Glimpses from Life & Times of Baba Bakhoran Dass

– We the people of Mera Bhaarat Mahaan

 
Thanks to Mr. Sundar Sarukkai Professor of Philosophy at the National Institute of Advanced Studies Bengaluru for inputs.

BBD is experiencing a new INDIA of NaMo era in his own birth place at Tola Pathak Bigha, Village Barheta, Block Ratni, P S Paras Bigha, District Jehanabad in Bihar state. This a tiny hamlet comprising of original closely knit 14 families hailing from different caste structure with complete cohesion during childhood of BBD. For all practical purposes, BBD is in his roots after 1969 when he left the place for further education and acquiring skill for better livelihood etc. The birth place is now ruined and identified by only fallen walls and left as such since decades. Passing night with cracks in walls and roof which can fall any time is a new experience, but the complexity of society and behavior of people is rather more troublesome than the challenge of sleeping near scorpions/snakes of all kinds. Now, there is electricity for more than 20 hours in the villages, lanes are being made of all weather connectivity within, but still at least a year away from connecting with all weather motor-able roads. Right the moment, one is forced to walk down from Nagla which is situated on road.

Only a few people from a generation ahead of BBD are left, and 3rd generation after BBD has arrived. Perhaps, only BBD from his biological family is left out to be called as SARKAR (my lord – as per the then traditional word used for his family during childhood).

BBD is experiencing the challenge that belongingness is missing among all, and is being challenged even in the very nuclear family. Father is living with elder son while mother is living with younger son and elder son and mother are not in talking terms since months together. Family pension of INR 1,500 is divided in 3 parts, so the piece of land – whether it is cultivable land or dwelling unit. My faith that being a rural Indian was a simple matter is shattered within few hours. It appears to me that residents of my village are losing their autonomy to define themselves as to who are they and who they want to be seen as.

Sometimes, it seems that to understand our complex society, all that we need to do is to understand our behavior at traffic lights at almost all places in Mera Bhaarat Mahaan (MBM). During morning hours you may find a father taking his ward for school and the traffic police has raised his hand to give pass to vehicles coming from another side – the moment his eyes are shifted to other corner, this man carrying his ward, without waiting for green signal will find way to speed up to his destination, breaking all rules. He does not understand the mindset of a small kid, which is polluted at the very beginning but such stupid and avoidable haste. Resultant effect is seen in subsequent hours. You will find countless people on all short of transport driving through red lights. One does not get a sense of guilt by flouting rules that create inconvenience and annoyance to many who are following the rules. It becomes unbearable more so when they do it right beneath the nose of indifferent traffic police. Such situation makes you realize that while it might be just an another example of rule breaking that seems to be essential definition of being Indian, at a deeper level it is also reflective of a far greater problem confronting our society.

Following rules is very easy, and at the same time very difficult. Class example of traffic regulation observed by we the people during CWG in Delhi, and more so during emergency era of Mrs. G. If you prefer 1st part, it has at least two components: one, the action corresponding to the rules, and the other our interpretation of intention of that rule. So, to follow the simple rules, STOP AT RED LIGHT, is to follow the physical action of stopping the vehicle but it is also to accept the intention or reason behind the rule. Typically, we are expected to follow the action corresponding to a rule and not worry about the intention. Most times, when a driver jumps a signal, he is not breaking a rule per se as much as interpreting it in terms of its original intention. He understands that there is no traffic in front of him and then acts based on his decision that red lights are not meant to be followed when there is no traffic. He acts as independent decision maker who feels that his judgment of situation overrides rules set by a society or to say government. But, there are also some who jump signals because they feel they are not bound by any social norms – more so if his skins are covered by special yarn called white KHADI.

Such ambiguity of what it is to follow a rule is really the fountain head of many conflicts in our society of the day. Should we blindly follow existing social norms or should we be independent interpreters of the rules of society? Sometimes it is comprehended that our individual decision is better than the existing social norms. You may infer that it is useless to wait for two minutes at signal when there is no traffic at all on the roads. How one should act in such case? Does the social norm, even when no appropriate in a particular context, always supersede rational individual decision? Or is it better to have a thinking citizenship, one that refuses to blindly follow rules without interpreting them to see what really suits the context? But the chaos that results when each of us interprets social rules is what leads to traffic jams every single day in every corner of MBM.

It is also this same attitude of individual interpretations of accepted norms that drives much of the conflicts in India of the day, including the issues of governance. The latest conflict of COW Slaughter or EVM or Triple Talaque the debate on such issue and the action/reaction of self appointed protectors of religion, tradition, democracy and the nation is really not that different from the problem of dealing with traffic jams.

Identity is primarily about rules and how we follow. Identities such as gender, caste and religion are largely decided by the norms of larger society, and most times, socialization is nothing but learning as to how to follow those. So how we behave is influenced by the set of social rules, some explicit and many implicit. Living in society is then largely a matter of following these rules, stopping at the SOCIAL RED LIGHTS (SRL) as required. But, since identity is intensely personal, we also repeatedly intend to jump the SRL. We break social rules constantly and in doing so assert our own individual decision making capacity. Choosing our own identity – as to how we see ourselves – is one of the most cherished autonomies that we have. However, this autonomy is what is being challenged today by individuals in small groups who take on authority of defining what our identities should be. Unfortunately, the tendency in defining the rules of what any identity is, role of social media is taking alarming space. Instead of the state or the larger society which was done by people of initial phase of life of BBD, it is increasingly smaller but vocal and arrogant group that have anointed themselves as judge and enforcers of identity. This is exactly like having a group of people standing at signal lights waiting to catch those who jump the signal.

