Thursday, March 8, 2012

Ban on Cotton Exports : When White turns Black !!!

Have been thinking to write on this subject since Monday, March 5th 2012 - the moment Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) issued notification and Press Information Bureau (PIB) issued press-release on same -, but being a journalist reporting business again a Gujarati who believes in "Tel juvo ane Tel ni Dhaar juvo [Meaning : Wait and Watch] ..." - I preferred to wait and watch, as to how and in which manner the directive is perceived and what reactions are expected against this action.

Thumb-rule of any commodity, be it agri, metal (precious or base), energy - prices move up if demand increases against the supplies and prices go down if supply is in excess of demand.  But what has happened to Cotton?

Prices of 1 candy (in international markets cotton is traded in candies, approximately 356 kilos per candy) which was 60,000+ rupees last fiscal at the same time has today scaled down to 30,000+ rupees this fiscal at the same time, it means either the supply of commodity is in excess or the demand of commodity is low, a logical conclusion by an aam-aadmi (mango people).

As per the data reflected in DGFT's Press Release on YoY (Year on Year basis, for fiscal 2010-2011 and 2011-2012), Supplies display an increasing trend.  Opening stock, Crop, Import all put together show an increasing trend in supply.  As against this the demand shows substantial decrease, especially the mill-consumption, but the sign of worry is out of non-mill consumption, which has grown drastically - almost 10 times, as compared to last year.

Out of total expected arrival of 340 Lakh bales, till now 245 lakh bales have already arrived in markets in India. From the arrived stock 94.75 lakh bales have been exported till 4th March 2012, as against 120 lakh bales registered for exports and ban on exports of cotton from government comes at such time.

If you take a look at exports data which is hardly projected to grow in tune of 5% over last year, as India Exported 80 Lakh Bales last year and expects exports of 84 lakh bales this year, but all of a sudden Export data has alarmed the government in power.

India is the world's second largest cotton exporter after the US and has already exported nearly 9.475 million (94.75 Lakh) bales in the current marketing year, according to the Indian Cotton Federation. The figure is well above the government’s full-year forecast of 8.4 million (84 Lakh) bales, as exporters took advantage of the price differential amid firm overseas demand, specifically from China, as China alone accounts for more than 70% of India's cotton exports.

The reason of banning exports of cotton is yet not clear, though reports fairly indicate that it was done to prevent China from hoarding cotton supplies and again Anand Sharma, India’s Commerce Minister who imposed the ban defended his decision, saying - "It was taken after surging exports raised fears of depleting domestic supplies..."

Most worried are none other than politicians of the nation themselves, as you can see almost 500+ NEWS articles while you search "Ban on Cotton Exports in India" on

Surprisingly all politicians, irrespective of their party, their political agenda and political differences, call it the NCP's Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar himself, Congress led Government's Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Congress led Government's Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy or BJP led Government's Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi - everybody has raised their voice and expressed their concern by writing letter to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, to re-consider the ban of exports on cotton, but the BIG QUESTION is for whom?

But obviously for the farmers, who else? - Our politicians can resort to all sort of political gimmicks to garner vote-bank in name of communal sentiments, undertake all kinds and modes of corruptions, (now a days even watch porn-flicks while the session in house is in progress) but when it comes to FARMERS, boss - HUM SAB EK HAI, we all are one, when it comes to the sentiments of our own KISAAN.

As again the para 5 of the press release from DGFT on PIB says, "Cotton Corporation of India has been advised to protect farmer’s interests by procurements in all mandis of India where the prices fall below MSP prices. Textiles Mills have also commenced procurement operations across the country. The price situation is unlikely to be adversely affected by the current decision for long." - the message is pretty loud and clear, that nothing at the cost of farmers. 

Thank God in times of CWG, Adarshs, 2Gs, 3Gs, 4Gs, Viral Music Marketing Strategies (Why this Kolaveri, Kolaveri, Kolaveri D), Cheap Tablets (PCs), inclusive growth, education for all, Lokpal, declining gas supplies, political surprises and especially in this scenario where real estate and land is the prime-concern for "ZAMEEN SE JUDI HUI RAAJNEETI" (Grass-root level politics), atleast there is still a common (POLITICAL) consensus that we as a NATION are still AN AGRICULTURE ECONOMY and leaving everything apart, our FARMERS are indeed important for us.

But coming back to ban, a little hatke from the politics over ban, so in this scenario - where cotton supplies are in excess against the expected demand, but obviously prices of cotton are expected to go down and especially when similar scenario exists globally, in world markets also prices of cotton are not expected to improve.

