Friday, 28 October 2016

October 2016:15-30 (FORTNIGHTLY) GM, BRICS and Climate Issues

October 2016:15-30 (FORTNIGHTLY)
  (15-30)  October 2016 (पाक्षिक)

                                                     - जलवायु संकट, पारिस्थिकी
                                                     - प्रदूषण                
                                             - आदिवासी विमर्श
                                              - कृषि और किसानी
                                        - जल दर्शन
                                                    - देशज ज्ञान और स्वास्थ्य
                                     - विविध


GM Special issue

INDIA : We dont need GM Mustard, support us with better market price: Farmer groups

Oct 25, 2016

Pope Francis slams biotech industry and GMOs on World Food Day

Other environmental concerns apart, GM mustard could also send bees buzzing away

Farmers fear the impact of genetically modified mustard

Calls Grow for Reevaluating GM Mustard, Release of Data – As Do Protests

Government warned of national stir if GM mustard approved

NDTV story on Sarson Satyagraha

Nitish Kumar formally appointed JDU President - National Council passes a resolution against GM crops

Many States skip meet on GM crops
Messing with mustard


 Govt tells SC it won’t release GM mustard without court’s nod
Govt, however, opposes the plea filed by environmentalist Aruna Rodrigues seeking prohibition of open field trials and commercial release of GM mustard

New Delhi: The Centre told the Supreme Court on Monday that it will not release genetically modified (GM) mustard without the court’s nod.
It, however, opposed the plea filed by environmentalist Aruna Rodrigues seeking prohibition of open field trials and commercial release of GM mustard.
“GM mustard will significantly reduce the import of Canola oil,” the government’s top law officer Mukul Rohatgi told the court.

The application was filed in an ongoing case by Rodrigues. On 7 October, the court had asked the Centre to hold the release of GM mustard for 10 days…………………….



Leaders of the group of emerging economies, BRICS, are meeting in Goa and India being the host country has rightly planned and outreach programme with the leaders of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral and Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC). The initiative of inviting regional leaders for outreach programme began with South Africa in the 5th BRICS summit, followed by Brazil by inviting Latin American leaders in the next summit and subsequently Russia invited leaders of SCO and Eurasian Union at Ufa summit. The practice has given an unique opportunity to the leaders of BRICS that constitute Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa and represent four continents to interact with regional leaders of the host country.
India took over the BRICS presidency from February 16, this year and Prime Minister Narendrabhai Damodardass Modi has rightly planned an outreach meeting with the BIMSTEC leaders from five South Asian countries and two South-East Asian neighbours. Prime Minister Modi had planned integration of South Asian countries by inviting the leaders of SAARC nations at his oath-taking ceremony in 2014. He announced priority to the South Asia in his Neighbourhood First policy. However, later the initiative did not fructify much with Pakistan posing as a roadblock. 
Signs of cracking in South Asian integration were evident in the 18th SAARC Summit in Kathmandu where three slated agreements, namely on motor vehicle cooperation, railway connectivity and cooperation in electricity trade could not be signed at the venue. However, the agreement on electricity cooperation was signed with the intervention of the host, then Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala at the Retreat of Leaders at Dhulikhel. Subsequently, under sub-regional cooperation mandated by SAARC Charter, an agreement on motor vehicle cooperation was signed amongst Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN).
The 19th SAARC Summit slated in Islamabad had to be deferred owing to reported ceasefire violation along India-Pakistan border, terrorist attacks on Indian air base at Pathankot and army base at Uri. New Delhi had to avenge these attacks by conducting surgical strikes on terrorist's bases in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Bhutan pulled out of the SAARC Summit followed by Sri Lanka. Afghanistan and Bangladesh have also alleged Pakistan time and again for export of terror.
Integration of South Asia has, thus, become a dream for some sceptics. They believe that SAARC's march towards a common customs union and an economic union would continue to remain a distant possibility for times to come. The SAARC Free Trade Area (SAFTA) already in operation has not met with much success as the official intra-regional trade remains around $22 billion a year, though trade through unofficial channels continue unabated. If the figure of unofficial trade is added up to the official, the total may be around $60 billion. This shows the potentiality of the region.  
South Asia is the third largest economy in terms of GDP on the basis of purchasing power parity after the US and China. It hosts 21 per cent of the world's population on three per cent of the global land mass. Though the trade relations between both have improved in the recent years with Pakistan commerce ministry moving from positive to negative list for imports to facilitate entry of more Indian goods, still much needs to be desired. Over a decade back India had accorded the most favoured nation (MFN) status to Pakistan in matters of trade, but the latter has yet to reciprocate. Islamabad was thinking of giving non-discriminatory market access (NDMA) to Indian goods and at the same time is yet to allow Indian goods to pass through its territory to reach Afghanistan.
The big question is, for how long will the South Asia integration be held to hostage? Is there a way out? Yes. India which is a major country in the region shares borders with all countries with the exception of Afghanistan, which shares its borders with Pakistan. Hence, New Delhi should play a more proactive role in deeper integration of South Asia and work out the plans with all the countries that share the same borders. Regarding, integration with Afghanistan, India should explore the possibility of using Chabahar port in Iran to reach goods and services to Afghanistan by rail and land route. Rightly this possibility is being explored. Regarding, Maldives, India and Sri Lanka a sub-regional cooperation can be worked out under SAARC Charter similar to that of BBIN.
However, BIMSTEC that consists of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and two ASEAN countries like Myanmar and Thailand can supplement SAARC's regional integration and act as an effective bridge between South Asia and South-East Asia. …………………

8th BRICS Summit Goa Declaration

Talks on cross-border terror, India-China rift to be in focus at BRICS Summit

Goa Prepares for BRICS Summit With Added Security and Mobile Connectivity

pzeople’s forum discusses grassroot level issues of brics countries

BRICS failed to challenge imperialism: Medha Patkar

BRICS Leaders Discuss How to Shape Global Trade, Finance
(BRICS Leaders Vow to Speed Global Recovery, Fight Terrorism)

India pushes WTO members to accelerate work on outstanding Doha Round issues
India seeks a final solution for public stockholding programmes for food security

The Guardian view on climate change: good news – but not yet good enough

Panel 9: Future Polities/Economies

Radical Ecological Democracy: Towards 2050

An onerous task ahead
The Paris Climate Agreement is set to enter into force, but without the support needed to implement it

2016 drought special report from india:

G20 needs to be an action team: Xi

Realising energy sector targets

Report: Connecting Smallholders to Markets: An Analytical Guide,-2016#page/13/2


Milk from Tasmanian devils could fight superbugs: Study

Scientists find that marsupials have more protective peptides than humans
Mother’s milk from the marsupials known as Tasmanian devils could help the global fight against increasingly deadly “superbugs” which resist antibiotics, Australian researchers said on Tuesday.
Superbugs are bacteria which cannot be treated by current antibiotics and other drugs, with a recent British study saying they could kill up to 10 million people globally by 2050.
Scientists at the University of Sydney found that peptides in the marsupial’s milk killed resistant bacteria, including methicillin-resistant golden staph bacteria and enterococcus that is resistant to the powerful antibiotic vancomycin.
The researchers turned to marsupials like the devil — which carry their young in a pouch after birth to complete their development — because of their biology.
The underdeveloped young have an immature immune system when they are born, yet survive growth in their mother’s bacteria-filled pouch.
“We think this has led to an expansion of these peptides in marsupials,” said University of Sydney PhD candidate Emma Peel, who worked on the research published in journal Scientific Reports from Nature publishing group.
“Marsupials have more peptides than other mammals. In the devil we found six, whereas humans have only one of this type of peptide.
Koalas too?
“Other research in other marsupials has shown that tammar wallabies have eight of these peptides and opossums have 12,” said Peel, adding that studies into koala’s milk had now started.
The scientists artificially created the antimicrobial peptides, called cathelicidins, after extracting the sequence from the devil’s genome, and found they “killed the resistant bacteria... and other bacteria”.
They are hopeful marsupial peptides could eventually be used to develop new antibiotics for humans to aid the battle against superbugs. — AFP

Video: Flawed Global Rules in Agriculture: Need for a New Approach
Sophia Murphy, from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) speaks with Newsclick on how for the past 20 years, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) has failed to address basic inequities in world agriculture. Subsidies, dumping of agriculture products by the North and market concentration continue unabated. The current crisis at the WTO, the emergence of bilateral and mega Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) such as the Trans Pacific Agreement (TPP) have further complicated the urgent issue of fundamental reform of agriculture trade rules. What is urgently required is a new framework for global agriculture that embraces principles of agro-ecology, remunerative prices, sustainable livelihoods and ecological sustainability. We need reforms and subsidies that benefit peasants, not agribusiness.   

