You see that Chhattisgarh state along with four others is in the midst of an important Assembly elections and the outcome would decide the fate of the parties in the crucial 2019 Lok Sabha general elections. The political parties, in particular, the BJP and the Congress, are doing everything, from  rhetoric to below the belly attacks  against each other and as for the other parties, the allies and the others too are caught in cross fires, considering the fast changing alliances, defections and bargaining’s and much more.

North-East-Elections-2018-35B-770x433Where does this bizarre scenario leaves the voters, more so the rural voters, mostly farmers and other artisan classes in most of these rural pockets of India. Agriculture in India at present is in deep crisis and no one seems to have any clear vision or policy deliberations.

At the end of the day, Mr.Rahul Gandhi too with all his high decibel campaigns across the states seems to have no other alternative except to promise farm loan waivers.

Is farm loan waiver really possible on such large scale? Even in Karnataka where the Congress and the JD (U) formed alliance and the government Mr.Kumarasamy, the Chief Minister is struggling to fulfil his promises to waive the farm loans.

The very few farmers who were promises the farm loan waiver certificates are yet to receive them and once they receive them we are not sure where these happy or hapless souls would leave them as for their next crop season.

Surely, the farmers who get such farm loan waivers won’t get invited by the banks to have one more chance to borrow, even if the borrowing is for genuine farming needs.

Go everywhere in rural India, into the rural interiors and talk to a rural bank branch manager whether his  bank would lend to farming, you are very likely  to have an evasive answer.

Even if any bank lends it is very likely to get  the property document of the farmers and very likely that option too would be most like cut for it is very likely that the farmers might have already pledged the documents and they would be over-lend and heavily in debt, not to one bank, many branches in  the neighbourhood.

To cut the story short, it is really a tough task to revive agricultural activity based on the rains or on the market conditions for farming.

Indian agriculture has to undergo a very radical and controversial change from abolishing the many land legislations, the NITI organisation, the government planning unit has already published its version of a model tenancy land legislation to replace the many other similar but anti-land-owning farmers letting out their lands for tenancy farming.

Of course, everyone in the field knows well why politicians hesitate to talk about this side of the story.

We have created an environment of humbug that is against farming on market conditions. So, there is an accumulated heavy debt in rural households and an average Indian farmer is basically debtor, a litigant or a court bird. The heavy accumulation of land related court cases in the various court of India is one of the large components of the pending cases in the courts.

Once you get into litigation then you are almost finished, no hope of getting any relief, let alone any compensation for the first stake of letting out your precious landed property.

That is why you see no new investments in the farming sector. We are of course referring to the small and medium sized farms.
The rich, as they are already have had their many escape routes and the rich can afford to crush and bend to their will any troubles in owning rural landed property.

From point onwards starts your other problems. So, the rural distress is basically an outcome of the accumulated past sins and lack of any action on the part of almost all the state government.

And now, the Naxalite threats to work towards their own version of utopia. Naxalites are a disparate group. There are the tribal regions in which only the current threat has taken all shapes of insurgency. We now read that the current leadership of the various Naxal groups are divided among different leaders, some strong and the others not so strong but strong in conviction and determination to hand on.

The first phase of the first 18 constituencies in the Maoist-dominated areas of Chhattisgarh triggered a series of improvised explosive devices and l killing one Sub-Inspector and injuring others and thus they, the Maoists, have demonstrated they are still a force to reckon
with. However, given the latest reports that the poor tribeswomen and the aged had come out in the open and voted and the polling is over even 70% shows that the Maoists can’t fight the State in the long run. What is likely is that in the short-run   the Naxalite groups have some fire power but it is likely to become weaker and weaker in the future.

Naxalism as everyone knows is an anarchic group. We have had the past history of anarchism in Europe and it is an ideology that wants the State to wither away!

