Bookmark and Share  

EDITORIAL

Treating Jammu slums

It is encouraging that Revenue, Relief and Rehabilitation Minister has taken note of the need of treating slum areas of Jammu and improving the quality of life of those condemned by destiny to live in slums. He visited just one ward (No. 20) of Balmiki Colony, and found it necessary for him to react to the living conditions in the slum area. Generally the denizens of these slum areas are the poorest of the poor who are deprived of most of the amenities of a normal life. They are the economically weakest segment of society, and remain deprived of education and employment. Theirs is a human problem and the popular government is bound by the constitution of the country to lift them up to proper standard of living. As we take a round of Jammu city and its . .....more

Perils of road traffic

Is Jammu road traffic really incurable or is it the lackadaisical attitude of road traffic authorities that has become the nightmare? Jammu citizens are at a loss to understand what the future of road traffic in the city will be. With streets without scope for widening, with motor vehicles rapidly increasing and with traffic police becoming slack in enforcing traffic rules, it appears a sort of traffic chaos waits the city day in and day out. There is hardly any road and street in the city that is not overcrowded with traffic ending up in long jams. True, a viable solution to the traffic congestion is not the isolated concern of the traffic department only and that several other departments must join heads to find a solution. But deferring a planned solution to the problem is not desirable. Precious lives are lost or maimed as a result of rash driving and road accidents . . ...more

Composite culture – A panacea

By K K Khosa

The litmus test for existence of normalcy in the strife ridden valley is the lasting restoration of a pluralistic society where people belonging to different sections of society and following different religions start living as a composite populace once again. Kashmir, the abode of Rishis and Peers has always been a living example of communal harmony and brotherhood where its people not only had respect for every faith and religion but also celebrated various festivals together with traditional bonhomie. . ...more

Exploring Renewable energy

By Amit Bhalla

It has been said that the only people who can change the world are those who want to. The world needs to move from its current non-renewable energy paradigm to a future powered by entirely renewable energy supply. It is only by making such a transition that we will be in a position to avoid the very worst impacts of climate change. . . . ...more

Falling food prices is not good for agriculture

By Dr Ashwani Mahajan

In the era of rising inflation even a small reduction in prices sounds a big relief to the general public. In the last about 3 years a steady increase in prices of essential commodities has made the life of the common man most miserable. The steady rise in food prices have made the diet vanish from poor man's plate. In week ending April 30, rate of food inflation has come down to ...more

EDITORIAL

Treating Jammu slums

It is encouraging that Revenue, Relief and Rehabilitation Minister has taken note of the need of treating slum areas of Jammu and improving the quality of life of those condemned by destiny to live in slums. He visited just one ward (No. 20) of Balmiki Colony, and found it necessary for him to react to the living conditions in the slum area. Generally the denizens of these slum areas are the poorest of the poor who are deprived of most of the amenities of a normal life. They are the economically weakest segment of society, and remain deprived of education and employment. Theirs is a human problem and the popular government is bound by the constitution of the country to lift them up to proper standard of living. As we take a round of Jammu city and its peripheries, we find that slum areas are mushrooming rapidly and thus the ugliness of the city, once known for its cleanliness and sanitary upkeep is gradually turning into a loathsome slum.
Jammu is now essentially a city of migrants. There is large influx of labour force from UP, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, seeking employment in rapidly growing industrial units sprawling in the outskirts of the city. The employers exploit the poverty of these migratory labourers and engage them on cheap wages. Most of them come with their families and children who also find some daily waging work along with their men folk. With the passage of time some of them have settled down almost in a quasi-permanent state of habitation. Apart from them, there is large scale rural to urban population migration in Jammu. This is because of widespread unemployment among the rural youth and minimum chances of their employment. As they are incapable of renting a livable room within the accessible limits of the city, they prefer to build jhuggis which gives rise to obnoxious slums. Entire industrial and constructional area of Jammu is now turning into a slum with no facilities of drinking water, electricity, sanitation and healthcare. It has to be remembered that migratory labourers are fully protected by the international law and human rights charter that stipulate providing them the basic facilities and requirements of life. Therefore if the Minister has sanctioned some money for the development of Balmiki Colony, he has not done any special favour to them or to the entire body of slum dwellers. As citizens of India they have the right to facilities like water, electricity, healthcare, education etc. Furthermore, the issue of slum dwellers needs to be dealt with in a holistic manner and not by piecemeal treatment. The Government will have to chalk out a uniform policy of improving environmental and living conditions of these slums, and provide relief to the affected people. They are what has usually been conceptualized and people below poverty line. All facilities and concessions sanctioned by the Government at state and central levels should accrue to them especially facilities like subsidized food and medical assistance. As the slum dwellers are mostly labourers, there should be a mechanism with the Government that ensures that they are paid no less than minimum of prescribed wages by their employers. Other facilities like subsidized electric power connection, supply of drinking water, low interest loans for purchase of essential household goods like fans, water coolers, mosquito nets etc. should also accrue to them in order to raise the quality of life. Most important of all is that their children should receive education and illiteracy should be banished. Perhaps NGOs engaged in bringing social awareness to the weaker sections of society have a big responsibility in making education popular among the young kids of slum dwellers. That is the reason why we say that treating the question of expanding slums is not a single phase phenomenon. It has numerous aspects and real conversion of slums into habitable quarters is possible only when all relevant matters connected with the issue are addressed properly. The time has come when the Government should take the entire issue into consideration and invite expert opinion on how to deal with it from the point of view of long terms environmental improvement of Jammu city.

