Tuesday, May 31, 2011
The conference meant for youth in the 17-25 age group aims at helping them realize their inner strengths and contribute towards a cleaner, calmer and a fairer world.
'Let’s Make a Difference' is the theme of the conference being conducted for the past 15 years. The eight-day residential training program starts on June 1 and concludes on June 8 every year.
A cross section of Indian Youth from various backgrounds and States takes part in the conference.
‘Initiatives of Change’ (formerly known as ‘Moral Re-Armament’) is a non-profit organization founded by Mr. Rajmohan Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi.
Dr. JP, who is the chief guest, will be addressing the youth on the difficult choices he has made in life guided by his inner voice and the setbacks and triumphs he has encountered.
Monday, May 30, 2011
Saturday, May 28, 2011
The Lok Satta Party today counseled the TDP and the YSR Congress against making farmers pawns in their power games.
The party was commenting on the YSR Congress and the TDP asking each other to move a no-confidence motion against the Government for its failure to go to the farmer’s rescue.
In a media statement, party Working President D. V. V. S. Varma and Secretary V. Vijayender Reddy said that if the two parties were genuinely concerned about farmers, each of them could move a no-confidence motion. The crisis in the agriculture sector, however, calls for a non-partisan approach, they added.
Demanding a special session of the legislature to discuss the crisis in the farm sector, the Lok Satta Party leaders asked the TDP and the YSR Congress to exert pressure on the Government in that direction. If the Government does not come forward to discuss the issue, then all the Opposition parties could join hands and move a no-confidence motion.
With monsoon rains round the corner, the Government should step up paddy procurement. Instead of depending on women’s self-help groups, it should instruct the Food Corporation of India to undertake the bulk of procurement.
The leaders wanted the Government to make millers buy paddy at the minimum support price, ensure payments to farmers by account payee cheques, and facilitate pledge loans to farmers who would like to defer sales anticipating better market conditions.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Leaders of independent farmers’ organizations today wanted the Andhra Pradesh Government to declare categorically that it would ensure purchase of every grain of paddy offered for sale at the minimum support price, and implement it in practice on a war-footing since monsoon rains are round the corner.
In a representation presented to Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy at his Camp Office, the Federation of Independent Farmers’ Organizations pointed out that tardy purchases by Government agencies have emboldened millers to exploit farmers by denying them the MSP.
Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, President of the federation and the Lok Satta Party, led the delegation comprising Messrs P. Chengal Reddy, Y. Nagendranath, B. Dasaratharama Reddy, K. Prabhakar Reddy, M. Balarami Reddy, P. Bhaskara Rao and K. Gangadhara Rao.
It may be recalled that Dr. JP and other leaders of the federation had extensively traveled in most of the paddy growing districts and studied the situation at the grassroots level before calling on the Chief Minister.
The delegation pointed out to the Chief Minister that millers and Government agencies have so far bought only about 35-40 lakh tons of the estimated 130 lakh tons of rabi paddy output. In addition, farmers and traders have stocks of the last kharif.
The farmers’ leaders suggested that the Government requisition space in schools, colleges and other private buildings to store the record paddy stocks. The IAS officials deputed to districts to supervise paddy purchases and district collectors should be empowered under Treasury Rule 27 to take all measures for rice procurement and storage. Millers should be made to make payments for paddy purchases by account payee cheques to curb underpayment.
To ensure that the farmer gets the minimum support for price for paddy on a permanent basis, the Andhra Pradesh Government should emulate its Chattisgarh counterpart and undertake direct procurement from farmers instead of leaving them to millers’ mercy. It might call for a revolving fund of Rs.3000 crore.
Talking to media after meeting the Chief Minister, Dr. JP said that the proposed institution of the right to food should not be trotted out as an excuse to bar food grain exports and deny a fair price to farmers. The Government could procure all the grain needed for ensuring food security by paying a fair price to the farmer and permit export of surplus to other countries.
Dr. JP pointed out that that the country needs only 13 crore tons of the estimated 20.2 crore food grain production this year, assuming a per capita consumption of 9 kg a month. The proposed right to food security will entail procurement of 7 crore tons only. The Food Corporation of India already has 7 crore tons of food grains in its warehouses and it will be procuring an additional two crore tons of rabi production.
Dr. JP said that the country would be left with a record surplus of 5 crore to 7 crore tons of food grains. If it is not permitted to be exported, food grains will be vulnerable to rodents and rains. State agencies could undertake exports and share the profits with farmers, he added.
Monday, May 23, 2011
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Monumental corruption, endless dithering, and policy failures mark the two years of rule by UPA II, said Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan said today and hoped that Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh would summon courage and wisdom to undertake a midcourse correction.
