Ananthoo's updates

When all trees have been cut down, when all animals have been hunted, when all waters are polluted, when all air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money. - Cree Prophecy

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

TN budget 2012 reaction

There has been a good budget, looks like in TN this year. There has been a high allocation for agri!
While it is good to note that there has been a greater allocation for agriculture, thrust on sustainable farming (both ecologically and economically) would have helped.
see here!

That quote of mine about lack of anything organic is just one (big) lacuna in this budget..
there are others:
1/ The most strikingly absent feature is the Organic Mission fro the state. while many are states are announcing themselves to be going organic and releasing an organic mission for the state and announcing many proactive organic policies and programs to take the organic movement forward, it is sad that TN which has many pioneer organic farmers is missing the opportunity to lead from the front. This is especially important in today's scenario- on health as well as the fertilizer shortage/subsidy removal condition.

2/ The very talk of second Green revolution is very dangerous. It is well known fact that Green revolution focused only and 2 grains- rice and wheat and hence lost out in long term. Today most of the ills of farmers and farming (esp for the small and marginal ones) is due to the green revolution. The ecological impact too has been heavy because of GR. The much hyped 2nd GR in the east is already receiving flak in the eastern states of West Bengal, orissa, Assam etc and is being questioned and derided heavily.

3/ The agri Insurance is a very good and much needed scheme and increasing its coverage is great. But there are lots of issues on the ground level esp very operational and functional issues. These will have to be addressed to reap the benefit. So awareness programs as well as understanding the exact needs of the farmers needs to be planned. May be state level workshop with farmers, farmer leaders, civil society members, agri dept members and insurance experts need to converge. (SFA intends organising one such workshop)

4/ SRI- System of Rice Intensification is a good news. Hope it is taken up the organic way like in most other states in India. (actually SRI has grown beyond rice and shud be ideally called Syatem of roots Intensification)

5/ SPI- of pulses is also a welcome move.

6/ Marketing and storage facilities needs more attention and allocation. More plans should be around implementing them at block level.

7/ It is indeed welcome to see the mention about rehabilitation of tanks. If implemented, this would have been one of the greatest outcomes in this budget, considering the water crisis in the coming days.

8/ we should learn from the Cuba example. when in the 80s, US backed embargo was imposed, suddenly they were left without chemical fertilisers..and in crisis the country acted very boldly and prudently and went the sustainable, traditional and organic ways. Today it is the only 100% organic country in the world. needless to state that they are the most healthy society in the world - leading both in health and health care indices.

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Monday, March 26, 2012

10 years of Bt cotton - its myth, hype and lies..

so a decade passed and the reality is slowly striking..
Bt cotton the only GM crop allowed in India 10 years back is proving to be all that menace the activists and enviro warriors were warning us all..
and see here: even Pawar's own ministry guys are croaking- secretly but!

Meanwhile see here for a Tamil version of detailed report on 10 years of Bt cotton in TamilNadu:

and for an english version- detailed report on a decade of Bt cotton in India:

and now on be sure u will oppose anything to do with GM (Bt and such like)if u care about your own health, health of the environment and your next generation.


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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

very very sad!

it is indeed a very sad day!
The TN govt gives a go ahead to the Koodangulam Nuclear project!
Time and again the Governments are carelessly implementing projects and policies (and laws) that suit them - politically and monetarily.
what a shame..
Here in this case they are going ahead without thinking a wee bit about the safety!
we, a country where govts have been incapable of even policing a gate for trespass or pilferage, imagine them getting a fool proof, sound safe projects out of proven scientific catastrophes.

and in a typical way they are now planning for slapping sedition- a favorite tool against sensible civil society members.

and remember - we all are to be blamed too if a major catastrophe happens out there (imminent is it?) for just not reacting strongly and averting this decision of the TN govt. prolly many of us are fooled to think (like the famous Cho Ramasamy) that this will solve all the power crisis of the state. hmm, how foolish can one get? search and check out for the details and data displayed by lots of qualified people.

Iam forced to think, may be, may be, we all deserve a catastrophe...but my wish is those village(r)s around the project are not affected but we all shameless urban consumers..
shame on us!
it has indeed been one of the saddest days for me in my life.

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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Seed Saver par excellence! Seed wizard?

The beauty of Himalayas is yet to sink and even before that the soft spoken smiling Vijay Jardhari and his works inundates me.
Firstly the nature, its beauty and my travails..
Oh man! A 2 hour bus ride from Rishikesh to this upper Nagini (enroute to uttar kashi in the Tehri part of shivalik Himalayas)..was such a scenic one! If it was so beautiful now at this part of the year - off season for farming..what a sight it shud be after rains or in the peak season or around can imagine..this is all the Tehri Garhwal region of the Uttarkhand.
It’s a photographers delight..(be warned..i aint one..and i make do with my mobile only!)
I am dumped at a wrong stop by the bus inspite of me reminding that conductor so many times:-( and after all these years of travel, I haven’t learnt to travel bus? forget wud rather walk if its less than 5 I had to lug another 1 km with the baggage on my back..
But there - all that pain is so easily diverted by the hero standing, welcoming smiling!
He is a real hero..what then? To be a part of Chipko movement in the 70s (in his prime youth then!) Vijay Jardhari went on to accomplish so much in life and still stay so rooted and simple and never exaggerate one word..infact he says it so matter of factly as though it was just another task like eating, sleeping..
After Chipko movement won- yes the Govt had to ban any tree cutting above 1000 meters. (jardhari village is huge collection of some 17 hamlets across a vast area at some 1500 meters!)
VJ with some of his chipko friends in the village fights the mining lobby in 1984-87 and wins again. Stops mining in the Hemvalghati and dhoongahati regions!
So after two successive campaigns, for lack of anything else, he starts to work in his farm. Its then that the hybrid seeds and fertilizers land up in his village and he tries them..and the 1st year he is happy with the output too! There was an yield increase in the 1st year but he is a quick learner..immediately sees that the soil is decreasing the 2nd year itself and find out that this is a high intensive farming and the input cost can only go up.also in the 3rd year he finds that when he saved that seed and grew he just got so low output that it could only be his seed quantity.
So he stops chemical farming immediately..its then that he starts talking to his father and some elders in the village and they admonish the new hybrid seeds and state that there were so many varieties of paddy and others, where as now slowly its all the same hybrid rice.
Its then he starts going around in this whole region chasing and collecting traditional seeds.
This pioneer seed saver and one of its only kind in India has managed to save some 600 varieties, single handedly, till date! Seed saving king, eh?
His deeds and unique seed saving movement is a big hit by then in this region called the Beej Bachao Andolan (seed savers movement!). BBA does so much to reclaim the himalaya’s diversity.

