Letters to the editor

Readers’ comments: ‘Step-motherly treatment of West Bengal has fuelled Gorkhaland demand’

A selection of readers’ opinions.

Gorkhaland demand

Gorkhas have been living in North East India since time immemorial (“‘Bengal is our coffin’: In Darjeeling, food stocks run low but support for Gorkhaland is undimmed”). They have fought and died for the country – be it during the World Wars, the 1962 Sino-Indian war or the 1971 war with Pakistan.

Gorkhas are simple, peaceful and co-operative people who play politics and stay in harmony. But the step-motherly treatment of the West Bengal government towards them has given rise to the Gorkhaland demand. The hills are deprived of growth and people have to go elsewhere for jobs. The tea gardens are in a shambles, so much more can be done to promote tourism, the municipality is non-functional. There has been no infrastructural development.

So, I think it would be fair to give Gorkhas their separate land. Nobody should have a problem with the creation of the Gorkhaland state. – Aneel Thapa

Body politics

I do not agree with the writer’s opinion about Kashmir (“I was a human shield: In Kashmir, India is surrendering its humanity”). Why is he silent on the torture and rape of Kashmiri Hindus at the hands of militants? They were chased out of Kashmir.

Are bomb blasts and murders by militants ethical? What about the acts of stone-pelters? If someone is not happy being in a particular country for whatever reason, they should find a new place to stay. – Hemantkumar Kulkarni


The Army you talk about is the same that has saved lakhs of Kashmiris during floods and other natural calamities. May be we should have allowed Pakistan to occupy Srinagar in 1947. Then you and your ilk would have realised what it means to be trampled by Islamabad. Balochis and Sindhis are suffering 70 years after Independence in Pakistan and so are the people of Pakistan occupied Kashmir. – Mahesh Nayak


It’s not entirely true. Many of us are aware of what happened in Kashmir. It’s gut-wrenching and breaks our heart. – Shashank Singh

Yoga day

The writer seems to have taken a stab at a topic of which he clearly has no understanding (“Yes, we should celebrate yoga – but not for the reason Modi and his admirers want us to”). It randomly quotes a few writers and reaches conclusions. I would encourage the writer to practice and see the difference himself. Patanjali never prescribed suppression of mind, rather it spoke about how to train the mind to be under one’s control. I am surprised at the editor’s choice to publish such a poor piece of writing. – Srikanth


I feel sickened by your views in this article. There is so much negativity in it that it have the word “yoga” in the article makes no sense. You leave no opportunity to criticise the BJP. You think that since you’re the English media, your views will resonate with the English-speaking Indian population, but that is not the case. Understand the way in which national political opinion is flowing to stay relevant, else you won’t last long. – Mayank

Presidential race

This is a biased article (“Not a masterstroke: BJP picked Kalam for president after 2002 riots, Kovind after attacks on Dalits”). Why are all the government’s good initiatives given a casteist tinge? Atrocities are a result of the acts of uncivilised and immature citizens. We need to educate those people instead of blaming the government for each and every thing. That is the the responsibility of press. – Iyer Sivaramakrishnan

Left out

This is regarding the piece titled “Watch: Sign language interpreters are bringing music to the hearing-impaired.” The first line of this reads: What if people with impaired hearing, could hear and experience music as we know it? Who is the “we” that you are referring to? Are you assuming that everyone in your reading audience has perfect hearing?

I am deaf and have been reading newspapers and magazines for some 50 years. I am tired of the assumption that deaf and hard-of-hearing people could not possibly be reading these things. Please stop with the “us” vs “them” outlook. – Tom Willard

Bitter pill

The Karnataka private medical establishment act is a draconian law that apparently vilifies all private doctors (“In Karnataka, revamp of medical regulations in the name of citizens is only hurting their interests”). Providing quality healthcare to people is the duty of the government and cannot be thrust upon the private sector. I wonder why people expect doctors to do charity even though we run hospital or clinics on shoe-string budges.,

If there is no profitability in it, a business cannot sustain itself. Becoming a doctor is not easy, we put in more than 15 years in studying without earning any income, and yet people expect charity from private doctors.

Are we not living in a democratic country? This suggests that we are living in a communist country. If people want quality healthcare from the private sector, they should understand that it comes at a price, as in any other business. Articles like this instigate violence against doctors.

People always have the choice of going to government hospitals. – Rathan Shetty

Wrong note

The author either forgets or does not know that dhrupad is a verse form (“What German composer Bach has in common with the Indian dhrupad genre”). The suffix “pad” says so. As Abul Fazl describes it in Ain e Akbari, it is a verse form consisting of four rhyming lines, each in free metre. Nothing more or less.
Jyoti Pande

Lost years

It came as such a relief that Asrar Jamayee’s pension has been restored and he will get what’s due to him (“Delhi government orders pension of Urdu poet ‘incorrectly declared dead’ to be restored”). The amount, however, is meagre. – Arpita Ghosh


What about his retroactive pension? What about all those years he was denied his rightful income? That must be restored too. – Najeeb Khan

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.