In a media statement, Dr. JP warned that the country would face a disaster if the UPA continued its lame-duck governance for another three years.
Dr. JP said that the volume of corruption witnessed at the highest level during the last two years of UPA II rule seems to be the largest in post- Second World War history. Dithering characterized UPA’s policies in the education and health care sectors. Although it adopted the Right to Education Act and promised higher investments in health care, it has totally failed in delivering on its promises. Policy failures have marked the agriculture sector. Despite excellent monsoons and record harvests, the Government has not liberalized the farm sector, rid the public distribution system of leakages or help farmers improve their incomes.
Dr. JP recalled that UPA II came into office with a stronger mandate and roused great expectations among people. It has merely succeeded in dashing their hopes.
Friday, May 20, 2011
The Lok Satta Party today took strong exception to TRS MLA T. Harish Rao making baseless and false allegations against its party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, and counseled him against indulging in politics of hatred and division and inciting violence and anarchy.
According to media reports, Mr. Harisha Rao faulted Dr. JP for being ‘silent on the State Government ‘diverting Central funds under a drinking water scheme entirely to Coastal Andhra’ and for touring Telangana districts in the cause of farmers.
Addressing a media conference, Lok Sattta Party Working President D. V. V. S. Varma, and Secretaries V. Vijayender Reddy and P. Bhaskara Rao said that the Lok Satta Party is not in power and not privy to what goes on in the Government on a day-to-day basis to react to each and every development.
Inquiries with the concerned Minister K. Jana Reddy, however, reveal that in response to a five-year-old representation, the Union Government recently allocated funds for taking up drinking water schemes in villages affected by the salinity problem. It so happens that the salinity problem is prevalent only in Coastal Andhra. Similarly, villages in Nalgonda, Prakasam and Kurnool and their neighboring districts suffer from excess fluoride in drinking water and villages in hilly areas suffer from iodine deficiency.
The Lok Satta Party leaders recalled that although the party has only a single legislator in the Assembly, it has always been in the forefront in highlighting people’s problems and getting them resolved, irrespective of the region to which they belong.
They said that it was Dr. JP who took the lead to get the Assembly adopt a resolution unanimously for the deletion of Section 14 of the Presidential Order on recruitment of police personnel. It was Dr. JP who opposed the posting of non-locals in Hyderabad district. It was again Dr. JP who mobilized legislators in the GHMC and surrounding areas and persuaded the Chief Minister to take up the third phase of the Krishna water scheme for Hyderabad. Dr. JP had advocated that the Yellamaplli reservoir water should be utilized for irrigation and drinking water purposes in Telangana districts and not diverted to Hyderabad. The credit for getting the market yard at Siddipet in Mr. Harisha Rao’s constituency goes to Dr. JP. Earlier, cotton growers had to cart their produce to Peddapalli as the new market yard remained unopened for five years. When floods in the Krishna ravaged Mahbubnagar district, the Lok Satta adopted Kesavaram village and built a school.
The Lok Satta leaders reminded Mr. Harish Rao that under the Indian Constitution all the citizens enjoyed freedom of travel and expression. Mobilizing people is not the monopoly of anybody or the region a jagir of anybody.
The Lok Sattta leaders said that the party had been fighting for fair prices for agricultural produce for the last nine months. The Lok Satta persuaded the Union Government to permit cotton exports and as a result cotton farmers in the State received a very good price this year.
The Lok Satta Party would fight for people’s causes to the best of its ability and render them justice, they added.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
As part of his mission to unite farmers and galvanize them to fight for their cause, Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, President of the Federation of Independent Farmers’ Organizations and the Lok Satta Party, will be visiting Nizamabad and Kurnool districts on May 20 and 22.
Giving this information in a media statement, Mr. P. Bhaskara Rao, Convener of the federation, said that Dr. JP during his visits to East and West Godavari, Krishna, Khammam, and Nalgonda districts since May 12 has helped farmers by facilitating purchases at the minimum support price by talking to officials and sorting out problems related to supply of gunny bags etc.
Dr. JP will be visiting market yards and IKP purchase centers in Bodhan and Nizamabad on May 20. On May 22, he will be visiting paddy purchase centers at Veerannapadu, Bandi Atmakur and other places in Kurnool district. At all places he will be interacting with farmers.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Monday, May 16, 2011
The Lok Satta Party today roundly condemned the Union Food Ministry for its refusal to accept the recommendation of the Committee on Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) for raising the minimum support price for common variety of paddy to Rs.1080 and the granting of a bonus of Rs.80 per quintal for the year 2011-12.