Possible? Not at all. But what should worry the public is the urban Naxals! These people, the ones under house arrest  have opened a Pandora’s Box! It is anybody’s guess where these so-called urban Naxals will lead us to or when they would reach their destination.
The urban intellectuals who also proclaim their affiliations, let us hope, would end up as hopelessly frustrated one day, sooner this is like to happen, given their back grounds as middle class theoreticians and writers of theatres and novels or simple radical columnists.
Agriculture is deeply in the current crisis. Unless agriculture is revived and rural prosperity is ensured there would be crisis and discomfort in the rural scenario.

Of course, agriculture too can’t be revived so easily. Agriculture’s priorities are so different that in an ideal situation agriculture must get more social recognition and there must be a great share of the budget for this critical food segment.

A looming food crisis is predicted for the future of the world. There are issues within larger issues and so we have to create a widely shared public opinion as to the place of agriculture and food industry to share the resources in any enlightened agricultural and rural development policies.

There are new books on the Mahatma and they bring out new insights and perspectives!

bkcollageIt is also time to assess the contributions of the great leader with some critical questioning. So that we get from World War-I to Partition and the present times in Indian politics when Hindutva has become a creed for narrow selfishness, be it nationalism or patriotism.

The French President, Macron, told in the face of the US President Trump that nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism.

What did he mean? US President says, rather proudly his political goals is:”America First!” So, the US can do whatever it thinks it is only good for the US?

That is  what fanaticism leads to. Many time, it ends up as fascism and even violence. That is a lesson from history. We commemorated the end of the centenary of the first World War-1.

Populism also means the same thing. The world is not producing leaders of vision. But more and more isolationists.

Mahatma Gandhi can give any clue to the current world scenario?

Mahatma Gandhi is such a fascinating figure that he had accumulated so many admirers and as many critics. One more book and that too of about more than 1,000 pages!

Prof.Ramchandra Guha seems to have such a fascination for the great man and he had written  this book too, once more it seems, as he had had many times in the past written of Gandhi. Anyway, I hadn’t read the book yet but glanced through casually. But the reviews,(Open magazine,October,2018)in particular by Zaroor Masani caught my attention more than casually. Masani has such an easy style that has such an easy flow that I read the review in one breath, so to say.
The reviewer in my opinion excelled himself this time by knitting together many small episodes that build the great man and also brings him down in an objective way.

Just now, after many years I was trying to get to grips with the famed writer, scholar, B.R.Nanda’s slim volume, Gandhi and his Critics (OUP,1997) and though the volume is slim the trying was heavy-going and at the end of my several attempts I am at a loss to sort out Gandhi’s many critics  for Gandhi seems, as I see now, after years of my own  living and experiences, where to place the Mahatma now, in the current scenario in the country.

The coming of Narendra Modi and the PM’s own adoption of Gandhi for many of his schemes etc. Also the other side-effects, the Hindutva’s various ideological versions and the demands  on the ground for a Ram Mandir and other practices, you can name and enumerate as you like, from Cow vigilante and mob lynching and other news-making efforts and events. Even the RSS glasnost, as one media comment put is and also the other mind-altering activities of the ruling regime.

The point here is that Gandhi matters still it seems and what we can learn now and how we, in our own individual capacities and also in our collective efforts to make Gandhi relevant and learn more from his life.

After all, our policy is vibrant and our Constitution is strong and I dare say our secular credentials are fine and makes sense in a world that is not going in a progressive manner but have elected many leaders in some countries, the latest being Brazil where we have received not just plain dictators or authoritarians but what are called plain populists and nationalists and not many with a polished tongue but accustomed to using not even civilised language but plain vulgarities!

Here I am concentrating on what Masani gave me to think about. Instead of going into dates and other details, it seems that Gandhi seemed not to have gone with a well-thought path after he returned to India in 1914 once for all and he was 45 years of age. The next 30 odd years we saw the transformation of the man and his political style that defied his contemporaries and also distanced him from what was the best talents available in the country.

