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January 2019 Edition of Power Politics is updated.    Wishing You All a Happy New Year.       January 2019 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:January' 2018


Farmers’ suicide : Talk of growth meaningless

Jagdish N Singh

Farmers protest in Delhi The debacle of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the recent Assembly elections held in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh offers yet another indication that the ruling saffron brigade at the Centre may face similar fate in the upcoming parliamentary polls this year. One of the reasons for the party’s poor performance in these elections is the growing perception across the country that the saffron brigade’s supremo Narendra Modi , the country’s Prime Minister today, is too focused on non-developmental issues to deliver what the ordinary masses need for their existence . Prime Minister Modi and his close aides would do well to take to self- introspection and take appropriate steps to dispel this impression gaining ground any further .
The Modi team could begin with stressing all- inclusive economic growth in the country. It must refrain from doing what the successive governments at our Centre have been : bragging the manipulated statistics of growth. All such talk of growth has been farce. It has been related just to a few elitist sections of our society. Even after seven decades of Independence, the masses continue to live in a state of poverty, illiteracy and squalor .

M.S. Swaminathan The Modi government needs to pay urgent attention to our farm sector today. Ours is basically an agrarian economy. This sector feeds us. Yet it has long remained in distress. According to an authentic report based on our National Crime Records Bureau statistics, more than three lakh of our farmers have committed suicide in the last two decades. Indebtedness has been one of the main reasons of farmers’ suicide. The number of landless agricultural workers has increased . Over 144 million of our labourers earn less than ₹ 150 a day working in the fields.
Experts lament the last two years have seen record farm output in most of our major crops. The resultant glut has, however, not led to farmers prosperity but miseries in the form of crashing prices. Input costs have spiked, with diesel and fertilizer costs shooting up .
The government only procures wheat, rice and a limited amount of pulses and oilseeds at its minimum support price (MSP) rates. This benefits only a fraction of farmers.
The farmers’ suicide is a matter of national shame. In their recent massive protest in Delhi the Kisan Mukti Morcha sought a special 21-day Parliament session to discuss their demands for an unqualified loan waiver and higher produce remuneration. Before coming to power at the Centre , the Prime Minister’s party had promised to implement the M.S. Swaminathan Commission report that has recommended hiking minimum support prices to 50 per cent above the comprehensive cost of production.
It is disheartening to note the Centre is still not inclined to address the issue of farmers’ indebtedness . Union Minister of State for Agriculture Parshottam Rupala has already declared the Government’s mind on it. He reportedly said in the Lok Sabha (December 12 , 2018) : “The Union Government at present is not considering any loan waiver scheme for farmers... Such waivers may impact the credit culture of a State by incentivising the defaulters even if they are in a position to repay the loan and thus create/amplify the moral hazard by discouraging those borrowers who have been regular in repaying their loans... Further, each waiver granted makes it even more difficult to reject any future similar demand.”

Catching communal gangs

The recent conviction of 70 people in the 1984 anti- Sikh riots case is highly delayed . Yet it must be appreciated. At least , something has been done to punish the criminals in the case. I hope it would serve as a beginning to bring to justice all communal gangs, who have been behind the killings of different religious minorities in different parts of our Republic. The law of justice must not spare the communal killers of Muslims in Gujarat or Hindus in Kashmir as well.
I hope our Court would be pro-active in this matter. Experience shows our intelligence and security agencies at the Centre and in the States cannot be strict with communal gangs. The system demands the agencies to comply with the command of political leaderships. The l i n k a g e s between the politicians and criminals are too deep for the former to order action against the latter .
Our judiciary could direct the political leaderships, ruling as well as Opposition, to appropriately amend the current law process and immediately grant genuine functional autonomy to our intelligence and security agencies. Then only can these agencies dare to nab the elements who, from time to time, conspire or indulge in violence against the minorities across the country.

Lack of media ethics

Election Commission of India In a media interviews former Chief Election Commissioner O.P. Rawat lamented , “I wanted to focus on putting up a revised legal framework, involving social media, abuse of money and other emerging threats…. We constituted a committee which submitted recommendations. As this year has been full of elections, we have not been able to devote time to go through them and finalise our suggestions to the Union Law Ministry. It seems my successor CEC may also not find time due to the Lok Sabha elections.” He said , “Fake news affects voting behaviour in a big way and right now, the only mechanism is Section 126 and EC instructions on paid news.
We have to bring in a robust mechanism for conduct on social media platforms, which we are working on. We have already interacted with organisations like Google and WhatsApp. The EC will take a call on all those discussions. As regards paid/fake news, since the matter is sub judice in the Supreme Court, I won’t be able to tell much on that.”
I wish Rawat had not confined himself to the need for a revised legal framework involving social media only. The legal framework of other media has hardly been working well . Media ethics is vanishing fast . Will the Election Commision of India do the needful ?

Clean air : a right to life

Fresh air is indispensable for our life and hence the most important of all our human rights. Regrettably, the 24th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-24) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Katowice, Poland (December 3-14), achieved little beyond the ‘rule book’ it says to have delivered. It achieved little to cut down greenhouse gas emissions that deny us fresh air .
According to authentic studies, air pollution is getting alarming due to climate change . Small island nations are already facing devastating effects with the rise of mean sea levels . India accounts for a disproportionately high 26 per cent of the global premature deaths and disease burden due to air pollution. The environmental scourge killed an estimated 1.24 million people in India in 2017 alone.
In the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, the global community had agreed to limit warming to 1.5° C above preindustrial levels. The Poland summit has made little progress on finance, technology transfer and capacity development. The United States and other developed countries are not doing much. Europe is still heavily reliant on coal . Australia and France have had political turmoil due to their climate policies.