This pathetic situation has arrived because those who are supposed to do the job of creating meaningful social rules have abdicated their responsibilities – just like the attitude of traffic police. In such situation it is but natural that this space is occupied by individuals who suddenly decide to regulate traffic, so too the lack of political leaders leads to small groups taking over the task of regulating the society.

Is not an example of consequence of the natures of our democratic politics? Representative politics is a system where we the people voluntarily give away our autonomy to politicians. Voting for somebody is to voluntarily give a POWER OF ATTORNEY to that individual to speak and govern on our behalf. We gift the politicians the right to govern us in the hope that they will do the right things. But, the behaviors of latest entry of fresh air politicians of DELHI are showing that there is no longer possible in democracy of MBM.

If any individual or a small group start dictating the society with their definition of what social rules mean, instead of a loyal and responsible person negotiating such rules. They then run through society like they run through signal lights while the rest of us sit and watch helplessly waiting for for the lights to change. JAAGO RE.

GLIMPSES from LIFE & TIMES of BABA BAKHORAN DASS (BBD) – Close encounters with leftwing believers – a writer’s fantasy or hard fact?

This is an established fact that once upon a time the civilization of Mera Bhaarat Mahaan was a leading ideology because of our thinking and practicing unity in diversity. Now, a section of people who represent fused and confused ideology and believe that whatever the past legacy we had are useless discriminative and feel that only imported communism can solve all evils of the socio-political situation – although, author of these lines have entirely different opinion. The author may be branded as disgruntled mind, as once upon a time he himself was having love affairs with such ideology when he was young college going student with slightly above average IQ during late sixties and upto late eighties. It was 1968, when BBD moved from a very close traditional Brahmin atmosphere of a remote village in the then Gaya district of Bihar to a more liberal, clean, semiurban atmosphere with international repute as abode of Lord Shiva – one among 12 jyotirlingam – Baidyanathdham Deoghar (now in Jharkhand) – sizeable number of population was migrants. Majority of them were Bengalies with upper middle class tag, but residents only for few days and were called locally as “changers” and ridiculed as ‘damm cheaps’. Not far from the place a new movement had taken place called Naxalism. The place was nice for a hideout for few leaders. They were getting good support and all logistics from the local Bengali intelligentsia. The place was frequented by Com. Kanu Sanyal and Com. Jangal Santhal. But BBD never saw presence of Com. Charu Majumdar. Basudeo da a first class student was his neighbor and Dr. Bhattacharjee who was the professor at Deoghar College were guiding force for BBD to develop romance with the leftist ideology. Strong hate was infused for Vidyasagar and Mahatma Gandhi. Incidentally the birthplace of Vidyasagar was not far off. From crow fly point of view village Naxalbari was not more than 100 KM away from the place and local people were mostly santhals. The santhals were so simple and honest people that cannot be described. It can only be felts to be believed. Santhals were truly Good men and God men. Siddhu, Kanhu were their established leaders and Birsa had already acquired the position of Bhagwan. BBD was physically 14 years old only, so the readers may infer the mentality of a boy who was borne under influence of Gemini and a borne rebel. BBD was borne with a manufacturing defect of reactionary, inviting irritating argument, and nagging having problems with all and sundry. The path of naxalism was a blind tunnel. If you have witnessed a Bangla movie SAGINA remade as SAGINA MAHTO (Dilip Kumar Sairabano starrer) you may get a glimpse of harsh reality. BBD was lucky to get out of this tunnel by the end of 1971 – say roughly 30-35 months. Again, this period provided a laboratory for political churning in Bihar and strong political leader in Bengal. Mahamaya baboo represented a weak government while SS Ray was just opposite. Under the leadership of Indira Priyadarshini Siddharth baboo had made a comprehensive roadmap to crush the naxal movement, which was successfully implanted by the entire team. BBD, experienced and witnessed those actions, inactions, decisions and after effects from both the angles. Friends like Jiwan, Durga, Arbind, Rajshekhar Richards, Dilip maamu (Dilip Sinha and Dileep Richards) were the source of inspiration, information etc. Then there was lull from 1973 to end of 1978 due to quest for livelihood. BBD acquired double graduation, got married; and blessed with two sons (both were products of unemployed graduates) During last days of 1978, BBD was posted as a development Banker. The place was further closer to the village Naxalbari – this time less than 50 KM geographical distance. The entire working situation was an example of blatant and nauseating explicit exploitation of adivasis – the most pious but highly exploited common men. We, as a banker too had become a part of the team to take benefit of the situation. BBD finds no word to share the height and depth of level of inhuman behavior of WE THE PEOPLE. On the date of joining the Bank, that was 30.12.1978, BBD was strong follower of leftwing ideology. BBD was supported by Com. Sengupta, Com. Baraik under the influence of great Com. Tarkeshwar Chakraborty. But, as BBD was having very strong liking or disliking character as manufacturing defect – argued with Com. Tarkeshwar Chakraborty as his associate in travel in major part of Punea Division of the Bank, and found that Shri N.C. Mitra (a senior level development Banker (may call him management representative) was doing better service than Comrade (by the time dada was one among the Directors) while one Shri Diwan another Director of the Bank had innovative idea for development in Vaishali area of the Bank, which was implemented under his direct supervision. The love of the left wing ideology when tested from ground reality, even in the area very close to the place of birth of the extreme left wing was vanishing in thin air. Ultimately, BBD became a member of Junior Management Scale I with few months. First reaction was from Yadav ji – the Branch Head. He advised that as now I am part of management – ensure that whatever you were having grievances from management, will not allow happening wherever you are in the decision taking position. Destiny brought BBD at another place where leftwing ideology had great impact and it was Dhanbad – now in Jharkhand. BBD was the branch head of a fairly large branch of public sector commercial bank. The unit was notoriously infamous for trade union activism. The area was notoriously infamous for Coal mafia – a bye product of trade union activism, and countless graveyards of industrial units – once again gift of trade union activism. By the time BBD had personal experience of trade union activism at Kolkata – thanks to Com. S.K. Bose, Com. S.C. Das, Com. P.K. Das, Com. Shyamal Mukherjee, Com. D.K Rakshit, Com. Ashis Sengupta. Comrades at Kolakata were my guru (teachers). BBD closely witnessed the episodes of N.S.Road Kolkata, meetings and dictates at G.C. Avenue, differences between HR and MR. Then at Dhanbad, my next in command was Com. Tapan Sarkar – a very hardcore leftwing ideology supporter with his own perception of Banking. During the last few legs of active service of the Bank, destiny put me to understand leftwing ideology in Wynad district of Kerala – again a laboratory for BBD to understand this issue. North India particularly Bihar and UP states are victim of selective thought process of sickulars and pseudo liberals. The discrimination between haves and have-nots in rural area of Wynad, as observed by BBD was the worst of its kind. Now, BBD is retired person with nearly 50 years (half a century) of close watch to the so called pro poor (or any adjective you can use) ideology, had no gainful fulltime employment, and have no better option other than wasting time on screen including social media. Had to bear great intellectuals like Raza, Yechuri, Karat, Kancha, John Dayal, Varshney, Suneet Chopra few brains of alumni of JNU. BBD is confused once again – are they truly reflect their view points or act as paid stage actors? Nearly 50 years of confusion dear readers. Kindly do mercy and suggest where BBD went wrong – if at all. Either he is right in his perception that they have got only NEGATIVITY, ANIMOSITY AND HATRED towards the established system and procedure and ultimately a bunch of fused & confused bulbs of Indian politics, or BBD is a bloody stupid idiot.

