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EDITORIAL

Ladakh on top

Located at a height of 11000 feet above sea level and encircled by the Himalayan Peaks, the plateau of Ladakh is fast becoming a much favoured and popular place for mountaineers all over the world. It is called the second roof of the world after Tibet. An unexpected boost in mountaineering expeditions of foreign adventurers has opened a new window on the economy of the region if the industry is properly handled. According to the in-charge of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation, Leh, Sonam Wangyal, as many as 430 expeditions have visited the open zone areas of Ladakh till August. The number of expeditions has also increased from 297 last year to 430 this year. Due to easy accessibility and a few regulations, Stok Kangri in the Zanskar Range and Mentok Kangri in the Korzok valley, among other peaks, have been popular with mountaineers. Stok Kangri is famous among the mountaineers for viewing Nanga Parbat, Mount Kailash and the Nun Kun peak. The chairman of the Adventure .....more

Travel advisory

Accompanied by a team of senior officers of the Mission, the British Deputy High Commissioner in New Delhi is on a tour of the State. The State Minister of Tourism has desired that the British Government withdraw the adverse travel advisory for British tourists to J&K because of improved security situation. It is reminded that owing to the terrorist activities in Kashmir, the British High Commission did not want to put the lives of British nationals and tourists to Kashmir to risk. As such, they had issued advisory with the view to guide and warn the touring teams. Germany has already lifted the adverse travel advisory .....more

Vocational education in India

By Suraj Saraf

‘‘Central public sector enterprises should accord high priority to developing humanskills,'' emphasised recently President Pratibha Patil.
Consequently a big boost to vocational education has been planned by the Center under National Vocational Education Qualifications Framework.. . .. .
...more

Increasing suicides
Dire need for counselling

By Dhurjati Mukherjee

Suicides have increased in most parts of the world and India is no exception. According to estimates, a many as 1.2 lakh people commit suicides every year in India and over four lakh attempt it. A majority of then have been found to be suffering from some sort of mental disorder. Such shocking figures have forced the Union Health Ministry to consider a special suicide . ...more

Sustain soil fertility for productivity

By Prof (Dr) R D Gupta

‘‘The continued prosperity and well being of the peasants of any Nation relies on several factors, one of the most important being the sustenance of the level of soil fertility of their farms’’.
‘‘Soil fertility is defined as the ability of the soil to supply with plants all the essential plant nutrients in available form in right amount and suitable balance''. Although plants contain small amount of 90 or more elements yet only 16 of them are known to be essential for the growth and reproduction of higher plants.
An essential element must satisfy the following three criteria... .
...more

EDITORIAL

Ladakh on top

Located at a height of 11000 feet above sea level and encircled by the Himalayan Peaks, the plateau of Ladakh is fast becoming a much favoured and popular place for mountaineers all over the world. It is called the second roof of the world after Tibet. An unexpected boost in mountaineering expeditions of foreign adventurers has opened a new window on the economy of the region if the industry is properly handled. According to the in-charge of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation, Leh, Sonam Wangyal, as many as 430 expeditions have visited the open zone areas of Ladakh till August. The number of expeditions has also increased from 297 last year to 430 this year. Due to easy accessibility and a few regulations, Stok Kangri in the Zanskar Range and Mentok Kangri in the Korzok valley, among other peaks, have been popular with mountaineers. Stok Kangri is famous among the mountaineers for viewing Nanga Parbat, Mount Kailash and the Nun Kun peak. The chairman of the Adventure Tour Operators Association, Tsewang Mutup, said a total of 23 expeditions had been conducted till now in the restricted areas of Ladakh. However, three expeditions had visited the Karakorum Range in the Nubra valley. A boost to foreign mountaineering expeditions has happened because firstly the Indian Mountaineering Foundation has, on the nod of the Defence and External Affairs Ministries, thrown open some more peaks to the mountaineers. Secondly the commutation is better facilitated today than what was available previously. However, the MEA and Tourism Ministry both have to accelerate their activity in giving wider publicity to expanded scope of mountaineering and tourism in Ladakh region. Tourism can become a component of mountaineering expeditions. A comprehensive plan for giving impetus to Ladakh Mountaineering has to be formulated with the participation of local mountaineers. The base camps for scaling the newly opened peaks will need to be provided with adequate infrastructure, camp accommodation, board and lodging facilities, equipment, medical facilities, guidance and scouting services etc. The number of direct daily air flights between New Delhi/Chandigarh/Srinagar/Mumbai and Ladakh shall have to be increased and streamlined. Security arrangements have to be made foolproof and there should be no laxities in making tourists observe the rules and regulations of mountaineering. The project of boring a tunnel in Zoji La should be speeded up because the foreign tourists and mountaineers would love to enjoy the breath taking view of the entire region as one moves along the picturesque landscape. Ladakh's overland link with other parts of the country through Himachal has also to be speeded up. It has to be remembered that still much of Ladakh remains undiscovered and mountaineering is one sector which could have the potential of changing the economy of the region provided necessary infrastructure is in place. There is also the need of further easing travel regulations for foreigners. Despite the opening of additional peaks with the grant of security clearance for mountaineering last year, Ladakh still remains the second unexplored place in the world. A suggestion from local mountaineering official is that there should be an equal number of Indians in the foreign expeditions and a liaison officer as the representative of the Indian Government. The expenses of Indian members should be borne by the foreign expedition. Dr C Rangarajan, who headed an expert group on Jammu and Kashmir, has mentioned in his report about the scope of mountaineering in Ladakh. He has recommended the formulation of tourist-friendly policies to encourage tourism by reviewing various security restrictions. The time has come when Ladakh has to be on top.