Of course Gokhale died soon after, Tilak lived for another six years, Annie Besant lived longer. Others, Motilal Nehru, C.R.Das and Lala Lajpat Rai were there. In 1922, the civil disobedience movement first saw the Chauri Chaura riot and eruption of violence led the Mahatma to call off the ‘strike’. We don’t anymore discuss this. From then on many movements also saw violence accompanying   them.   When Gandhi launched his Non-Cooperation Movement, the trio left and formed the Swarajya Party.

From that time onwards Gandhi was on a very different path, the Salt Satyagraha, why even the 1942 movement led to violence. The 1919 Amritsar Massacre is a critical point and we have not yet fully discussed Amritsar, the trigger and the horrible violence, loss of lives on such a scale..If anyone reads through the Tagore letters, there is one letter Tagore wrote to Gandhi in response to the latter’s explanation of the Massacre.

It is the one letter of Tagore I could not make up my mind as to what Tagore (Gurudev for us, the Santiniketanitres) meant in what he writes. It is my humble submission and I stand to be corrected that Tagore couldn’t give a straightforward approval of what happened at the fateful day in Amritsar!

Anyway, the friendship and much more, the greatness of the two minds were such that they didn’t want to share a common, agreed view. So, my whole reading through Masani’s review is that at each crucial occasion, Salt Satya Graha and in 1942 violence occurred and much blood was shed for a cause that might have been great and even sacred but nevertheless it was not a peaceful political struggle.

And of course, we have to account for the special weapon, fasting Gandhi adopted not infrequently, to secure obedience of his disciples and companions and colleagues.

And there are other aspects of Gandhi’s dealing with his rival colleagues, Jinnah and Ambedkar. With Jinnah, if we look at the events from this distance, Gandhi always had a patronising attitude?  The two instances quoted by Masani certainly to a certain view point. May be Gandhi might not have thought deeply or pondered over the great historical divide between the Indian Muslims and the Hindu?

Or his approach was as was his wont very mystical and instinctive or call it by whatever name, it was not a good understanding of Indian history?

When things went out of control, Gandhi had to cut a sorry figure and he had to adopt silence when the fateful vote was taken with Gandhi present by his colleagues, Pandit Nehru and Sardar Vallabhai Patel and others. What a tragic end the whole movement was led or the movement led the country!

So, partition came about without anyone giving any forethought.
Certainly, the other figures, Mountbatten and others look very silly figures who played havoc with innocent lives.

Also, one more significant  thought process that emerges from reading Masani’s review is that Gandhi never seems to have given a  damn to the whole exercise of the Constitutional evolution of Indian polity, from the Chelmsford  reforms onwards and  many  other reforms thereafter, post 1939, the Second World War years wasted years, no thought was given by anyone who had the strength of character and  vision, the many missions, the Crips Mission, the Cabinet Mission and the whole war years went on without India seizing  the opportunities. Two more of my own personal readings and visits to China are these: one F.D.Roosevelt’s persuasion(or Diktakt?) to Churchill to grant Independence to India. The other: the visiting Chinese couple, Chiang Kei Shek, more the Mrs.Soong, the most brilliant lady who both advocated freedom for India.

Indians never sought American help for freedom. Nor they utilised the Chinese goodwill for furthering the Indian freedom. Instead, I am sorry to point out that Gandhi’s innocence or ignorance of the gravity of the times and the Gandhi’s pat for Mussolini and Prasad Anyway, in the end there remains certain issues that are critically
linked to Gandhi’s life, the practice of religion, the practice of praise for Hitler!

Fasting, satayagraha as political tools in a world where the democratic forces and practices are practiced today. Yet Gandhi’s life and activities would remain eternal sources of inspiration for generations to come.