GLIMPSES Baba Bakhoran Dass (BBD) has a very strong feeling that the greatest epic of the world is Mahabharat. BBD finds solution of all issues, past and present both. Even future can be predicted, if you have sufficient skills. Now, to the present issue of Draupadi of Pataliputra. BBD finds that Draupadi of Panchal was described in the Mahabharata as being extraordinarily beautiful, one of the most beautiful women of her time. Draupadi is described as radiant and graceful as if she had descended from the city of Gods. Draupadi was composite Avatar of Goddesses Shyamala (wife of Dharma), Bharati (Wife of Vayu), Sachi (wife of Indra), Usha (wife of Ashwinis) and hence married their earthly counterparts in the form of the five Pandavas, most of the people believe that she was Sanchi, wife of Indra . Enraged at a jest by Shyamala, Sachi and Usha, Brahma cursed them to human birth. Draupadi’s characteristic fight against injustice reflects Parvati or her Shakti, Kali inhabiting Draupadi’s mortal flesh at times. At other times, Draupadi was docile and even waited to be rescued (as in case of Jayadratha and Jatasura) showing the qualities of other goddesses like Sachi and Usha. Other times, she showed astuteness in hiding their true identity and asking Bhima to kill Keechaka like Goddess Bharati would. Draupadi’s service to her husbands, she had said that she rises before anyone else, tolerates hunger and thirst, and goes to bed after the others. She also gave birth to five sons; all of her sons were killed by Ashwatthama. But since he was the son of the family guru, and she had such respect for their gurus, she forgave him. When the Pandavas had reached the end of their lives and were setting out to ascend to heaven by climbing up into the mountains, she was the last in line. But she was the first to fall and thus rise to heaven after her death. Her dedication and devotion make her one of the great personalities of Vedic culture. She was a multifaceted personality: she could be fiery and angry when the situation called for it, but she still had a compassionate nature. She encouraged people to face life with the same inner strength that she did. After the war, Draupadi looked after Gandhari and Dhritarashtra with respect and affection, even though their sons had wronged her in so many ways. Draupadi is eulogized as the epitome of chastity and truth by Hindus. She is praised for her extreme devotion to her husbands; mother-in-law and Sri Krishna. She is worshiped as a goddess in certain communities in South India. She is also considered as a feminist symbol by certain writers. The epic portrays her Draupadi as a brave woman who demanded justice directly from the King Dhritarashtra in Hastinapur kingdom when she was insulted by his sons. She as Sairandhri (literally: an expert maid, her assumed name during her exile in which she worked as Virat kingdom’s queen Sudeshna’s hair-stylist) again demanded justice directly from the king Virata when she was insulted by Kichaka(the brother of Queen Sudeshna, and the commander of king Virata’s forces). She criticised those kings (Virata and Dhritarashtra) for failing to give Justice to her and failing to protect a woman. She even criticised great warriors such as Bhishma, Drona, Kripacharya and even her five husbands for not saving her from the humiliation in Hastinapur. BBD who was born in Magadh, performed his best during most of his effective tenure in and around Panchaal area find a lot of resemblance in his professional life and times with the Draupadi of Panchaal. Like Draupadi, as FR he had to satisfy more than one Unit head (incidentally they were 1+5 Gajraula, Hasanpur, Dhanaura, Bachhraun, Amroha and Joya) to start with. Like Draupadi, he is eulogized as the epitome of chastity and truth by those who were associated with him in any way of his professional life. She was a multifaceted personality: she could be fiery and angry when the situation called for it, but she still had a compassionate nature. She encouraged people to face life with the same inner strength that she did. Like Draupadi, efforts to disrobe him in front of elders were made, and all of the elders witnessed the drama as it was during her period. Whether BBD is getting too much of his character of megalomania? from Life & Times of BABA BAKHORAN DASS – a tribute to Draupadi

