Modi is right. Amul was indeed an inspiring success story (but it’s all going wrong now)

Dairy cooperative Amul came in for high praise from Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday.

Talking to a gathering of farmers after inaugurating the cooperative’s new chocolate factory in Anand in Gujarat, Modi said the organisation represents a viable alternative to capitalism and socialism. According to a report in The Hindu, he also said, “It fills me with pride that it is the result of a farmers’ cooperative movement of over seven decades that Amul has become an identity, inspiration and necessity in the country.”

What does one make of these words? Several publications, including Scroll.in, have reported on the rot setting into Amul, one of independent India’s greatest achievements. The latest instance of institutional decay came in March when K Rathnam, managing director of the first Amul milk union, Kaira Union, resigned after some members of the union’s board alleged a Rs 450-crore scam had unfolded during his three-year tenure….

after a long break, i am back at work. out today, this quick and dirty opinion piece drawing together most of scroll’s reports on amul.

How the Badals spread their control over Punjab (and why it is eroding)

Following up on yesterday’s story, part 3 of our series on Punjab under the Akali Dal.

In Punjab, the domination of the government machinery by the Badal clan is near complete. It starts right from the top, the cabinet of ministers, and trickles down to the ground, to the level of the police station.

Here is how.

Every business in Punjab leads back to an Akali Dal leader (well almost)

out today, our sequel to the previous story on why healthcare is underfunded in punjab.

Industry is fleeing Punjab – an investigation by Scroll.in found a growing number of companies have shut down or are planning to set up newer units outside the state. Among the reasons cited by businessmen for the exodus were the bribes they claim they are compelled to pay to politicians belonging to the ruling Akali Dal.

But rent-seeking is not the only way Akali Dal leaders are strangling industry in the state.

Over the past decade, Punjab has seen a handful of players come to dominate what earlier were fragmented industries composed of hundreds of small companies. This consolidation happened in a bewilderingly diverse set of industries, including stone crushing, sand mining, cable distribution, liquor distribution and bus transport. Most of these new, big players are alleged to have links to the Akali Dal.

How do so many industrialists get into the Rajya Sabha?

Vijay Mallya’s flight to England has opened up a veritable can of worms. Every day there are little-known strands coming to light about his business and personal life, from the giant loan defaults to the marquee properties. What is not being discussed as much is his political life and the conflict of interest.

The chairman of the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines has been a member of the Rajya Sabha since 2002 and is a member of the Consultative Committee for the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Standing Committee on Commerce. The committee oversees India’s aviation ministry. Its responsibilities include vetting bills drafted by the ministry, and evaluating its demands for grants.

A seat on the panel gives Mallya “access to information, and an unfair advantage to influence policy”, said former Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, calling this “a serious conflict of interest”.

There have, of course, been numerous such instances of conflict of interest in recent years.

The question is: how do these emerge. How do so many bizmen get into the Rajya Sabha? Once in, how do they land up in the Parliamentary Committee of their choosing?