Tuesday, November 21, 2017

ISRO Plans Rocket That Can Be Made in 3 Days

ISRO plans to come out with a new rocket that can be assembled much more quickly than before, and at far less cost:


History of Indian Launch Vehicles

A history of Indian launch vehicles, taken from the ISRO archives:

Brits Lose to India on ICJ Candidature

The Brits are sore about losing to India in the candidature for the International Court of Justice:


Govt Unveils Draft of Law to Regulate Space Sector

ISRO has published the first draft of the new "Space Activities Bill, 2017" which will set the framework under which Indian private space sector companies will operate. The future is coming - faster than we think!


First bid in 50 years seeks to define & regulate activities as new players enter

The draft of the country’s first Space Law, unveiled on Tuesday, stipulates licences for all space-related players and activities. The draft also sets out penalties of ₹1 crore and above and jail terms for violations.

The proposed Space Activities Bill, 2017 that will go before Parliament, also seeks to keep the government out of any liability arising out of harm that these commercial activities may cause — to people, environment, other countries or outer space.

So far, the national space agency Indian Space Research Organisation’s major works have related to satellites, launchers and applications. These were governed by the Satellite Communication Policy, 2000; the Remote Sensing Data Policy, 2011; and international treaty obligations on outer space activities as mandated by the UN Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space or UNCOPUOS.

New body proposed

The draft Bill defines objects, people and geography that will come under the future law. While all persons or entities engaged in space will now need a licence, the government will form a new authorised body for this purpose.

The Centre will keep a registry of all space objects.

The draft has been posted on the website of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Stakeholders have a month to send in their comments, according to a note signed by G. Ravi Shankar, Under Secretary in the Department of Space.

Explaining the need for a Space Law now, the notification says increasing applications of Space-based solutions have meant an increased participation of private sector industry and startups. “Commercial opportunities in space activities and services, nationally and internationally, demand a higher order of participation by private sector agencies. This situation demands a necessary legal environment for orderly performance and growth of space sector,” it said.

A.S. Kiran Kumar, ISRO Chairman and Secretary, Department of Space, stated at an industry event in Delhi on Monday that the country needed to at least double the number of its 42 functional satellites in order to meet national demands. ISRO has started the process of selecting industry teams to quickly build spacecraft and launch vehicles for it in the next two to three years. It also launches many foreign spacecraft for a fee on the PSLV launcher.

Multiple players

According to a senior DoS official who requested not to be named, “Until now, ISRO being the only player never felt the need for a separate law. Now, many Indian and foreign companies are setting up shops here as well as 20-odd Indian startups. It is very important now that to have a regulatory mechanism and law to govern these activities.”

The draft clearly defines space players, licences, violations, the official said, adding that detailed specific guidelines may come in later for each activity in consultation with stakeholders and industry bodies. The draft law is available at:


Quick notes: Rafale decision, Slaughterbots...

  • Rafale decision: When Parrikar reached the PMO, the Prime Minister sprang a bombshell. Parrikar was told that, on Modi’s forthcoming trip to Paris, he and French President would announce an agreement for India to buy 36 Rafale fighters. Taken aback, Parrikar still caught his flight to Goa. Over the next week, he batted loyally on behalf of his PM, publicly defending a decision he neither understood nor agreed with, that was taken over his head. Parrikar told PTI in Goa that all 36 Rafale fighters would join IAF service within two years; in fact more than six years will elapse before the final delivery is made. India needs some 200-300 fighters to replace the MiG-21 and MiG-27 fleet that is being phased out of service. Just 36 Rafales provides little cover.... About the deal.

  • Spike Anti-Tank Guided Missile: India scraps $500 million Israeli missile deal, wants DRDO to make in India. Advantage Pak, worries Army

  • Slaughterbots: And drone swarms

  • Long tail-pipe: Electric vehicles charged in China (and India) produce two to five times as much particulate matter and chemicals that contribute to smog versus petrol-engine cars. The hidden cost of electric cars!

  • Skill and Scale: Why Suzuki-Toyota alliance is a huge deal for India’s EV dream

  • Birds changing their path: Not just people, smog affecting flight of migratory birds 

  • An ARM killer from IIT, Madras? Meet the brains behind India’s ambitious processor project... RISC-V 101

  • Han Prowess: China challenges Nvidia's hold on AI chips. "Draw level with the US in AI within 3 years, and become the world leader by 2030".

