Only implementation is questioned!
Insurance regulator, IRDAI, asks the Insurance Companies to honour farmers ‘crop insurance claims!

High Court petitioned for enquiry over crop insurance schemes! The Karnataka High Court ordered issue of notices to the Union and State governments on a Public interest Litigation petition seeking directions for the disbursal of crop insurance to the farmers who suffered loss due to drought and to ensure effective implementation of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bhima Yojan (PMFBY) by strictly adhering to
mandated guidelines. The Division Bench comprising acting Chief Justice L.Narayanaswamy and Justice P.S.Dinesh Kumar passed the order on the petition filed by Akhanda Karnataka Raitha Sanga based in Shapur of Yadgir District.

The petitioner, obviously, representing many farmers and taking time and energy with not a little amount of money and travel etc must be having certain drive to fight for a public cause. Knowing how the judiciary is already burdened by a heavy backlog has also taken time and paying attention had many loopholes in the PMFBY! It is not a secret that the scheme, a new one and we have to support the government and also at the same time we have to look at these farmer schemes not in a routine way but with certain mental agony, knowing well how bureaucracy operates in the country with so many farmer suicides in Maharashtra where the bureaucracy tried to avoid payment of compensation on some technical ground, the crop insurance schemes are not making big positive news in any big manner.

The petitioner has claimed (The Hindu, March 22, 2019) the PMFBY has been implemented in an improper manner! The farmers in the state have been deprived of what is due to them. Farmers were deprived of their premium as well as the crop insurance loss compensation. The farmers vulnerability, claims the petition before the High Court, has been only exacerbrated. The petitioner further said failure to follow the full mandate and procedure of the scheme has resulted in denial of crop loss compensation.

Media reports also point out the short-comings of the scheme, the petitioner has asked the authorities to investigate the total amount being paid to private insurance companies and also why the companies, numbering some 18 companies for denials of funds due for the farmers for their legitimate claims. The petition has asked for constituting a committee representing the Central and the State governments and go into the details of the disbursal and the withholding of the premium rates and the premiums so-collected, the fixation of threshold yields, the crop cutting experimented and the settlement of claims so far done etc. We are not sure whether this petition has prompted the insurance regulator (IRDAI).Let us all remember how the bureaucracy works in India.

Given this very discouraging big picture and also knowing how the many rural development focused agencies, from Nabard to other newly constituted agencies, the newly promoted Indian AGRICULTURAL insurance Corporation is not yet taken off, do you know? The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bheema Yojana, the Restructured Weather-Based Crop Insurance Scheme (RWBCIS, cover a higher number of farmers. But large scale coverage has also resulted in higher claims from the sector (Times of India of the same date). The regulator IDARI has instructed insurance companies to meet with various stake holders and ensure there is adequate representation from all sides before rejecting claims. It is the election season, so it is in everyone interest if the government’s schemes are seen as succeeding!’So, the wider public can take it that the government’s schemes are having an election-eve urgency and publicity value!

Now, about the government crop insurance schemes spread and success. For the kharif 2016,rabi 2016-17 and kharif 2017 seasons, the total premiums collected by 18 insurance companies was Rs.42,114 crore, while Rs.32,912 crores has been paid out as claims. IRDAI’s 2017-18 that 4.7 crore farmers paid Rs.25,292 as cumulative premium. While the claims were Rs.26,051 crores. For the insurance industry it is unhealthy if the amount of claims is higher than the premium they collect. Despite a fairly decent harvest this fiscal, insurers continue to face high claims, says the insurance industry.

IRDAI instructed(on Wednesday) insurance companies ensure proper representation in stake holder meetings relating to crop insurance with deputation of senior level officers with adequate powers to decide major issues, if any. IRDAI also instructed the insurance companies how to conduct the meetings and, for each allocated clusters, in a collective manner for each major crops, not on an individual’s farm, to farm basis, also to put in charge senior level official to run the disbursal of claim amounts without any hitch. Also upload data on the National Crop Insurance Portal with the help of partner banks.
In case of an individual loss claims the companies should honour the request. In case of any rejection the same should be communicated to the individual in vernacular language, said the IRDAI.

