Friday, April 24, 2015

Agrarian Crisis.

Agrarian Crisis.
Agrarian crisis in India is probably as old as Indian civilisation. This year the nature has been unfavourable at many places and the crisis seems to be much deeper. Farmers committing suicides is also quite routine now. But it is very difficult to understand why they are taking this extreme step? No real study is available on this. Can failure of crop lead to taking one’s life? Can a man abduct his responsibilities like this easily? It is very interesting that only men seem to be committing suicides. Now that is strange. Women also are involved in farming so why is it that they are not committing suicide? When a family suffers everyone in the family suffers, so why are women not taking their lives? Are they stronger and are willing to fight the hard times like Nargis in Mother India?
The crisis is an all round failure. The government has tried but failed in freeing farmers from the crutches of moneylenders. Farmers in spite of loan waivers off and on don’t seem to have learnt any lessons, and expect the same again and again. They have very little land in many cases which makes survival impossible. They are it seems wedded to traditions and are unable to break those shackles.
In the last 10 years MSP has gone up between 80 and 100%. People like Dr, Surjit Bhalla argue that this has pushed up food inflation. It must have but it has also put more money in the pockets of the farmers and has probably increased their spending may be on non-essentials and they are living beyond their means. But the food grain production has also increased by almost 50 million tons.  Many youngsters from farming community do not find farming worthwhile is a fact. In many families there are just too many people who are dependent on a small piece of land. The youngsters who go out and get educated are helped by the family sacrifices. It is possible that these youngster migrate for jobs and adopt a life style of urban excesses and thus have no spare money to send back to the family.
If farming is not remunerative then small farmers should actually welcome the LAB and offer their lands to the industry or the government! As we saw in Singrur and also in Raigarh in Maharashtra in spite of the possibility of one member of family getting employment in industry they opposed land acquisition. On the other hand we have seen farmers selling their land at a very high price  at places like Gurgaon and Hinjewadi near Pune and spend all the money on big houses cars and gold and becoming paupers few years down the line!
If we watch krishi Darshan on DD, I am sure hardly anybody does and that would include farmers themselves, one hear many individual success stories of farmers experimenting reaping huge financial rewards. Others can learn from this. Basically the Gram Panchayat model of governance has failed miserably in this area. Very few villages have done concrete work in the field of water conservation and harvesting. Every village has to do this on their own. The state governments and central government through its agencies like NABARD have many schemes to help such villages. The money allocated to agriculture has grown steadily but real useful assets have not been created. The major blame for this must lie with the farmers. They refuse to unite even at village level. Caste divides have not helped. Local politics has not only not helped but has made sure that small farmers will remain at the mercy of these politicians and the middlemen.
I find it strange when politicians from Punjab and Haryana say the government has done nothing for farmers. The biggest beneficiaries of Green Revolution are these two states! The farmers here are rich. Those who are poor are marginal farmers.
It was interesting to read yesterday that the actual farming community in India is 13-15% of population and not 60% as being believed. This means the others are marginal farmers who cannot produce enough to sustain or are landless labourers.
I have argued for some time now that we need to stop pampering the industry which will never be satisfied with anything and divert major resources of government to create loaclised water bodies for irrigation and drinking water, road connectivity to markets, abolishing APMC, creating cold storage chains and educating farmers to market their own produce without the middleman. Only this will help farmers.
We cannot blame politicians for everything. Farmers have to unite instead of becoming slaves of politicians. Enormous amounts have been spent for years in the name of farmers but little seems to have reached them. Gradually withdraw subsidies and let the markets decide the prices of their produce. Consumers’ may have to pay a higher price initially but then things will even out.
What I am surprised about is that in spite of claims of crops being destroyed in major parts all kinds of vegetables and seasonal fruits are available in plenty! If there is so much crop loss how has this miracle happened? Are farmers overstating their losses?
I am convinced the future of farmers is in their hands and they will have to take up the challenges and there are many. They cannot depend on politicians to deliver. The sooner they appreciate this better it would be farming community.
Dear farmers committing suicide is not the answer to your woes, when you go leaving you family to fend for themselves you are committing a bigger sin.
Dear Media and political parties stop glamorising suicides, Star condemning them.  Stop giving compensation for suicide, this compensation is an incentive to commit suicide. Instead help such families to educate their children in some skills that will help them live a life of dignity.


Monday, April 20, 2015

Netaji Subhashchandra Bose – Some thoughts & Questions.