GLIMPSES FROM Life & Times of BABA BAKHORAN DASS – a tribute to Draupadi

Baba Bakhoran Dass (BBD) has a very strong feeling that the greatest epic of the world is Mahabharat. BBD finds solution of all issues, past and present both. Even future can be predicted, if you have sufficient skills.

 

Now, to the present issue of Draupadi of Pataliputra. BBD finds that Draupadi of Panchal was described in the Mahabharata as being extraordinarily beautiful, one of the most beautiful women of her time. Draupadi is described as radiant and graceful as if she had descended from the city of Gods. Draupadi was composite Avatar of Goddesses Shyamala (wife of Dharma), Bharati (Wife of Vayu), Sachi (wife of Indra), Usha (wife of Ashwinis) and hence married their earthly counterparts in the form of the five Pandavas, most of the people believe that she was Sanchi, wife of Indra . Enraged at a jest by Shyamala, Sachi and Usha, Brahma cursed them to human birth. Draupadi’s characteristic fight against injustice reflects Parvati or her Shakti, Kali inhabiting Draupadi’s mortal flesh at times. At other times, Draupadi was docile and even waited to be rescued (as in case of Jayadratha and Jatasura) showing the qualities of other goddesses like Sachi and Usha. Other times, she showed astuteness in hiding their true identity and asking Bhima to kill Keechaka like Goddess Bharati would. Draupadi’s service to her husbands, she had said that she rises before anyone else, tolerates hunger and thirst, and goes to bed after the others. She also gave birth to five sons; all of her sons were killed by Ashwatthama. But since he was the son of the family guru, and she had such respect for their gurus, she forgave him. When the Pandavas had reached the end of their lives and were setting out to ascend to heaven by climbing up into the mountains, she was the last in line. But she was the first to fall and thus rise to heaven after her death. Her dedication and devotion make her one of the great personalities of Vedic culture. She was a multifaceted personality: she could be fiery and angry when the situation called for it, but she still had a compassionate nature. She encouraged people to face life with the same inner strength that she did. After the war, Draupadi looked after Gandhari and Dhritarashtra with respect and affection, even though their sons had wronged her in so many ways. Draupadi is eulogized as the epitome of chastity and truth by Hindus. She is praised for her extreme devotion to her husbands; mother-in-law and Sri Krishna. She is worshiped as a goddess in certain communities in South India. She is also considered as a feminist symbol by certain writers. The epic portrays her Draupadi as a brave woman who demanded justice directly from the King Dhritarashtra in Hastinapur kingdom when she was insulted by his sons. She as Sairandhri (literally: an expert maid, her assumed name during her exile in which she worked as Virat kingdom’s queen Sudeshna’s hair-stylist) again demanded justice directly from the king Virata when she was insulted by Kichaka(the brother of Queen Sudeshna, and the commander of king Virata’s forces). She criticised those kings (Virata and Dhritarashtra) for failing to give Justice to her and failing to protect a woman. She even criticised great warriors such as Bhishma, Drona, Kripacharya and even her five husbands for not saving her from the humiliation in Hastinapur.

 

BBD who was born in Magadh, performed his best during most of his effective tenure in and around Panchaal area find a lot of resemblance in his professional life and times with the Draupadi of Panchaal. Like Draupadi, as FR he had to satisfy more than one Unit head (incidentally they were 1+5 Gajraula, Hasanpur, Dhanaura, Bachhraun, Amroha and Joya) to start with. Like Draupadi, he is eulogized as the epitome of chastity and truth by those who were associated with him in any way of his professional life. She was a multifaceted personality: she could be fiery and angry when the situation called for it, but she still had a compassionate nature. She encouraged people to face life with the same inner strength that she did. Like Draupadi, efforts to disrobe him in front of elders were made, and all of the elders witnessed the drama as it was during her period. Whether BBD is getting too much of his character of megalomania?

GLIMPSES from the LIFE & TIMES of BABA BAKHORAN DASS – We the people of MERA BHAARAT MAHAAN

Thanks to Mr. Sundar Sarukkai Professor of Philosophy at the National Institute of Advanced Studies Bengaluru for inputs.

BBD is experiencing a new INDIA of NaMo era in his own birth place at Tola Pathak Bigha, Village Barheta, Block Ratni, P S Paras Bigha, District Jehanabad in Bihar state. This a tiny hamlet comprising of original closely knit 14 families hailing from different caste structure with complete cohesion during childhood of BBD. For all practical purposes, BBD is in his roots after 1969 when he left the place for further education and acquiring skill for better livelihood etc. The birth place is now ruined and identified by only fallen walls and left as such since decades. Passing night with cracks in walls and roof which can fall any time is a new experience, but the complexity of society and behavior of people is rather more troublesome than the challenge of sleeping near scorpions/snakes of all kinds. Now, there is electricity for more than 20 hours in the villages, lanes are being made of all weather connectivity within, but still at least a year away from connecting with all weather motor-able roads. Right the moment, one is forced to walk down from Nagla which is situated on road.

