Lost His Brother But Got The Purpose of His Life

Lost His Brother, But Got The Purpose of His Life

This is the story of Chandan Kumar, Sub-Inspector with Bihar Police, who is known more as a staunch environmentalist and physical training evangelist than anything else in Muzaffarpur district of Bihar. He believes in ‘Karma’ and ‘making things happen’ than ‘waiting for others to do’ and ‘waiting things to happen’.

What inspires a person to do something good for someone or for the society; a monetary or emotional consideration probably or may be, he wants to do the right thing and whatever he is doing is the right thing to do. 

Dasrath Manjhi, The Mountain Main, carved a road in the mountain because his wife Smt. Falguni Devi died in absence of medical facility at opportune time due to bad road and that mountain made the road bad. There was the emotional consideration to do so, but he continued doing so for twenty two long years, which means he thought he is doing the right thing and he made doing this right thing his life. There may be few other examples as well. One of them is of Chandan Kumar, a resident of Vaishali District of Bihar.   

Chandan Kumar, while cremating his elder brother, mentor, guide, father figure and Indian Air Force personnel Mr. Sanjay Kumar, felt that planting tree was right thing to do when he saw people scurrying for tree shade to avoid overheated soil in the hot summer season. Since then, he has planted more than 5000 trees himself, and while working as Physical Training teacher with a school at Muzaffarpur, motivated many of his students to save money and plant trees. He has vowed to remain unmarried and work towards this cause.

Let us know more about him in detail.

Family and early childhood

Chandan Kumar is born to Shri Narendra Narayan Singh, Ex-Controller with Kanti Thermal Power, Muzaffarpur and Smt. Anusuya Devi, housewife and has one younger brother Kundan Kumar and one younger sister Vandana Kumari. But he has most special place in his heart for his elder brother Late Sanjay Kumar, who was proud soldier of Indian Air Force.

Childhood spent in his village Birpur Singhara, Mahua of Vaishali district, Bihar propped up his love for nature, especially trees. All the fun of climbing up on mango and guava trees made him fall in love with them. But he was not aware then that trees will become the passion of his life.

Chandan Kumar remembers himself as a naughty child and bundle of stupendous energy, who was disciplined by his elder brother Sanjay Kumar, not in the traditional Indian way of disciplining, but by directing his energy towards sports and physical training. Sanjay took him to cross country running in 1986, when he was probably six or seven year old. Though he couldn’t win this six kilometer race but the participation and completion of the race was enough to get him hooked to it and thus started his journey as sportsperson. He started participating in state level events couple of years after that.

Journey forward as a Physical Training Evangelist

It was around 2001-02, he was asked to train underprivileged children for a sports event at Muzaffarpur. He took it up as a challenge and toiled hard with them who were just between 10 to 14 years of age.  Some of his students, despite coming from poor family background and no amenities to support them as a sportsperson did well and won medals. This event and result inspired him to drop his own ambitions as a sportsman and become sports evangelist. He has trained hundreds of them, who are employed with different organizations, especially police and army. What makes him happy is that his efforts yielded positive results as his students joined different sphere of the society and working towards its better future.

From this point he understood that if he works on himself, he will get only one medal, but if he work on more and more students and train them, his medal tally can actually be more than one. So, he stopped expenditure on himself and started supporting and working on anyone and everyone who came to him seeking help. He has a strong belief that like ‘sun’ nourishes this planet ‘earth’ with its warmth and light, physical fitness nourishes human mind, body and soul. According to him, nothing can replace the physical fitness aspect of life.

His work led him to teach more students as he joined as Physical training teacher with government school in village Rajepur Lakhna, Sahebganj block of Muzaffarpur district. Though he was surrounded by the students in his school, quest for teaching physical fitness didn’t stop there. Every morning and in the evening, before going to school and after coming back from school, he made a habit to visit stadium to help children of Ambedkar Nagar, largest slum near Muzaffarpur stadium. While their energy had infectious impact on him, their plight of poverty and associated bad habits like drugs, gambling and fight bothered a lot. He made a conscious effort to interact with them and become Sanjay Kumar for them. As his elder brother guided his energy towards a better and purposeful life, he started guiding these children, not only with his physical presence but financial involvement as well. He used to spend his own money, even if small it was, to buy clothes, chocolates, shoes, medicines etc for these children to keep them motivated towards sports and disciplined life. This way, he changed the lives of many.

What turned his focus towards trees?  

In 2005, Chandan lost his mentor, guide, philosopher and elder brother Sanjay Kumar, who was working with Indian Air Force. Standing in the cremation ground, he saw other people who were there to cremate their relatives, scurrying for cover to protect their feet from overheated soil due extreme temperature of the hot summer. This gave him the purpose of his life, though not immediately. In order to impart knowledge of physical fitness, he had been taking students to the field, where trees played a key role in giving respite to the tired souls. He had read somewhere that tree’s canopy can act like parasol and block out up to 90% sun’s radiation. Moreover, the shade of tree can reduce our physiologically equivalent temperature by between 7 to 15%, depending upon our latitude. Trees can also cool down buildings- especially when planted to the east or west- as their shade prevent solar radiation from penetrating windows or heating up external walls. Armed with these learnings, he went on with vigor. As the time progressed, trees started becoming kind of fixation for him and he started taking matter in his own hand, by not waiting for others, especially government to take the lead in planting trees. He started planting trees at the places where he could tend it. As his personal efforts were constrained by his desired availability at different places, he started motivating others to plant trees. To make it more meaningful and special, he tied it to the events of people around him, like birthday or marriage anniversary or any such event. Not only he motivate others to do so, he goes extra mile to plant trees at the special event of other’s life, if they request him to do so, by spending from his own pocket. In order to make it a mass movement, he planned a program and started propagating it through his students. He gave this movement a name ‘Gullak Yojna’.