Netaji Subhashchandra Bose – Some thoughts & Questions.
Subhashbabu was a very popular and respected leader of India. Many from my parents’ generation had tremendous admiration for him even though they also admired Gandhi and Nehru. They liked his boldness and his guts.Many also liked him because he was able to take on Gandhi and walk his own path even within Congress. Ultimately Gandhi prevailed and he was the one who had to leave Congress. They were thrilled when he decided to launch armed struggle against the British rule, but none that I know of had the guts to join him in this. It was all admiration from distance! My generation has also admired him greatly.
Unfortunately Subhashbabu and controversy have been together always. Even today we really do not know what actually happened to him. We keep remembering him only when a new controversy regarding him erupts as is the case now. It is easy to say Congress has not given him his due. It is true not only of him but of many others who were stalwarts of the freedom movement. It is also true that other political parties except the Forward Block in Bengal have ignored him.
Indians love martyrs. We love Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Rajguru, Sawarkar and many others who took up arms against the British. But we as a society really abhor violence normally. That is the reason that many did not take up arms themselves. This was true even during the times of Shivaji and Rana Pratap. Many locals refused to join them and continued to serve the Moghals and Adil Shah to protect their own Jahagirs and live comfortably. Many actively opposed them and fought with them!
Subhashbabu could galvanise people with his oratory but not many were brave enough to respond to his call “Give me blood and I will give you freedom!” People at large chose to sympathise with his cause and admire him but not participate in his struggle. Many Indians were then serving in the British army. I have not heard of any of these people deserting the army to join him. Many thought it better to fight for the allied forces and lay down their lives for the empire.
This is where he faced his biggest problem. Building an army outside India was always going to be a very tough ask. He had no choice but to turn to the enemies of England to support him and hence his meetings with Hitler and Mussolini. Were these leaders really interested in building an Indian army to take on the British is moot question essentially because all their efforts then were to defeat and conquer England and Europe and even Russia.
I find it difficult to believe that had Hitler won the war and had he conquered England he would have been gracious or stupid to grant freedom to India. He would have ruled the entire empire and would have crushed any rebellion with utmost ruthlessness. About this I have no doubt whatsoever. He was only being indulgent towards Subhashbabu to see if he could open a front against the British on the Eastern boarder of India to help the advancing Japanese.
I also do not believe that Subhashbabu was naive to trust Hitler. He may have thought that let me take his help and defeat the British first and see what happens later.
It will be better if the government of India does away with the secrecy of old official documents and as is the practice in most democratic countries make all these documents public at 50 years after the events. This will necessarily cause reassessment of the past leaders and that is essential. It will also make us know the truth about our history and we can thus re-write our history backed by solid facts.
In India history is perceived from the angle of who likes whom rather than based on cold facts. History also needs proof if it has to be accepted otherwise what we believe is history is actually mythology!
I hope the government will amend the Official Secrets Act and make all documents except the most sensitive ones public quickly. We have a right to know what exactly happened instead of we speculating and casting aspersions on the actions of people who are no more with us and hence cannot tell their side of the story.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

माझ्या सात आत्त्या!

