Punjab must focus on food security

I endorse K.S. Pannu’s suggestion to reduce Punjab’s area under paddy cultivation for long- term gains (Oped page article, “Why grow rice?”, Aug 24). Strategic concerns like food security of any nation cannot be put on the backburner. At the same time, latent and ultimate gains (or losses) cannot be ignored while formulating policies in this regard.

When Green Revolution descended on Punjab, no one imagined that the latent and ultimate losses would be so high. Right now, as medium term plans, we must shift cereal cultivation from Punjab and Haryana to the eastern UP, Bihar, Orissa and even the plains of Brahmaputra in the Northeast. We should introduce the cultivation of hybrid varieties of paddy in the traditional area of West Bengal and Tamil Nadu to increase the output of food grains.

Equally important is the development of post-harvest technology. The post harvest losses in food grains are 10 per cent, fruits and vegetables 25 per cent, milk 5 per cent. We should develop and reinforce our marketing system, transportation and storage of grains. For storage, we should go for airtight, vacuum-controlled storage capacities along the major rail, road lines.

As a long-term plan, we should invest liberally in R & D of transgenic varieties of grains, tuberous crops, fruits and vegetables. So far, this research is limited to potatoes, tomatoes and cotton only and all these crops cannot address the concerns of food security.

Capt KARNAIL SINGH, PCS, Jalandhar



The article is analytical, giving an insight on the ground situation. Growing paddy, though looks profitable, has brought in many problems, the major being the drastic decline of the water table. In addition, there are ecological problems like the early onset of humid conditions much before the onset of monsoon and change for the worse in the rain pattern in the region.

As aptly suggested by the writer, the change of crop pattern will definitely show improvement in ecology and economic condition of the debt-ridden farmers. Also, it will do a lot of good to the effective functioning of the government if top officials with adequate knowledge on the subject are positioned there.

The government’s aspirations are on the right lines. The dire need is to implement it with due vigour and sincerity, cutting across party lines.

Lt-Col BHAGWANT SINGH (retd), Mohali

Priority in Punjab

In his interview, Dr S.S. Johl said: “Growing economy is leaving 85 per cent of people untouchable” (Aug 28). Dr Johl should more vigorously champion the cause of the rural poor before the formulation of the Eleventh Five-Year Plan.

While the urban and rural growth models are only helping the 15 per cent rich population, the remaining is deprived of the benefits of growth. Dr Johl pinpointed five major issues — education, health, energy, industrial development and employment — which are the backbone of sustained economic growth. Education and health services have totally collapsed in Punjab. Overhauling of the system is then need of the hour. Planning and growth models should help eradicate poverty and unemployment problems.


Shocking report

It is shocking to learn that India has 30,000 cases of rabies deaths of humans out of the world’s figure of 50, 000. The poor cannot afford costly injections, resort to primitive remedies and die a dreadful death.

The administration adopts impracticable methods such as sterilisation of dogs. These methods don’t work and more and more people are dying. The only remedy is the elimination of stray dogs as was the practice before Independence. The government should choose between the survival of human beings and the diseased stray dogs.


Doctors and courts

The doctors appearing in various law courts as expert medical witnesses are sometimes made to wait for long hours due to non-availability of the lawyers in the court appearing as defense councils for the accused in spite of the Supreme Court’s directive that doctors should not be kept waiting in the courts and that they should be freed from the court early to attend to patients.

Keeping in view the poor doctor-patient ratio in the country, the doctors cannot waste time in the courts. The courts should ensure the presence of the defence lawyers when the doctors attend the court for recording evidence.

Dr D.S. BHULLAR, Patiala


When KPS met Stalin 

RK KAUSHIK’s middle, Maths of ICS topper (Sept 11), about KPS Menon reminds me of a story he told us many many years ago in Mumbai. It was at a dinner at the home of Mr K.S. Shavaksha, his friend. Shavaksha was the son-in-law of Sir Dinsha Mulla, jurist and Privy Councillor.

Reputedly as he himself acknowledges in his autobiography, KPS possessed an unconscious “evil tongue” — if he said that someone was looking very healthy, that someone would be dead in the next few days! And he related the following story about himself when he was our envoy in Moscow:

KPS was one of the few diplomats to gain an interview with Marshal Stalin. He and Stalin talked for over half an hour and the world’s Press gathered around to find out more news from him about the Marshal. What did he say? KPS told them: How did he look? KPS said that he looked much taller than he was made out in pictures, and that he looked extremely fit. Two days later Marshal Stalin died.

KPS was also our ambassador to Hungary and he went to present his credentials about a month later to President Rakosi. He had a long conversation for about an hour, and when he left the President of Hungary warned Menon: “Mr Ambassador, you may tell the Press corps anything you like, but for God’s sake don’t tell them that I am looking fit!”




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