Perils of road traffic

Is Jammu road traffic really incurable or is it the lackadaisical attitude of road traffic authorities that has become the nightmare? Jammu citizens are at a loss to understand what the future of road traffic in the city will be. With streets without scope for widening, with motor vehicles rapidly increasing and with traffic police becoming slack in enforcing traffic rules, it appears a sort of traffic chaos waits the city day in and day out. There is hardly any road and street in the city that is not overcrowded with traffic ending up in long jams. True, a viable solution to the traffic congestion is not the isolated concern of the traffic department only and that several other departments must join heads to find a solution. But deferring a planned solution to the problem is not desirable. Precious lives are lost or maimed as a result of rash driving and road accidents which perhaps could be avoided if the traffic police performed its duty efficiently. There is annual traffic week celebrated by the department but once the celebrations are over, the entire system returns to its original shape. What then is the good of celebrating traffic. At the same time, as the number of vehicles plying on the roads increases manifold within a short time, it become necessary for the traffic police to ensure that only proper and genuine driving licenses are issued to the applicants. Driving after drinking is usually strictly punished in metropolitan cities but one wonders if our traffic police take this into account when enquiring into an accident. The Government should also begin to think of alternative traffic means like tramways that leave no pollution, are less prone to accidents, require minimum maintenance and carry larger number of commuters with more safety and sanitary conditions. A day will come when the state has sufficient electric power to think of shifting to better and more modern means of transportation.

 

 

