Saturday, July 11, 2020

SOP - mass plantation

1.    Change cropping pattern from existing crops (annually earning between Rs. 10000 to 50000 per acre) to fruit plantation (annually earning between Rs. 1,00,000 to 5,00,000 per acre)
2.    Sourcing appropriate plants from best nurseries, while checking mother plant and other things.
3.    Adding modern agriculture practices to traditional farming. At least 4 training sessions and hand-holding
4.    Attracting market to farms
5.    Value addition by innovative marketing, MSMEs like pack house, processing units, Cold Storage, Godown, supply chains etc.
Some things to keep in mind
1.    Select a cluster of needy villages (at least 50 village cluster)
2.    Work out financial figures of Capital Expenses, Operating expenses, Sale Amount, plantation and harvesting time,  and profit and loss statement (we can provide the same) for various trees. Our experience is with
o   Mango
o   Drumsticks
o   Papaya
o   Custard Apple (Sitafal)
o   Pomegranate
o   Guava (Amrut)
o   Citrus fruits – Mosambi, Santra, Lemon
o   Coconut
o   Sericulture (Silk worm rearing)
3.    No. of Trees – Minimum 5 Lakh spread across chain of 25 villages (around 1000 acres of land).
4.    Within rows of trees, farmers need to do intercropping. For example, all kind of vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers that grow in less than 5 months, and do not grow over 3 feet.
5.     Govt has set up KVK (Krishi Vigyan Kendra) to help farmers. Go and meet the senior scientists there and ask them about which fruit trees and intercropping are grown in their area and about technical support. Select the fruit trees, among the above list. Your nearest KVK can be found here.
6.     Do some study of the selected trees, meet some orchard owners and try to imbibe as much knowledge as possible. Create a technical team or 2-3 experts/agronomists that can take training sessions with the farmers on each type. They should be available to the farmers for any problem. One needs to train the farmers on pre-plantation, plantation, post-plantation and marketing of produce.
7.    Fund requirement would be minimum Rs. 40 to max. Rs. 75 per tree.
8.    Sources of fund -> Personal, Community and CSR
9.    Government has a lot of horticulture schemes, where they give subsidy for labour, making pits, drip irrigation etc. Study these policies and scheme. Go and meet the horticulture secretary, if possible. We need to help farmers get maximum benefits by linkages to such schemes. (IMPORTANT: Govt will also offer free saplings to farmers from their nurseries. Under no circumstances should you allow the farmers to take free saplings from government nurseries. They are mostly of poor quality and your entire project can fail if poor quality saplings are used.)
10. Team should be led by dynamic and capable leadership who has / can gain the confidence of the people.
11. Outreach people, minimum 1 person per 1 L tree (Outreach Staff)
12. Computer operator preferably tie – up with Sr. Technical person (employed as consultant) from KVK or similar organization.
13. Booking between Oct, July -> time of plantation
14. Soil testing and weather will determined selection of tree water requirement
15. Training will be given by G.P in Hindi / Marathi
16. Marketing and forward linkage will be discussed
17. Thumb rule for plantation - Disclaimer

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Make India great - by Ashit Thaker

In most of ways, governance, peoples conduct, politics, leadership , social behavior, justice system,
distribution of wealth, Human development index, population below poverty line, under nourished
children, primary health care, primary education, etc , we are at the bottom of the ladder as per
world standard. Or even our own standard. Our work culture , attitude, lack of commitment ,
integrity makes me sadly feel that we are a failed race a failed nation. Because knowing it deep
within that we can do much better.

In contrast two things strike out : our religious and spiritual faith and our flexibility to adopt to

In ancient times ( golden age between 4th and 12th century) India had a cultural and trade reach
and influence on a large part of the world including china, Tibet, Afghanistan. Much bigger caves
then Ajanta are dotted in the erstwhile silk route. There were Hindu and buddhist kingdoms in
Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia. All our influence was without force and bloodshed for
which we are all proud.

Most of the Indian kings and princes cared for their subjects. Nalanda university is know as the
worlds first global university where many students came from distant lands.

