Thursday, 26 February 2015

Improving Agricultural Productivity and Livelihoods in Eastern UP

IRADe ,New Delhi organized this two day workshop in Lucknow on improving  agricultural productivity and livelihoods in Eastern Uttar Pradesh .I was the chief guest for this workshop, starting  on February 27,2015(Friday).Here below is what I spoke there.
                     I welcomed Dr.Kirit Parikh ,Chairman , IRADe , Dr. Jyoti Parikh , ED, IRADe, Mr. Abhay Gandhe , Senior Programme Officer,Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and Allied Trusts,Mumbai.Dr.Ramesh Chand,Director,National Institute of Agricultural Economics and Policy Research,ICAR , New Delhi.I congratulated TATA TRUST for  getting the vision  prepared for the  development of 28 districts of eastern UP .I congratulated IRADe  for having prepared the vision document as well as the district reports of the three districts of  Bahraich , Kushinagar and Shravasti..I welcomed all the NGOs working on the project as partners..
                     UP government is already in dialogue with Tata trusts for signing an MOU .Such an MOU will help Tata trust  to get suitable support from state government, State Agriculture universities, and other agencies, and also will help in formulation of policies for enhancing productivity and livelihoods in eastern UP.Vision document will go a long way in the development of eastern UP.
                    Due to inadequate staff and other constraints, government machinery is not in a position to reach interior villages ,often .With the involvement of Tata trust and partner NGOs , we hope ,we will get grass roots penetration and perspective.   In Jaica assisted  "UP participatory Forest Management and poverty Alleviation Project"   , we have found that results are good when partner NGOs work in close collaboration with JFMCs ,EDCs and Self Help Groups. We are happy that Tata trust has taken a lead in financing such a project now in eastern UP.
                      Vision document talks about Best Partner approach ,NGO-NGO linkages  and issues.The way forward mentions generally about policy changes required.It identifies areas to be explored like renewable energy and power,organic farming , market linkages, new technology in agriculture,farm mechanisation, improving credit in eastern UP, and post harvest management.
                We are in the process of making an agri vision 2025 for UP , and I hope , this vision document prepared for eastern UP will set the trend.
                Finally , words like cooperation, coordination, convergence , collaboration and partnerships are used very freely , but in real life , these need hard work and intelligent approach, to actually materialize for development.   

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability

I admire Sri T.N. Dhar .Despite his 89 years,he carries on his responsibilities as Honorary Secretary of Indian Institute of Public Administration(U.P.).When he invited me to preside over  the inaugural session of a daylong of workshop on Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability, I readily agreed.The workshop took place on 21st February,2015(Saturday) at Jawahar Bhawan ,Lucknow,and I presided over the first session .I  anticipated that the audience would not be large ,but I went nevertheless,inspired by the tireless efforts of Sri Dhar  in  taking up  and deliberating  on worthwhile causes.I like his seriousness , professionalism , alertness , energy and leadership.I needed to learn from him .Here is what I spoke there.
   UP climate Change Authority was set up on November 11,2014 and has been registered as society under the Societies Registration Act.UP is the first state in India to set up such an Authority.It has an Apex Committee ,chaired by the Chief Minister of UP, and a governing body chaired by Chief Secretary of UP.It has been sanctioned Rs 5 crores by UP government to meet its expenses.Its main purpose is to work in UP for adaptation and mitigation of Climate Change.
                  Secondly,we have developed and prepared a State Action Plan on Climate Change.I handed over a copy of Plan to Sri Dhar.It has involvement of seven missions , and has projected a resource requirement of Rs 46945 crores for next ten years.It has identified 93 priority activities  for working on Climate Change.
1.Agriculture has 11  priorities including use of organic manures, research and development of biotic stress resistant varieties .
2.Solar energy including solar power generation and solar pumps in irrigation
3.Energy efficiency  including use of LED, energy audit of government buildings and reduction of energy losses.
4.Green UP  including tree plantation , agro forestry ,afforestation and reforestation.
5.Water mission including efficient water management and rainwater harvesting.
6.Sustainable habitat including water supply ,sewerage treatment ,roads , rapid transit systems and energy efficient street lighting.
7.strategic Knowledge creation , management including awareness creation, capacity building ,surveys and research.
                     I also wondered why our global system  failed to implement Kyoto Protocol.Do our world leaders really not have a global outlook?
Our real challenges are five:
1.Creating awareness in every citizen.
2.Developing an attitude that climate change crisis has to be given high priority.
3,We must develop and  have technical and administrative competence.
4.We should have will to govern.
5.We must allocate adequate resources to fight the climate crisis.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Solar by Ian McEwan

