The South vs. the North! Some general observations!

Villages of India (6)Too much of political news is not good for any society. More so, in India where we see some of the curious scenarios.  One is more about party politics and that too after the 2014 elections there is too much distortion of certain issues of society. So many communal flareups! Why should people resort to violence in the name of cow slaughter?

Or, crimes of all sorts, too many to describe here  Delhi tops as the crime capital! May be as the sociologists say  Delhi is near UP, another crime state  of dubious nature?

One doesn’t know. What gives anxiety when we want to write and reflect on such issues, it is the  media freedom. Anyway, it is all agreed by almost all sections of opinion is that the state in the North, UP, Bihar and MP and also Rajasthan and some too make up  the Bimaru states, that are the most backward by all indications of social development. In education, healthcare and why even in terms of poverty, nutrition and girls education, women’s advancement these state are still backward.

Now, as for the states in the  South with which we are a bit more familiar ,may be the two states, namely Andhra and Telangana are the rural ones, we mean predominantly rural ones. We have some experience of travelling through AP and we were shocked  to see how backward AP interiors could be. In particular we have driven through Chitoor district, one the way and also back to Bangalore to Tirupathi, we were shocked and surprised at the state of backwardness.

All the villages in this district are remote, not any new reads and the more you drive in the interior, towards Madanalle, the more you are intrigued but the remoteness of some of the villages. What was common to these villages was the statues of leaders made in bronze (or painted in gold?), we don’t know. But then the poverty  still prevalent adds to the political  advantage of the parties? We don’t know. Once driving through the southern part of the district, from Chitoor to Bangarupalayam we were really dazzed by the remoteness. May be we  would be attacked by some maoists? We shuddered for some time till we really reached the Bangalore highways!

Now, looking at the Telangana state and the politics and the new schemes announced for the farmers it looks the state is really  for some definite change for the better. The new agri reform policies announced by the Chief Minister only warrant for an optimistic opinion. Now, Karnataka. Bangalore had brought a new image for the state as the IT capital, even an international hub for IT outsourcing. There is no doubt the  capital attracts the best talents, more capital and thus a gateway for modernisation in all respects. New housing, new roads, new social infrastructure and also as the centre of some vibrant culture, science and art and literature.

But when you travel outside Bangalore, be it to Mysore or North to Gulbarga and or even to the West Coast , Mangalore and e beyond w you sometimes think time has stopped. Times stand still! Why even on the way to Mysore, you  sometimes see the old village, on the way to Somnathpore, the temple town, on the way we saw some of the old villages, they seem to have stopped changing! What we used to see in the old Tamil Nadu villages some  fifty years ago, the same entrance, the same doors, and windows and there is not much movement of people too in these idylic  and cute little village fronts.

The development in some social indicators, villages without any degree education holders, other indicators of literary, healthcare are abysmally low.

Of course Tamil Nadu and Kerala are f different ball games, so to say! In Kerala you see the most advanced social statistics. From women’s emancipation to women nurses going out all over the West, the Gulf migration had changed the very landscape. In Quatar in the Gulf wherever  we went in the little time the Quatar Airways transported us, we saw all the good coffee shops, we were told one chain was owned by a Gulj Malaya lee. They are all so enterprising and  the money pouring in from  the Gulf into Kerala is unbelievable!

So, Kerala tops in any development chart. So too the Malayalee bureaucrats in Delhi! All the government offices are filled with these enterprising people.

But then  the one blot  is no major industry has come to the state. Rather reverse is the case. All the major heavy industries on the way to Cochin, the FACT, being the large one  are closed. The Communist culture has done much good but some pretty bad habits to  go on strike are a special Kerala contribution to labour welfare.

Now, Tamil Nada. So many contradictions! The state is the most highly urbanised one. The roads are fine and literacy is high. But the state has some notorious character. In terms of corruption it sets a world, record, it seems.

And  violence is also on the rise. It seems the only state where major office bearers of political party are put in jail under the Goondas Act!