The gap between rich and poor States

Sedition explained: Criticism without incitement to violence isn’t violation of Section 124A

Indian scientists unlock preterm birth mystery

G20 meet: What role does the Sherpa play in the negotiations?
Who is this negotiator at international Summits such as the ongoing G20 meeting at Hangzhou? What role does the Sherpa play in the negotiations?

India to US: Will not tighten IPR rules beyond TRIPS mandate

India committed to SAARC, but needs terror-free atmosphere: MEA


Friday, 14 October 2016


October 2016:1-15 (FORTNIGHTLY)
  (1-15)  October 2016 (पाक्षिक)

                                                     - जलवायु संकट, पारिस्थिकी
                                                     - प्रदूषण                
                                             - आदिवासी विमर्श
                                              - कृषि और किसानी
                                        - जल दर्शन
                                                    - देशज ज्ञान और स्वास्थ्य
                                     - विविध

Image source:
It is not practical to secure consent for projects from tribal gram sabha (village councils), says Union environment, forests and climate change minister Mr Anil Madhav Dave in a detailed interview to Business Standard. Includes his take on dams on Brahmaputra, GM crops and the new forest and wildlife law in making.

Will change forest and wildlife laws to make our forests productive: Anil M Dave
October 4, 2016
Union environment, forests and climate change minister Anil Madhav Dave shares his views and priorities speaking to Nitin Sethi. What are the top three or four policy issues on your agenda to address now? At present, upcoming the Montreal Protocol meeting in Kigali and the climate negotiations in Marrakesh are in front of me. They shall take away most of my time this and next month. But, I feel the execution of Paris Agreement, forests, rivers, coastal zone regulations, Western Ghats and environment clearances are those issues by which people are affected and are my ...

‘Captain Elder Brother’ and the whirlwind army

At 94, a forgotten hero of India’s struggle for freedom returns to the scene of his most daring exploit in the anti-British Raj uprising that saw a parallel government established in Satara, Maharashtra, in 1943
 October 10, 2016 by Vidyut Kale in Reports/Writing

Early this month (September) I found nine surviving freedom fighters of the toofan sena in Satara and Sangli. This was the armed wing of the prati sarkar, the provisional government declared by a rebellion with great mass support between 1943-46. They are all in their mid-90s. These ‘provisional governments” sprang up in Mednipur and also in parts of Odisha, MP, UP, and a couple of other places. What marked out the one in Satara was that they held their ground successfully for three years, establishing a market and mandi, a food supply and distribution system, a judiciary and an armed wing called the toofan sena. The British in 1943 were backs to the wall in Europe, facing an imminent Nazi invasion of England. And so the provisional governments seized the opportunity. Some were actually armed offshoots of the Quit India movement. In 1946, on MKG’s call, the provisionals all across the country dissolved and disbanded.
The toofan sena was especially inspiring. And I found their 94 year old leader – the man who looted the Pune-Miraj special goods train carrying the payroll of the British Raj for its Mumbai presidency. Without firing a shot – they had no firearms.
Please read the story and please see the 4-minute video where he speaks.
It was a moving, sobering encounter.

37 Million Bees Dead After GMO Seeds Planted Nearby
Over 37 million bees have been found dead in Canada after GMO corn was planted recently in the local area. 
According to local beekeeper, Dave Schuit, since the GMO corn was planted close to his farm he lost over 37 million bees as a direct result. reports:
According to reports, Schuit and other local beekeepers believe neonicotinoids, or “neonics” are to blame for the influx of bee deaths.
Around 37 million bees at a farm in Canada have died after GMO corn was planted in the nearby area, according to a local beekeeper.
Dave Schuit, a beekeeper who produces honey in Elmwood, Canada, claims that since GMO corn was planted in the nearby area, his farm has lost around 37 million bees (approximately 600 hives). According to reports, Schuit and other local beekeepers believe neonicotinoids, or “neonics” are to blame for the influx of bee deaths.
Imidacloprid and Clothianidin, two of Bayer CropScience’s most widely used pesticide, both contain neonics and have been linked with many large-scale bee ‘die-offs’ in both European and U.S. countries. However, despite the dangers associated with the use of this chemical, the pesticides are still regularly used and sold on the market.
Despite their size, the impact bees have on the environment is almost unparalleled. In fact, bees are responsible for pollinating about one-sixth of the flowering plant species worldwide and approximately 400 different agricultural types of plant.
In 2010, bees helped provide over $19 billion worth of agricultural crops in the U.S alone – estimated to be roughly one third of the food we eat. As a result, it is not hard to see that bees are needed to sustain our modern food system.
However, despite their obvious importance in our ecosystem, bee populations have been rapidly dropping over the past few decades. In fact, 44 percent of honeybee colonies in the United States died off last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported last month.
In the past, scientists have tried to conclude why bee populations are in rapid decline. While it is not been proven that pesticides directly kill the bees that come into contact with the chemical, many scientists believe there is a strong link between the use of the pesticide and a phenomenon they refer to as “colony collapse disorder” (CCD).
We believe that some subtle interactions between nutrition, pesticide exposure and other stressors are converging to kill colonies,” said Jeffery Pettis, of the ARS’s bee research laboratory.
While the cause of CCD is still widely debated, some believe that “the neonicotinoid pesticides are coating corn seeds, and with the use of new air seeders, are blowing pesticide dust into the air when planted.”
However, according to a new study published in the Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, neonicotinoid pesticides kill honeybees by damaging their immune system and making them unable to fight diseases and bacteria.
Although we are unable to definitively determine what is causing the terminal decline of bee populations around the world, using all the scientific evidence that is currently available, it is clear that pesticides are having a significantly negative effect on bee populations.
In fact, it seems more and more countries are also beginning to accept this idea. Canada has banned the use of Imadacloprid on sunflower and corn fields; France has rejected Bayer’s application for Clothianidin; Italy has now banned certain neonicotinoids; and the European Union has banned multiple pesticides.
At this moment in time, EU scientists are reviewing the EU-wide ban on three neonicotinoid pesticides. By the end of January 2017, the EU scientist will finish their risk evaluation and determine the status of the chemical.
Although the United States have yet to follow suit, several states – including California, Alaska, New York, and Massachusetts – are currently considering legislation that would ban neonicotinoids. In fact, just last month Maryland came the first state to pass a neonic-restricting bill; Maryland’s Pollinator Protection Act  has eliminated consumer use of neonicotinoids in the state.


The mustard sizzles & how!

