What are the short and medium-term implications?
A confrontationist polity? Agri economic slowdown?

Yes, the many critical sectors, agriculture, rural India and the generation of employment for the youth etc are all giving a sense of uncertainty. This is not good. We need to speedily cultivate a collective sense of solidarity, a sense of reconciliation and a new hope and optimism all around.

As we write the country is driven by widespread protests over two legislations passed by Parliament. One is the National Register of Citizens (NRC).The other is the Citizens Amendment Act (CAA). The story behind these two Acts needn’t detain us here.

As we write the TV screens are screaming with gory scenes of popular protests all over India, and mass violence in all the major cities. This sort of protests we have not seen for a very long time. May be this sort of popular unrest must have been there in the 1975 declaration of the Emergency by Indira Gandhi.

Any such widespread agitations often lead to fundamental changes in the polity as well. Even the Mandal Commission Report led to V.P.Singh’s short-lived regime. Many such agitations as the one in 1965 in TN over the Hindi imposition led to a complete change of political history with the advent of the Dravidian politics and an end to the progressive regime of the Kamaraj era.

As things stand these are only the beginning. What the future holds for India’s polity and economy? Both the Prime Minister and the Home Minister have not yet come out with their reactions. The other functionaries of the government are not visible and not speaking out. As commentators have written there is fear and insecurity in the air. Except the top two leaders no other ministers seem to have any standing in the hierarchy of the power structure. Already, the last many years after the Modi government came into existence in 2014, there have been radical changes in the governance style. Many institutions like the police, judiciary and the media, why even in the working of the major institutions like the Cabinet and other ministries there have been changes, not all to the greater good of the public in the conduct of the persons and the power wielders.

Unfortunately, in all these years we were given lots of promises and hopes for so many changes. But at the end of these long years what we have been faced with is the unexpected economic slowdown, the worst in many years.

This economic slowdown, it seems, a very long one. Not many, the experts and bureaucrats, those in such organizations like the NITI AAYOG, are speaking out and shedding any light.
It is these key experts who must be forthcoming to give hope and light to the general public.

As a senior journalist has put it (The Hindu, 20.12.2019) the Prime Ministers stands tall over all his colleagues and no one in his Cabinet don’t seem dare to open his mouth!
Yes, it looks like that and is a sad state of affairs to see the country of such a large size is finding itself none other than the PM, has to take the initiative. How much destruction of public property we have to still endure before the explosive situation can be brought under control?

Apart from all other considerations it is a sad development that no one could foresee for what has happened so far and when will the situation can be brought to a positive solution.
Is this the right time to talk of specific problems of critical sectors like agriculture, rural India, youth and the corporate issues on which depend the growth of the economy?
No, it seems that the public are confused and wonder what will be the future shape of the polity.

In a recent book(The People Vs Democracy by Yascha mounk, a Harvard economist and political theorist has brought out some of the similar recent trends in some other countries, some democracies, some dictatorship of the new varieties like Turkey, Hungary and the reviewer names the Indian Prime Minister too, that these newly elected leaders and also
the newly found enthusiasm for ‘imposing’ popular polices in an undemocratic fashion, a sort of illiberal institutions and authoritarian style governance. Such of these countries and their leaders have also won some widespread praise from foreign government and leaders. As Mr.Modi has liberally earned all through his tireless travels and participation in international summits.

But suddenly hs is caught in unforeseen unfavorable reactions, as from the USA and neighbours like Bangladesh and may be very soon even from far-off countries too.
Already, countries from the European Union, the ones like Finland, Sweden and others who have spoken out on our stand on J&K, we might expect newer criticisms over what the Western nations see as Human Rights violations.

Given current subdued tone of domestic criticism, we shouldn’t be complacent to remain immune what possible fall-out our current predicament might take us to.The point here is that India is after all a mature democracy, for 73 years we have practiced democratic politics, our electoral practices have won universal praise. So too our international policies on many issues.

Our economic strength is fine. But the new challenges on trade issues, especially the agricultural trade policies we have to become more open-minded and we have to become a more dynamic agricultural economy and a participant in multi-lateral trade policies.
We have to co-operate and become worthy partner in more progressive agricultural trade participant.

