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Rajiv Malhotra – Fountain Of Gyaan For Desi Indians

April 28, 2013 25 comments

Inferior desi mind is Rajiv Malhotra’s biggest target. Phoren Maal like Rajiv Malhotra have superior minds.

Rajiv Malhotra has to run down everything that modern India has achieved. Why this antipathy to India?  |  Twitter - RajivMessage- Tata’s Nano will worsen ... 2013-04-28 14-25-45  |  Click to go message.

Rajiv Malhotra has has to run down everything that modern India has achieved. Why this antipathy to India? | Twitter – RajivMessage- Tata’s Nano will worsen … 2013-04-28 14-25-45 | Click to go message.

Rajiv Malhotra, I have bad news for you!

Too Late

It is a little late in the day to run down Tata Nano.

The Indian consumer has decided that at nearly Rs.2.0 lakhs the Tata Nano is not the deal that Ratan Tata had promised at Rs.1.0 lakh.

Sorry! One less, juicy Indian target, for you to run down!

Surely He Knows

But then, Rajiv Malhotra is not running down the Tata Nano for the lack of consumer acceptance.

He is attacking three things: –

1. How can Someone in India decide that they will design a car for India – in India, by Indians, made in India.

Now this is something that few outside Europe, Japan, and the US have been able to do. Korea alone has done this, after Japan. China’s attempts at car making have been plagued by charges of copy-cat engineering – unlike the Nano.

How can backward Indians do this? They have to be wrong, according to Rajiv Malhotra.

2. India will increase oil dependence by Tata Nano, says Rajiv Malhora.

This is his weakest argument. Indians have not accepted the Tata Nano. Instead have decided to go for diesel cars – which return a mileage much better than petrol. Also tax rates on diesel are much lower than on petrol.

The Indian Government misrepresents the difference in tax-rates between diesel and petrol as subsidy on diesel.

3. Inferior desi mind is Rajiv Malhotra’s biggest target. Phoren Maal like Rajiv Malhotra have superior minds.

India must go electric, says Rajiv Malhotra. Make electric cars.

In a country which does not produce enough electricity to light up all households 24-hours a day, India must now add electric cars and increase demand for electricity.

Such superior thinking Phoren Maal has!

Assuming that India can increase electricity production, what fuel will it use for electricity production? Coal, which it will have to import? Same dependence story! Domestic coal which has a high ash content? Washed domestic coal, which will make electricity more expensive than it is? Produce electricity using imported natural-gas that will increase import dependence further?

Maybe India should have lower the cost of public transport – and increase public transport? But that is such a unglamorous idea? Will it get him more twitter followers? Will adoring young men and women throng to hear him about public transport? I guess not!

Indians Love China Stories

But if he talks of how China is making great progress in electric cars, he is likely to get more twitter followers? More thronging audiences.

Never mind the fact, that facts go against Rajiv Malhotra’s brilliant ideas for us desi Indians.

One – China is the world’s largest car market. And electric cars comprise less than 0.1% of its car population. Actually, it is 0.06%. This is the great leap-frog, Malhotra-ma-an?

By the way, the biggest story on electric cars in not the car but the battery. Current Lithium batteries are too expensive. Probably aluminum-air batteries will make electric cars feasible. And where is China in all this? Nowhere.

Two – In August 2010, global media was agog with a traffic jam in China that was 10 days long.

Three– China’s electricity production using coal, is making air unbreathable in all major Chinese cities. China is trying to increase solar energy. But sadly!

3 weeks before this great tweet-gyaan from Rajiv Malhotra came our way, China’s largest solar-panel producer, Suntech declared bankruptcy.

Belly up!

Just like Rajiv Malhotra’s gyaan.



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Mumbai should do something about its filth: London mayor, Boris Johnson

December 13, 2012 3 comments

Should we keep increasing the garbage, waste and filth we generate – and pay more to pollute more.

Is this what we want Mumbai to become? A garbage producing leader!  |  Garbage city cartoon by Norbert Niessen on May 08, 2011 ; source & courtesy - toonpool.com

Is this what we want Mumbai to become? A garbage producing leader! | Garbage city cartoon by Norbert Niessen on May 08, 2011 ; source & courtesy – toonpool.com

Mumbai should do something about its garbage and filth.