Feb 3, 2016

If approved, GM mustard will be the first GM food on our plates and that’s disturbing
The above dramatic line is from Dr. Vandana Shiva’s recent petition to Government of India asking them not to approve genetically modified mustard for commercial cultivation - I received a mail from this afternoon requesting me to sign & support this petition.
While I was casually following the debate, I still hadn’t developed an opinion either in favor of or against introduction of GM mustard in India & hence I wasn’t sure if I should sign the petition. The petition itself unfortunately offered precious little in terms of on what scientific basis someone should support it.
The various write-ups & opinions I came across on this issue were largely rhetorical & prejudiced to the angle the author was pursuing. This included the articles published in recent Biospectrum issue wherein supporters like the Executive Director of ABLE, Dr. Shivendra Bajaj dismissed it as a ‘baseless opposition” while a detractor like food & trade analyst Devinder Sharma looked at it merely from self-reliance-in oil-seeds angle.
Apart from the debate related news, I also found some very useful publications, papers (including the GM Mustard paper), scientific investigations that gave me a better insight into the whole issue.
I present below some of the key information I gathered in a Q&A format;
What exactly is this ‘GM mustard’ ?
  • It is a transgenic mustard strain called ‘Dhara Mustard Hybrid 11’ or DMH-11 developed in the department of genetics, University of Delhi by a team led by Dr. Deepak Pental over past 19 years
What makes DMH-11 a GM Mustard?
  • The key word is ‘Transgenic’, wherein the naturally occurring DNA is modified using genetic engineering techniques with an aim to introduce a new trait/ property to the plant
  • The DNA of DMH-11 has been modified to make the plant resistant to a broad-spectrum herbicide called ‘Glufosinate ammonium’ thus making it a genetically modified strain of mustard
How would ‘Glufosinate-resistant’ mustard variety help the farmer?
  • The major issue with mustard cultivation is the multiple weed species that infest the crop thus reducing overall yield. To address this issue the farmers need to typically use a cocktail of many herbicides, each specific to one weed species - this at times can be cost ineffective & tedious
  • Glufosinate ammonium however is a broad-spectrum herbicide & can alone control most weeds that effect mustard cultivation. But since it is so non-specific (~broad-spectrum), Glufosinate can also effect/ kill the mustard plant as such when not properly applied (~contact herbicide). This is true for most of the crops & not just mustard
  • This above impasse resulted in the proactive development of Glufosinate-resistant GM strains for most major crops so that the farmers can use Glufosinate liberally to deweed without having to worry about any collateral damage to the crop itself
Well, if the yields improve & profits to the farmer increase and many countries already approved the same, why are GM crops still viewed cynically by so many world-wide?
  • Whatever new traits / properties that a GM crop begets is by way of some biochemical mechanism undergoing a change given the alteration of DNA – In effect, within the GM plant a new biochemical(s) (enzymes typically) is produced that otherwise is absent in natural non-tampered species.  
  • This new biochemical moieties could/ may have unintended consequences apart from the pest/ herbicide resistance it imparts to the plant. Since any negative consequence of alien substances on the consumers (animals/ humans) may take ages to get noticed, it is an invisible, half-understood risk and hence the opposition
 So what harm GM mustard DMH-11 can potentially cause?
  • In the Glufonisane-resistant GM mustard plant, a metabolite of Glufosinate ammoium called N-acetyl Glufosinate (NAG) is produced/ present inherently
  • Now NAG just like Glufosinate ammomium inhibits (the production of) Glutamine Synthetase – an enzyme that is essential for proliferation of fetal skin fibroblasts in animals, including humans alongside a few other functions
  • This can be a potential risk since mustard plant is consumed whole in India as leafy greens & the mustard seed too is included as a food item (spice) apart from extracting oil from the seeds. This makes long-term Glutamine Synthetase inhibition one possibility in people consuming this modified strain regularly and this inhibition may cause yet non-quantifiable health consequences
So what? – aren’t there so many other pesticide, pharmaceutical metabolites in our food that we ingest each day? What makes the GM mustard a bigger evil?
  • True, there are many unintended food additives these days & not all are fully understood are chronicled. However the trade-offs between food security particularly in mass consumed & perishable foods like milk & vegetables  vis-à-vis’ the unintended negative implications of these metabolites is skewed at times towards the continued usage
  • In case of GM mustard however as discussed before the situation is different since 1) Food security card cannot be used for mustard which is essentially a cash-crop 2) Intentional introduction of a contaminant in a food item cannot be equated with unintended, semi-understood contaminants 3) a 30% increase in yield is small enough to be achieved through better crop-management – for example through judicious combination of more species-specific herbicides in combination with hand-weeding during the critical 30-40 day period after after sowing and finally 4) the yield, quality and hence market price of the crop can be improved & helped by domestic hybrid & ‘non-GM’ varieties like ‘Pusa Mustard-30’ et al without the whole nation shifting to GM mustard lock-stock and barrel – the incremental value-add of DMH-11 is a definite suspect
Okay, what if there's a GM crop that is proven to be devoid of dangerous metabolites &/or whose metabolites are conclusively proven to be non-toxic; enhances yields dramatically; improves the nutritional quality of the produce & one that generally assures food security?
  • Well that would be one amazing GM food indeed - but proving that there isn't any negative impact will be a long drawn exercise spanning across a generation of humans at least (~10 years). If someone thinks this is an unreasonable expectation from a commercial organization, they should be pointed out to the fact that the pharmaceutical organizations spend the same amount of time or more proving the efficacy & safety of their new drugs even when they are consumed in milli/micro gram quantities as against the hundreds of grams of food consumed each day.
  • And then there is this angle of threat to crop biodiversity. A super-efficient GM crop(s) can very quickly elbow out & eliminate native varieties that evolved and adapted to specific geoclimatic conditions over hundreds of years. When it comes to survival under vulnerable conditions like draught, the evolutionary adaptiveness of native crops always scores over the custom engineered GM crops that are made for ideal agronomic conditions - Given this, any unchecked, unplanned retirement of native crop species in India or elsewhere too can adversely impact the livelihood resilience*** to climate change. This is akin to the cattle scenario wherein high maintenance cross-bred cows like Jersey and Holstein Friesian are gradually pushing-out the more resilient domestic Indian pure breeds like  Kankrej, Ongole, Sahiwal et al into extinction while our policy makers buzz around in denial. (***My thoughts on biodiversity are greatly influenced by my wife Bhavana Rao who's a passionate development sector professional specializing in livestock & livelihood aspects..)   
Are there any conspiracy angles that we need to be aware of?
  • Oh yes! – It’s no secret that University of Delhi being an academic institution will need to partner with someone to market its new technology & Bayer CropScience with its huge reach into the Indian farming domain, it’s global dominance of GM crops & its deep pockets could be the de facto knight in shining armor & marketer of GM mustard
  • With its questionable net value-add & the obscurity of the trade-offs, the seeming rush by GOI to still approve DMH-11 (GM mustard) seems to be an exercise primarily aimed at helping the marketers of Glufosinate ammonium, Bayer CropScience again, dominate the mustard-crop herbicide market in India & use the bandwidth to ease-in the rest of glufosinate-resistant hamper including the staple-crops like wheat, rice, corn et al
Well, even if all these absolute realities, unsubstantiated truths, half-truths, aspersions & allegations may still not make this a conclusive investigation, as a rational cynic & a low-risk threshold food consumer, I think I have sufficient scientific rationale & one believable conspiracy theory to go ahead and sign Dr. Vandana Shiva’s petition!

Is Modi preparing to defy RSS outfit on GM mustard rollout?
Zia Haq, Hindustan Times, New Delhi|Updated: Oct 10, 2016 00:21 IST

In August, PM Narendra Modi had called upon three cabinet ministers and four top bureaucrats to carry out a thorough and speedy assessment of GM mustard. (AP File Photo)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi appears keen on genetically modified (GM) mustard if it is found to be foolproof, despite opposition from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the BJP’s ideological parent.
At a meeting held in August, Modi had called upon three cabinet ministers and four top bureaucrats to carry out a thorough and speedy assessment of GM mustard. Agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh, environment minister Anil Dave, science and technology minister Harsh Vardhan and the secretaries of these ministries had attended the meeting, two sources have told HT.
Modi watched a presentation by the biotechnology department on GM mustard and then got a lowdown from Prof Deepak Pental – the lead scientist behind the project.
Analysts view this as a sign that Modi favours GM technology as a policy option in agriculture.
If the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee – India’s biotech regulator – clears GM mustard developed by Delhi University scientists, Modi will have to decide whether he should defy the RSS by approving a GM food crop for commercialisation.
In its 2014 election manifesto, the BJP had said GM crops would not be allowed without a study of its “long-term” effects.
India wants to raise its oilseed output because it spends over Rs 65,000 crore annually on importing cooking oil, an item that stokes inflation. A GM crop is one in which a gene is altered for newer traits, such as high yield and pest resistance.
“The PM has talked about harnessing technology in every field, including GM crops, to double farmers’ income by 2022,” said Bhagirath Choudhary of the South Asia Biotechnology Centre, a pro-GM outfit.
However, the RSS and anti-GM groups argue that GM crops pose environmental and health risks. “GM is not acceptable,” Ashwini Mahajan, leader of the RSS-affiliated Swadeshi Jagran Manch, told HT. “We provided proof to the Prime Minister that GM mustard is neither indigenous nor capable of providing high yields. It will ultimately benefit multinationals like Bayer.”
However, Pental said he held the patent for the technology, and claimed his variety had over 30% higher yields.
Hearing an application filed in an ongoing case by environmentalist Aruna Rodrigues, the Supreme Court on Saturday asked the government to not release GM mustard till October 17, and seek public opinion before making a decision.