  • Make India a higher education hub:

  • Our Living Planet From Space: NASA satellites watch earth 'Breathe'

Monday, November 20, 2017

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Boston Dynamics Improves Humanoid Robot

Boston Dynamics has posted the latest improvements in its Atlas humanoid robot - now featuring bajrangi backflips:

It's not clear why machines necessarily have to be shaped like people, but it looks entertaining.
Boston Dynamics is owned by Japan's Softbank, who bought it from Google's parent company Alphabet.

Possible India-Japan Lunar Sample Return Mission

India and Japan may collaborate on a lunar sample return mission in the not too distant future:


India plans to visit the moon a third time and also return, with Japan for company this time. 
Their lander and rover mission will bring samples back from moon, the chiefs of the two space agencies said on Friday. 
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have started to work out the contours of their joint trip — which will be the third for both countries. They did not say when it would be sent. 
The plans are in the early stages: ISRO Chairman and Secretary, Department of Space, A.S.Kiran Kumar, and JAXA president Naoki Okumura said the ‘implementation arrangements’ are likely be reached in a couple of months. The pre-phase studies to decide the scope of work — or the focus of the mission — should be clear in the next six months. 
They were addressing a news conference in connection with the annual Asia Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum APRSAF-24 which met here over the last four days.
Dr. Okamura said that with this collaboration, “India and Japan will lead the space sector in the Asia Pacific region. We hope we can do it as soon as possible. It is not easy as we are understanding each other’s [goals and capabilities].”


Isro chairman AS Kiran Kumar on Friday announced a Indo-Japanese joint lunar mission. 
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of 24th Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF), he said that India and Japan have decided to take up a joint lunar mission. 
"We've just now decided to work together in this regard. We will discuss modalities and clarity would emerge in about six months," he said.
Kiran Kumar clarified that there would not be any participation from other countries in the mission. 
"We want to study traces of water which Isro established on the soil of the moon. We want to take some samples, bring them to earth for further studies," he said.


New Delhi: The Indian Space Research Organisation chief AS Kiran Kumar on Friday said that both India and Japan are working towards a joint lunar mission, which will hopefully take place soon.
"We are looking at a possible joint lunar mission which is still in a very preliminary stage. We are working on the details at the moment," state-run ISRO's Chairman told media persons here.


India and Japan will collaborate to send a joint mission to the moon, which includes landing a rover and bringing samples back to the earth, a feat that was last achieved over four decades ago.

Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) Chairman A S Kiran Kumar and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) President Naoki Okumara said on Friday that an implementation agreement for the collaborative mission will be finalised within the next two months.

"We can do as soon as possible," said Okumara on timelines, but did not elaborate much. Both the countries have increased cooperation due to efforts made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe. The space agencies plan follows the November 2016 agreement signed during PM Modi's visit to Japan, where they agreed on collaborating for deep space explorations.

They may try to get it done as soon as possible, so as not to lag too far behind China, if not beat it outright. China was due to launch its own lunar sample return mission Chang'e 5 this month, but that's been delayed until 2019 due to the crash a few months ago of their Long March 5 heavy lift rocket.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Bannon Feels US Must Stop China

Steve Bannon feels that the US must go all-out to stop China, or else face total defeat from it:


tesla's truck that is supposed to change the world

announced today. 

frankly, it's not all that revolutionary.


sent from samsung galaxy note3 neo, so please excuse brevity

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Fwd: Potential of Ayurveda - An eye opener+Sikkim: Harmonious Himalayan Highland+How Punjab’s Misplaced Agricultural Priorities Contribute To Delhi Pollution

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Sanjeev Nayyar

Namaskar & Vanakkam Friends,


The eSamskriti effort to promote Indian Culture, Spirituality & Travel started in 2001. The site has over 1100 articles and 13,000 pictures today. So far site is funded by me with token contributions from well wishers.

To help us sustain and grow the effort we seek your support. Every contribution is valued.


You can remit through our account with Instamojo.com. Click on link https://www.instamojo.com/@eSamskriti. It accepts rupee payments only. Mail esamskriti108@gmail.com on transfer so can issue a receipt. Note that eSamskriti is not a charitable trust so tax break u/s 80G is not available.