Not to forget the knowledge of our Rishi’s, muni’s, Ayurveda ( oldest medical system know to
mankind ) .The greatness of the knowledge of the vedas. Astronomy, Astrology, philosophers.
Few nations are blessed with such rain fall, rivers, coast’s, sunshine, fertile land . Then, What is it
that we are missing in not being a rich developed nation or atleast a country with high standard of
living. What does a Usa , Uk, Switzerland , japan, Sweden, Austria , Luxembourg or newzealand have that we lack. The 10 most happiest nations are not military powers but they have a few things in
common. Negligible corrupt politicians, very low pollution, law abidance and high morality of the
citizens , high Health care spend by the Government both in terms of per capita and GDP. Most of
these countries have an high education spend by the Government. This countries also score high in
the index of ease of doing business. India stands at about 63rd ranking.

India scores high on production of milk , vegetables, cereals , pulses and certain fruits.
Now knowing our history and certain facts of present day world how do we start to improve the
lives of the millions and restore our glory with the principle of vasudaiva kutumbakam. Without
going in to the micro economics part but a change that is required as seen as an thinking, observing
citizen , the following needs to be done :-

(1) First the politicians have to understand and accept that they are not rulers but servants of
the country and act accordingly . All super privileges to be withdrawn. Citizens say and
checks to continue even after electing representatives.

(2) Even prior to health care, education needs to be given government funding : we need to
built a character of an citizen , which starts from child hood . an country of people with a
character and empathy is far more important then just intelligence. It is the lack of character
in many an civil / public servant that allows the political masters to govern them or be
corrupt. A strong character will hopefully help a person to not be corrupt. Whether it is an
individual or a public /civil servant.
Basic schooling be supported to make a person minimum literate .

(3) Whether a daily wage earner or a millionaire all must pay taxes proportionate to their
income. This is necessary to give minimum social security in retirement age and health /
housing support.

(4) Institutions and systems genuinely be out of political influence. Once again unless there is
an character of a person all individuals will be serving their political masters

(5) Most important there should be a total revamp of the judicial system . There is practically
no justice now . it is not worth being a citizen when an law abiding person does not get
justice in time which is just not possible now. Keeping a judicial vacancy by the Govt also a crime and any case has to be judged in a given time . The system is heavily in favour of wrong doers and criminals.

(6) “Gurur brahma gurur devo” whether it is Guru Gopinath teaching pv sindhu or coach
achrekar teaching sachin Tendulkar there are many Dhronacharya’s who can train lakhs of
Arjun’s. whether in sports or science or arts. The right pay and recognition is necessary for a
teacher including the primary schools of villages. The future citizen of India’s first learning
starts from this schools.

We have learnt in this recent corona crisis that extraordinary measures whether on
economic, health, social ( democratic ) restrictions can be decided in urgency. The super
military powers can be utilized for civilian support. People in India can form a queue.

To help the poor and needy red tapism can be beaten. The departments of government if
they want can perform their task super efficiently.

The question is why only in a crisis . If all the above happens in routine just imagine the
transformation the nation can go throw. We can truly achieve “ Jaha dal dal pe sone ki
chidya kare basera who bharat desh hai mera “

Ashit Thaker

Friday, May 29, 2020

Conversations about Corruption - Anna and JP

Book excerpt from my book "Aap & Down"

When did Anna Hazare and Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan Loksatta work ...

I was fortunate to have learnt my concepts of democracy and reform while working with the highly organized and introspective JP. He was a brilliant IAS officer from Andhra Pradesh, who had worked in high position within the system. After many years of service, he realized that it was better to be outside the system and act as a pressure point for government reforms. I was heavily influenced by his deeply researched, rational solutions to improve the country.

Sometimes, I used to think: if only JP’s understanding of governance could be downloaded and transferred to Anna’s brain, the nation would really benefit! To make this fantasy a reality, I brought together Anna and JP. On my request, JP stayed back in Mumbai for many days to support Anna and his demands. For hours, the two would talk about the state of the nation, and I would listen to their fascinating conversations, feeling some proprietorial pride.

There was one particularly interesting conversation between Anna and JP that gave an insight into the way they thought.

JP said, ‘Annaji, people like you are born but rarely. Instead of working in one village, if you were to take up 100 villages, would it not be better?’

Anna replied, ‘I want to make one village 100 per cent, rather than spreading myself too thin and not doing complete justice to my work.’