For all these dreams and hopes fructify we need a more open debate on our basic issues. Religion and communalism, India has a vast territory to traverse and we need to collect more talents in the governing elite. A democracy calls for a new sense of shared values, even an ideological consensus. Consensus-building is the democratic ideal, at all times, let us know.

India passes through a new phase!
How the people and the rulers are understanding issues and challenges?

The Maharashtra inglorious episode is an aberration or a new trend? Let us hope this is just an aberration that is cut short for the common good of all the people of India and also for the wiser counsel among the leaders.

The day when the country and nation must be rejoicing on the 70th year of the Constitution day it was a sad comment when the entire Opposition boycotted the session and the august occasion was seen listening to such a discordant appeals from the top leaders that sounded so gross and so ill-timed.

What sort of nation we are building today. Do we forget the solemn pledge this country made? Do we care for the great many democratic values we have pledged to safeguard? It was really a very sad day indeed!

It was a sad day and the Constitution Day celebration day marked by great many thoughts, let out by the President and the Prime Minister to the entire legislators were so sounded discordant and the country at large thanks to the visual media spread the day must have looked more out of tune and out of context.

But what was also ironical was the very same day when the unseemly and often the most deplorable scenes were enacted by the MLAs belonging to the three main parties, namely, the NCP, Shiv Sena and the Congress, so shuffled along to different locations, was it a tragedy or comedy? They were joined together to stake claims on the formation of a new coalition government.

When such a possibility was sought to be prevented by the BJP in alliance with Ajit Pawar faction of the NCP. Pawar and his uncle, none other than the formidable Sharad Pawar was engaged to turn the tables against the BJP’s well-known tactics to install minority governments with dubious numbers in many States and also getting on with the governance norms, in fact a mockery of governance that was on such a display to the shame of all right-thinking men and women.

Unfortunately, Indian society and politics in the last 70 odd years of freedom, one has to realise, not evolved in the most enlightened Constitution norms and conventions but was ruined by a sense of vengeance or revenge and such unseemly scenes when leaders conducted themselves shamelessly in open defiance of great democratic values.

So many critical comments we heard from so many leaders. The dynastic rule was many times voiced. Ideas of dynastic rule, politics as family fiefdoms and worshipping of unworthy leaders as almost demi-goods. The unqualified persons capture power, we have seen many times in many States. But what dynastic rule has to do with the sort of government we have seen installed in the fist place. You see sloganeers with placards calling the so-called winners by all sorts of exaggerated descriptions and titles.

Of course this half-baked politics came along with some regional parties, first in the South where you had the film star politicians worshiped as demi-gods who were otherwise the most corrupt and the most unworthy of persons. Spending time in jails and also accumulating wealth through all sorts of wrong means has been held out as near unquestionable. Also, politics also had become otherwise all for another sort of butchering democracy and using large scale populist slogans and other fascist methods.
This craze hasn’t gone away still and even now we see such threats to democratic politics, though you can give legal veneers to the gross corruption and why even you can give justification to use of government machinery to cow down peoples’ voices by misuse of official machinery, police and other forces.

As The Hindu editorial (Nov.27) says one saving grace in the current episode is the Supreme Court acted with great appropriate manner, acted in the needed haste and promptness so that the usual tricks and twisted the ruling parties employ have been prevented and the honour and prestige of the Constitutional order has been restored. Of course in all this happening one leader, namely Sharad Pawar had emerged as the icon of sorts, given his long career that had seen so many setbacks.One more observation: it is talked about that the three party coalitions is a contradiction of ideologies. What ideologies.

Hindutva vs secularism? Or what?

To put things in perspective, it is a strategic coalition of parties that wanted to prevent an ideology, namely, the BJP ruling combine that resorted to a direct capture of power at once at whatever be the cost to Constitutional norms and political morality.

Power must be sought by some principles. Here in the new strategic coalition power is sought on some publically known aims and goals. Now this is an open society and also a society with all liberal values is promised and people are free to know and judge things for themselves. It is a liberal society of freedoms and not an illiberal society of fears and anxieties.