Film heroes are now agitating to enter politics in a big way and likely further to make matters worse! Even the spread of education hasn’t led to improvement of standards in politics and reduces corruption in public life. The two former CMs were embroiled in corruption on such an unprecedented large scale. This sets TN apart from other states. Either in the South or in the North.

Films seem to dominate the imagination of the people.TV news channels run by rival political parties further likely to lead to deterioration of public taste and also public morality. On the whole, the states in the South are developing faster towards modernity while the states in the North, including West Bengal are lying in some medieval age.

Only healthy political culture can wake the Indian state and society. God bless us! The population growth, the new census towns and the number of villages that are getting the status of new census towns must all contribute to up gradation of our villages.Now,electriciy to the villages is another goal. Plus the new highways must all contribute to  the modernity of Indian society and polity.

Lessons learnt and unlearnt!
A new political horizon seems opening in India at the moment.
It is the outcome of the election verdict and the immediate developments.!
The Karnataka Assembly election results surprised everyone  concerned.

collage 2_6There are many stake-holders, so to say. Of course it is another matter that stake -holders also had their own separate agendas! Who won and who lost, the strategies and their own faces? There will be long drawn out debates in the days and months, why even to the last minutes of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections! That is the importance and the impact of this one assembly elections!

The  hung Assembly led to some irrational political action. The Governor called the single largest party, while the combined Congress and JD(S) parties commanded a majority. The Governor followed precedents but there were many contradictions. What  the Centre did in states like Goa, Manipur this time didn’t do in Karnataka.

So there was a hue and cry and this led to the Congress approaching the Supreme Court and through an all-night hearing, this in itself was somewhat unusual and the apex  court gave a verdict that stunned the ruling combine at the Centre.

The Governor’s  generous  time of 15 long days was cut short by the apex court and  reduced to just 24 hours! Thus the Supreme Court had set a new precedent, one hope that would now become a standard in the much abused horse trading that have unfortunately come a standard practice till now. So, in a way this verdict has more than one implication.

First, the Governors’ rather arbitrary exercise in the name of so many arguments would now become a thing of the past and might set a new restraint in the exercise of Constitutional powers by high Constitutional authorities.

Why, the coming into existence of the Congress-JD(S) government, whatever be the nature and duration of the government has now led to ask some  serious questions for the coming 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Unfortunately, the Prime Minister and his party president  are now open to criticism for the many other unsavoury speeches and comments and controversies during the one most keenly contested state elections. The Karnataka election was perhaps the last one before the next general election in 2019 and the one that had upset the calculations of the BJP regime in Delhi.

Also the way the  Governor’s planned or natural selection of a Chief Minister went the way it did the Opposition parties for the first time, it seems, have got a rare opportunity to come together in their ambitious  attempt to form a federal front to take on the much-stronger and also in a way much-feared strength of the BJP party.

How would the Opposition parties and their leaders  conduct themselves from now onwards is the one subject on which the political debate might turn on. How, also, the critical question, whether Rahul Gandhi, as the formal president of the Congress party could lead the debate or some other regional leaders like Mamata Banerjee, K.Chandrashekar Rao (KCR), Mayawati and Akilesh Yadav, Sharad Pawar and  some dark horse even!

Politics is both a power struggle  as well as a principle-based belief system. In India politics still now and more so right now is seen as a power-grab and any means is justified.

The time has come, the Karnataka verdict gives us a warning that politics has to be pursued with some restraint, and Constitution has to be scrupulously followed.

Right now, how far we are  from the observation of Constitutionals propriety? This has to be  examined by the incumbent government? There are very clear indications for anxiety.

Already some uncomfortable words and observations had been made both by the ruling party and also the Opposition. The very words and observations and also the way the government has conducted in the Karnataka affairs give room for much anxiety. The famous political philosopher, Thomas  Hobbes(1588-1679) had called political power and man’s instinct is that political power struggle is “solitary, poor, nasty and shorter”.

Politicians, please read these words carefully. Don’t rush and turn the established principles, know the Greek and Roman traditions, the rule of law etc.

