I had an invitation from Times Now during the Pulse price rise to come as one of the panelists to debate this issue. This came after two of my back to back interviews in Rediff and WSJ on the subject. The caller identified himself as a desk guy from Times Now and asked my view on the sky rocketing Pulse prices. After listening to my views, he asked, “Do you blame the government or do you back the government”. He then told me this is a debate and I have to take a position.
The matter of fact is that if I oppose the government for the sake of opposing, it will be jingoistic. That’s because the government has no magic wand to make the farmers grow the commodities they want. With the current government just 2 years in power, the entire fault of a century cannot be put on them for the sake of a debate. I believe there have been no policies or clarity on agriculture planning. If a Canadian province, Saskatchewan with less than a million population and cultivated farmland area of nearly 19 million hectares accounts for 65 per cent of the world’s lentil exports and 54 per cent of the world’s pea exports, why can’t we as an agrarian economy feed ourselves? Collectively all governments and so called Agriculture experts are responsible for this mess. The farmers merely followed them dreaming of high returns. Especially with no irrigation and erratic monsoon, it is actually a long term plan to make India self sufficient. I am not aware what the current government will do in the years to come.
And if I support the government in this issue, it will be a joke because by all means government of the day is responsible to help boost production. India’s annual import bill of pulses alone is $2.6 billion. Imagine this reaching our own farmers, they may never think of leaving farming – leave alone think of committing suicide. Just see the granaries of public distribution system like Food Corporation of India warehouses. Wheat and rice are rotting because we are over-producing both. Why can’t we replace one of these with pulses? So isn’t the government responsible?
How to make both these views together in Times Now Debate? There is no room at all. For someone with a balanced view, there is no place for debate. You can be a patriot but still criticize the government of the day. You may be a Left leaning person but still criticize China. You may be a Muslim but still criticize IS and Bin Laden. But not on Times Now. Obviously the debate happened with people with no relation to agriculture, economy or farming. Imagine Rakesh Sinha, Rahul Easwar, Prafulla Ketkar and the ilk discussing economy and for that matter anything under the sky?
You are with us or against us policy is making the debate on Times Now more and more like a street fight with no real outcome. It may be their prime time. But who will compensate our prime time watching it.
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