Only a few people from a generation ahead of BBD are left, and 3rd generation after BBD has arrived. Perhaps, only BBD from his biological family is left out to be called as SARKAR (my lord – as per the then traditional word used for his family during childhood).

BBD is experiencing the challenge that belongingness is missing among all, and is being challenged even in the very nuclear family. Father is living with elder son while mother is living with younger son and elder son and mother are not in talking terms since months together. Family pension of INR 1,500 is divided in 3 parts, so the piece of land – whether it is cultivable land or dwelling unit. My faith that being a rural Indian was a simple matter is shattered within few hours. It appears to me that residents of my village are losing their autonomy to define themselves as to who are they and who they want to be seen as.

Sometimes, it seems that to understand our complex society, all that we need to do is to understand our behavior at traffic lights at almost all places in Mera Bhaarat Mahaan (MBM). During morning hours you may find a father taking his ward for school and the traffic police has raised his hand to give pass to vehicles coming from another side – the moment his eyes are shifted to other corner, this man carrying his ward, without waiting for green signal will find way to speed up to his destination, breaking all rules. He does not understand the mindset of a small kid, which is polluted at the very beginning but such stupid and avoidable haste. Resultant effect is seen in subsequent hours. You will find countless people on all short of transport driving through red lights. One does not get a sense of guilt by flouting rules that create inconvenience and annoyance to many who are following the rules. It becomes unbearable more so when they do it right beneath the nose of indifferent traffic police. Such situation makes you realize that while it might be just an another example of rule breaking that seems to be essential definition of being Indian, at a deeper level it is also reflective of a far greater problem confronting our society.

Following rules is very easy, and at the same time very difficult. Class example of traffic regulation observed by we the people during CWG in Delhi, and more so during emergency era of Mrs. G. If you prefer 1st part, it has at least two components: one, the action corresponding to the rules, and the other our interpretation of intention of that rule. So, to follow the simple rules, STOP AT RED LIGHT, is to follow the physical action of stopping the vehicle but it is also to accept the intention or reason behind the rule. Typically, we are expected to follow the action corresponding to a rule and not worry about the intention. Most times, when a driver jumps a signal, he is not breaking a rule per se as much as interpreting it in terms of its original intention. He understands that there is no traffic in front of him and then acts based on his decision that red lights are not meant to be followed when there is no traffic. He acts as independent decision maker who feels that his judgment of situation overrides rules set by a society or to say government. But, there are also some who jump signals because they feel they are not bound by any social norms – more so if his skins are covered by special yarn called white KHADI.

Such ambiguity of what it is to follow a rule is really the fountain head of many conflicts in our society of the day. Should we blindly follow existing social norms or should we be independent interpreters of the rules of society? Sometimes it is comprehended that our individual decision is better than the existing social norms. You may infer that it is useless to wait for two minutes at signal when there is no traffic at all on the roads. How one should act in such case? Does the social norm, even when no appropriate in a particular context, always supersede rational individual decision? Or is it better to have a thinking citizenship, one that refuses to blindly follow rules without interpreting them to see what really suits the context? But the chaos that results when each of us interprets social rules is what leads to traffic jams every single day in every corner of MBM.

It is also this same attitude of individual interpretations of accepted norms that drives much of the conflicts in India of the day, including the issues of governance. The latest conflict of COW Slaughter or EVM or Triple Talaque the debate on such issue and the action/reaction of self appointed protectors of religion, tradition, democracy and the nation is really not that different from the problem of dealing with traffic jams.

Identity is primarily about rules and how we follow. Identities such as gender, caste and religion are largely decided by the norms of larger society, and most times, socialization is nothing but learning as to how to follow those. So how we behave is influenced by the set of social rules, some explicit and many implicit. Living in society is then largely a matter of following these rules, stopping at the SOCIAL RED LIGHTS (SRL) as required. But, since identity is intensely personal, we also repeatedly intend to jump the SRL. We break social rules constantly and in doing so assert our own individual decision making capacity. Choosing our own identity – as to how we see ourselves – is one of the most cherished autonomies that we have. However, this autonomy is what is being challenged today by individuals in small groups who take on authority of defining what our identities should be. Unfortunately, the tendency in defining the rules of what any identity is, role of social media is taking alarming space. Instead of the state or the larger society which was done by people of initial phase of life of BBD, it is increasingly smaller but vocal and arrogant group that have anointed themselves as judge and enforcers of identity. This is exactly like having a group of people standing at signal lights waiting to catch those who jump the signal.

This pathetic situation has arrived because those who are supposed to do the job of creating meaningful social rules have abdicated their responsibilities – just like the attitude of traffic police. In such situation it is but natural that this space is occupied by individuals who suddenly decide to regulate traffic, so too the lack of political leaders leads to small groups taking over the task of regulating the society.

Is not an example of consequence of the natures of our democratic politics? Representative politics is a system where we the people voluntarily give away our autonomy to politicians. Voting for somebody is to voluntarily give a POWER OF ATTORNEY to that individual to speak and govern on our behalf. We gift the politicians the right to govern us in the hope that they will do the right things. But, the behaviors of latest entry of fresh air politicians of DELHI are showing that there is no longer possible in democracy of MBM.

