Letters to the editor

Readers' comments: Neglecting our soldiers, the Brics summit and Maratha agitation

A selection of readers' opinions.

On the line

I really appreciate your thoughts, but I’m also sure that the echo of your words will grow faint very soon ("Indian Army can take care of the border. Can we take care of the Army?"). Forgetfulness is an art that Indians have mastered, especially when it comes to the armed forces.

Even if a few others start thinking like you, soldiers, who work relentlessly to guard our borders, might start getting their due. I think the government should tie up with corporations – or corporations should make it a part of their CSR activities – to take care of serving as well as retired soldiers to ensure them a life of dignity. – Gowz Haryz

***

It’s the moral duty of every Indian and the government to take care of our soldiers and their families and give them due respect. – Jaibhagwan Manderna

***

This was a very well-articulated piece. I hope it gets our policy makers thinking. – SK Sawhney

***

Those who have dedicated their lives to keeping us safe deserve more than what we can ever possibly offer. But we need to at least do whatever little we can – for instance, demands such as One Rank One Pension must be looked into and addressed with much more urgency. – Pradeep Thapa

***

I am a soldier and I feel touched by this article. Thank you, this is the kind of motivation we need to keep us going – and we will go on. – Adarsh Singh

***

Raghu Raman must be congratulated for this excellent article on Indian soldiers. Well done, sir. Is anyone in the government listening?

***

I wish we could elect people like Raghu Raman to hold various ministries, instead of the illiterate or corrupt politicians who depend on the selfish and equally corrupt bureaucrats. – TK Jacob

***

This article is very apt. Our country’s defence and paramilitary forces are our national pride. A soldier, just like our athletes, are seldom recognised, supported or rewarded! Despite their prestige, dedication and sacrifice, they are taken for granted. – Jude M Gonsalves

***

I salute Raghu Raman for this article. When I first came across this article, I thought it would be yet another futile gesture by a fauji to bring back pride for the army – but this showed them real respect. I am a fauji and so are many in my family, including in-laws. Thank you for the respect. Dilip Khosla

Right to not believe

Anything that brings Hindus and Muslims together on an issue is refreshing (“Hindu, Muslim groups come together in violent protest against meeting of atheists in Mathura”). At least both display implicit faith in their gods. Courage or convictionon any matter is important. If the protests manage to remain non-violent, Indian systemic resistance to change would come of age. – Neena Vij

***

I had shared this link on my Facebook wall and got inputs from those who were present that only Hindu rightwing group attacked the participants. There were no Muslims involved in this particular attack on democracy. – Amir Rizvi

***
It’s a shame that in the 21st century, there are attempts to silence non-believers. Atheists have never harmed anybody in the name of their beliefs. But there have been countless murders and cruelties in the name of religion. – Nabarun Ghoshal

***

Atheists are also believers; they believe in the non existence of god. And they have the fundamental right to this belief.

An attempt to thwart them is tantamount to depriving them of their constitutional rights. It is the duty of the local authorities to protect their rights and not to muzzle them under false pretexts.

Hindu philosophical traditions have openly accepted atheism. – Yogesh Lavingia

***

On what grounds do we keep bragging that we are a tolerant nation and society? Manjunath

Going off track

MK Bhadrakumar’s farcical and myopic diatribe against India is amazing ("Has Brics lost its way on Goa’s sandy beaches?") Brics was formed by Russia – really? Brics is a radical challenge to western dominance? How sweet of you to have given such lofty aims and importance to an artificial entity that China wishes to convert into its private stomping ground.

So the trouble with Pakistan is limited to the tantrum-throwing India? You are oozing with love for China, clearly. The issue with you who wear ideological blinkers is that for you, nothing but your own opinions hold. This is why, terrorists and terrorism, which for all others is the scourge of our times, is not even worth a mention by you.

Wake up and look at reality with open eyes and an alert mind. Religious terrorism can soon devour your adopted country, China, too. – Atul Chandra

***

The article is ill-conceived, arbitrary and irrelevant. It doesn’t reflect the outcome of the summit. Since Scroll.in continues to publish such material, I question the underlying motives of the publisher. – Mehta

***

Beijing sees India as a potential threat and therefore, in 1962, they tried to test the waters and were successful in demoralising India and capturing two important resources.