माझ्या सात आत्त्या!
भारतीय संस्कृतीत आणि इतिहासात सात नद्यांना अत्यंत महत्व आहे. या सात नद्यांच्या काठावर आपली वस्ती झाली आणि मग तिथेच आपली संस्कृत बहरली. मला सात आत्त्या आहेत, आणि माझ्या आयुष्यात त्यांचं महत्व या नद्यान इतकच आहे. आजकाल कोणाला सात आत्त्या नसतातच पण माझ्या पिढीतल्या आम्हा भावंडांना सात आत्त्या किंवा मावशा आहेत!
माझ्या जन्माच्या वेळी माझ्या चार आत्त्या घरात होत्या आणि त्यांचाशी माझी साहजिकच जवळीक होती कारण एक तर घरात मी सर्वात लहान होतो. आमच कुटुंब मोठ शिवाय पाहुणे सततच असत. बाळंतपण, आजारपण, लग्न कार्य इत्यादि गोष्टी वार्षिक असल्या सारख्या होत्या! शिवाय जाणी येणी चालूच असत. माझ्या आई पेक्षा जास्त मी आत्त्या बरोबर असायचा. त्या बिचार्‍या मला त्यांच्या बरोबर सगळी कडे घेऊन जायच्या. त्यांच्या मैत्रिणींकडे, खेळायला क्लब मध्ये पण. मी त्यांचं शेपूट होतो. आता मला वाटत की किती बोअर होत असेल त्यांना माझ्यामुळे! पण बिचार्‍या कधी बोलल्या नाहीत. आणि मला घेऊन जात राहिल्या. एकत्र कुटुंबाचा हा परिणाम असावा. यामुळे माझा एक फायदा हा झाला की अजून ही बायकान बरोबर माझ चांगलं जमत!
थोरल्या तीन अत्त्यांची लग्न झालेली होती. पण त्याही सुट्टीत यायच्या दर वर्षी. नाही तर आम्ही जायचो पुण्याला त्यांच्याकडे. इथेही कित्येकदा मी माझ्या अत्त्यानाच लटकलेला!
माझ्या सगळ्या आत्त्या सुंदर आणि हुशार आहेत. एक दुसरी सारखी मात्र नाही अजिबात. प्रत्येक वेगळी पर्सनॅलिटी आहे आणि आपल वेगळं व्यक्तिमत्व असलेल्या ह्या कर्तबगार बायका आहेत या!
पहिली यमुताई. सगळ्या भावंडातली मोठी ताई. हीची जरब काही औरच होती. उंचीनी बुटकी पण केस कित्येक वर्ष गुढग्याच्या खाल पर्यन्त आणि जाड. वेणी घालायला आणि विंचरायला केवढा त्रास व्हायचा तिला. आईच्या मागे लहान भावंडांची ही ताई खर तर त्यांची आई झाली! आम्ही कितीजण तिच्या कडे निसंकोचपणे राहिलो आहोत. ताई आणि दादानी सगळ्यांवर अतोनात प्रेम केल आयुष्यभर. ती आमच्या कुटुंबाचा भक्कम आधार होती, वरुन कडक आणि शिस्तप्रिय पण प्रेमळ. प्रेम बोलून दाखवणारी नव्हती ती पण वागण्यातून कळायच ते. कांद्याची आमटी तिच्या सारखी जगात दुसर्‍या कोणीही कधी केली नाही न कधी करेल!
तिच्या नंतरची किसुमई. सगळ्या बहिणीमधे नाजुक. नकलाबाज, हिच्या नकला पाहून आम्ही सगळे हसून हसून बेजार व्ह्ययचो, अजून ही त्यांची आठवण ताजी आहे आणि ते आठवून आम्ही अजून तसेच हसतो! किसुमाई गायची, शास्त्रीय गाण शिकलेली. मास्टर कृष्णा आणि नेहरू आणि इंदिरा हिची आराध्य दैवत. स्वैपक मस्त करायची. माझ्या लहानपणी माझ्या एक वाढदिवसाला हीनी “बटाट्याचा बुवा केला होता. (माधवकाका मला बुवा म्हणायचा). हिची बिर्याणी अफलातून!
तिसरी मालूयात्त्या. ही अत्यंत विचारी. लहानपणा पासून बंडखोर! अजून ही खूप वाचणारी. हीची मते ठाम, विचारांती बनलेली. समाजकार्‍याची अत्यंत आवड असलेली आणि वयाच्या ऐंशीव्या वर्षा पर्यन्त अशी काम उत्साहनी करणारी. राजकारण, समाजकरण उत्तम जाणणारी. कुठल्याही विषयावर महितीपूर्ण बोलणारी. हिची खासियत म्हणजे ही अत्यंत साधा स्वैपाक तिच्या पद्धतीने खुलवणारी.
