Thursday, June 28, 2018

Agricultural Tamilnadu or Industrial Tamilnadu - Way Forward!?

Is Tamilnadu really an Agriculture-based state?

We all love this wonderful picture. After all, who doesn't love the feel of lush green paddy fields.


We have seen it in enough Tamil movies and most families have heard stories of how their forefathers were once land owners. Those were dreamy days ... (in fact anything in past appears rosy!)

Love for this picture is also why every time there is a new 'industry' coming up, we see it as killing agriculture. We protest new industries, thinking we are right in protecting the 'agricultural state'.

Some people in IT are thinking that apart from them, everyone else is in farming. Same goes with some people working in industries. Let's address this misconception first. 

We will systematically see what is contributing to the state's growth.



Farming contributes to less than 10% of the state's GDP. If agriculture is not contributing much to the GSDP, what is causing the GDP to increase? The obvious answer is 'Services' sector and 'Manufacturing' industry. This statistic is enough to debunk the theory that 'everyone else' is into farming. Source: http://www.tn.gov.in/dear/Agriculture.pdf

Hmm ... that is alright, but surely this must be because we have destroyed agriculture over time, isn't it? 

The truth can again be found from Statistics published by the Agriculture department itself.

The average size of land holding in the State further reduced from 1.45 hectare in 1970-71 to 0.80 hectare in 2010-11. 


This clearly indicates that majority of people have moved away from Agriculture.

Does this mean, Agriculture production has fallen drastically in Tamilnadu? 

After all, it should be logical that since less cultivation is being done, we are heading towards a food famine! But is it a fact? Statistics again say 'NO'! 

We have in fact gone up from 75.04 Lakh tonnes in food production in 2009-10 to 85.46 Lakh tonnes in 2013-14 as a state! This is actually several times higher compared to what used to be in 1970-71 when the land usage was fairly high.


Rice production alone in Tamilnadu has gone up from 51.83 Lakh tonnes in 2008-09 to 57.26 Lakh tonnes in 2013-14. We have so much surplus that we are actually exporting rice.


Pulses production has gone up from 1.67 Lakh tonnes in 2008-09 to 3.20 Lakh tonnes in 2013-14. Similarly Cotton production has gone up from 1.88 Lakh tonnes in 2008-09 to 3.18 Lakh tonnes in 2013-14.

As per the Final Estimate of 2015-16, the food grain production of the State is 113.69 Lakh MT which is 43% increase over the food grain production achieved in 2010-11. Check the latest statistics: http://cms.tn.gov.in/sites/default/files/documents/agri_e_pn_2017_18.pdf

Anybody with some sense of inquisition will ask how the production increased if the land use for agriculture is decreasing. 

The simple answer lies in bringing better agricultural methods and mechanisation of farming that has happened over years. The state Government is already working on this as can be referred in the above document.

In fact, the biggest complaint for Tamilnadu farmers in 2018 is that there is surplus produce and they are not getting enough demand in the market due to which revenues are stagnant for them. Improving post-harvest management is one of the major challenges the sector is facing in 2018.

So, does it make sense now to have more people get into farming or away from it? 

It is definitely sensible for some more people to get away from a sector that is contributing to less than 10% of the state's GDP and into the sector that is actually contributing more - 'manufacturing'.

Where are the jobs then?

Agriculture is very much required for the state, but we are already doing very well there. Even if 25% more people move away from Agriculture, we will still be quite ok. In fact, the sector's loss making will come down.

Agriculture is not the most important problem the state should be addressing now. Tamilnadu as a state is doing pathetic (since before 2010) in terms of jobs creation. 

If you really want to know how jobs are being created across the nation, check this out: https://www.livemint.com/Opinion/lZu1VYv8LXeM8djd4UagMM/The-jobs-statistics-debate-A-good-starting-point.html



This is something every Tamil Youth should understand. Industrial development is required for jobs creation. 

Agriculture can sustain the economy only so much, simply because that is all the demand from rest of the world for our food products.

If we keep fighting industries from coming into Tamilnadu, the state will be doomed and nothing can be done to restore the damage after that. Already the damage is setting in and needs to be corrected.

Is Tamilnadu really losing out on industrial opportunities?

Every statistic and business magazine is screaming a big 'YES'!

“Our state lost opportunities, especially from Kia Motors (which has broken ground in Andhra Pradesh)” said CII-Tamil Nadu chairman P Ravichandran. While the share of investments attracted by Tamil Nadu has been on a downhill since 2015, it has been increasing in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Gujarat and Maharashtra, according to data compiled by Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Union ministry of commerce & industry.