‘But, Annaji, if you contribute 100 per cent to one village, your net value is 100. While if you contribute even 60 per cent across 100 villages, your value is close 6,000—sixty times more,’ JP reasoned.

These were captivating perspectives coming from two great leaders. Over time, I came to realize that there were two different schools of thought in civil society. On one hand was the Anna school of thought which proposed that to change the nation, one had to change people. The belief was this: because systems are made and run by individuals, if people change, then the systems that run the country will change, too.

On the other hand, there was JP’s school of thought—he (and others like him) suggested that systemic reforms were the only way to improve the nation. The system had to be designed such that there was an incentive for good behaviour and a strong disincentive to bad/corrupt behaviour. It wasn’t civil society’s role to change the character of people—that was best left to religion and parents. Civil society’s role was to force the system to reform.

I found merit in JP’s stance. In my view, India has some of the most wonderful individuals; offers excellent upbringing; and is spiritually inclined. If, in spite of this, our society as a whole is degenerating, perhaps it is because a solid system of checks and balances is not in place.We have easy proof that this is the missing link. Consider Indians in the Western world: they have been very successful and ethical in nations that come with strong administrative and judicial systems. If Indians were fundamentally flawed, and/or if systems had no influence on behaviour, this stark difference in approach wouldn’t emerge.

The fact is that robust systems make people behave in a moral and ethical manner. In any society, no matter the setup, 10 per cent of the population is generally honest, and 10 per cent is dishonest. The remaining 80 per cent behave as per the incentive and disincentive mechanism in place. If success is guaranteed when behaviour is upright, this 80 per cent segment will choose honesty. If the system offers an advantage to those who are unscrupulous, again, this 80 per cent segment will be immoral.

Thus it is my view that "instead of changing players, it is important to change the rules of the game". It is a view that JP cherishes, too, and it is entirely possible that Anna’s support for the Lokpal Bill, a form of institutional reform, became doubly emphatic after his discussions with JP. ‘We are a first class nation with a third class government,’ was a slogan Arvind picked up from one of my speeches during the IAC days.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Electoral system - FPTP or Proportional Representation

My belief remains that incremental or cosmetic alterations in the system of elections are insufficient; there has to be a significant shift.

While ‘none of the above’ (NOTA) or the right to recall could have some impact, transformative reforms need to be addressed. For instance, there must be a serious debate about whether the existing model of first past the post (FPTP) can be replaced by proportional representation (PR). Let’s understand these terms:

PR is the idea that seats in Parliament should be allocated so that they are in proportion to the votes cast; FPTP, on the other hand, aligns itself with the rather simple principle that the candidate with the maximum number of votes wins.

Clearly, FPTP comes with its share of problems. For one, it disregards a sizeable number of votes. Think about it: if one candidate wins 3,50,000 votes and the other gets 3,50,001 votes, then there is little regard for 3,50,000 votes and voters.

Second, it encourages candidate-centred voting. The politician who gets just one more vote wields
disproportionate power. Consequently, FPTP brings with it a desperation to win elections, using all means, fair or foul.

Last, parties win a disproportionate number of seats under FPTP, which is detrimental to the interests of a democracy. In 2014, the BJP swept to power with 28 seats (out of 543), i.e., 52 per cent of seats with only 31.3 per cent of the votes. In 2004, the Congress came to power with just 26.5 per cent of the votes; and most ironically in 1999, the BJP came to power despite getting a vote share five percentage points lower than that of the Congress. This is an insult to the Indian voter and
detrimental to a democracy.

Now, unlike FPTP, Proportional Representation (now adopted by over 90 democracies in the world) recognizes every vote. In multi-lingual, multi-religious countries like India, it is sensitive to diversity, ensuring that all sections are fairly represented in the election. It has the potential to reduce the impact of money, caste and communal politics, as candidates cease having constituencies where they can purchase votes. Last, parties gain seats in proportion to the number of votes cast for them.

Proportional Representation -- Make Every Vote Count - YouTube

Let’s consider this through a hypothetical example. Let us assume that the Congress, the BJP, the
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), and the Trinamool Congress stand for elections. Depending on the number of seats they contest, they make a list of their own candidates, all selected democratically by the party members. Voters will vote for a party, and based on the percentage of votes gathered, candidates are selected on a priority basis for Parliament.

