EDITORIAL

Crime watch

Two recent incidents drive home the grim reality about increasing gravity of the crime situation in this city. A girl is led into a trap in the local bus stand and her modesty is allegedly outraged. The venue of the heinous offence and the identity of its perpetrators would leave one and all further bewildered about the direction in which we are heading. It has been reported that two brothers, who happen to be students and sons of a police sub-inspector, spotted the 19-year old girl looking lost at the bus stand. Their inquiries revealed that she was all alone and had exhausted her money; she had fled from her house in the neighbouring Chandigarh following a tiff in the family and arrived here for darshan of Vaishno Devi. They managed to convince her that they were working for a travel agency. They held out the assurance of sending her back.....more

Not surprising

Only the na´ve will be surprised by a report about the sharp ideological differences between Tehreek-i-Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Jammu-Kashmir Liberation Front (JK LF) chief Yasin Malik. It is already only too well known that they advocate different ideologies. In his latest utterance as well Mr Geelani has made it known that the State can't survive as a sovereign independent country. He has said that it "would have to" accede to either India or Pakistan. His own preference is for its merger with Pakistan. On the other hand, the JKLF is craving for a status that its name reflects. In a rejoinder to Mr Geelani, although without naming him, the JKLF has said that there are many countries smaller than the State in terms of resources, area and population and they....more

Agony of India

By Dr Ashwani Mahajan

An agency of the U.S, National Intelligence Council (NIC), released a study report, a few days back, which said that India has become world's third most powerful nation after U.S. and China. If we look at it in terms of blocks, India has become the world's fourth most powerful block after USA, China and the European Community. The agency also says that India's clout would grow even more by 2025. NIC says that currently 22 percent of the world power comes.......more

Obstacles in path of
Green India Mission

By Jyotshna Pandit

The draft mission document states the main objective as doubling the area for afforestation in next 10 years. This mission has a budgetary proposal of Rs 40,000 crore. As a novel initiative, the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) has sought comments from the public on the mission document. While the main objective of the mission looks very noble, the ground.......more

Challenges before
India horticulture

By Dr. Manoj Nazir

India has become a leading producer of several farm commodities in the world including food grains, fruits, vegetables, milk, fish, egg, meat, cotton, and jute, medicinal and aromatic plants. However, we need not to be satisfied about these statistics. There are many problems faced by agriculture sector that need to be solved on urgency, these include low productivity, high order of drudgery, heavy post......more

EDITORIAL

Crime watch

Two recent incidents drive home the grim reality about increasing gravity of the crime situation in this city. A girl is led into a trap in the local bus stand and her modesty is allegedly outraged. The venue of the heinous offence and the identity of its perpetrators would leave one and all further bewildered about the direction in which we are heading. It has been reported that two brothers, who happen to be students and sons of a police sub-inspector, spotted the 19-year old girl looking lost at the bus stand. Their inquiries revealed that she was all alone and had exhausted her money; she had fled from her house in the neighbouring Chandigarh following a tiff in the family and arrived here for darshan of Vaishno Devi. They managed to convince her that they were working for a travel agency. They held out the assurance of sending her back home the following morning. In the intervening night, they promised to lodge her in a gurdwara. Instead, they took her to their uninhabited quarter at the police colony at the Gulshan Ground and raped her. They put their victim in the bus for Chandigarh the next day. On reaching home she narrated her shocking experience to her father, who is a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) official. The latter arrived in this city along with the daughter and lodged a complaint with the Gandhi Nagar police. The accused duo has since been arrested. Indeed, it is courageous of the girl and her father to approach the police for justice. There is no reason at all why the sufferers in such ghastly events should not be fighting for their honour. There can't be any ground either for looking down upon them. They can't be made to suffer twice; first as the prey of lust and then in the name of a ridiculous imaginary social sanction.

It is absolutely essential that they get justice. Any thought that the girl had left the safety of her house and could not have escaped her turmoil outside is silly. In any circumstances it is not at all relevant. What happened inside among family members is strictly their internal matter. On the other hand, a wicked happening in a public place concerns us all. It raises anxiety about our own safety. In the other episode, an attempt has been made to break upon three ATMs (automated teller machines) --- two in Sainik Colony and the one in the Gole Market in Gandhi Nagar. Three young persons --- each of them riding a motor cycle --- are said to have been involved in this operation. They did manage to break the glass component of the apparatus. However, they could not succeed in looting the cash. Does this in any way make their endeavour less audacious? The Gole Market is one of the busiest areas of our city. By now Sainik Colony is also fairly well populated. That anyone could think of striking terror in these localities shows us --- especially our law and order-enforcing agencies --- in a poor light.

