World
Top IS commander killed in Iraq
A top military aide to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been killed in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, the al-Hadath TV channel reported on Thursday.
 
A crack team of former Baathist soldiers shot dead Wisan Kanan, one of the militant group's top commanders in Mosul, the channel said.
 
"A special force of the Free Officers Movement gunned down Wisan Kanan," Mohammad Bahaj, a member of the Free Officers Movement, told al-Hadath.
 
The Free Officers Movement has claimed the killing of several IS leaders in recent months, including Abu Shahab al Suri, the group's commander in the western area of Mosul.
 
It was established in June last year by 490 former officers from the Baathist regime of late Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
 
Kanan, a former Al Qaeda leader, was one of the most prominent IS commanders in extremist-held Mosul, Bahaj was quoted as saying.
 
He had joined hardline rebel group al-Nusra Front in Syria and was earlier arrested by the US forces in Iraq in 2010, according to Bahaj.

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Deutsche Bank to pay $2.5 bn fine for interest rate-rigging
Deutsche Bank has agreed to pay a $2.5-billion fine to settle US and British accusations that more than 20 employees engaged in a "widespread effort" to rig benchmark interest rates for profit between 2005 and 2009, officials said on Thursday.
 
New York State's Department of Financial Services (NYDFS), which was among the global regulators involved in the settlement, said in a press release that under the terms of the deal, the bank must terminate or ban from the New York banking system those remaining employees involved in the misconduct.
 
A number of other former Deutsche Bank employees implicated in the violations have already left the financial institution, Efe news agency reported citing NYDFS.
 
"Deutsche Bank employees engaged in a widespread effort to manipulate benchmark interest rates for financial gain," Benjamin M. Lawsky, New York state's superintendent of financial services, said.
 
"We must remember that markets do not just manipulate themselves: It takes deliberate wrongdoing by individuals."
 
The benchmark interest rates that were manipulated by traders in London, New York, Frankfurt and Tokyo included the London InterBank Offered Rate (Libor), the primary benchmark for short term interest rates globally; the Euro Interbank Offered Rate (Euribor); and Euroyen Tokyo Interbank Offered Rate (Tibor).
 
Those three benchmark rates are collectively known as Ibor.
 
"Certain Deutsche Bank traders frequently requested that certain submitters submit rate contributions that would benefit the traders' trading positions, rather than the rates that complied with the Ibor definitions," the NYDFS release said.

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Sowing the seed for holistic farming
Since the Green Revolution in the 60s, India resorted to heavy use of chemical-based fertiliser. This is not only ruining the soil but also creating major health and environmental hazards
 
The diktat to make it mandatory for domestic fertiliser producers to 'neem-coat' at least 75 percent of their urea production would qualify as one of the most holistic decisions ever taken by any Indian government.
 
Beyond the economic calculations of a Rs.6,500-crore saving in subsidy outgo and checking pilferage, the move will have far-reaching ramifications, the biggest of it all being its impact on the soil health and environment.
 
Since the Green Revolution in the 60s, India resorted to heavy use of chemical-based fertiliser. This is not only ruining the soil but also creating major health and environmental hazards.
 
Only 30-40 percent of nitrogen from urea is absorbed by crops. The rest gets degraded into the environment as the soil fails to retain it because of certain bacteria. Scientific research has proved that some constituents of neem can inhibit this premature nitrogen release. Traditionally, Indian farmers have used neem to good effect by mixing it with urea in some form or the other.
 
The new regime will check the excessive use of fertiliser as higher retention will mean that less (around 20 percent) neem-coated urea is required as compared to ordinary urea. Neem-coated urea will also work as insecticide. It is estimated that the shift will boost the yield by about 20 percent as crop will get sufficient supply of nitrogen, which is vital for the development of plants.
 
It's a win-win proposition. Interestingly, previous governments had adopted a diametrically opposite stance. Instead of encouraging it, there was a cap of 35 percent on the production of neem-coated urea against the wishes of the industry. No logic, apart from cartelisation and vested calculations, justifies such a blinkered policy.
 
The Narendra Modi government has shown a holistic vision by not only removing the cap but also making it mandatory to neem-coat at least 75 percent of total production. It's expected that by next year, the entire domestic production will be neem-coated.
 
More than the specifics, the move signals a vision towards organic farming, which is the need of the hour. Excessive use of chemicals is not only killing the soil and adversely affecting food security but also slow-poisoning the population. Because of chemical farming, food production of the country has become fatally contaminated.
 
This is responsible for the alarming rise in incidences of cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Food which is supposed to be the source of sustenance and promotes wellness has today become the main source of illness.
 
This is the reason behind spiritual gurus like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar putting their intense focus on chemical-free farming. The Art of Living, for example, organises innovative agricultural workshops aimed at reviving and promoting ancient agricultural techniques. It has pioneered the concept of 'Zero Budget Natural Farming' which promotes indigenous techniques that ensure higher yields with lesser investment.
 
Like neem, there are numerous other indigenous and proven options for natural farming and chemical-free farming. The farmers who have turned to indigenous knowledge of natural farming are not only witnessing tremendous improvement in soil fertility but also prospering economically. Higher income is supplemented by lesser investment, thus helping them beat the debt trap of high-interest loans.
 
That's why this low-profile move of the government is a powerful manure to propel the overall health of the nation!

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COMMENTS

KAIALSH SINGHAL

2 years ago

pl take crop of vetegable pea (matar) which will generate nitrogen in soil and helps to recap the fertility position of land

B. Yerram Raju

2 years ago

The author has made very valid arguments for the use of neem coated urea.
The animal population is the basic source of homegrown organic fertiliser at least cost and every farmer - not excluding small - has one or two milch cattle at the lower end, a backyard poultry and some who love meat rear even goats. Right from cow's urine to excreta of all the animals provide enough nitrogenous fertiliser that renders the use of chemical fertiliser less and this makes up for the ever increasing labour costs in farming.

Earlier, shepherds used to take their sheep for penning in dry spells. These nomads significantly contributed to organic farming. This practice mostly prevalent in the south has been waning lately. Both in the interest of organic farming and also in the interest of spare income for the shepherds.

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