1. Potential of Ayurveda - An eye opener by Prof Mahesh Vyas. If Ayurved and Western systems of medicine combine it could be beneficial for all. Thus there is huge potential for Ayurveda. Article is courtesy Gujarat Ayurved University. http://www.esamskriti.com/sa/Ayurveda/Potential-of-Ayurveda-~-An-eye-opener-1.aspx


2. How Punjab's Misplaced Agricultural Priorities Contribute To Delhi Pollution by Sanjeev Nayyar . Everyone is talking about pollution in Delhi caused by paddy stubble. None are asking why does water deficient Punjab grow water guzzler rice. http://www.esamskriti.com/e/National-Affairs/Ideas-ad-Policy/How-Punjab-colon-s-Misplaced-Agricultural-Priorities-Contribute-To-Delhi-colon-s-Pollution-1.aspx


3. Sikkim: Harmonious Himalayan Highland by Rajiv Malik. Author shares interesting insights on Sikkim. Covers culture, origin of tribes, places to see, threats and lots more.



4. The Method and Significance of Tantra by Swami Kritarthananda
6. Tribes of Nagaland photos with their homes and clothes. http://www.esamskriti.com/a/Nagaland/Tribes-of-Nagaland.aspx


Please subscribe to newsletter on site for frequent updates.


Love and Light

sanjeev nayyar

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from gokul kunnath: We are all Hindu Nationalists

---------- Forwarded message ----------


As you know, by now every one has heard about the New York Times article on the connection between Sari and Hindu Nationalism. Below is an opinion piece that I wrote on the subject. I am not a writer by any measure. But I thought this article of NYT deserved some response from every one, including me. The more the merrier, I felt. So I did what I could. If you think it is ok, please distribute to your friends and email lists. I am very grateful to News India Times for publishing it on a busy day for them when many of their publications go to print. Thanks.

Yours in the service of Dharma,

Gokul Kunnath
President, US Hindu Alliance
Co Founder, Hindu Students Council

"Those who protect Dharma shall be protected by Dharma." 

sent from samsung galaxy note3 neo, so please excuse brevity

Fwd: Getting around Beijing’s ways+Trump’s new Asia strategy strokes India’s false pride+Centre hides long term CPEC plan from provinces

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Sanjeev Nayyar

1. The Quaid and Dina Wadia 15.11.17 by L Merchant https://tribune.com.pk/story/1558394/6-quaid-dina-wadia/
3. Forces Rejected Advanced Versions of Indigenous Tejas and Arjun 15.11.17 by col pk vasudeva http://www.indiandefencereview.com/news/forces-rejected-advanced-versions-of-indigenous-tejas-and-arjun/
4. Getting around Beijing's ways 16.11.17 by G Parthasarathy http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/comment/getting-around-beijing-s-ways/498129.html
China's much-touted OBOR initiative will enable Beijing to dominate the sea lanes of the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans by extending credits which the recipients cannot repay. India must strengthen pact with other players.
5. China Laos railway line to be complete by 2021 http://en.people.cn/n3/2017/1115/c90000-9293209.html
6. Trump's new Asia strategy strokes India's false pride 15.11.17 http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1075467.shtml
Some Indian media started to boast about New Delhi's strategic significance to Washington after the quadrilateral talks, arguing that Trump's decision to shift his attention from the Asia-Pacific to "Indo-Pacific" is a signal that Washington was elevating New Delhi to the center of its Asia strategy. No matter how Indian media reports US-India relations and the country's democratic system, economic development is the determining factor for India's regional and international influences. '
7. Centre hides long term CPEC plan from provinces 16.11.17 https://tribune.com.pk/story/1559683/1-centre-hides-long-term-cpec-plan-provinces/
8. Apprehensions in Sri Lanka: Will Hambantota be the next Djibouti? by sanjay kapoor 7.11.17 http://www.orfonline.org/research/apprehensions-in-sri-lanka-will-hambantota-be-the-next-djibouti/
9. Pakistan Water Insecurity 15.11.17 by neil buhne https://www.dawn.com/news/1370550/water-insecurity
10. U.S. holds off sanctions barring proof 16.11.17 Myanmar https://www.mmtimes.com/news/us-holds-sanctions-barring-proof.html
Warm Regards
sanjeev nayyar
to unsubscribe write today

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Quick notes: GST pain, Faraday Future...

