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No deaths: Agriculture ministry is ostrich-like over farmer suicides

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New Delhi: If the union agriculture ministry is to be believed, not a single farmer’s suicide was registered in Bihar and Rajasthan in the past 15 years due to agrarian reasons. This is sharp contrast to the data isues by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

Altogether, 7,927 suicides were recorded by people involved in agriculture/farming between 2000 and 2014 in Rajasthan and 975 in Bihar, according to the NCRB.

The department of agriculture’s ‘no deaths’ in the two states during the years 2000 to 2014 came in response to an RTI enquiry by IANS. No explanation was given given by the department as to why they have no record of such deaths.

Not only that, according to the department, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh registered only four and one deaths, respectively, due to agrarian reasons during the same period.

The NCRB data on suicides, though, shows that in Madhya Pradesh 21,138 suicides by famers occured while Uttar Pradesh saw 8,531 deaths in the fifteen years in question.

Among the other states that reported zero or single-digit number of farmer suicide, according to RTI reply sent by the department, were Odisha, Haryana, West Bengal, Delhi, Tripura, Assam, Jharkhand, and Himachal Pradesh.

It also said that states like Gujarat and Chhattisgarh recorded, in 15 years, just five and one deaths, respectively.

The NCRB puts the number of farmer suicides case in 15 years in Chhattisgarh at 15,099, West Bengal 13,098, Gujarat, 8,309, Assam 3,908, Odisha 3,439, Jharkhand 1,197, Himachal Pradesh 669, Tripura 430 and Delhi 191.

The Union agriculture minister Radhe Mohan Singh drew sharp criticism from the media in July this year for attributing the causes of farmers’ suicide to issues like love affair and impotency in a reply to a question in Rajya Sabha on the issue of farmers’ suicide.

The department of agriculture may argue that the NCRB data of suicides involving people in agriculture and farming may be due to various factors like bankruptcy or sudden change in economic status, marital trouble, not having children, illness, death of dear a person, dowry dispute or other issues — everything other than agrarian distress.

But experts say that each factor — as stated by NCRB — responsible for suicides is directly or indirectly related to agrarian reason. It has also said that states do not record farmers’ suicides in a serious manner.

“There are lots of discrepancies in the registering farmers’ suicide data by the states. A large number of farmers in our country don’t have their own land. Most of them work on somebody else’s land. The government doesn’t record suicides committed by these farmers,” K. Nagaraj, former professor at Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS) in Tamil Nadu told IANS.

The reason state governments don’t register farmers’ suicides, he adds, was because they know they would have to compensate their families. “Moreover, they understate the figures because they want to show that the situation is not so bad,” Nagaraj said.

According to the data received from the department of agriculture and cooperation, the only states which registered any large number of farmers suicides in 15 years were Maharashtra with 7,678 deaths, Andhra Pradesh with 2,259 deaths, Karnataka with 1,484 and Kerala with 948. Tamil Nadu had recorded 13 deaths, it said.

The NCRB of course paints a totally different picture. Maharashtra saw 54,941 suicides, Andhra Pradesh 30,752, Karnataka 30,604 Kerala 16,088 and Tamil Nadu 12,373.

According to NCRB data, the total number of suicides by people involved in farming/agriculture from 2000 to 2014 is 238,658. However, the number of such suicides as stated by the department of agriculture during the same period is 18,271 — less than eight per cent. Something obviously is wrong in the system.

(Sidhartha Dutta, IANS)

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The Fall of the poster boy of Indian politics – Nitish Kumar

How Nitish Kumar gave his career a downfall drift

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Chief Minister of Bihar
Nitish Kumar

Amulya Ganguly

At one time, he was the poster boy of Indian politics. Not only did he slay the villain of Bihar’s “jungle raj” in 2005 by rounding up lawless elements after winning an election and launching social and economic development projects, he also scored another resounding electoral victory in the company of a new set of friends, including the “villain”, in 2015.

It appeared at the time that he could do no wrong. So much so that he was seen as a possible prime ministerial candidate of the “secular” front.

But, then, the rise and rise of Nitish Kumar came to an abrupt halt. He remains Bihar’s Chief Minister, but the halo round his head has frayed.

The reason is not only his switching of friends in what is seen as an exercise in crass opportunism, but also his pursuit of policies which are out of sync with the modern world and threatens to reinforce Bihar’s reputation for backwardness by turning the entire state into a virtual dehat or village.

The first step in this bucolic direction was the imposition of prohibition which has robbed Bihar’s clubs, hotels and intellectual watering holes of cosmopolitanism. Now, Nitish Kumar has taken yet another step backwards by demanding 50 per cent reservations for the backward castes in the private sector.

To begin with the second step, it is obvious that by threatening to take the quota system to such an absurd level, the Chief Minister has scotched any hope of industrial growth in a state which is crying out for investment.

