA have a 40-year old boiling system. So, it can be a safe way forward for new nuclear plants. But he warns that it can’t make us complacent. Tomorrow, in China or India something might happen, he warns us. At the same time, says this expert, that high concentrations of energy, be it gasoline or natural gas going through  a pipeline underneath in your neighbourhood can explode and create as much disasters as nuclear plant explosion.

In the USA, the four nuclear reactors that are being built by the Westinghouse means, it is reported, additional 5,000 new jobs! This is how the Indian nuclear industry is also seen in the USA. Yes, the current setback for the USA in losing the defence order for new fighter jet planes meant a setback for the Prime Minister who sees his political base also owing to US strategic support for his continuation in office. So, there is a widely suspect scepticism for the Prime Minister’s present urgency to push the Jaitapur nuclear facility.
This further complicates the atmosphere for a cool and detached and a balanced outlook for nuclear power industry in India.

India has to explore all the alternative energy sources.

Germany is an example. Germany has abandoned the old nuclear plants. It has shut down the older plants. It didn’t go for newer nuclear plants. It has gone for the aternative energies, specially, the wind power.
So each country has to review its nuclear industry history. So far, the Indian nuclear industry was based on the pretext of India seeks atomic power for peaceful uses. This claim is no more valid.

We are in a nebulous situation. Indian nuclear power, nuclear strategic claims are all mixed and confused and contradictory in some ways.
This, Geroge Bush himself acknowledged.

Even now, our vision, if such a word can be deployed is blurred as far as our nuclear “ambitions” as concerned.

Now, under the current state of Manmohan Singh’s dispensation there is every reason to go slow. To give a pause. To give some room for a wider public debate. To push matters as they have done in Jaitapur is to create more tensions in the policy. It could destabilise the g overnment.

He makes a very insightful statement that we have to see the issues globally, not from our own narrow, national perspectives. In Japan it was both earthquake and tsunami, tsumani is a Japanese word says another expert.

In the USA there are other reasons. So, for India too it may have to consider other dangers, environment certainly. So, there is not much to worry, it seems. There could be much more, a bigger calamity, he says and he points to climate change as the bigger threat, a new threat altogether. Mr.Micheael Brune, Executive Director of Sierra Club, an environmental group of million members. He says that the USA was fighting for phasing out the coal-fired power stations, the 150th proposal for coal fired plant was blocked and we considered a victory. Now, the nuclear power plants too must be opposed?

No, he says there is alternative.

Iowa State has now 20% win power, Portugal has 45% solar. Now there are plans for 25% of off-shore supplies for US electricity needs. After the US experience with the BP gulf spill, there is much environmental concern for drilling more oil wells.

In India too we have now some other problem with our off shore drilling of oil and gas wells.

Reliance D^ well in the KG basin is not yielding as much output as it was promised and expected by the government. Gas output is hovering at about 50 million standard metres per day and it is lower than 20 per cent down. The point is that we have to articulate a new comprehensive energy policy vision.

Image Source : http://www.orissatv.com/UserFiles/FULLPAGE/Image/2011/vidya/jaitapur_n_plant_20110328.jpg

Why Microfinance is now a bad word?
Finance ministry must introduce a regulator for the agricredit monitoring

Yes, microfinance companies have now come under a cloud.

Andhra Pradesh government brought out an ordinance   in 2010 end and asked the RBI to probe the scandals that have come out now in the open.

There have been the usual suspect roles by the microfinance (MFIs). They competed for the same clients, the very poor and they over lent, multiple lending and the same result, namely, suicides of the poor borrowers who couldn’t reap.

Now, the story is not new and not much for debate or argument.
Our banking system failed in its original mandate when the big banks were nationalised by Indira Gandhi in a huff as it were to settle scores with Morarji Desai. In India, in the way we are running our government there is the tendency to excuse the original sinners. So, we find excuses for blaming the others!

If the finance ministry is doing its job then, it must have supervised the banking system to carry out its mandate. The priority sector lending was neglected and hence the few good banks that were serious about their social commitments let down the priority sector targets and hence there was this persistence with under banked sections.

We talk of financial inclusion, a bogus concept. How can you have an inclusion without an institutional framework, without institutions and without safeguards etc?

Lending to the poor has always been a difficult job; it is as old as the days of the Raj.
So, rural indebtedness was very old and the spread and the grip of the rural money lenders is also a hoary institution in India. Simply because the rulers in Delhi are lax and they are also as irresponsible as you and me!

We see what the finance ministry did in the latest scandal of the telecom minister. When the minister ignored the finance ministry’s guidelines the finance ministry under such a veteran like Pranab Mukerjee must have alerted the Prime Minister and the matter must have been brought before the Cabinet and the Prime Minister must have acted in time.

Now, the Prime Minister has paid a heavy price, his reputation is shattered by the serious remarks of the Supreme Court.

Even now, there is a tendency to avoid the serious sinners. Whereas the looted money with the telecom scandal? The money is with all sorts of people, the public knows the people. Certainly in Tamil Nadu it is public knowledge where the loot is held.

So, now to talk of microfinance as if it is a great discovery by some NRI is simple humbug.
It is one more innovation at recent times. Now, the Grameen Bank concept is at the root of the MFIs. Now, after the SKS scandal came out it was also revealed that one high profile investor, namely, N.R.Narayanamurthy of Infosys had also invested, he picked up equity in the SKS and everything seemed normal, Infosys investor made a huge swelling of his value and till the SKS scandal bust ,no one knew that Narayanamurthy was also in this pie.
Now, for Narayana murthy to speak in very polite and diplomatic language was the cruelest cut.


As a high profile seeker of ethic in corporate governance he must have taken an active role and went out of the way to defend the ultimate beneficiaries, the voiceless millions who thought they have a chance in the life to escape from the eternal poverty trap.
Now, Murthy made his money and he resorts to diplomatic language.

Why the CDO, Gurumani was sacked from his? No one has brought out the truth.
Nor, the fact why the SKS was doing its job in such blatant unethical manner, so huge salaries for the top dogs and so high and unjustified interests, as high as 46 per cent.
Yes, we know the microfinance is to take the loan to the door steps of the poor, this involves additional cost and also many visits and this also costs money.

But then, there is the ethical dimension to a rural credit business.
Doest Mr.Murthy knows this aspect?
Why doesn’t he articulate these aspects?

Now, the MFIs want the banks to lend them more money and the banks refuse to oblige them. In fact, if we look the issues more seriously and with some gravitas, the Central government must have come out with some new ideas, with so many advisers around the PM, all economists and so many are men with some vision or ideals or some other and they must have forewarned the government, the banking system, the RBI and the bankers and there must have some framework and system to regulate the new institutions.

Of course, the ideals are the co-operative institutions. Even with the private players entering the scenarios, we have the model of the Bangladesh Grameen Banks system.

Even with the self-help groups and joint liability lending etc., there is here a clear lapse on the party of the government.

Now, what? Now, surely we have to put in a regulator for the micro credit institutions.
There must be strict guidelines not to go for fat salaries and ostentatious lifestyles as Mr.Gurumani is alleged to have been doing. We are not sure. We may be mistaken.
There is however some uncomfortable feeling that with Akula and Gurumani and with Narayanamurthy joining them, there is this let-down feeling.

All high profile, all crave for moral high ground and we have government machinery in New Delhi, which as the Supreme Court now famously did calling us, collectively or otherwise, as inaction when it comes to preventing wrong doing on such vast scales!

Let us reform the private sector money lending business for the poor in right

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