Composite culture – A panacea

By K K Khosa

The litmus test for existence of normalcy in the strife ridden valley is the lasting restoration of a pluralistic society where people belonging to different sections of society and following different religions start living as a composite populace once again. Kashmir, the abode of Rishis and Peers has always been a living example of communal harmony and brotherhood where its people not only had respect for every faith and religion but also celebrated various festivals together with traditional bonhomie.
The last couple of decades have proved beyond doubt that the sufferings of the people belonging to the valley got compounded due to the breakdown of its composite culture which had been in existence for centuries in stark contrast to some other parts of India where communal clashes have been a routine.
The bonhomie that existed in the valley has been a natural consequence of the strong age old rich culture which developed over more than five thousand years. It is quite natural that any civilization having such a long standing will be mature, stable and everlasting having the depth to assimilate within itself strains of other younger cultures without compromising on its inherent identity.
The unfortunate developments over the last two and a half decades can be attributed to many factors which may include the growth of fundamentalist tendencies in certain sections of society, the introduction of terrorism at the global level as a means to achieve ends, the hegemonistic designs of great powers to control large parts of the globe for material gains, the gradual but steady breakdown of bridges between different communities living in the valley, the general degradation of moral values witnessed among all societies, the pressure of achieving political goals in a democratic setup, the lack of opportunities to earn a decent living, the sense of injustice among some sections of society, the insensitivity towards the fundamentals of our rich culture within certain sections of our leadership and a few more ones of lesser significance. Going by the common perception that a low intensity war has been foisted on the nation by our estranged neighbor for the last more than two decades one thing that stands out in bold relief is that although there have been no winners and yet the losers include Pakistan, India and worst of all the people of J & K who despite being Indian Nationals have suffered more than their other counterparts.
Coming to the state of J&K the sufferings have been galore. The quantum of deaths, destruction of property and incidences of homelessness has perhaps few parallels in world history. Not even a single home in the valley has remained unscathed. As a consequence a large section of its inhabitants both, presently living in the valley or living outside of it, have contracted serious ailments, physical as well as mental. On the growth and development front the state has retarded by at least twenty years if not more and cannot hope to match the other states of the nation in the near future. As a corollary the unemployment amongst the youth has reached alarming proportions. In such a milieu they have become easy prey for poachers who lead them astray and initiate them on the path of extremism whose only consequence is untimely death and destruction.
The economy of the state which is heavily dependent on the funds provided by the central govt. has suffered badly. The strangulation of the tourism sector has resulted in an income loss to many who have been dependent on it for decades. The Hoteliers and Shikarawalas, the Cabbies and the travel agents have had to bear the brunt. The local artisans have also got affected due to the turmoil. The turmoil in the valley has affected the trade and commerce of the other regions of the state as well thereby wrecking the economy of the state. With this kind of milieu obtaining, it is high time the people of the state wake up and try to reverse the trend and put the state back on the path of peace and progress so that we leave a healthy legacy otherwise the blame for the complete destruction of this beautiful state will lie squarely on our shoulders. Let us resolve to keep aside the intractable issues that have been agitating us for the last six decades for the time being and first put our house in order to check this holocaust.
The importance of a composite culture in the valley can be gauged from the fact that even centuries ago, saints of the genre of Lal Ded and Sheikh- ul- Alam propagated the concept of equality of religions and religious tolerance since the basic tenets of all religions preach more or less the same thing. They propagated that one should not think in terms of Hindus and Muslims but only in terms of human beings. More recent is the example of the Dogra rulers in the state where large jagirs were allotted to many Rajput Hindus for settling down in the valley which already had a substantial number of Pandits and Sikhs residing in peaceful coexistence with the Muslims. Even the tallest of the political leaders Kashmir has produced after the Maharajas rule gave way to a democratic polity also visualized the importance of a pluralistic society in Kashmir in order to serve its long term interests. Sheikh Mohamed Abdullah not only converted his Muslim Conference into National Conference but at the time of the tribal raids in 1948 organised the timely defense of the valley. He also ensured the security of the small minority of Pandits living there. Notwithstanding the fact that years later in his book Aatish-e-Chinar he described the Pandits as fifth columnists yet during his time the composite culture of the valley remained intact.
The unfortunate happenings of the last two decades have come as a rude shock. The once bright image of the valley in the eyes of the Indian nation needs to be restored. The interests of Kashmiris of all hues who have suffered immense hardships during this period need to be safeguarded. Maej Kasheer has enough resources and capacity to look after her children so none should have any anxiety in this regard. No one should have any fears that if composite culture is restored there will be dearth of opportunities for the youth. Yet all this is achievable only if the leadership of the state inculcates such a vision in its functioning and if the spirit of forgiveness permeates every individual who has undergone suffering during this period. There have to be no questions asked and no answers required to be given.