In a media statement, Lok Satta Party Working President D. V. V. S. Varma recalled that the CACP’s recommendation itself was half hearted. Although it conceded that the cost of production had increased by 20 percent, it recommended the raising of the MSP by a mere eight percent.
Mr. Varma said the Union Food Ministry was raising the bogey of food inflation and the Government’s subsidy on the PDS shooting up for turning down the bonus proposal.
Mr. Varma pointed out that cereals constituted only a small part of food consumption. Food inflation was going up because of the increase in the prices of fruits and vegetables, dairy and meat products.
Concerns over inflation have not prevented the Union Government owned oil companies from raising the petrol price by Rs.5 a litre, said Mr. Varma and added that the Government itself is planning to raise the prices of diesel, kerosene and LPG in a week.
Mr. Varma said that the Union Government seems to be hell-bent upon pauperizing farmers by denying them a fair price for their produce. National food security will be a myth if the Government deprives farmer of his livelihood security.
The Lok Satta Working President recalled that the State Government itself had sought an MSP of Rs.2033 per quintal of paddy, as recommended by the Swaminathan Committee. The committee had recommended that the MSP should be at least 50 percent more than the cost of cultivation,
The CACP recommendation and the Union Food Ministry’s response are highly detrimental to farmers and tenants, who account for a majority of the rural population. Could the Government ensure food security by making agriculture a losing proposition, Mr. Varma asked.
Thursday, May 12, 2011
The Andhra Pradesh Federation of Independent Farmers’ Organizations has appealed to all members of Parliament from the State and members of the State legislature to exert pressure on the Union and State Governments and render justice to the paddy grower.
In letters addressed to the law makers, Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, President, and Mr. P. Bhaskara Rao, Convener, of the federation drew attention to the rural background of most of them and said that they are duty bound to go to the rescue of the farmer. The farmer in Andhra Pradesh is not getting even the minimum support price for paddy fixed two years ago.
Giving facts and figures on the demand for and supply of food grains at the national and State levels, the federation pointed out that a solution to the problem lies in exporting surplus food grains outside the country. State undertakings like the STC can undertake exports and share profits with farmers. The MPs should lead a delegation under the Chief Minister’s leadership to Delhi and exert pressure on the Prime Minister and other Central leaders to permit rice exports.
In their letter to members of the State legislature, the federation leaders said that farmes received less than Rs.250 per quintal of paddy against the minimum support price of Rs.1030. Although the Government claims it has opened a number of purchase centers, the purchases are only meager.
The legislators should strive to get committees of farmers constituted to supervise paddy purchases at the MSP in market yards and ensure that the purchase centers have the infrastructure and funds to carry out purchases. The Government which appointed senior officials to monitor purchase operations should publicize purchases on a daily basis.
According to the federation, Andhra Pradesh will have a surplus of nearly 60-70 lakh tons of rice, after accounting for needs of the public distribution system for the entire year, at the end of the current rabi season.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
The Federation of Independent Farmers’ Organizations today expressed its happiness over Chief Minister N. Kiran Kuma Reddy conceding its plea for deputing senior IAS officials to monitor paddy procurement in districts.
A delegation of the federation, led by Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, called on the Chief Minister on May 10 and requested him to ensure rabi paddy procurement at the minimum support price (MSP). The delegation told the Chief Minister that farmers were denied the MSP all over the State.
In a media statement, federation convener P. Bhaskara Rao hoped the Government would make available sufficient funds and gunny bags to purchase centers and facilitate procurement. He wanted the Government to constitute farmers’ committees to monitor purchases and publicize details of procurement operations daily.
The federation had warned of direct action after May 22 if the Government failed to ensure paddy purchases at the MSP.
Mr. Bhaskara Rao reiterated the federation request to the Chief Minister to lead a delegation of MPs from the State for persuading the Union Government to permit export of surplus rice. State undertakings can export rice and share the profits with farmers by way of bonus, he said.
Mr. Bhaskara Rao said that Dr. JP would be taking part in farmers’ conferences in East and West Godavari districts on May 12 and 13 with a view to uniting them to fight for their cause. He will be taking part in farmers’ conferences at Mummidivaram, Ambajipet, Kothapet and Mandapet in East Godavari, and at Undrajavaram, Duvva, Pothunuru and Pedapadu in West Godavari.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Monday, May 9, 2011
Farmers have no alternative to launching direct action, including traffic blockade, if Governments do not ensure a fair price for agricultural produce, said Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan here today.
Addressing leaders of independent farmers’ organizations drawn from all over the State and representing diverse crop growers, Dr. JP pointed out that the Governments ignored their plight, as they did not display unity in fighting for their common cause of getting higher incomes.
