IT HAPPENS ONLY IN INDIA,
GREAT JOB MR. PARMAR
it is good to eat as many as vegetables and fruits (totally vegetarian), but my aurvedic doctor asked me to stop eating every...
Puranas as sci-fi
The sci-fi issue was a welcome break from the regular scientific-cum-environmental topics discussed in Down to Earth (‘Science meets fiction’, January 1-15, 2012). But what struck me as odd was that most contributors to the special issue attributed the origin of science fiction to Western writers. None mentioned Maharishi Ved Vyas, the creator of the Puranas, who fictionalised science and paraworld in his epics.
For Hindus, the Puranas might be true chronicles of events but Western scholars do not see them as part of history. The tales in the Puranas include many things that the modern science finds difficult to fathom. Be it creating fire and rain by bow and arrows in the warfare, travelling in the space with simple human body, contacts with many planets in and outside the solar system, mirage architecture, or acquiring miraculous physical powers through yoga and cloning one’s own self in hundred forms as done by Shumbh-Nishumbha.
In the 19th century, many Hindi writers created science fiction with aplomb—for instance, Devakinandan Khatri’s Chandrakanta and Chandrakanta Santati. The tilisms and eyyars have been shown to make use of science and technology to the hilt in those times. In literary prose writing too, paraworld narratives find important place. Munshi Prem Chand, one of the greatest Hindi novelists and story writers, wrote novels like Kayakalp which transcends the barrier of time. Acharya Chatursen was another such writer of repute to use paraworld narratives with great flair and success.
L R Sharma
Sundernagar, Himachal Pradesh
This refers to the editorial “Why excreta matters” (January 16-31, 2012). The town development authorities in India should follow the lead of Chennai Metro Water Supply and Sewerage Board.
The board is expected to receive Rs 5 crore from the UN for reducing CO2 emissions in four of its sewage treatment plants (STPs).
The board has nine STPs where 400 million litres of sewage is treated every day, with four of them having biogas treatment capacity to generate power by using raw sewage sludge. At present, 264 million litres of sewage is used to generate 32 MW of electricity every day. The board has saved Rs 25.63 crore since December 2011. The reduction of greenhouse gases is estimated at 61,200 tonnes per year. The spent sludge could be used as manure for non-agricultural crops instead of letting it out in the rivers.
K V S Krishna
Under MGNREGA wings
This refers to “Penny foolish, pond wise” (January 16-31, 2012). Although the effort of creating farm ponds in Madhya Pradesh’s Dewas district is appreciable, the movement could have been better served under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) involving gram panchyat and technocrats.
Under MGNREGA, priority has been given to work related to water conservation, water harvesting, drought proofing and renovation of traditional water bodies and land development. In the past five years, the Centre has spent Rs 54,000 crore on water conservation projects, adding water capacity of 3.07 billion cubic metres.
Farmer’s the loser
The National Food Security Bill tries to put together different activities carried out under different ministries (‘Difficult to digest’, January 16-31, 2012). The only new additions in the bill are ration cards issued in the name of elder women of the family, and inclusion of coarse cereals—only rice and wheat—under public distribution system (PDS).
Meanwhile, the politicians-businessmen nexus is making it difficult for farmers to earn money. In Hyderabad, people get subsidised rice through PDS at Rs 1 or Rs 2 which they sell at Rs 14. This system harms farmers. If the government pays cash instead of ration, the farmer will surely be benefitted.
In Andhra Pradesh farmers declared crop holiday because they had no storage facility and, thus, had to sell their produce at far below the minimum support price. In the last budget the finance minister said the fertiliser subsidy would be given to farmers directly. But MPs from Andhra Pradesh said that the subsidy must be given only to retailers. The MPs own most of the retail outlets but under the names of their family members.
S Jeevananda Reddy
After much discussion and debate, the UPA government’s flagship programme to reach out to the poorest of the poor can bring succour to the have-nots. Though being well-nourished is the right of every citizen, successive governments have paid little attention in this regard. What’s more, food security schemes have not been implemented effectively due to inadequate supply of foodgrains through PDS and lack of monitoring. Although the incidence of poverty has declined over the years, the concern is categorisation of households into “general” and “priority” for the supply of fixed quantity of foodgrains per person per month.
K R Srinivasan
Stripped of tradition
This refers to “Farmers in tech trap” (December 1-15, 2011). Providing high-yield hybrid varieties of crops to traditional cultivators can affect their culture. For instance, many of the rice varieties in the country are related to traditional foods. In Assam, different rice varieties are used to prepare chira (rice flake), aakhoi (rice puff), komal chaol (special parboiled rice which can be taken without cooking).
Most farmers want to use advanced technology and high-yield varieties, without realising that they are losing traditional agricultural wisdom.
J C Gogoi
The article “Rise of livestock” (January 16- 31, 2012) makes an interesting read. In rural India, the symbiotic relation between agriculture, forestry and livestock cannot be ruled out. The growth trend indicated in the article is more towards livestock which does not fall in the priority area of government policy. Despite this, the sector is doing well. More focus, extension services and promotion are needed to boost the sector, primarily for the rural landless people.
Migration information and Resources Centre, Bhubaneswar
... And trees go down
The Western Ghats are under pressure because of encroachment (‘Reserved for exploitation?’, January 1-15, 2012). Degradation can be seen more in the home taluks/districts of the powerful leaders. The worst example is denudation of forests of sandal wood, rose wood and teak in Shimoga district in Karnataka. The leaders need to realise the importance of forests and wildlife and support for bringing 20 per cent of the total forests under protected areas.
B M T Rajeev
Winds of change
This refers to the editorial, “The inconvenient truth” (February 1-15, 2012). There is no straightjacket solution to geo-politics and lobbying. In due course, the developed nations will see good reasons to reduce emissions at home; the dialogue has to remain open. We need to enhance our per capita power consumption from 800 kwh to 1,500 kwh in the next five years, develop efficient waste management mechanism, improve productivity, awareness environment, and statutory compliance. The question is how fast can we do it?
N K Agarwal
The government has taken no firm step to ban two-stroke autos which use petrol mixed with kerosene, emitting white smoke trail. Most shops use gensets that run on kerosene. There is an immediate need to develop alternative energy sources.