Where is it?
Farmers’ litigations: reduce pending court cases.
Farmers must be compulsorily insured and also their healthcare insurance.

image002_FotorFarmers are also prone to much litigation. So, please take steps to reduce the number of litigations in which farmers, both the sides, sometimes as tenants and land lords or sometime out of rivalries or jealousies in claiming ownership title or sometimes simply grabbing lands as a way to accumulate wealth through illegal means.

You see there are many issues in the running of the government. One is to impress the public that the incumbent Alamelu has openly said that the payments of premium by the government itself has been delayed for various reasons. In our view one important reason is the huge volume of business involved. Another one is the unwillingness on the part of farmers to get their premium payments debited from their crop loan accounts.

It is human psychology that we are only interested to get the insurance policy encased at times of emergency but when it comes to paying the premium we delay payments!  Anyway, it is at times a tough job to get the bureaucratic machinery deliver results.

India is a democracy all right. But then it is also the world’s biggest bureaucratic machine! Take any case at any time. You see the bureaucratic wheels within wheels. Take the reports of the CVC, Central Vigilance Commissioner. His report for 2017 shows the number of complaints had come down from what it was in the previous year, almost half the number! Why? Is it because the corruption disease gone! No, no!

Simply because the public had lost trust in the machinery had gone!
Who believes that corruption is an issue with the government?
There are no institutions like Lokpal, Lokayukta or other institutions. Also, who is now investigating cases, the CBI, ED and Income Tax raids people only who have some public exposure. Most of the anti-corruption cases are all of this type only. Only in some states like Karnataka where some occasional raids take place and the bureaucrats caught with hoards of cash, gold, flats and agricultural lands.

In the neighbouring state, TN, there was a court case against the incumbent CM. The state deployed its own anti-corruption department and it gave, what else you expect, a clean chit to the incumbent CM! This is becoming a joke.

A state which was rooted in large scale corruption, where the Chief
Secretary to the government was caught red-handed with cash in his official rooms is let off; no one knows what happened to the case! Much more serious corruptions have been let off; we don’t know where the cash parcels in a lorry were taken for safe custody!

So, what chance for farmers to get their crop insurance scheme succeeds?

The rural scenario is not a happy one when it comes to really turn farmers into a well-behaved lot. Farmers have their own limitations as a responsible citizenry. What we need a new type of propaganda for the farmers to safeguard themselves from many pitfalls.

There is a book before us, titled, Vidows of Vidharba by Kota Neelima that examines the suicide of farmers of this cotton belt of Maharashtra.

The state machinery classifies the farmers into different categories, farmers, cultivators and agri labourers.

This is silly, to say the least!

All this is statistical jugglery to deny genuine victims of the tragedy that is agriculture in India.

There is no point in spending time on the finer versions of any academic or journalistic study. The only way our seems to be pay directly to the affected families by some summary enquiry, not raising the troublesome minor details.

Route all your payment through the panchayat raj channels. Make panchayats the ground level institutions and let the villagers know the government has done an honest job.

Agriculture ministers in particular in the states must be persons who have large sympathy with the rural people and must be seen by the villagers occasionally.

Unless wide publicity is given in the TV channels and rural media and interaction with the stakeholders who include the panchayat leaders as well as teachers, journalists and social workers, the real status of the rural distress can’t be gauged and reliefs reached.

Honest and truthful government servants must be mentioned and given promotions out of the routine and only some sort of semi-independent interventions are made, the bureaucratic machinery and the lethargy of the elected representatives too can’t do much.

Now, new elements have entered into the public debate, that of the rise and role of the criminals, as elected representatives.

Hopefully, the new special courts to try the criminal politicians must help to stop the further deterioration of the rural political space.
With the increasing. Land holdings have come down to 1.5 hectare and this is going down further three-fold in the last few years.
So, problems of Indian farmers is not going to be easy for any politician, or party.

Let us recognise the grim reality of rural India. It is not a pleasant sight!