A long-term solution to the crisis in the agrarian sector manifested by the declining rural per capita income lies in its liberalization from the license-permit-quota raj. Pending such liberalization, the Governments at the national and State levels could take many steps, Dr. JP said.
The meeting took place against the backdrop of rice and wheat growers all over the country not getting even the minimum support price fixed by the Union Government itself. The meeting formed a Steering Committee to decide on the future course of action.
Making out a case for rice and wheat exports, Dr. JP said that the Food Corporation of India had 44.2 million tons of rice and wheat in its warehouses against the buffer stock norm of 21.2 million tons in April 2011. The buffer stocks will go up with bumper rabi harvests.
Dr. JP said that if the farmer were to get a fair price for his produce, the Government should permit exports more so now when international cereal prices of cereals are ruling high because of crop failures in countries like Russia, Pakistan, and China and the country has more than adequate buffer stocks to meet food security. Exports will also help cut storage costs and wastage caused by rains and rodents.
He added that greater offtake through the public distribution system (PDS) following the adoption of the proposed Food Security Act would not work. The move to ensure food security to 90 percent of rural and 50 percent of urban people through the PDS is unsound in principle and practice. It is bad in principle because it will further depress the markets and deepen the agrarian crisis. It is bad in practice because of phenomenal corruption in the PDS.
Again as part of a long-term solution, Dr. JP said, there must be open borders for non-food crops and farmers have freedom to export if there is a price advantage. There should be a modern import duty on import of agricultural produce to afford protection to Indian farmers. The Government should pass on the revenue thus generated to farmers of the same commodity as an incentive to boost production. In respect of perishable commodities, the solution lies in compressing the market chain, and promoting cold storage and processing facilities.
Dr. JP wanted the Union and the State Governments to ensure that the farmer received the MSP for paddy. The State Government could grant a bonus of Rs.100 per quintal of paddy, considering that it collects Rs.1500 crore on rice procurement in the form of rural development cess and value added tax. The Union Government should permit export of about 5 million tons of rice by State agencies like the FCI, STC and MMTC without any preconditions on sale price. Any price that covers the costs and generates even marginal profit is to the advantage of the farmer and the country.
Dr. JP said that the State Government permitted movement of some rice outside the State following an agitation by farmers’ organizations and warning from the Union Government. The Union Government has to permit export of rice outside the country if the farmer were to benefit.
Dr. JP said that the farmers’ organization would set a deadline and resort to direct action if the Governments do not respond. Meanwhile, it would promote awareness and unity among farmers.
The Steering Committee comprises Messers R.Chengal Reddy, Y.Nagendra Nath, A.Prabhakar Reddy, Balarami Reddy, SP Shankar Reddy, Y.Pichhaiah Yadav, Dasaratharami Reddy, Siddha Reddy, Satya Vani, Kesava Reddy, Narasimha Reddy, Nageswara Raju, Nagi Reddy, Anamolu Gandhi and Kongara Gangadhara Rao. P. Bhaskara Rao is the convenor of the Committee.
Saturday, May 7, 2011
The violent peasant agitation against land acquisition in Greater Noida, on the doorstep of Delhi, should serve as a wake-up call for both the Union and State Governments to mend their ways, said Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan in a media statement.
The Greater Noida trouble underlines that the political process has lost its capacity to resolve issues peacefully. The purpose of politics is to reconcile conflicting interests harmoniously. However, by viewing politics merely in terms of vote banks and electoral victories, political parties have undermined and de-legitimized the political process, Dr. JP said.
Dr. JP suggested that fair compensation for land acquired, acquisition of more land than necessary for allotment of developed sites to displaced persons, and skill promotion and job placement would go a long way in preempting unrest.
Friday, May 6, 2011
The Federation, under the leadership of Dr.Jayaprakash Narayan, is conducting a meeting at FAPCCI Hall, Red Hills, Hyderabad on May 9 from 10-00 a.m. to decide an action plan for ensuring a fair price for paddy and for liberating agriculture.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Representatives of farmers in Andhra Pradesh are meeting in Hyderabad on Monday, May 9 to finalize an action plan as part of their ‘do or die’ battle for getting a fair price for paddy.
Disclosing this at a media conference here today, Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan and leaders of independent farmers’ organizations said that farmers would join hands transcending their affiliation to parties and castes, regions and crops.
Dr. JP recalled that despite repeated representations to all those in power from the Prime Minister downwards for the last seven months, precious little has been done to rescue the farmer from the miserable plight he finds himself in. The real price of food grains is actually falling, whereas general inflation is 9% in the country. The minimum support price (MSP) of paddy is Rs.1030 per quintal, and this barely meets the costs of cultivation of owner-farmers, and with MSP tenants incur cash losses. The crisis in the farm sector has now accentuated with the farmer not getting even the MSP for paddy anywhere in Andhra Pradesh.
