Why Press and media freedom is misunderstood?
Many things on the loose when it comes to public awareness?
Why then  the Supreme Court asks the government whether the Election Commission can deny tickets to criminals?
Parliament is doing its work?

SC in a dilemma? EC so weak? Press must report, explain and educate the public! The Indian  media scene is  neither optimistic nor confident! A great pity. It looks as if not many know that corruption and criminality in our politics and public life are the  two great hindrances to an open society politics.

Anna HazareAfter four years of Modi regime there are many great issues that are defying solution. We haven’t been able to nominate a Lok Pal while everyone knows this was a promise made many years ago. Anna Hazare after his famous hunger strike, now seems to be tired of the demand and he had become quieter. Poor soul! What more an individual however much one is committed to ideals can do in the present political culture which is vitiated by such high hypocrisy and so much cynicism for values.

One wonders whether the public too inks reconciled to live with the a degenerated political culture and not enthused for an optimistic alternative clean politics. The government for all its great many strides in so many areas of public life, its energy and initiative to launch a range of new schemes seems to have lost the larger vision for a great democracy. India should be  feeling pride in its democratic values, great Constitution that had withstood the many challenges, one should really speak much about how great men, great minds (Ernest Barker, the distinguished British political scientist) have spoken highly of India’s Constitution but we seem to be an unconcerned people. Or, the
ruling regime or regimes didn’t care for all the high optimism that must be informing the public.

Anyway, the latest debates in the Supreme Court about banning the criminals in the legislatures show that we are becoming more and more insensitive to  these issues. Supreme Court has been told by the Government that not to make too many adverse observations of the government policies in the PILs. In fact, the issues are becoming too unbearable by more violence, series of communal clashes, pubic lynching’s etc.

Violence is bad. Who says so? None! What a shame! The high and mighty must be saying: adhere to law and order. The courts are also held to ransom, it seems. Why the large pendency of cases in all the courts?

Why doesn’t the PM and his colleagues, all well-merited no doubt can’t take speedy steps to fill up the large vacancies in the courts? There are very many other issues of high importance like the functioning  of agencies like CHI,ED and others where a very distinct impression has gained ground they are used to take revenge upon Opposition leaders? There is widespread fear in the media and also in the judiciary itself.

So, press freedom, media freedom, independent function of the organs of public opinion   all seem suppressed, there are various events that prove this impression. No one man can rule the country, even in the USA as  the vast disappointment  upon the US President Doland Trump. Mr.A.G.Sulzberger, the publisher of the New York Times met the President and after the President complained of the Fake News doing damage etc, the New York Times owner within two hours came out with his tweet: I told the President directly that I thought his language was not just divisive but increasingly  dangerous”.

How many in India ,in the media, in the press and in the TV media can dare to say this to our Prime Minister? So, democracy just means something else. The Courts must be free to say that the criminals in the legislatures is a shame and they must be barred from entering the Houses. In fact, the issues are becoming much more grim.

Parliament must function  with full force and must adhere to norms, the House Chairmen powers must be enhanced and also the conduct of our legislators must be monitored more seriously. The many scames, like the 2G,can be avoided only if we deliberate more serious on  a range of reforms from  the political parties, political funding and the quality of the peoples’ representatives!

For all this to be possible there must be unfettered press freedom and also other freedoms! Only great minds can contribute and for this you have to  have a vast tolerance of dissent. Opposition also must conduct its jobs with great responsibility. Parties must desist from building family dynasties.

The meaning and significance of freedoms in a democracy must be debated widely in universities to public platforms. Fearless independent intellectuals must speak out. Civil Society, NGOs must be allowed, why encouraged and the PM and Opposition leaders must participate, must give more press interviews and a healthy and mature political environment must be created.

A major flaw in our land reform policies!

Agriculture is the Achilles Heal of the Indian politics! No politician of any worth speaks   the truth when it comes to the agriculture sector. Vadamalai Media is committed to agriculture and so we must be having lots of experience and expertise! But who cares? Care for  truth and  honesty?

agri landWe know most of the farmer leaders  who have contributed to the agriculture policy-making in the country. From Charan Singh, son Ajit Singh and the Maratha leader, Shetkari Sangahtna Sharad Joshi to Swanga Reddy of AP and others down the South, from the redoubtable Narayanasamy Naidu to his lieutenants, Dr.M.R.Sivasamy  to Dr.Nanjundaswamy of Karnataka to many others. Of course we also know Sharad Pawar, undoubtedly the tall leader of farmers today.