“While it may look inappropriate for me to be saying this, Mumbai should do something about the filth and squalour around,” said mayor of London Boris Johnson. He was speaking to DNA on the sidelines of an interaction organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

via Mumbai should do something about its filth: London mayor – India – DNA.

I actually agree with Boris Johnson. Mumbai should do something about its garbage and filth.

Reduce it.

We cannot keep increasing the garbage, waste and filth we generate – and pay more to pollute more. Should Mumbai and other Indian cities work to create the another island of plastic waste that now floats in the Pacific and the Atlantic. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch – a few times the size of India, and some studies claim 20 metres deep.

Sometime back, carcass parts were found in Cairo garbage bins - a public-safety hazard  |  Cartoon source & courtesy - ahram.org

Sometime back, carcass parts were found in Cairo garbage bins – a public-safety hazard | Cartoon source & courtesy – ahram.org

Or a situation like Cairo, when animal carcass parts were found in garbage bins – a public-safety issue.

The Indian State increasingly a captive of Big Business, cannot think small. It is very possible to have methane-from-organic-waste; waste water recycling in Mumbai, with its super-dense population. Unlike Delhi, which is widely spread.

We cannot have the ‘modern’ model of urban cleanliness. And till we find a better model, we better tolerate and live with the garbage and filth we generate.


A Fart Tax and a Pink Revolution can “Save the World.”

December 6, 2012 3 comments

A satire on the study that cows are a leading generator of green house gases.

Holy cows are 'criminal' animals  |  Creative credits not available at source.

Holy cows are ‘criminal’ animals | Creative credits not available at source.

I

ndia, the world’s largest livestock owner, recently balked at the farming gas curbs at the UN climate talks in Doha.

India is also the fourth largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitter, and has not done enough of its share of saving the planet.  To make matters worse India industrial economy and a hunger for cars, could sound the earth’s death knell.

India’s unholy environmental infractions are not limited to its industrial economy.  As the talks in Doha indicate, India environmental infractions have now taken a holy turn, by its unwillingness to pay taxes agricultural emissions that come from cows – also known as the fart tax.

For example, there are thousands of villages in India who adopt old cows, and let them live until their old age to die.  These unproductive cows do nothing but eat, burp and fart.  They consume valuable green resources, provide no milk, and then create the deadly GHG’s that will bring the world to an end.  These old cows are therefore a double whammy on poor earth.

India should learn from the US who does not let their cows get old.  Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, both critics of India’s industrial ambitions and agricultural obsessions, love a nice piece of steak. If it is veal, that comes from a calf, that’s considered even better.  The logic is, why let a cow live longer than needs to be?  In fact, as veal aficionados point out, the fetus of an unborn cow, not only makes for the most tender veal, but also contributes in saving the planet.  As these men so deliciously demonstrate, it is only rational that a cow, a calf or a fetus, is better dead and eaten, than living, eating, burping and gawd* forbid, farting (to be fair, a fetus is not known to fart, but a pregnant cow does emit more dangerous GHGs).  Additionally, eating beef is greener than eating beans,  because beans make humans emit more gases, thereby causing more environmental damage and hastening the end of the world.  India is not only a dangerous source of GHGs from the cows, but also people whose high fiber, vegetarian diet is a major threat to the environment through emission of these GHGs.

Pseudo-scientific 'studies' for political & propaganda purposes  |  Source: fatknowledge.blogspot.in; creative credits not available.

Pseudo-scientific ‘studies’ for political & propaganda purposes | Source: fatknowledge.blogspot.in; creative credits not available.

Far too many Indians do not eat beef because of silly religious dogmas and this orthodoxy is bringing the entire planet to a brink.

The recent talks in Doha are missing some critical out of the box thinking.  Al Gore has generously contributed to this planet by starting a Carbon credit trading firm; however, these carbon credits do not extend to agricultural GHGs.  India’s methane emissions have grown from 18.85 million metric tons in 1985 to 20.56 million in 2008 – largely from “emissions” from livestock.  There is talk of trading “cow emissions” where India can purchase the credits from American cows, who not only live a shorter life, they are also given special fodder to reduce their emissions.  The villages who adopt these cows, can also purchase these “emission” credits from farmers in the US.  While Al Gore is mulling making money from these credits, or what is known as a “fart tax,”  India can provide some creative alternative solutions to avoid the “fart tax” and also prevent doomsday.