If any individual or a small group start dictating the society with their definition of what social rules mean, instead of a loyal and responsible person negotiating such rules. They then run through society like they run through signal lights while the rest of us sit and watch helplessly waiting for for the lights to change. JAAGO RE.

GLIMPSES from LIFE & TIMES of BABA BAKHORAN DASS – A LOLLY-POP TO OUR ANNADAATA wrapped as Loan Waiver

The then dispensation in New Delhi understood the importance of Great Nicobar group of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, and planned to use the services of Indian Army personnel after their retirement – as FARMERS. Jai Jawan Jai Kissan slogan was very much in the air. Nearly 200 such jawan hailing from Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh were given status of settlers. Few acres of leveled land, a plot for construction of dwelling units and some non-refundable monetary support to construct the dwelling units were given and a branch of very recently nationalized commercial Bank was established to cater their banking needs. All decisions were taken sitting in New Delhi without knowing the ground realities.

The branch was advised to extend credit support for a pair of bullock, a pair of milch animal (cows) and crop loans to all. Few lucky could get loan for transport lorry and a power tiller. Distance between Campbell bay (the jetty which liked them from rest of the world) and Portblair was nearly 600 KM. Other inputs like animals, service support etc was available at nearly 1,600 KM away involving travel of nearly a month, whoever was willing to support those brave jawans now settlers.

All were producers, and no one was buyer. Vagaries of nature also played a role, and ultimately almost all loans become NPA (although this word had not seen the light).

BBD was deputed to this great place to handle this unique situation, as a decision was taken in New Delhi that the Government of India will reimburse the Principal amount of such defaulters (those who paid the loan with all miseries and vagaries were forced to find themselves as stupid idiots); and the interest portion will be absorbed by the Bank as it was a nationalized bank. The scene at the branch was so pathetic that the branch was finding it difficult to even find factual position of Principal and Interest forget reconciliation.

PERHAPS THIS WAS FIRST SUCH EXPERIMENT OF FARM LOAN WAIVER BY Government of India.

Ms. Nandini Satpathy of Orissa wanted to experiment first in her state but was not allowed by the Iron Lady, but A.R. Antule in Maharashtra took the risk and earned ire. It may not be out of context to reproduce his feelings as a politician, which he shared latter as Hon’ble M.P in following words, “Sir, you will be surprised to know what though under the scheme it is laid down that for the first two years, nothing need be paid/returned, thereafter within ten years, the amount that is given by way of loan is to be returned in suitable instalments without interest.” But he added: “Within a year these cobblers, artisans and smaller people did repay and the recovery is 95 to 97 per cent within the period when nothing need be repaid. Contrast it with Bank scams. How many thousands of crores were given to the big and the rich and the multimillionaires? How much money has been frittered away and wasted? I do not know what has happened to that? I only heard about Bank scam, a Committee and thereafter some sort of inquiry. But where the matter stands, if at all, at the moment, I do not know. How many thousands of crores have gone down the drain like this? If the same money was paid – poor man does not want more – if you give him one lakh of rupees in his hand, he will be flabbergasted, frightened. He even does not know what to do with it because he has not heard of one lakh of rupees. What he needs is Rs.1500 or Rs.2000 or Rs.2500. Why can this Government not have a scheme?……..”

Incidentally, today the nation is celebrating CHAMPARAN DAY – a political celebration; and MODI THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPER HAS TURNED MODI THE POPULIST.
BBD is busy in exhibiting his wail as a war widow who lost everything.
To conclude the story of Campbellbay, on his return when a note was put up to his immediate boss – an intelligent lady officer of the Bank, borne and brought up educated and served only in Kolkata and New Delhi and had no interaction with any farmer so far – turned down recommendation of BBD as the decision if taken was highly risky.
Now, the issue of Loan waiver to farmers in the light of Chamapran, let us discuss, as the issue has become more political and views of Late Antule as available in proceedings of Parliament is not read by even his own party men. The nature of history is such that whenever exploitation crosses all limits, a few of those exploited begin to raise their voice. Raj Kumar Shukla was part of this endangered species. He jumped into battle but it was beyond his capabilities to take it past the finishing line. Around the same time, at the Lucknow session of the Congress, he met Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. He convinced Gandhi that he had to visit Champaran at least once to witness the farmers’ oppression first-hand. The barrister accepted his invitation.
On 10 April 1917, when Gandhi alighted at the Motihari railway station, he was unaware that his destiny was about to be transformed. Hundreds of people had converged on the station to meet him. After Natal in South Africa, this was the second occasion when the oppressed were seeing a glimpse of their messiah in this diminutive man. The English collector of Champaran heard about this and predictably got a whiff of a popular uprising. He was arrested on suspicion of disturbing public order. This just fanned the passions further. To ensure that the anger of his supporters doesn’t cross all limits, the district administration gave him a bail proposal. But Gandhi refused to comply and carry out the documentation needed for the bail application. This made him an overnight hero and during the hearing that followed, thousands of people began gathering outside the court room.

A stunned district administration had no option but to release him. Those few hours of detention paved the way for Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s transformation into a Mahatma. Gandhi fought this war not with outrage but with tact. He got a survey conducted of 8,000 indigo farmers in 2,841 villages of Champaran.

