Drought and floods: Incredible! India

This year’s monsoon continues to play truant and therefore calls for extra precautions to be taken because of its unpredictability and turn of events

While some parts of the country are facing a drought situation, we have many rivers in the north that are flowing above the danger mark causing flash floods and the death toll is over 30, affecting the states of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. Evacuation of people in the affected areas is underway!


Reports from Australia indicate that El Nino is picking up steam. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology in its latest El-Nino wrap-up has said that the Pacific remains at “values near the threshold of an El Nino event” and that climate models say could be reached only by late winter or spring.


Thus this year’s monsoon continues to play truant and therefore calls for extra precautions to be taken because of its unpredictability and turn of events.


The government, faced with this grim situation, is taking various steps in several directions.


States like Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam and Madhya Pradesh have received ‘advisories’ on the kind of seeds to be sown, altered sowing plans and conservative use of water. For instance, coarse rice would be replaced by short duration varieties of Basmati rice for several districts in Punjab; these varieties take less time to grow and may be less yielding also. Rice is a monsoon crop but under the circumstances one has to make a choice in the type to be sown.


The government is keeping a close watch on the onion crop under cultivation.  It may be recalled that last year, the ban on export was lifted when onion farmers refused to bring the goods to the market due to falling prices and there was a general uproar by the public. Onions and potato prices are the barometers that strike the aam aadmi, both for price and availability.


The government has banned the export of edible oil in consumer packs to facilitate domestic supplies, considering the poor monsoon and its effect on the oilseeds output. Groundnut sowing has also been affected in Gujarat, Karnataka and Maharashtra and this is likely to cause price rise in groundnut oil production.


Should the rainfall deficiency continue, chances are that India may also lose its position as the second largest cotton exporter in the coming season, starting in October, on weak global demand. In 2011-12 Indian exported 10 million bales of 218kg each which may fall to 9 million bales this season. Brazil and Australia may reap the benefit of India’s loss in this field.


In monsoon affected areas, there is one more danger that is likely to cause irreparable damage, that of migrating farm labourers to the towns and cities nearby in search of employment. Even during the normal ‘monsoon’ years, this phenomenon of a labour migration has been growing despite the existence of the Mahatma Gandhi Rural

Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) in the different states. Generally such farm hands do not want to return to the villages!


A permanent solution to these problems is necessary. The price that a city dweller pays for the crop is three to four times more than the meagre amount that the farmer actually gets, and it is the middlemen who make all the profits in the multiple stages of transactions that occur. There has been some relief in the participation of leading business houses, like Reliance Fresh, Spencer’s, Tatas and so on, but it would be far more effective and useful if these establishments were to take the lead in setting up huge warehouses at agricultural output points not only to collect the produce at ‘fair’ prices, but make available ‘credit’ facilities to the farmer in terms of “seeds, fertilizers, agricultural implements, machinery and educative campaigns” so that the actual farmer is benefited. 


These will be first of the many steps that can be taken to eliminate the village moneylender and other middlemen who suck the blood of the farmer.


(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce and was associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US. He can be contacted at [email protected].)




4 years ago

Even after decades of cooperative banks, 43 years after nationalisation of major banks, nearly 4 decades of Regional Rural banks, and "directed lending" to benefit people in rural India, formal structures DO NOT HAVE THE REACH of money lenders across the country. Foolhardy attempts to replace existing framework should be abandoned. We may see better results by designing a structure/ framework/ institutions to cover the weaknesses of existing structures.