All India needs is some leadership to solve this problem.  Thankfully, it can look up to its progressivist leadership from the civil society to start another colorful revolution.  After celebrating the success of the green and the white revolutions, Indians should team up with the UN, NGOs and Magsaysay award winners, and actor turned TV hosts, to start a Pink Revolution.  This revolution should start with a simple pledge:

For every car that is sold in India, Indians must pledge to cull two cows.

Do humans have the right to decide which life-life-form will exist? In what numbers? Where?  |  Cartoon by Mark Lester

Do humans have the right to decide which life-life-form will exist? In what numbers? Where? | Cartoon by Mark Lester

While this transition is taking place, instead of wasting all the meat from the culled cows – people should participate in this Pink Revolution, and join in for a “national beef eating feast” to celebrate the saving of the planet.  Some orthodox Indians might resist, but the English speaking Indian media, with the help of environmentalists and NGOs can urge the ignorant and backward  people of India, to break the chains of their decadent past.  Hillary Clinton, in addition to saving India’s burning brides and children involved in labor, can save Indians and teach them Obama’s and her husband’s excellent culinary and environmentally friendly gourmet beef recipes, by inaugurating an international “steak eating day.”  The younger, the rarer and the juicier the steak, the better for the planet. (Younger – why emit more gas by living longer? Rarer – why cook more and waste precious energy? Juicer – well it just tastes bloody awesome!)

Once all the cows are eliminated, meat hungry Indians could turn their attention to poultry.  These poultry farms with millions of chickens are a major source of Nitrous Oxide and Methane (N20 and Ch4), both deadly greenhouse gases, that will guarantee misery for our grandchildren as the world comes to an end.

It is time that Indians do their share and save the earth from disaster.  While Obama, Hillary  and Gore show the rest of the world the righteous path, India should follow their lead.  It is time India looks forward to this progressive undertaking, rather than be stuck in its ancient and decadent obsession of protecting cows.

Such issues arise from too much engagement with the West. India should work on more South-South trade, agreements, cooperation.  |  Cartoon by Peter Nicholson dated February 24th 2009; source & credit - nicholsoncartoons.com.au

Such issues arise from too much engagement with the West. India should work on more South-South trade, agreements, cooperation. | Cartoon by Peter Nicholson dated February 24th 2009; source & credit – nicholsoncartoons.com.au

A Gary Larson cartoon showed a flea in crowded “city” in the hair of a dog’s back saying: “THE END OF THE DOG IS NEAR…”

Human beings, especially Indians with their obsessions with their cars and their cows are like fleas, killing the poor dog.  India should follow the exemplary leadership shown by team Obama to help save the planet.  They really know what is right for all us and the funding they provide to thousands of scientists have earned them a consensus on these progressive ideas.

Obama and his missionaries of progress, patiently recognize that Indians know not what they do to the poor earth.  They know not that the end of days are near and their sins are the cause for this end.

Indians need to be saved so that the earth can be too.  This gawd needs sacrifices. As Indians, we must now recognize that we must sacrifice our holy cows and our vegetarian brethren for the sake of our grandchildren.

The sacrifices must begin today, before it is too late!

*GaWD = Global Warming Deity, the gawd that the climate change doomsday cultists worship

The author resides in the US, where cows are given a special diet and a short life, thus lowering the implicit fart tax and contributing towards saving the planet.  This allows him to stay vegetarian as India embraces this Pink Revolution.


Living Root Bridges in Meghalaya

July 23, 2012 1 comment

How roots of the Indian Rubber Tree are trained to build bridges across streams upto 30 metres long, in Meghalaya.

A living root bridge in the Khasi Hills, Meghalaya, India (courtesy of flickr user Seema K K)

A living root bridge in the Khasi Hills, Meghalaya, India (courtesy of flickr user Seema K K)

In the northeastern Indian state of Meghalaya, where Ficus elastica are large, native outdoor trees that live near water, the local people have been using the ficus’s roots as bridges for generations.