Presently, television personalities begin holding forth on the mood of a country of 1.25 billion people after speaking to just 500-1,000 people. Just imagine the credibility of such a comprehensive survey conducted 100 years ago.
Still, it may be unfair to perceive the Champaran rebellion as a part of the struggle for Independence. The farmers of Champaran dreamt of freedom from exploitation in 1917.

Has their dream been realized? The bitter truth is that the administrators of Independent India haven’t treated them any better. Even today their farm earnings are not enough to fill their stomach. The indigo tyrants may have gone away, but their place has been taken by moneylenders who are free to suck the blood out of the farmers.
How will we get freedom from them? This question needs an honest answer; before it is too late.
Let us return to Bihar on this day atleast. The initiative of land reforms has not yet borne fruit here. The directives of the judiciary in this regard haven’t proved useful either. Till a few months back, Bihar had a law under which even the Supreme Court’s rulings could be sent for review to the revenue minister. Capitalizing on this, the politicians in the state were sitting over the reforms. This was the condition when parties with a socialist philosophy had been in power in the state for nearly 30 years.
Like Champaran, farmers in other parts of the country are also in a sorry state. Several thousand of farmers commit suicide in India every year. Villages are being deserted owing to lack of employment opportunities. And because of these migrants the infrastructure of the cities is crumbling. But there was some relief on this front last week. The UP government waived the loans of up to Rs1 lakh for close to 8.7 million farmers. The Madras high court has directed the government in Tamil Nadu to waive farm loans. Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has expressed a similar desire. A few other poll-bound states may soon follow suit. It will be nice if, after this populist decision, politicians make some arrangements that ensure that the sons of soil need not get trapped in the quagmire of farm loans again.
This is required because earlier there was just one Champaran and today there are hundreds of Champarans in India. This is Independent India’s tragic gift to Independent India.

But, before that let us go back to some history:

• The historic All India Rural Credit Survey (AIRCS) carried out in 1954 confirmed that formal credit institutions provided less than 9% of rural credit needs in India. Moneylenders, traders and rich landlords accounted for more than 75% of rural credit. Cooperative credit societies had already been in existence for 50 years but their share in rural credit was still less than 5 percent. What is honest present status?
• The 1945 Cooperative Planning Committee had discerned early signs of sickness in India’s cooperative movement, finding that a large number of cooperatives were “saddled with the problem of frozen assets, because of heavy overdues in repayment”. Even so, in the 1950s and 1960s, the way forward was seen to lie in cooperative credit societies. These cooperatives were to take the lead in the Integrated Scheme of Rural Credit suggested by the AIRCS. The share of cooperatives in rural credit did rise to cross 20% in 1971. Today, India’s cooperative credit structure (CCS),with over 15 crore members (including nearly 10 crore borrowers), constitutes one of the largest rural financial systems in the world. The over 1 lakh Primary Agriculture Credit Societies (PACS) can, in many ways, be regarded as the veritable bedrock of India’s rural economy. The CCS has 50 percent more clients than commercial banks and Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) put together. Directly or indirectly, it covers nearly half of India’s total population. The CCS are expected to provide services of farm input distribution, crop production, processing and marketing as also dairying, weaving and textiles. However, the CCS has never realised the enormous potential opened up by its vast outreach. According to the Task Force on Revival of Rural Cooperative Credit Institutions, this owes mainly to a “deep impairment of governance”. While they were originally visualised as member-driven, democratic, self-governing, self-reliant institutions, cooperatives have over the years, constantly looked up to the state for several basic functions. The Task Force describes in detail how state governments have become the dominant shareholders, managers, regulators, supervisors and auditors of the CCS. The concept of mutuality (with savings and credit functions going together), that provided strength to cooperatives all over the world, has been missing in India. This “borrower driven” system is beset with conflict of interest and has led to regulatory arbitrage, recurrent losses, deposit erosion, poor portfolio quality and a loss of competitive edge for the cooperatives. Domination by richer elements in the rural elite that characterised cooperatives in the colonial period continues to be an abiding feature of these institutions even after independence.
• In 1951, the AIRCS found that the share of banks in rural credit was less than 1 percent.
• Even through the 1950s and 1960s, the role of private commercial banks in rural credit remained minimal and indirect. The AIRCS itself had wanted involvement of these banks in agricultural marketing and processing but not directly in farm output. Rural branches of commercial banks were few and far between despite a 1954 RBI directive for them to open at least one branch in unbanked rural and semi-rural areas for every branch opened in previously banked areas. The Imperial Bank of India was nationalised in 1955 and the new State Bank of India was asked to open 400 branches in semi-urban areas and start agricultural lending, even if at a loss. Now, even SBI has taken its subsidiaries in their fold.
• Even so right up to 1971, the share of banks in rural credit was no more than 2.4 percent and most of these loans were made to plantations. Their main activity was to finance agro-processing firms and purchase of bonds floated by land development banks. Until the end of the 1960s, the overwhelming share in commercial bank credit was that of industry (62 percent) and trade and commerce (26 percent). Within industry, the distribution of credit was skewed in favour of large borrowers It has also been alleged that “advances by private banks were diverted to sister companies of the banks or to companies in which their directors had an interest”
• Thus, cooperatives remained dominated by the rural elite and banks continued to have an urban bias throughout the twenty years after independence.
• Indian banks in the colonial period ignored rural credit and specialised in short-term credit for trade against conventional collateral.
• Set up in 1921 by merging the Presidency Banks of Bombay, Bengal and Madras.
• In 1959, eight major state associated banks were made subsidiaries of the SBI. (Since now merged).
• A similar phenomenon was observed by Keynes in the British context in the 1920s decades after the First World War. Similar state-led rural finance programmes spread across the developing world in the post-colonial period. State control over banking to act as an engine of structural change and the attack on poverty was part of the orthodoxy of development economics at that time.
• Even though they lament it, assemble data on government ownership of banks around the world, which show that such ownership is large and pervasive. In the average country, more than 40 percent of the equity of 10 largest banks remained in government hands even as recently as 1995.
• Theoretical Case in Development Economics Perhaps the first intellectual case for nationalisation of commercial banks in India was made in a public lecture delivered by KN Raj in 1965. Raj felt “there are important reasons why banking enterprises seeking to maximise their profits would not venture out into areas and sectors of activity to which high priority needs to be attached from a larger social and economic point of view”.
• Thus, rural credit was not merely a commodity that needed to reach the poor to free them from usurious money lenders; it could also be seen as a public good critical to the development of a backward agrarian economy like India. Especially as Indian agriculture moved decisively into the Green Revolution phase, where private investments by richer farmers needed massive credit support. Private Banks operating in an imperfect credit market would only aggravate already existing imperfections. As some economist has put it, “the most important prerequisite for becoming an entrepreneur is the ownership of capital . . . firms below a certain size have no access whatever to the capital market . . . a state of business democracy where anybody endowed with entrepreneurial ability can obtain capital for starting a business venture is, to put it mildly, unrealistic”.
• In the General Theory, economist have expressed that the problem may be examined a little differently. Distinction between “two types of risk that affect the volume of investment”. The borrower’s risk arises because he is unsure whether his business venture will provide the expected yield. He would want a low rate of interest, which is but natural. Even in the United States, the Community Reinvestment Act, 1977 entails that banks meet credit needs of low-income neighbourhoods especially if the venture is a risky one. But the same situation creates the “lender’s risk” of default by the borrower (voluntary, terms “moral hazard” or involuntary, due to poor returns on investment). This necessitates that the lender charges a rate of interest high enough to induce him to lend. Bankers express the resulting social dilemma somewhat poetically: “the hope of a very favourable outcome, which may balance the risk in the mind of the borrower, is not available to solace the lender”.
• Applying the insights of Bankers to a deeply unequal agrarian economy like India, it is argued “the very basis of profit-making in banking activity sets limits in underdeveloped economies to the enterprise it can display” There are high information and transaction costs of dealing with many small borrowers that acts as a major disincentive.
• Also because profitability of banks is greater, the higher “the proportion of their earning assets to the idle cash reserves they have to hold” servicing illiterate customers, who insist on payments in cash on the spot, means higher idle cash reserves of banks and lower profitability.
• Nationalisation of large banks was the only forward. Bankers were aware that “the bureaucratic element in decision making may introduce considerable rigidity” but in “large private banks the element of impersonality, with all the rigidity it introduces, is almost as great as in the case of State-owned banks, except in case of favoured customers known to the bank. . .The larger private banks are no less impervious to the needs of small customers who have no security to offer”
• The 1969 law sought to dramatically change course. After nationalisation, branch expansion was deliberately skewed towards previously unbanked or under-banked rural and semi-urban areas. Reaching out to Unbanked Areas The RBI created a comprehensive list of unbanked locations in India that it circulated every few years to all banks.
• In 1970, the RBI formulated its first “socially coercive” licensing criterion based on this data. For every new branch in an already banked area (with one or more branches), each bank would have to open at least 3 branches in unbanked rural or semi-urban areas.17 The RBI directed that all semi-urban locations would 14 There was a stated thrust towards reducing income inequalities and the concentration of economic power in a few hands. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi unleashed a package of socialist policy initiatives, including the abolition of privy purses, culminating in the winning Garibi Hatao campaign of the 1971 elections. The RBI was set up in 1935 and nationalised in 1949 16 647 banks failed between 1937 and 1947. RBI intervention brought this down to 242 between 1947 and1951.

Now, having examined history, records, statistics, experiences of global meltdown, banking reform, technology and so many other changes, let us find some vision for future. Let us be realistic, because bad economics with populist politics will ruin the NATION. Giveaways can come only ON THE COST OF DEVELOPMENT. Surprisingly after thrashing Congress-style populism in the polls, NaMo is has taken that very failed strategy. Such steps corrupt the minds of all its stakeholders. NaMo had promised rapid economic development and good governance, not loan waivers. He said sorry to Chandrababu Naidu. Earlier Shri I G Patel had said sorry to Shri Antule, now Urjit Patel says same thing. And both were right as RBI Governor. It erodes loan discipline and encourages wilfull defaulters. Those who repay look like fools and those that renege on loans are rewarded handsomely. The huge NPAs of the banking system has already threaten macroeconomic stability and future economic growth. Encouraging a climate of default at this stage is highly irresponsible. Let us find answers of following questions:

o Why benefit only those who have borrowed and not others who did not?
o Why benefit only defaulters and not those who repaid their loans despite many difficulties?
o Why only farmers? What about landless labors, artisans, weavers?
o What has happened to Education Loan NPAs?
o What is the status of investments in infrastructure ventures?

Will it not be more prudent that the government should step us infrastructure spending, as shown by Nitish Kumar in Bihar?

Just for lighter moment – whether politicians, and aam aadmi at R K Nagar constituency have inadvertently exhibited jointly and severally that HUM KO TO YE PASAND HAI…