What are our thoughts?

Freedom of the press and the freedom of the citizens and the future of Indian democracy!

These are all the basic issues of how Indian democracy functions in the country. The General Election, 2019 has thrown up many unprecedented other issues that have caused many ripples verging on the very frontiers of the limits of the Indian Constitution.

Elections this time has become desperate for the obvious reason that for the first time a party other than the Congress had succeeded in 2014 to upturn the apple cart, so to say by winning an absolute majority and this had changed the very perspectives of the tradition one-part dominated Indian democracy. But then times change. And many politicians of the old school, were upset and there is also the desperations on the BJP for retaining power.

So, this election sees fierce competition and the outcomes are the flow of funds into the system.Crores have been seized and the funds outside the EC ambit are many time more. So, there is demand for cash for all the voters. The has changed the whole game of playing fair in the electoral process. There are various private NGOs who are coming out with the many fault lines.

There are more crorepathis, more criminals and more dynasts in the grabbing process. The causalty is the fall in all norms of democratic standards. Some of the election rhetoric, of course, many caused in the heat of the platform frenzy with the mass of audience cheering wildly at the prospects of their favourite candidates promising victory have led to the orators to utter words and promises and even threatening the opponents, why even perceived enemies at the gate so to say, keeping our neighbour country in mind are all creating a new type of fear and uncertainty.

The Prime Minister himself had uttered words and phrases that amount to much uncertainty. To talk of nuclear weapons at such a time is clearly unprecedented. Also, the world over the terror attacks are happening almost uninterrupted, the UN seems to be almost defucnt, we are sorry to note and the USA in its own ways functioning as a sole authority to ensure peace. Is this the right time to talk of other lesser issues? Where is a sense of some security in the international sphere?

The West is now very divided. The UK is in its own way caught up with Brexit. The European Union seems unconcerned about issues outside its Union. The Middle East in great deal of turmoil. The civil wars have not abated. There is a long list of terrorist attacks in some of the Middle East and African countries. There is also a food crisis looming in some of these hot spots. The USA as the biggest power is not in a good position to play the leader of the world but it is also causing unilateral role in blocking for instance, Iranian oil to countries including India. As for China, with all its admirable achievements in the economic development sphere, its political arena is an anathema to liberal parts of the world. People have to live in a sense of peace and open society.

Open Society? Ah, how many in India today might have read of Karl Poppar’s “Open Society and Its Enemies”. Also, we haven’t heard of one word about liberalism!

Why, the election rhetoric of both Mr.Modi and Rahul Gandhi have been completely new and the standard of exchanges, to borrow a word from an editorial, “nasty”. What is the history of the world? It is a process of evolution from monarchy, to imperialism of all sorts towards Republic (Rome and Democracy (Athens).

Are there not lessons for all the people of the world to learn some wisdom and restraint from wars and war threats?

How can one leader threaten his own people and people in the other countries with a nuclear threat?

Now, the world is more fragile and more unsettled and more dangerous. Also, inside India, our mentality seems to have degenerated faster into one of name calling by each one of the politicians.

The very many institutions, Parliament, Judiciary and bureaucracy, why, the media, the Election Commission and the various other agencies like Income Tax and CBI and Ed are unusually active. Even the CJI, the top court is not spared. There are various undercurrents. What has so far appeared in the press gives cause for dismay.

It requires enormous wisdom of the Indian people, the various classes, upper, middle and lower classes irrespective of their educational and social distinctions to rise up as one man and vote out the undesirables, vote in the upright and morally strong leaders.

To save democracy and sustain it is our bounden duty.

Old institutions should go! New collaborations must come in. Elections over and we can sit easy on the farm front?

Agriculture is never a high priority in India given the sort of priority politicians and media give to this topic.

Neither the public are too much bothered about what is happening in agriculture inside India and also in other parts of the world. There are severe food crisis in at least some 10 countries around the world, do you know? In the war-torn Sudan, Ethiopia and countries around the Congo and even Nigeria there are food shortages and also in Afghanistan.