Check this out: https://www.financialexpress.com/economy/tamil-nadu-industrial-hub-or-bane/1152719/


Time to reverse this trend and welcome industrial growth and development in the state...

Should we blindly accept all industries?

No!

Every industry should be vetted out and environmental violation law enforcement has to be strict. But if for every single development step, protests are made, it will discourage industries from stepping into the state itself. 

Being emotional is ok but being rash and emotional is dangerous for you as well as the country!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Varna, Jati, Politics and Chaos

What was this caste discrimination in India called Varnas? Were Shudras really prevented from reading Vedas? 

Such questions are coming up because we do not know our own family history and our country's history well enough. Most people who gain their knowledge through social media memes suffer this disorder. This is also a common argument put forth by the ignorant ones blindly believing their Dravidian politicians in South India.

A Varna is not a Caste or Jati

First of all, one needs to understand that a Varna is not a Caste. Indian society all over the Indian subcontinent (including Tamilnadu) had  4 Varnas generally:

- Brahamana, propagators of knowledge
- Kshatriya, protectors of state & country
- Vaisya, one who indulges in commerce and agriculture
- Shudra, one who works on other tasks in society

One who is born to a Shudra father / mother need not be a Shudra. Even if you are born in a Brahmin family, if you are not a propagator of knowledge, you are not a Brahamana! Simple and straight forward ... Depending on one's daily work only, one was categorised in this manner.

One more thing - do you realize that one is not all the time a Brahmana or all the time a Kshatriya or Shudra for that matter? Let's say you are into agriculture as main business. By that virtue, you are a Vaisya. But you might also be into teaching others in your village. By that virtue, you are a Brahmana. One's Varna is known by the 'predominant' virtue of what they do and adopt.

Stephanie Jamison and Joel Brereton, a professor of Sanskrit and Religious studies, state, "there is no evidence in the Rigveda for an elaborate, much-subdivided and overarching caste system", and "the varna system seems to be embryonic in the Rigveda and, both then and later, a social ideal rather than a social reality". Source is Wikipedia page on this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varna_(Hinduism)

Historical examples

People might have exploited this whole system later by establishing rigidity around it and claiming their right by birth. That was not so earlier and I am going to give concrete examples from our history.

(1) Valmiki who wrote the Ramayana was a hunter / robber who later was reformed by Sage Narada. There is a caste of people called VALMIKIS in South India who are said to have come in the lineage of Sage Valmiki. Unfortunately, they take pride in identifying themselves as Shudras now! Anyway, Valmiki actually taught Vedas and the art of weaponry to Luv & Kush who are the sons of Rama. If he was not considered a Brahmana, who else was?

(2) Vyasa who wrote the Mahabharata and is known to have actually categorized the Vedas was born to Matsya Gandhi, a fisher woman. He was named Krishna Dwaipayana, the dark one born in an island, at birth. The very name VYASA means the 'Compiler' denoting his work on the Vedas. By birth, he should have been a Shudra. But by his deeds and dedication of life to teaching people, he was praised by everyone as a Brahmana only! There is a huge Guru Parampara that follows Vyasa muni. So, if he was a Shudra, how could he have learnt and work on the Vedas?

(3) Parashurama is known as someone who went about waging wars with Kshatriyas and killed many of them. Though he was born in a Brahmana family (to Sage Jamadagni), by his deeds he came to be a Kshatriya. Was he denied the knowledge of Vedas? No!

(4) Many of us know from Mahabhrata that Guru Dronacharya and King Drupada studied in the same Gurukul and learnt the same arts as children. Now Drona was a Brahmana and Drupada was a Kshatriya. But both of them were taught the Veda Mantras and art of weaponry by their Guru. Does this indicate a discrimination in teaching?

(5) There is a specific episode in Mahabharata where Yudhishthira and a Yaksha debate on the moral principles of that time. To the specific question by the Yaksha asking about one's Varna, Yudhisthira answers clearly and emphatically that nobody can claim their Varna by birth but it is by deeds only.

(6) A King born as Kaushika rules his kingdom for a long time as a Kshatriya but later gives it all up for severe penance. He is later recognized as Brahma-rishi and is now widely known by the name 'Vishwamitra'. Clearly Varna by birth did not decide what he would become.

(7) Krishna clearly states in Bhagavad Gita:

cāturvarṇyaṃ mayā sṛṣṭaṃ guṇakarmavibhāgaśaḥ .
tasya kartāramapi māṃ viddhyakartāramavyayam ... 4:13

"I have created this four-fold Varna order according to the quality of work."