Image source:

Press Information Bureau 
Government of India
05-October-2016 11:12 IST
Cabinet approves MoU between India and European Union on water cooperation 
The Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for the signing of MoU between India and European Union in the field of water resources.
The MoU envisages strengthening the technological, scientific and management capabilities of India and the European Union in the field of water management on the basis of equality, reciprocity and mutual benefit. It provides technical exchange on water issues, including on integrated water resource management plans within river basins and through study visits.
The MoU aims to identify key environmental issues and approaches to sustainable development where exchange of experiences and cooperation could be mutually beneficial to strengthen and further develop cooperation between India and the European Union in the field of water management. It envisions a more sustainable management of water resources in India with an objective of tackling the challenges posed by water management in the context of growing population, competing water demands and a changing climate. A Joint Working Group shall be formed to monitor the activities to be carried out in fulfillment of the MoU.
The Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation has been envisaging bilateral cooperation with other countries in water resources development and management through sharing of policy and technical expertise, conducting of training courses, workshops, scientific and technical symposia, exchange of experts and study tours. Keeping in view the success of the European Union in distribution of water resources, water pricing, water use efficiency by encouraging the changes in agricultural practices necessary to protect water resources and quality, such as switching to less water-demanding crops, etc., it has been decided to have an agreement with Israel to benefit from their experience and expertise. The EU States have adopted water pricing policies to provide adequate incentives for users to use water resources efficiently thereby contributing to environmental objectives.

Press Information Bureau 
Government of India
05-October-2016 11:14 IST
Cabinet approves Memorandum of Understanding with the African Asian Rural Development Organization in the field of rural development 
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and the African Asian Rural Development Organization (AARDO) for capacity building programmes in the field of rural development.
The MoU for the triennium 2015 - 2017 is being signed under which capacity building programmes for AARDO member countries will be organized every year during the triennium at various Institutions of Excellence in India such as National Institute of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj (NIRD & PR), institutions governed by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Indian Institute of Management (IIM) and others. The duration of each training programme shall be of two to three weeks. The Post Graduate Diploma in Rural Development Management Course at NIRD & PR under this scheme is for one year.
The AARDO, which has its headquarters in New Delhi, is an autonomous, inter-Governmental organization established in 1962 with the objective of promoting cooperation among the countries of the African - Asian Region in the direction of eradicating thirst, hunger, illiteracy, disease and poverty in the region. India is one of the Founder Members of the Organization and is the largest contributor in terms of membership contribution of US$ 141,100 apart from contributing by way of providing 70 fully paid training scholarships for Human Resource Development Programme under the Indian Technical & Economic Cooperation Programme (ITEC) to the Organization. India has also provided a building for housing the AARDO Secretariat in Delhi and considerable financial assistance is given to AARDO for maintenance of the building. AARDO currently has 31 countries of the African - Asian Region under its fold.
Since the year 2009, India is continuing to provide an Additional Contribution of US$ 600,000 to AARDO for each triennium 2009-2011 to expand its scale and scope of the Capacity Building Programmes of AARDO for the benefit of Member Countries.

Press Information Bureau 
Government of India
05-October-2016 11:06 IST
Cabinet approves amendments to the HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014 
The Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to introduce official amendments to the HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014.

The HIV and AIDS Bill, 2014 has been drafted to safeguard the rights of people living with HIV and affected by HIV. The provisions of the Bill seek to address HIV-related discrimination, strengthen the existing programme by bringing in legal accountability and establish formal mechanisms for inquiring into complaints and redressing grievances. The Bill seeks to prevent and control the spread of HIV and AIDS, prohibits discrimination against persons with HIV and AIDS, provides for informed consent and confidentiality with regard to their treatment, places obligations on establishments to safeguard rights of persons living with HIV arid create mechanisms for redressing complaints. The Bill also aims to enhance access to health care services by ensuring informed consent and confidentiality for HIV-related testing, treatment and clinical research.

The Bill lists various grounds on which discrimination against HIV positive persons and those living with them is prohibited.  These include the denial, termination, discontinuation or unfair treatment with regard to:

(i)           employment,
(ii)         educational establishments,
(iii)       health care services,
(iv)       residing or renting property,
(v)         standing for public or private office, and
(vi)       provision of insurance (unless based on actuarial studies). The requirement for HIV testing as a pre-requisite for obtaining employment or accessing health care or education is also prohibited.

Every HIV infected or affected person below the age of 18 years has the right to reside in a shared household and enjoy the facilities of the household. The Bill also prohibits any individual from publishing information or advocating feelings of hatred against HIV positive persons and those living with them. The Bill also provides for Guardianship for minors. A person between the age of 12 to 18 years who has sufficient maturity in understanding and managing the affairs of his HIV or AIDS affected family shall be competent to act as a guardian of another sibling below 18 years of age to be applicable in the matters relating to admission to educational establishments, operating bank accounts, managing property, care and treatment, amongst others.    

The Bill requires that "No person shall be compelled to disclose his HIV status except with his informed consent, and if required by a court order". Establishments keeping records of information of HIV positive persons shall adopt data protection measures. According to the Bill, the Central and State governments shall take measures to:

(i)                 prevent the spread of HIV or AIDS,
(ii)               provide anti-retroviral therapy and infection management for persons with HIV or AIDS,
(iii)             facilitate their access to welfare schemes especially for women and children,
(iv)             formulate HIV or AIDS education communication programmes that are age appropriate, gender sensitive, and non-stigmatizing, and
(v)               lay guidelines for the care and treatment of children with HIV or AIDS. Every person in the care and custody of the state shall have right to HIV prevention, testing, treatment and counseling services. The Bill suggest that cases relating to HIV positive persons shall be disposed' off by the court on a priority basis and duly ensuring the confidentiality.

There are no financial implications of the Bill. Most of the activities are being already undertaken or can be integrated within the existing systems of various Ministries under training, communication and data management, etc. The Bill makes provision for appointment of an ombudsman by State Governments to inquire into complaints related to the violation of the Act and penal actions in case of non-compliance. The Ombudsman need not be a separate entity, but any existing State Government functionary can be deputed or given additional charge.