Travel advisory

Accompanied by a team of senior officers of the Mission, the British Deputy High Commissioner in New Delhi is on a tour of the State. The State Minister of Tourism has desired that the British Government withdraw the adverse travel advisory for British tourists to J&K because of improved security situation. It is reminded that owing to the terrorist activities in Kashmir, the British High Commission did not want to put the lives of British nationals and tourists to Kashmir to risk. As such, they had issued advisory with the view to guide and warn the touring teams. Germany has already lifted the adverse travel advisory and with that the number of German tourists to Jammu and Kashmir has increased manifold. UK could follow suit and once she withdraws the adverse advisory, it will open Jammu and Kashmir to the tourists from Commonwealth countries like Australia, New Zealand and Canada. The Tourism Minister apprised the British Deputy High Commissioner about various tourism promotion measures undertaken by the Government. He told him that the main focus was on bringing the virgin tourism places on the world tourism map. The creation of a world-class tourism infrastructure was also the government's priority. Jora said the Government had established 20 tourism development authorities to exploit the vast tourism potential of the state. "Our motto is to diversify the tourism itinerary to newer and virgin tourist places like Bangus, Gurez, Doodpathri, Verinag, Kokernag, Aharhbal, Wullar and Manasbal, besides the main tourist destinations of Gulmarg and Pahalgam," he said.
Britain is no novice to visualizing tourist potential of the State. Many seniors at the British High Commission in New Delhi have been visiting Kashmir in their individual capacity. Tourist spots like Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Dachhigam are the creation of the British residents during early days of Dogra rule. Moreover UK keeps close watch of situation in the State. This has emboldened the State Minister for Tourism to press for lifting of adverse travel advisory. As the tourist industry in the State is widening its scope and bringing more and more tourist spots on its tourist map, it should be an attraction for globe trotters to experience pleasure trips to these new tourist destinations. However it needs to be said that the State Government shall have to take special care of two components of the industry: one is of proper publicity in foreign countries about the potential of J&K tourism, and the second is providing adequate tourist infrastructure and specialized services.

