The Tribune – In Haryana, NRC just a loud thought

Human rights panel’s former chief Justice Bhalla says yet to draw blueprint

Sushil Manav, Tribune News Service

Chandigarh – Haryana – India, 16 September 2019. A day after Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar announced implementation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Haryana with Justice (Retd) HS Bhalla on board, the latter today said the idea was just a loud thought so far and the blueprint of the NRC was yet to come up.

Justice Bhalla, a former chairman of the Haryana Human Rights Commission (HHRC), said that though the CM had discussed the issue with him on Sunday, people would have to wait for some time for the finer details of the proposed NRC.

“From my discussions with the CM, I have gathered that the Haryana Government wants to provide identity cards to all families in the state. Assam is the only state in the country to have implemented the NRC so far, where the issue of foreigners is a cause for concern.

Haryana does not seem to have any such issue. The discussion the CM had with me on this issue yesterday was more of a loud thought. So, wait for sometime before I am able to provide the exact contours of Haryana’s plans,” said Justice Bhalla.

Contacted by The Tribune today, Khattar said the issue of foreign nationals settled in various parts of the country was a cause for concern for all states, and not merely for some.

“Though the number of foreign nationals in Haryana is not very large, but still we need to have in place a mechanism to identify them. This is an issue of national security and safety,” Khattar added.

The Opposition parties in Haryana, however, are not amused with Khattar’s announcement, as most of them have termed this as a ploy to divert attention from real issues. State Congress president Kumari Selja today alleged that the BJP government in the state had no other issues to talk about, hence it had raised this issue.

“During their five years in office, they have done nothing which they can talk about during the elections. People want jobs, development and business and not the NRC,” Selja added.

Former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda asked: “If the BJP government wants to put in place a mechanism for this purpose now, were they sleeping all these five years?”

Dushyant Chautala, convener of the JJP, however, welcomed the announcement, though he said it was needed more in Punjab, J&K, Bihar and other states sharing boundaries with other countries. – Sacrilege Case: Charges framed against three Sirsa cult disciples

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 12 September 2019. In a case pertaining to the recovery of a Janam Sakhi, 25 shells of used bullets and a written chit from Mohinder Pal Bittu’s house, a local court of Faridkot has today framed charges against three Sirsa cult disciples.

Notably, an FIR no. 89/2018 was registered against four Sirsa cult disciples namely Mohinder Pal Bittu, Shakti and Sukhjinder aka Sunny under 295-A along with relevant provisions of Arms act and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

Mohinder Pal Bittu was beaten to death with rods by two Sikh youths Maninder Singh and Gursewak Singh inside Nabha jail on June 22 this year.

It is learnt that the next hearing of this case has been deferred onto October 9.

Although there was a widespread delightedness among the common Sikh masses over the punishment given to sacrilege culprit Mohinder Pal Bittu by two Sikh youths, but the SIT head IG Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh had said that Bittu’s murder was a major setback to the sacrilege probe as his presence could have unearthed those behind the sacrilege incidents.

Sacrilege Case: Charges framed against three Sirsa cult disciples

The Hindustan Times – Supreme Court grants 4 more months to Centre, Punjab, Haryana on Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal (SYL) issue

Punjab government has demanded a negotiated settlement between the two states with the help of the Centre.

HT Correspondent

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 04 September 2019. Supreme Court on Tuesday granted four more months to Punjab, Haryana and the Centre to resolve differences on the Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal, saying it was willing to wait for an amicable settlement to the dispute to be worked out.

A fresh time frame was fixed by a bench led by justice Arun Mishra after attorney general  K K Venugopal asked for three more months to discuss and settle the vexed dispute.

The bench gave four months for the talks after the Haryana government counsel said the court must fix a time frame for concluding the discussions.The counsel said the talks cannot go on indefinitely.

The Punjab government has demanded a negotiated settlement between the two states with the help of the Centre. The two states are at loggerheads over a controversial 1981 water-sharing agreement. Haryana state was carved out of Punjab in 1966.

The agreement proposed the construction of the SYL canal for effective allocation of water,with each state required to fund the portion falling in its territory. While Haryana completed its portion of the SYL canal, Punjab, after the initial phase, stopped work on it. This led to multiple cases reaching the top court.

In 2004, the Congress government in Punjab came out with the Punjab Termination of Agreement Act to annul the 1981 agreement and all other pacts relating to sharing waters of the Ravi and Beas rivers. This was two years after the top court decreed Haryana’s suit and ordered Punjab to fulfil its commitments on water sharing.

In 2004, the Supreme Court rejected Punjab’s original suit and asked the Centre to take over the remaining infrastructure work on the canal.

The Tribune – Agriculture: Organic Farming

The road to sustainability

Organic farming is not just an alternative system of plant nutrition but a completely different paradigm

Rajinder Chaudhary

Op/Ed, 07 September 2019. Even as the farm crisis remains in the news, the discourse is confined to issues like MSP, debt relief, floods, famine and the availability of chemical fertilisers. In the context of Haryana and Punjab, the lopsided crop mix is also highlighted, but the underlying technology is rarely questioned.

Vandana Shiva’s The Violence of Green Revolution remains an outlier. But of late, a significant minority has been looking critically at Green Revolution technology. Alternative farming methods are being promoted under different names, zero-budget farming, natural farming, biodynamic farming, permaculture etc.

All these emphasise different sets of practices and methods, but there are two common, non-negotiable elements: non-usage of agro-chemicals, fertilisers, pesticides and weedicides, and non-usage of genetically modified (GM) seeds. Organic farming is the widely used umbrella term that covers these methods of farming.