नंतरची बिजुअत्त्या. ही फार लहान वयात गेली आम्हाला सोडून. ही मराठी सिनेमात दाखवत तशी प्रेमळं वाहिनी, आई, मावशी, आत्त्या सर्व काही. कुठल्याही बिकट प्रसंगी हिचे दार ठोठवावे बिनदिक्कत, मदतीची गॅरंटी! हिच्या लग्नात तीन वर्षाचा मी हिच्या नवर्‍याला दुसरी बायको द्या पण बिजुयत्त्या नको म्हणून प्रचंड रडल्याच मी ऐकलं आहे! ही आम्हा सर्वांची स्वतच्या आईपेक्षा प्रेमळ आई. कोणाशीही पटवून घेण्यात वाकबगार. वाहिनी नंतर घर सांभाळणारी. शिक्षण अपुर राहिल्याची हिची भरपाई काय तर हिने लग्ना नंतर मूल बाळं झाल्यावर चित्रकला विषय घेऊन एम.ए. केल. खूप सुंदर चित्रा काढायची. हीच अकाली जाण फार चटका लावून गेल सर्व कुटुंबाला!
मग माझी लाडकी खर तर सगळ्याच लाडक्या आणि मी ही त्यांचा लाडका, पण जिच्या बरोबर माझ मेतकूट लहानपणी पासून जमाल ती जोतनआत्त्या. मी तीन चार वर्षाचा होईतोपर्यंत हीलच चिकटलेला. दुपारी मी तिला म्हणायचो चल आपण वर जाऊ या, आई आवरेल सगळं! मग पुढे हिच्या मुलांनी हेच माझ्या आईला म्हणल्यावर आई म्हणली तिला, ज्योते घे आता! ही लग्न करून अहमदाबादला गेली. सुट्टीत यायची तेवढीच भेट. पण काय नशीब आज गेली २३ वर्ष मी आणि ती पाच मिनिटाच्या अंतरावर राहतो आहोत. त्यामुळे आमच जाण येण ही खूप आणि ती आमची हक्काची! माझा मुलगा बाकी कोणाशी बोलत नाही एवढं तिच्याशी बोलतो मोकळेपणे आणि आम्हाला न सांगितलेल्या गोष्टी  तिला सांगतो! या सगळ्या भावंडात पैसे, आर्थिक व्यवहार, गुंतवणूक याच्यातली ती एकच मास्टर! व्यवहाराला चोख. गुजराथेत राहिल्याचा परिणाम असावा नाहीतर आगाशांच्या मागील पिढीत बहुतेक सगळे व्यवहार शून्य पंडितच! ह्या वयात सुद्धा तशीच हौशी आणि सुंदर.
मग आमच्या घरातली लखलखती बिजली सुहासआत्त्या! मूर्तीमंत चैतन्य. उंच, गोरी, रुबाबदार कोणावर ही चटकन छाप पडणारी. उल्हासानी ओथंबलेली. ही असेल तिथे फक्त हिची सत्ता, तिची छापच अशी. लहानपणा पासून बेदरकार. मुलांशी ही मारामारी कळणारी वेळ पडली तर. जीत जागत चैतन्य होती ती. आयुष्य कस जगावं हिच्याकडून शिकाव. आयुष्यात अनेक प्रसंगांना तोंड देताना सुद्धा हीच हसू नाही मावळल कधी. अध्यात्मात ही राममाण झाली काही वर्ष. ही सगळ्यांचीच लाडकी. हिच्या प्रेमात आम्ही सगळेच. ही ही आता नाही. आमच्या कुटुंबातल काही चैतन्य हीच्या बरोबर हरवल आम्ही!
सर्वात धाकटी नंदाआत्त्या. हिच्या बरोबर मी सगळ्यात जास्त वर्ष राहिलो! हीच मला शाळेत न्यायची रोज आणि रोज माझ्या चेंगटपणामुळे तिला उशीर व्हायचा. ही अतिशय विचारी. प्रचंड समाजकार्य करणारी. दहा वर्ष कर्वे संस्था अत्यंत यशस्वीपणे चालवली हिने आणि आता अजून एक संस्था चालवते आहे. वडलांचा समाजकार्‍याचा खरा वसा माझ्या मते हिने चालवला. ही सगळ्यात लहान भावंडात, प्रकृतीने तशी नाजुक, पण मनाने अतिशय खंबीर. सगळ्यांचं म्हणणं शांतपणे ऐकून सर्वमान्य तोडगा काढण्यात कर्तबगार. सातारला कधी ही येतेस का विचारलं तर लगेच हो म्हणनारी! 