Exploring Renewable energy

By Amit Bhalla

It has been said that the only people who can change the world are those who want to. The world needs to move from its current non-renewable energy paradigm to a future powered by entirely renewable energy supply. It is only by making such a transition that we will be in a position to avoid the very worst impacts of climate change. A large number of leaders across the world from within the policy arena, business, media and civil society are questioning the views of conventional experts on the world's energy future and their business as usual scenarios, embarking on a serious search for realistic alternatives. The world has reached peak conventional oil and gas consumption, meaning thereby oil and gas companies are digging deeper and deeper into unconventional sources, with disastrous environmental and social consequences. Coal is still relatively readily available but catastrophic in terms of climate changing emissions. The world can no longer afford to hang on its old energy paradigm and its dangerous dependence on fossil fuels.
The Energy Report, produced through a joint effort of WWF and Ecofys, breaks new ground in the energy debate; a possible system in which all of the world's energy supply is provided by renewable sources by 2050. The Energy Report shows that this future is within our reach and provides a vital insight into how it can be achieved. The report puts together strategies and technology options that have already been put in practice to create a feasible global scenario. WWF wants to help change the old paradigm for the energy and articulate a new pathway for the future.
Renewables will play a greater role than either nuclear or carbon capture and storage by 2050. About 13 per cent of the world's energy come from renewable sources in 2008, a proportion likely to have risen as countries have built their capacity since then, with china leading the investment surge, particularly in wind energy. But by far the greatest source of renewable energy used globally at present is burning biomass- about 10 per cent of the global energy supply which is problematic because it can cause deforestation, leads to deposit of soot that accelerate global warming and cooking fires cause indoor air pollution that harm health. Wind power by contrast met about 2 per cent of global electricity demand in 2009, and could increase to more than 20 per cent by 2050.
Renewable energy is already growing fast- of the 300-giga watts (remember one gigawatt is equivalent to 1000 megawatts) of new electricity generation capacity added globally between 2008 and 2009; about 140 GW came from renewable sources such as wind and solar power. The investment that will be needed to meet the greenhouse gas emissions targets is likely to amount to about $ 5 trillion in the next decade, rising to $ 7 trillion from 2021 to 2030. Developing countries have an important stake in the future- this is where most of the 1.4 billion people without access to electricity live yet also where some of the best conditions exist for renewable energy deployment. Renewable energy can also meet the growing demand of developing countries where over 2 billion people lack access to basic energy services and can also do so at a more cost-competitive and faster rate than conventional energy sources.
Today, we do not use energy in a judicious manner. More than half the heats we pump into our homes disappear through walls, windows and roofs- yet we know how to construct buildings that require virtually no energy for heating or cooling. We favor big, powerful private cars over far more efficient forms of transport. Energy-hungry appliances clog the market, even though there is a wide range of efficient alternatives available. Manufacturers could use far less energy by reassessing their materials and processes. Energy conservation is something every one can embrace. We simply require to start making wise choices today. Nuclear meltdown in Japan after powerful earthquake in March 2011 clearly reveals why society should no longer bear the risks of nuclear disaster. And that is why it is clear now than ever before that the energy of future for the safer, more prudent society will come from renewable energy. The more we use renewable energy, the more we benefit the environment, strengthen our energy security, create jobs locally and help improve our economy. Here we can explore ways to use renewable energy.
Using Biomass Energy
Ever since humans started burning wood to keep warm and to cook food, we have been using biomass energy. Today we can also use biomass to fuel vehicles, generate electricity and developed bio-based products. Here we can explore the different ways to use biomass energy. For instance, by using fuel for vehicle with ethanol or biodiesel, using clean electricity generated from biomass, using products like plastics made from biomass.
Using Hydrogen
Hydrogen- a colorless and odorless gas is the most abundant element in the universe. However, because it combines easily with other elements, it is rarely found by itself in nature. Hydrogen usually combines with other elements, forming organic compounds called hydrocarbons. Hydrocarbons include plant material and fossil fuels such as petroleum, natural gas and coal. Water is produced during the burning of any hydrocarbon. Hydrogen can be separated from hydrocarbon through the burning of heat- a process known as reforming. Currently, most hydrogen is made this way from natural gas. An electric current can also be used to separate water into its components of oxygen and hydrogen. This process is known as electrolysis. Currently, hydrogen has great potential as a power source for fuel cells. Hydrogen fuel cells can provide heat for homes and buildings, generate electricity and power vehicles.
Using Hydropower
Flowing water creates energy that can be tapped and turned into electricity. This is called hydropower or hydroelectric power. If we have access to flowing water on our property, we can use a micro hydropower system to generate our own electricity. Micro hydropower system usually generate up to 100 Kilowatt (KW) of electricity.
Using Solar Energy
If we step outside on a hot, sunny day, and we will experience the power of sun's heat and the light. We can use solar energy to heat our homes through passive solar design or an active solar heating system. We can also use it to generate our own electricity. We can use it to heat water in our home or swimming pool. We can use it to light our home both indoors and outdoors.
Using Wind Energy
We have harnessed the wind's energy for hundreds of years- from windmills that pump water or grind grain to today's wind turbines that generate electricity. If you live on at least one acre of land with an ample wind resource, you can generate your own electricity using a small wind electric system. You can also use a small wind turbine for pumping water. You may have the opportunity now or in the future to buy clean electricity from a wind power plant.
One thing that looks imminent is the fact that the future belongs to renewable energy. Scientists and industry expert may disagree over how long the world's supply of oil and natural gas will last, but one thing is for sure that it will rather sooner or later exhaust.