The current Indian leadership is trying to establish its prominence over South Asia and that is why China is taken the risk of even defending terrorists. – Shiv Khare

***

Pakistan was used as a base for secret talks by Kissinger during the Nixon era to normalise relations with China. Indian experts know the historical relations of the US, China and Pakistan. – Rasik Ranjan

***

It would be foolish to expect India to be the whipping boy and accommodate every Tom, Dick and Harry or Xi Jinping and Putin. Every time Narendra Modi stands up for national pride, I feel proud of him. Nations don't mind sacrificing to maintain their honour! – Rakesh Saran

***

At the Brics summit, the body language of Putin, Modi and Xi was not harmonious. Modi’s facial expressions suggested he wasn’t too pleased – the charm he exudes around other leaders, especially Obama, was nowhere to be seen.

Both Putin and Xi had roasted him on a slow coal fire and one could see that he was feeling the heat. Modi is the pawn in the game. India may decide to pull out of Brics on some frivolous grounds. Let us hope this doesn't happen. – Ali Shahanshah

Uncovering details

This article fails to look at the simple aspect of why exactly people in the developing world wear masks (“From New Delhi to New York, millions rely on cheap anti-pollution masks. Should they?”). He assumed its just to protect themselves from pollution. But in many cases, it’s also for sun protection – this I found out during my recent travels to Hanoi, Vietnam, where asked the locals why they wore cloth masks.

People may be wearing such masks for other reasons to. To develop an N95 mask for a person living on $200 US per month is quite ridiculous. Food and housing are much bigger concerns. – Aaron Hand

Watch your tongue


This article sums up the feelings of millions of non-Hindi speakers in India (“It’s time for the government to stop spreading the lie that Hindi is India’s ‘national language’”). The BJP government seems to have vowed to promote Hindi at every opportunity.

To those who, in the Letters to the Editor section, argued in favour of pushing for Hindi as a language, I’d like to put forth a few facts.

A lot of non-Hindi speaking South Indian states, like Kerala and Tamil Nadu, are doing well in social and development indicators.

It’s just that the North Indian perspective seems to be more assertive and mainstream than the South Indian one. – Sriram RS

Landmark movements

I have great regard for Ambedkar and as this article points out, the Dalit struggles have a lot in common with the civil rights’ movement in the US (“What Ambedkar's anti-caste struggle shared with the US civil rights movement”). However, some of the comparisons, particularly that of Ambedkar Buddhism with the Dalai Lama’s struggle to free Tibet, are misleading. – Ram Chandran

To each his own

With all respect to the deceased, I would like to stress that India is no Switzerland, Netherland or the UK to be considered a highly developed and liberal society (“'I'm sorry we've come to this': Perfumer's murder reiterates the dangers faced by women living alone”). Ours is a hugely populous and multi-layered society in which you see people from different socio-economic conditions living under one state without nay barriers.

Someone who has nothing to lose and generations of whose famiy have been victims of backwardness, deprivation and neglect can at times go to any extent and or get provoked by small incidents.

It is the responsibility of every single person to ensure their own safety. The state and society has its limits and realistically cannot lookout for every citizen’s safety. Someone who is living alone has to be doubly careful. – Vivek N Kumar

Laws of attraction

I love Genesia Alves’ writing style (“How to approach a woman: Be cool, Indian dude bros, be cool”). Ever since I've downloaded Scroll.in’s app, it's been a joyride. I look forward to more good stuff. Keep them coming! Hriday

Silence speaks louder

Hats off to those who organised this peaceful and successful protest (“The rumbling sound of silence: 25 lakh gather for Maratha rally in Kolhapur”). Two of the Marathas’ demands are worth looking into – the dilution of the Atrocities Act and agricultural support for farmers who have been suffering droughts year after year.

Their demand for reservations raises a contentious issue but is worth consideration. If it is given it should be done on an economic basis.

All in the government must put their heads together to find a solution. – KK Vadhera

Golden words

Nabina Das' piece on Bob Dylan published by Scroll.in was beautiful, eloquent and powerful (“Why those who revel in India’s literary traditions should celebrate Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize”).

A great writer is one who recognise something that you have felt, but others have not been able to express. A great writer gives voice to your complex emotions and feelings and adds them to the library of human experience. Bob Dylan has done that for me and for generations. His Sixties songs spoke for the youth and protest movement of that time, but in Things Have Changed, a much later song, he spoke for me, for my sense of rootlessness, disjunction, disconnection with the universe and a cynicism that arose from emotional pain.

There are few living writers who come close to his range as well as his accessibility. – Richard Crasta

Rising prices

The numbers don’t tell the complete story and leaders should look at the ground reality (“India's wholesale inflation drops to 3.57% in September”).

