Earlier this year, 172 farmers from Maharashtra were sent abroadas part of the Maharashtra government’s initiative to “educate” them. While the state government funds half their expenses — upto Rs 1 lakh — the farmers are expected to pay the remaining amount’.

Rs 10 crore has been earmarked in the budget for this scheme. The farmers can go to any places of their choice. They are accompanied by officials from the Department of agriculture as well as a translator.

State Agriculture Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil says, “Several changes are taking place in agriculture marketing and technology fields which can help our farmers improve production and ensure protection from weather changes. Climate change has affected farmers across the world. We thought sharing experiences with other farmers would help.”

There is a lot of demand for Europe as it involves some sightseeing as well,” he added.

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At the same time we read that 860 farmers committed suicide in Maharashtra in 2011 – most of them in the Vidarbha, Marathwada and Khandesh regions.

The reason for this desperation was the failure of the BT cotton crop due to lack of irrigation, scanty rainfall, and massive debt.

“These are the reasons for the suicides but the government remains ignorant,” says Dr RP Kurulkar, retired economics professor and chairman of the Marathwada Statuary Development Board (MSDB) in Aurangabad.

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Laptops and tablets are currently in fashion, finding pride of place in the election manifestos of several Indian states which recently went to the polls.

Tamilnadu is implementing a  free laptops scheme for senior secondary school students, besides students of government arts and science colleges, engineering colleges and polytechnics, in keeping with CM Jayalalitha’s 2011 Assembly poll promise.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, while presenting his maiden budget earlier this month, ‘announced a provision of Rs 2,721.24 crores for free distribution of laptops and tablet PCs to the high school and intermediate pass students’.

The Punjab government is tablets for Class XII students priced at Rs 7,000 each for a total cost of around Rs 100 crores.

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At the same time, studies tell us that absenteeism among government primary school teachers ranges from around 15-40%, with higher rates in poorer states.

‘One area of consensus is that teacher absence is reduced if there is better infrastructure—better toilet facilities, reliable electricity supply, friendlier staff rooms and easier access to schools (particularly in rural areas). It appears clear, therefore, that one area of reform is to improve infrastructure for teachers.’

It would probably follow that students’ attendance would also go up if there is better infrastructure.

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One cannot help but feel that we are choosing populist solutions to our problems which are likely to have little impact.

Perhaps we should try measures which may be less glamorous, but more effective?

Who knows?

In any case things are not likely to change any time soon. Because, after all, ‘Yeh hai India!’