You can’t violate  the time-honoured traditions and history. Julius Caesar violated  the code of Command and crossed the Rubican and the rest is history.

Now, coming to the current realities on the ground,  the whole exercise in government formation to selecting the ministers and their portfolios are all small matters as far as the impact on the whole country is concerned.

As one expert, Sanjay Kumar, director of Centre for  the study of developing societies (CSDS)  the next big  thing is all about how this state election  would upon the leadership of Rahul Gandhi and also the role of the Congress party.

Another impact, though the expert didn’t talk much about it is the likely shape of the federal front. This is the most challenging task of all two have the genius for leadership and a sort of vision and even a coherent ideology that would bind  the Opposition parties.

In India, unfortunately, according to my thinking and study of issues there is no thought whatever at the top leadership levels across all the major parties as to the role of Opposition in a democracy like ours. We are not China or Russia, we are a sort of Western democracies for all of which the role of Opposition is well defined and well-understood.

Here individual ambitions and egos seem to be  the  only driven forces. Parliamentary democracy is not well-understood here. After Pandit Nehru no big leader seems to have spoken about it. Here, some points only.

Who would be the next Prime Minister if the Opposition wins?
Rahul Gandhi said he would be if his party wins. There are not takers for this claim right now. Given the new dimensions of the new political landscape it could be many others too with much more talents and superior wisdom of experience and acceptance.
Any other leader, be it Sharad Pawar or Chandra Babe Naidu, why, even Mamata Banerjee or K.Chandrashekar Rao, Mayawati are acceptable if the current scenario is taken into account.
So, individual ambitions and egos have to be given a goby and every player has to restrain his or her ambitions and see first that a federal front really emerges as a coherent goal.

Also, an ideology and vision document is also crucial.

You can’t have your pet projects, separate state or regional autonomy etc. in such a new challenging situation. Of course, the front has to be anti-Hindutva, religious polarisation has to be ruled out, or new caste equations strengthened. To put it short, we have to subscribe to a liberal democracy, secularism and a sort of autonomy for regional parties and at the same time a wholesome Indian unity based on tolerance, social harmony and an equal and egalitarian society and polity.

Now, it is time for the aspirants to come out with their own positive contributions.

As for the Congress party which I know somewhat well from the Delhi angle, Rahul and Sonia Gandhi have to change their ways. They must be accessible and also more modesty, how to handle the new set of players on the national front would their biggest challenge.

Telangana Chief Minister’s revolutionary farm reforms!
Let us congratulate the hon’ble Chief Minister!

Agriculture is never easy. It is a tough field. It requires tonnes of nerves and unlimited will power. For politicians lately, agriculture has become a plaything. How many Chief Ministers, the ambitious and the cunning ones, specially have promised instant farm loan write offs!

Yet, how long the Indian farmers are in distress?
Who dares to ask and who is ready for an honest answer.

Chandrashekhar RaoAgriculture at the national level is an election stunt. At the grassroots, it is a bi bundle of outdated laws, landownership laws to land leasing laws are steeped in antiquity! Anyone who lives in the villages knows well it is a hell out there!

That is one reason we believe why the elder politicians, past the 80s and beyond are all so choosy to live in Delhi and do “politics” in the cool Lutyen bungalows!

Who among the rich and well-off choose to retire to their states and that too to their villages?

The one big leader we remember is the late N.Sanjeeva Reddy whom we travelled all the way from Bangalore to meet and he chose to live in his ancestral house in the distant Ananthapur. Even he had to shift to Bangalore in his last days for various reasons. Now, medicare and other needs drive people to urban centres and as for politicians the money factor has to be taken into account. The point here is that in the face of so much neglect of our agriculture, you see there is still, after four years of the Modi government and much of the modernisation of the e-market in the farm goods mandis, the latest heart-rending news is the farmer in Madhya Pradesh in Vidisha district had to die, horror of horrors, in the scorching sun in which he stood in a queue for long   for four days!