Where is it?
Farmers’ litigations: reduce pending court cases.
Farmers must be compulsorily insured and also their healthcare insurance.

paudhaFarmers are also prone to much litigation. So, please take steps to reduce the number of litigations in which farmers, both the sides, sometimes as tenants and land lords or sometime out of rivalries or jealousies in claiming ownership title or sometimes simply grabbing lands as a way to accumulate wealth through illegal means. You see there are many issues in the running of the government. One is to impress the public that the incumbent Alamelu has openly said that the payments of premium by the government itself has been delayed for various reasons. In our view one important reason is the huge volume of business involved. Another one is the unwillingness on the part of farmers to get their premium payments debited from their crop loan accounts.

It is human psychology that we are only interested to get the insurance policy encased at times of emergency but when it comes to paying the premium we delay payments!  Anyway, it is at times a tough job to get the bureaucratic machinery deliver results.

India is a democracy all right. But then it is also the world’s biggest bureaucratic machine! Take any case at any time. You see the bureaucratic wheels within wheels. Take the reports of the CVC, Central Vigilance Commissioner. His report for 2017 shows the number of complaints had come down from what it was in the previous year, almost half the number! Why? Is it because the corruption disease gone! No, no!

Simply because the public had lost trust in the machinery had gone!
Who believes that corruption is an issue with the government?
There are no institutions like Lokpal, Lokayukta or other institutions. Also, who is now investigating cases, the CBI, ED and Income Tax raids people only who have some public exposure. Most of the anti-corruption cases are all of this type only. Only in some states like Karnataka where some occasional raids take place and the bureaucrats caught with hoards of cash, gold, flats and agricultural lands.

In the neighbouring state, TN, there was a court case against the incumbent CM. The state deployed its own anti-corruption department and it gave, what else you expect, a clean chit to the incumbent CM! This is becoming a joke.

A state which was rooted in large scale corruption, where the Chief
Secretary to the government was caught red-handed with cash in his official rooms is let off; no one knows what happened to the case! Much more serious corruptions have been let off; we don’t know where the cash parcels in a lorry were taken for safe custody!

So, what chance for farmers to get their crop insurance scheme succeeds?

The rural scenario is not a happy one when it comes to really turn farmers into a well-behaved lot. Farmers have their own limitations as a responsible citizenry. What we need a new type of propaganda for the farmers to safeguard themselves from many pitfalls.

There is a book before us, titled, Vidows of Vidharba by Kota Neelima that examines the suicide of farmers of this cotton belt of Maharashtra.

The state machinery classifies the farmers into different categories, farmers, cultivators and agri labourers.

This is silly, to say the least!

All this is statistical jugglery to deny genuine victims of the tragedy that is agriculture in India.

There is no point in spending time on the finer versions of any academic or journalistic study. The only way our seems to be pay directly to the affected families by some summary enquiry, not raising the troublesome minor details.

Route all your payment through the panchayat raj channels. Make panchayats the ground level institutions and let the villagers know the government has done an honest job.

Agriculture ministers in particular in the states must be persons who have large sympathy with the rural people and must be seen by the villagers occasionally.

Unless wide publicity is given in the TV channels and rural media and interaction with the stakeholders who include the panchayat leaders as well as teachers, journalists and social workers, the real status of the rural distress can’t be gauged and reliefs reached.

Honest and truthful government servants must be mentioned and given promotions out of the routine and only some sort of semi-independent interventions are made, the bureaucratic machinery and the lethargy of the elected representatives too can’t do much.

Now, new elements have entered into the public debate, that of the rise and role of the criminals, as elected representatives.

Hopefully, the new special courts to try the criminal politicians must help to stop the further deterioration of the rural political space.
With the increasing. Land holdings have come down to 1.5 hectare and this is going down further three-fold in the last few years.
So, problems of Indian farmers is not going to be easy for any politician, or party.

Let us recognise the grim reality of rural India. It is not a pleasant sight!