In the 16th Lok Sabha elections, let’s compare how parties were represented under the FPTP model, and how Parliament would have looked if PR had been adopted.

The results are startling!


Bharatiya Janata Party                                       31.3% votes - seats 282
Indian National Congress                                  19.5% - seats 44
All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam    3.3% - seats 37
All India Trinamool Congress                            3.8% - seats 34
Biju Janata Dal                                                   1.7% - seats 20
Shiv Sena                                                            1.9% - seats 18
Telugu Desam Party                                           2.5% - seats 16
Telangana Rashtra Samithi                                 1.6% - seats 11
Communist Party of India (Marxist)                  3.2% - seats 9
Others                                                                31.2% - seats 63


Bharatiya Janata Party                                       31.3% - seats 169
Indian National Congress                                  19.5% - seats 105
Bahujan Samaj Party                                           4.3% - seats  23
All India Trinamool Congress                             3.8% - seats 21
Samajwadi Party                                                  3.4% - seats 19
Communist Party of India (Marxist)                   3.2% - seats 18
Telugu Desam Party                                            2.5% - seats 14
All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam    3.3% - seats 13
Aam Aadmi Party                                               2.0% - seats 12
Others                                                                26.7% - seats 135

This is not to say that PR does not come with its complications and limitations. But a debate regarding its merits and demerits will ensure that we, as a nation, will arrive at the best possible set of electoral practices. Similar debates need to be had about the advantages of having a presidential form of government as against the Westminster model, and the direct election of the chief minister by the
general public rather than by the elected MLAs.

But the most important reform that has to be undertaken is the democratization of all political parties.
Internal elections supervised by the Election Commission should be compulsory. The account details and the sources of funds should be made available.

I learnt about these subjects from Dr Jayaprakash Narayan of Loksatta movement of AP. You might like to hear him a remarkable lecture on political system of India at

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Politics and Religion - No to separation

Secular India - an oxymoron

I am not advocating a theological state, just advocating removal of this artificial separation between religion and political discourse.

Gandhi, “Those who think religion has nothing to do with politics understand neither religion nor politics”.  As per Gandhi, " Indeed religion should pervade every one of our actions. Here, the religion does not mean sectarianism. It means a belief in ordered moral Govt. of the universe. This religion transcends Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity etc. It does not supersede them. It harmonizes them and gives them reality."

We are unlike any western or Islamic country, we are different and unique. Someone had said that in US for any social or religious reforms, one needs to use political route; in Europe, for political or religious changes, we need to use social route; but, in India, for any social or political transformation, we need to use the religious channels. The music running through our spine is religion.

Swami Vivekanand says "Here in India, it is religion that forms the very core of the national heart. It is the backbone, the bed-rock, the foundation upon which the national edifice has been built. Politics, power, and even intellect form a secondary consideration here. Religion, therefore, is the one consideration in India". His definition of religion was that any sect that may help you to realise God is religion"

The Indian world view emphasises the basic unity of all existence and its interrelation and connectivity, whether it be an individual, family, society, nation or universe in all its dimension - religion, politics, science, social, psychological, physiological or legal framework in all its dynamic and fluid format.

Look at the constitution of an average Indian - we see a very different species from the western piece. A religious, god-fearing, spiritual based mind set - praying every day, having a temple or more in the house, using god and religion in every second sentence and in general using religion or its symbolism in his entire life. Serials like Ramayana, Mahabharat and Mahadeva are watched avidly. Millions do roza and pray five times a day. Religion is all pervading except in the most important thing – politics.

It is unfortunate and short-sighted that we have adopted the European governance structure for a population that is different from any other nation. We, Indians are deeply questioning, profoundly chaotic and introspective. And without understanding the soul and ethos of the nation, we have been saddled with a European governance model that might be more suitable for a small, western country. When I go to Haridwar or the Kumbh and see the millions of people – am sure that neither do the people understand the administration structure, nor does governing institutions understand the common people. This is the main reason that there is so much social unrest and disconnect between people and government.

That has been a historic blunder created seven decades ago, but one that we may have to live with.