Modern day's Interpretation

Going by these examples,

(1) If you have a good professor (not the leftist ones like in JNU) in your school or college, he / she would need to be recognized as a Brahmana.

(2) If you are in the IT industry in a menial job, at best you could be called a Vysya or a Shudra, even if you are born in a Brahmana family.

Is this Varna system explained only in the Hindu texts?

No! There is a Buddhist text called 'Digha Nikaya' (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digha_Nikaya) which talks about an interesting discussion between Gautama Buddha and a Brahmana called Sonadanda that throws more light on how Varnas were treated in more recent times.

Buddha: By how many qualities do Brahmins recognize another Brahmin? How would one declare truthfully and without falling into falsehood?

Sonadanda: I will list five characteristics to recognize another Brahmin. He is of pure descent on both the mother's and the father's side, he is well versed in mantras, he is of fair color handsome and pleasing, he is virtuous learned and wise, and he is the first or second to hold the sacrificial ladle.

Buddha: If we omit one of these qualities you just listed, could not one be still a true Brahmin?

Sonadanda, one by one, eliminates fair colour and looks, then eliminates Varna in which one was born, and then eliminates the ability to recite mantra and do sacrifices as a requirement of being a Brahmin. Sonadanda asserts that just two qualities are necessary to truthfully and without falling into falsehoold identify a Brahmin; these two qualities are "being virtuous and being learned and wise".

Sonadanda then states that it is impossible to reduce the requirement for being a Brahmin any further, because "for wisdom is purified by morality, and morality is purified by wisdom; where one is, the other is, the moral man has wisdom and the wise man has morality, and the combination of morality and wisdom is called the highest thing in the world".

Sonadanda: We only know this much Gotama; it would be well if Holy Gotama would explain meaning of the two [morality, wisdom] more.

Interestingly, there is a text on Jainism called 'Adi Purana' by Janasena (8th Century AD) that talks about this too! The Adi purana text states "there is only one jati called manusyajati or the human caste, but divisions arise account of their different professions".

It is clear that at least the identification of one's predominant qualities formed the basis of Varna in Gautama Buddha's time and as late as the 8th Century AD. 

What should we do now?

Unfortunately, a lot of our scriptures and text were lost and burnt during the Islamic invasions thereafter (read about burning of Nalanda if you are interested) and we miss a precious lot of social thought and dynamics after 1000 AD. 

In my personal opinion, we should bring back everyone to the profession-based identification system and restore the societal balance accordingly. It is high time the current (and silly, may I add) caste system being endorsed by Indian politicians from 20th Century AD is discarded and thrown out of the window.

Kohinoor and the Kakatiya Connection

Many of us have heard about the #Kohinoor diamond and that it was looted away from India to Britain. But do you know that the diamond was unearthed in Kollur on the banks of Krishna river during the Kakatiya reign?

The #Kakatiya rule is said to be one of the golden ages of Telugu history and yet we hardly find any description of their rule over 250 years in our history books! 

Image result for kakatiya dynasty

Rudramadevi or Rudramba is probably the only ruler one might have heard of Kakatiyas, and that too after the recent movies in her name 
Image result for rudrama devi
Rudramadevi is a glorious example of how women had to struggle to ascend to power despite being born in a royal family and how sheer will & grit can achieve it. Despite initial misgivings by some of her own generals who resented a female ruler, she suppressed the internal rebellions successfully. She made her valour well known by handing out defeats to Rajendra Chola's incursion and rebutting invasions from the Yadavas of Devagiri.

Despite having constant battles throughout their reign against either the internal rebels or the external foes, the #Kakatiya rulers were great patrons of art and music. The Thousand Pillars Rudreswara temple at Hanumkonda and Ramappa temple at Palampet are great examples of the art at that time.
Rudreshwar Swamy Temple

Oh, if you did not know it already, Warangal was the capital city of Kakatiyas for a long time and derives its name from 'Orugallu' or 'EkaSila', pointing to the huge boulder around which its fort was built. Those who know Tamil can immediately identify that 'Oru kallu' means 'one rock' 

Image result for orugallu fort


Did you know that Kohinoor diamond was originally weighing 793 carats. It was cut several times over centuries. In 1852, Queen Victoria decided to reshape the diamond and it was cut down to 108.93 carats. This is just like the Kakatiya kingdom which sadly very few people know about now, though at its peak, it was one of the biggest & richest kingdoms in India.

There are so many social and political dynamics that one can learn from Indian History. Let's not miss these gems.