  • Can our artisans survive GST? 'I don't know how long the small-scale handmade sector can survive'.

  • Are Tatas so naive?  Rumor has it that Tatas are paying $900 million for a 10% stake in Faraday Future, thus valuing the electric car startup at $9 billion.. Ridiculously overpriced, if true.

  • Bringing Bikes Back: Bikes are having a second coming in China — in the form of bike-shares.

  • Nirvana Shatakam performed by school children in Dublin, Ireland:

  • मनोबुद्ध्यहङ्कार चित्तानि नाहं
    न च श्रोत्रजिह्वे न च घ्राणनेत्रे ।
    न च व्योम भूमिर्न तेजो न वायुः
    चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ॥१॥

    न च प्राणसंज्ञो न वै पञ्चवायुः
    न वा सप्तधातुः न वा पञ्चकोशः ।
    न वाक्पाणिपादं न चोपस्थपायु
    चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ॥२॥

    न मे द्वेषरागौ न मे लोभमोहौ
    मदो नैव मे नैव मात्सर्यभावः ।
    न धर्मो न चार्थो न कामो न मोक्षः
    चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ॥३॥

    न पुण्यं न पापं न सौख्यं न दुःखं
    न मन्त्रो न तीर्थं न वेदा न यज्ञाः ।
    अहं भोजनं नैव भोज्यं न भोक्ता
    चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ॥४॥

    न मृत्युर्न शङ्का न मे जातिभेदः
    पिता नैव मे नैव माता न जन्मः ।
    न बन्धुर्न मित्रं गुरुर्नैव शिष्यं
    चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ॥५॥

    अहं निर्विकल्पो निराकाररूपो
    विभुत्वाच्च सर्वत्र सर्वेन्द्रियाणाम् ।
    न चासङ्गतं नैव मुक्तिर्न मेयः
    चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ॥६॥

  • 'What can India teach us' by Max Müller: I remember one of our masters (Dr. Klee) telling us, that there was a language spoken in India, which was much the same as Greek and Latin, nay, as German and Russian. At first we thought it was a joke, but when one saw the parallel columns of numerals, pronouns, and verbs in Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin written on the blackboard, one felt in the presence of facts, before which one had to bow. The concept of the European man has been changed and widely extended by our acquaintance with India, and we know now that we are something different from what we thought we were. The study of Sanskrit has not only widened our views of man, and taught us to embrace millions of strangers and barbarians as members of one family, but it has imparted to the whole ancient history of man a reality which it never possessed before.

  • Consciously quantum: Perhaps the most renowned of Quantum mechanics' mysteries is the "observer effect" -- the fact that the outcome of a quantum experiment can change depending on whether or not we choose to measure some property of the particles involved. This deeply troubled the early pioneers of quantum theory. It seemed to undermine the basic assumption behind all science: that there is an objective world out there, irrespective of us. If the way the world behaves depends on how – or if – we look at it, what can "reality" really mean?

  • A bitter harvest: Low prices leave farmers seething. “The farm crisis is worsening by the year”.

  • Something In The Air: Why does India lead the world in deaths from TB? The rise of TB infections has coincided with the dismal air quality index in many Indian cities.

  • Smog shortening lives. Patient numbers have more than tripled in Delhi hospitals since pollution levels spiked.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Fwd: Indian students in US dwarf America's FDI in India, spend whopping $6.54 bn - The Financial Express

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Rajeev Mantri

Indian students in US dwarf America's FDI in India, spend whopping $6.54 bn

Indian students spent a massive $6.54 billion in the US in 2016-17, up 30% from the previous year, dwarfing the North American country's foreign direct investment (FDI) of $2.37 billion in India.

