Saturday, September 29, 2001, Chandigarh, India



The plight of farmers and farm technocrats

Punjab has achieved the distinction of having highest productivity of wheat, paddy, pulses and oilseeds in the country. The historic Green Revolution has shown its results in the region, particularly in Punjab by raising the socio-economic status of the farmers. Now the problem is not of production but of storage.

Similarly, Himachal Pradesh has slowly and steadily emerged as the Apple Bowl; it would become the country’s Fruit Bowl soon. The most important aspects i.e. diversification, quality improvement and sustainability in this sector require immediate attention.

Our farm scientists have done a commendable job by evolving a number of high yielding and pest and disease resistant varieties of cereals, cotton, sugarcane, pulses, fruits and vegetables. Simultaneously, the package of practices suitable to the region have also been finalised by the scientists in collaboration with the technocrats of the departments of agriculture and horticulture. But then, the technology has to be tested and evaluated in the farmers’ fields. The farmers have to be convinced about the benefits of the latest technology.

Therefore, on-farm trials, demonstrations, training of farmers, arrangement of inputs etc should be carried out in a planned manner. This huge exercise is undertaken by the agriculture and horticulture departments under the supervision of their qualified technical officers. These technocrats serve as the inevitable link between farmers and the scientists.


Changes in the weather and agro-climatic conditions due to global warming, degradation and depletion of natural resources such as soil and water, the problem of resistance in pests and diseases, requires continuous surveillance, research and extension in agriculture and horticulture as is the case with other living sciences. The extension activities have become more challenging in the present regime of WTO wherein the farmer has to be motivated to pay more attention the quality of his produce so that he is able to compete in the domestic and international market. He has to switch over to the concept of co-operative farming, safe and judicious use of fertilisers, pesticides and other inputs. This is necessary to cut down the cost of cultivation. Such decisions including devising foolproof system of marketing should be taken up by the Government expeditiously.

The government should provide adequate facilities and create a congenial working atmosphere to technocrats to uplift the economic status of the poor and hard working farmers. Sadly, the Punjab Government does not seem to be bothered about the condition of farm technocrats. The Government has issued certain notifications which tend to downgrade their status and reduce their scale of pay. The Himachal Pradesh Government has also followed suit at a time when horticulture and agriculture should be made more profitable and sustainable.

If the governments do not give a better deal to farm technocrats, the profession will lose its charm. In fact, the youth in these states have started rethinking on studying agriculture The farm technocrats are in a dilemma; they do not know how to continue to serving the farmers in the wake of onslaught on their dignity. When will we get justice?

I. D. GUPTA, Shimla

Harmful aerosols threaten Punjab

This refers to the report “Harmful aerosols threaten Punjab” (Sept. 26). Experts have warned the government that these aerosols are emitted from the burning of the stumps of wheat and paddy burnt by the farmers for their easy disposal. The fire produce smoke which contains harmful and deadly gases such as carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide takes hundred years to disperse as per the report. A thick mass of smoke (aerosols) which was noticed by the US scientists sometime back in the air over Punjab has fortunately drifted.

There are several science post-graduates in the top bureaucracy who have been seeing the stumps set on fire. They have never proposed to the government to make the burning of the stumps a penal offence. Already, all kinds of unfit vehicles are on the roads emitting smoke and the government is not doing anything to control it.

There is acute deficiency in health care and government hospitals are full of filth and corruption. It is time the government woke up. It should take stringent measures to contain the emission of deadly gases. Those who are mainly preoccupied with administration and governance should understand that their children too would be affected by the pollution of atmosphere.


India must act tough

While assessing the perspectives on global terrorism "Perspectives on global terrorism" (Sept. 21), Mr Hari Jaisingh’s conclusion that “we will have to fight our own battle against terrorism” is absolutely correct. The fact is that we badly lack a strong and reliable leadership. Our leaders cannot act tough while appearing to be soft and pliable. The diplomats in the Ministry of External Affairs appear to be novices in their own field of diplomacy. This should be clear from the fact that the Pakistan President and his diplomats were outright winners at Agra. They exposed the mental slackness of our leaders and sheer ineptitude of our foreign service chaps.

The Pakistan President is mentally agile and shrewd. Caught in an extremely difficult and complicated international situation of Taliban versus the USA, he has shown a remarkable diplomatic and political marksmanship in discarding the Taliban, albiet temporarily, and simultaneously seeking compensation for the help sought by the USA. He quotes Prophet Mohammad to justify his action to placate the zealots in Pakistan. He never loses an opportunity to tell the international community that India is responsible for terrorism in J and K.

And here we are. The Imam of Jama Masjid, Delhi makes a provocative statement in favour of the Taliban because they are Muslim brothers. The US Ambassador instantly cancels his proposed meeting with the Imam. On the other hand, our leaders immediately undertake ‘mounvrat’ (pledge of silence).

Also, we have not been able to wipe out internal terrorism in the east and south. Sadly, our leaders are besotted with Ram Mandir and astrology. History is witness to the lack of cohesiveness among the rulers of this country and the consequential slavery for centuries. Therefore, while fighting cross-border terrorism, there is need to keep a strict watch on the internal disruptive elements. Eradication of cross-border terrorism, with our own efforts, will be our major contribution to the worldwide efforts against such forces.

V. P. SHARMA, Chandigarh.

At its worst: It has rightly been said that the time has come when we can no longer remain silent spectators of this bloody unholy war. The question is not only of thousands killed in New York, the question is of the sufferings of mankind across the globe, from Kashmir to Chechnya, and from Middle East to Central Asia. Mr Tony Blair’s ‘new evil’ is actually not so new at least in this part of the world, where terror is the name of the game.

‘The Black Tuesday is undoubtedly terrorism at its worst’. It’s heartening to see the apathy of the USA that it has to take help of those who in real sense masterminded the gory act of ‘jehad’ (no marks for guessing). One bin Laden can’t make mankind suffer so much. In the streets and bazars of Pakistan, there are thousands of Ladens collecting money in the name of Islam (in my view one of the holiest religions on the planet). Sparing your enemy is like ignoring a snake in your bedroom. And when that snake is a diamond-backed krait, you have no choice but to strike, strike at the point where it won’t even gasp to have its last breath.

That’s what we need to do now. And this can’t be done by targeting some hideouts of Laden. We should take some long-term decisive steps that should include toppling governments like those in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which openly support this cold-blooded game. The camps in PoK and NWFP are actually ‘terror factories’ and if the US thinks of eliminating terrorism without razing them, we will see another ‘Black Tuesday’ very soon.


On our terms: Diplomacy is all about getting the most for your country, giving away the least. For us, India’s interest must come first. America’s relations with India are always constrained by its perception of what suits its own geo-political interests.

America has always hedged its bets. It has been advising Indian leaders to solve the menace of terrorism through dialogue. After the attack on its own targets, it refused the Taliban’s request to talk first and then react.

If Islamic nations rally around the Taliban, will Pakistan join them at some stage or the other? Pakistan can switch sides and befriend the Taliban. The situation with India is different. India loses under both circumstances. After the war, we will be left to fend ourselves. We will fight terrorism but on our own terms.

Global crusade against terrorism will never succeed unless we have clarity on such issues. Picking and choosing won’t do. There is need for similar clarity on what constitute legitimate methods to deal with terrorist outfits. Can leaders of terrorist groups be singled out for elimination?

India should look at the present situation in terms of hard realities and adopt a course of action that would best promote its security and supreme interests.


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