These aren’t trees that have fallen naturally over streams, though, which are commonly used as bridges in other places. Instead, the people train the trees’ roots to grow over the streams, guiding them over a period of 20 or so years into the shapes of paths and handrails until they have a bridge strong enough to carry many people at once. And as the tree grows, so does the bridge, gaining in strength over time, as the magazine Geographical noted earlier this year:

Once the roots have been trained across the stream bed, they anchor in the soil of the opposite bank, providing the foundations for a living bridge. Usually, several roots are threaded together for strength, while others provide handrails and supports for longer spans. Flat stones from the stream bed are used to fill gaps in the bridge floor and, in time, these are engulfed by woody growth and become part of the fabric of the bridge itself.

A root bridge takes around 20 years to become fully functional. Once complete, however, it will probably last for several hundred years and, unlike its non-living counterparts, will actually increase in strength with age.

Known in the Khasi language as jingkieng deingjri (‘bridge of the rubber tree’), the bridges may be anywhere from ten to 30 metres in span. Unlike most artificial structures, they are able to withstand the high level of soil erosion brought about by monsoon rains and, being living material rather than dead wood, are resistant to the ravages of termites.

There is even a double-decker bridge supposedly capable of handling the weight of 50 people at a time. (via Amazing Living Root Bridges in India | Surprising Science).


Cars & TVs that last 25-years

April 29, 2012 2 comments

Garbage mush, mostly plastic and paper, three times bigger than India in size, floats across the Pacific and Atlantic. Progress and development …

Purple crab 'discovered' at Palawan, Philippines  |  Image source & courtesy - blogs.discovermagazine.com  |  Click for image.

Purple crab ‘discovered’ at Palawan, Philippines | Image source & courtesy – blogs.discovermagazine.com | Click for image.

Bright purple crabs with big red claws were one of four species recently discovered on the Phillipine island of Palawan during a study by the Senckenberg Research Institute in Germany and De La Salle University in Manila. Our Amazing Planet calls Palawan a “major biodiversity hotspot” and about half its species are found nowhere else on earth.

So of course the crabs’ habitat is threatened, in this case by mining activities.

Of course it is. When was the last time you read a story that said, “Wow, look at these awesome animals and people are leaving them alone”? (via 10 Amazing Discoveries You Missed This Week | Environment | AlterNet).

Is this worth dying for?

This dig-and mine, the strip-and-bare system of natural exploitation by our ‘development’ only comes out with cars that need to be replaced every 5-10 years.

Is our global cardiac problem due to excess nitrogen via fertilizers in our food? The link between nitrogen and cardiac functioning is known.

Our first family-TV worked for 15 years. The second lasted all of 6 years. The third TV is in its 5th year. I am told that these LCD panels do not last for more than 7 years. Is there is a big difference between these three TVs. Not worth the Rs.1,00,000 (US$4000) that was spent on these TVs.

All this becomes trash, garbage, waste.

Where is this garbage going?

The "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" or "trash vortex"  |  Source & courtesy - cereplast.com; no creative details at source.  |  Click for larger image.

The “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” or “trash vortex” | Source & courtesy – cereplast.com; no creative details at source. | Click for larger image.

A “plastic soup” of waste floating in the Pacific Ocean is growing at an alarming rate and now covers an area twice the size of the continental United States.

The vast expanse of debris – in effect the world’s largest rubbish dump – is held in place by swirling underwater currents. This drifting “soup” stretches from about 500 nautical miles off the Californian coast, across the northern Pacific, past Hawaii and almost as far as Japan.

Charles Moore, an American oceanographer who discovered the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” or “trash vortex”, believes that about 100 million tons of flotsam are circulating in the region. (The world’s rubbish dump: a tip that stretches from Hawaii to Japan – Green Living – Environment – The Independent).

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch  |  Source: biglobe.ne.jp  |  Click for image.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch | Source: biglobe.ne.jp | Click for image.

It gets worse.

Billions of bits of plastic are accumulating in a massive garbage patch in the Atlantic Ocean—a lesser known cousin to the trash vortex in the Pacific.

“Many people have heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” said Kara Lavender Law, an oceanographer at the Sea Education Association in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. (See pictures of the Pacific Ocean trash vortex.)

“But this issue has essentially been ignored in the Atlantic.”

