Saturday, May 7, 2016

Wheat blast

Wheat blast, an agricultural disease, first identified in South America, is caused by the fungus 'Magnaporthe oryzae' which thrives in hot and humid conditions. It poses the following threats:-
1. It can infect huge areas of cultivation resulting in more than 75% yield loss. This loss in agricultural productivity is a major blow to the farmers and to the economy as as a whole.
2. Burning of huge areas if infected standing crops causes environmental pollution. 
3. Contributes towards food scarcity and disease outbreak with disastrous consequences among millions of malnourished people as the disease targets rice and wheat which forms the staple diet of many.
Though India produces blast-resistant varieties of crop, yet it faces potential danger from lurking disease threat as recently reported in Bangladesh. The following measures will help to encounter any adverse situation:-
1.Strict quarantine norms including ban on import of wheat from Bangladesh till their non-infection is authenticated.
2.Exporting blast resistant varieties to South American countries to enable the disease to be uprooted from its point of origin.
3. Directing eastern states of West Bengal and Assam to suspend wheat cultivation in border areas as a precautionary measure.
Active research and developmental activities on the mechanism of the disease causing fungus will help to contain it before it spreads on an epidemic scale.

Women and Religion

Towards the end of the later vedic age , religion became a monopoly of the priestly class and were complicated. It was Beyond the reach of common man, shudras . It denied the salvation to shudras. Sacrifices and rituals became rampant . Women, who enjoyed equal status till Early Vedic Period, were no longer allowed to sit in sabha. They were discriminated in performing religious rituals. This led to the emergence of Buddhism and jainism.
Following facts reveals the discriination faced by women in religious space:
* The Buddhism as a religion evolved out of questioning existing faith and irrational practices. Shudras were allowed to enter into sangha , initially women and insolvent were discriminated upon. After resistance of Ananda women's entry were allowed. 
* Jainism allowed women as head of monasteries. However, maintained that ascetic life was not for women as their nudity was an impediment to their own and others’ salvation
* The Tamil saints Karaikal Ammaiyar and Andal present two different paths to salvation for the woman bhakta. Which was discriminatory. 
* Bhakti and Sufi movement which emerged during medieval time for religious and social reform confined itself on the basis of catse. Women's rights and their religious space was not theme of these movements.
Lack of religious rights along with other rights and perpetuation of patriarchal mind set led further deterioration in the status of women. Later it took the form of evil like Sati. In the 19th and 20th century social reformer like Rjaram Mohan Rai, jyotiba Phule , Ayankali etc gave impetus to movements relating to women's right and dignity.
Our constitution provided equal rights to women that of man. Art 15 provides govt to take affirmative action to uplift the social condition of women. However,despite of all these guarantee, the situation of women ,in religious sphere, is still pathetic in the country. The present women movement regarding temple entry is manifestation of that.

Fight Draught

In distressing times of water crisis, some villages, which have effectively proofed themselves from droughts, stand out. This was made possible by not just constructing irrigation infrastructure, but also managing them effectively.
1. Water Resource Management:

a. Constructing small ponds, bunds, reservoirs, harvest rainwater, recharge groundwater- maintains adequate water for farming, consumption.
b. Calculate, disseminate information on water levels, consumption and rationalising usage, with the help of hydrologists, Panchayats, village committees etc.
2. Ecological Farming:
Growing trees, furrows, to increase water holding capacity of farms. Practice drip irrigation to increase efficiency.
b. Ecologically sustainable farming based on water availability, soil health etc. e.g. growing green/black gram, millet, pulses, groundnut, instead of cotton, sugarcane in low rainfall areas. Shift sowing season, crop rotation, inter-cropping, organic farming (using cow dung/urine, neem) etc.
c. Community grazing- ensure adequate fodder, and even fuel e.g. by growing bamboo, dhaman etc.
Thus, farmers not only cushioned against droughts, but also greatly enhanced incomes.
Conduct hydrological study, consult and involve local community, for constructing long-lasting infrastructure for irrigation andconservation. MGNREGA ideal for this.
2. Capacity building for water budgeting, managing and sharing resources, planning crops, using fertilisers etc.
3. Ensure awareness and usage of Soil Health Cards for conserving soil nutrition for sustainable agriculture.
4. Promote micro-finance to enable individual infrastructure constructions.
5. Enable a network of “farm schools” (suggested by Prof. Swaminathan) to test, develop, and disseminate new technologies, seeds, practices etc.
Thus, the objective of govt. must be in making villages SMART to make feasible, informed decisions for long-term sustainability.