There are approximately 21 lakh persons estimated to be living with HIV in India.  Even though the prevalence of HIV is decreasing over the last decade, the Bill would provide essential support to National AIDS Control Programme in arresting new infections and thereby achieving the target of "Ending the epidemic by 2030" according to Sustainable  Development Goals.


date 10 OCT 2016, dainik jagaran

dated 10 Oct 2016


Source: or



With deforestation, langurs turn crop raiders
Agumbe farmers seek compensation, since common langurs are a protected species
Karnataka’s arecanut farmers have a new problem to add to fungal infections and the price slump: monkey menace.
Common langurs, a protected species under The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, are helping themselves to flowers and nuts. Not much can be done about it and killing the animal attracts punishment. Crop losses due to wild animal conflict are mostly covered by compensation, and farmers expect they will get funds, but Department of Forest does not honour claims for damage caused by langurs on the grounds that it is a semi-domesticated animal that can reside in forest as well as in human habitats.
Changing behaviour
Agumbe is particularly hit. N. Prakash, a professor in animal pharmacology at Veterinary College, Shivamogga who hails from Hebri near Agumbe says deforestation has distorted the food habits and behavioural patterns of wild animals in Malnad region.
The lion-tailed macaque, a shy primate that used to spend the major part of its life in the upper canopy of trees has now turned social and its members seek food from travellers along Agumbe ghat. The langurs can be seen feeding on flowers of the arecanut tree, locally known as singara and on tender nuts. Arecanut is rich in arecoline, an alkaloid that gives a unique taste and aroma to it. In addition, arecoline is nitonic acid-based, with a psycho-stimulant quality. Such factors may be attracting monkeys to arecanut plantations, he said.
Crop losses caused by common langurs is acute in Agumbe and surrounding areas. Hasirumane Nandan, President of Agumbe Grama Panchayat says, monkeys captured by urban local bodies in Shivamogga, Davangere and Udupi district are also released into the forest in Agumbe region. As the food habits of these monkeys are different from their counterparts in natural forests, they raid agricultural fields, he said.
‘No response’
The Malnad Arecanut Marketing Cooperative Society (MAMCOS), representing the growers has written 11 letters to Department of Forest in the past two years seeking compensation for the crop loss caused by langurs. Nagesh Dongre, Managing Director of MAMCOS said, there was no response from the department. MAMCOS recently passed a resolution demanding that the department pay compensation for the loss caused by langurs, he said.
Ramesh Hegde, President, Zilla Adike Belegarara Sangha, an organisation of arecanut growers, said monkeys sip the juice from the tender arecanut and throw it away later. Even after they are satiated, they continue to pick tender arecanuts and throw them away.
In many North Indian States, crop loss caused by the common langur is compensated. When Minister for Forest and Environment Ramanath Rai visited Agumbe last month, farmers submitted a memorandum to him seeking permission to install ultrasonic monkey repellent device, that generates sound to scare away the langurs. The department has not yet okayed the installation of the device, he said.
World’s diamond city can guide India’s waterways

Port of Antwerp could serve as a benchmark as India bids to make dry river beds navigable and develop 2,000 river ports
Belgium’s Port of Antwerp could well be India’s lighthouse. In its bid to drastically cut logistics costs, the Asian nation is planning to pump in billions of dollars to make its dry river beds navigable and develop over 2,000 river ports across 111 national waterways spanning 20,000 km. And, it could take away a few lessons on generating cargo close to its proposed riverine ports from its European counterpart.
The Port of Antwerp, a river port set up over 500 years ago, and Europe’s second largest port behind Rotterdam, attracts some of the biggest vessels to its 86 terminals located 80 km inland, away from the North Sea, as it has emerged as one of Europe’s major transshipment hubs feeding cargo to large parts of Europe through water, rail and roadways.
Besides, it generates large quantities of cargo from manufacturing and processing units located in the port area (the biggest in the world spread across 12,068 hectares - or equivalent to about 20,000 football fields) to cater to the growing demand of vessels calling on the port and barges that transport cargo to the hinterland in Europe.
‘Cargo is king’
Located on the banks of the river Scheldt, a 350-km long perennial river that originates from France and that receives tidal water from the North Sea, the port has multiple canals dug up to create man-made waterways and additional capacity as well as to set up terminals for specific purposes such as container, liquid bulk, dry bulk and break-bulk cargo.
The port also boasts of 7 functional locks to ensure adequate water levels for vessels during times of low-tide in the confined zones to keep port activity going round the clock. Locks are created to enable vessels to sail away using the tidal window after completion of loading or off loading work.
The landlord port, which gives away land, warehouses, coverings and quays in concession to private enterprises, also houses Europe’s biggest petrochemicals zone and warehouses spread across 610 hectares.
The combination of cargo-handing, value-added logistics and production from local industry makes this port unique. The port boasts of railway and roads of 1,061 km and 430 km respectively for evacuation of cargo.
Through its quay length of 172 km, the port transports about 35 per cent of cargo through barges across Europe through the Scheldt (in Belgium, France and Netherlands), Rhine (Germany) and other European rivers. To ensure the entry of large vessels the port authorities have dredged the river and during high-tide the port gets draught that is about 15 metres more than available at India’s JNPT.
“For long India has focused on sea ports,” Eddy Bruyninckx, CEO, Port of Antwerp told The Hindu . “Today, if ships are sailing through a river to come to our port through the tidal window, it is because cargo is there. They come here because cargo is king.” .
According to him, “Cargo is here because we host Europe’s biggest petrochemical complex and 6 million sq metres of warehousing in the port area. That is cargo in itself. We provide excellent connectivity through barges right up to the Rhine,” he added.
Today, the port is focused on improving barge connectivity to the hinterland, as well.
Choosing investments
“You may, of course, invest a lot of money in a canal but if there are no services launched, if there are no barge operators, then you are nowhere,” he said. “It is extremely important to identify as to who will use the inland waterways. If you create industrial zones located at the border of the canal, cargo can be generated. There have to be logistics facilities as well,” he said.
For example, the port has helped in the creation of special warehouses or cold chain facilities for storage of fruits such as pineapples and bananas as well as vegetables that are transported across Europe even up to Russia. Many such facilities have their own captive terminals within 10 metre from the warehouse. This has become possible because terminals and the warehouses have been set up on the river bank itself.
The main objective is to generate enough cargo from the river banks so that riverine transport can be made viable and which would ultimately attract investors to invest in such projects.
Even as the government authorities are bullish on the prospects, India faces many challenges to develop and run these waterways.
Identifying the areas where investment can be made could be crucial. “You must know the potential of the particular waterway to attract water-way cargo. Where does it come from? Multiple activities need to be set up for the development and improvement of the waterway. You must address road congestion. You can invest a lot. The sky is the limit. But there has to be cargo and supply chain,” he said.
Draught concerns
Recently the Port of Antwerp undertook a study for the World Bank concerning the development of a waterway connecting Patna to Garden Reach near Kolkata.
The study mentions the seasonal variations in the navigable depth. In the monsoon, the draught (or the depth of water needed to float a ship) is fine but in other seasons it goes down. “It requires some capital dredging and some amount of maintenance dredging (to keep the water levels acceptable for movement of barges),” said Raj Khalid, the India representative of Port of Antwerp.
Both kinds of dredging - capital and maintenance - are important to deepen river beds. Moving the dredgers into the rivers is not easy and in most cases, the dredger needs to be assembled in the river to do its job. It may remain there forever thus blocking capital. Besides, the riverine transport routes should run uninterrupted for at least 300 km at a stretch so that desired logistics cost savings might be achieved.
“At least two metres of draught is required for movement of even the smallest barges,” said maritime expert Rohit Chaturvedi who was previously with CRISIL Infrastructure Advisory. “Rivers carry a lot of silt and sand which need to be removed constantly,” according to him.
“In India you have to do dredging and get the waterways into operation,” said Luc Arnouts, Chief Commercial Officer, Port of Antwerp which is helping Panama, Belgium, Netherlands, France and Germany to develop and maintain inland waterways.
According to Mr. Chaturvedi, another concern was from the dams and barrages that restricted the flow of water depending on local requirements. “No viable business can be built on the Cauvery considering the ongoing tussle between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu on sharing of water,” he said adding that Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) “is not institutionally strong to push aside these regional concerns and develop a viable business model for investors.”
After the successful movement of cargo on NW1 (the Ganga ) and NW2 (the Bramhaputra ), the World Bank, which had sanctioned Rs.4,000 crore for the NW1, is now keen that IWAI takes up passenger transportation in the second phase, said Pravir Pandey, Vice Chairman & Project Director, IWAI.
“MIT is designing the details on passenger movement for NW1,” according to him. “In NW2, we have already provided Roll On/ Roll off (RoRo) facility. We are facilitating the movement of buses, trucks and smaller vehicles.he added.
Meanwhile, NW5 on river Brahmani is being developed at a fast clip. This stretch is intended to mainly transport coal from the Mahanadi coalfield at Talcher to Paradip and Dhamra Port in Odisha.
India lagging
“We have started work to develop inland waterways, which are our priority. The objective is to reduce logistics costs, which is now 18 per cent,” said Union minister for Shipping and Roads Nitin Gadkari. According to him, “It is 8 per cent in China and goes up to 12 per cent in Europe. We have to bring it down to 12 per cent to be internationally competitive. Only water transportation can make it possible,” .
“We have a sea shore (line) of 7,500 km and we have 20,000 km of river banks. About 2,000 water ports can be created. We are putting up to 50 ports on the Ganga . We are investing Rs.4,000 crore on NW1. We are putting up multi-modal ports at Varanasi and Haldia. I am talking to the Korean government to (help) create waterways across rivers,” Mr. Gadkari added.
According to the minister, in India only 3.5 per cent of all cargo is transported through waterways. It is 47 per cent in China, 40 per cent in Europe, 44 per cent in South Korea and Japan and 35 per cent in Bangladesh.
The writer visited Belgium at the invitation of the Port of Antwerp for the unveiling of its new Porthouse.
It is extremely important to identify as to who will use the inland waterways
Eddy Bruyninckx
CEO, Port of Antwerp
Not simply a vision thing
5 Oct 2016
The act of developing a technology is as much work inside the laboratory as it is of engaging with the state and society on various concerns and questions
Monsanto recently decided that it would stop the release of new genetically modified (GM) cotton technology because of “uncertainty in the business and regulatory environment”. At the same time, it was reported that GM mustard has moved closer to obtaining clearance for commercial cultivation in India following a key committee’s favourable assessment on issues of soil suitability and risks to health and ecology.
The issues involved are complex and contested, and the challenges and contradictions may be evident to even the most casual of observers. Bt brinjal itself may have faded away from public discourse but the debacle over its introduction is not something that will be forgotten in a hurry. The contestations over Bt cotton continue to be alive in scientific research, in experiences on the field, and in policy debates. The seed industry has, in fact, split down the middle over a reorientation of the regulatory and policy frameworks related to Bt cotton. And yet, for a certain prominent section of the science and technology (S&T) establishment of the country, the promise of GM mustard trumps all scepticism.