The FAO and the World Food Programme, the two principal agencies have out reports and there is concern in some other countries too. Of course, there is much poverty and malnutrition and we have some of the most poignant pictures and people, the migrants on the Mexico US border and the people’s lives over a vast stretch of farms across the world are caught in perennial drought and a loss-making agricultural scenario.

There are also many on-going high profile trade disputes between China and the USA and the many promises and high sounding words of assurance and also the most vociferous counter voices from the powerful American farm lobbies. For each set of commodities, from soybean to pork, from cherries to apples to other fruits there are powerful lobbies and for all of them President Trump seems not a reassuring voice. Trump talks big built achieve little, grumbles the lobbyists who all talk in such silence and don’t want to be quoted!
Why this fear we don’t know. May be China’s farm lobby is too much and very unnerving to the US negotiators. Indian farm exports too come in for much criticism though Trump seems to be soft towards the country. We are seeking tariff concessions to such commodities like Aluminium and steel. The irony is that while inside India we don’t talk much about agriculture, we are also one of the large agricultural economies where the writings, in the media and on the part of so called experts is one of trailing the ‘official’ statistics and also avoiding any critical remarks for fear of the government! See the narration of the many reforms in the agri sector. We have a long list of reforms introduced by the Modi government. We can make a short list of them. One, the much talked out is the National Agricultural Market, eNam. This is of course a great step towards regulating the long-suffered price fluctuations in the markets spread all over the country with a great deal of regional variations and specific peculiarities.

May be, this reform would contribute to the real time sales, the deployment of technology to monitor the markets. The single electronic portal can do wonders if only we implement the proposals. Let us hope so and welcome this revolutionary feature of the agri market reforms. So far, we learn that 585 mandis across 16 states and 2 Union Territories are registered on the portal. The total volume of trade this year up to February 28, 2019 was 2.2 lakh million tonnes with a value of Rs.604.72 crores. This move was to cover the whole country but as we learn that all mistakes haven’t been registered or have amended the APMC Acts to be able to join eNAM. It is also inaccessible to small and marginal farmers who make up 86 per cent of the India’s farming population. There is still not any mechanism to assess the working of the eNAM machinery.

Two, soil health Cards. So far there are a few criticisms about the very effectives but the media, the mainstream media and the TV channels don’t care to do any assessment of the ground level realities. We have enough experience in a region like Vidharba where you have all the signs and ills of how the drought plays havoc with the average lives of the small farmers.

Also, we have to shed the urban media mindset that of quoting the incumbent bureaucrats sitting in the comforts of the Krishi Bhavan who are only too happy to give a rosy picture of things in Indian agriculture!

Three: The Pradhan Mantri Krishi Suinchayee Yojana. Only the budget is announced, Rs.50,000 for five years. How to assess such shaky schemes. We have only to wait! Four minimum supports price. Gramin Agricultural Market, GrAM.

Only the name is new. Otherwise we, as a media engaged in agriculture and village economy choose to remain sceptic and wait for results to speak. There are many serious issues that are high priority for the Indian farmers. In Vidharba for example, farmers have no alternative to cotton that becomes a killer crop often, the largest number of farmers’ suicides take place in the cotton crop region, prices are so fluctuating that continues for very long. Soyabeans too have become a risky crop.

So, the researchers, the agri scientists and also the agri universities like the Punjab Rao Agri University at Akola must come out with alternative crops for the drought region-specific needs. There seems to be nothing coming out of the Indian agri universities, more new commercial – scale new agri colleges are springing up USA for self-financing money making ventures. This the government must ban! Why, even long-distance agri degree awarding colleges are also coming up.

These are all new malpractices to vitiate purposeful education and research. In fact, some sort of sandwich type of course with field work and theory must be a new initiative.

We must be seen with bureaucrats and ministers often talking to farmers lobbies and giving the farmers community a sense of belonging to the farmer’s societies.

Unfortunately, not much that is hopeful and productive seem to be happening in the agri sector.

We also have to wind up old institutions that are for instance there in good number in Hyderabad and also in other states. They must all be wound up. New institutions, new collaborations with agri universities in Israel and Netherlands could revolutionise farming practise in India.

Old institutions should go! New collaborations must come in.
Elections over and we can sit easy on the farm front?