Let the public and the corporate bigwigs realise!
Indian media landscape doesn’t spot the place and role of agriculture in India’s development paradigm!
Indian media landscape is highly distorted. Priorities are not clear.
There is an explosion of TV news channels, alright!

krishi-kalyan-cess-678x381Where do the peoples or the country’s development priorities come in?
Whether the news channels do much service or they cater to other objectives can be debated. The TV channels are started by many types of people; entrepreneurs for the sake of service or others from the real estate and also from those businessmen, already established but want to build up lobbies, to get the governments do their bidding or else can be also debated.

The Indian languages channels are very shrill at many times and they cater to a lower denominator audience. There are channels exclusively for entertainment, this is said to be the fastest growing segment and other objectives like propagating religion or pure superstition like astrology etc. All these make for a vibrant TV   and entertainment industry.

There are certain hidden issues, the emergence of media monopoly and the media houses are again some shady issues into which we can’t go here.

Even the so-called mainstream TV segment has to survive and we know that even the much admired quality channels  as standalone ventures are getting into debts and the monopoly mainstream industry, the capitalist and the monopolist enters this segment by many ways, often very devious  ways and means. Money is such a funny thing that it penetrates into any segment and money corrupts! More money means more corruption in more segments!

So, in these media explosion what chance for a socially committed sectors like agriculture, rural development or some other purely intellectual areas like public interest spheres.

The BBC example might be far-fetched or for that matter channels like Al Jazeera or the many new ones that are aired today in India. Even politics and public opinion are not served well and there are lots of biases and fears for the media segment.

Increasingly in India we see the fear factor and so not even the print magazines, some of them very well settled over a century and more. All the print media segments with some exceptions are facing resistence in the market.

So, where do we, Vadamalai Media, stand?

We seem to be nowhere if we see our priorities getting noticed by the readers and also the larger customers like private and public sector corporations.

Our advertisement revenues are facing challenges of resistance for the simple reason; the very PSUs are facing troubles. The private sector industries are also becoming more profit driven and more selfish in the sense that we don’t see society becoming more active in public causes.

We see often editorials and also from speeches from politicians on public platforms that civil society must become active in many areas like education, health, why, even in civic administrations, in keeping the cities clean, the roads safe, the many new issues spring up everyday, the city lakes (as in Bangalore) are getting polluted, even the city air quality is declining, new issues crop up, the very monsoons are leading to foresee natural disasters etc.

So society is not for the winning politicians, even they are now required fill up forms to be submitted to the Election Commission about their criminal antecedents (!), for this has now become a real threat to democratic institutions.

Even the judges don’t submit their assets and liabilities, there are no Lokpal and lokayukta and so the corruption issue is getting out of hands and no one seems to have any clue! The Lokpal is not appointed even after four and half years of Modi regime.

Vadamalai Media is committed to agriculture and rural development, perhaps the least priority issue, right?

Then why the government publicity policies, the very same publicities don’t reach us?

Even at the grassroots level, at the very lower ties block development agencies, there are any number of farmer-related policies like disbursing subsidies. But we don’t hear them! WE have to go there and wait for seeing the lowest level agri officials there are latest policies. Don’t you think it is the duty of the district Collector or their higherups, why even the ministers to seek for media outlets and propagate their policies.

We have written volumes on the need to link the agri universities to publicise their researches. No responses. The universities are now many but the statistics about the R&D in agriculture might frighten you. So little pittance!

Also, the agri universities admissions and other approaches are biased towards urban, educated middle classes, not the real farmers’s families. The agri universities management committees are filled with party cadres not one rep from the agri media or even the local TV channels.

We need really public spirited corporations to use their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) funds to promote public opinion, to educated public opinion and sensitise the public spirit to realise that agriculture is the very soul of India. The Tatas, their Trusts are said to promote tribal farmers. Fine. But please realise, let us realise that cultivating public opinion about the high priority of agri sector on which the Indian economy’s backbone is built should be propagated.