Yet, what we see today about the plight of farmers. Prime Minister Modi talks tirelessly on the farming scene. He must be only knowing too well that many of his policies haven’t taken off. For instance, the much-meaningful farmers crop insurance policies. Today, in a leading Tamil daily we read about the many detailed statistics about the collection of insurance premiums collected by the private insurance companies and the amount paid as compensation. What an irony!
There are so many mismatches and yet there seems no way to draw more farmers who are deserting the scheme. The statistics makes for a very discouraging reading. Why farmers commit suicides in an unabating manner? The much touted farm loan write-offs don’t seem to discourage farmers to desist from taking the extreme steps. Why there is so much farm distress?

Agriculture is becoming more and more a complex sector. No single one solution  seems to work.  We at the  Vadamalai Media  have so much first hand knowledge. We are also practising farmers! We own lands in the village and we do cultivate crops and we do incur so much losses! Yet, we stick on to farming. May be, a family tradition and  emotional attachment to the soil?

All  these long years we had learnt a lot, both positive and negative. We have talked to leaders of political parties. So, everybody knows of farming issues. Yet there is some mental block when it comes to talking the truths. Farming has become more and more unviable. Droughts, excessive rains, as of now, in our part of the country and the uncertainties and the vagaries of weather etc.

One thing we see is that there is also the rapid socio-economic changes in the countryside. Villages are getting deserted, young men and women getting educated and moving on to urban centres for jobs and securing a more better future. Now, to cut the story short, we feel that the unviable holdings of the agricultural lands discourage many well-intentioned people to engage in agriculture.

So, one way surely is to relax the very stringent existing land legislation laws. The many tenancy, land ceiling laws  were enacted in the 1950s, 60s when there was so much inequity in the villages. No more the conditions exist today. So, when, for instance when Karnataka Chief Minister, H.D.Kumaraswamy recently  relaxed  the limits of incomes of those who wanted to purchase agricultural lands there were protests from his own colleagues.

Among the many land legislations of states, it seems only the Karnataka state land legislation  seems to be the most extreme, as far as we know. We just recently carried in the pages of this journal the latest NIITI AAYOG’s model land tenancy law which happily recasts the entire existing laws of the states and suggests crucially  the need for tenants to pay the rents and also agreement to vacate the land once the lease period is over.

The Karnataka legislation is more severe. In Tamil Nadu, the existing provision is that you can’t evict any tenant even if he doesn’t pay one rupee as rent!

How many don’t know the ground level realities in the  villages. There are many instances that political intervention  is the norm of the day! If the ruling political party functionaries so want they can use the police and revenue officials and evict any unruly tenant at their swee well!

Today, many temple lands in many states are under tenancy laws and in each temple you can see the notice boards that proclaim the names of the defaulting tenants ,some of them big landlords themselves! We were recently in Chennai and visited some high profile lawyers and also saw some   Law book  shops!

Madras is a very old British administered territory, as everyone knows and the Madras  High Court has a long and illustrious history. One law firm publishes a law journal that is now 126 years old!

Yet, with all the long traditions of law and justice system, the ground level realities is ,alas, very discouraging. Much force, police and revenue   forces and high pervasive corruption all contribute not to peaceful rural living but for brutal and violence-ridden social and economic living environment only.

So, let Rahul Gandhi talk of agriculture, jobs and education as his “Deep Dive” in search of an agri policy or the PM pursue his unfulfilled policies like the crop insurance scheme, or crop insurance schemes, nothing is likely to change in the villages. Farmers would continue to be oppressed and suppressed by the existing inequities and  the populist and superficial caste and other discriminations, some sections of castes would continue to be excluded by the way  the political culture is shaping up.

Or, carrying favour with the high and mighty?

We once asked a Corporate heavy-weight, and a lady at that, who sat at the high table of Sonia  Gandhi for an ad for this media publication!

CSRThe lady was not only negative, she seemed to have dismissed our request in a nonchalant manner! This has been our almost routine experience and we have learnt a lot of lessons in corporate  social responsibility(CSR) tag given to  the corporate to spend 2 per centage of their net profits on their CSR activities.CSR is a political lobbying spends of the corporate? Yes, it looks like that. Sometime, you read some ridiculous and even plain exercise of some nonsense or other in the name of charity! Including  tending for their stray dogs as one big corporate advertises for these starry animals!