Agriculture is never a high priority in India given the sort of priority politicians and media give to this topic.

Neither the public are too much bothered about what is happening in agriculture inside India and also in other parts of the world. There are severe food crisis in at least some 10 countries around the world, do you know? In the war-torn Sudan, Ethiopia and countries around the Congo and even Nigeria there are food shortages and also in Afghanistan.

The FAO and the World Food Programme, the two principal agencies have out reports and there is concern in some other countries too. Of course, there is much poverty and malnutrition and we have some of the most poignant pictures and people, the migrants on the Mexico US border and the people’s lives over a vast stretch of farms across the world are caught in perennial drought and a loss-making agricultural scenario.

There are also many on-going high profile trade disputes between China and the USA and the many promises and high sounding words of assurance and also the most vociferous counter voices from the powerful American farm lobbies. For each set of commodities, from soybean to pork, from cherries to apples to other fruits there are powerful lobbies and for all of them President Trump seems not a reassuring voice. Trump talks big built achieve little, grumbles the lobbyists who all talk in such silence and don’t want to be quoted!

Why this fear we don’t know. May be China’s farm lobby is too much and very unnerving to the US negotiators. Indian farm exports too come in for much criticism though Trump seems to be soft towards the country.

We are seeking tariff concessions to such commodities like Aluminium and steel. The irony is that while inside India we don’t talk much about agriculture, we are also one of the large agricultural economies where the writings, in the media and on the part of so called experts is one of trailing the ‘official’ statistics and also avoiding any critical remarks for fear of the government!

See the narration of the many reforms in the agri sector. We have a long list of reforms introduced by the Modi government. We can make a short list of them. One, the much talked out is the National Agricultural Market, eNam. This is of course a great step towards regulating the long-suffered price fluctuations in the markets spread all over the country with a great deal of regional variations and specific peculiarities.

May be, this reform would contribute to the real time sales, the deployment of technology to monitor the markets. The single electronic portal can do wonders if only we implement the proposals.

Let us hope so and welcome this revolutionary feature of the agri market reforms. So far, we learn that 585 mandis across 16 states and 2 Union Territories are registered on the portal. The total volume of trade this year up to February 28, 2019 was 2.2 lakh million tonnes with a value of Rs.604.72 crores. This move was to cover the whole country but as we learn that all mistakes haven’t been registered or have amended the APMC Acts to be able to join eNAM. It is also inaccessible to small and marginal farmers who make up 86 per cent of the India’s farming population. There is still not any mechanism to assess the working of the eNAM machinery.

Two, soil health Cards. So far there are a few criticisms about the very effective but the media, the mainstream media and the TV channels don’t care to do any assessment of the ground level realities. We have enough experience in a region like Vidharba where you have all the signs and ills of how the drought plays havoc with the average lives of the small farmers.

Also, we have to shed the urban media mindset that of quoting the incumbent bureaucrats sitting in the comforts of the Krishi Bhavan who are only too happy to give a rosy picture of things in Indian agriculture!

Three: The Pradhan Mantri Krishi Suinchayee Yojana. Only the budget is announced, Rs.50,000 for five years. How to assess such shaky schemes. We have only to wait! Four minimum supports price. Gramin Agricultural Market, GrAM.

Only the name is new. Otherwise we, as a media engaged in agriculture and village economy choose to remain sceptic and wait for results to speak. There are many serious issues that are high priority for the Indian farmers. In Vidharba for example, farmers have no alternative to cotton that becomes a killer crop often, the largest number of farmers’ suicides take place in the cotton crop region, prices are so fluctuating that continues for very long. Soyabeans too have become a risky crop.

So, the researchers, the agri scientists and also the agri universities like the Punjab Rao Agri University at Akola must come out with alternative cops for the drought region-specific needs.

There seems to be nothing coming out of the Indian agri universities, more new commercial – scale new agri colleges are springing up USA for self-financing money making ventures. This the government must ban! Why, even long-distance agri degree awarding colleges are also coming up.

These are all new malpractices to vitiate purposeful education and research. In fact, some sort of sandwich type of course with field work and theory must be a new initiative.

