Monday, August 30, 2010

Reflections on Agriculture Credit in India

With the opening of Indian economy in early nineties, a sharp fall in growth of agriculture credit has been established over the years, which remained relentless untill2004, when UPAI came out with some concrete measures to change the impression. All India Debt and Investment Survey {AIDIS} reveals many striking realities; from formal financial sources, the share of total debt of cultivator households declined from 64% in 1992 to 57% in 2003, consequently moneylenders stake grown from 10.5% to 19.6% during same time line. Such state of affairs given smooth passages to exploitative indebtedness and hold the persistence of agrarian distress.
Though after year2000, things have started changing albeit its resultant were yet far from being effective; in next half decade, the growth of agriculture credit from Commercial banks and Regional Rural Banks{RRBs},jumped from abysmal 1.8% through the whole nineties to 19.1%. The share of credit supplied by same both in total agriculture credit increased from 30% in year 2000 to 52% in year2007, although such impressive mark of agriculture credit under the Priority Sector Lending{PSL}hardly left any positive impacts for the shake of crisis ridden farming sector.

Since year2004, conception of PSL underwent a radical shift with greater focus over the export oriented and capital intensive agriculture financing. Now under PSL, an individual can be financed up to Rs1 Crore and joint venture up to Rs.25 Crore; broadening of credit limit further emphatically embarrass the agriculture credit, but the centre of attraction now is the urban-metropolitan areas unlike the erstwhile rural hinterlands of the country. This change could be easily noted by the expansion of urban and metropolitan bank branches during 1995-2005; their footprints amazingly gone up from 16.3% to 30.7%. Between the same timeframe, proportion of rural-semi urban branches plummeted from 83.7% to 69.3% and even further deep to 66% in 2008.
Consistent marginalization of agriculture credit in rural areas for the leeway of urban counterparts introducing an unhealthy trend within the Indian banking system that infact leaves innumerable adversities for farming growth. In present circumstances, except RRBs, not even a single Commercial bank is close to follow properly the RBI guidelines on PSL. Its mandate instructs that Commercial banks have to earmark the 40% of their bank credit towards Priority Sector, which include agriculture, Small Scale Industries {SSIs}, education and advances towards weaker sections; within this limit, banks have to allocate 18% for agriculture and set aside 10% for weaker sections. Albeit in actuality, statistical numbers are unfortunately swapped for big favour of SSIs, on the cost of rest two vulnerable peers…nowhere, I am citing anything against the SSIs finance but my contention is to retrieve the due attention for feeble farming sector on which the real growth of nation depends.

Until recently, Commercial banks are targeting indirect finance to met with RBI’s directives of 40% spending on Priority Sector…either they have been buying the debt of RRBs or participate with investment in Rural Infrastructure Development Fund {RIDF}, that itself mark the lack of seriousness among them for rural business. Such practices were alarming for the sake of RRBs relentless progress, so eventually finance ministry has issued some directives to curtail the hide& seek game of Commercial banks in rural segment. Today, 79 RRBs out of total 82 are profitable; the losses of other three dropped to merely 6 Crore from 36 Crore in 2008-09. Defying all adverse predictions, RRBs are emerged as ineluctable component within the Indian banking…among mainspring, with 15,475 branches, the profits of RRBs have increased to1970 Crore in 2009-10 from 1371 Crore in 2008-09.
Accumulated losses down to 1808 Crore at the end of March2010 from 2300 Crore a year back. Moreover, average net NPA’s of RRBs gone down 1.62%in 2009-10 from 1.81% in previous year and 53RRBs had a Capital Adequacy Rotation of more than 9%. Besides RRBs are an alone entity that reached so close to the mark at 34,456 Crore as against of target set at 35,000 Crore…the RRBs are only ray of hope in the rural financing and indeed its business model needs all round attention and replication by the other institution in the fray. The other financial institution’s feeble doing is not inexplicable as they are running short of responsibility in their rural business…robustness of Indian banking at large is hard to see in these hinterlands, where life still proceeding with severe operational frills, though an exception here still exists!
Atul Kumar Thakur
August 29th2010, Sunday, New Delhi

Case of Food Security

International Cricket Council {ICC} Chief and also co-incidentally the Union Agriculture Minister of India, Mr.Sharad Pawar has recentally came out with his shocking though expected denouncement of Supreme Court’s sincere observation that “In a country where admittedly people are starving, it is a crime to waste even a single grain”, such out of consineful convictions are usual features within the top legislative authorities…his economic sense allows him to count the salvage value of lakhs of tones rotting grains every year during the monsoon season {from flood affected North Bihar districts to debt-ridden districts of Maharashtra-Andhra Pradesh},instead to disburse them to millions of hungry Indian citizens.
Apart from flawed macro agri policy formulation, shortage of hygienic storage capacity and tall greed of Food Corporation of India {FCI} officials are exactly making things hell. UPA II government is fixed with obstinate ideology and economics that visualizes every welfare scheme including the universalization of food as “Subsidy burden”. Slashing of Rs.450 Crore, from food subsidy in the current fiscal; truly explicit the government’s role as an enabler, contrary to the erstwhile interventionist role.