So, CSR is  community engagement, like say the PM’s swatch bharath or even  other such socially responsible production or socially responsible  employees’ relations.

But one thing is clear that we, as a nation, have not grown out of coshing with powers that be, be it the Congress leaders or by now the BJP leaders. We are a nation of cringing citizens, right?

One can speak only with one’s experiences, our experience is not beyond sceptical outlook.  Let us be clear about one thing. In spite of so many years of corporate wealth creation, from the pre-Independence days, we haven’t grown into a mature social conscious society.

Still, the rich-poor divide is so  wide, in spite of so many positive developments, the growth of corporate wealth and the sharing of the same with the employees. We remain a socially insensitive nation and society. The PSUs are supposed to make a 0.5 % to 5 % of net profit for CSR spends.

In our media ventures we have written at length about these non-profit, on selfish natures of creating and distributing wealth. There are some areas like education, culture and other intangible areas of life that sometimes a society, a country and a culture is rated high for the simple reasons they, the many institutions have survived and money had been  found and spent for some unprofit-seeking reasons.

There is college like ALL Souls at Oxford. If you see its history, it is there with no students, but only some Fellows who haven’t produced any tangible profits or incomes, but they had done the world proud by their unselfish seeking for greater ideals, ideas and truth at its best expression.

That is one reason why some of these institutions have brought glory to the countries and also to mankind. Why you give away your CSR?
To show in the audit?

So, silly! Why education today has become irrelevant to society? All such institutions have been turned into money making. Not one capitalist of the country, may be with exceptions to the pre-independent days under Mahatma Gandhi, we can recall like say the great Robert Owen in England?

One Birla, one Bajaj are the only exceptions we can recall now! Self-sacrifice, self-interest sacrifice,giving to causes greater than tangible funds for political parties. Why so much mystery surrounds the donations to political parties?

Any notable VIP has come out of controversy or  from the list of current donors?
Of course we live a new age of materialism and so much of aggrandisement is inside us to exploit to the maximum, the poor and the weak?

So, at the end of the day, what matters in CSR spends is the non-tangible ideas and ideals and thought-processes, why even including such ideal of democracy like citizens freedoms, citizens rights, human rights, human values like truth, ethics and such other higher ideals.

Even areas like agriculture, rural development calls for media exposure and media coverage where there is not much money or reward. Such non-tangible ideals are worth the CSR spends and attention. Amen!

A distinct possibility is the very same distinct character of the Bengali renaissance political and cultural history.

West Bengal is no more the  strong hold of any party other than Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool  Congress. And Mamata, remember, is a stormy petral of the Indian National Congress itself.

The 35 year old dogmatic ideology of the Marxist Party is now gone. Not many can  recollect the leaders of the old CPI(M),leader like Jyoti Basu and many other veterans who were both formidable theoreticians as well practical achievers. Nor the current crop of Trinamool grass root workers any way lacking in the muscle and other grassroots skills including indulging in violence.

mamathaNow, the BJP is struggling to build up its cadre in a state where the cadre -based politics is also the strength of the Trinamool.

The RSS is strong but not at the very heart of Bengali politics. They are somewhere near the borders of Bangladesh and where Muslim vote is concerned it is very strongly in favour of the Trinamool only.

The BJP hasn’t been able to build its base for ,as observed by many observers, Mamata herself is a devotee of the Hindu gods and the Hindu icon like  Bankim, Tagore, Vivekananda, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Bose! So, however hard the BJP may try to appropriate these Bengal icons they are already appropriated  by a wider section of the Hindu society not just inside Bengal but also outside.

And it may not be irrelevant to point out that again however hard  you try to appropriate  the icon of Swami Vivekananda he Swamiji is already a secular Hindu icon as well. To put the Swamiji’s  robust secularism into the rather un and even anti-intellectualism and such serious  rationalism of the Swamiji’s exposition of Hinduism itself doesn’t make sense and that is the only genuine explanation, in our view why the RSS or the BJP leaders like Amith Shah and Narendra Modi doesn’t cut ice with the well-evolved  Bengal middle class elite as well as the mass of the Bengalis society and polity.