Indian students, Indian American students, FDI in India, America FDI in India, US dwarf  Indian students spent a massive .54 billion in the US in 2016-17, up 30% from the previous year, dwarfing the North American country's foreign direct investment (FDI) of .37 billion in India. (Image: Reuters)

Indian students spent a massive $6.54 billion in the US in 2016-17, up 30% from the previous year, dwarfing the North American country's foreign direct investment (FDI) of $2.37 billion in India. Of course, a large part of US FDI routed through low-tax jurisdictions like Mauritius is not counted here, although recent changes in tax treaties have made the route a bit less attractive. Among large countries, India was outstripped by China in 2009-10 to become the largest place of origin of students coming to the US, with correspondingly high spending. However, in recent years India has been bridging the gap with a scorching pace of growth in students it sends to the US — 29% in 2014-15, 25% in 2015-16 and 12.3% in 2016-17. Between 2010-11 to 2012-13, when the global financial meltdown hit the US economy badly, there was negative growth in Indian students going to that country. Chinese students spent $12.55 billion in the US in 2016-17, up about 10%.

"The American higher education system introduces international students to networks and contacts that provide benefits and advantages over a lifetime," said Karl M Adam, deputy cultural affairs officer at the US embassy in India. Most of the Indian students in the US pursue graduation courses in mathematics, computer science and engineering. For the record, the US was the fifth largest source of FDI for India in 2016-17, behind Mauritius, Singapore, Japan and Netherlands. Though services FDI fared better, US investments in India's manufacturing sector needs to grow, officials here feel.

According to Open Doors, a study by the Institute of International Education along with the US government's education department, students from India and China now represent approximately 50% of the total enrolment of 1.08 million international students in the US. Indian students comprise 17.3% of all international students in the US, it added. The continued growth in international students coming to the US for higher education has had a significant positive impact on its economy. About 1.08 million international students studying at US colleges and universities contributed $36.9 billion and supported more than 450,000 jobs to its economy during 2016-2017, said NAFSA, an association of international educators.

Open Doors reported that about two-thirds of all international students receive the majority of their funds from sources outside of the US, including personal and family sources as well as assistance from their home country governments or universities. Interestingly, the number of US students coming to India to study for academic credit at their home university has been on the decline since 2013-14 and it fell by 5.8% to 4,181 in 2015-16, as they increasingly prefer European countries. India's rank in terms of outbound destination for US students also declined to 15 from 13.

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Fwd: An inconsistent United States, an assertive China and Asia’s Hobbesian order+Baloch abductions scorch Pakistan+ Bangladeshi Hindus less than 5% very soon

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Sanjeev Nayyar

1. As China asserts itself, India must give its urgent attention to addressing gaps in border infrastructure 13.11.17 by lt gen prakash katoch http://www.firstpost.com/india/as-china-asserts-itself-india-must-give-its-urgent-attention-to-addressing-gaps-in-border-infrastructure-4207235.html
2. How China 'played the shrewder card' when dealing with Donald Trump 14.11.17 by Kanwal Sibal  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-5078935/China-played-shrewder-card-dealing-Trump.html#ixzz4yNboDM1O
The US President had two principal issues to flog with China — reducing America's massive trade deficit and countering the North Korean nuclear threat. By seeking China's crucial support for defanging Pyongyang of its nuclear teeth, Trump has weakened his hand on pummelling Beijing on trade issues. He cannot solicit Chinese cooperation on one vital issue and threaten China on another. This implies absence of any recognition that its muscle flexing is causing unwanted tensions in the region. In sum, it remains unclear at the international level how forcefully Trump wants to respond to China's challenge to US power.
India has to keep watching.

3. East Asia Summit: 'The Quad' Rises From the Dead to Take On China 13.11.17 by brig gurmeet kanwal https://www.thequint.com/entertainment/tv/bigg-boss-11-episode-34-review
4. An inconsistent United States, an assertive China and Asia's Hobbesian order 13.11.17 by harsh pant http://www.hindustantimes.com/opinion/an-inconsistent-united-states-an-assertive-china-and-asia-s-hobbesian-order/story-zNHFTmCiIlrvC9L2Uf8vCI.html
5. Baloch abductions scorch Pakistan 14.11.17 by sandhya jain http://www.dailypioneer.com/columnists/edit/baloch-abductions-scorch-pakistan.html
6. Bangladeshi Hindus less than 5% very soon 14.11.17 by jaideep m https://swarajyamag.com/world/bangladeshi-hindus-less-than-5-percent-very-soon
7. Indo-Pacific alliance could end prematurely 13.11.17 http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1074998.shtml
Warm Regards
sanjeev nayyar
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Fwd: How Punjab’s Misplaced Agricultural Priorities Contribute To Delhi’s Pollution by Sanjeev Nayyar in Swarajyamag

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Sanjeev Nayyar

How Punjab's Misplaced Agricultural Priorities Contribute To Delhi's Pollution
By Sanjeev Nayyar
November 14 2017
It's now time to move beyond making noise and passing judicial orders to rein in pollution levels in NCR, and address the root cause, which is ensuring the area under paddy cultivation in Punjab falls significantly.