Bara Naja!
It is then he comes out with the old tradition in the Himalayas- Bara naja (some where I have seen this being mentioned as bara anaaj too)..meaning 12 grains/seeds! There are 12 different seeds grown- few grains, some dals, some fibres, some millets, oil seeds, amaranth, buck wheat,a traditional variety of soya called bhaat, even bhang- not the nashaa variety he said:-)
Any 12 of these around 20 seeds are taken..infact this also means there is a nice crop rotation..after these 12 naja are grown, fallow follows and then its rice..then 12 naja follows and wheat or other rabi crop like masoor, barley are grown! He says ragi (finger millet) is the king of this! Such wide bio diversity also means only one or two will effectively fall(fail) for pest or disease. In case of severe rains or flood or drought the ones those are resistant to these vagaries they dont go without harvest, ever!

His display of seeds is such a visual treat..he wud display and talk about the various varieties without any drama or ‘I-have-accomplished’ feeling but with a small smile that conveys the pride! One gets to see so many varieties of paddy, 15 types of Rajma alone, hosts of dals. The highlight is the navrang dal which is such a colorful sight! So many colours of dal which is also so healthy and local!. The same crop gives out dals of 9 different colours!
This Bara Naja is one helluva discovery and has revamped the agriculture in this part and has done so much good for the the initial days people used to be shy in doing this and wud hide these grains when guests came it’s a matter of pride!

This didn’t come so easily..the modern agri cartel in garb of science, university, scientist and what not pushed for mono these parts they pushed for Soya – cash. Oil and protein crop! As is the trick these days these soya seeds came free with free fertilizer kits..
So Beej Bachao Andolan had to jump in again to the rescue of farming and farmers.. BBA campaigned and fought hard..they asked the govt who will process the soya bean in to oil or milk? And for whom was the rich protein and cash they were drumming about..the very fact that these were obviously meant for big industries, MNCs and that the farmers after selling these to the rich had to go to the market to buy cheap poor quality ones. So BBA’s save our seed campaign caught up and farmers and farming was saved..old traditional seeds and practices returning..including this Bara anaj!

He not only changed the mindset of people in Tehri Garhwal area but also of the Govt. Today the Uttar Khand state agri dept talks and professes about his bara naaja (12 grain/seeds) system, that he is a very famous name. even more is the fact that this system is being fully spread and practiced all over!
He is also the reason for a cordial relationship with the forest authorities and so there is such a nice give and take happening unlike most other places where each treats the other as sworn enemies..

Its such a fortunate thing for the society and me ofcourse that I could meet him. Thanks to KSY I met him 1st then and now could follow up and it was such an experience..
To stay in his house and keep eating and when not eating gobbling up the scenic beauty allround – I sure am lucky!

What a person and what a feat! Such gems are the hopes for the future.
Thanks VJ!

see here for Photos!

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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Rishikesh, Himalayas and more..

W wanted to go to Rishikesh for a week long program..and so I jumped..accompanied her all the way and then jumped higher..
Went up the Himalayas around 1500 metres..Man what a world..
Each time one goes up the Himalayas, its even better (ok,forgetting the increasing litter of the lowly humans)..
And this time to visit a couple of very interesting persons who have achieved so much for the society was a big bonus..the weather was real cool which was an additional bonus..
I, normally one who loves cold, is not very well prepared for cold bcos I tell myself, I can handle cold well..
But this time I was stranded in a mountain top waiting for a connection bus where it was around Zero degrees and the wind factor added more chill and I was stranded with just one thin jerkin to support me..and for 3 hours!! Talk of time and connection at the mountains..people are so laid back in the mountains..their perspective of time is so funny, nay nice..when I ask for a bus connection they coolly would say it would come now in the next 2-3 hours..then once closer to that time if you ask, they would coolly say ‘oh may be the bus aint coming..wait for the evening one..’ this while am waiting on the road itching to reach another town desperately before evening!
That was fun!

Coming back, to the story that is, I was so happy to have been with Vijay Jardhari of Beej Bachao Andolan (big story coming soon) and Pawan Gupta of SIDH. These were in Uttarkhand..(jardari village enroute Uttra Kashi and Sidh in Mussourie. Rishikesh it self (I say itself bcos I went higher up!) was beautiful..Now I know why so many great people fell for Ganga maa..what a beauty she is! And all those of u who think you cant stand hill stations, winding roads etc, This is the easiest u can access by train till Hardwar and then aasaan se phat phati or bus or taxi or walk;-)

Then after a couple of days at Delhi went to my favorite ground, more stories follow..
Hectic but fruitful and interesting travel that was..