Gullak Yojna 

Gullak, as most of us Indians know that it is a piggy bank made out mud clay and looks like earthen pot. Making earthen pots were bread and butter of ‘Kumhar’ community in India. For some of them, it is still the bread and butter, but metal piggy banks have taken their place. Gullak, like piggy banks were used to instill the value of thrift and frugality among children in rural areas and small towns in India. But urbanization and consumerism changed the habit 360 degree and habit of thrift and frugality became alien to today’s children.

With this movement, he envisions to bring back old habit of frugality, which will not only have positive impact on children but revive the livelihood of ‘Kumhar’ community. But how is all this connected to environment and what is salient features of ‘Gullak Yojna’? They are as follows:

  • Everyone should own a Gullak. As mentioned this will create livelihood of one who makes it.
  • Everyone should save just one rupee every day. This will encourage the habit of thrift and frugality among people.
  • With the savings of just one rupee per day, a person will be able to save at least Rs.365/- per annum, which will sufficient to buy and plant more than one tree. This will not only protect the ozone layer of the earth’s stratosphere, it will have cooling effect on planet earth by blocking out sun’s radiation, limiting the use of air conditioners, which in turn will limit the use of electricity, which are mostly generated through fossil fuel. This way, in an average lifespan of 70 years, one individual can plant at least 70 or more trees. If you multiply it with the number of people in this country, then you can very well imagine the kind of greenery which can be created.
  • The amount of money saved and the trees planted can create multiple earning opportunities, further boosting the economy.
  • Moreover, just one rupee saved every day by every Indian can save and plough back more than Rs.360 Billion in the economy.

Let us acknowledge, propagate and give a helping hand

These are small talk, small money and small effort, but if we pivot it at one place, it becomes huge. One man has taken the pledge, one man has given his life to the cause of making this planet earth in general and our country in particular a beautiful place to live in, let us contribute our effort towards his cause. After all, this is matter of our life, our happiness. Let us commit to give healthy and happy environment to our future generations. Let them remember us as someone who really cared.


You can reach out to him at + 91 9973658390 and chittu18bittu11@gmail.com and be a part of his wonderful journey.

A Raahgir e Rahguzar From Place Called India

A ‘Raahgir-e-Rahguzar’ from Place called India

I immediately liked this man when I met him for the first time around seventeen and half years back. He was my kind of person; simple, jovial, full of fun and had the prowess of making every moment light and full of happiness for the people around him. This liking developed into pride, respect and admiration six years back when he published his first novel ‘Chasing Maya’. It was a beautiful story woven around the mirage of happiness of modern lifestyle. I loved the novel because somewhere it was my story as well. He is back with another beautiful creation ‘Rahgeer-e-Rehguzar’, a compilation of Urdu poems, which is quite an achievement for a person from north-eastern part of India, for whom even Hindi is a learned language!

He is an amazing storyteller and his command over multiple Indian languages like Marathi, Gujarati, Bangla, Assamese, Sanskrit, Urdu, and a bit of Punjabi too, not to mention Hindi and English, takes his storytelling abilities to entirely different level. I requested his audience before he gets busy with the publishing work of his new English novel – his third book in a span of seven years. I got an opportunity to talk to him this week. Let me bring you the excerpts of my riveting talk with Mr. Rohan Gogoi, my immediate senior from the business school we both went to, and the celebrated author of ‘Chasing Maya’ and ‘Rahgeer-e-Rehguzar’.   

Mukul: To write a story, a poem or novel, one needs an inspiration or a moment or an event. What was your moment, event or inspiration which launched the beautiful spring of words?

Rohan Gogoi: When I finished writing Chasing Maya, rather recurrently, over multiple media interviews, I shared with my journalist friends that ‘my frustration is my inspiration’! I had walked quite a lot in the journey called life, despite the fact that I was just a 28-year-old when I had started writing Chasing Maya. I had everything which could label me as successful in the milieu we live in. I had a beautiful family, great friends and a reasonably fruitful career, yet I was not happy. It seemed as if the rigmarole of everyday life was making me a prisoner of a rat race, which I never wanted to be a part of.

Being a Corporate Communicator, I was writing a lot for my employer organization’s endless internal and external communication pieces. In fact, for the love of writing, I had opted for a career in communications. I enjoyed telling stories. And when, chronic frustration and refusal to live as per societal expectations fuelled an untamable desire to find my true self, I started having deep conversations with myself; and soon, I started writing them down too... Words turned into sentences and sentences turned into pages. Eventually, I discovered that it was sounding like a story. People around me loved it and ‘Chasing Maya’ thus happened!

When the book came out, there was a sense of overwhelm, because many people reached out to tell me that they could find shades of their own lives in it. These intriguing words served like the answer I was seeking for so long! I started looking forward to every moment that could grant me an opportunity to write, tell a story, compose poetry, sing or simply just spread the my wings of imagination

Mukul: You started your journey as an author with ‘Chasing Maya’, which was quite urban in theme. What made you transition from English and urban themes, which you have strong command over, to the profound subtleties of a classical language like Urdu, which, I am sure, was never your language of communication?

Rohan Gogoi: Well, the success of ‘Chasing Maya’ exposed me to a whole new spectrum of experiences. It was kind humbling to see readers taking the pain of finding and reaching me through rather unbelievable means. I felt encouraged like never before and I started working on my next novel.