Vocational education in India

By Suraj Saraf

‘‘Central public sector enterprises should accord high priority to developing humanskills,'' emphasised recently President Pratibha Patil.
Consequently a big boost to vocational education has been planned by the Center under National Vocational Education Qualifications Framework.
For that purpose Central Government has planned to pump in over Rs 7500 crore to set up 1500 new ITIs and 5000 skill development centres in the country.
Government would set up each of the 1500 ITIs at a cost of Rs 2.5 crore while it will spend Rs 75 lakh on each skill develop centre.
All that had been planned by the Government of India in consultation with states education ministers for strengthening vocational education at all levels.
Expressing concern over lack of respect for vocational education, Central HRD Minister Kapil Sibal had called for a need to change the mindset. ''As the vocational education was the key towards improving the country's economy.'' He had pointed out that often the stigma attached by society vocational education dissuades parents from allowing their wards to pursue the stream.
‘‘To build a particular expertise the industry should come forward and ask the ministry to set up higher education institutes where such expertise is required. For increasing investment in this sector significantly, we are setting up an Educational Finance Corporation to help investment in education for refinancing facilities on long term very low rates on priority. Education implies expansion, inclusion and excellence,'' said the minister.
Comparing the enrolment rate in India vis-a-vis developed countries, the minister said that to reach the standard India requires additional 1000 universities and 45000 colleges. ''It is a gargantuan task. What we need is not help in building a few universities but a large scale investment in the next 10 to 20 years,'' he underlined.
Sibal want to emphasise, ''It is important that state ministers support us in our endeavour. If we want to prepare fifty crore children for employment by 2022, which is a national priority, then states and centre have to work together and industry should also cooperate.
''The vocational framework should set common principles and guidelines for a nationally recognised qualification system, covering schools, vocational education institutes and institutes of higher education with qualifications ranging from higher secondary to doctoral level, leading to the international recognition of national standards.
''The framework would be competency based modular approach with provision for credit accumulation and transfer. Students would have the scope for vertical and horizontal mobility entry and exits.''
Educational institutions should also allow their premises to be used after working hours for skill development.
In order to have the widest possible consensus on the important subject, a meeting had been convened attended by 17 states education ministers and secretaries, heads of UC, AICTE, IGNOU, NCERT, NUEPA, CBSC and NICS and representatives of the Skill Development Corporation and from ASSOCHEM, CII and FICCI.
The HRD Ministry had also consulted several sectors on vocational education curriculum. Meanwhile Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee while addressing National Skill Development Corporation had said,'' India was faced with a major challenge of creating a skilled workforce of 150 million by 2022.''
Stressing on the need for private sector participation in creating required skilled manpower with technical knowhow Mukherjee underscored ''The Government alone can not meet this challenge participation of private sector had been mandated through National Skill Development Council (NSDC).
Emphasising the need for streamlining content and curriculum development setting up of competency standards, assessment and certification of trainees and accreditation of certifying entities, Finance Minister advised NSDC to develop these benchmarks in line with the international best practices to ensure that the demographic dividend of India is leveraged to meet the skill needs in other countries and jurisdictions.
The Finance Minister also emphasised on NSDC to play more pro-active role in this regard in the coming times in terms of formation of sector skills and tie-ups with Industry associations. Alongside he also stressed on the need to generate, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.
Mr Mukherjee also pointed out that the incremental skilled workforce requirement in 20 high growth segments and the unorganised sector would by 240 to 250 million till 2022, ''It is going to be a challenging task to bridge this skill gap. Obviously Government alone can not achieve target.''
It was in realisation of the need to bridge this huge skill gap that the NSCD was set up as a joint venture between the Government and industrial associations that was expected to play nodal role in the project. Industry bodies such as CII, FICCI and CITI which are stakeholders have also put forward proposals to open new skill development centres.
Since its inception NSDC had approved nine raining projects. Several more are also on the anvil, said the Finance Minister who had also inked on agreement for forming a joint venture between NSDC and Centum Learning, an association company of Bharti Enterprises. The Venture Centum Work Skill India Ltd has plans to open 383 centres to train 1.5 crore youth in the technical skills by 2022, emphasised the Finance Minister.