New Delhi declares an emergency as toxic smog thickens. Delhi's Chief Minister and Lieutenant Governor talk about solutions! National Green Tribunal said that "no construction activity will be carried out on structures until further orders... all industrial activities in Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR) which are causing emissions will also not be allowed to carry on their functioning" till 14 November. National Human Rights Commission sent notices to central and state governments on pollution. Farmers of Punjab and Haryana are blamed for pollution due to burning of paddy stubble. Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh asks Prime Minister Narendra Modi for compensation to deal with crop residue.


Lots of noise, some action, blame games, passing the buck, judicial intervention (pollution affects right to life and health), ministers bytes etc.


Some want cases to be filed against farmers for burning residue. Others want government to pay for labour to cut residue or subsidy on purchase of equipment to cut residue, for e.g. a straw chopper-cum-spreader.


In all this commotion, we are not asking a basic question. Why does water-deficient Punjab grow water-intensive rice whose stubble-burning contributes to pollution in NCR?


To find answers we need to first understand the dynamics of paddy cultivation in Punjab.


Canals and good quality underground water helped in the green revolution.


Punjab was a non-rice producing state till the 1970s. The crop was grown only in some parts of the Ferozepur-Amritsar-Gurdaspur belt. In 1961, the area under paddy was only 2.27 lakh hectares.


According to this report in Open, "Conversations with older farmers confirm how the unprecedented shift in cropping patterns – especially the dominance of paddy – has spread within the span of a generation. When we were young, paddy was sown in less than 2 per cent of the cultivable land," says one. "Now, everyone is cultivating paddy. Earlier farmers used to cultivate, bajra, sugarcane, jowar and other fodder as well."


So an ever expanding area of rice cropping has drained the water resources of the state.

With the water table falling continuously, a farmer has to bear a huge recurring cost of digging deeper without any guarantee that water would be found and if found how long it would last.


How Water Intensive Is Rice Cultivation In Punjab?


Punjab produced 17.74 million tonnes of paddy and 11.88 million tonnes of rice in 2016. The crop required 59.5 lakh crore litres of potable water assuming it requires about 5,000 litres of water to produce 1 kg of rice. Canal water meets around 27 per cent of the crop requirement or 16.1 lakh crore litres. The balance water is also met from ground water resources.


Farmers bore deeper and deeper in their search for water. Since electricity to farmers is free, its cost is not a deterrent. Impact is three-fold.

One, water is not valued and over-consumed. Two, as this report in the Tribune explains, "environmental damage is incalculable as rice crop is the major contributor to pollution of aquifers and damage to the ecosystem". Three, the jump in farming costs can be attributed primarily to irrigation expenses on paddy.


If the production of rice is reduced by say 60 per cent it would release nearly 36 lakh crore litres of water. This could be diverted to growing vegetables, fruits, maize etc and water-deficit areas. Surplus water, if any, could be used to meet the needs of Delhi and become a source of revenue for a cash-strapped Punjab government.


Why Do Farmers Continue To Produce Rice In Spite Of Knowing Its Ill-Effects?


The answer lies in rice being purchased at a Minimum Support Price declared by the central government. MSP ensures that price at which farmer sells his produce is known and payment guaranteed. Unlike wheat, residents of Punjab consume very little rice but the lure of MSP is strong enough for paddy to be cultivated.


The government's misplaced agricultural pricing and procurement policies tend to encourage the cultivation of staple cereals at the cost of equally essential pulses and oilseeds. It has skewed the cropping pattern, tilting it in favour of rice and wheat — which have virtually become cash crops thanks to assured marketing and returns.


Rice and wheat so purchased go to the central grain pool. Costs and inefficiencies associated with their acquisition and storage are well known to require reiteration.


Also due to mechanisation of agricultural operations in Punjab, farmers are reluctant to grow fruits and vegetables because that involves hiring more labour from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.