Falling food prices is not good for agriculture

By Dr Ashwani Mahajan


It has been said that the only people who can change the world are those who want to. The world needs to move from its current non-renewable energy paradigm to a future powered by entirely renewable energy supply. It is only by making such a transition that we will be in a position to avoid the very worst impacts of climate change. A large number of leaders across the world from within the policy arena, business, media and civil society are questioning the views of conventional experts on the world's energy future and their business as usual scenarios, embarking on a serious search for realistic alternatives. The world has reached peak conventional oil and gas consumption, meaning thereby oil and gas companies are digging deeper and deeper into unconventional sources, with disastrous environmental and social consequences. Coal is still relatively readily available but catastrophic in terms of climate changing emissions. The world can no longer afford to hang on its old energy paradigm and its dangerous dependence on fossil fuels.
The Energy Report, produced through a joint effort of WWF and Ecofys, breaks new ground in the energy debate; a possible system in which all of the world's energy supply is provided by renewable sources by 2050. The Energy Report shows that this future is within our reach and provides a vital insight into how it can be achieved. The report puts together strategies and technology options that have already been put in practice to create a feasible global scenario. WWF wants to help change the old paradigm for the energy and articulate a new pathway for the future.
Renewables will play a greater role than either nuclear or carbon capture and storage by 2050. About 13 per cent of the world's energy come from renewable sources in 2008, a proportion likely to have risen as countries have built their capacity since then, with china leading the investment surge, particularly in wind energy. But by far the greatest source of renewable energy used globally at present is burning biomass- about 10 per cent of the global energy supply which is problematic because it can cause deforestation, leads to deposit of soot that accelerate global warming and cooking fires cause indoor air pollution that harm health. Wind power by contrast met about 2 per cent of global electricity demand in 2009, and could increase to more than 20 per cent by 2050.
Renewable energy is already growing fast- of the 300-giga watts (remember one gigawatt is equivalent to 1000 megawatts) of new electricity generation capacity added globally between 2008 and 2009; about 140 GW came from renewable sources such as wind and solar power. The investment that will be needed to meet the greenhouse gas emissions targets is likely to amount to about $ 5 trillion in the next decade, rising to $ 7 trillion from 2021 to 2030. Developing countries have an important stake in the future- this is where most of the 1.4 billion people without access to electricity live yet also where some of the best conditions exist for renewable energy deployment. Renewable energy can also meet the growing demand of developing countries where over 2 billion people lack access to basic energy services and can also do so at a more cost-competitive and faster rate than conventional energy sources.