One of the characters of my second novel, which I started working on, and is now in the concluding stage, has his roots Uttar Pradesh – who writes and recites Urdu poetry. To make him sound real and authentic, I had to make some effort to learn the language. But I was rather surprised that it turned out to be a much simpler exercise than what I had expected. And reason I finally figured out was kind of amusing… My father, who couldn’t speak a word of Hindi, used to be an avid follower of old Hindi film songs. He loved Urdu ghazals too. So, I was raised on a very healthy dose of the immortal creations of Kaifi Azmi, Shahir Ludhiyanvi, Raja Mehdi Ali Khan, Shailendra, Ghulam Ali, Mehndi Hasan etc. and I too grew up becoming no less a fan of those great maestros. I think my creative bent of mind took baby steps then and there. Had I not written ‘Rahgeer-e-Rehguzar’, I wouldn’t have been fortunate enough to appreciate the profoundness and subtlety of this great language. This book is a kind of an ode to my love for purity of language, poetry and literature.

Mukul: In this age of hardening regional and language identity, you are perfect example of openness, oneness and Indianness. A boy from North-Eastern part of the country, for whom even Hindi is a learned language, writes a book in ‘Urdu’, which is quite unfathomable but really commendable. What would be your message for the youth of today’s India; most of them are outraged most of the time at one thing at other?        

Rohan Gogoi: I was a simple small town boy, who wanted to see the world, meet different people, tell my stories and listen to theirs. During my professional life, I have travelled extensively, not only across the country but around the world as well. I have seen people of extreme riches and also those living in abject poverty. I have slept under open sky on the white sands of Rann of Kutchh and I have also spent days with people in Kalahandi who were almost clueless about their next day’s meal. These experiences brought forward many facets of reality in front of me.  

The first thing I learned in this process is to be open and accept the people the way they are, the way they live, the language they speak, the food they eat. India is our country and we need to accept the way it is. India is complex… Multiple ethnicity, multiple languages, multiple faiths define us. Even the core Indic philosophy puts forward multiple ways to reach the ultimate truth. That’s what we are as a nation and that’s what we will always be.

You know me; I have always been a person looking for joyful moments to be happy in life. I don’t chase accomplishments. I don’t have big dreams. Music, poetry etc. are a part of my daily diet. I knew for the fact that if I want to be happy, I will have to seek my kind of happiness. Conflicts, debates and disagreement couldn’t have given me the happiness I was looking for. So, wherever I went, whomsoever I met, I tried to find points of agreement and this comes spontaneously to you when you start respecting other’s perspective, life, language, food etc. You will notice that people notice how you respond to their food, their language, their philosophy of life... Once they observe your positive gestures and accepting face, they start opening up and welcoming to you!

Wherever life took me, I made genuine efforts to accept and respect the local culture, language, food etc. I may not be a master, but I can speak Marathi, Gujarati, Bangla, Urdu, a bit of Punjabi, and of course, my native Assamese, Hindi and English. I also attempt at speaking a sentence or two in Malayalam, Oriya and Bhojpuri.

Mukul: What message would you have for the youth of this country………….

Rohan Gogoi: I don’t know if I am qualified enough to do so but I can certainly share what really worked for me, and that is – travel, meet new people, talk to them, listen to them. Understand the real India. Observe the world around. If one wants to be accepted and respected, one has to first be open to accept and respect other’s perspectives. “Holier than thou” attitude has never worked in India. We have to respect and celebrate pluralism. India will always remain diverse and that makes it uniquely rich. Taking pride in your identity is great, but being confined to it will make you closed and captive.

Mukul: Please let us peep into your future plans?

Rohan Gogoi:  Well, as of now, I want to do my bit to bring Assam on to the Hindi and Urdu literary map. So, Hindi-Urdu escapade continues. I am also working on making my Urdu poems more lyrical so as to adapt them into songs. Besides, I just finished writing the lyrics for an Assamese music album, scheduled to be launched sometime this year. This album would in fact feature Assamese trans-creations of 8 timeless Bollywood classics with the same essence and purity so that people get to relish the rich aesthetics of old Hindi music in their native language as well.  

I am in the last phase of writing my second English novel and I will get back to finish that one sometime soon.   

For all those poetry lovers, who often say ‘My Hindi is not good’, I am translating my Urdu poems into English and planning to bring out a bi-lingual collection by mid-2018.  

Mukul: What is your advice to budding writers like me?

Rohan Gogoi: People often tend to believe that writing a novel, or for that matter, any creative feat is just about being creative; which it is not completely true. Any creative pursuit demands more than just creativity. First of all, you need to be disciplined. If you are writing poetry or articles, you can manage with shorter attention span; but for a novel, you need to research, write hundreds of pages, edit, adapt and keep going back again and again to check the consistency and continuity. And this won’t be possible discipline and patience. Writing novels also require you sit for long hours with unbroken attention, which means you also need to ensure a fit body and a healthy brain. So making meditation and physical exercise a part of your everyday life also contributes substantially to your success. Creativity, I believe, is always triggered by experiences – the range of emotions we expose ourselves to. It is critically important for writers to observe the world around, meet new people, welcome diverse perspectives and have deep and meaningful conversations wherever possible. Besides, as we all know reading forms a crucial part of the writing process. The more you read, more proficient you become in your writing. 

Note: Rohan Gogoi can be reached on www.facebook.com/rohan.gogoi.14

Madhubani Painting as a Career

Madhubani Painting as a Career

Paintings: Language of Culture

Best character our country is its diversity; we have so many stories to tell, so many cultures to follow, so many places to visit, so many languages to learn and speak, so many delicacies to eat and everything is in continuity for tens of thousands of years. There is no place like our country on this planet earth.

 Our ancestors, other than being greatest minds, were greatest story tellers as well. Their teachings are in the form for numerous books, which are foundation stone of our culture. Contents of these books are not only spoken about but sung and presented in the form of pictures as well.

