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Set up SAZs to help farmers

There is an urgent need to set up Special Agricultural Zones (SAZs) on the lines of the Special Economic Zones (SEZs). While SEZs help enhance trade and export in India, SAZs will help Indian agriculture and farmers.

Well-designed SAZs will help end the era of farmers’ suicides, managing an evergreen revolution. The slogan ‘Jai jawan, jai kisan and jai vigyan’ will become meaningful for India only if it is practised in letter and spirit. Are we ready to help the farmers?

The period 1985-2000 saw the introduction of organisational innovations and technology. The phase from 2001 to the present day can be described as policy fatigue resulting in 40 per cent of the farmers wanting to quit farming, given an alternative option. If agricultural production falls below the population growth rate, we may go back to the pre-Independence phase.

For a long-term solution, populist measures like loan waivers and subsidies may not help. It’s time we planned for a second Green Revolution in the untapped production reservoir with technology on the top. A quality, literacy and value addition movement may be launched. 

To keep the food bowl overflowing, India should think of diversification plans and emphasise public-private partnership programmes encouraging huge investment in the agricultural sector.

Dr NARAYAN B. IYER, National Coordinator, Indian Development Foundation, Mumbai


Of Tikait & Maya

One must agree with the message in the editorial “Avoidable confrontation” (April 4) that “ghosts of casteism must be buried”. The BKU leader Mahendra Singh Tikait committed a blunder when he passed casteist remarks against UP Chief Minister Mayawati. That showed his entrenched casteist prejudice. On her part, Ms Mayawati exhibited admirable courage when she decided to teach the BKU leader a lesson.

Ultimately good sense prevailed upon Mr. Tikait; he apologised for his remarks. He even described Ms Mayawati like his daughter. The matter needs to be closed here, but it is a lesson for all those who still have a sick casteist mindset.

Ms Mayawati’s inclusive approach is the right answer to the centuries-old societal divisions. She is giving a new sense of confidence for leadership to its oppressed sections. She has placed the deprived and marginalised sections in ruling positions without any bloodshed which the Naxalites believe in. She has successfully upheld the constitutional spirit.


Pseudo patriotism

Mr Ansar Burney’s reference to the jawans’ hostile body language on the Indo-Pak border reminds me of what I felt when I witnessed the retreat ceremony at Ferozepur border last year. Being a Friday and ‘jumma’ day, the crowd on Indian side was easily four times. And when the soldiers turned up, the people started shouting.

The ceremonial parade, which ought to be an example of courtesy and respect for a neighbour, was full of arrogant gestures. The soldiers made a show of their aggressiveness through their voice, eyes, neck and violent stamping of their feet. Worse, the spectators misconstrued this as the only opportunity to express their love for the country. They cheered and applauded their soldiers and hooted and jeered the other side.

When I expressed disgust to my group mates, somebody retorted, “Why, this is patriotism” and then provoked the people thus: “More loudly, silence them completely.” And in this charged atmosphere of misplaced and pseudo patriotism, I couldn’t dare tell the people the true meaning of patriotism and the need for brotherhood and good neighbourliness.

ARUN BALA,  Bathinda 

Gujarat probe

In his letter, “Double standards” (March 29), R.L. Singla welcomes the inquiry into post-Godhra riots in Gujarat and rightly asks the Congress to come clean about the anti-Sikh riots of 1984. However, he overlooks the fact that the Supreme Court’s ruling directing the probe by the five-member Special Investigation Team has also been welcomed by the Gujarat government; the state government has also pledged to extend full cooperation.

Furthermore, the Supreme Court Bench, in its ruling, has also admitted this and lauded the state government for such a stance.

B.K. CHAUDHARI, Worcestershire (UK)


Costlier education 

Paise ko paisa khichta hai” (Money begets money). In the present era of commercial exploitation of education, though education is a constitutional right, higher education is very expensive and beyond the reach of the common man.

All kinds of donations, favours, higher tuition fees, incidental expenses like hostel charges for outside students, etc, make higher education outside the purview of the poor. How can a man earning a few thousand rupees spend lakhs for higher education of his wards? The best schools in India and abroad are only meant for the rich. This is a sorry state of affairs.




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