Today, we do not use energy in a judicious manner. More than half the heats we pump into our homes disappear through walls, windows and roofs- yet we know how to construct buildings that require virtually no energy for heating or cooling. We favor big, powerful private cars over far more efficient forms of transport. Energy-hungry appliances clog the market, even though there is a wide range of efficient alternatives available. Manufacturers could use far less energy by reassessing their materials and processes. Energy conservation is something every one can embrace. We simply require to start making wise choices today. Nuclear meltdown in Japan after powerful earthquake in March 2011 clearly reveals why society should no longer bear the risks of nuclear disaster. And that is why it is clear now than ever before that the energy of future for the safer, more prudent society will come from renewable energy. The more we use renewable energy, the more we benefit the environment, strengthen our energy security, create jobs locally and help improve our economy. Here we can explore ways to use renewable energy.
Using Biomass Energy
Ever since humans started burning wood to keep warm and to cook food, we have been using biomass energy. Today we can also use biomass to fuel vehicles, generate electricity and developed bio-based products. Here we can explore the different ways to use biomass energy. For instance, by using fuel for vehicle with ethanol or biodiesel, using clean electricity generated from biomass, using products like plastics made from biomass.
Using Hydrogen
Hydrogen- a colorless and odorless gas is the most abundant element in the universe. However, because it combines easily with other elements, it is rarely found by itself in nature. Hydrogen usually combines with other elements, forming organic compounds called hydrocarbons. Hydrocarbons include plant material and fossil fuels such as petroleum, natural gas and coal. Water is produced during the burning of any hydrocarbon. Hydrogen can be separated from hydrocarbon through the burning of heat- a process known as reforming. Currently, most hydrogen is made this way from natural gas. An electric current can also be used to separate water into its components of oxygen and hydrogen. This process is known as electrolysis. Currently, hydrogen has great potential as a power source for fuel cells. Hydrogen fuel cells can provide heat for homes and buildings, generate electricity and power vehicles.
Using Hydropower
Flowing water creates energy that can be tapped and turned into electricity. This is called hydropower or hydroelectric power. If we have access to flowing water on our property, we can use a micro hydropower system to generate our own electricity. Micro hydropower system usually generate up to 100 Kilowatt (KW) of electricity.
Using Solar Energy
If we step outside on a hot, sunny day, and we will experience the power of sun's heat and the light. We can use solar energy to heat our homes through passive solar design or an active solar heating system. We can also use it to generate our own electricity. We can use it to heat water in our home or swimming pool. We can use it to light our home both indoors and outdoors.
Using Wind Energy
We have harnessed the wind's energy for hundreds of years- from windmills that pump water or grind grain to today's wind turbines that generate electricity. If you live on at least one acre of land with an ample wind resource, you can generate your own electricity using a small wind electric system. You can also use a small wind turbine for pumping water. You may have the opportunity now or in the future to buy clean electricity from a wind power plant.
One thing that looks imminent is the fact that the future belongs to renewable energy. Scientists and industry expert may disagree over how long the world's supply of oil and natural gas will last, but one thing is for sure that it will rather sooner or later exhaust.