We must be seen with bureaucrats and ministers often talking to farmers lobbies and giving the farmers community a sense of belonging to the farmer’s societies.

Unfortunately, not much that is hopeful and productive seem to be happening in the agri sector.

We also have to wind up old institutions that are for instance there in good number in Hyderabad and also in other states. They must all be wound up. New institutions, new collaborations with agri universities in Israel and Netherlands could revolutionise farming practise in India.


What are the progresses and achievements?

The years 2014 to 2019 have been a radical time when the BJP party swept through the Indian political landscape as a tsunami and changed everything in the sense that for the first time since Independence an entirely new political party other than the Congress won elections and got an absolute majority.

The new government came with an entirely new set of promises. In education it tried to change for a new ideology. The Hindutva ideology wanted a new vision of India. Fair enough. But it was not in tune with the modern times. It called for rewriting of Indian history. What came out of its grand promise? Yes, after all it was a grand promise indeed. Even under the Congress regime, under the leadership of K.M.Munshi, under the Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan auspices, a similar project was launched and we got a series of volumes that are rated even now, in my opinion, high in the scholarly circles.

Rewriting history is not a new thing or a negative thing either. Many countries have done that sort of job. We, the founders of this journal also tried to obtain some such books in the early 1960s, in the school founded with a novel name at that time (when the new-fangled International schools were unheard of) we at our own International School in a remote village in South India, obtained school text books published by the then UNESCO organisation that was faced with such problems in some of the new countries in the Middle East, having new borders and new ethnic people, borders and even in languages and geographies and more so in the then Palestinian-Israel disputes and (incidentally, when India was very much active in its Non-Aligned Movement under Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and V.K.Krishna Menon period) and we were even then excited by such revolutionary new approaches in using text books).

Today, the very societies are changed and so too the very pursuit of education. So much better for such positive and radical changes and the aspirational generation too is looking for a different education pursuits and also the aspirations for a highly mobile society, when the new generation youngsters too see a bright future when they migrate or so they think and imagine a new globalisation world.

Anyway, now with the BJP is well positioned, this we write just as the election results are coming in and even otherwise, when we can sit back and take stock of the new changes in our education ideas and policies, what comes to our minds? As for the rewriting of history is concerned, nothing concrete has come to our attention so far. The challenge of rewriting history is one thing. The other thing is what really happened under the previous education ministers? We all know what was the sort of controversies were under the minister Smriti Irani. The less said the better, right?

Under her successor too, it is our view that nothing much had happened to take note of any major policy changes. The MoS Satyapal Singh made some hilarious observations about the Darwin theory of evolution! Also, another controversial move was to accord status of eminent institute for the Reliance Group sponsored Jio University! This too, may be along with other institutes didn’t take? Or, did these institutes take off ? We are not sure. Much more disgusting is the fact that the Reliance offer came with some eminent retired bureaucrats coming together to plead for the particular company. Of course, there is no point in taking a negative view of the other many initiatives like the framing of Education Policies.

You see any Tom, Dick and Harry can’t draw up such highly important and why even sensitive issues like drawing up educational and cultural policies. These jobs are the domain of the experts. We should at least know that when we realise our limitations only we might desist from such foolish steps. So, there has not yet been any fully comprehensive new education policy with the BJP government.

Let us hope the new government might take a very serious view of where we really failed. It is better to realise where we slipped and then only we can learn. Of course there have been some other good moves on the part of the HRD ministry. What stands out is the great quantitative expansion of the school numbers, the students population, the number of schools and also the new number of universities, Central Universities in particular.

Universities have suffered gravely. In place have come some of the most suspect replacements, the self-financing universities. This development, we are duty-bound to warn the new government would only drag the Indian university education to a further new low! Please, we plead, invite the best brains, from within the country or
from abroad to come and advise Indian higher education. There are such people.
We ourselves could suggest names to the government. What we need is really selfless goodness of the Indian people. Let us serve the opportunity without further loss of time. Promise of raising the budget allocation for education have not
succeeded. The reasons are complex. But we must attend to the aspiring generation urgently. Sincerely, with an open mind. Amen!