Let people decide. That is a healthy alternative.

Agriculture today is vastly changed and we need to understand the current world of agriculture!

Indian agriculture, a field for pessimism or optimism?

Agriculture is always on the top of the minds and tongues of Indian politicians, right? Even in the current unseemly political adventure in Maharashtra politics agriculture is talked about. Sharad Pawar the senior political leader, himself an agricultural pioneer, projects his image as a tried and tested agricultural pioneer. Very long time ago we sought him after and then he was the leader of the Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly and he was kind enough to invite us to his office once and he talked at length about his vision for India to emerge as a successful producer of crops like vegetables and he pointed out how India could become a great agri exporter to the Middle East among other countries how Indian farmers could become prosperous. At that point of time Maharashtra itself was a pioneering state and we, in the rest of India, looked in awe how the State of Maharashtra was creating so many innovative co-operative bodies in cultivating grapes and the state had one of the most successful co-operative structure for so many other crops like strawberries, mangoes and of course sugarcane farming.

But as of now we are not sure how those pioneering ventures are doing today. Of course Maharashtra had also some of the leading lights of farmers’ leaders like the late Sharad Joshi, another friend of this media and his Shetkari Sangathana proved many points in farmer’s organizations and lobby building.

May be they were just only the pioneering ventures that remained only pioneering efforts only. The important point we like to draw attention of the present day enthusiasts of again another range of new interest and innovations in agricultural pioneering are the new technologies, the organic agriculture and food production and food processing sectors.
There are of course now so many new innovative agri technologies in various new crops like Israeli technologies in cut-flower cultivation that has led to new ventures, as in the neighborhood of Hosur and also many other new agri techs, from Netherlands and other countries.

Flower exports are now quite a big industry and there is a need to report the new developments in a much more systematic way. Of course there are the other extremes of so many distress stories for farmers to tell and enlighten the policy makers. There are also new problems like climate change and the horrible pollution stories from cities like New Delhi. Floods and scarcity are other issues that directly hit farmers. So, where do we stand as an agricultural media pioneers?

This is a question that often comes to us and hit us squarely. You see that unless you are a committed person ,as we can draw the example of Dr.Verghese Kurien, you would be nowhere in this business of ‘do-gooder’ job! From the days of Kurien to the current scenario where the human capital is much depleted (!) You would be nowhere to do any business. Now, the political quality of politicians is so low and where the bureaucracy is spreading its tentacles everywhere, there is hardly any segment of civil society that is left to seek company with the do-gooders!

There was time when Kurien used to attack, left and right the role of bureaucracy that was putting obstacles in every step of his activity. This, once Kurien himself narrated when we were left to wait for an audience with the then Prime Minister Chandra Shekar in his official residence. There were so many hilarious incidents that evening when the great Dhirubhai Ambani came calling the Prime Minister himself a novice and we were all thrown into confusion, some met the PM, some left disappointed.

Those days you can find at least few gentlemen, IAS officials, unlike now where new types of self-seekers are everywhere. For those who are unfamiliar with the Lutyens Delhi bungalow zone would not know how many bureaucrats, retired and others are hanging on in Delhi on some job or assignment and how they are all a cynical LOT AND HOW YOUR MANY PET SCHEMES COULD BITE THE DUST AND YOU YOURSELF would be lost once you tried to make your way in official Delhi!

So, given the sort of cynicism and negativity that prevails in the Delhi bureaucratic and political circles it is next to impossible to steer your way through any departmental key holes! Where is the atmosphere to nurture any new idealism and hope and vision, the qualities that are essential to nurture new initiatives and ventures, be it natural foods or organic agriculture?

The few ones we feature in these pages are some lucky ones and the vast mass of farmers are of course are facing many challenges. We need a new agriculture policy drawn up with an open mind and a humble submission to the unlucky farmers and rural people. It is rural transformation and an honest, corruption-free and dedicated team of agricultural pioneers of this generation only can revive agriculture as a new hope for a great agriculture country like India.