Dr. JP said that the State Government could ensure the MSP for paddy by utilizing provisions under the Essential Commodities Act. Yet, it has become a mute spectator to millers playing football with farmers. The Union Government ought to have permitted rice exports considering that the country has double the stocks required for food security, that bumper harvests are flowing into the market and food grains are commanding a good price the world over because of crop failures in countries like Russia and China. Yet, it would not allow exports on the specious plea of food prices going up. It conveniently ignores that food inflation is the result of an increase in prices of fruits and vegetables, dairy products and meat, and not of food grains.
Dr. JP said the State Government which collected Rs.1500 crore a year by way of rural development cess and VAT could straightway give a bonus of at least Rs.100 a quintal on paddy. The Government of India could canalize exports through State undertakings like the FCI, STC and MMTC and share the profits with farmers.
A long-term solution to farmers’ problems, however, lies in unshackling agriculture from the license-permit raj, Dr. JP said.
Mr. Y. Nagendranath, President of Rytanga Samakhya, said that farmers suffered in the last kharif when they lost crop because of heavy rains and in the rabi now as the yields are going to be record high. Mr. Dasaradharami recalled that the Union Government banned onion exports within five days of their prices shooting up but would not raise its little finger although farmers have been going without the MSP for the last six months. He pointed out that his income from agriculture is less than the wage he pays his laborer and yet he stuck to agriculture since he is good at nothing else. He faulted the Union Government for not raising the MSP since 2008-09, although the cost of production has spurted because of hike in wages, fuel etc. Mr. Balarami Reddy of Medak said that the farmers’ plight is so dire that there are no marital suitors for their children in agriculture.
Monday, May 2, 2011
Sunday, May 1, 2011
The Lok Satta Party today threw enough hints of its plans to mobilize people for direct action if Governments did not mend their ways and come to the rescue of people in distress.
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan said that farmers would blockade movement of non-agricultural produce if the Union and State Governments did not ensure even the minimum support price for paddy while the party’s Working President D. V. V. S. Varma said rate payers would be forced to launch a no-tax campaign if the State Government did not drop its plans to hike the property tax in urban areas.
They were addressing the media after a two-day meeting of the party’s State Working Committee.
Mr. Varma wanted the State Government to roll back its recent orders providing for a hike in property tax in urban areas. While making it clear the Lok Satta was not opposed to taxes, he explained why a hike at this stage is unwarranted. The present property tax system is inequitable. Those who wielded power and influence and those who greased the palms of officials managed to get away with little incidence while the majority suffered in silence. Taxes are supposed to be collected for rendering service, and not for feeding the corrupt. The municipalities have miserably failed in discharging their primary duty of supplying safe drinking water and maintaining sanitation and hygiene. Middle class people spent hundreds of rupees on buying bottled water and mosquito repellents. The Government has not constituted ward committees in all municipalities or entrusted them with powers, resources and personnel where they are in place. The municipalities are not implementing the citizen’s charter.
Mr. Varma said that the Government should attend to all such anomalies before it permitted a hike in taxes. If did not heed, people would have no alternative to resorting to a no-tax campaign, he warned.
Dr. JP released a booklet brought out by the party on municipal taxes.
Dr. JP pointed out that farmers in Andhra Pradesh and elsewhere in the country had to make distress sale of paddy and wheat since the Union Government would not permit export of food grains although warehouses are overflowing. As of today, the country has 48 million tons of buffer stocks, double the quantity needed for meeting the nation’s food security. The State Government by its acts of commission and omission left farmers to the mercy of rice millers.
A delegation of independent farmers’ organizations and the Lok Satta Party will be calling on Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy on May 2 to represent the farmers’ plight. The Andhra Pradesh Government, like its counterparts in Punjab and Haryana, should enter the market and buy paddy at the MSP and permit free movement of paddy and rice within and outside the State.
Dr. JP wanted economist-turned Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to take the initiative and permit food grain exports. He appealed to Members of Parliament from the State to exert pressure on the Union Government and facilitate food grain exports.
Dr. JP warned that if farmers turned desperate, they would hit the road. The Lok Satta Party in association with farmers’ organizations would be forced to call for a blockade of non-agricultural produce to make New Delhi realize the crisis in the farm sector.
At the outset, Dr. JP hoped that MIM legislator Akbaruddin Owaisi would recover soon and said the attack on him should serve as a wake-up call for arresting the anarchy into which the State is hurtling.