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Pharma – overdose of copying Plummeting profits of PSBs Kinetic Karnataka Mu Sigma – is no more Maximising the micro pricing … …and of a popular trade leader Focus on quality of power - its only around 170-180V Russi Mody – a tribute Sweeter prospects for sugar For whom the bell tolls? The Gulf aviation boom Preserving for the future Shale gas and its shallow future A welcome initiative by the judiciary Waning interest in public discussions… Music happens China invests in India Colour-Chem’s colourful KRVS Like Hinduism: many paths to reach God... Intellectual of rare qualities Silver Years of Madras Musings Fortune for Indian Airlines The Swadeshi Trump An informal presentation - analytical, forward locking... A Grand Finale for SN’s MS centenary at the US… Liberal imports idling indigenous capacities Airlines in India: cost and space Tribute The rise and fall of Annamalai University ONGC at KG Basin Shanti and Sadhana through Music Banning booze... 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Quality silica from Neyveli L&T: focus on infrastructure and more infrastructure… West Bengal: mindless malignancy Naidu’s return augurs well for Seemandhra Which side are you, Montek? Tatas moving out of urea production... Telangana in top gear… Kulandai was a giant Remembering Indira Sivasailam... A Grand Finale for SN’s MS centenary at the US… Roaring Ro-Ro facility Inflation: are we emulating Argentina and Brazil? 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Modi storms Silicon Valley Come elections, come advertisements... Tribute – UCAL Selvan… A C Muthiah – his munificent bequeaths to science Streamlining mandatory third party cover Reliance’s TV – 18 ready to launch Tamil News Channel Eternal support for capitalisation of PS banks IPL type auction for VCs? Scientists urged to take up farmer-oriented research Welcome focus on core competence B H Kothari - a tribute Why land prices zoom in TN? Delhi returns to BJP Gay abandon in pricing Insurance companies bleeding, yet no decision on increasing FDI limit! Air Asia India will set new benchmarks for budget travel Shipping woes of Chennai companies The few handicaps... He saved millions from starvation... Parliament in paralysis... Bihar elections - the Rajaji formula worked Demise of a media baron... Quality education through the PPP mode CII projects higher growth… Limit foreign borrowings to hi-tech, export potential projects... 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A more liberated TN…

During the regime of J Jayalalithaa (JJ) as chief minister, there was a sense of fear. Criticism of her autocratic decisions was muted. Her ruthlessness in foisting cases against dissenters and critics effectively silenced sections of society, including the intelligentsia, the media and leaders of the opposition to voice freely their opinions.  

JJ had scant regard for media and used the power of government’s advertising to condition these. Large sections of media, including The Hindu and Dinamalar, were shackled by the advertisement policy that squeezed their advertisement rates. Periodicals were kept out of the government’s advertising. Everything was claimed to be her deed. Even in her addresses the subjective, “I made this,” “I brought this” or “I implemented this” was dominant. The civil service, business leaders and sections of intelligentsia opted to fall in line and avoided criticism of even widespread corruption and anti-development policies.  

Look at the scene today: media seems so liberated! Every minister, senior or junior, MLAs and other party functionaries readily participate in media discussions and freely voice their opinions. The state, dominated by film personalities for over five decades, looks to Rajnikanth for salvation. Actor Kamal Haasan who suffered grievously by the spoke put on the release of his  magnum opus Viswaroopam with demands for unreasonable cuts in the film cleared by the Censor Board, is today hypercritical. Like the PMK leader Ramadoss and DMK leader MK Stalin, he comes out with daily doses of criticism of current political developments.  

The three way split of the AIADMK and a weak leadership encourage different sections of society to give vent to their concerns and agitate for the sectoral demands. This seems to progress in endless streams, from the demand for Jallikattu to opposing NEET, to driving ONGC out of the state… 

The last one is grossly anti-development. Agriculture can never ever provide the type of returns that can come out of oil or gas fields. Exploring these is possible only in limited areas endowed with these. The transformation of several countries and regions has been the result of  production of oil and gas. 

 

Can it be oil vs agriculture? 

Importantly for Tamil Nadu, with its highly fragmented land, agriculture has been accounting for a very small share in its gross domestic product - just around 8 per cent. With the severe shortage of water and with an average land holding at just 2 acres, the state should reconcile to maximising its endowments in the secondary and tertiary sectors of industry and services. There should be serious efforts to agglomerate landholdings permitting leasing land over 15 years and more without alienating ownership. This will facilitate application of science and technology to make agriculture remunerative. The talk of doubling agriculture incomes without such a major structural change has little meaning. 

Dr M S Swaminathan set up a research centre in Chennai and has been active in the state for close to three decades. He headed the state’s Planning Commission for a few years. He has a wide knowledge of agriculture across the nation and the globe. Surprisingly and disappointingly, this renowned scientist and several other knowledgeable persons have not been addressing the serious issue of unremunerative farming, refuse to acknowledge that the emperor is naked and fail to come out with viable solutions.  


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