Madhubani Painting: Origin and Theme

One such book is ‘Ramayana’ depicting life journey of Lord Ram. Mithila is the second axis of three axes of Ramayana, because Goddess Sita was born here. Other two axes, of course, are Ayodhya and Lanka. In Present day parlance, Mithila is spread over Janakpur and nearby area of Nepal to Madhubani, Sitamarhi, Darbhanga districts of Bihar and nearby areas.

Mithila Painting nowadays is more popularly known as Madhubani painting, because this place has long been the capital different kingdoms of Mithila.

Mithila is the seat of Tantra and Goddess Kali is its presiding deity. ‘Worship of Goddess Kali’, ‘Life of Goddess Sita’ and her ‘Marriage to Lord Ram’ are three dominant theme of Mithila culture in order and so is of Mithila or Madhubani Paintings.

Madhubani Painting: A Career Option

To draw a Madhubani painting, you need right kind of pen and color, lots of finesse and most important of all, complete understanding of Mithila’s culture. All of it comes with your close association with it. Noted Painter of Madhubani Paintings and owner of Mukta Rani Creations (www.muktarani.com) Mrs. Mukta Rani says,” Unless you understand and imbibe the culture of Mithila, you won’t be able to paint its art. If you look at our daily life, you will find the distinct and subtle scent of feminity as well as her ferocious strength. All of it gets reflected in our paintings”.  

She further suggests following steps to make Madhubani painting and art as a career:

  • An understanding of Tantra as a spiritual practice is very necessary. Tantrik symbols like Fish, grain, eternal love of Shiva and Shakti, subtlety and ferocity of feminine power etc. are core of Madhubani paintings and art. These symbols have layered meanings, but an honest effort to understand them will help to feel the essence of culture of Mithila.   
  • A good reading of Valmiki Ramayana is necessary. Ram Charit Manas written by Tulsidas falls little short on the glories of Goddess Sita, the Princess of Mithila. Further, Valmiki Ramayana gives good narration of marriage of Goddess Sita and Lord Ram. 
  • Natural colours give an earthy look to the paintings.
  • Paintings can’t be methodical; it has to come straight from the heart.
  • Patience and practice are the biggest virtue for a painter. Success comes with finesse and maturity.

Madhubani Painting: Market Size

Villagers of Madhubani and Darbhanga district, mostly women are engaged in the profession of Madhubani painting, but it is not out of bound for men. Paintings fetch between Rs.1000/- to              Rs.1, 00,000/- depending upon its finesse, size and of course place. Japan, Singapore, China, USA other than India are its main market. Japan has a museum dedicated to Madhubani paintings. Madhubani paintings adorn the marriage of all the Maithil (Domicile of Mithila). As migration is a big reality and many of them have moved out of the boundaries of the Mithila for employment and have eventually settled in other big cities of India as well as other countries. So, there is a huge opportunity to be tapped.

Government is also making serious effort to organize this sector, so that finances can be made available to the painters. While elaborating the plan to strengthen this sector in a seminar on the “future of Madhubani Paintings” held on 9th November 2017 in Madhubani, District Magistrate of Madhubani, Shri Seershat Ashok Kapil told painters from across the district that a new web portal is coming up, which will have their profiles and few samples to showcase to potential buyers. Commerce Secretary of Bihar advised the District Magistrate to find a place for an Art Village, which should come up on NH-57, which connects Bihar with West Bengal, Odisha and Assam and goes through Madhubani District. Villages are being identified which can be promoted as culture tourism. Every house and building of these villages will adorn Madhubani paintings and funds from “Swachha Bharat Abhiyan” will be used to keep it clean and tourist friendly. Jitwarpur, a village very popular for Madhubani Paintings has already been designed on this line. Painters from across the district painted entire Madhubani Railway station with and it was first district in the country to do so. Four more railway stations in Bihar will adorn Madhubani painting.


 If you take effort to understand the Mithila culture, then Madhubani painting can be taken up as a career. Government is making serious effort to uplift and strengthen it and your maturity and finesse of painting can fetch you good price as well. So, what are you waiting for…..    

The Art of Politics in Analysing and Predicting to a successful Career

The Art of Politics in Analysing & Predicting to a successful Career!!

Both the George’s; Orwell and Bernard Shaw presented pictures of politics in a satirical style of their own, at times even bordering on being cynical. George Orwell, in one of his many memorable and quotable quotes had said, “Political language -- and with variations this is true of all political parties, from conservatives to anarchists -- is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidarity to pure wind”.  George Bernard Shaw was equally contemptuous about politics and once famously opined, “Politics is the last resort of scoundrels”.

Politics is a multifaceted word. It has a set of fairly specific meanings that are descriptive and nonjudgmental (such as "the art or science of government" and "political principles"), but often does carry a connotation of dishonest malpractice. It is very often said that politics is all about power and money!!

It is not that they are not true and more so in the Indian context, but with changing socio- economic scenario, quite a few things have changed and a number of things are in the process of changing. The best part of the change is that in the last decade experts from diverse fields and backgrounds have initiated into active politics. However it is not implied that change has been restricted to the last decade rather it has been gradually evolving with each passing day with the strengthening of the Electoral Politics and the process.

The advent of Shri T. N. Seshan as the Chief Election Commissioner revolutionized the Electoral process in the country. Further, the introduction of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), 24X7 Media coverage and active reporting of political development by numerous vernacular newspapers have added to the good work which was already being done.

However, the Parliamentary Elections of 2014 and every election after that has seen a sea of change in how elections are being fought in India. The Election Management, Communication Strategy, Technology, and use of Social Media are the new buzzword…..new and different from the way it was being done earlier. The “War Room” and the use of 3 D Hologram technology which was attempted for the first time in political rallies ever across the world connected candidates to voters at PAN India locations. The “War Room” of different political parties had more professionals from technology, analysts and media field working on strategies than politicians. This election of 2014 and beyond has opened the gate for professionals who want to contribute to Indian politics without participating actively in mainstream politics.  