Now, agriculture no doubt is going to be the new sunshine industry. A growing and prosperous economy and society like India, with its vast geographical space and varied climate zones offer great many opportunities for India to emerge as the world’s big basket of agricultural products and services.

Let us all recognize that India as of now is emerging as a great agri trading power. There is no escape from this global reality. There are concerns about India joining the South East Asian community. The world is becoming as more interdependent. We have to open up our economy for new imports, milk from New Zealand, pepper from Vietnam and Tea from Sri Lanka etc. India, luckily, in the frontline in agricultural exports. In rice and wheat and some other bulk commodities India has enormous advantages.

So, we have to woo our neighbours. Of course we have to be competitive players and the old style laggard image must go. India stands to gain only when it opens its doors for foreign imports like Malaysian palm oil in which we are so deficient! 85% of our edible oil is imported, so we have to be friendly with our South Asian neighbours!

When do we care for farmers, if at all?
When Sharad Pawar goes to meet the PM?

Yes, it looks so. The other day when the government formation in Maharashtra was at its most hectic pace, Sharad Pawar the senior most old Congress leader, now the chief of the much depleted Nationalist Congress party (NCP), was at his wiliest best, said observers and the whole day was engrossing as one step after another Mr.Pawar holding his cards close to his chest and kept everyone of the stakeholders, namely, the ShivSena, The Congress and the NCP in very tense suspense. What did Pawar do? That day at the very end of the Rajya Sabha debate for the day he called on the Prime Minister in his Parliamentary office. The Prime Minister is no less competent and the two of the most experienced leaders chose to meet at noon!

Everyone was in anticipation as to the outcome of the top two leaders of the country. Mr.Pawar, soon after coming out of the meeting just told the waiting newsmen that he ‘called on the PM to present the case of the farmers of Maharashtra who were greatly affected by the floods and sought help’!

Is that all he talked when the whole country was waiting to see whether Mr.Pawar could play one or two tricks with his government formation tactics? Yes, this is politics at its cruelest best!

You see farmers are the least subjects for politicians in India and it doesn’t absolve Pawar also from this charge. Much more heart-rending was the scene or scenes for the TV channels often repeat the display of some scenes and this time, on the very same day, at the very same moment, the TV screens also flashed another scene, this time, a group of farmers, exactly 29 of them in UP districts adjoining the Haryana border, all handcuffed and drawn by chains and they were walked about to the police station and they gave a picture of much disgust and agony for the viewers!

Yes, this is all about farmers and Indian agriculture you can see and understand the real India. Prior to the event, a day or two before there was again a TV screen scene, this time it is about the number of MPs invited to attend a panel on pollution in Delhi and out of the 27 or so of the MPs invited only two or three were in attendance!

The TV screens again displayed the absentee MPs and all were quite prominent, a glamorous actress and a noted all-India-known editor and a media celebrity and many of the ones who were ruling party MPs and heavyweights. So, the MPs are busy otherwise when the Delhi air choked the inhabitants, MPs are otherwise busy and also when the poor and distraught farmers, all poor and almost illiterate and they might not have known why they had been caught and walked to the nearby police station, very likely, the police personnel themselves might not have known why they were doing this criminal act. The poor farmers were charged for stubble burning in their paddy fields. For the city dwellers stubble burning is a nuisance. As consumers city dwellers only want quality rice, fresh vegetables, cheap onions and tomatoes only. How they come on to the table is nobody’s concern! Life goes on otherwise for Delhiites. Where the high and mighty all reside wish the pollution goes away by magic!

So, this is all about agriculture for you! Pollution? Schools are shut and parents are helpless and the common man doesn’t care and the uncommon ones, the Prime Minister and the chief ministers don’t speak out and it is in a cynical way, only good time for the TV crews, at least they can cry and should and engage the pedestrians for an evening chat!

Life goes on and the routine of senior and junior ministers also goes on. Some minor ironies too creep in and that only adds to the tone of our existence as citizens of a great democracy.