Increasing suicides
Dire need for counselling

By Dhurjati Mukherjee

Suicides have increased in most parts of the world and India is no exception. According to estimates, a many as 1.2 lakh people commit suicides every year in India and over four lakh attempt it. A majority of then have been found to be suffering from some sort of mental disorder. Such shocking figures have forced the Union Health Ministry to consider a special suicide prevention programme that would counsel and protect depressed patients. Sadly, nothing tangible has yet come out so far.
According to latest reports released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), suicides rose by 1.7 per cent compared to 2008. Bengal topped the list with 14,648 cases followed by Andhra Pradesh (14,500), Tamil Nadu (14,424), Maharashtra (14,300) and Karnataka (12,195). These five States accounted for over 55 per cent of total suicides. Among the metro cities, Bangalore topped the recorded the highest suicide rate with 2167 people killing themselves in 2009 followed by Chennai (1417), Delhi (1215) and Mumbai (1051).
Further the report found that on a day-to-day basis, 73 Indians commit suicides daily because of health problems and related economic issues. Eight Indians commit suicide due to poverty, nine related to bankruptcy and seven because of unemployment. The number of suicides unemployment and career problems showed a relatively higher increase of 18.1 and 15.1 respectively. However family problems and illness accounted for 44.7 per cent of all suicides in the country.
As society is progressing and becoming modern, such incidences have been on the rise, specially among the young generation. The reasons for such increase have been the subject of many surveys and investigations of sociologists and psychologists, who attribute it these to the induction of materialist culture in society. To the common man, it would logically appear that with spread of education and knowledge as also prosperity and better living standards, suicides should at least not increase, if not come down over a period of time.
The changing society and with it the value system has clearly had an adverse effect on the young generation. The indirect effects of the change are the yearning to do or get something which may not be achievable and in the process become frustrated. Added to this are family problems, employment and/or career problems, the low levels of tolerance and patience in the human individual, which was earlier quite high in religious-oriented societies. The NCRB report pointed out: "It is observed that social and economic causes have led most of the males to commit suicides whereas emotional and personal problems have mainly driven women to end their lives". Whatever may be the reasons, which are of course quite varied and difficult to comprehend, it is a fact that such a trend is quite unhealthy for our society.
Surveys in the western countries have revealed that depression amongst the youth is the main cause for suicidal tendencies. In India too, we have witnessed an increasing suicidal tendency among students because of either failure in examinations or an uncertain future. Besides, there is a high increase in suicide rates over love affairs and/or pre-marital sex which are mostly manifest in the metropolises. A modern society has complicated life and brought with it related problems, which result in a craving to get what one wants without realizing its social consequences.
A fall-out of these trends is depression, an off shoot of hypertension, which has been identified as the fourth largest health problem by the WHO. In India, depression is widespread as 15 per cent of men and 20 per cent of women suffer from the disorder. By 2020 or even earlier, it is likely to rank second after heart diseases. This has been the finding of a study, published in Lancet which has further revealed that depression has more impact on the physical health of those who suffer from it than chronic diseases like diabetes, arthritis, and epilepsy.
The complexity of the disease, which manifests itself in feelings of intense sadness, worthlessness, pessimism and reduced emotional well-being, stems from the fact that a number of brain areas are affected by it. In cases of prolonged depression, it has resulted in increasing suicides (and, of course, divorces and separation) which can easily be attributed to psychological problems influenced by tension in office, family and social and even community life.
The failures to achieve targets in office and not being considered for quick promotion (by superseding other colleagues), to get to the top by hook or by crook, to win contracts (even after bribing), in love affairs and win over the opposite sex as bed partners have all resulted in terrible stress and tension. In turn, this has had an adverse effect on children, who do not find their parents in the house after office hours (obviously attending late night parties), and behaving abnormally and frequently quarrelling or fighting. Even the ideal home environment has been lost as all actions of individuals are linked to material gain or loss.
While the decline of social and moral values has become a major factor in the erosion of happiness in human life and society and increase in suicides, this has been accentuated by an increasing and unachievable target and the quest to earn much more. Jealousy and hatred has increased due to severe competition in all fields and the thirst for more and more. These developments, not compatible with social standards have truly messed up healthy relationships and taken away happiness.---INFA