We had many questions in our mind related to the subject and the participation of professionals and experts from different fields opening up new career opportunities for many more, got us looking for someone who could answer authoritatively. So, when we got the chance to meet Mr. Sanjay Kumar, we were more than elated.

Mr. Sanjay Kumar is Professor and Director, Center for the Studies of Developing Societies (CSDS). CSDS is India’s premier Institute for Research in Social Science and Humanities. Trained in survey research, his research focuses largely on the issues of Electoral Politics, Political Mobilisation, Indian Democracy and issues concerning Indian Youth.

He has authored several books, edited many volumes, published articles in various national and international research journals and is a regular on various TV channels as panelist for the discussion on Indian Politics. His books include “Post Mandal Politics in Bihar: Changing Electoral Patterns, Changing Electoral Politics in Delhi- From Caste to Class (With Praveen Rai), Measuring Voting Behavior in India (With Peter R DeSouza and Sandeep Shastri), Indian Youth in a Transforming World: Attitudes and Perceptions, Indian Youth and Electoral Politics: An Emerging Engagement (With Chritophe Jafferlot), Rise of Plebeians? The Changing Face of Indian Legislative Assemblies (With Suhash Palashkar and Sanjay Lodha) and Electoral Politics in India: Resurgence of Bhartiya Janata Party”. He keeps writing in various newspapers and graces TV newsroom with his opinion on different socio-political issues.

Let’s hear him speak and enlighten us with his knowledge:

Review Board: There is a famous quote in ‘Animal Farm’ written by Mr. George Orwell, Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He doesn’t give milk, he doesn’t lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough, he can’t run fast enough to catch the rabbit. Yet he is lord of the animals. He is sets them to work, he gives back to them the bare minimum that will prevent them for starving, and rest he keeps for himself.  Doesn’t it find a resonance in India politics? Aren’t we as a nation given the bare minimum to survive and we remain busy in the quest for survival while our leaders enjoy life and keep everything with them?

Sanjay Kumar: It will be very unfair to politicians if we say that this happens only in politics. This situation is prevalent everywhere in the society where resource and material benefit generation is of prime concern. Without taking any names, if you look around, even in business or any profession for that matter, owner or the management keeps the maximum for themselves, giving the bare minimum to the workers but only to such an extent that it keeps them running and inspired to come back to work the next day.

Review Board: We were talking to an Agri-business owner from Bhopal sometime back and we asked him a question on challenges faced by farmers in terms of getting returns for their produce and hard work despite the fact that the consumers pay the maximum they can. His answer was “this question needs to be asked to our policy makers that why even after spending billions of rupees our farmers still commit suicide, why there are huge post harvest losses, why we as a country are still net importer of crucial items like edible oils and pulses”.

Sanjay Kumar: See, agriculture is a different ball game. Farmers are always living on the edge, facing a new challenge on a regular basis. If there is drought then they lose their crop and all the input they have invested in. Same is the case when there is a flood. So, when there is no crop, there is no money. But their condition is no different when they have a bumper harvest because the prices go down drastically.

Add to that the storage facility in our country needs a lot of improvement. You gave the example of pulses and edible oils. Situation is not good for even paddy and wheat. If you go to various parts of Punjab and Haryana which produces maximum rice and wheat, you will find the produce stacked in open air, sometimes covered with a tarpaulin and sometimes not. And in case of rain, there is a huge damage to these produces kept in the open.

Hence, there is always a demand for Minimum Support Price for farm produce and it is not that the price is not there, but it serves the purpose of an added advantage. So, infrastructure needs to be ramped up or there should be more food producing/processing units, where raw produce can be converted into food which can be stored for little a longer period.

Review Board: That’s his main contention…….why even after spending so much of money and so much of time; we are forced to see this situation….

Sanjay Kumar: Again I will reiterate the point that this is not the case only with politics. This is the case everywhere. Some politicians will admit off the record that there is a problem, but if they solve all the problems at one go then what will they promise next time around when they go for elections. They know that if they don’t deliver they won’t get the vote. But if they deliver everything, then what will be the aspiration level of voters from him for the next election. That’s why they deliver in piece meal.

Review Board: Again I am clubbing two quotes of George Orwell from his book ‘Animal Farm’: Let’s face it: our lives are miserable, laborious and short and Can you not understand that liberty is worth more than just ribbons?” If we look back at the last seventy years of our independence, these two quotes seem so relevant.  What workable changes do we need to bring in ourselves to come out and move forward towards a better life?

Sanjay Kumar: Answer of this question is very complex. I always give the example of sports or from the field of medicine. It is not so simple a case where you can take some quick fix medicine, pop in and you will get better.  If the problem becomes chronic, then just one antibiotic will not help you to recover completely; a few more medicines will be required along with numerous tests preceding such medication…..And then also, it will take some time. Similarly, take the example of hockey. India used to dominate the world hockey, but not anymore. Now, if someone says, change the goalkeeper or change the center forward and things will improve; it will not happen. There needs to be various steps which have to be taken to bring Indian hockey back to its glorious days!!

There are many things which if it gets better; life will be easier and better. These things are very basic and of the nature of daily use if you look at it. Basic infrastructures like house, clean water, health, road, electricity, education etc. which are necessities and are at the top of the demand list of a common man. Other things which are bigger in magnitude on the scale of perspective, like job creation, foreign policy, industrial development, foreign direct investment etc. are also very important, but these things are important in the long run.

One very important subject is connectivity. We keep talking about Bihar. People say a lot has changed in Bihar in the last 10 years. What has changed; road infrastructure and law and order situation. This has changed the whole scenario. Earlier, people used to be scared of travelling even small distances due to poor condition of roads, which is not the scene now.

