MS Swaminathan, father of India's Green Revolution, interviewed by Vidya Venkat (The Hindu)
Fifty years since the Green Revolution, the architect of the reform highlights the crisis facing Indian agriculture today
It is 11 years since agronomist M.S. Swaminathan handed over his recommendations for improving the state of agriculture in India to the former United Progressive Alliance government, at the height of the Vidarbha farmer suicides crisis, but they are still to be implemented. To address the agrarian crisis and farmers’ unrest across the country, he urged the government to take steps to secure farmers’ income. As India marks 50 years of the Green Revolution this year, the architect of the movement says sustainability is the greatest challenge facing Indian agriculture. Excerpts:
* The greatest challenge facing Indian agriculture 50 years back was achieving self-sufficiency in foodgrain production. What is the greatest challenge today?
There are two major challenges before Indian agriculture today: ecological and economical. The conservation of our basic agricultural assets such as...
Diane Coffey, visiting researcher at Indian Statistical Institute (Delhi) and also assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin, interviewed by Sagar (CaravanMagazine.in)
In mid 2011, Diane Coffey and Dean Spears, both visiting researchers at Economics and Planning Unit of Indian Statistical Institute in Delhi and also assistant professors at the University of Texas at Austin, moved to Sitapur, a district in Uttar Pradesh, to conduct a study on poor early-life health and process of stunting among many Indian children. While Coffey attempted to understand the challenges of raising a baby in the district, Spears compiled government and demographic data to understand the correlation between stunting, cognitive development of Indian children to sanitation. Their findings—that due to poor sanitation, children in rural India die young and those who survive grow up physically and cognitively stunted—raised a further unexplainable question: how is open defecation in rural India different from the rest of developing countries? Coffey and Spears discuss the answer to this question in their book, Where India Goes Abandoned Toilets, Stunted Development and...
Prof. Devesh Kapur, director of the Center for the Advanced Study of India at the University of Pennsylvania, interviewed by Anuradha Raman (The Hindu)
The political scientist on the danger to India’s checks and balances, and the perils of the democratisation of mediocrity in universities
Professor of political science and a holder of the Madan Lal Sobti Chair, Devesh Kapur has been director of the Center for the Study of Contemporary India at University of Pennsylvania since 2006. Mr. Kapur, who recently co-edited Public Institutions in India: Performance and Design, says our public universities have failed in fostering a spirit of inquiry, curiosity, tolerance and excellence among students. Excerpts:
* You have said you could see the making of a perfect storm in India.
In the next few decades, we will see a youth bulge with a skewed sex ratio, one where people, the young people, have ostensible credentials but no real skills or knowledge because of how bad our education system is. So they have expectations and aspirations which are not going to be met....
Asim Dasgupta, former Finance Minister of West Bengal, interviewed by AM Jigeesh (The Hindu Business Line)
-The Hindu Business Line
Asim Dasgupta, who was Finance Minister of West Bengal for 24 years, was probably the only CPI(M) member who attended Saturday’s event at the Central Hall of Parliament, on the eve of the GST’s launch. In fact, Dasgupta was Chairman of the Empowered Group of State Finance Ministers which prepared the first formulation of GST laws in 2009.
He spoke to BusinessLine on the new indirect tax regime, and differed with his party on issues such as infringement of the right of States, and possible inflation. Excerpts:
* Are you happy about the GST laws?
When we [State Finance Ministers] had worked out the GST framework way back in 2009 with the help of (economist) Parthasarathi Shome, I happened to be the Chairman of the Empowered Group of State Finance Ministers. In that formulation, we mentioned that there has to be a Constitutional amendment that the States can get the...
Pronab Sen, former Planning Commission member and former Chairman of the National Statistical Commission, interviewed by TCA Sharad Raghavan (The Hindu)
It’s complex than elsewhere both in terms of number of rates and jurisdictions
The form of Goods and Services Tax being implemented from July 1 is uniquely Indian, according to former Planning Commission member and former Chairman of the National Statistical Commission Pronab Sen. In an interview to The Hindu, he says the indirect tax regime will make it easier to start a new company, but increases complexity for those engaged in buying and selling multiple goods and services. Excerpts:
* What are the benefits of the GST system being applied currently?
The benefit of the GST system is that essentially it subsumes all taxes into one. This means that whatever activity you are in, there is only one indirect tax that is applicable. You do not have to worry about the different forms of taxes that are applicable for your activity. That instils a degree of certainty in the system and...