At least do something more constructive this time!

Jairam Ramesh package on raw materials ban, co-operative institutions look promising!

Minister of State Jairam Ramesh’s idea of ban on raw materials exports, be it agri raw materials, or marine exports or mineral ore exports is welcome. Except the initiative comes from a lightweight minister and we don’t know how much weightage he has in the scheme of things in Delhi. Otherwise, the ideas are really refreshing and have lot to mull over.

After the big trio’s (PM, FM and Agri Minister’s) joint package for the unfortunate Vidarbha farmers proved a non-start, what is the point of announcing one more committee. The agri sector really looks very bleak. There is no fresh thinking whatever and one doesn’t know who is really thinking about the agri sector in the Union Cabinet. PM seems quite uninteresting, the FM had gone underground after the disinvestment fiasco, the TN CM is now the winner in all these developments, he had almost silenced Sonia Gandhi even to raise the issue of a coalition government in the State. The Agri Minister, widely rated as the cleverest man in the Cabinet but then if you are widely seen as a very ambitious Minister, then you are unlikely to concentrate on your portfolio!

That is how the agri portfolio is left high and dry. There is no fresh thinking anywhere in the country elsewhere too. The Government suddenly advertised in the newspapers about an issue of Yojana, from the Planning Commission, on agriculture! Too late in the day! What the government publication can do? It can’t think afresh, can it?

So, we find that the Commerce Ministry, both under Kamal Nath and Jairam Ramesh are doing some innovative thinking, as far as their pronouncements on the agri sector are concerned. Ramesh has announced the Centre is considering announcing a ban on the export of raw materials in four key employments generating sectors, namely, through co-operative organisations. He mentioned SEWA, NDDB. SEWA is well-known as a women’s co-operative that had caught the attention of the whole world for its excellent and very difficult task of organising women in the informal sector. The SEWA and NDDB models of organising work in key sectors like agriculture, horticulture, handloom, handicrafts and leather are all key initiatives. These initiatives have to be taken sooner than later.

The only suggestion we like to make is that such major initiatives have to be taken under some dynamic leadership. Somehow, the Finance Minister seems to have failed in this task. The FM is simply skimming the surface of banking issues, the many critical areas of banking activities, the social and national priorities that were envisaged under the nationalisation of the banking sector remain neglected.

One more suggestion: Sonia Gandhi must shed her reservations or mental hesitations of heading the National Advisory Council. The Council had lost its morale, after so many controversies. So, we suggest let her give time only to some simple task like identifying key initiatives and give her support to select the right persons for such key task.
There are too many old faces circulating in the power-seeking, power-grabbing enterprises in Delhi.  She should only win the admiration of the nation by selecting the real persons with proven capacity, who would shun going about begging for favours. It is the task of leaders to search for talent.

The PM has a penchant (or weakness?) for extending the time for the so many committees that are there for far too long. Such time limits must be enforced and asked to wind up in few months. Why extend the time for the Administrative Reforms Commission for one more month? Please wind up the very many committees that have not done any useful work.

Agri sector cries not for more committees, these sector needs institutional mechanisms, for social security, insurance cover and really more credit flows through the established and new innovative mechanisms.
Public-Private Partnership is one new concept. So too the many suggestions that are available to the Government in the World Bank’s Report on Delivery of Public Services. There must be periodical release of ads and press releases about the activities of the government in the agri sector in the agri journals and general newspapers.

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