Fruits and vegetables are so costly that they are beyond the reach of the common man. Milk and eggs are prohibitively expensive.

After a good monsoon, it’s difficult to understand the high prices of essential commodities.

The only explanation is that there is a strong chain of middle men who are reluctant to forego their margins. In such a scenario, to say that Consumer Price Index or Wholesale Price Index is declining is foolishness. – Suresh

Final cut


Fortunately I decided to go for Anna despite a very negative review by Nandini Ramnath (“Film review: ‘Anna’ is all about Hazare. Arvind Kejriwal who?”).

The reviewer’s bias was obvious. More than the film itself her focus was on who had been excluded. She also took strong objection to the way Anna was ostensibly portrayed as a saint.

As expected, after such a negative review, I was all alone in the movie hall.

The reviewer failed to note how beautifully Shashank Udapurkar recreated Anna on the screen. The film, as a biopic, rightly stayed focused on his life. The film concludes in August 2011, by when Yogendra Yadav wasn't even involved in the movement and not many people knew about Arvind Kejriwal and others.

Anna, who later fought aggressively for liquor ban has been shown himself intoxicated in one of the scenes. He who is known for non- violence could be seen violently dismantling a brewery. So I’m also not sure she felt that Anna was projected as a saint.

I am not a film reviewer myself, so can't comment much about the technical aspect. But I strongly feel that the movie needs to be evaluated without biases. Rakesh Parikh

Canine trouble 

The media has been reporting attacks by stray dogs on people (“At least 120 stray dogs killed in Kerala's Ernakulam and Palakkad districts in the last week”). Many, including children, have been badly injured and a few have been killed. Are animal activists and animal welfare board not concerned of the serious threat to human life by ferocious strays?

Going by their logic, every animal has the right to live. But stray dogs have barged into farmlands and livestock areas across the state to kill domesticated animals. Do these animals then not deserve the right to live?

If they are so concerned, they should take personal responsibility of the stray dogs, take them in and protect them. – Anoop S

***

Isn't there a value for human life? These stray dogs attack humans. Sterilising them won't help. Let animal rights’ activists adopt stray dogs and look after them. – Prashant Augustine

Movers and shakers
Akhilesh Yadav has strong prospect in Indian politics (“Has Akhilesh Yadav (almost) announced a split in the Samajwadi Party?”) He should not sully his reputation by associating with Rahul Gandhi and follow Narendra Modi’s example in working hard to boost his image. – Ranganathan Srinivasan

Staying put

This article about staying home during holidays is well written and brings thoughts and memories together. Though personally I like to travel, home is truly where the heart is. – Sajid

***

I also enjoy the simple pleasures of staying at home, so I was pleasantly surprised to read an article on this! – Rohit Raj R

Keeping guard

Those who wince every time they hear Arnab Goswami's shrill voice should be happy he has been given security cover. ("Nine questions about Arnab Goswami's 'Y' security cover that the nation should be asking"). If he were to be killed, he would be become a martyr representing freedom of speech, something he clearly does not believe in. – Vivan Eyben

***

This article is filled with jealousy and sarcasm. There is nothing wrong in perceiving a security threat and seeking protection against that.

The author seems to have had an interaction with Arnab Goswami on Newshour, where people get rightly questioned for their actions and get hurt when their wrongs are pointed out. – Parag Joshi

Media wars

The conflict between India and Pakistan is not a media creation – repeated terror attacks and infiltration attempts sponsored by Pakistan and denied by its government are not a media reaction, neither is the mounting feeling that there is a real and present danger to India from radical Islamism, not just from outside the country, but even within ("How the media in India and Pakistan created a war where there wasn't one").

India's surgical strikes are also not a media creation and are an outcome of the collective sentiment in India that enough is enough, we have to give it back.

Above all is a feeling of near helplessness over the situation in Kashmir going out of control, with a meddling Pakistan, a Pakistan-China Axis, a Chinese encirclement and a disillusionment among politicians who seem incapable of delivering on development or even national security.

So to ascribe all of this to just the media is over-simplifying the narrative. All the elements of a huge conflagration are present. All that is needed is a matchstick. – Seshan Ranganathan

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

How sustainable farming practices can secure India's food for the future

India is home to 15% of the world’s undernourished population.

Food security is a pressing problem in India and in the world. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), it is estimated that over 190 million people go hungry every day in the country.