People have very basic needs and whenever they meet policy makers, even of the stature of the Prime Minister, who is the top man in the country, they come out with very basic demands like road, electricity, health, law and order etc. They hardly come up with an immediate demand for a job, though the demand of job is equally important.    

Review Board: Otto Von Bismarck had said, Politics is the art of possible, the attainable- the art of the next best”. While the next best in Indian political scenario may remain a question, what attainable expectations should a common man of India have?

Sanjay Kumar: There was a good amount of talk on electrification of all the villages of India, which is great thing to happen. But clean drinking water is even more important, which is still not available to majority of Indians. We can live without electricity but we can’t live without water. So, everything comes back to the basic requirement!!

If someone is claiming that nothing has happened in the last 60-70 years, then I beg to differ. I am sure 90% of Indians have moved upwards in their life when compared to their father or grandfather. But as the time changes, aspirations change and it is bringing in changes in our demand pattern and social behavior. Someone may ask whether Delhi still has electricity or road related problems. But this may seem inconceivable today. However, around 30-40 years back, when people started settling across the Yamuna river, it was told that there are ‘N’ number of problems in trans Yamuna area. Before facilities could be provided to those people, Delhi expanded even further to areas beyond. That is the case with the whole country. Level of education and connectivity with rest of the world has increased, which in turn has increased the level of aspiration and demand and it will keep on continuously increasing in future. But for a good amount of time, basic necessities will be the main demand, because India is still a third world country with multiple layers of economic strata.

Review Board: Due to deep rooted barriers within our social system and the continuous aggravation of those barriers by our political leaders, very few of us are capable of expressing equanimity opinions which differs from the prejudices presented by our social environment. We have reached so far and efforts are definitely on to take us even farther. Your take on the subject…..

Sanjay Kumar: Look, you will have to see the entire situation in the backdrop of changing socio-economic scenario, large population and rapidly increasing educational infrastructure of the country. Social fault lines which used to exist earlier like discrimination on the social level have reduced. Now people don’t care much about the things like untouchability i.e. you can’t eat at my home or I won’t drink water offered by you. I am not saying that it has ended for good, but it is lesser than what it used to be earlier.

Now this fault line has shifted from the social front to the economic front. A section of the society, which was marginalized for long, needs a little protection and support to come up in the ladder of life.

Till three four decades back, though creation of job in the market was low, but candidates looking for the job were also low in numbers, so the dissatisfaction level was not as high.

Review Board: We talked to Mr. Sandeep Srivastava, a Social Entrepreneur and Founder of IYC World a month back to discuss the numbers which we had read that India produces more than 60 lakh graduates and 14 lakh post graduates every year. More than 10 lakh persons are added in the job market every month, which makes it about 1.2 crore per year. Our question to him was what has gone wrong with our education system which is creating a country of job seekers and not of job creators?

Sanjay Kumar: Current dispensation has, kind of, acceded to the fact that they can’t create the job for such a huge number of people. They have not actually said it so, but their economic policies suggest the same. It is next to impossible to create such a huge number of jobs every year. Even if we club together the maximum number of job government can create by itself and by facilitating private sector, then also everyone can’t be provided with a job. That’s why government is putting so much of emphasis on entrepreneurship.

Due to uncertainty in agriculture and longevity of work lifetime in private sector, everyone is looking for a job in the government or public sector. Who could have imagined the landed farmers of Jats and Patidars community agitating for a stake in the government jobs and reservation? Twenty years back, they used to laugh at government job, but not anymore, because agriculture has become costly and less remunerative. Similarly, there is also a degree of uncertainty in private sector job.

In contrast to all these opportunities, salaries in government and public sector jobs have increased. With the increased competition, social fault lines which were of different nature earlier, has changed and become stronger. Though rational thinking may say that people from the weaker section may need some extra help from the government, but all the rationality goes for a toss when people see that due to these things, their life or their children’s life is becoming a tough battle.  

Review Board: 2014 General Elections were different from any other elections ever fought in the country. From the Election Management perspective, for the first time I believe experts from different streams like Advertising, Marketing and Digital Media etc. were part of the war room of BJP. Later on, other political parties also adopted this strategy. You have also written about it. This has created a new career opportunity for our youth. Could you tell our readers what are the streams of education whose students can look for a serious role in election management bypassing politics as a career opportunity?

Sanjay Kumar: Students from a number of fields can now find a career scope in politics other than active politics. Some of them you have already mentioned in your question. One more stream for which requirement has come up very prominently is Engineering; people who can read and analyze big data and come up with the conclusions. Finding out the topics to fight election, establishing winnability of a candidate, creating catchy slogans etc. are important, but even more important is analysis of the factors of every election and their outcome. If you go to the election offices of political parties, it has started being called a ‘War Room’ and you will find more techno-savvy young people there than actual politicians.

Sometimes back a boy came and told me that he wants to follow in my footstep and do Psephology. He was expecting that I will give him the name of some fancy books to read. I asked him to read newspapers, understand what is going around and learn the skill of understanding the factors that affect elections and analyzing the data. For Psephology, you need to know how to read the numbers. With so many data points to read and analyze, understanding of tools and technologies have also become very important.

So coming back to the main point, students of Marketing, Management, Engineering and big data along with Political and Social Science can find good scope in politics, without getting into active politics.   

Review BoardIn your article “The Damned Science of Psephology” in Open Magazine, you discussed the topics of ‘sample size’, interviewing ‘right kind of people’ and ‘voters not telling their preferences truthfully’.