In 2012, Bihar received investment proposals worth Rs 24,000 crore. In the post-liquor ban period, they have dropped to Rs 6,500 crore.

If his new ally, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had any hope, therefore, of making Bihar the beneficiary of his Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas goals, he can bid it goodbye.

Nitish Kumar’s latest pitch in favour of the backward castes is all the more strange because he cannot seriously expect that his proposal will pass muster at the judicial level.

Like most Indian politicians, he is more interested in posing as a champion of whichever group he is courting at a given moment than in adopting measures which have a reasonable chance of success.

He merely wants to impress his targeted audience by showing that he did make an honest effort, but was stymied by the “system”.

Whether it is prohibition or reservations, Nitish Kumar’s ploys tend to underline crafty political manoeuvres rather than any genuine intention of acting in the state’s interest.

Unfortunately for the Janata Dal (United) leader, his gambits are too palpable to deceive anyone. In the case of the reservations, it is clear that Nitish Kumar is still battling his old adversary-cum-ally-cum-adversary, Lalu Prasad Yadav of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).

Since Nitish Kumar belongs to a numerically small and politically less influential caste — the Kurmis — than the RJD’s powerful Yadavs, he has never been at ease in Lalu Prasad’s company whether at the time of their camaraderie during Jayaprakash Narayan’s anti-Congress movement or when they were a part of the state government after the 2015 election victory.

The focal point of Nitish Kumar’s political career has been to establish himself as the foremost leader in the state. Lalu Prasad’s conviction in the fodder scam case enabled Nitish Kumar to be the No. 1 in the Janata Dal (United)-RJD-Congress government.

But he appeared to be forever looking over his shoulder to check whether he was being undermined by the RJD which has more MLAs than the Janata Dal (United).

Prohibition was the policy which he embraced to win over the lower middle class and rural women to his side. But, predictably, the liquor ban has led to an increase in drug abuse with 25 per cent of the cases in de-addiction centres now dealing with the users of cannabis, inhalants and sedatives.

Unlike prohibition which is not aimed at any caste, the demand for the 50 per cent reservations is intended by Nitish Kumar to bolster his position vis-a-vis Lalu Prasad since both are intent on playing the backward caste card.

It is also a message to his partner in the government, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), about the importance of the quota system for the Chief Minister, especially when the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief, Mohan Bhagwat, is in favour of doing away with reservations altogether.

Nitish Kumar's self demolition
Bihar’s chief minister gave his political career a U-turn.

When Bhagwat expressed his views during the 2015 election campaign, the BJP quickly distanced itself from them for fear of losing the backward caste and Dalit votes. Even then, the BJP’s reputation as a brahmin-bania party remains intact. Besides, it is now more focused on playing the nationalist card than on wooing the backward castes.

Nitish Kumar must have thought, therefore, that the time was ripe for him to up the ante on the caste issue if only to let the BJP know that he cannot be marginalised as the BJP has been tending to do since tying the knot with the Janata Dal (United).

But, whatever his intention, Nitish Kumar cannot but be aware that his position is much weaker now than when he was in the “secular” camp. Nor is there any chance that he will regain his earlier status any time in the near future.(IANS)

 

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Rs 10,000 cr will be given to top 10 Universities to make them World-Class, says Prime Minister Narendra Modi

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Wikimedia

Patna, October 14: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said it was a “blot” that Indian universities do not figure among the top 500 of the world and noted that the government has decided to give autonomy and Rs 10,000 crore to top 10 public and private universities over the next five years to make them world-class

.Addressing the centenary Celebrations of Patna University here in presence of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Modi said Indian universities such as Nalanda and Takshashila attracted students from all over the world.

“We are not among the top 500. We should remove this blot or not. The situation should change through our determination and hard work,” Modi said.

He said the government has come with a scheme to make 10 private and 10 public universities world-class by providing them autonomy from the constraints of government rules and freedom to grow.

“They will be given Rs 10,000 crore in the next five years,” Modi said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the selection will not be on any recommendation. “The universities will be a selected on the basis of a challenge in which they will be required to prove their mettle. The selection will be based on factors such as history, performance and its roadmap reach global benchmarks. A third party professional agency will be involved in the selection process,” Modi said.

Referring to demands for making Patna University a central university, Modi said it should strive to be among the globally-ranked varsity based on the competition and “this was many times ahead of being a central university”.

“Patna University should not stay behind (in the challenge),” he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said reforms in the country’s education sector have progressed at a slow speed and there have been differences among educationists which had hampered innovation with the governments too not measuring up to the task.

The Prime Minister said that for two years he heard arguments for and against granting more autonomy to Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and then a big decision was taken.

“It is for the first time that the IIMs are out of government control and have been professionally opened up. This is a big opportunity for them and they would make the best use,” he said.