Every basic means, either the money or grains are being presented as an obstruction by the government, despite witnessing a fabulous growth and adding 49 billionaires and 100,000 millionaires in a decade. Alas! This fortunate wealthy class hardly reflect the actual pulse of India’s real economy…Raghuram G Rajan has rightly noticed such overwhelming increase of Indian wealthy class as by product of theirs connection or Juggad with political affluents{Fault Lines}. Among those wealthy class, the top three sectors of theirs interest have been tax-exempted near the Rs.500, 000 crore during the last budget; dualism has taken its course and no hue& cries were raised from the fiscal management point of view though entire machinery were exactly the same.
For curtailing the universalization of Public Distribution System {PDS} which is not less than a backbone for the both urban and rural poors, a flawed Above Poverty Line{APL}-Below Poverty Line{BPL} created and were propagated as enemy camp. Such folly making lives terrible for countless families who stuck with the APL status and loosing all the government’s aid in spite of having only slightly different socio-economic status.

So, categorization poses similar adversity as of policy directives for majority of Indians; consequently the average daily net per capita availability of food grain between 2005-08 was a dismal 436 grams per Indian against the 440 grams per Indian in 1955-58-further, decline of pulse consumption is havocking, from 70 grams in 1955-58, it came down to 35 grams in 2005-08 {P.Sainath, Oliver Twist seeks food security, The Hindu, August 12, 2010}. Such terrible consumption level among the majority of Indians are the result of growing commercial pressure on forming that forces farmers to opt for cash crops instead of food-corps and inability of government to either distribute the rotting grain or release it at low prices through the PDS.

Except Tamil Nadu, where each family is entitled for 20kg grain/Rs1/kg, no Indian state could claim for universalization of PDS. The success of the scheme in Tamil Nadu relies heavily on groundwork and such universal coverage deserves accolades for both practical and political reasons {S.Vydhianathan, R.K.Radhakrishnan, Behind the success story of Universal PDS in Tamil Nadu, The Hindu, August11, 2010}. In such stark scenario, proposal of Food Security Bill appeared as pleasant surprise but it couldn’t endure as National Advisory Council {NAC} recommendations badly lacked the universalization contents in food security. Initially, 150 most backward districts were suggested for disbursement of 35 kg rice or wheat at Rs3/kg, which seems completely unrealistic and discriminatory from humane point of view.
Here hunger and malnourishment are being measured more from the geographical status than rational socio-economic criteria. Without universalization, food security program have no valid reason to exert much differences in the current state of affairs. At that point government must think on ushering in food security program through pilot project routes, instead they must follow the much imperative Comprehensive Universal Programme that covers all basic requirements of human life without discriminating on the basis of any artificial criteria. Atleast for the staple diet, there should not be any bad politics…
Atul Kumar Thakur
August28th 2010, Saturday, New Delhi

Lessons of Human Resource Management

Though not being an insider in the functional area of Human Resource Management {HRM} restrict me to touch its deeper dimensions albeit my exposures to Indian services industries imparts me some key insights about the current HR practices. My consciousness regarding the HR practices begun with the lethal world wide financial crisis that started in late 2007{with the demise of iconic Lehman Brothers}and still being far from over.
Two pivotal trends, I have noticed in the wake of post financial crisis phases are I. Education is completely a commercial entity now barring very few and II. Permanent and safe jobs would remain thin…such repulsive and unfortunate developments are surprisingly not being seen as a havocking factor by the academicians and persons of industries. Even at the primary level of such propositions, exact fallout could be sensed out through placing oneself at odd with either of two or both? Imagine the curse of exclusion in the hyped age of knowledge economy…there can’t be denying that education is a great enabler as our Prime Minister Manmohan Singh often explicit it through his own journey to the top but for such inclusive replication, education has to be sustainable and affordable which is hardly in sight today.

It’s quite shocking to note that when labour laws across the world are under radical makeover, India stands on exception side? Workers of India are not being able to unite in the absence of strong working class movement in the country. Workers vulnerability emerged as most shocking by-product of India’s economic convergence to the world trade…most of cosmetic surveys embarrassing the Indian growth story are largely prepare with an out of mind assertion on these issues.
Even in business terms, flawed HR policies restrict India to avail its demographic edge over China that poses grave impediments before India to succeed with proper innovation. When world markets are increasingly global over management thinking is still predominantly local that driving an unpragmatic gulf of policies and appears devoid of local needs. HR notions like, creating the talent management or fostering the social and cultural drive for leader and leadership have to be in backseat in the absence of opportunities scaling. Such mismanagement of HR is matter of grave concern…talent pool is not expatiating with the rapid economic growth in the domain of HRM, this reflects a major challenge.

With anticipating the costs as vital point, growing economies like India must have its specific redressal for HR issues…frugal innovation should be the principle along with following the time-line as catalyst. Peoples must be considered more then a statistical entity; work must go to the peoples-technology will remain an enabler…further, touch and feel needed at workplace would be accomplished through symmetric engagement. Globalization of trade have out scaled the erstwhile cultural and regional practices; now there are no denying for cross cultural leadership…streamlining of a single line team across the globe is swiftly taking place.
For geographic consideration, Harvard Business School {HBS} case study “Think globally and act locally” becomes very pertinent. Academic inception of HRM could be traced back in 1940’s when the debate over labour welfare necessitated to mould an expertise within the management stream for taking into account of staff management…role of HR department in any organization is equally imperative today as it in 1940’s, only adaptation to new challenges needed vehementally.