With India banning exports of cotton, if the supplies from India are to dent the global supplies, prices of cotton should have improved in international market, as with Government directive supplies from India were to go short - but so did not happen !!! instead prices still dropped down on an "OPTIMISTIC SENTIMENT" that India will lift the ban on exports of Cotton - SURPRISED?

On contrary other global economies are keen to take this ban of India on Cotton Exports to their advantage, as majority of the cotton traders from India will fail to fulfill their trade contracts and commitments.  Australian Agriculture Minister, Joe Ludwig has said, that - "India's ban on cotton exports opens up opportunities for Australian cotton farmers," - but why this ban is an ultimate question?

Buzz in the market is that ban on exports of cotton will be revoked, may be as the Finance minister presents budget in the parliament on 16th March 2012, there might be some pre-farmer policies also announced or some correction in Minimum Support Prices (MSP) given to farmers, but would this all really reach the farmer?

And the answer yet remains unanswered because at an end of the day, 

  • For an Activist : Number of suicides committed by farmers growing cotton in India is increasing alarmingly. 
  • For an Economist : If cultivation and production of cotton in increasing, than which link in the supply chain is missing, where still the nation is struggling as far as the growth from Agriculture sector is concerned?
  • For a Politician : Nothing anti-farmer, even if farm income is spared from income-tax
  • For an Analyst : When all governments in power irrespective of their political differences are busy protecting interest of farmers or are busy projecting themselves to protect the interest of the farmers by providing appropriate Minimum Support Price (MSP) for their produces, all possible agriculture subsidies and immediately registering their voice, when anything is anti-farmer, still agri commodity driven inflation cannot be ruled out. 
  • For an Urban Consumer : WTF, why prices of my pair of denim is increasing, despite the fact that cotton supplies are high this year?
  • For an International Food Company : We are expecting our next growth story to come out from India and China
  • For a retail store / food chain : Buy one Get another free
  • For a speculator : Bull / Bear - we will bail out
  • For a Scribe (Journalist) : Deadline is important

And very important, for a farmer - 

Apart from this stunning image from PIPLI LIVE, remember that scene from SWADES, in which a poor farmer treats Shah Rukh Khan with a little supple meal and after that narrates his limitations for not being in position to pay the loans hearing to which  Shah Rukh Khan's eyes are filled with tears, while he goes to recover loan given to a farmer and on having witnessed the ground level reality, not only waives the loan, but gives away possible cash from his purse to the farmer - but ultimately that was the movie, as the ground level reality is a little different !!!
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Monday, March 5, 2012

PAAN SINGH TOMAR : Simply Thought Provoking!

This is my first post on HB's Universe and i feel i came across a wonderful subject like PAAN SINGH TOMAR to speak as my first post on this blog.

On usual Sunday afternoon, as we were trying to kill our time in mercury rising climate at RAJKOT (summers in Rajkot have their own charm ...), we ie my wife Jahnvi, my brother-in-law Prakash and myself decided to go for screening of PAAN SINGH TOMAR - after having a lofty Sunday afternoon Ghar kaa Khaanaa (Yes, for us home food is the best luxury of our life on weekends, a little juxtaposing as compared to others, as usually people prefer to lunch/dine out on weekends, but as i spend 5 weekdays away from home usually eating my two time meals outside on street food joints in city of Ahmedabad, my better-half - Jahnvi, my wife emphasizes and makes it sure that we have home cooked food ...) 

Touching back to our original subject, this new genre of producers and directors including Ronnie Screwwala, Rakyesh Om Prakash Mehra, Vishal Bhardwaj, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Apoorva Lakhia, Sudhir Mishra, Imtiyaz Ali etc etc - have not only taken the Indian cinema successfully far away from an era of formula films, but have equally compelled the cinema viewers also to think out of box, by making movies on subjects which have been forgotten and have merely remained in limelight as part of limited media activism. 

This new genre of Producers and Directors are not only re-defining the meaning of, "Cinema based Activism OR Activism through Cinema..." but have also proved it strongly that what kind of strength medium like cinema has, when it comes to trigger activism.  This breed did just not touch the subjects, but also treated such subjects in a state-of-the-art manner without removing away such subjects from its originality.  What was once considered as an ART CINEMA and hardly any producer or director dared to touch it, this breed has given a midas touch to such subjects and PAAN SINGH TOMAR is another such example, as to what kind of life this creators can pump-in, especially when plots are unplotten and the characters are also not realized.