Why could the CCTVs (close-circuit television) not record their photographs was not clear. It is not the first such instance in our city. There have been bids in the past as well to plunder the ATMs including on the national highway opposite a hotel near a police colony. Yet these point out that the criminals are becoming more aggressive in our milieu. If we want to ensure that the above two episodes don't cause us to lose our sleep we would have to get our act together. It is for us as the people to offer resistance. It would be worth considering to form crime watch groups in every street and colony. This does not mean that we have to take law into our hands. The idea should be to rally behind the police which on the current reckoning is not able to make its presence effectively felt, to say the least.

Not surprising

Only the na´ve will be surprised by a report about the sharp ideological differences between Tehreek-i-Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Jammu-Kashmir Liberation Front (JK LF) chief Yasin Malik. It is already only too well known that they advocate different ideologies. In his latest utterance as well Mr Geelani has made it known that the State can't survive as a sovereign independent country. He has said that it "would have to" accede to either India or Pakistan. His own preference is for its merger with Pakistan. On the other hand, the JKLF is craving for a status that its name reflects. In a rejoinder to Mr Geelani, although without naming him, the JKLF has said that there are many countries smaller than the State in terms of resources, area and population and they do endure. Mr Malik himself has not spoken on the issue but fielded his senior associates including Mr Bashir Ahmad Bhat, to issue a statement. Possibly this statement is the only development which can be said to be new. Of late the JKLF has not been asserting itself strongly enough on the separatist spectrum in the Valley in particular. It had in fact played a second fiddle to Mr Geelani during the radical anti-land allotment stir in 2008. Most recently it has gone along with Mirwaiz Moulvi Umar Farooq of the moderate Hurriyat Conference in addressing an Eid congregation in the Summer Capital which deteriorated into virtually a free-for-all leading to large-scale arson and violence. Broadly, there is a consensus among them that the final choice should be allowed to be made by the people by paving the way for them to exercise their right to self-determination. Even Mr Geelani is for adopting this course regardless of his personal preference.

The strength of the Yasin Malik-led JKLF is that it has given up its adherence to violence as a tool of achieving its goal. It is still considered to be the dominant voice of the JKLF which has often been rocked by splits. There is little common ground not only between it and Mr Geelani but also between it and other separatist bodies. Whatever that may be the challenge now for all political organisations and individual leaders is to prove that they represent the ordinary citizens in the Valley. The people at large find themselves in a hopeless situation because of the killings in police firing in protest demonstrations on the one hand. On the other hand, they feel the pinch because largely their income has dried up and their children's education is a casualty.

Agony of India

By Dr Ashwani Mahajan

An agency of the U.S, National Intelligence Council (NIC), released a study report, a few days back, which said that India has become world's third most powerful nation after U.S. and China. If we look at it in terms of blocks, India has become the world's fourth most powerful block after USA, China and the European Community. The agency also says that India's clout would grow even more by 2025. NIC says that currently 22 percent of the world power comes from the United States, China and the European Community each has 16 percent and India's share is 8 percent, while Japan, Russia and Brazil share 8 percent each.

Agency estimates that the scenario would change by 2025 and USA's share would be down to 18 per cent and that of European Community to 14 per cent. India and China will strengthen their respective positions. India's strength will be increased to 10 percent. While the ordering may remain the same but power balance would certainly change drastically.

As per the latest data provided by the World Bank, developed countries have been facing a worst ever set back in recent years and their incomes are going down by 2 percent per annum. India, China and other emerging economies have shown a consistently rising incomes by 7 to 9 percent per annum. Due to continued growth experience of the developing economies, international power equations have also changed. A backward nation twenty years back has registered an important position in the world. Strategic success in the building of Agni Missile, PSLV in the field of space technology, the growing medical tourism, software, telecommunications etc. speaks out the all round advances made by the country. India's growing clout in these areas is making even President of USA uncomfortable, who is exploring all options, to somehow curb India, ranging from putting sanctions on outsourcing and also the visa restrictions.