And yet he could get his crop to be weighed and sold! What use the e-market; one is tempted to ask the government. So, here is some green news. The TV channels show the green Telangana, full of cheering faces, the farmer ploughing his land, the rice fields full of latest ripe crops, the farmers’ wives smiling and as they attend to the haystock and every moment is a joy to watch a such promising land reform package, the Telangana government has announced. First the land records updating. Oh, this is almost an impossible task, given the age-old laws, the age old revenue department and the corruption that grips this one of the oldest government departments. How many reforms had come about in this sector and yet, you please take this as a test and ask any ordinary farmer!

How to get your basic land record? Then you will understand the age in which our hapless farmers are living. Life for an average Indian farmer is hell. Either the farmer is a debtor or a litigant! Or, both! How the rest of the society thriving on this hopeless mass of poor farmers.

So, the Telangana government has announced the Rythu Bandhu scheme under which land records would be cleaned, creating satisfied farmers. The budget allocation is Rs. 12,000 crores. 93 % of the farmers would be turned into litigation free! Oh, the hon’ble Chief Minister! If you can do only this and not any other programmes, the country would salute you! We salute you just for this one step of reform of the land records. 1.43 crores acres would be covered, says a government advertisement in all some 58 lakh farmers would benefit, and says the government.

Pattadar Passbook cum Title Deed with 17 security features and the first Cheque to be distributed to 58 lakh farmers.  From 10th may 2018!

This really a herculean programme of updating and purifying the revenue records in just about hundred days. The programme has already deployed 1,523 teams in 10,823 villages in 568 mandals of 30 districts in Telangana (excluding Hyderabad), verifying a mammoth total of 2,38,551 acres of land! Only those who do  actual farming, one who lives in the villages know the hardships suffered by the farmers!

The government proclaims that this  is a novel initiative  by a visionary government, the first time in the history  of India! Yes, the Telangana government has attempted this bold Rythu Bandhu reform. We know the many hurdles in the way of implementation. But why not?

Come what may! We wish the hon’ble Chief Minister to taking up such a revolutionary step! May the Telangana government deserves all praise and let other states, their chief ministers  draw inspiration from what the hon’ble Chandrasekhar Rao  has  done for Indian farmers’ welfare!

Public perceptions and the public opinion!

The Prime Minister completes four years in office. The Prime Minister’s office (the PMO) is perhaps

narendra-modithe most powerful political office under our Constitution. Our laws are also very different from those of the US government and the US Constitutional practices. See there the role of the law officers. Can we have such powerful law officers? We can’t. Also, only now we have a very different sort of political change. After almost 70 long years we have elected an Opposition party into a ruling party. So, too the very ideology of the BJP party if very radical in the sense it has no history before some thirty or forty years ago.

Our very ideological thinking for long was derived from the British Constitutional history and the two party system of Britain. Also, we have the judicial system. Also, the very Constitutional principles and practices.

It is unfortunate that in the last twenty or more days of our last Parliament session  we have completely lost our Constitutional balance or went off track and we find, to the surprise and shock of the enlightened sections of public opinion  that our elected representatives failed the people. This is for the first time, it seems. We don’t know for sure what the future holds for us.

The public perception is that our MLAS and MPs, our elected representatives in general seem to become a section of selfish men and women, much like perhaps the rest of the society, one that is cringing for more salaries and no intent to work dedicated manner  to make people realise they are  for the  service of the people. None of the Parliamentary questions were answered, the House was disrupted continuously, and we all know who the disruptors are and who are the triggers of such disruptions to hold the House to ransom.

Of course, there are many more serious issues, many issues can’t be discussed freely for the simple reason the atmosphere in country is no conducive for freer debate.

The media is fearful of the authority. The judiciary is in some distress as people see from a distance.

Is this a very positive situation? We don’t know for sure.
What the future holds for the country, for our democracy and for much of the high institutions that are all seem to be in some confusion.

Of course, the ruling party has much role to play in the days to come.

So too the top leaders of the ruling party. No less is the responsibility of the Opposition party and parties.
The most seniors among the Opposition parties have a special role.