More than ever, there is a vitiated atmosphere and mutual distrusts between different religions and caste. Is it time to rediscover the principles of unity of all aspects of thought in private and public life.
o   Isn't it time to abandon this artificial and foreign infection ailing the nation?
o   Isn't it time to abandon the separation of private and public life and embrace the holistic and completeness of mind and action like Gandhiji?
o   Is India diseased?

Disease - a harmful deviation from the normal structural or functional state of an organism. A diseased organism commonly exhibits signs or symptoms indicative of its abnormal state. Thus, the normal condition of an organism must be understood in order to recognize the hallmarks of disease

Anyone understanding the ethos and the soul of India should realise that the division of public life and religion is an unnatural and artificial boundary. Gandhiji who travelled through the nation to comprehend its heart, used symbolisms and processes from all religions starting from the Bhajans, the Ashrams, the quotes from all religions, sects and bringing moral and religious values into the nation. He created potent and unique weapons based on the Indian ethos like Non-violence, truth, renunciation, dharma etc., which found such outstanding response from the millions of his countrymen.

Secularism is a Western graft unsuitable and unnecessary here as diverse communities here have been living together peacefully in the same geographical area.

A few years back, I had gone to a Congress party felicitation meeting, where they gave a Bhagwada Gita and Koran to each of the audience and every speech was laced with God, religion and culture.

Once in a citizen movement meeting, the priest of the local church made a very pertinent point saying that " While we start every good event by invoking God, why should we not invoke God for every political meeting / event / issue for a cause which is meant to serve society?"

Since Independence, the leftists have tried to take to set the educational curriculum setting for the school, colleges and overall public debates in the nation and their viewpoint of anti-religion, anti-God has been pervading in the body polity. The anti-religion based sociologists and philosophers have been occupying the public mind space with their western based ideology of separating religion and politics. Anyone who speaks of religion, God and values is branded as communal and rabid. The space for sensible, middle-of-the-road Indian leadership is reduced leaving in its place - extremists on all sides, using the politics of hatred and vote bank driven religious platforms to vitiate the peace and growth..

Today, we have a nation torn apart from its roots, its moral and cultural heritage, its tremendous science and knowledge - we have a nation that is in a stage of disease, of imbalance and one of the thing that we need to do is to throw away this aspect of secularism which seeks to create this unnatural division, to bring back balance and health to this great unique nation.

So, what is my premise?
1. Democracy is the best political system - as it allows freedom and air.
2. Non -religious governance system is the only process appropriate.
3. Allow religious symbolism in public life.
4. Remove the artificial barriers created within public discourse
5. Create middle ground side-lining parties using religious and casteist platforms

Hindu Law and Muslim Personal Laws - Difference under the Indian Law

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Visit to Global Parli – August 2019 - Dipesh Mohile