That was one significant reason why Amit Shah couldn’t muster  enough credibility when he called to see the intelligentsia and that section roundly refused to take the bite!

So, it is very likely that after the much debated and much controversial panchayat elections in which 34 per cent of the seats went uncontested and that explains the hold the Trinamool has over the imagination of the Bengali mass.
Yes, Bengali mass is still in a sort of Dark Age ,when seen from the other extreme of a similar  state like  Tamil Nadu where too the hold of the Dravidians eths of similar ethnic identity holds the BJP at bay.

In neither of these states the BJP can hope to make any advance for the people in these states have gone  further and further away from the so-called mainstream like advance the BJP made in one swoop in the year 2014.

Bengal had adopted an eclectic sort of  Hinduism in  the likes of lives and service of the saints like Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. So, any number of slogans like Jai Ram and the processions of Ramanavami and Hanuman Jayanti won’t cut ice with the voters.

So, what chance for the BJP in Bengal?

May be one or two marginal rise in vote share or seat share. Given Mamata’s penchant for energy and  a daring thrust at the enemy camp, be it the CPI(M) or the Congress where the leaders are very weak and  also from the BJP ranks where too leaders like Mukul Roy and Ritabrta  Benerjee are no match to Mamata’s current crop of energised new leaders, there are too many to narrate here their individual  contributions to the collective strength.

What is the chances for Mamata’s claim for New Delhi crown?
Her sheer numbers. She could hopefully bring to the table the entire 42 MP seats.

Once she demonstrates her pull, may be the other alliance partners who are also otherwise allergic to the dynastic claims of the Congress, the party might have no other choice but to fall in line.

The Eastern Indian segment might also opt for Mamata.

Why, even other states might coalesce  with the others in the very jockeying for a share in power.

The only question is how we draw agri and rural development policies!
Liberalise the agri sector!
Introduce the Niti Aayog’s model land reforms laws!

Once you do this, the agri, rural sector would rebound with new energy and development activities!

nitiThere is every reason to hope that Indian economy in the perspective of world bodies like the World Bank and IMF is doing fine. Indian economy has overtaken France  as the world’s  sixth-biggest economy as per the latest World Bank data. The IMF on the other hands says that India will be the world’s fourth largest economy by 2022.There are other indicators from within India that show India is the only country in the world that is f growing respectably both in terms of growth and stability, compared with its peers like Turkey and Brazil. Commercial vehicles sales grew at over 3 37 per cent in June this year! Air passenger growth 45th  straight month growth in May.

There is other much more solid performance in other sectors as well. The point here is that the overall economic growth is very positive.  But where does problem come in?

There is widespread unemployment in the youth sector, given the fact that educated youth today can’t find suitable well-paid employment. So,there is much talk about skills development.

Also, the IT sector is currently lagging in gorwth.USA is also having full employment and other export markets are opening up.

Indian policy makers have to look at the major issues without any narrow political spectrum and also keeping in mind only the winnability in their 2019 elections. You see that good economics is no guarantee  for good politics.

Good politics requires a corruption-free environment and also a transparent  administration. Much more critical is how the public opinion and public perception of a multi-party polity functions.

Here astrology wont help. What will help is the intentions of a ruling combine, the NDA allies themselves have to figure out the likely new allies and the battle of the elections.

You have to recognise that the time has come for all Indian political parties to realise that Indian democracy is becoming mature and poised about  releasing the full potential of giving people, to the last man, his or her fully realisable rights and freedoms and the  realisation of the democracy’s all the powers of citizenship.

Unfortunately, we don’t have the leaders right now and here to give the Indian people what is their due.

We seem to have been caught by our own limitations. Pandit Nehru used to say: “we are all small men and women. With great powers and responsibilities entrusted to us, as leader”. It is the inadequacy of our own limitations as political and social leaders that is holding on   this full realisation of our own aspirations, dreams and what have you.

So, given this historic perspective, from the 2,500 years old Greek democratic beginning to the Roman full flowering of the Republican ideals, the laws and the governing institutions, down to 1789  French Revolution to the 1772 American declaration of Independence to our own times, we ,in India owe to ourselves this citizen freedoms and citizen rights to full realise what is best in ourselves.
So, rulers, please awake and hand over to the citizens what is due to them!