No alternative to importing pulses

I P. Abrol’s article “Pulses: No alternative to imports” should be treated as a warning signal. Most of us being vegetarians, pulses are an important item of our diet. The soaring prices of pulses is now assuming political dimensions too. While the population continues to grow, the per capita availability of pulses has declined from 85 gms a day in the fifties to only 33 gms a day at present.

In spite of our vast network of agricultural research in various universities and institutions, productivity and production not only in pulses but in various cereal crops per hactare are stagnant or on the declining trend. Targets remain unrealised. Our past strategies to increase productivity work no longer. While the area under pulses has not increased during the last 50 years, such crops continue to be grown under rain-fed conditions only, that too, on marginal soils. There is very little management inputs even.

The writer has aptly opined that with fluctuating weather conditions and low investment in agriculture, the only strategy to feed the ever-increasing population is by importing pulses. The stability of the government and the nation as a whole depends upon our agricultural production.

Dr L.K. MANUJA, Nahan (HP)



The article does not mention why pulses have no alternative to import. The soil fertility can be achieved by so many mechanical methods and soil can be made acceptable for sowing of pulses.

If rice can be produced in abundance in areas where it should not be sown at all, then why not pulses? By increasing the area under pulses, the pulse yield can be raised. The reasons given in the article are far from practical.

In Punjab, a farmer has so many morchas to promote his crop prices as well as crop yields. Nowadays, the Punjab Mandi Board has a Chairman, who is a committed voice of the farmer.


Rename the village

Asian Games Gold Medallist Parduman Singh, who passed away at his native village Bhagta Bhai Ka in Bathinda district, brought glory to our country in Discuss Throw and Shot Put at several Asian games. He won three golds, two silver and one bronze.

To perpetuate his memory, Bhagla Bhai Ka village should be named after his name as “Parduman Singh Wala”. The Punjab government should take up the matter with the Union Ministry of Home Affairs for this purpose.

Earlier, on my petition, the Centre allowed the Punjab government to rename Dhakla village in Gurdaspur district after the late Olympic Hockey Captain Surjut Singh as Surjut Singh Wala. Presently, it is called Surjit Singh Wala near Batala.


Solution to housing problem

The industrial focal point at Dera Bassi presents a ready solution to the housing problem in Chandigarh and its neighbourhood because it has good facilities like roads, streets, sewerage, water supply and so on. The focal point has not yet picked up and the allottees’ investment is blocked.

The allottees of industrial focal points at Bathinda, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur and Amritsar have been allowed to convert their plots for residential purposes. They have also remitted conversion fee.

The government would do well to extend the same privilege to Dera Bassi allottees so that they can convert their plots for residential purposes and help tackle the housing problem.


Use of condoms lowest in India

This is in response to Rami Chhabra’s article entitled “The AIDS challenge: A callous approach won’t help” (The Tribune, May 14). To set the record straight, I would like to place below certain facts:

The estimation of the number of persons living with HIV/AIDS is a process that is based on the collection of 400 unlinked and anonymous blood samples, from 1162 sentinel sites. India’s sentinel surveillance system has been graded as “A” by the WHO/UNAIDS which is the Technical Certifications Agency on this subject. The estimates are vetted by an Expert Group under the Chairmanship of DG, ICMR.

Therefore, before trashing this process, Mrs Rami Chhabra would need to indicate exactly how the methodology is wrong and also provide us the alternative. The Guntur study that has been cited is a community-based study which follows a different methodology and is not comparable to the sentinel surveillance-based methodology. Apples cannot be compared with oranges.

There is concern about the “huge” amount (Rs 2861 crore) being spent on condoms. It is to be noted that even today India is one of the lowest users of condoms. From 2.5 per cent users of the estimated 140 million eligible couples in 1991, it has gone up to 5 per cent in 2006 despite the condom being simple, safe and effective for averting sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies and HIV infection as well.

Estimation of High Risk Groups is a difficult process. NACO estimates are estimates but useful for identifying focus areas. Regarding rescue and rehabilitation of sex workers, NACO’s stand is guided by its mandate to reverse the HIV infection in the country by effectively combating its transmission. NACO works with High Risk Groups to provide them information on preventions and use of safe practices, clean needles, condoms, etc. The 2006 data clearly suggests that where such interventions have been fully implemented, prevalence of HIV has shown a positive decline.

Finally, mention has been made to the adverse comments of the “Public Accounts Committee and the Comptroller-General of Audits and Accounts on the NACP”. In this connection, it is pertinent to note that the criticism was that NACO was not being fast enough in promoting the condom.


Joint Director, National AIDS Control Organisation,Govt of India, New Delhi



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