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Cash Crunch after demonetisation Move by PM Modi has Hit Raw Jute Farmers and Jute Mills

West Bengal accounts for about 85 percent of the country's jute production, followed by Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Bihar and Assam

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FILE - A private money trader counts Indian rupee currency notes at a shop in Mumbai, India. (Representational image). VOA

– by Bappaditya Chatterjee

Kolkata, Nov 25, 2016: Cash crunch in the wake of demonetisation has hit raw jute farmers and jute mills alike, which may ultimately lead to closure of mills and cause hardship to workers and labourers, various stakeholders rue.

Jute farmers are at the receiving end since traders have been unable to purchase the raw produce from them due to shortage of cash after the November 8 demonetistaion of high-denomination currency.

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For mill owners, too, a crisis seems to be looming large on the horizons as raw jute stocks lying with them are depleting fast. The industry is finding it difficult to even arrange for fortnightly wage payments to around 3.5 lakh mill workers.

Jute millers are now seeking intervention by the Jute Corporation of India (JCI), similar to the one 11 years ago when the industry faced a crisis owing to a sharp drop in raw jute supply.

West Bengal accounts for about 85 per cent of the country’s jute production, followed by Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Bihar and Assam.

The Indian Jute Mills Association (IJMA) has already approached the government and the Jute Commissioner’s Office to seek restoration of normalcy in raw jute supply.

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“Usually, the growers accept cash for their produce sold to local traders. However, cash payments are not possible at present due to demonetisation and bank transfers will take some more time. As a result, the arrival of raw jute at various ‘mokams’ (local jute markets) has come down by 80-85 per cent,” IJMA Chairman Raghavendra Gupta told IANS.

[bctt tweet=”About 10-15 per cent of the total 40 lakh jute farmers in India accept payments through banks. ” username=””]

“The supplies of raw produce to jute mills has suffered. The trade over the past few days has been virtually nil. Whatever raw jute has arrived at mills is due to old contracts,” he said.

According to industry sources, jute produce in the 2016-17 season (July to June) was estimated to be around 90 lakh bales. About 30 per cent of the crop has arrived in the markets till mid-November while the supply of the remaining 70 per cent has been held up due to the cash shortage.

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This held-up supply may not come soon since there could be a tendency on part of the growers to hold on to stocks till normal cash supply is restored, according to millers.

“Recent income tax raids on private jute ‘mokams’ have already instilled fear among raw jute traders who are now shying away from supplying to mills,” a miller told IANS on the condition of anonymity.

“On an average, many mills do not have raw jute stocks beyond one month of normal production capacity,” Gupta said.

The end result could be a cut in production shifts, and resultant job losses for labourers.

“Raw jute stocks vary, depending on mill capacity. A small mill will suffer in terms of production and for want of raw jute. In that case, a miller will have no alternative but to cut down on production shifts,” IJMA member Sushant Agarwal said.

In October 2005, the JCI had purchased about two lakh bales of raw jute commercially and made it available to eligible mills in proportion to their spindle capacity.

“It is an opportune time for the JCI to enter the market and purchase raw jute commercially to protect farmers and sell the raw jute to mills based on their existing spindles and production control orders (basically, jute bag orders from the Centre) issued by the Jute Commissioner’s office,” the IJMA President said.

The industry feels it could face a double whammy due to possible dilution of government orders too in the wake of non-fulfilment of prior orders.

“About 80 per cent mill workers hold bank accounts while the rest don’t. Currently, these bank accounts are being registered with the jute mills. Bankers are also opening accounts of workers on the mill premises so that wages in future are given through bank transfers,” Gupta added. (IANS)

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Only A Strong Leader Can Control The Mobocracy

Today we need a strong leader and strong nation. But this doesn't mean that it has to be against the culture of political pluralism. Such a leader need not be against federalism, need not run an unitary government.

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EC bans online streaming of web series on Modi. Pixabay

BY: JAYANTA GHOSAL

I am a human being – Homo sapiens. But does that mean I am poor, brutish, nasty and small? That is what Thomas Hobbes had thought. Machiavelli’s prince had also said that if you want to control people, the masses, the electorate – then you’ve to keep a whip in your hand like the ringmaster in a circus. Only a strong leader can control the mobocracy.

The great Indian political circus has also had several Prime Ministers. From Jawaharlal Nehru to Narendra Modi. Each Prime Minister is unique The modus operandi is different. In 2014 when Modi entered Lutyen’s Delhi, the popular perception was that a strong man has arrived. Like the arrival of James Bond, after the World War II to dispel the darkness of the depressed British masses. Plato had preached that for a philosopher king who would also be the representative of God – that he will bring justice to mankind.