So, now, for the rest of the time ahead we are likely to live with the continuing pollution issue and as things stand it is very unlikely that Mr.Kejriwal is really to do something that would give some relief from this pollution menace. May be we might take our pencil and notebook and write all the cities names and the level of pollution, the PMc levels and that could be a new source of new knowledge!

It looks unlikely that the Prime Minister would at least one day would talk about an issue like pollution and how we are going to tackle this menace. So, when it comes to other issues like the economy, of course we have at least a few experts who might give us their wisdom as to how we can tackle the economic issues. The other day we read a column in The Hindu by Dr.Manmohan Singh and given his expertise and experience in this sphere, he has given us his wisdom, there is a sense of malafide unless proven otherwise and there is great deal of distrust, fear and helplessness and entrepreneurs are afraid to take risks and invest etc..
But then, as we say, bell the cat?

Daily news are very discouraging, telecoms are in heavy debts, so too the nearly one crore thousand in banks’ bad loans and the government is privatising the PSUs; though the biggest white elephants, the national carrier, AIR INDIA is still bleeding. How to create trust and confidence?

You see, in our opinion, issues like trust and confidence is indivisible and they come in a lot. Unless you create confidence and trust in the minds of citizens, from the top to the bottom, from rich and the poor, the most educated and the near illiterates, public opinion, as you can see is indivisible and there is a moment and time when the whole of the people, let us take the electorate at the time of elections, then the vote goes for or against the incumbent governments.

To simplify the issues and or in sweeps, then only the power-hungry or the otherwise arbitrary power-oriented minds seem some reason and reach some reconciliation with the realities of the world.

Agriculture, farmers and those living in the far-ff or remote regions are the least likely to be stakeholders as things stand today.

Otherwise, it is a narrow segment, most likely urban areas of the country that might debate and decide whether farmers can be chained and handcuffed and we can see one more flip on the TV screens!

Sharad Pawar’s finest hour!
A leader of unmatched character and why, even moral fibre at a time of such a serious crisis situation!

Maharashtra developments, by any reckoning, is a watershed moment in the way the incumbent Central government demonstrated its new governing principles and strategies. The pre-dawn coup and the swift movements of exchanges of ideas and conspiracies and actions proved that this would remain a special chapter in the Modi governance methods. Politics is a ruthless game of power and it looks we in India have reached a stage in the practice of politics that when it comes to grabbing power we don’t care for any delicate negotiations but only swift actions and the players get mad instantaneously. That only can explain what role Ajit Pawar played.

May be the junior Pawar at least proved and he succeeded by getting his name deleted from the list of accused in the ED case and this would also remain one more stratagems in the new power games very likely to be picked up by those caught by ED summons and IT raids! But what the more gravitas side is the way the crisis emerged and how the challenges posed by the veterans, we needn’t name them, let them by god’s grace remain concealed! The very large issues and the fundamental principles of playing the democratic game is that politics is much more serious than what the current players have understood. Do we care for any serious principles, ethics, honour, dignity, integrity and honesty and ultimately truth?

These questions would nag the conscience of everyone in the country. Thank god, the world is now more integrated and India can’t escape from the critical scrutiny of the outside world. Already as the controversial NRC, CAB bills are being debated in the Rajya Sabha and already passed in the Lok Sabha, thanks to the brute majority in the LS.

The US State Federal Commission Panel on Religious Freedoms(USCIRF) had warned that it would impose sanctions on the Home Ministers and other leaders! Already also we see picture of the US Congress House Committee with Nancy Pelosi presiding over the impeachment against the incumbent President! Also on the same page is the Myanmar head of state, Aung San Sun Kyi, sitting at the UN International Court of Justice over her government’s record of genocide.

So, let us all know that the world today is changing fast. Friends are no more friends forever, nor enemies remain enemies. Luckily it is comforting to realise that the world is changing and changing for the good! Leaving aside other issues and controversies, the new BJP government in 2014 and again later in 2019,if we see things in a fair and objective manner, very radical changes took place in the Indian polity. But surprisingly, we started seeing some very fast and controversial actions etc.

