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India needs to promote organic farming

Apropos the editorial 'The organic struggle' (March 23), it is really sad that organic farming has failed to catch the fancy of most of the farmers. According to information, land under organic certification has grown to millions of hectares by 2011-12. Many farmers are also deriving economic advantage from this system. However, the decisive question from the anthropocentric viewpoint is whether wide-scale adoption of pure organic production systems will be able to meet the ever-increasing demand for food or control food shortage in our country.

It is, therefore, recommended that instead of pure organic farming, we adopt an integrated bio-chemical farming system. This system involves integrated use of organic materials along with need-based chemical inputs and even genetically modified organisms. The use of chemicals must be judicious so as to check their excessive accumulation in soil and plants. Bio-chemical farming will not only achieve a higher productivity of food products with much reduced levels of chemical inputs but also ensure conservation of the eco-system.

While Stanford University researchers negate healthier benefits from organic foods over those grown conventionally, the fact is that these can reduce the risk of pesticide exposure.

MS BAJWA, Ludhiana

Clever exercise

I read with interest your editorial 'Budget as usual: HP spending excessively on employees' (March 18). To my mind, the budget shows a clever exercise in tight-rope walking.

Looking at the fact that the taxation potential of the state is extremely limited and that the state has been reeling under a "mountain of debt", Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh who also holds the finance portfolio seems to have done a good job. Except doubling the VAT on tobacco products Mr Singh has proposed no new tax in the budget  for 2013-14.

No doubt, the government spends excessively on its employees who, by and large, are an organised lot and thus in a position to exert pressure on the government of the day, but the unorganised sectors have to suffer accordingly.

The Centre should allow the state to impose a reasonable cess on the electricity produced by the hydro-electricity projects located within its territory and also give it a massive financial package so as to enable it to tide over its fiscal crisis and improve its financial health.

The state government should exercise utmost austerity in every sphere of administration and avoid wasteful expenditure to strengthen its claim for larger financial assistance.


Higher education

The editorial 'Higher education: Fresh vision needed to raise standards' (March 23) highlights the real picture of the state of education in our country.

The President, Pranab Mukherjee, has given a call to raise the quality of teaching, faculty and research to match the international standards. Let's analyse what is ailing our education system. The country as a whole has economically developed over the years. Materialistic values have overshadowed the moral values. Education is also being weighed in terms of money. A huge sum of money is being spent by the parents on education due to erosion of classroom teaching.

Learning is a continuous process and teachers must update their knowledge through libraries and e-resources. The curriculum should be designed after brain-storming sessions of experts from institutions, industry and the policymakers.

Vocational education and entrepreneurial skills should be encouraged. The examination and evaluation system needs to be reformed. Evaluation should be a concerted process with tests at periodic intervals. A team of dedicated and committed teachers should be involved in overhauling the system. Research is a significant component of higher education. The social, economy and industrial problems should be addressed in research projects so that research degree holders could greatly contribute to build a strong India. Involvement of overseas Indian scholars in teaching and research will play a vital role in our endeavour to improve quality. Efforts should be made to provide uniform emoluments, facilities and the retirement age of the teachers.

RAMESH DOGRA, Chandigarh

Real role model

Apropos the article 'Bhagat Singh's sacrifices' (March 22), it is a pity that we have failed to pay tributes to our martyrs on a regular basis. They are remembered perfunctorily by politicians and the public only on their martyrdom day. If today we are mired in corruption, scams, political opportunism and crimes, it is all because we have forgotten their sacrifices and ideals.

We must not forget that "Shaheed ki jo maut hai woh kaum ki hayat hai".


Ban cellphones in schools

It is disconcerting that cellphones are being used by schoolchildren for unhealthy activities. There have been instances of cheating in exams through cellphones. Students use these for playing ringtones and games and clicking pictures during classes.

Shockingly, they are also being used increasingly for uploading pornographic pictures. Use of cellphones for such immoral activities will ruin their character. Some students also take the pictures of their girlfriends and classmates, which, if misused, can create problems.

The school and college authorities should put a ban on the use of cellphones on the premises.




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