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Farmers need to develop marketing skills

S.S. Johl in his article “The rise in food prices” (Aug 30) has squarely put the entire blame for inflation in food sector on the retailers or the retail segment of the distribution chain. If we make an in-depth analysis of things collectively responsible for this state of inflation, a different picture would emerge.

The premise on which the crux of the article is based is that the retailers are superfluously placed in the distribution system or chain and they unnecessarily enhance the cost and thereby burden the consumers. Services provided by them are of vital importance. The middlemen not only provide financial support and cushion to the farmers but also provide them the much-needed cover to minimise various kinds of risks involved in the distribution system such as transit loss, storage risks, marketing risks and debt traps.

In order to remove them from the existing distribution system, farmers will have to take the much-needed initiative in the form of cooperative houses that can cater to the financial and marketing needs of these farmers whether big or small.

The farmers shall have to come out of their conservative shells that drive them towards farming activities. They must be well-versed with the idea and initiative of entering into the comparatively newer fields of horticulture, bio-agriculture and collective farming. The age-old method of consolidation of land holdings to counter the shrinking size of land holdings appears relevant today.

Indian farmers must innovate their skills. The Indian corporate houses can enter the Indian agro scene and help farmers, especially the smaller ones, to form a formidable force who can take up activities right from the pre-production stage to marketing.


ICC, take stand

Match-fixing scandals involving Pakistan happen time and again (editorial, “Cricket shame”, Aug 31). While it is legitimate to ban the involved players, this will not ensure that such incidents won’t happen again. Can the International Cricket Council take a strong action to clean the game? The ICC must take a stand. Only that will send a strong signal to different boards, cricketers and its fraternity. The ICC must preserve the sanctity of the game.

Dr SANJIV GUPTA, Perth, Australia

Typical Indian traits

Sherry Sabbarwal’s article “Traits that hold us back” (Aug 31) was praiseworthy. The writer mentioned the traits of Indians due to which they lag behind. The casual ‘chalta hai’ attitude is the basic trait of Indians. Indeed, the virtues of discipline, civility and commitment are absent in an average Indian. Packed with the latest gadgets in the rat race for money, we are leaving our values far behind. It is time we realised our folly before it is too late.

SHIVANI DUA, Jalandhar

Mild punishment

As an ex-serviceman I am pained to learn that a Colonel, commanding a unit has been let off with a minor punishment for molesting a woman officer. Reducing seniority by six years for the purpose of fixing pension is too small a penalty for misbehaving with a woman officer serving under his command.

The officer had not only violated service norms but also brought disgrace to the armed forces. It would have been better had he been awarded exemplary punishment and dismissed from service. Scores of such cases have come up in the Army. It indicates non-acceptance of women officers in the Army.

Sub-Maj KARNAIL SINGH SEKHON (retd), Patiala

Improve varsities

The article “Unshackle the varsity system” (Aug 31) by Shelley Walia is a wake-up call for universities and the academia. We seem to have thrown to the winds Nehrus’ ideal of a university when he called it a centre of humanism, tolerance, reason, ideas and truth. There continues to be a wide hiatus between the ‘premier’ centres of learning and the ‘less sophisticated’ ones while university education is in limbo. Universities have become teaching shops.

Similarly the UGC which was set up with altruistic ideals has transformed itself into a headmaster with a set of rules and a bag of funds. The curriculum has to be broad-based with lesser stress on examinations. Universities should be allowed to develop their own course of study and the examination system. Similarly, a candidate being selected for a job must be tested in discussion and interviews. Communication skills and knowledge have to be tested in order to make a correct selection of a teacher. Research pursuits too have become lopsided as they are not “curiosity driven” but economically propelled. Universities have to become beacons in the field of education, rather than being claustrophobic working areas in the clutches of rule-driven regulators and unimaginative administrators.


Reduce wastage 

The editorial “Food for thought” (Sept 2) was timely and rightly exposed the inefficient and insensitive executive. That the judiciary had to intervene is a severe indictment of the government. Someone has to be held responsible and punished severely for the wastage of foodgrains, especially when there is widespread hunger and starvation.

The Supreme Court deserves appreciation for intervening and reprimanding the Food Minister, but it failed short of fixing the responsibility for this criminal negligence. Food management and distribution pose complex problems. Populist measures cannot solve the problem of long-standing structural anomalies in a corruption-ridden country.

We need radical administrative reforms and a countrywide integrated network of godowns and cold chains to reduce wastage.

Dr VITULL K. GUPTA, Bathinda



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