The conundrum here is not so much about the technology itself as it is about the promise that imbues the technology and which holds the present and the future together. Building promises is very similar to building facts, notes Cynthia Selin who studies the intersection of science, technology and society. It is the promise and vision of the future that then becomes key in generating a constellation that provides social and political legitimacy on the one hand, and much-needed financial resources on the other. Bt cotton, Bt brinjal and many technologies of the future exist through the expectations they generate and mobilise about the future. The act of developing a technology, therefore, is as much work inside the laboratory as it should be of engaging with the state and society and with their various concerns and questions. This will not be possible if the public is seen as ignorant or ill-informed, and the activist reactionary or an agent of vested interests. The contestation is, in fact, over the vision of S&T, of society and, for that matter, of the future itself.
In the case of GM mustard, work was done at Delhi University using public money provided by the government. And yet it needed the Central Information Commissioner to say that biosafety data around GM organisms should be available in the public domain. There are some key questions here. What explains, for instance, this deficit of trust in the public and in democratic mechanisms set up by the very institutions that provide the resources and the legitimacy for these new technologies? Is it an anxiety about failure of the technologist or of the technology itself? Or is it about the stakes involved in the socio-technical-economic system that has been mobilised to create the legitimacy in the first place? Does it say something about the potential failure of an imaginary technology that is based exclusively on the promise of the future? Can the narrative be one of hope and promise alone with no space for doubt or the possibility of any failure at all?
Technology Vision 2035

This indeed is the premise one sees embedded in India’s Technology Vision 2035 (TV 2035), a vision produced by the Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC), an autonomous organisation under the Department of Science and Technology. Released earlier this year by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, TV 2035 charts out trajectories for society through various technologies that will help make India a ‘developed’ country by 2035. The vision is both an account of a future and a route to that future where technology delivers, provides and secures. Risk and vulnerabilities that are inherent to technology and therefore to our increasingly ‘technological cultures’, as Professor Wiebe Bijker, sociologist of science and technology, calls them, are part of the narrative in only a very marginal manner. There is little, if any, doubt about the capacity of technology and the different technologies to deliver the goods. TV 2035 sees people opposed to certain technologies like nuclear and big dams as a barrier to their dreams. These then need to be addressed through better governance and not better technological design because “bottlenecks lie in policy and not technology”.
The past and the present, we know, are full of various dilemmas, challenges, even failures of technological promises and yet, a substantive engagement with the ethical, legal and social (ESLA) issues of research, development and deployment of technology is conspicuous by its virtual absence.
When failure and risk are integral parts of the technological enterprise, why is it that technological visions like TV 2035 have such little space for including and discussing them? It may not be a conscious choice, but it is not an innocent one either. The particular question here is not whether GM mustard is acceptable, which is a rather different debate. The point is to note that the promise and the promissory visible frontstage in advocating a GM mustard is complemented by a vision backstage that is unwilling or perhaps unable to look at anything but that promise. The ideal of the democratic in scientific and technological choices, while desirable, is certainly not an easy one to realise because the messy issues of the ethical, legal and social have to be dealt with both frontstage and backstage.
Political and democratic promise

An illustration of this is visible in a situation where the technological only appears marginal at first glance. On a visit to Kashmir, a conciliatory Home Minister Rajnath Singh offered to engage with anyone who was interested in finding a solution to the crisis there. “I will be staying at the Nehru Guest House. Those who believe in Kashmiriyat, Insaniyat and Jamhooriyat are welcome,” he tweeted in an effort to reach out to all. It was as much an invocation of the political and the democratic promise as it was of the technological promise of modern communications. The irony only came forth when he was asked how this message of the Home Minister would reach the people when the government itself had blocked Internet services.
What more can one say of the inextricable intertwining of the political and the technological with the social, legal and ethical? The technological has promise, no doubt, but it is not untethered to chart territories of its own making.
Pankaj Sekhsaria and Naveen Thayyil are researchers at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT-Delhi. Vanya Bisht, also a researcher in the department, contributed to the piece. The views here are their own.