Sustain soil fertility for productivity

By Prof (Dr) R D Gupta

‘‘The continued prosperity and well being of the peasants of any Nation relies on several factors, one of the most important being the sustenance of the level of soil fertility of their farms’’.
‘‘Soil fertility is defined as the ability of the soil to supply with plants all the essential plant nutrients in available form in right amount and suitable balance''. Although plants contain small amount of 90 or more elements yet only 16 of them are known to be essential for the growth and reproduction of higher plants.
An essential element must satisfy the following three criteria:-
* A deficiency of such an element makes impossible for the plant to complete its life cycle.
* Such deficiency is specific to the element and can be corrected only by supplying this element.
* The element is directly involved in the nutrition of the plant quite apart from its possible effects in correcting some unfavourable microbal or chemical condition of the soil.
Out of the essential nutrients, if any one of them is deficient in soil, it must be provided since its deficiency in soil will limit the crop growth and eventually the soil productivity. Soil productivity, indicating inherent ability or capacity of the soil to produce crops, includes the soil fertility, good management practices availability of water supply and suitable climate. Thus, the soil fertility denotes the status of available nutrients present in soil, while soil productivity connotes the resultant of various factors influencing crop production.
Higher and higher crop productivity crop yield is essential for the feeding of an increasing population, which is presently about 7 billion of the world. In India alone, the population has become 1.21 billions as per the census of March 2011. Hence, the soil fertility of the farms of the peasants should not only be maintained but also be constantly ameliorated to reap rich harvests. Imbalanced use of chemical fertilizers during green revolution has declined the soil fertility, which has resulted into poor harvest in crops especially rice and wheat cropping system. It was discernible to the occurrence of deficiency both of macro (Ca, Mg,S) and micro nutrients (Fe, Mn, Cu, Zn, Mo and B) in many Indian soils. Continuous use of nitrogenous fertilizer alone has made many soils acidic. In the years to come deficiency of Zn would further magnify and that of other micronutrients like Fe, Mn and Cu would crop up if inherently poor soils are continuously exploited even at this level of production.
Methods to enhance soil fertility
To get rich harvests, the farmers are required to apply manures and fertilizers. Many of the farmers especially those, who were growing rice and wheat during green revolution, relied heavily on chemical fertilizers to increase the soil fertility. A rice-wheat rotation yielding nearly 889 ha-1 year-1 removes 663 kg N, P2O5 and K2O and several kg of micronutrients causing a serious drain on the plant nutrients reserve in soil. It, therefore, becomes imperative for the farmers to apply N, P2O5 and K2O back into the soil to obtain higher yield of various crops, vegetables and fruit trees.
Most of the farmers, however, apply only nitrogenous fertilizer i.e urea as other fertilizers, being costly are beyond their means. Thus, it is not surprising that P and K and micronutrient, deficiencies have become severe in the intensive Indian cropped areas. The deficiency of P and K has further been substantiated by the National average of N:P: K ratio of 8:3.3:1 against 4:2:1. Application of urea alone has not only created micronutrients deficiency and acidity in some soils of India but also contaminated the drinking water with NO3. NO3 - contaminated water has produced blue baby disease in many parts of India among the children. Nitric Oxides (NO, N2O, NO2 etc) are being increased in the atmosphere, which are amenable for depleting Ozone layer. Not only this, imbalanced use of fertilizers has created nitrosoamine in a number of food grain crops, which is found carcinogenic agent.
In the light of the above said harmful effects caused by the chemical fertilizers if not handled carefully the farmers, therefore, must add organic manures. Such manures consist of farm yard manure (FYM) compost, vermicompost, processed night soil and sewage, sea weeds as well as practising green manure and using organic fertilizers such as molasses, dried blood and oil cakes. Another alternative that greatly reduces dependency of chemical fertilizers and organic manures is the growing of the cover crops.
What are cover crops ? Those crops, which after fully growing cover the soil of the field, are called the cover crops. Cover crops may be legumes, which are grown to cover and protect the soil. Besides the leguminous crops add N for improving soil's fertility. Leguminous crops, infact, fix atmopsheric nitrogen in their modules by the bacteria known as Rhizobia. This nitrogen finally reaches the soil via osmosis process from nodule and death/decay of Rhizobia and nodules.
Characteristics of cover crops : What characteristics should be looked for in cover crops to produce manure and forage with no more cash cost and minimum of labour. It should produce large amount of green matter (about 25 tonnes ha-1). It should grow vigorously in poor soils without any aid of fertilizers. Selected cover crop must be sown.
Cover crops without wastage of land
Cover crops can be grown among traditional crops like corn, millet, sorghum without reducing the productivity of the main crop. Cover crops can be intercropped with basic grains towards the middle or end of the growing season's time, so that their major growth occur during the dry season. Wherever shifting agriculture is used, cover crops can be planted on the land, the first year it is to be followed or abandoned. In this way, the fallow period can be cut to one year.
In areas where fruit or coffee trees are common, cover crops can be grown around or under the trees both in increasing the growth and health of the trees.



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