TickySpeaks: The Year Gone By

Kartick Jagtap | SIMC Ink

2010 has been a remarkable year for our country. As a fast developing economy that is readying itself to challenge the might of the Americas and the Chinas of the world, India has not witnessed a more significant year in recent times. While it remains a matter of debate to judge a period of time based on events of social, political and economic concern, one can however, put into perspective the time gone by and note some of the interesting events of the past twelve months.

To say that India has been a hotbed of political turmoil will not be an understatement as observed over the past few months. The coalition Government under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been wrung on almost all sides as the Congress has struggled to appease its allies and the Opposition over matters ranging from the organizing of sporting mega-events and property scandals to even technology licensing.

‘Scandal’ was the word of the year as Messrs Kalmadi, Chavan and Raja hogged the headlines on a daily basis. While Kalmadi’s skeletons continue to tumble out of the closet, a certain Mr. Chavan gave into the lure of sea facing apartments meant for war widows. Competing with the two was A. Raja who under the facade of spectrum allotment, ‘allegedly’ siphoned of crores of Rupees.  2010 has been anything but calm for Madam Gandhi.

However, in spite of the actions of our politicians that have tarnished the nation’s image, all was not lost. The emergence of new sporting heroes like Somdev Devvarman and Saina Nehwal was seen as a sign of a younger, diverse India hell-bent on proving itself. We had amore than a decent outing at the CWG and the Asiad and it was probably for the first time in recent years that lesser followed sports shared the limelight usually reserved for cricket. Not to be outdone, Cricket too had a noteworthy year. Riding on the form of the legendary Sachin Tendulkar, India managed to secure the number 1 Test ranking for the first time. Incidentally, Tendulkar himself created history by becoming the first man to score 200 runs in a One Day International. He’s completed the year by creating another record that of completing a record 50 Test centuries.

As 2010 draws to a close, I remain hopeful that the New Year ushers in a wave of responsibility, that our politicians respect the integrity of our country and that our sportspersons continue to shine on the world stage, after all, we are hosting the 2011 Cricket World Cup and the eyes of the world will be upon us!

The sad tale of hunger strikes and reliefs

Poulami Mukherjee | SIMC Ink

At a time when the privileged population of India was celebrating the advent of Christmas, the not-so-privileged farmer population was reeling under the burden of tremendous financial pressure.

The reason was the unseasonal and untimely rainfall that affected the sub-continent, especially states like Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.  The climatic whims and fancies resulted in a large-scale damage to crops, with farmers suffering huge financial losses.

However, the Government seemed to be quite oblivious to this damage. Finally, when several pleas to rescue farmers fell to deaf ears, Andhra Pradesh politicos observed hunger strikes to initiate some action from the Centre.

Telugu Desam Party (TDP) president N. Chandrababu Naidu went on an eight-day hunger strike to protest the lack of financial help meted out to the farmers. Naidu’s condition deteriorated to such an extent that he had to be hospitalized.

Former MP Jagan Mohan Reddy also followed in the footsteps of the TDP leader and observed a 48-hour fast to demand relief for the rain-hit farmers.  Prime Minister Manmohan Singh finally gave in to their demands and to those of the 28 Congress MPs accompanied by Jaipal Reddy, Union Urban Development Minister. On December 22 he announced a Rs.400 crore relief package for these farmers in Andhra Pradesh, adding that further help would be extended following reports of surveys.

However, one is forced to infer – had Naidu not chosen the path of observing a fast, the Centre would surely have paid no heed to the situation. Added to that were Reddy’s anti-Congress antics. While his action might have been a subtle way of building ground for floating his own political party in the future, the former MP surely made some heads turn by adding fuel to the fire lit by Naidu.

Does that mean that the only way to extract action from the Centre is to engage in sensationalistic activities like hunger strikes, fasts and protests? All this while, the Centre simply chose to ignore the plight of the farmers. They were more engrossed in the pact with Russia, flaring prices of onions, the endless probes of 2G scams and the like. While the above undoubtedly need attention, the issue of the farmers cannot take a backseat. One cannot deny rights to those very people who are the drivers of our agrarian economy.

The Government should have taken remedial measures the moment they were intimated about the situation of the farmers. They did not have to wait for a hunger strike to remind them of their duty. And their responsibility does not end yet. While they might feel that their responsibility ends with doling out relief packages, the implementation of the same is a different ball game altogether.  A relief package is divided into several components and each of these components has its respective implementing department.

For the farmer to get his share of the relief, the same has to go through different stages at the Central, State, District, Block and finally village levels. In other words, the relief package has to pass through reams of the red – tape and needless to say the process is extremely time-consuming.

The need of the hour is that the Centre implements the relief package immediately. Else, another strike or protest will stir up fresh controversy for a government which is already dealing with too much on its plate.