Evidence for India’s food challenge can be found in the fact that the yield per hectare of rice, one of India’s principal crops, is 2177 kgs per hectare, lagging behind countries such as China and Brazil that have yield rates of 4263 kgs/hectare and 3265 kgs/hectare respectively. The cereal yield per hectare in the country is also 2,981 kgs per hectare, lagging far behind countries such as China, Japan and the US.

The slow growth of agricultural production in India can be attributed to an inefficient rural transport system, lack of awareness about the treatment of crops, limited access to modern farming technology and the shrinking agricultural land due to urbanization. Add to that, an irregular monsoon and the fact that 63% of agricultural land is dependent on rainfall further increase the difficulties we face.

Despite these odds, there is huge potential for India to increase its agricultural productivity to meet the food requirements of its growing population.

The good news is that experience in India and other countries shows that the adoption of sustainable farming practices can increase both productivity and reduce ecological harm.

Sustainable agriculture techniques enable higher resource efficiency – they help produce greater agricultural output while using lesser land, water and energy, ensuring profitability for the farmer. These essentially include methods that, among other things, protect and enhance the crops and the soil, improve water absorption and use efficient seed treatments. While Indian farmers have traditionally followed these principles, new technology now makes them more effective.

For example, for soil enhancement, certified biodegradable mulch films are now available. A mulch film is a layer of protective material applied to soil to conserve moisture and fertility. Most mulch films used in agriculture today are made of polyethylene (PE), which has the unwanted overhead of disposal. It is a labour intensive and time-consuming process to remove the PE mulch film after usage. If not done, it affects soil quality and hence, crop yield. An independently certified biodegradable mulch film, on the other hand, is directly absorbed by the microorganisms in the soil. It conserves the soil properties, eliminates soil contamination, and saves the labor cost that comes with PE mulch films.

The other perpetual challenge for India’s farms is the availability of water. Many food crops like rice and sugarcane have a high-water requirement. In a country like India, where majority of the agricultural land is rain-fed, low rainfall years can wreak havoc for crops and cause a slew of other problems - a surge in crop prices and a reduction in access to essential food items. Again, Indian farmers have long experience in water conservation that can now be enhanced through technology.

Seeds can now be treated with enhancements that help them improve their root systems. This leads to more efficient water absorption.

In addition to soil and water management, the third big factor, better seed treatment, can also significantly improve crop health and boost productivity. These solutions include application of fungicides and insecticides that protect the seed from unwanted fungi and parasites that can damage crops or hinder growth, and increase productivity.

While sustainable agriculture through soil, water and seed management can increase crop yields, an efficient warehousing and distribution system is also necessary to ensure that the output reaches the consumers. According to a study by CIPHET, Indian government’s harvest-research body, up to 67 million tons of food get wasted every year — a quantity equivalent to that consumed by the entire state of Bihar in a year. Perishables, such as fruits and vegetables, end up rotting in store houses or during transportation due to pests, erratic weather and the lack of modern storage facilities. In fact, simply bringing down food wastage and increasing the efficiency in distribution alone can significantly help improve food security. Innovations such as special tarpaulins, that keep perishables cool during transit, and more efficient insulation solutions can reduce rotting and reduce energy usage in cold storage.

Thus, all three aspects — production, storage, and distribution — need to be optimized if India is to feed its ever-growing population.

One company working to drive increased sustainability down the entire agriculture value chain is BASF. For example, the company offers cutting edge seed treatments that protect crops from disease and provide plant health benefits such as enhanced vitality and better tolerance for stress and cold. In addition, BASF has developed a biodegradable mulch film from its ecovio® bioplastic that is certified compostable – meaning farmers can reap the benefits of better soil without risk of contamination or increased labor costs. These and more of the company’s innovations are helping farmers in India achieve higher and more sustainable yields.

Of course, products are only one part of the solution. The company also recognizes the importance of training farmers in sustainable farming practices and in the safe use of its products. To this end, BASF engaged in a widespread farmer outreach program called Samruddhi from 2007 to 2014. Their ‘Suraksha Hamesha’ (safety always) program reached over 23,000 farmers and 4,000 spray men across India in 2016 alone. In addition to training, the company also offers a ‘Sanrakshan® Kit’ to farmers that includes personal protection tools and equipment. All these efforts serve to spread awareness about the sustainable and responsible use of crop protection products – ensuring that farmers stay safe while producing good quality food.

Interested in learning more about BASF’s work in sustainable agriculture? See here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of BASF and not by the Scroll editorial team.