To put matters in perspective, Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had asked Punjab to switch from paddy to other crops in 2012. It does not matter that Pawar, as minister and politician, failed to convince farmers of Maharashtra to stop cultivating water guzzling sugarcane.


Farmers switched to mechanical harvesters in the 1980s. It saved labour costs but the down side is that harvesters left about 80 per cent of the paddy plant on the field.


As long as production volumes were low, impact of residue burning was insignificant. Today "about 3 million acres are cultivated for paddy in Punjab and 20 million tonnes of stubble are generated every year, said Jasbir Singh Bains, the state's director of agriculture'.


With increase in irrigation expenses, cost of fertiliser/pesticides, reduction in farm holdings farmers are unwilling to incur additional labour cost to cut paddy residue.


Punjab Is India's Food Granary! Should It Be Subsidised?


The success of agriculture in Punjab and it's becoming the granary capital was due to domestic demand for food grains. As another report in the Tribune says, "with production increasing in deficit states (Madhya Pradesh is the second largest producer of wheat after Punjab) and per capita cereal consumption declining across all segments of the population (including poor households), India does not need Punjab's surplus rice and wheat."

According to a September 2016 India Today report: "Paddy of the traditional kind has been cultivated for long in the eastern and northern parts of the state. However, the central Narmada region, including the districts of Raisen, Hoshangabad, Narsinghpur and Harda-of late, the most prosperous areas for agriculture in MP - took to rice cultivation in a big way. Today, produce is being procured from farmers of this region by numerous branded rice companies, mainly for export."


Times have changed. However, successive governments have used the Khalistan bogie to

retain their Jat Sikh farmer vote banks and thwart agricultural reforms in Punjab.


If Punjab is to be saved from desertification, "there is a dire need of eliminating rice crop from production patterns."


Also governments must educate people that export of rice is equivalent to exporting scarce water and heavily subsidised fertilisers.


What Must The State Government Do To Reduce Area Under Paddy Cultivation?


1. Stress on water conservation. This can be done through "rainwater harvesting, expanding area under irrigation, digging ponds on individual farms, bori-bandhs (sandbag dams) and concrete check dams to hold water in the natural depressions so that part of it percolates down to recharge the groundwater aquifer."


2. Promote micro-irrigation (through drips and sprinklers) on a war footing.


3. Allow farmers to sell their produce freely obviating the need to bring produce to the mandi. As of April 2017, "Twenty states have amended Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act, Punjab had not."


4. Rice mills set up under mega project category are completely exempted from mandi tax and market fee for first ten-years of operations.


5. Communicate, educate and motivate farmers to move out of rice cultivation to vegetables, fruits, livestock products, etc.


6. Minimum Support Price for rice should not be increased in Punjab and Haryana so that it discourages farmers from growing paddy.


7. Encourage private sector companies to set up mandis, buy directly from farmers and or enter to contract farming. This way farmer risks are mitigated and better price realizations ensured.


8. Overhaul electricity distribution. Supply of free power to farmers needs to go. It is a political decision that is long overdue. In the name of helping farmers free power is actually doing them a disservice.


9. As the Open report quoted above says, a large chunk of the loan money is not merely diverted towards essential non-farm household expenditure but also to purchase markers of affluence in an assertion of class identity". Therefore, it is important for community leaders and political leadership to make people realise the pitfalls of living beyond their means.

10. Create alternative non-farm sources of livelihood that are suited to Punjab for eg tourism, farm home stays, knowledge sharing with farmers countrywide.


Passing judicial orders, banning activities, filing cases might have limited impact. Unless the root cause is addressed there will be limited long-term change.


The area under paddy cultivation in Punjab must significantly fall. It is a matter of survival for farmers. If that happens, a reduction in pollution levels in NCR would be an important and positive side-effect.


The author is an independent columnist.

Warm Regards
sanjeev nayyar

sent from samsung galaxy note3 neo, so please excuse brevity

next, Supreme Court will ban saris as 'communal'

well, hindu women have abandoned the sari in droves and taken up the salwar kameez. the muslim fundie gen zia of pak had instructed his countrywomen to abandon the hindu sari and wear only the muslim salwar kameez. 

so the NYT and zia are of the same opinion, not surprisingly. 


sent from samsung galaxy note3 neo, so please excuse brevity