Vijay Sardesai, agriculture minister of Goa, has gained instant stand-up fame by urging farmers to recite the “mahamrityunjaya beej mantra” in their fields. This is DIY farm distress relief by meditating and chanting, “Om rom jum sah”. Sardesai has defended himself well, insisting that as the keeper of the agriculture portfolio, he will use every available ploy to focus attention on farms. If a rock show would do it, he has said, he would organise one. An excellent idea. For a progressive minister, we recommend progressive rock: imagine Jethro Tull playing ‘Jack in the Green’ amidst the waving fields of sorghum. It might not increase the yield per hectare, but would certainly elevate happiness per capita.
But it is unlikely that the minister will promote rock. Channeling the cosmic forces into the womb of Mother Earth is his chosen way. He appears to have come under the influence of a godman — which is quite a popular activity in our country — via his wife, who has been inflicting the principles of Shiv Yog Cosmic Farming on her plants at home. Nothing wrong with the wife’s pursuit, of course. One may follow any fad at all in private, so long as laws are not broken or the modesty of the home outraged. But a minister does not have the right to use his position to project his domestic fad upon the world.
Goa’s cashews and arecas will not be harmed in the course of this experiment, but it is unlikely to bear fruit. It may have worked in ancient times, but after the synthesis of superphosphate and urea, the seeds sprout just fine without the help of a beej mantra. Only the government in Panjim is getting to reap a harvest from this — the derision of India’s farmers.