Urmila, the unsung heroine of Ramayana


Not much is known of Urmila the wife of Lakshmana. I am trying here to throw some light on this unsung heroine of the Ramayana. There is a good online reference about her:

I am reproducing the story here:

When Rama, the Prince of Ayodhya, was exiled to the forest for 14 years as per the wishes of Kaikeyi, his father’s youngest queen, Sita, his wife, insisted that she accompany him to the forest.

“A woman’s place is with her husband and I shall go wherever you go. Please do not stop me. If it’s your duty to follow the orders of your father, it is mine to follow you to the ends of the earth.” The young princess was stubborn and Rama had no choice but to let her have her way.


As for Lakshmana, his younger brother, there was no question that he would let his brother go into exile on his own. From their days in the cradle, they were always together.

“Dear Rama, you know you have no choice but to let me come with you. All I want to do is to take care of you and Devi Sita,” said Lakshmana when his brother tried to dissuade him. 

Lakshmana was married to Urmila, Sita’s younger sister. He hurried to her chambers to break the news to her. Gently, Lakshmana, gently, he told himself. He knew that Urmila was a spirited princess too. After all, she was a princess of Sita's stature and of course, he was being a bit unfair to her.

Urmila had heard from her sister that she was accompanying her husband and when Lakshmana announced that he was going too, she was least perturbed. “Oh, we must go with them...” she began cheerfully, her beautiful eyes lighting up at the thought them all going off into the great unknown. 

“Not we, Urmila, just me,” said Lakshmana gently. “You must stay behind and take care of our old parents, when we are away.”

“But a wife’s place is beside her husband. Isn’t sister Sita going? She has told me herself. If you are going, I come too.”

“I know you are right, dear Urmila. It is just that if I were to take you along, it would be a huge responsibility for me. The forest is a dangerous place with evil asuras and wild animals lurking in unknown corners. I will need all my wits about me to focus on protecting my dear brother and his wife. Please understand and make this sacrifice for me.” 

Lakshmana knew he was being unfair but his life was dedicated to his brother and Urmila knew that too.

“As you wish...” whispered the princess tearfully and bid adieu to her husband.

Rama, Sita and Lakshmana left for their exile. When the night fell and all the world was asleep, Lakshmana stayed awake watching over his beloved brother and his wife. One night as he sat outside his brother’s dwelling, a luminous form appeared before him. When his eyes adjusted to the light, he saw before him a resplendent goddess. She smiled at him. “How are you going to do this, Lakshmana?” asked she.

“Do what?” Lakshmana was puzzled for he knew not who she was and what she was getting at. 

“Sleep… everybody needs to sleep. I’m Nidra Devi, the goddess of sleep. Are you going to spend 14 years of your brother’s exile without sleep? It will be impossible!”

“But I will not and I cannot sleep, for I intend to watch over my brother day and night,” said Lakshmana.

“I know your devotion, Lakshmana. But no living creature can survive without sleep. That is the universal law! Unless…” the goddess paused.

“Unless... what?” Lakshmana seized upon that pause.

“Unless there is someone else who will do that for you,” smiled the goddess. “Someone who will have all the sleep you need for the 14 years while you are here in exile! Is there someone who will do that for you?”

Lakshmana smiled in relief. He knew he could count on someone, his wife! “My wife, Urmila... she will surely take my place for me.”

“I will go at once to the palace of Ayodhya and ask her,” said the Goddess and disappeared as she had come.

And of course Urmila did offer to take Lakshmana’s share of sleep and went into a deep slumber for all the 14 years he was away. Which is one of the main reasons why, no one speaks of Urmila throughout The Ramayana.


Because of this ability of not sleeping for years, Lakshmana was eventually able to vanquish Meghnad or Indrajit, the son of Ravana. At the end of the exile when Lakshmana comes back to Ayodhya, the sleep cycle is restored for both of them. 

There is also something called 'Uttara Ramayana', the story of what happened after Rama was coronated as King. This section of the Ramayana talks about Lakshmana and Urmila being blessed with two sons - Angada and Chandraketu. 

Angada ruled a place called Karupath or Angadiya, that is part of current day Orissa. Chandraketu ruled a place specially carved out for him in the Malla kingdom, which is in modern day Nepal. This same Malla kingdom as well as Ayodhya were later brought under Hastinapura rule by Bheema while they went on military campaign for Rajasuya yagna (part of Mahabharat story). 

So, there is a pretty long legacy for many places in our country. Will be back soon with some more interesting tidbits ..