The newly described garbage patch sits hundreds of miles off the North American coast. Although its east-west span is unknown, the patch covers a region between 22 and 38 degrees north latitude—roughly the distance from Cuba to Virginia (see a U.S. map).

As with the Pacific garbage patch, plastic can circulate in this part of the Atlantic Ocean for years

Tiny pieces of trash, each less than a tenth the weight of a paper clip, make up most of the debris, Law said February 23 at the American Geophysical Union’s 2010 Ocean Sciences meeting in Portland, Oregon..

In some places the students found more than 200,000 bits of trash per square kilometer (520,000 bits per square mile). The vast majority of these fragments come from consumer products that were blown out of open landfills or were tossed out by litterbugs.

Similar surface trawls in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch have found as many as 750,000 bits of plastic per square kilometer (1.9 million bits per square mile), noted marine chemist Giora Proskurowski, also with the Sea Education Association.

But that’s only a portion of the total, he said, because waves often carry plastic as deep as 65 feet (20 meters) below the surface. (via Huge Garbage Patch Found in Atlantic Too).

Is this the only model?

Why can’t we have a TV or cars that works for a generation – 25-years?

We can have aluminum and stainless steel cars that will last 25 years. Or made of plastics that have to be recycled by the manufacturer.

Technology updates can be modular. We don’t have these products because of faulty tax policies.

Will our manufacturers come out with junk if they had to pay 25-year tax upfront?

A pollution tax paid upfront for 25 years on all industrial products. Future payments could adjusted against 25-year warranty fulfillment or when producer takes the product back from the consumer and recycles it.

In the meantime, maya rules.

We may be dying of myriad cancers, with our diabetic lifestyles – if we are not dead due to cardiac arrest.

But we are getting technology and progress.

Is that not good?

Great Pacific Garbage Patch infographic  |  Source & courtesy - webecoist.com  |  Click for image.

Great Pacific Garbage Patch infographic | Source & courtesy – webecoist.com | Click for image.


Unholy Trinity: Retail, Food, Chemicals

April 12, 2012 1 comment

Chemical & seed companies working ‘closely’ with food corporations & Big Retail are creating products that are public hazards.

Chemical-Food-Retail corporations are joined at the hip - with the State acting as though in control of this Three-Headed Monster  |.   Cartoonist Clay Bennett  |  Click for image.

Chemical-Food-Retail corporations are joined at the hip - with the State acting as though in control of this Three-Headed Monster |. Cartoonist Clay Bennett | Click for image.

The Big Story

Over the last 100 years, agriculture in the West has become more capital-intensive, more chemical oriented – dominated by a few buyers.

Result?

Western agriculture is now controlled by around 5% of the population. This concentration of production has been possible through State subsidies that total US$100 billion.

3-headed Monster

There is now a unholy nexus between buying corporations (like, say ConAgra) that have huge capital at their disposal – with which they buy all farm production, in say wheat. This is now sold to mega-retail chains like Walmart. Monsanto another huge chemical producer, works ‘closely’ with (say) Walmart and (say) ConAgra. Between these three, they decide what we eat, what is safe – and what we know.

Assuming that the State is on our side (a big assumption), it still means that the State depends on these same companies for ‘disclosures’. Based on what this oligopoly ‘discloses’, the State decides.

And we consume.

The plaintiffs in the suit — growers from mostly small, family-owned farms in Misiones Province, Argentina — say they were asked to use herbicides and pesticide produced by Monsanto that were proven to be poisonous. Many farmers insist that they were driven to replace native tobacco crops with a variant favored by Philip Morris which required more pesticides to harvest. From there they were pushed to use Roundup, a Monsanto-made herbicide that, while successful in killing weeds, has ghastly side effects due to its large concentration of the chemical glyphosate.

“Monsanto defendants, the Philip Morris defendants, and the Carolina Leaf defendants promoted the use of Roundup and other herbicides to tobacco farmers in Misiones even though they were on direct and explicit notice that at all relevant times farmers in Misiones, including the instant plaintiffs, lacked the necessary personal protective equipment and other safety knowledge and skills required to minimize harmful exposures to Roundup,” the complaint claims.