या माझ्या साती आत्त्या माझ्या साठी फार महत्वाच्या व्यक्ति. प्रत्येक जण वेगवेगळ्या कारणासाठी कदाचित. पण मी नशीबवान कारण या सगळ्यांनी माझ्यावर अतोनात प्रेम केलाय. आणि महत्वाच म्हणजे या सगळ्यांनी माझ्या आईला सांभाळून घेतलं, ती आणि ह्या सगळ्या एकमेकींच्या मदतीला कायम धावून गेल्या. आमच्या कुटुंबात नणदा- भावजयीच नात उत्कृष्ट राहील. यात या सात जणीनचा मोठा वाटा. फार कमी जणांच्या वाट्याला अशा सात आत्त्या येतात, माझ्या वाट्याला आल्या! माझ आयुष्य चांगलं करण्यात यांचा मोठा हातभार! म्हणून या सगळ्यांचे आभार!v 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

सुकणारी फुले!

सुकणारी फुले!
प्रत्येक नवे झाड तुझ्याचसाठी,
उमळणारी सारी फुले ही तुझ्याचसाठी
मी फक्त माळी बागेचा आणि
अर्थात भक्त तुझा
तुला वाहतो ही सारी फुले
त्यांच्याच आईच्या खांद्यावर
तशीच ठेऊन,
तेवढाच त्यांना सहवास एकमेकांचा
अल्पायुषी जीवनात फुलांच्या!
तोडून तुला वाहिली तर हिंसेचा
बट्टा लागेल मला
आणि तू देव म्हणून वाहिली तुला
तरी तू ही नाही थांबवू शकणार
खेळ निसर्गाचा!
उमललेली फुले सुकणार वेळ आली की
तुला वाहिली काय आणि
न वाहिली तरी!
मग बिचारी सुकोत आपल्याच
घरी सुखाने, विटंबने पासून
दोन हात दूर राहून!
तुझा तू सुखात रहा आणि
त्यांना ही सुखात सुकुद्या!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

वासाची फुले!

वासाची फुले!
वास घेतलेली फूल म्हणे देवाला
वाहिलेली चालत नाहीत
मग प्रश्न असा पडला मला की
त्यांनी मग फुलांना सुगंध का दिला?
सगळीच फुले बिन वासाची का
नाही निर्मिली?
आणि दिला वास तर दिला त्यांना
पण मग आम्हाला नाक का दिले?
आणि दिले तर दिले त्या नाकाला
गंधाच वरदान का दिले?
फुले वेचताना त्याचा वास का
येत नाही भक्तांना?
आणि मग ती फुले वाहिलेली
चालतात का देवाला?
वासांच्या फुलांना वास तर येणारच
आणि तो न घेताही अनेकाना
येणारच, ती तर त्याची
खरी मौज आहे, मग देवांना
ती आवडो वा न आवडो,
तो फक्त त्यांचा प्रश्न आहे
त्यांनाच तो सोडवूद्यात
आम्हाला फुलांचा वास येतो
आम्ही तो घेत राहणार
आणि हे सुख आम्हाला दिल्या बद्दल
मात्र देवा तुझे शतशः आभार!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

ऊन आणि कळ्या!

ऊन आणि कळ्या!
वैशाखाच्या रणरणत्या उन्हात
गुलाबांच्या कळ्यांची उमलण्याची
आणि उमलताच मलूल होण्याची  
ती जीवघेणी तडफड बघून
तुझ्या डोळ्यात आलेले ते
दोन अश्रु ही ओघळण्या आधीच
सुकलेले मी पहिले,
तुझ्या न कळत, आणि मग
मला उमजले की नेहमीच
गुलाबांच्या कळ्या बघून
मला तुझी आठवण का येते ते.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Some questions regarding Insurance!

Some questions regarding Insurance!
From what I am hearing some questions regarding insurance seem to be in order.
I have heard that in case of the death of an insurance agent their nominees are eligible to keep getting renewal commission till the policies sold by the agent continue to be in force even though the nominee is not going to provide any service to the customers! This is ridiculous. I have heard that IRDA has now decided that this practice will be discontinued in near future.
If one has health policy the money will be paid by the company only if the insured is hospitalized. If he has been asked to do some investigations that do not need admission to a hospital the expenses incurred will not be reimbursed to him. The reason that I have heard is that the insurance companies believe that this will be misused and false claims will be lodged. But what if the investigations are undertaken in the approved hospitals? Should these not be reimbursed?
Also heard that LIC agents get higher commission on Money back and endowment policies, is it true? What should there be such differentiation? But it seems LIC does not give free gifts or free foreign tours that are common with private insurance.
I know of a insurance company that pays out of pocket expenses to agents if  minimum one policy is sold in a month and if attends office for certain number of days! Some agents who complete targets their phone and internet expenses are fully reimbursed by the company.
All the gifts and these can be like Tabs from Apple or Samsung are given away free. Foreign tours must be costing a lot to the companies. All these expenses are of course born by the policy holders. The expenses are booked by the insurance companies and they get tax advantage, while the beneficiaries also do not pay any tax on these freebies! So the government loses, policyholders lose. Fit case to impose FBT on this sector? Alternately all these freebies need to be added in the income of the receiver and taxed.
Now that FDI limit stands increased to 49%, will Indian promoters be able to sell their stake to their foreign partners and make huge profits with no inflow of capital for the company, something that happened in some Telecom companies earlier. Does the law require foreign partners to infuse equity in the company directly?