Solar is a novel ,written around the theme of climate change. .The protagonist is a Nobel Laureate in Physics Dr. Michael Beard.He is a man given to temptations of gluttony ,revenge and lust.Twenty two years ago,standing on the shoulders of Einstein , he invented a trailblazing Conflation Theory ,that won him a Nobel Prize. At the age of fifty plus(He turned 53 that July of 2000) , he tours around the globe,gives costly lectures and consultancies ,and sits as a member of a Board of a Centre for renewable energy in London.By the time  part three of book ends in 2009,Beard is past 62 years,still going "strong".
               Though a Nobel Laureate,  Beard is a philanderer.His four wives divorced him, one after  the other,after they all discovered that he was having multiple affairs  while married to them.He assured himself that this will not be the case with his fifth wife.Michael crushes people in his path without remorse but also without any vindictiveness                This 390 pages long novel left me puzzled in more ways than one.Is it a comedy,or a satire, or a reality? The author has done a lot of home work on Physics,Photovoltaics,Wind turbines,M theory,Betz's Law ,E8,String theory,climate change and global warming.As a result,he has been able to  keep it interesting despite lot of Physics and climate change in it.
                   Beard is a perfect reflection of our indifference to  global warming and climate change.He chooses to ignore the reality of global warming  in favour of personal comforts and temptations.After all,Nobel Laureates and "Great men" do have their own weaknesses.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

The Source of Passion ...

For quite some time ,I  was looking for an answer to a question which I think  was very important :What is the source of passion for  anything ,any cause?Can this source be identified and can we  strengthen our passion , once it begins to weaken? My search led me to this book(328 pages) by Deepak Chopra :The Path to Love .. .Spiritual strategies for healing.
                                The book has 7 chapters ,and only one chapter (Number 6) deals directly with passion: Why we need passion? (Page 225 to 271).On page 230 , Chopra writes:"Passion is the energy that love creates with no object other than itself.The energy born of love is creative--it makes everything it touches new.To see how passionate you are,look around at what you have created.The source of passion is within yourself.When passion wanes,it must be rekindled at its source."Again on page 237:"Passion for another person has to fade ,but passion for life itself is eternal."Passion is the flow of  life ,in all its natural exuberance.Passion does not  just fade;it gets blocked,and you have to ask  why you blocked or suppressed it.We have an unconscious  censor inside our mind which decides whether it is permissible for us to feel passionate or not.
                        How do you open up the channels of passion?You want the return of spirit within you , which is the return of God.The passionate side of God is Shakti,the goddess.Passion was the wedding gift she brought when she  married Shiva.Go into the fear and hurt;practise letting go of your old beliefs; learn to forgive yourself;find moments when you can be kind to your inner being;claim what is good about yourself and not just what is bad;follow every enthusiasm where ever it leads you,since the source of enthusiasm is always passion .Reach for the infinite ,and you will never be lost.Spirit will carry you in her arms" from  fear to love"
                           The book traces the source of passion to Divine love .to rekindle your passion , you need to  know God and to serve God and His people.

Monday, 2 February 2015

":Wetlands for our Future."

Today is 2nd February , and we are observing World Wetlands Day,2015.We were at Lucknow Zoo,and we had Forest officials , school boys and girls,teachers and persons from electronic and print media.My turn came to deliver a talk as Chief Guest for the event and I said what follows.
                            In 1971,on 2nd February , representatives of 160 countries gathered at Ramsar in Iran for Convention on Wetlands , and signed the agreement .Since then ,we have been observing February 2 as World Wetlands Day.Every year , Ramsar secretariat gives a theme for this day .The theme for 2015 World Wetlands day is :"Wetlands for our Future."
                          I wrote a blogpost on February 2,2014(Last year) which I re-read today , after a gap of exactly one year.I  am afraid not much has really happened in one year .One previous speaker  said that we should not treat wetlands as wasteland .I am reminded of The Wasteland, poem by TS Eliot,where he compares this life with wasteland .I am afraid , we have wasted one year as far as conservation of wetlands is concerned.Eliot says :we wait without hope , we wait with faith .So , though I have no reason to hope , I have a faith that things can be changed.I have no hope because  since 1900,64% of World's wetlands have disappeared.loss is higher than 64% in Asia.
                            India  is among 168 states which have ratified the Ramsar Convention.India did it on February1,1982 and framed Rules for Wetlands(conservation and Management) in2010.Mission of Ramsar convention talks  of three things:
1.Conservation of wetlands.
2.Wise use of Wetlands.
3.Activities at local,state and national levels ,and cooperation at international level.
        Wetlands are shivering because of growing demand of agriculture for land use conversion, growth of cities and urban infrastructure,development of industry,climate changes,increasing pollution,sedimentation and siltation.19% estimated increase over current global agricultural water consumption is likely to happen by 2050 .This will put stress and demand on wetlands.If we have fewer wetlands , we will have less water for agriculture.
                       We must ,therefore:
1.Conserve wetlands.More funds are needed than 3.57 crores at present being made available under National Wetlands conservation Scheme.
2.Make inventory and get all wetlands recorded in Land records.
3.Do intensive research , training and awareness enhancement.
4.Ensure coordination of all the concerned departments like urban development ,drinking water,agriculture,ground water,irrigation,industry,environment and land records.
                    I do not ask you to take a pledge  to conserve wetlands.You will violate it tomorrow.But I ask you to think seriously and then resolve to spread  awareness about the importance and urgency of conserving wetlands, using them wisely , take steps to prevent pollution , and educate and make everyone around you  on this important challenge , to secure our own future.