Also in the filing, attorneys argue that both Monsanto and Philip Morris “actively recommended and/or required that contracted tobacco farmers, including the instant plaintiffs, purchase excessive quantities of Roundup and other pesticides” while failing to recommend protective measures necessary to combat the health risks that were not made available to the farmers.

“The plaintiff tobacco farmers’ lack of training and instruction on the safe disposal of unused Roundup and other pesticides caused further exposure,” the complaint states. “Leftover pesticides were discarded in locations where they leached into the water supply.”

The farmers insist that that exposure to Monsanto’s pesticides, which they were compelled to use after urging from both the corporation and Big Tobacco firms, caused an array of defects in area children. The legal filing is asking for financial compensation, as well as punitive damages for negligence, product liability, breach of warranty, ultra hazardous activity, aiding and abetting, willful and wanton misconduct and violations of Argentine laws, reports the Courthouse News Service. (via Monsanto sued for poisoning farmers — RT).

The price we pay for buying this industrial food system is what funds the media that feeds us with half-truths  |  Cartoonist Cathy Wilcox' source & courtesy - coreybradshaw.wordpress.com  |  Click for image.

The price we pay for buying this industrial food system is what funds the media that feeds us with half-truths | Cartoonist Cathy Wilcox' source & courtesy - coreybradshaw.wordpress.com | Click for image.

Do we have options?

Of course.

We can wait for thirty years. Wait for ‘activistas’ to take up our case. Spend millions, research for years, to build a case against this oligopoly.

And sue them.

Cases that will take years, cost hundreds of millions – with an uncertain outcome.

These same corporations are promising us Indians, low prices for consumers, and higher incomes to farmers – and better tax return to the State.

Progress, I believe, is the term used to describe this system.


Without Comment – The Great Indian Genetic Robbery

January 24, 2012 5 comments

The ways, means, and behind Western technology and science.

India is rice country. Rice is a critical component of a complex eco-system, tied to legends, used as symbol, essential witness at religious ceremonies and rituals. Such an immense preoccupation with rice would, which is to be expected, call forth its own brand of competence to grow it; so we find a bewildering number of techniques, some of which even today place Indian rice farmers, some Adivasis, in a class far ahead of international science.

In the Jagannath Temple at Puri in Orissa, I was told, freshly harvested rice is presented to the deity everyday, and various varieties of rice, placed in pots, one on top of the other, with a single flame beneath the lowermost, still cook simultaneously. In Chhattisgarh region there is a rice variety called Bora, which can be ground directly into flour and made into rotis. Other varieties have fascinating names, like the kali-mooch of Gwalior, the moti-chur and the khowa; the latter, as its name signifies, tastes like dried milk. The dhokra-dhokri, with its length of grain over 14 mm is the longest rice in the world and the variety Bhimsen has the largest width; there is variety called udan pakheru – because of its long, featherlike structure.

There may have been as many as 1,20,000 varieties of rice in the country, adapted to different environments, and selected and evolved by farmers for specific human needs. These varieties are a product of nature’s desire for diversity, eagerly husbanded by indigenous and non-formal science.

The Central Rice Research Institute (CRRI), at Cuttack, had been working on the different problems associated with rice culture ever since it had been set up in the late 1950s. Dr R.H. Richharia took over as its director in 1959, and a number of competent scientists had come up with interesting work that sooner or later would converge into a strategy to produce more rice.

Two major developments totally ruined the prospect of a promised land overflowing with rice and honey. The first was economic: the oil price hike of 1973 effectively limited a fertiliser-based agricultural strategy. It would make Green Revolution inputs so expensive that they would have to be subsidised by Governments if farmers were not to give up using them forever. The second major problem, also irreversible, arrived in the form of disease and insects. The growing of varieties with a narrow genetic base (all with the same dwarfing gene, dee-gee-wo-gen), upset insect ecology and invented entire generations of pests.

In India, the situation was equally horrifying. All of Dr Richharia’s predictions had come true. ‘The introduction of high-yielding varieties,’ noted a task force of eminent rice breeders, ‘has brought about a marked change in the status of insect pests like gall midge, brown planthopper, leaf folder, whore maggot, etc. Most of the HYVs released so far are susceptible to major pests with a crop loss of 30 to 100 per cent… Most of the HYVs are the derivatives of TN1 or IR8 and therefore, have the dwarfing gene known as dee-gee-wo-gen. The narrow genetic base has created alarming uniformity, causing vulnerability to diseases and pests. Most of the released varieties are not suitable for typical uplands and lowlands which together constitute about 75 per cent of the total rice area of the country.