SC refuses to cancel Yeddyurappa's anticipatory bail

The apex court refused to cancel anticipatory bail of Yeddyurappa, given by High Court in the mining scam

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday refused to cancel the anticipatory bail granted to BJP strongman and Karnataka's former Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa by the state High Court in a corruption case relating to a mining lease, reports PTI.
A bench of justices TS Thakur and Ibrahim Kalifulla dismissed the appeal filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) challenging the anticipatory bail granted by the high court.
"You want this man to be inside? What for?" the bench asked Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Mohan Parasaran appearing for the investigating agency.
The apex court brushed aside Parasaran's plea that Yeddyurappa's bail should be cancelled as he was "not cooperating" with the CBI in the investigations.
"If he is not cooperating then go and seek cancellation of his bail," the bench told the ASG.
The apex court also said that it cannot interfere lightly with the grant of anticipatory bail as the same can be done only on the gravity of the case and the possibility of the accused jumping the bail.
Parasaran submitted that the findings of the high court, while granting anticipatory bail to Yeddyurappa, were not correct as it prima facie gave an impression that the charges against him were baseless and that there was no linkage between the alleged fraudulent transactions relating to grant of lease and funds transferred to him and his family's account while he was the Chief Minister.
"Even if we will assume there is a linkage you go and investigate, prosecute him, file a charge sheet and submit an application for a recall of the bail," the bench said.
However, the apex court said the investigating agency shall not be influenced in its probe in any manner by the observations made by the state high court.
The Karnataka High Court on 21st June had granted conditional anticipatory bail to Yeddyurappa and three of his family members in an illegal mining case holding that the allegations in the CBI FIR are "not something new".
Besides Yeddyurappa, his sons BY Raghavendra and BY Vijendra, and son-in-law RN Sohan Kumar secured relief after a CBI court had rejected their bail plea on 13th June.
In its order, the high court had said the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) report on illegal mining on the basis of which the Supreme Court directed CBI to probe the matter was 'a carbon copy' of the first complaint on illegal land denotification case filed by advocate Sirajin Basha in which Yeddyurappa has already been granted bail.
The report of the apex court-appointed Central Empowered Committee had pointed out "undue favour" in respect of a land purchased by close relatives of Yeddyuruppa for 40 lakh in 2006 and subsequently sold to South West Mining Ltd, an alleged "front company of JSW Steels Ltd" in the year 2010 for Rs20 crores.
The high court had also observed that there was no question of tampering with evidence and Yeddyurappa and the three others had cooperated with the CBI and appeared before it.
On 11th May, the apex court had directed the CBI to conduct a probe against the former Karnataka Chief Minister for "serious illegalities" in mining activities in which he allegedly "misused his public office" for monetary benefits by extending favours to mining barrons and corporates.


Gurudwara shooting incident will be fully investigated: US

US Deputy National Security Advisor assured Ambassador Rao that these tragic killings at the Gurudwara would be fully investigated

Washington: The US has assured India that the tragic shooting incident at a Gurudwara in Wisconsin will be fully investigated, reports PTI quoting a top Indian diplomat.
Indian Ambassador to the US Nirupama Rao said the US Deputy National Security Advisor spoke to her from White House on Sunday to convey "sincerest condolences" from US President Barack Obama over the shooting incident in which seven people including the gunman, have been killed.
"Mr Brennan (John) assured me these tragic killings would be fully investigated, that Sikh community is precious part of fabric of American nation," she wrote on the micro-blogging site twitter.
The US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Wendy Sherman had also telephoned her to "express heartfelt condolences" on the dastardly and horrible killings in Wisconsin, Rao said.
"Our hearts bleed for precious & innocent lives lost in Oak Creek. This is a very tragic time for our community. We must maintain calm," said the Indian Ambassador, who was quick to dispatch her Chicago Consul General to Milwaukee for an on the spot assessment of the situation.
Rao also thanked her Pakistani counterpart Sherry Rehman who used Twitter to express her condolences over the tragic incident.
"Saddened at the tragedy. Our prayers with the victims and their families in the Wisconsin shooting at the Sikh temple," Rehman wrote in the Twitter website addressed to Rao.
"Thank you. This is a moment of deep sadness. Violence is so meaningless," said Rao.
Rao has nearly 40,000 followers on the micro-blogging site.


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