We have three specific questions emerging out of it:

  1. Political parties also do their internal surveys. What are the factors which they take into account while conducting their internal survey? How do they safe guard their survey on ‘sample size’, interviewing ‘right kind of people’ and ‘voters not telling their preferences truthfully’?
  2. Organizations like CSDS, Today’s Chanakya and other media houses also conduct pre-poll and post poll election surveys. How is it different from surveys conducted by political parties in every aspect?
  3. What are the skills required for the science of Psephology other than statistics? And what are the factors other than ‘sample size’, ‘interviewing right kind of people’ that should be taken into account while going for this kind of a survey. In my opinion, this will be helpful not only in predicting more accurate result of elections but also in product and service marketing.

Sanjay Kumar: We are an Institute dedicated to study various social issues and design strategy for developing societies. Our prime objective is not making predictions about election outcome, though we also do so, because we collect data to study the various factors which have been impacting Indian society now and how they stand in comparison of past. Since social issues are part of election outcome, their study becomes very important.

In 1977, there was no election survey done. So, we take the factors of that time and see their progress in today’s time to assess their impact as well as see their relevance now.

Political party’s main focus is to find out the winnability of a candidate and what are factors which can be used to win the elections. Their focus is the outcome of election. So, their study revolves around the factors which can be used and identify the person who can use it better than others.

TV Channels and other research organizations objective is to find the outcome of elections.

So, the very objective is different for all three sets of organization.

About the skill set required to do so, we have already discussed in previous question.

Review Board: You are Sun Tzu of Indian politics. What suggestions you would like to give to youngsters of India who want to make a career in mainstream politics?

Sanjay Kumar: If anyone comes to me to understand what is required to learn to enter politics, I will wholeheartedly welcome him. Because I believe that if you don’t like something, then rather than just criticizing, try to correct it.      

In my entire career, only one boy has come to me and told me that he wants to join active politics, and that also, couple of months after working with me.

To get into active politics, one needs to have lots of patience and communication skill. Elections are conducted after every five years. So, after one election, you will have to wait for another five years.

Apart from that, there will be lots of allegations and counter-allegations, which most of the time will flare up to become bigger issue if you don’t have patience to answer them at the right time. Also to deliver a message or counter an allegation, you need to have good communication skills. Communication skill doesn’t mean English only. It can be in any language which helps you to connect with your voters.

Review Board: Thanks a lot Sir for giving your valuable time. 

Idea Cost and Solution of Universal Basic Income in India

Cost of Universal Basic Income in India

Idea of Universal Basic Income has been floating around in the world for quite sometime. It has started gaining traction in India as well because a national political party has proposed Universal Basic Income of Rs.321/- per day to every unemployed person of the country if the win Parliamentary Election 2019.

Let us delve into the details of cost and impact of this proposal on the economic health of this country. According to www.tradingeconomics.com, India's labor force participation in 2018 was 52.5%, which on the population of 1.284 Billion population, works out to be 674.1 Million or 67.41 Crore. Unemployment Percentage stood at 6.1% in 2018 which is highest in recent past and works out to be 41.12 Million. In 2018, workforce employed in agriculture sector in India stood at 42.5%, which works out to be 287.84 Million. This number can very well be put under underemployed workforce.

According to a report published in Times of India on February 5, 2018, workforce engaged in sectors other than agriculture but falls under unorganized sector stood at 111.1 Million on 11.1 Crore. Out of this number 60% are employed in it, which brings the actual number at 66.66 Million. So, roughly 354.50 Million of 35.45 Crore people can be brought into the category of underemployed.

Low skilled workers earned average Rs.10,900/- per month, though it may be lesser in rural areas. Proposed Universal Basic Income is Rs.321/- per day to unemployed people. If we work it out on annual basis, then total immediate cost will be Rs.475183 Crore or USD 67.31, which is 2.28% of India's GDP of USD 2948 Billion. But this is just one side of the picture. A big chunk of workforce who are underemployed will gradually start leaving the work and opting for proposed Universal Basic Income. This has the potential to take away Rs.4096610 Crore or approximately USD 580 Billion and it works out to be 19.86% of GDP of 2018. Let’s bring in one more perspective.

Since most of the low skilled workers are engaged either agriculture or manufacturing sector, this proposed UBI will pull down efficiency and productivity are of both the sector. Moreover, this proposed amount being not huge enough to encourage capital expenditure at family level, this will only increase consumer expenditure especially in food. Drop in supply and increase in demand will have magnifying impact on food inflation.

Challenges of Creating Employment

India’s unemployment rate was 6.1% and GDP grew at 7.3% in 2018. A simple thumb rule is, if GDP grows by 1%, it creates additional job by 0.5%. So, to cover up this job gap of 6.1%, GDP needs to grow at least by additional 12-12.5% immediately, which is not possible. India produces around 65 Lakh graduates and 15 Lakh Post Graduates every year. Moreover, it add around 1.2 Crore workforce in the market every year, which is roughly 2% of present workforce participation.

 It means, to cover this job demand growth, India’s GDP needs to grow by at least 4% from the present level. To cover the job demand growth, India’s GDP is required to grow between 11-12%. To cover the gap of additional 3% from this present gap of 6.1%, GDP needs to grow further by 1 to 1.5% for next 6-7 years. So, we can conclude that, solve the India’s job demand problem, GDP needs to grow by 13.5-14% for a period 7-8 years, after that it can settle for 11-12%, nothing less. 

If we add the underemployment problem, the situation will become quite sever and looking at micro and macroeconomic environment, this is an impossible feat for any government. Actually, the socialist economy we chose to become after independence made us a risk-averse nation and we as a nation become the country of job seekers. To consolidate our financial and social position, we kept adding degrees to individual kitty. We kept adding slabs to make our position higher and make it difficult for others to reach, but we remained committed to be servant and subservient someone or other. Entrepreneurship is the only option and the environment should be made conducive for it. “Ease of doing business” comes later; government should focus on “ease of starting business” and “ease of sustaining business for initial years”. Parents also need slow down in chasing this engineering and seven figure salary dream for their ward. They must not set the value of life in terms of money only. 