Falling food prices is not good for agriculture

By Dr Ashwani Mahajan

In the era of rising inflation even a small reduction in prices sounds a big relief to the general public. In the last about 3 years a steady increase in prices of essential commodities has made the life of the common man most miserable. The steady rise in food prices have made the diet vanish from poor man's plate. In week ending April 30, rate of food inflation has come down to 7.7 percent compared to 8.63 percent a week earlier and 21 percent a year back.
How food inflation came down?
Last year in 2009-10 Rabi crop was extremely poor, due to which wheat production to only 89 million tonnes and pulses production to only 14.6 million tonnes. Wheat production was less by10 percent in the year 2009-10, as compared to 2008-09, while pulses production was also less than before. Growing demand on the one hand and declining production on the other naturally lead to high rate of food inflation. Bad monsoon may be cited as the main cause of decline in production during 2009-10, but data clearly reveals that the production of food in Country now has almost subsided a bit. Per capita availability of food grains which was 510 grams per person per day, in 1990-91, has now come down to only 436 grams. Continued neglect of agriculture by the Government and declining availability of agricultural land due to diversion of cultivable land in the name urbanisation or industrialistion have been the major causes for ailing agriculture. Food grains production has increased due to good monsoon this year, but future is not very bright for agriculture, in view of declining food prices due to unsupportive attitude of the Government in terms procurements and resulting slump in agricultural prices.
Need for Remunerative Prices of Agricultural Products
Last year better procurement of food grains and higher prices of fruit, vegetables and pulses last year encouraged farmers to grow more crops. Today, agriculture is no longer a beneficial business. In a country where average productivity per hectare in case of wheat is 29 quintals and 22 quintals in case of rice and hardly 6 quintals in case of pulses, given continuously increasing cost of cultivation, one hardly finds this profession lucrative any more. Today the farmer is getting hardly Rs. 1000 to 1100 per quintal of wheat from the market. Even we get Rs. 1200 per quintal from the market, per hectare total revenue for the wheat farmer would be only Rs. 34800. If we take account of the costs in the form of seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, irrigation and wages, he would be hardly left with any positive return. It is true that in a dynamic economic changes keep on taking place and some professions lose their attraction and some other trades take their place. But such can not be the case with agriculture. This profession can not be left to the operations of the market forces and be allowed to die. Today food security of the nation primarily depends upon agriculture. We are not a small country like Somalia or Botswana. With a total population of more than 121 crores, food cannot be provided by imports. No country of the world is in position to our continuously increasing population. If history is any guide we learn that when ever we have thought of importing wheat from abroad, price of wheat had increased heavily internationally. Therefore we need to save this profession of agriculture at any cost, including all types of incentives including remunerative prices.
Last year prices of food grains, fruits, vegetables and pulses increased manifold, taking price of onion to Rs. 60 to 70 per kg, some pulses to Rs. 100 per kg. Similar was the situation with regard to other vegetables, fruits and food grains. In fact this kind of increase in the prices can not be justified, as they come as a heavy burden for general public. But the benefit of increased prices of these items could not benefit the farmers as they lacked holding capacity and ware housing and cold storage facilities. Benefit of this inflation was in fact reaped by the traders and hoarders. But this is also true that increase in prices of agricultural produce, definitely encouraged farmers to produce more. But good crop this year in fact is becoming instrumental to the miseries of the farmers, as they are forced to sell their wheat at less than even support price of the Government and potatoes at Rs. 2 to Rs. 3 per kg in absence of any support price for potatoes. If this year good crop does not benefit the farmers, how can we expect better produce next year (in absence of any incentive).
Decline in agricultural prices - a threat
Whether due to market forces or neglect of the government, decline in price of food products recently is not a good sign for agriculture in future. Today in our Country more than about 50 percent population directly depends on agriculture. But the share of agriculture in national income is only 14.6 percent. This share of agriculture in national income was 45 percent in 1970-71. This means that non-remunerative prices of agricultural produce have been eroding the income of those engaged in agriculture. Today the prices at which farmers are forced to sell their produce do not even cover their cost.There is no doubt that agricultural business is still the most risky business than any other business. Excess of rain or less rain or hail showers for all types of natural disasters affect agriculture. As farmers tend to get non remunerative prices, they remain poor. Today farmers are committing suicides in large number due to rising farm costs and crop failures due to natural disasters. So far more than the two lakh farmers have committed suicide.
Today it is imperative to keep agriculture in good health at any cost. For this it is essential to make agriculture a profitable business. It is the responsibility of Government to make sure that farmers get remunerative prices as and when they bring agri- produce to the market. The current system of agricultural prices does not serve the purpose. Decline in food prices may give a very temporary relief from inflation but it may endanger food security of the nation. We need a permanent arrangement of pricing of agriculture produce whereby the Government ensures that farmer gets remunerative price for his crop.
(The author is Associate Professor, PGDAV College, University of Delhi)

| home | state | national | business| editorial | advertisement | sports |
|
international | weather | mailbag | suggestions | search | subscribe | send mail |