The state level leaders also have much responsibility.
The country looks to such veterans like Chandrababu Naidu, Deve Gowda and others to play some pro-active and pro-democracy role.
Democracy can easily derail and we might be caught in some unpredictable course.

There are many warnings from the past.
There are some distressing histories.

A.J.P.Taylor, the famous Oxford historian, an authority on the two world wars had shown how even such extremes like Hitler’s rise and also Lenin’s capture of power took place under extremely well-established democratic governments! This is not the place for further elaboration on the historic situations.

Surely, our current leaders, on both sides of the political spectrum, we say with a heavy heart and a heavy sense of personal responsibility, are playing with fire and with, if we can say so, a sense of not fully understanding the grave issues.

In politics, more so than in any other sphere, it is very risky to predict the future. So, we would urge all concerned to realise what is at stake now.

There is a sense of widespread disappointment and pessimism of sorts.

We urge everyone to show restrain in speech and acts.

So, the problems of farmers and villages  continue to suffer

We are glad to see the Prime Minister’s visit to the Left-Wing  Extremists-affected Chhattisgarh  districts is very inspiring and timely. Why not the much talked about technology-enabled schemes, the rural BPO programmes take off in such remote villages?

Very fine. We congratulate the PM and ask for such progressive programmes reach out to other states and remote villages. The Bastar Internet scheme under which a 40,000-km network of fibre optic cables would be spread across seven districts of the tribal region.

EMS Namboodiripad

EMS Namboodiripad

Likewise, we also want the agri/rural sector needs some radical changes and reforms in many areas of legislative changes.
In this issue itself we have featured the latest legislative programme, a model land leasing programme prepared by the Government’s NITI AAYOG is featured. This is for the wider public understanding of the issue that lies at the very heart of the current agriculture distress and the tragedy of large scale farmers’ suicides and the many related issues.

Land ownership issue is very old and persisting.  The various land reforms legislations in different states are also featured and we will carry the same in the coming issues.

The publishers of this magazine live at the interstate border of TN and Kerala and in these states the land legislations saw extreme swings, under the Communist regime of EMS Namboodiripad and also in TN under the Dravidian extremisms.

They net result, as on today in both these states is that agriculture sector is one of extreme poverty and zero investment.
Everyone knows, more so the current politicians too that that to own and old on to agriculture landed property is a curse!

The average Indian farmer, often the marginal and small category, is a debtor or a litigant or both!

No wise person would invest in agriculture and the present land holdings are fast turned into real estate and the result is  more smaller parcels of land you can see everywhere on the outskirts of the towns. This true in Karnataka too. This must be the same in Noida and the outskirts too!

So, when the Prime Minister says he would double the frames incomes it sound so hallow and unconvincing for all who know the subject.

Like all slogans and catch phrases, this too sounds like Indira Gandhi’s ‘quite poverty’ slogan!

This will never be possible unless we realise that the current very regressive land tenancy and ceiling legislations are e relaxed as set out in the government’s own NITI Aayog proposals.
But then the question is who, whose government would do this sort of radical and progressive legislation?

This is progressive legislation and we all must realise this.
The agriculture media that is non-existent today must be encouraged by the government and the corporate sector so that more publicity and awareness is created.

We have persisted in this mission for very long. A correspondent from Agri writes that while the agricultural publications are all suffering from financial troubles how we at the Vadamalai Media survive! A good question and we are thankful for such wider awareness as to how difficult it is for good news or good word to spread than fake news and what has you. Fake news might suit the Trump regime in the USA. Not here! This is our view.

We hope radical legislative changes are made in our existing laws, some of which are old and British colonial mindset must also change.

Let us relax our land legislations, let new generation of youngsters, young entrepreneurs come forward to invest, work and live in the rural environment so that much of the priority development goals like  sustainable growth and development, inspirational district programmes, the PM is speaking about become a reality sooner than later!

New technologies, new mindsets and new and open-minded programmes only can save rural India and our much distress farmers. Jai Hind!