Land Reform as a solution

India’s total workforce is around 675 Million, out of it, 42.74% or 288.11 million are employed in agriculture, 23.79% or 160.37 million are employed in manufacturing sector and 33.48% or 225.69 million are engaged in service sector. Agriculture sector contributed 15.87% of GDP, which in real terms for 2018 will stand at USD 468.85 Billion. Manufacturing sector and services sector contributed 29.73% and 54.40% respectively for the same year which in real term will stand at USD 876.44 Billion and USD 1603.71 Billion. If we extrapolate these numbers, then we find out the productivity of a person employed in agriculture sector and manufacturing sector stood at USD 1623.85 and USD 5465.17 respectively against USD 7105.86 of service sector. 

We all know that more than anything else, the size of land holding and land holding pattern of the country are biggest bottleneck of increasing agriculture productivity. According to Agriculture Census, operational land holdings in India are 138.35 million hectare with an average size of 1.15 hectare. Out of total holdings, 85% belongs to small and marginal farm categories with less than 2 hectare. This size is hampering the mechanization of agriculture in big way hampering not only production but overall productivity as well creating income and social disparity, which often forces workforce to abandon field and move to urban areas in search of employment, creating even bigger problem of underemployment. Though small scale industries can help in solving the employment problem to some extent, but large industries are required for capital formation, job creations at all levels and have multiplier effect on the nation’s economy. But establishing big industry has been facing the biggest challenge of land acquisition. Since this issue is connected with small and marginal farmers, it gives huge political opportunity any political party. Singur in West Bengal is latest prime example of challenges of land acquisition in the country. More than anything else, education and transparency in dealing are two prime steps which should be taken by the government. Since size of landholding is very small per farm household and their dependency is huge on that small land, parting away with it becomes more of a emotional challenge than financial challenge. The fear of going broke completely can be aroused in the owner’s mind. Second challenge is the circle rate. Normally, lands are registered at very low value in government records than what actually it has been sold. If the circle rate is very low than “prevailing market rate”, then obviously it will create a problem because government compensation will depend on the circle rate and not on the “prevailing market rate”. In every business transaction, all the parties look for something extra, so, if there are employment opportunities or the opportunity to provide services which can be given to locals, either after training them or by without training, then it must be discussed in advance and in transparent manner with complete agreement. And all of it needs to be told to the land owner in no unclear terms and in fact it must be the part of information which should be inculcated to every Indian like it has been done in the case of polio immunization or similar drive. This will not only help manufacturing sector but agriculture sector as well. Increased production will mean increased productive participation, increased productivity, increased income in the hands of workforce and new employment opportunities.

Unemployment Challenge Of India

Economists classify "Unemployment" into three categories; frictional, cyclical and structural. 

Frictional unemployment is least of economists worry because it occurs due to incessant movement of workforce from one location to another or due to different stages of life cycle or students leaving job to pursue higher studies or woman leave the job for child birth. 

Cyclical unemployment is much more serious problem and it occurs when economy dips into recession. This kind of unemployment macro-economists world over has spent most of the time trying to solve. 

In the increasingly technological age, third type of unemployment occur and that is structural unemployment and this needs much more attention now a days. This kind of unemployment occur when there is a mismatch between available jobs in the market and workers skill. Structural unemployment often results when technological change makes someone's job obsolete. Structural unemployment also occurs when there is a mismatch between location of job openings and location of job seeking workers. 

Now, if we look at the Indian job market, we can find the mix of cyclical and structural unemployment patterns. Though if we mix economics with politics in the discussion, then we may not get the right answer and solution. 

Indian economy has been going through quite a roller coaster ride since economic liberalization in 1992-93. Economic liberalization exposed Indian to new kind of economy and that service sector economy. Everything was going on well but dot-com bust post 2000 gave a big jolt to world economy and India could not remain untouched. Though this dot-com bust was largely concentrated to USA, but when US economy sneezes whole world’s economy catch cold. 

Economy picked up steam once again but 2007-08 subprime crisis of US market again shook the financial and job market world over. Estimated cost of this crisis for this planet earth stood somewhere around USD 15 Trillion and 80 Million job.

Almost every country pumped in billions of dollars into their economy to keep it afloat and drive consumption to drive manufacturing to drive job creation. Before India could recover from the jolt of US Subprime crisis, series of corruption cases against the then incumbent government started surfacing and that led to complete policy paralysis. It, in turn hurt the investment and business scenario very badly. 

In 2014, new government took over with new hope to revive the economy. Business scenario again started looking up but two decisions in quick succession gave a big jolt to the economy running on cash. Now each side can give the opinion for and against these two decisions and both can be right.

Apart from all this, India became the hotbed of technology based economy. By the beginning of this century, we were struggling to get the proper electricity and landline phones even in big cities and by 2004-05 we had cheapest call rates and by 2016, we had the cheapest data rates. 

Before organized retail could even find its foothold, e-commerce changed the market dynamics completely. 

While half of the workforce was still lumbering in the muddy fields, India joined the league of countries adopting technology at super speed. India couldn't have left one and chosen other but challenges posed by mix of both needs to be studied, understood and solved carefully, without playing politics around it. New generation is not illiterate as their earlier generation of 70s or 80s of last century were. Social media and digital world has ensured one thing is that everything mentioned here gets recorded and indexed by one platform or other. So, there will be no escaping for anyone in coming five years time. Division on religion or caste lines won't work because technology will bring more transparency and newer generation will be more educated. So, political rhetorics won't work for long.

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