Course correction
Neichute Doulo, the recipient of Social Entrepreneur of the Year-India 2016, sees economic development as a means to end conflict in the North-East
“Realising the need to change the society is not enough as it needs to be coupled with determination to do so on one’s own steam and hard work,” is how Neichute Doulo, sums up the philosophy of his life and the one which guides the Kohima-based non-government organisation, Entrepreneurs Associates (EA) he heads as the Chief Executive Officer. Recently, Doulo received the prestigious Social Entrepreneur of the Year-India 2016 by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship in partnership with the Jubilant Bhartia Foundation, for his work in promoting entrepreneurship and peace building in North-East India.
EA came into being 16 years ago when Doulo and his like-minded friends started the NGO with the aim to promote entrepreneurship in Nagaland and Manipur by training and mentoring unemployed youth to take up self-employment and business besides providing start up capital to start micro enterprises. It also motivated the farmers to become self-sufficient in certain crops and gave them a crash course in marketing to produce surplus to earn cash. Today EA has successfully launched the first generations of Naga and Manipuri entrepreneurs, built vibrant local markets, catalysed local production, generated local jobs and activated financial institutions. All this has given hope for peace building in the conflict-torn region. “Such endeavours channelise the energy of the young in a positive direction. In fact, we take pride in the fact that all those connected with EA have never taken recourse to alcohol, substance abuse or violence,” comments Doulo with rightful pride.
In Delhi to receive the prize, Doulo narrates some success stories. Pewete, 41, a Class V pass out felt hopelessly lost as he neither could get a job nor start a business. He was loaned Rs.20000 and trained by EA to start a small firewood and vegetables business in 2005 which has flourished, and Pewete employs 11 people now. In case of Ngonyi Krocha, the 50-year-old school dropout neither age nor qualification were on his side. Mentored and helped by EA in 2006 to set up a saw mill, today he has 32 people on rolls.
Thirtytwo-year-old Nitoshe Sema, MA in political science, was disheartened as he could not get a job. Receiving a loan for Rs.20000 and training from EA, he started selling high-end goods. Today, he is happily settled and caters to the livelihood of eight persons. In the farm sector too, Doulo points out, EA has contributed. At present Naga farmers sell potatoes and cabbage to the neighbouring States of Manipur and Assam, vegetables in which they were not self-sufficient once. The examples are innumerable considering that the organisation has so far touched the lives of 13000 youth and about 3400 farmers.
Doulo, a MA in economics from the North Eastern Hill University realised early the dependence of Naga youth on Government jobs for livelihood. “These came easy then since Government then offered them left and right with the idea to keep the youth away from violence. Unfortunately, it took away their entrepreneurial spirit while also affecting their work culture and wrecked havoc when these employment avenues were curtailed.” Seized by the need to change, Doulo and his companions went about setting an example to others by carrying luggage, selling newspapers on the roads and polishing shoes. “All this impressed upon the youngsters the dignity of labour and essence of self-help,” he explains.
While teaching the lesson of self-help, Doulo perceived the difficulties one faced to finance a business. “Though commercial banks accepted deposits and provided other services, they were shy of financing business. Even today the exposure of commercial banks in SMEs in Nagaland is far less than in other States,” reveals Doulo. Hence, in 2000, he resigned his teaching assignment at the Baptist College, Kohima and started EA to not just handhold young businessmen but also provide them seed money to start on their own. Significantly, EA’s corpus came through contribution from people. “It was a people’s movement which came into being through their efforts and money,” he says.
Managed on professional lines, EA disburses loans only after complying with due diligence norms. All loans require a guarantor and have to be repaid with 16 per cent interest. “This is necessary to ensure flow of funds for EA to sponsor more enterprises and also inculcate a sense of responsibility among the entrepreneurs,” points out Doulo. Thus, so far they have had very few cases of bad debts.
Apart from the finance what stands the first generation entrepreneurs in good stead is the training imparted by EA. Ranging from two to three months, these modules include the basics of conducting business like etiquettes to be observed while dealing with customers, value of prompt service and cheerfulness, maintenance of proper accounts and stock system. “Most importantly we inculcate in entrepreneurs a sense of fairness in them. We emphasise cheating may benefit in the short run but honest business is forever. Some of these business basics are unfortunately not taught even in business schools,” quips Doulo.
Considering the high risk in business, does EA prepare people at a psychological level? “Yes, we ready them for a hard grind and to face the ups and downs of the business,” avers Doulo.
Apart from the success stories, EA has been able to impress various stakeholders in the region too with their performance. “The banks are slowly opening to the idea of sponsoring enterprises by locals have channelised some ventures through us though these institutions definitely need to be more proactive. Likewise, youngsters too are visualising themselves not just as entrepreneurs but as job creators. Many of the successful ones have taken others under their wings for mentoring,” shares Doulo. He hopes with the call for Skill India and Make In India, self-employment will get a fillip not just in Nagaland but all over the country.
Draft Water Bill suggests basin-level management
It pitches for a River Basin Authority to ensure ‘optimum and sustainable’ development of rivers.
Amid several inter-State disputes over river water sharing, the Centre has brought final draft of the National Water Framework Bill, 2016, that stresses managing water at basin-level and “right measurement” of State’s contribution to river system to resolve conflicts.
The draft Bill pitches for establishing River Basin Authority for each inter-State basin to ensure “optimum and sustainable” development of rivers and valleys.
The Bill is expected to be placed before the Union Cabinet for its approval in a month, before it is tabled in Parliament.
‘Public trustees’

It suggests States to recognise the principle that the rivers are not owned by the basin-States but are “public trustees.”
It says all basin States have “equitable” rights over a river water “provided such use does not violate the right to water for life” of any person in the river basin.
The draft Bill says every person has a “right to sufficient quantity of safe water for life” within easy reach of the household regardless of caste, creed, religion, age, community, class, gender, disability, economic status, land ownership and place of residence.
It also suggests that States ensure water is conserved.
“Presently, there are disputes because nobody [States] knows his/her contribution to a river’s catchment area. When a State will know its exact contribution to the catchment area, it will know quantum of its rightful share.
The Bill focuses on right measurement of the water at basin-level,” Water Resources Ministry Secretary Shashi Shekhar told PTI.
Describing the draft Bill as “comprehensive” one, he said the model law also stresses on Centre and States working in partnership for managing water.
It proposes establishing institutional arrangements at all levels within a State and beyond up to an inter-State river basin level to “obviate” disputes through negotiations, conciliation or mediation before they become acute.
“All the basin States are equal in rights and status, and there is no hierarchy of rights among them, and further, in this context, equality of rights means not equal but equitable shares in the river waters,” the Bill says.
Water being a State subject, the Bill, however, will not be binding on States for adoption.
Palghar malnutrition death toll in September: 47, not 4
Fresh govt. data shows causes of death include pneumonia, low birth weight, which are linked to malnutrition
As the Maharashtra government faces widespread criticism for the malnutrition deaths of four children in Palghar last month, it has now emerged that 47 child deaths were recorded in September. The reasons, including pneumonia and low birth weight, are broadly linked to malnutrition. Since April 1, 255 children have died in the district, including 82 deaths in August alone.
The four back-to-back deaths in Palghar last month had triggered a frenzied government reaction with focus on the remote and tribal-dominated Jawhar and Mokhada talukas. Fresh data shows most deaths happened in Dahanu, but with respect to the ratio of deaths to population size, Jawhar and Mokhada remain the worst-hit, district administration officials say.
Nidhi Choudhari, CEO, Palghar Zilla Parishad says 37 per cent of the district’s rural population resides in the four talukas of Wada, Vikramgad, Jawhar and Mokhada, which collectively report 59 per cent of child deaths.
“These talukas are hilly areas, and even in earlier months, the number of children in the severe acute malnutrition and moderately acute malnutrition categories was higher.
Dahanu is also a tribal area, but if it has 85 gram panchayats, while Jawhar and Mokhada have 25 to 35 panchayats. So the ratio [of deaths] is higher in these talukas.”
Officials say child death numbers haven’t gone up this year when compared to previous years, but activists insist that the government is busy treating symptoms instead of looking for a cure. They also point out that key government posts lying vacant are to blame for the deaths along with poor livelihood options and migration.
The district doesn’t have an additional district health officer and an assistant district health officer, and all four posts sanctioned for Palghar under the National Rural Health Mission are lying vacant.
Four paediatricians have been sanctioned for Palghar, but only one post is filled. Of the 13 posts for child development officers to oversee implementation of the Integrated Child Development Scheme, 12 are lying vacant.