From past experience of having watched several Tigmanshu Dhulia directed flicks including Haasil (in year 2003), Charas (in year 2004), Shagird and Sahib, Biwi & Gangster (in year 2011), once thing was rest assured - that though partially aware of the plot of PAAN SINGH TOMAR, where an international athlete turns dacoit, treatment of the plot was but obviously going to be thought provoking.  

Tishu (nickname of Tigmanshu Dhulia in Hindi Cinema Industry) has always treated a very normal subject in a viewer convenient format of entertainment, but his movies always have had question mark at an end, compelling his viewers to think what now from here.  Again the best part of Tishu's movies is that no expensive foreign locales, but it has always been locales mainly from "Unexplored India" and that is what largely is USP of Tishu.  PAAN SINGH TOMAR also at several place has that flavor of USP of Tishu, where he has depicted what they call CHAMBAL or BIHAD in Madhya Pradesh, in its best possible original format, using all possible angles of Cinematography and Art.  Also how the gangs at this place are organized and follow the clan-command, is depicted in an excellent manner.

But, once again as expected PAAN SINGH TOMAR is a wonderful product from UTV Motion Pictures is a thought provoking movie and especially how the system within the nation has treated our UNSUNG SPORTS (barring Cricket) HEROES.

People who have brought pride and honor for the nation by pushing themselves beyond limits and when their honor is tarnished in a society controlled by muscle power, rebels like PAAN SINGH TOMAR are born, one such opening dialogue of the movie speaks all about it, "Daaku? Daaku to Parliament mein hote hai, Bihad mein to Baagi hote hai ...".

PAAN SINGH TOMAR, opens in a flash-back format wherein a journalist from a local newspaper is in process to access Irfan Khan (who plays character of PAAN SINGH TOMAR) to get an interview and finally manages using some connections of his Defense Background to reach him, as Irfan Khan also happened to be an Ex-serviceman and then the narrative starts, which at one point merges into the mainstream subject and finally deals with an end.  But a scene, wherein corrupt cop throws away Gold Medal won by Irfan, while he goes to file complaint about his son being brutally beaten by family rivals on land dispute matters, compels viewers to think, that is this the state of affair of our nation?  Wherein some government official sitting on a chair after clearing all requisite exams (including General Knowledge Test) is simply busy abusing his power and purposefully fails to realize the worth of someone who has brought honor to the nation.

But obviously PST reminds you of the much acclaimed controversial flick THE BANDIT QUEEN by Shekhar Kapoor, but Tishu has been careful in usage of Language and has made it sure that despite of the vernacular touch in entire script, no where abusive language finds a way.

An absolute neat and clean movie, but an obvious thought provoking material, because when our country is passing through an adolescent age of being a capitalism driven economy, if efforts of such national heroes will not be a part of our main-stream, than we will have more and more PAAN SINGH TOMARs fighting for their rights in such a brutal manner.

Just imagine when soldiers of our nation against all human survival conditions in -40 degree Celsius temperature are safeguarding the nation and citizens and when their honor or self-respect is tarnished or when they are devoid or denied of justice because of the corrupt practice, what this humans trained to protect themselves and kill enemies will not do and to what extent will they suppress themselves against the peer-pressure of capitalism driven greed?  This is the question, which any viewer would once always think, while he/she is out from cinema hall after watching PAAN SINGH TOMAR.

Please do not go on any views and reviews, but yes - do not miss to watch PAAN SINGH TOMAR, as no ratings can really prove the worth of this movie.  Movie which did not even go on any promotional drive, but the viewers themselves after coming out from cinema hall using their smartphones are busy posting comments on their social networking handles stating, "PAAN SINGH TOMAR, JUST EXCELLENT ..." 

Mr Amitabh Bachchan's (Big B's) mention on PAAN SINGH TOMAR on his twitter handle as follows :- 

@ SrBachchan : "Paan Singh Tomar" : a stupendous film .. Tighmanshu Dhulia and Irrfan you are exceptional gentlemen ..many more laurels for you ! 
@SrBachchan : Restraint, in cinema, is the most difficult art in creativity .. " Paan Singh Tomar " is the perfect example of it ..
@SrBachchan : and what a tribute to the unsung sports heroes of the nation, who after the glory they bring, pass away in penury ..
 @SrBachchan : "Still consuming the intoxication of the film " Paan Singh Tomar " ..,  

"Best Luck and enjoy viewing PAAN SINGH TOMAR ..." - from the Blogger and please stay tunned and keep in touch ...

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