Modi said that Patna University was known to produce IAS and IPS officers and in the same manner IIMs are known to produce Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of global companies.

He also urged universities to move from conventional teaching to innovative learning and involve alumni associations more actively.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said 65 per cent of the population of the country was below 35 years in age and the dreams of development can be fulfilled.

“We need to understand the changing trends across the world and the increased spirit of competitiveness. In that context India has to make its place in the world,” Modi said.

He appreciated the efforts Nitish Kumar towards development of the state and said the progress of eastern India is the Centre’s topmost priority.

“The commitment of Nitish Kumar towards the progress of Bihar is commendable. The Centre attaches topmost importance to the development of eastern India,” Modi said.

He said when the country celebrates the 75th anniversary of Independence day in 2022, he wants to see Bihar standing among the list of prosperous states.

Modi also said that many top level officials of civil services are students of Patna University.

“In every state, the top levels of the civil services has people who have studied in Patna University. In Delhi, I interact with so many officials, many of whom belong to Bihar… I consider it my honor to visit Patna University and be among the students. I bow to this land of Bihar. This university has nurtured students who have contributed greatly to the nation.”

He said that Bihar is blessed with both ‘Gyaan’ and ‘Ganga.’ “This land has a legacy that is unique,” he said.(IANS)

One response to “Rs 10,000 cr will be given to top 10 Universities to make them World-Class, says Prime Minister Narendra Modi”

  1. Grant of money alone does not make great institutions of learning, just as making large grand buildings, and setting up large sophisticated laboratories. It is the high ideals, learning & character in honest pursuit of knowledge and service that facilitates to create an atmosphere of pursuing higher & higher knowledge for the sake of welfare of humanity. An the open atmosphere of freely sharing the expertise & experience of seniors with development of young brains is equally important . This aspect has been pointed out by our Prime minister by the involvement of Alumni for the development of great institutions of learning.
    Another aspect that has not received due attention in the field of education in India so far is that we have not addressed properly the question of training and developing teachers of right caliber & character right from nursery and primary school levels of education to postgraduate levels in university in all fields of education i.e. humanities, engineering and medical schools by taking in to consideration present needs of society.
    Another point to note is that the famous All India Institution of Medical Sciences in Delhi was not set up to provide super speciality hospital services to the country, but to develop excellent faculty of teachers in collaboration with Harvard. This objective got lost on the way.

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Be a farmer on weekends at Citrus County Hoshiarpur

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Hoshiarpur
Wheat field in Phagwara Punjab India. Wikimedia

Hoshiarpur, Oct 2, 2017: Punjab is better known for India’s “green revolution” in agriculture and for contributing the maximum foodgrain to the national kitty. And now a progressive horticulturist and entrepreneur is offering hands-on experience to visitors to try their hand at how farming is actually done.

“Be a farmer on weekends at Citrus County — Hoshiarpur. Get your kids to the farm to give them a unique experience in a typical farm in Punjab. Let then come and indulge in plucking fruit and sowing vegetable seeds in the fields on their own.” This is how Harkirat Ahluwalia, owner of the Citrus County farm resort, puts it.

“We are offering guests, especially children, first-hand experience of doing farming. This is something that people have never tried before. The experience gives them the satisfaction of doing hard work and experiencing what life is like in the countryside,” Harkirat, who along with his wife Jasveen runs the resort, about 140 km from Chandigarh, told IANS.

The guests at the farm can sow seeds, pluck citrus fruit, plough the fields, milk cows, drive a tractor and take a ride to a nearby forest and rivulet in a tractor-trolley.

Fresh home-cooked food, which is prepared on earthen stoves at the ground level, home-grown organic vegetables and warm hospitality add up in equal measure to make the experience a refreshing one.

“Glamping”, or luxury tenting, as Harkirat puts it, is also part of the farm experience.

The nine air-conditioned tents at Citrus County, with attached bathrooms, offer luxury stay with king-sized beds in the midst of the sprawling orchards of kinnow (a citrus fruit) and tall poplar trees.

Also Read: Indian Agriculture status, Importance & Role In Indian Economy 

The farm resort is located in Chaunni Kalan village, five km short of Hoshiarpur on the Hoshiarpur-Chandigarh highway.

“Cycling enthusiasts are welcome to get their wheels along and we will provide them the best possible tracks,” said Harkirat, who is a post-graduate in Mass Communication from Panjab University and himself a cycling and biking enthusiast.

In the past, the resort has seen couples from other countries going through wedding rituals the Indian way to give them a real-time feel of the country’s culture and marriage ceremonies.

The unique thing in couples opting for the Indian-style wedding is that they are already married and are middle-aged or even older. The couples are accompanied by their friends, relatives and even children and grandchildren for this unique experience. (IANS)