HRM have to be reckoning with the humane dimensions during policy formulations and at all level of practices…the growing misperceptions about the HR departments are not baseless as it’s emerged through the chronic flaws. In Indian context, things should be essentially in favour of labour intensive skill creations as by engaging the maximum workforce, our economy could do much better than today. Economies of scale at production level and huge domestic consumption are our two positive sides-theirs potential are huge in terms of backing the Indian economy towards a new trajectory of growth. By enhancing these prospects, huge employment generation is possible and effective HRM would indeed make lot of footprints over the productivity and morale of workforce…encapsulating from such angle would make life happier for all.
Atul Kumar Thakur
August28th, 2010, Saturday, New Delhi

Utopian Citizens!

Gist of my present piece would besiege the doghouse like scenario from a sedate documentary “The Promised Land”, with whom I stuck, gasped and eventually grimaced at the auditorium of India International Centre, New Delhi. Documentary revolves around the doleful ghetto of Dhaka…this islet like arrangement of garrets and hovels were imagined and still run by the discretion of United Nations.
Needless to say, despite forging a living hell, UN must be attributed some accolades for saving the lakhs of Bihari Muslims lives who through own besmirching thoroughly fall on the wrong side after the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971.

Attainment of downward trajectory to Bihari Muslims could be traced back in the quantum leap of cultural composition shaped after the independence of India in 1947. Unfortunate circumstances following the Indian independence led to innumerable indecisions-odd decisions; among those many horrendous migrations in history, plights of Bihari Muslims migrant in Bangladesh is unique and complete loitering.
Their transition from habitant of scenic beauty to stark odiousness made their lives penurious, and in absence of any momentous decision from Bangladeshi government, there are little chances in near future too, to see any retooling in their humdrum existence.

The clots of rift are primarily cultural between original Bangla inhabitants and Bihari Muslim. Partition and alignment with Pakistan was a rude shock for Bangla speaking population as they were intricately longing with the composite culture of Bengal, and such shocking shifts were not ever dreamt by any sufferer. Foot holding of migrant Muslims was another cause of unease as their Islamic leaning and proximity with Pakistani authority easily placed them in qua opposite camp.
Hostility remained consistent and grew up to an unprecedented level till the nineteen-sixties, when cultural shock clouded over the infuriated Bangladeshi population against the Pakistan’s tyrannical rule upon them. Surprisingly, instead to act rationally, these Bihari Muslims migrants stood with Pakistani authority in that testing time. Moreover, a considerable chunk of them also laid atrocities against the dissident Bangladeshis.

Indeed, the fault was grave and emotionally hard to forget albeit humane spectacle doesn’t deter consideration for the succeeding generation of Bihari Muslims who are blameless and now equally deserve to be a part of modern Bangladesh. Their commitments to the nation are bewitching and they have lurking desire for modern and civilized life outside the shaky ghettos. Their senses of losses are understandable as they still face the statuary challenges on the front of citizenship.
In the last sixty-five years, they have been entwining with the ethos and threads of Bangla culture; their nostalgia of roots in Bihar is still intact but their Bangladeshi nationality, no doubt is foremost concern among young generation now.

Deplored and second grade citizen status of Bihari Muslims in Bangladesh pushing them to meet with numbers of fallouts, such as mass unemployment, illiteracy, wretchedness and above all relentless adversities of state. Only solace is the positive backing from the progressive elements in the country and little bit from the multilateral institutions, but their effects are mostly revolves in virtual spaces contrary to desired level of intervention.
The problem is very much internal now but Indian role can’t be denied entirely as being the stakeholder in that mess and prominent nation of the south Asian region.

Besides that, nationalism is a pertinent issue in entire perils and being factor behind the birth of Bangladesh, Indian government must come across to solve the chronic inhumanization of Bihari Muslim migrants who otherwise would turn as endangered species. What they needed the basic democratic rights within the constitutional framework of Bangladesh.

Redressal of these suffering communities should be the major concern of Indian government as any delay may be not less than catastrophic from the strategic/humane point of view.
The whole issues of Assamese impatience have lot to do with the same unresolve deal of migration. The migrants of both sides deserve humane and democratic treatment from the two major neighboring democracy-India and Bangladesh.
Assam’s long demographic suffering must be given proper attention in the bilateral dialogue between two countries instead playing political cards on the migrants who are bound to live grimmer existence.

Bangladesh government should act in purpose of maintaining human rights of its migrants to Assam and Indian government should essentially think to end the incessant nagging for making its north-east free from sensitive international dispute. Heavy tones of protagonist while singing”Lagta nahi dil yahaan…”reflects the natural agony in search of motherland. These utopian citizens must be given a real chance to dwell with their motherland!

Atul Kumar Thakur
August27th 2010, Friday, New Delhi