Mental illness continues to be shrouded in stigma, guilt: study

Most respondents said the negative connotation kept people from seeking help
A new study, conducted in Delhi, has found that nearly 90 per cent of the people living with mental illnesses feel that they are prone to ridicule and discrimination and 63 per cent think that the illness makes it difficult to lead a life of dignity.
Troubling trends?
The survey was conducted by Cosmos Institute of Mental Health & Behavioural Sciences (CIMBS), examining general attitudes and perceptions about mental health in the Capital. It was released on Monday on the occasion of World Mental Health Day.
Over 500 people tracked
The researchers tracked 529 subjects in the age group of 18 to 62 from across the National Capital Region (NCR).
The researchers found that 58 per cent of the participants knew of someone in their personal or professional life, with a psychiatric or psychological health issue.
Of them, over 70 per cent felt that the person was not taking adequate medical treatment.
Further, 39 per cent knew someone who had hidden their illness from their spouse before marriage, and 53 per cent had prevented disclosure of such information to their employers.
‘Not enough done’
And an overwhelming majority — 94 per cent of the respondents — thought not enough was being done to remove stigma attached to mental illness.
“Mental illness continues to be shrouded in an air of secrecy and guilt. We often come across patients afraid to disclose their illness publicly. While maintaining confidentiality is routine and important for us, we see patients with serious illnesses or even common problems like depression, anxiety and stress, from all backgrounds, eager to keep their illness a secret,” said Dr. Shobhana, consultant psychiatrist at CIMBS.
Stigma surrounding mental illness is a continuing problem that mental health experts and patients have battled for long.
Pranav Mittal, a lawyer who has worked on mental health policy reform and is a coordinator of the study, says, “An astounding 89 per cent of the respondents felt that those with psychiatric illness were more likely to be ridiculed, discriminated against, or looked down upon in society. Of the respondents, 63 per cent said mental illness made it difficult to lead a life of dignity. This explains why 80 per cent thought biases and stigmas were so severe that they prevented people from seeking treatment.”
Misconceptions promoted?
A striking revelation of the study was the role attributed to popular culture in promoting misconceptions about mental illness. “Over 68 per cent believed that popular culture, especially cinema, wrongly depicted people with any mental illness as being violent, eccentric, unsociable and in need of 'lock-up' or 'shock-therapy', which contributed to the stigma and even deprived persons with mental illness of their dignity.”
The study also revealed the limited success of national-level awareness campaigns, and underlined the urgent need for renewed efforts to de-stigmatise mental health care in India.
Over 68 per cent believed that popular culture, especially cinema, wrongly depicted people with any mental illness as being violent, eccentric, unsociable and in need of
‘lock-up’ or
The study also revealed the
limited success of
national-level awareness campaigns


India blocks Pakistan climate change project at Green Climate Fund board meeting

India singled out to oppose and block a climate change project from Pakistan at the Green Climate Fund, raising eyebrows at the meeting currently going on in South Korea. The project is to be located in Gilgit Baltistan and the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is the arm of the climate change convention meant to fund projects in developing countries supported by financing by the rich countries and other multilateral donors. India is one of the three board members representing the Asia Pacific region along with China and Saudi Arabia.

The fund’s board is meeting in Songdo, South Korea to consider a tranche of proposals for funding. It was in this meeting on Wednesday that India’s representative, Dinesh Sharma, special secretary in the finance ministry singled out the Pakistan project for adapting to climate change in the Himalayan region, calling the project flawed. He said that he agreed with all others.

In response to emailed Business Standard queries, Sharma defended his intervention at the GCF board meeting and said it was purely on technical grounds that he found the Pakistan project flawed and nothing else should be implied from it.

But, two other developing country board members that Business Standard spoke to expressed anguish and disappointment. “Here (at climate negotiations) we don’t represent just our individual national interests but we work as a group to protect developing country interests. India could have put more conditions but let it move ahead. Unfortunately it is not budging. This will, we fear, isolate India and at the same time weaken our unity,” said one of the two wishing to remain anonymous.  

India did not object to another multiple-country project which did not have approval from some host countries – a ground principle that developing countries, including India, had earlier fought to get in as a mandatory requisite. Many other developing country board members did.

The Pakistan project, supported by the UNDP, is meant to reduce risks in Northern Kashmir area from flooding caused by outbursts of glacial lakes. The independent technical committee of the GCF assessed that the project would provide protection to more than 700,000 people and save more than 100 lives that get lost due to the frequent glacial lake outbursts.

The GCF’s technical committee examines each project and put conditions to fix the projects to the GCF parameters before it is tabled before the board. The board meeting discussions are webcast for public.

When the proposals came up for discussion at the board India intervened to ask if it could put conditions on specific projects or would they apply to all the proposals. When the chair allowed India to raise issues about specific projects, the Indian representative said he had read the Pakistan proposal in detail and had objections to it. He repeated that he had no objection to projects from other countries.

He said that the Pakistan project’s success was predicated on there being no glacial outbursts during the five year tenure of the project which was unlikely considering the frequency of glacial bursts in the region. He added, “Himalayas is the highest peak on earth…it feeds rivers into six countries…the project is fundamentally shaky and our (GCF’s) reputation will be at risk.”

Surprised at the Indian rejection, the chair asked if he would be willing to consult with the experts on the proposal to see if there was any way to amend the project or resolve the impasse, Sharma said, “I can’t think of any conditions on which it can be passed. Just to show that I don’t have a closed mind I can hear them but there is very low probability of learning something or adding something.”

The Indian intervention raised eye-brows at the meeting among several observers and other board members from developing countries. At the GCF developing countries and within that particularly the Asia Pacific group usually coordinate their moves closely to maintain a negotiating balance against the developed countries. But, in this case, they were taken by surprise by the Indian opposition to Pakistan’s project.

Even closed door meeting later in the day between developing country board members failed to convince India to change its stance. The tension created by the Indian intervention led one the board member from Africa to ask that meeting be shifted off-camera because it touched sensitivities of constituencies (groups of countries). The board could not clear any project on Wednesday subsequently and postponed the decision.  

“It is quite naturally being seen as a Pakistan-India political issue, even if it is not. It is not healthy that we are seen fighting between ourselves. So far we have made gains here by sticking together,” said the second developing country board member Business Standard spoke with. “Even when we have found projects to be weak we have pushed for them to ensure the funds flow to developing countries, something the developed countries would like not to happen,” he added.

But Sharma, responding to Business Standard queries dismissed the notion that India had singled out Pakistan’s project for any other reason but technical flaws in it. “Every board member is duty bound to point out what is seen as a serious flaw in any project. It would be wrong to imply any of the things mentioned in your mail,“ he said.

Sharma added in his emailed response, “Other projects did not suffer from such fundamental weakness nor are they in such ecologically fragile area having repercussions on more than one country.” He repeated the claimed weakness in the project that he had told the board members.  

Business Standard had asked on what grounds India had objected to Pakistan’s proposal, the reasons behind objecting to only one proposal and if opposing the Pakistan project would have adverse repercussions for future Indian projects at GCF.

A senior climate change negotiator in India, said, “Our mandate, as I understand, is to get India proposals through when they are ready. There is no specific mandate to block any other developing country’s proposal.”

An observer at the meeting, also wishing to remain anonymous said, “The political tiff between the two countries should not have played out here. The GCF board members represent regions not just their countries. This could lead to a situation that later others oppose Indian projects when they are lined up for GCF funds.”  

At the time of writing this, the GCF board had not restarted discussions on funding proposals that had hit stalemate on Wednesday. The board meeting ends on Friday by when a final call would have to be taken.

BRICS in liberalisation trap: Medha

Attacking BRICS for falling in the trap of liberalisation, globalisation and market-led agenda of global power centres, activist Medha Patkar, opening the two-day meeting of People’s Forum ahead of the BRICS summit, on Thursday said the BRICS summit gave “us an opportunity to review what is happening at global power centres.”
Ms. Patkar, who represents National Alliance for People’s Movements, took note of various struggles of people across the country including Goans successful fight against special economic zones and also against illegal mining and appealed to the people to build solidarity in the resistance against neo-liberalism and corporate globalisation “which has also not spared BRICS.”
In a hard-hitting speech delivered at the Xavier Centre of Historical Research here, Ms. Patkar said,“Our fora is not parallel to BRICS but of communities. They (official BRICS) are in the market-game to channel funds away from common people’s fulfilment, which is real development we feel.”
Attacking the BRICS, she said that they only make a show that with the Development Bank they will change the impact of globalisation, but the changes they make in labour acts and other legislation affecting the people are aimed at competing with global powers.
“We want swadeshi, not of Modi or the RSS, but the one that incorporates self-sufficiency and equitable distribution, which challenges disparities in harnessing community resources,” she said. Speakers from South Africa, Brazil, China and also those representing various movements in India spoke on diverse issues like students movement and workers’ protests in South Africa, protests of the intellectuals in Brazil and other issues and came up with people’s alternatives built by social movements in BRICS countries as a counter to neo-liberalism.