But this is only one side of the story. Nearly a month back the World Economic Forum released ranking of different countries based on Global Competitive Index for the year 2009-10. Based on that report, India is ranked 49 in the list of 133 nations. Though India has improved its position slightly and a moved a rank up from 50th to 49th, we find a dismal picture for India on various fronts of competitiveness.

The third most powerful, but ranked 49th in competitiveness looks paradoxical. Solution to this paradox is provided by the report of WEF itself. Global Competitiveness Index comprises of 12 sub-indices. There are some basic indices- such as institutions, infrastructure, Education and Health. Some other complex, but the key indices are the technological readiness, business sophistication, innovation etc.

For India which still is in the initial stage of development, basic indicators assume more importance to the extent of 60 percent in determining competitiveness. But dismal performance on basic factors has deteriorated India's competitive position internationally. World Economic Forum reports that India is ranked 101st in terms of health in 133 countries. Our sanitary system is very deplorable and is worse than even very backward sub- African countries. Our rank was 96th in terms of education. Even in case of energy and transport infrastructure, our rank was 76th. We come at 54th position in terms of Institutions.

Had we not ranked 16th in the world in terms of soundness of our financial system and 25th in terms of soundness of our banking system, our ranking in terms of Global Competitive Index would have been even worst. In terms of the size of our market we are in fourth place. We ranked 83rd in terms of labor market and again 83rd in terms of technical preparedness. Our rank in higher education is still better (66th). But the report expresses concern over the fact that higher education is limited to only a few rich people.

According to a study recently released in India, income tax assesses have been fast rising in urban India, so has been the situation with regard to wealth which has also been concentrating in Urban areas. Wealth is obviously getting concentrated in metro cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad etc. But big cities of even so called Bimaru states are also not behind in this trend. This implies benefits of growth are being cornered by few rich. Villages could not be included in the growth process. According to the Economic Survey 2009-10, contribution of agriculture sector was only 14.6 percent of GDP in 2009-10. This clearly implies non inclusive character of our growth, which though increases our GDP, but the fruits are cornered by urban rich. Farmers, workers and small scale entrepreneurs remain untouched to a great extent.

Because of this non-inclusive character of the growth, poor is unable to meet basic needs like education and health. Rich and upper middle class people enjoy all the facilities stemming from this lopsided development, as they only have the capacity to pay for the same. Though in terms of GDP on purchasing power parity basis, our country may be third most powerful country of the world, but the same is not getting translated into provision for basic necessities like education, health, drinking water supply, electricity and sanitation. Recent after the report of the Planning Commission's Expert Group headed by Prof. Tendulkar, the Government was forced to acknowledge that 41.8 percent population in country's rural areas and 25.7 percent in urban areas is living below poverty line. This means that in our country 2 out of 5 persons fail to fulfill their basic needs even today.

On the one hand production of expensive cars, air conditioners and other luxuries is on rise, while poor man is confronted with ever rising prices of essential commodities due to ever declining per capita availability of food grains.

When the news was flashed that India has become the world's third most powerful country, there was hardly any happiness or feelings of pride on the faces of the people. When the common man has been struggling for his existence; the farmers have been committing suicide, drowned under the debt burden; poverty stricken people in the country are being given guns in the name of naxalism; can there be any happiness or a feeling of pride?

Obstacles in path of Green India Mission

By Jyotshna Pandit

The draft mission document states the main objective as doubling the area for afforestation in next 10 years. This mission has a budgetary proposal of Rs 40,000 crore. As a novel initiative, the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) has sought comments from the public on the mission document.

While the main objective of the mission looks very noble, the ground realities prevailing in the country indicate that the mission's chances of bringing commensurate benefits to the society do not appear to be great. As has been happening since independence, large tracts of thick natural forests of very high ecological value all over the country are continuing to be diverted for non-forest purposes.

Even if the GIM succeeds in doubling the area for afforestation in next 10 years, the practice of diverting the existing natural forests for non-forestry applications will definitely negate the meagre benefits that may accrue from such additional afforestation. Unless this diversionary trend is discontinued or drastically reduced, the proposed expenditure will be of little use.

While the society has considered it essential to build large number of roads, railways, dams, airports, power plants, mining infrastructure, industries, resorts, townships etc at the expense of forest/green cover, the necessity to retain the natural forest cover is being ignored.