India
The Vajpayee era could easily be said as the beginning of the ‘swarna yug’ of Indian economy. It was under his leadership that India went for Pokhran 2, but was he a strong leader? The Indian mythology of strong leadership would dictate that he wasn’t. Pixabay

Today in a democracy, we chose our leader through the process of election. There is no monarch. Nor do we have a philosopher leader like S. Radhakrishnan. We have Modi and the popular perception persists that he is a ‘strong leader’. At the eve of another election, the discourse on strong leadership has started again. But we need to understand that strong leader doesn’t mean an undemocratic leader. I think that even in a coalition government one needs a strong leadership to run the coalition. A strong leader does not mean that he will be blunt to the ideas of others – that he or she will not listen to the voice of the people. Rather, if you want to frame policies, you’ve to talk to experts, bureaucrats and even other people.

After getting 282 seats, was Modi reluctant to listen any other opinion?

I think this belief is absolutely wrong. I know his style of functioning and I can say, bluntly, that each and every day he spoke to several people on different subjects. In Lutyen’s Delhi, there is a wrong perception that he takes his own decision – this isn’t correct. In Delhi, he begins his daily routine with briefing meetings. Principal Secretary Nripendra Mishra meets him first. Then P.K. Mishra and other PMO officials. He talks to his PS and APSs daily. Then, the PM conducts video conferences with his department secretaries. He would also hold such conferences with state government officials.

He also has his own unique way of taking inputs from the feedback from the ground; a team, a set-up that isn’t just restricted to social media like Twitter or Facebook. He seeks opinion from the chaupals of different villages. Before the declaration of the election, he conducted a review meeting. The PMO wanted to know the status of implementation of different Government of India schemes in the country’s 29 states and 7 union territories.

It is true that Modi didn’t encourage the Dalal Raj of the political system. In Maharashtra, what is the reason for the deteriorating relationship between Uddhav and Modi took in the past 5 years? Was it ideological? Was it the just the BJP’s single party mindset? An arrogance of big brotherhood? The informed political circle know that the actual reason is because Shiv Sena couldn’t get the malai of Delhi’s power. It started with the Mumbai corporation and ended in a cabinet birth for Shiv Sena.

When Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister, Balasaheb quarrelled on several issues. But the supply line for Shiv Sena was never disturbed. Vajpayee was the first NDA PM in 1998. The Vajpayee era could easily be said as the beginning of the ‘swarna yug’ of Indian economy. It was under his leadership that India went for Pokhran 2, but was he a strong leader? The Indian mythology of strong leadership would dictate that he wasn’t.

Vajpayee was, after all, a man of political consensus. How can such a leader be characterised as strong? Here lies the fallacy. Once the late Pramod Mahajan of the BJP told me: “Do you know what is our major problem in this party and government? And what is the advantage the Gandhi family of the Congress have?” He explained: “In our party it is a tyranny of democracy. Vajpayee may be the leader but there is an oligarchy. Advani, M.M. Joshi, Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha. And beyond these leaders there is Nagpur. Humhara yaha fayasla lenese jada chintan manthan hota haye!”

In congress there is a working committee but only one Gandhi will take the final call. Nobody can object. Sharad Pawar and Purno Sangma raised issues and they had to leave the party. Only once Vajpayee did not disclose the decision to Advani also — and that was the Pokhran blast and that event made Indian leadership strong! See, Advani pressurised Vajpayee to hold general election six months early. And Vajpayee accepted. He lost the election.

democracy
Our Constitution suggests a quasi-federal structure, and such a leader can be a symbol of that political entropy. But creating a hate campaign against Modi, projecting him as an autocrat – is that democracy? Pixabay

Can anybody dictate Modi like this today?

In the party national executive meeting held at Palampur (Himachal Pradesh), the BJP leadership led by Advani took the resolution in 1989 to start Ramjanmabhomi movement. Vajpayee objected but he was a loner and a minority voice. Now this model of Vajpayee leadership is desirable? When a General cannot issue order to his soldiers forcefully? Second, when you are a victim of political blackmail. P.V. Narasimha Rao had to manage JMM MPs to win the no confidence motion in the Lok Sabha. How can he be the strong man? Manmohan Singh did not like it, but chargesheeted Lalu Prasad was in his cabinet. I recall that once, while accompanying him during a trip, he said on record that keeping Lalu in cabinet is coalition compulsion. Manmohan Singh wanted to go to Pakistan to talk. The party said no. How can he be a strong leader?

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Today we need a strong leader and strong nation. But this doesn’t mean that it has to be against the culture of political pluralism. Such a leader need not be against federalism, need not run an unitary government. Our Constitution suggests a quasi-federal structure, and such a leader can be a symbol of that political entropy. But creating a hate campaign against Modi, projecting him as an autocrat – is that democracy? Actually, till today, I have not seen one Devkant Baruah statement in the BJP saying ‘Modi is India’. (IANS)