Blog by Dipesh Mohile

It was with a mixed bag of sentiments that I boarded the bus to Parli on 2nd August 2019. On one hand, I was excited to visit Parli after a gap of almost two and half years. On the other hand, I was feeling a bit guilty not to have visited it in last two years.
For the uninitiated ones; Global Parli is an initiative spearheaded by Mr. Mayank Gandhi to transform a cluster of 15 villages in Beed district through various interventions across verticals such as water conservation, modernizing education, improving farming yields, changing crop patterns and use of technology. The core idea is to alleviate poverty in these villages and to empower the farmers and villagers to stand on their own feet with their heads held high.
It was summer of 2015; when the entire Vidarbha / Marathwada regions of Maharashtra were reeling under severe drought. The situation was desperate, and it was in this crisis that first seeds for Global Parli were sown through an initiative to send water-tankers to the parched Beed district. However, visionary leader that Mayank Gandhi is; he realized soon enough that it is neither a scalable nor a permanent solution. Intense brain-storming sessions followed where many bright minds debated on various ways to bring about a more sustainable and measurable change to lives of these villagers. Global Parli was born. What I distinctly remember about those early trips to these villages is how shattered we were when we came face to face with abject poverty and lifeless eyes of the farmers/villagers that we came across. In some ways, this was very similar to what Shahrukh Khan’s character goes through in the movie Swades. As we returned home from our first trip, the haunting shehnai and A.R. Rahman’s title track from Swades echoed in our ears and our eyes welled up.
The scale was enormous; the challenges were even bigger.
The entire team came back charged up. Many of us had spent years outside India and had consciously decided to return to India. “Mohan Bhargav” in us had been awakened.
However, often, such initiatives do not survive beyond the initial euphoria because the problem proves to be overwhelming and even with noblest of intentions, one simply does not know where to begin! The team felt compelled to tackle all the issues simultaneously. The team also learnt soon enough that the thinking needs a fundamental shift. We realized we need to rid ourselves of the patronizing attitude towards the villagers. Some of the initial team members got busy with their lives (including me) and lost regular touch along the way while others dug their heels and refused to get bogged down by enormous scale of work that awaited them.
Mayank Gandhi built a phenomenally dedicated team around him. While we stopped playing active role, we watched the great experiment unfolding in front of our eyes in Parli. Soon enough, we realized that the team was successful in breaking the problem in smaller/manageable problems and started making steady progress.
But the scale of what they’ve achieved in last couple of years hit me when we visited Parli again after a gap of more than two years!!
The Global Parli team had doggedly persisted and has made a huge difference on the ground.  The team has consistently shown the tenacity, patience and perseverance to keep chipping at problems until they are solved. Various water management/conservation projects are functional; many farmers have shown the courage to switch crops; schools have improved and gone digital; a few villages have gone hooch-free. What’s even more amazing is the emotional connect that completely urban team of Global Parli has built with rugged farmers of hinterland. Global Parli team adopted a very pragmatic approach of helping the villagers help themselves rather than taking a hands-off approach of a non-profit. The villagers led the efforts to transform their lives through “Shramdaan”, spending their own money and taking calculated risks with Global Parli team’s help.
The warm welcome we received just because we were with the Global Parli team was a testament to the goodwill built with laborious effort by the Global Parli team. Details of the all the works undertaken in these villages can be found on Global Parli website and I would encourage everyone to spend some time to understand the enormity of the effort that has gone into making these projects happen.
However, in my opinion, the biggest difference is the huge change in attitude of the villagers. Gone are the empty, soulless eyes of the villagers – Instead what we came across in this trip was an animated bunch of farmers. These farmers were not afraid to express their mind. They are willing to take their destiny in their own hands. They want to be self-sufficient and are looking at ways to improve their lives instead of being resigning to their fate.
I returned with a sense of pride that I had a tiny part to play in this exciting initiative’s early days. I also returned with a deep sense of regret that I did not do more over the years.
While I returned with a renewed urge to jump in, I also returned with a few questions – “What are the factor/s that have the potential to act as a multiplying agent to catapult these initiatives into next growth phase?”
We will explore some of the themes around potential of Social Enterprises and Entrepreneurs to act as an multiplying agent in these initiatives in subsequent blogs.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

One day trip to Parli

Would you like to join me at Parli for a day on Sat 3rd August ? Many of you had shown interest in visiting and seeing the Global Parli project.
The one million fruit trees mission is entering a crucial phase. Farmers have been trained, experts have guided and all homework is over.
Now that the rains are here, you can join us in distributing lakhs of saplings from the nurseries to the farmers that have registered.
One can visit the sericulture works, the papaya plantation, check watershed development works (river, ponds, dams etc), meet the students in one of the schools, meet women self help groups and their goat rearing and local food project and participate in the Varunyantra experiment.
We can leave on 2nd August (Friday night), reach on 3rd morning, freshen and rest in afternoon in a reasonable and clean hotel, (This is optional - double bed room costs around Rs 1500) and visit all the places and catch the late night train and be back on 4th august (Sunday morning). If you so desire, take darshan at the Jyotirling - Parli Vaijnath.
You will have to spend for your own travel and hotel (optional). Tickets are available as of now on the Mumbai- Latur Express IInd AC (Rs 1285), Sleeper (Rs 345) or 3 AC (Rs 910). Return late night on same train to Mumbai. Or one can come by AC sleeper bus from all over Mumbai to Parli (Rs 850 one side).
We will take care of the local transport and food.
Mitali (96191 63595) can help you with your arrangements and travel, but please confirm soon as trains and bus can get full.