Sunday, September 28, 2008

Progress viewed through the coloured glass : Archaic ideological policies are ruining Bengal

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.- Albert Einstein

Forward Bloc, a constituent of the left front government in Bengal, India articulates its backward policies in this article.
The party is against the move by organised retail chains buying agricultural goods directly from the farmers and selling them to the consumers as it feels it will "ruin the farmers and small traders".

Although its obvious that the farmers will get a higher price than before and the consumers a more economical & better-quality product ; the same can't been seen in black & white by the leaders of forward bloc.
Because they continue to wear the coloured glass.

How will progress in agriculture be achieved if farmers do not move up the value chain in satisfying consumer demand? There is consumer demand for higher yield, better quality, more nutrition , freshness ,an economical price & an efficient supply chain. To achieve such goals, somebody needs to invest in farms, R&D, supply chains, seeds etc. etc. Can numerous small traders who clog the distribution chain invest in consolidation & moving up the value chain? No, they will continue to fleece the farmers (rice in Bengal is bought for 300 rupees a quintal from the farmers and finally sold to the consumers at 2000 rupees a quintal. 1700 rupees go to the traders ) & cheat the consumers through acts of hoarding, adulteration & low quality of produce. Of course, life can go on like this while the agricultural economy of the state miss the benefits of technological innovation in seeds, mechanisation, cold chains & IT-driven supply chains.
Status-quo is a symptom of a rot that goes against the fundamentals of any economy & consumer demand.

A case in point is the opposition to Metro, a international wholesaler in retail who buy goods in bulk directly from the producers and sell them to retailers in the city they are located in. The party members of Forward Bloc should visit Bengaluru & Hyderabad (or even Germany) to see the operations of this chain with an open mind and discover the value that they provide to two fundamental pillars of any economy, producers & buisness-consumers.

The distribution chain of agricultural produce is a hegemony of small & medium traders in rural Bengal & in burrabazar locality of Kolkata. A large number of these people are alleged to be cadres ( lowest rung of members, the hands & legs) of Forward Bloc and/or funders of the party who evidently want to maintain the status-quo.

Can't the leaders of Forward Bloc see that they are actually moving the state backward by their rigid opposition ? Can economical progress be ever achieved in Bengal ?

The answers seems to be a resounding "NO" as long as these leaders continue to wear the ideologically coloured glasses and dance to the tune of their changed party anthem :

"Kadam Kadam peechey ja

Gam-ka geet gaye ja" ( March every step backward while singing the sad tune of self-destruction)

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