Whereas the National Forest Policy recommends that 33 per cent of the land mass should be covered by forests and trees for a healthy environment, our practice of continuing to divert forest lands for various 'developmental activities' will bring this percentage much below even the present low level of about 23 per cent in the country.

While there are many illegal activities which are resulting in depletion of forest cover, many legal activities such as monoculture of acacia, rubber plantations etc, forest resorts/jungle lodges, expansion of nearby human habitats into forest areas are hastening the depletion of forests.

Without effectively controlling such activities of forest destruction, GIM cannot have a meaningful role in protecting our environment.

A recent statement by MoEF has indicated that about 33 per cent of the coal reserve belts in the country are in 'no go' areas because they are below thick natural forests. But there are also reports of massive lobbying to permit coal mining in such areas too, in order to cater to a large number of additional coal power plants. Bending the relevant rules to permit coal mining in such areas will reduce the thick forest cover of highest ecological value, which can never be compensated by GIM.

World Charter for Nature was adopted by consensus by UN General Assembly in 1982, which has provided some guiding principles for protecting biodiversity. Some key principles so enunciated are: (i) Activities which are likely to cause irreversible damage to nature should be avoided; (ii) Activities which are likely to pose significant risk to nature shall be preceded by an exhaustive examination; their proponents shall demonstrate that the expected benefits far outweigh potential damage to nature; (iii) Environmental Impact Assessment should be thorough and be carried out in an open and transparent fashion. The international community under UNFCC also has considered 'Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD)' as critical to contain the global warming.

Large size conventional power projects such as coal based or dam based or nuclear based power plants need large tracts of forest area to set up coal/nuclear mines, power plants, reservoirs, transmission lines, staff colonies etc. Pollutants, emissions and wastes from the power plants also have huge deleterious impacts on quality and size of the total forest area in the country. Strong opposition to the proposed Gundia hydel project in Western Ghats should be seen in this context.

It is also deplorable that the Integrated Energy Policy (IEP) without even discussing the impact on our forests and bio-diversity wealth has projected an increase of about 500 per cent in the total installed power capacity in the country by 2031-32.

While the huge impact on our natural resources because of the increase in installed power capacity from a level of about 1,500 mw in 1948 to about 160,000 mw in 2010 is clearly visible, further increase by 5 times in next 20 years is more than likely to devastate the fragile nature of our forests and bio-diversity.

A large number of dam based hydel power projects, which are being planned in many parts of the country will also lead to massive destruction of forests, unacceptable levels of interference in the natural flow of rivers, and will also threaten critical bio-diversity, while also impacting the quality of life because of many social issues.

It is deplorable that IEP has not objectively considered the much benign alternatives available in order to meet the legitimate demand for electricity. In order to protect our forests, green cover and general environment, our society needs a different paradigm of 'development,' and the civil society has to take active participation in decision making processes.

If the estimated budgetary provision of Rs 40,000 Crore on GIM is to be well spent, the ministry of environment and forests will have to take effective steps in conjunction with other concerned ministries and state governments to minimise the destruction of the existing natural forests. (INAV)

Challenges before India horticulture

By Dr. Manoj Nazir

India has become a leading producer of several farm commodities in the world including food grains, fruits, vegetables, milk, fish, egg, meat, cotton, and jute, medicinal and aromatic plants. However, we need not to be satisfied about these statistics. There are many problems faced by agriculture sector that need to be solved on urgency, these include low productivity, high order of drudgery, heavy post harvest losses, non remunerative price structure and unfavorable terms of trade for farmers resulting in heavy debt burden on majority of the producers

Indian agriculture has made a rapid stride in achieving self sufficiency in food recording. Five times increase in production from the base line of 1950-1951, through green revolution. The efforts have resulted in achieving eight times increase in horticulture products. six times in milk and nine times in fish production. This has been possible due to technical interventions as evident from this fact that area has remained static to 142 million hectare for the last 40 years but production has remained manifold. Pressure on cultivatable land for agriculture continues to be high, looking into population growth, decline land and water coupled with challenges of climate change has become a threat to feed the growing population.

