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Letters

Land Reforms Remain Relevant
One of the least commented upon but nevertheless important aspects of economic policy and agricultural policy during the last two to three decades has been the extent to which the important issue of land reforms has been neglected and sidelined in India. Not that land reforms were particularly successful in India at any earlier stage. There may not have been any great achievements but nevertheless, keeping in view that India is a large country, even limited achievements translated in terms of several hundred thousand people getting some land.

In terms of future programmes and initiatives, a hope remained alive for several years that as long as land reforms remained on the official agenda, if not today then tomorrow something important can be achieved. But what has happened during recent years is that land reforms in terms of significant redistribution of land among the rural poor have almost vanished from the radar of government policy makers.

There is hardly any official discussion on taking this further. In fact this issue is even being neglected in the media as never before. The academic community by and large also appears to be neglecting this issue now, in sharp contrast to the keen interest taken by academics in this issue till some years back.

Nevertheless it needs to be proclaimed loud and clear that land reforms remain a very important issue for many reasons. Firstly if reduction of poverty and inequalities is most important concern, then land reforms certainly have a very important role in achieving this. In terms of achieving food security to the poorest, again it makes a big difference if they have at least some farmland of their own.

Thirdly, even in terms of food production and productivity, sincere and significant land reforms can contribute a lot as the when poorest people get their own land they are likely to work hard to grow the most food on this. In fact they can become very successful participants in efforts for low cost, self-reliant and eco-friendly methods for improving yields because such efforts also need hard work and good care of land and soil. The weaker sections and particularly the women from these sections are likely to be more helpful in spreading such careful and eco-friendly farming.

Thus from many important points of view the issue of land reforms should remain a very important issue particularly in the specific conditions of countries like India with large-scale poverty, hunger and land pressures.

Hence efforts should be made to keep alive this issue and highlight its effectiveness and importance for reducing poverty, inequality and hunger in India.
Bharat Dogra, Delhi
[email protected]

New Education Policy
Today 16th July, 2017, I attended the whole-day FEDCUTA National Convention on the Draft Education Policy, at India International Centre, New Delhi. FEDCUTA stands for Federation of Central Universities Teachers' Associations. I was invited by Dr Nandita Narain who is the President of DUTA as well as FEDCUTA. Noted scholars, teachers, student leaders and representatives of Teachers Associations from across the country participated. The Convention was addressed, among others, by political scientist Prof Hargopal, human rights scholar Prof Kancha llaiah, economist Prof Prabhat Patnaik and sociologist Prof Satish Deshpande. Prominent teacher leaders who participated, besides Nandita Narain, included AIFUCTO General Secy, Arun Kumar, Prof (Ms) Verma of Lucknow Central University, Prof Sony Kunjappan, President of Central University of Gujarat and known teacher leaders from Delhi University : Dr Kiranwalia and Dr Shrihari Oberoi. Student leaders who participated included Mohit Pandey, the JNUSU President and Faizul Hasan, President of AMUSU. The Convention passed several resolutions critical of different aspects of the Draft Education Policy, particularly the unfettered privatisation, induction of foreign teachers, drastic cut on University budgets, reduction in student intake and teacher recruitment. The Convention decried the general erosion of academic freedom and democracy in the country. It was indeed a successful National Convention on the New Education Policy.
Aurobindo Ghose, former Lecturer,
Delhi University and Member of DU Academic Council.

Email : [email protected]

One-Rupee Note
It refers to a matter of unpopular 10-rupee coins raised in Rajya Sabha on 24.07.2017 when attention of central government was drawn to unpopularity of 10-rupee coins. Banks are now no more getting new pack of ten-rupee notes. Whereabouts of plastic ten-rupee notes as announced by the then Union Minister of State for Finance Namo Narain Meena in UPA regime in a written reply in Rajya Sabha on 12.03.2013 is unknown.

On the other hand despite strong criticism, Reserve Bank of India-RBI notified yet another 2017-series of new one-rupee notes signed by Shaktikant Dass, Secretary in Union Finance Ministry. One-rupee note was re-issued on 06.03.2015 after being discontinued long two decades back in the year 1994, with signature of the then Union Finance Secretary Rajiv Mahrishi. Earlier a futile exercise was made to get issued one-rupee notes signed by the then senior-most Secretary in Union Finance Ministry Ratan P Watal.

File-notings reveal that file for issue of one-rupee notes was moved by then Union Finance Secretary Arvind Mayaram after 2014 elections to Lok Sabha were announced. These were issued despite strong RBI resistance, only for bureaucratic craze to sign notes despite these being sold only at premium without coming in actual circulation. Best remedy to avoid super-wastage in printing one-rupee notes is to change Coinage Act to enable signatures of both RBI governor and a secretary-level bureaucrat in Union Finance Ministry signing currency-notes of all denominations. Bureaucrats can justify the crazy move because currency-notes are guaranteed by central government. Need is to make ten-rupee notes in, and one-rupee note out of printing.
Subhash Chandra Agrawal, Delhi

Frontier
Vol. 50, No.7, Aug 20 - 26, 2017