The IRRI counter-strategy against the pests involved breeding of varieties, with genes for resistance to such pests, taken from wild relatives of the rice plant and its traditional cultivars. All of a sudden it seemed critical that massive efforts be made to make as complete a collection of the older varieties: many of the traditional Indicas were found to be important donors for resistance. Gene incorporation strategy, in other words, required vast germplasm resources, most of which were to be found in India. The recruitment of Dr M.S. Swaminathan would be instrumental in the task of collection.

In India, again, Dr Richharia stood in the way.

After he had been retired from service at Chandler’s insistence, Richharia had gone to the Orissa High Court, where for three years, alone, he fought a legal battle that ruined his family, disrupted the education of his children, and brought tremendous strains on his wife’s health. The legal battle was successful, for in 1970, the Court ordered his reinstatement as director of the CRRI. He had redeemed his honour.

In the meanwhile, the Madhya Pradesh government had appointed Dr Richharia as an agricultural advisor, and the rice man set about his disrupted rice work once again, with his usual zeal. Within the space of six years, he had built up the infrastructure of a new rice research institute at Raipur. Here, this extraordinarily gifted and imaginative rice scientist maintained over 19,000 varieties of rice in situ on a shoestring budget of Rs. 20,000 per annum, with not even a microscope in his office-cum-laboratory, situated in the neighbourhood of cooperative rice mills. His assistants included two agricultural graduates and six village level workers, the latter drawing a salary of Rs.250 per month. Richharia had created, practically out of nothing, one of the most extraordinary living gene banks in the world, and provided ample proof of what Indian scientists are capable of, if they are given proper encouragement.

An attack of leaf blight that devastated the corn crop of the US in 1970, and which had resulted from the extensive planting of hybrids that shared a single source of cytoplasm, and the continuous attacks on IRRI varieties, impelled IRRI to sponsor a Rice Genetic Conservation Workshop in 1977. Swaminathan attended it as an ‘observer’. The report of that workshop begins with the statement: ‘The founders of IRRI showed great foresight when in 1960-61 they planned the establishment of a rice germplasm bank.’ Nonsense. The certified aims and objects for the institute merely talk of a collection of the world’s literature on rice. The workshop, being held 17 years after the establishment of IRRI, indicated that the germplasm problem was becoming important only now.

After the workshop, IRRI’s covetous gaze fell on Richharia’s 19,000 varieties at the Madhya Pradesh Rice Research Institute (MPRRI). Not only had Richharia now uncovered a fascinating world of traditional rices, some of which produced between 8-9 tonnes per hectare – better than the IRRI varieties – he had also discovered dwarf plants without the susceptible dwarfing gene of the IRRI varieties. His extension work among the farmers would soon begin to pose a direct challenge to IRRI itself.

IRRI staff members journeyed to Raipur and asked for his material. Still moulded in the old scientific tradition, he refused because he had not studied the material himself. He was decidedly against any proposal for ‘exchange’, for this could only mean giving up his uncontaminated varieties for IRRI’s susceptible ones.

So the IRRI did the next best thing: it got the MPRRI shut down!

The ICAR floated a scheme for agricultural development in Madhya Pradesh, particularly for rice. The World Bank contributed Rs.4 crores. The condition laid down was: close down the MPRRI, since it would lead to a ‘duplication of work.’ At a special meeting of the MPRRI Board, Madhya Pradesh’s chief secretary who was not a trustee was present. He had been earlier connected with the Ford Foundation. A resolution was passed closing down the Institute, and the rice germplasm passed over to the Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi Vishwa Vidyalaya (JNKVV), whose vice-chancellor Sukhdev Singh also joined the IRRI board of trustees. Scientists were sent to IRRI for training in germplasm transfer, and Richharia’s team was disbanded.

This time too, they locked Dr. Richharia’s rooms and took away all his research papers. (More @ The Great Gene Robbery  |  Claude Alvares |  13 Jan 2012Vijayvaani.com).

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