Apropos of the column by Vivian Fernandes (Learnings from Israel’s agricultural solutions, FE, November 18), we have many development organisations for agriculture, but there are no village level government agencies that work. Even NABARD abandoned the farmers’ clubs concept. Rural jobs are looked down upon even by the governments as there is less pay for officials in rural areas for same or even more work than their urban counterparts even though working in rural is difficult and dangerous at times (my personal experience). A classic example are the regional rural banks vis a vis commercial banks and their respective pay structures. With this kind of lessening of the dignity of labour in rural services, no talented and competent people opt for rural development jobs. Since the nationalisation of banks, nothing concrete has been done for rural India and farmers.
Shun freebies for actual gains
The present calamity the Tamil Nadu capital, Chennai, is facing—on account of incessant rains and water-logging—is not at all an unexpected one. People were aware that with the callous and reckless manner in which the corporations and municipalities in the state were functioning, such a situation was imminent and unavoidable. There can be no second opinion that if only the state government had initiated the right steps well in advance and was prepared to face such unexpected brutalities of nature, today, the poor in the state would not have been subjected to such pains and agonies. The opposition parties have also alleged that the monies (in crores) allotted for desilting of the lakes and for building and maintaining roads, storm-water drains, etc, have not been properly utilised or even misused, resulting in the present pathetic condition of the state. Instead of giving free mixies, fans, TVs, free/subsidised meals to the people, it is time the government spent the money wasted this way to secure the lives of the poor people whenever nature strikes with fury. People should also learn to refuse such freebies and learn that they come to them only at the cost of their lives as explained above.
Tharcius M Fernando
Get the crude price right
The government has merrily embarked on a cess and surcharge trip. There perhaps needs to be greater concern on our approach to taxation, per se. The price of petrol (ex- refinery) is a loaded 150% at the pump! That the government is passing on the benefits of low crude prices disproportionately to common man is a smaller tale. The bigger damage this has wrought is that it has elevated consumer prices. These went up at peak oil prices and are, strangely, refusing to come down. There was an ideal opportunity to reduce prices at the pump, particularly for diesel, to bring down transportation costs and signal an overall easing in prices. The resulting drop in inflation indices would have prodded RBI much earlier for a rate cut. The government remains short-sighted and now adds-on one cess after another, on an already higher consumer price base. Revenue is augmented by economic growth and never by instigating price spirals and casual taxation. The crude prices may remain low for sometime longer, and, thus, there is time yet for greater pragmatism in adopting a fuel pricing that is growth-friendly. An economy freed of unimaginative taxation would contribute a lot more to revenue through buoyant growth.
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