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Seeman, the king of faulty economic policies

I happened to come across a post by Mr Maridhas who is a writer / teacher. 

https://www.facebook.com/Maridhas11/posts/578192999232981

For those who do not understand Tamil, this post is about the faulty logic in Mr Seeman, leader of NTK party in Tamilnadu, who has made some wild promises in his political manifesto. Maridhas does a great job in ripping apart the manifesto to pieces. Pardon me for any translation mistakes that creep in...

Myth: Seeman proposes an economy that is self-dependent 

This is not true and is something that can be proposed only by someone who does not understand how economics works.

What is self-dependent economy?

A country should be able to make everything that it needs within its own geo-political boundaries. It will not be dependent on another country for any of its economic purposes. Only such a system can be called a self-dependent economy. This is a common aspiration for many nations but not something new.

What is our country's current economic state?

India is self-sufficient in terms of food grains production and also exports to other countries. We are doing well enough to be in the top three food exporting countries across the world. So, what are the things we are dependent for on other countries? Simply said, we need to look at what we import from other countries. If we can produce them within India, we can become self-dependent economy.

This seems very logical. But what Seeman is proposing as self-dependent economy is not addressing this basis at all. Instead, it is a romanticised version just inducing people's emotions, talking about things like jaggery, pickles, neem, etc. Just matching rhyme to rhythm does not yield the results!



What are we really importing as a country?

Then Mr Maridhas goes on to argue the following in his video:

(1) ISRO has been instrumental in launching over 100 satellites of Arab countries recently into the space. Why should the Arab countries come to India? Simply because they do not have the technology for it and we do. India charges a fixed amount for that service. So, as far as Satellite launching, Arab countries are dependent on India. And India in turn is dependent on those countries for Crude oil simply because we do not produce enough within our country. This is how one country is dependent on another for a certain resource. 

(2) Though being self-dependent economy is an idealistic goal for each country, we should constantly need to look at improving our manufacturing / producing power. If we do not have certain resources at all in our country, we have to look at others. But whatever we can make here, we should look at doing it effectively than importing. That is what will lead us towards being self-dependent in economy. 

This is what EVERY country in the world, big or small, does it. India also does the same already!

    (a) More than 70% of crude oil for India is being imported. Because we are not allowed to take more than 30% of our needs from our own natural resources. Can we move away from it? Yes, if we start going with electrical vehicles. Till then, it is impossible to not rely on crude oil imports.

    (b) Around 33% of our imports is transport equipments - land, water and air transport machinery requirements! Our own ship manufacturing. Road transport is primarily dependent on imports from Germany and other European countries. Can we get out of this? Sure, we have to have the technology and resources to manufacture in India itself first.

    (c) Coal is about 20% of our imports.

    (d) Electronics is about 10% of our total imports. Our internal electronics needs of about 58% is from these imports! Can we make these within our 

    (e) Industrial equipments and machinery is mainly from imports, including the power looms & stitching machines in major cotton dress manufacturers from Tirupur and Erode. Same is the case of paper industries in Sivakasi and Leather machines in Ambur. Most of our industrial machinery is only being imported.

(3) Almost 90% of medical equipments are being imported from USA, Europe and Japan. This is simply because we do not make them here.

(4) From small toys to mobiles to most other plastic items, we are importing from China.

(5) Copper and Aluminium resources are not being dug up much in our country as we are simply importing them. If we dig them up, these same people will cry hoarse about environment issues!

Are we dependent much on other countries for food? 

Obviously, No!! So, anybody who wishes to address the self-dependency of economy should address the imports first! Can we make these within our country itself? We can definitely work towards that. But not with the policies Seeman puts forth. 

One has to focus on the Engineering sector, especially since we have about 8 in 10 Engineers who can be employed in the sector. Our education sector also has to be reformed first. Majority of our country's imports are in this sector, but Seeman is proposing something ridiculous in agricultural sector. Totally irrelevant!

Instead of talking about ridiculous stuff like selling neem sticks, juices and soup to boost economy, Seeman should really look at what the country is first dependent on if he wants to make the country self-dependent. Does he even know what the demand-supply ratio for these items is?

What should we really do as voters?

Maridhas urges viewers to vote for any political party of their idealogical choice, but depending on how sound their economic policies are. Because, however idealogically strong or appealing a political party may be, if they mess up on economy, it will be disastrous for the state and country as a whole. 

Maridhas says he is willing to challenge Seeman on these items in any debate anywhere and any time. 

The gauntlet is thrown - will NTK party have the guts to pick it up for a fight? I doubt that ..

Shocking Truth behind Isha's Deforestation allegations?

I have been wondering about the allegations that Isha encroached the forest lands. Many a person has told me that this is a lie being repea...