The challenges before us are much greater than before, and are to be addressed with strategic approaches utilizing innovations in science and technology

Climate change a cause of concern globally will have impact on horticultural crops, due to erratic rainfall, more demand for water and enhanced biotic and a biotic stresses. However the changes will not only be harmful as enhanced co2 concentration may enhance photosynthesis and increased temperature will have more effect on reproductive biology and reduced water may affect the productivity but adaptive mechanism like time adjustment and productive use of water shall reduce the negative impact and these challenges could be addressed through identification of the gene tolerant to high temperature, flooding and drought, development of nutrient rich cultivars and production system for efficient use of nutrients and water. Strategies have to address the enhanced water efficiency, cultural practices that conserve water and promote crop development of climate resistant crops tolerant to high temperature, moisture stress, salinity and climate proofing through genomics and biotechnology would be essentially required

India is the second largest producer of fruits (68.5 mt.) from 6.10M ha area and contributes 11.2 percent share in global fruit production. Vegetable crops which occupy 8.0Mha has the production of 129.3mt. Cucurbits like pointed guard, spine guard are gaining importance of commerce which has much more value for export for its medicinal and therapeutic uses.

Commercial floriculture sector has recorded fast pace of growth during the last decade and the export has grown manifold and area has expanded to 1, 67,000 ha with production of 9, 87,000MT of loose flower and 4.8 million cut flowers. Floriculture provides ample opportunity both for domestic market and export which includes cut flowers, loose flowers, potted plants, bedding plants, foliage and dry flowers.

Challenges to produce more from less land and water

There has been an impressive growth in horticulture and production has jumped to manifold since independence. But there is need to increase the productivity for meeting the ever increasing demand of nutritious food for increasing population, challenges to feed growing population from receding land and water resources.

The big challenge to attain the food and nutritional security for the increasing population can be met by the improvement in the productivity through genetic enhancement. Our country has germplasm of wide range of horticultural crops. India is endowed with large germplasm pool (72,000 germplasm accessions of cultivated, wild and related texa) with about6000 accession of fruits. 25,400 in vegetables, 15,700 in spices and 10,100 in plantation and tuber crops

Varietal improvement

Many high yielding varieties and hybrids of different horticulture crops have been developed for different regions. Till date 1600 improved high yielding, high quality disease and pest resistant varaties and hybrids have been released for cultivation in diverse agro climatic conditions of the country. Till date197 varieties in fruits; 520 varieties in vegetables: 200 varaties in

Floriculture; 158 in tuberose; 390 in spices and plantation crops: 126 varieties in medicinal and aromatic plants and 5 in mushrooms have been released.

Varieties are being bred for processing qualities such as Khufri Chipsona in potato for chips making, high TSS white onion in NRCOG W 448, grape varieties suitable for wine making, papaya variety for table and papin production are some of the successful research attempts.

The hybrid technology is in the progress of its utilization in several vegetable crops. Presently 0.5 million hectare is under hybrid vegetable cultivation. Keeping in view the dynamic needs, the research efforts in various institutes has focus on development of hybrids and in this direction Biotechnological tools have provided ample scope for the breeder to improve diverse traits, including yield, disease resistance, and a biotic stress tolerance and in this direction protoplast fusion in producing somatic hybrids for developing good root stock is in citrus use of Meristem culture and micro grafting is very successful in citrus for elimination of viruses. Androgenesis is being successfully used in Brinjal, pepper, cabbage, cauliflower, potato, asparagus and carrot and gynogenesis has been successful in onion.

Efforts are in progress at various institutions in India to tackle the issues of managing disease resistance, resistance to insect pest, nutritional quality improvement and to extend shelf life of fruits and vegetables through development of transgenics. Nutritionally improved transgenic potatoes have been obtained by transferring the amaranth seed albumin gene (AmA1) from Amaranathus hypochondriacus in to potato and also succeeded in reversing the sweeting process in potato by using invertase inhibitor gene from tobacco.

Hi-tech. Horticulture

Hi- tech horticulture is deployment of modern technology which is capital intensive, less environment dependent having capacity to improve the productivity and quality of produce. Hi- tech horticulture encompasses a variety of interventions such as micro irrigation, fertigation, protected\ |green house cultivation mulching for in-situ moisture conservation, micro propagation, genetically modified crops, use of vermiculture, high density planting and soil less culture.

Despite achievements in horticulture sector the challenges confronting are still many.



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