The J&K step proved very controversial and as we write the senior leaders of the State are still under detention. How this event will play out is anybody’s guess. Also there are many other controversies. Also, the series of State elections where we saw that despite the BJP not getting majority seats, the BJP managed to form government. The last in the series of ‘runs’ is the Maharashtra drama which played out in an altogether contradictory manner.

Is this all governance about? People wondered! Why even the BJP cadre and the BJP allies were taken by surprise. Yes this is only a mild form of a new political adventurism that didn’t pay off. Finally!

There came about the Maharashtra leader, the most experienced of them all, a father figure, Sharad Pawar who at 79 proved himself as a matchless warrior who ditched the very BJP party at its cunning best! Sharad Pawar is undoubtedly the man of the hour, the man of destiny who save India and its hoary institutions. We needn’t go into the details of what happened once more.

Sharad Pawar is too experienced a leader who knew the very practical politics on the palm of his hand and he went about bringing together the three partners, NCP, Shiv Sena and the Congress.

The Shiv Sena is another phenomenon in Maharashtra politics. As the Dravidian parties in the South proved, they are all neither secular parties nor otherwise any doctrinaire outfits, they all arose out of some particular narrow, regional sentiments and they remain so till this day. As for Shiv Sena it somehow felt slighted and though didn’t have the numbers felt their pride is at stake and so they staked claim for ruling the State. Things, as they say fell in place at the right moment and the man who could play his cards close to his chest and make this happen was none other than Sharad Pawar.

Now, as for Sharad Pawar, Vadamalai Media knows him, from the 1980s during which period we used to travel to Mumbai often. I had the good fortune to meet him many times and other leaders (Vasanth Dada Patil, Shalinitai Patil, A.R.Antulay, S.B.Chavan and others). We got to know Pawar more closely as we were interested in agriculture, especially when he was the Leader of the Opposition. He was the leader of the PDP party when it replaced the great Vasanth Dada Patil.

Maratha people for the South Indians seem a very gentle race and very generous minded and all these qualities and the great Maratha history give the people a special flavour of valour and a historic role in national affairs. Once Pawar invited me to the party office and entertained me for lunch and in during lunch I got to know of the great champion of agriculture when he explained to me at some length about the agri development work he was doing in his home town of Baramati.

So, our relationship blossomed as we at Vadamalai were engaged in building up a media network for educating and enlightening the Indian farming sector through our various media ventures, running four magazines in three languages and other agri consultancy activities. It was also at that time Maharashtra agriculture too was pioneering many new innovative agri institutions building. The State’s Co-operative grapes farmers, other new crops like strawberry cultivation and the agri exports activities were pioneering ones and they deservingly attracted other states too.’ Pawar could easily engage and impress and convince anyone and this is his core strength of character and sustained energy! See at this age his boundless mental power to join such supposed disjoint political powers!

We have been in touch with each other off and on and we have also exchanged correspondence when our views differed. Now, coming to current political developments what is the larger picture? The future shape of Indian politics? The Congress party, to put it more sympathetically, is in shambles. Sonia Gandhi is faced with an albatross on her neck! First, she had shouldered once again the Congress organisation which is top heavy with all old and retired senior politicians perched in comfortable Lutyens’s bungalows. They are unlikely to vacate space for others in the near future.

The youth Congress under Rahul Gandhi came in and flopped. Who would the Congress really focus?

The party is non-existent in most states! The next few years may give some indication of its likely future. So, Sonia Gandhi has fall in line with Pawar’s play, so to say, at least to save her own honour! The Maharashtra Congress leaders have no other way but to join the Pawar brigade. As for Shiv Sena, Pawar is now the mentor and the party is lucky to have a mentor like him and the future of the three-party coalition, we are sure, could take on Modi-Shah duo, in our opinion, in an effective way.

In fact, Pawar is the real counterweight to the resource-rich and also strong ruling duo and would surely stand up to the counter manoeuvring in the days to come. There is a very cheap jibe that the coalition is an ideological contradiction- is simply nonsense. This is strictly not an ideological coalition but a strategic coalition to keep out a common ruthless enemy! Who knows in the next phase there may be more adventurism. To conclude, let people realise that the price of freedom and democracy is eternal vigilance!