However, two streams need to be segregated: a narrow vision of organic farming wherein it is almost similar to conventional farming, except for shunning the use of agro-chemicals; it involves usual mono-cropping as well as purchased external inputs. The broader vision has multiple points of divergence from conventional farming, the most important being self-reliance in inputs, which in turn leads to other differences.

Often, these two versions of organic farming are clubbed. While this may be justified in some contexts, say in terms of nutritional composition of food, in other situations, for example farm economics or yield comparisons, this may not be justified and we will be better served by separating the versions.

With this caveat, organic farming can be evaluated from two vantage points. One can evaluate it from the perspective of a farmer as well as from a macro-economic or societal perspective. In the case of the farmer, except the one who is doing farming for self-consumption or as an add-on hobby, having made his money elsewhere, or for ideological reasons, profitability is the main consideration.

Profitability can be assured even with reduced yield, provided the farmer gets higher prices. From the macro-economic perspective, taking food security into consideration, productivity cannot be ignored. Besides yield, environmental and health benefits as well as sustainability are important.

For the farmer, the larger environmental benefits may not carry much weight. Organic farming methods can become mainstream only if these look promising from the macro-economic vantage point; otherwise, it will remain niche farming, limited to certain sections.

Research shows that organic food is healthier, while some studies claim that there are no such benefits. But there is a test that anyone can do and check for oneself if organic food is better. Take (‘assured’) organic grains as well as grains of the same variety but conventionally produced, and leave both as feed for birds. One needs to place the lots separately but nearby.

Do this for a fortnight and you would notice that birds first feed on organic grains and only after these are finished do they move on to chemically grown grains. This exercise can also be done with stray dogs; put both organic roti and roti made of conventional wheat before the canines for a fortnight and you would notice that they first finish off the organic one.

Even stray cattle prefer an organic field for fodder as compared to the neighbouring conventional field (that is another headache for organic farmers). A report of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) says, “Quality parameters of different crops were higher under organic management compared to integrated and chemical.”

Observation of response

Regarding yield, we can refer to the results of the Network Project on Organic Farming (NPOF) being run by ICAR-Indian Institute of Farming Systems Research, (IIFSR)-Modipuram (Uttar Pradesh) since 2004. As per the IIFSR, “Based on research studies in scientific organic management under ICAR-NPOF, 18 crops responded positively to yield on a par or higher under organic systems after the conversion period (2-3 years).

Organic management of basmati rice, rice, maize, green gram, chickpea, soyabean, cotton, garlic, cauliflower and tomato resulted in yield advantage to the tune of 4% to 14% over inorganic management. Yield reduction (after eighth cycle across the locations) of 5-8% was observed in wheat, radish, potato etc.”

So, the NPOF results (for 2013-14), covering 20 centres in 16 states, show that rather than reducing production, organic farming can improve the yield. In fact, for some crops, the yield under organic farming was better than for the conventional type from day one.

In Sikkim, before it started its journey towards organic farming, the productivity of rice was 1.43 tonne/hectare, but 11 years later, i.e. during 2013-14, it increased to 1.81 tonne/hectare. Interestingly, no yield reduction was observed during the conversion period.

Productivity increase in other crops was also noted to the tune of 11%, 17% and 24% in maize, finger millet and buckwheat, respectively. These results should comfort those who are worried about food security of the country if a complete shift to organic farming takes place.

The NPOF results also note that “Continuous practice of raising the crops organically has good potential to sequester the carbon (up to 63% higher carbon stock in 10 years), higher soil organic carbon (22% increase in six years), reduction in energy requirement (by about 10-15%) and increase in water-holding capacity (by 15-20%), thereby promoting climate-resilient farming.” This clearly indicates that organic farming is environmentally beneficial too.

And these results emerged with a ‘narrow’ view of organic farming. Not one centre conducted crop rotation experiments and only one reported results of mixed farming. All other experiments were single-variable experiments, which basically looked at organic farming as an alternative source of plant nutrition (along with no use of pesticides and weedicides) and compared it with inorganic and integrated sources of plant nutrition.

Organic farming certainly implies non-usage of chemical fertilisers and chemical plant protection methods but it is not just that. Self-reliant organic farming involves much more than that; in addition to mixed cropping, crop rotation, residue recycling and composting, as recommended by NPOF, it also involves reduced irrigation, integration of animals and trees with field farming, seed treatment and mulching.

All these are essential elements of (self-reliant) organic farming, as revealed by the performance of any successful organic farmer of some standing. Sailen Ghosh, an eminent scientist-promoter of organic farming, puts it thus: “Organic farming means farming in the spirit of organic relationship.

When you say this, it opens up a whole vista. In nature, organic relationship is a pervasive phenomenon. Everything is connected with everything else.

Hence, organic farming is not mere ‘non-chemicalism’ in agriculture. To be able to sustain this ‘non-chemicalism’, it has to get support from a host of other factors which are inseparably connected. Herein lies the essence of organicism.”

Nourishing the soil

While chemical farming seeks to feed the plant, organic farming seeks to nourish the soil, taking care of nourishment of the plant as well. These nutritional strategies lead to different agronomic practices. If you are to externally feed and protect the plant, you have to go for mono-culture.

Mixed cropping involving crops with different nutritional and plant protection requirements will not gel with chemical farming involving external feeding. The approach of organic farming, if it is not to be heavily dependent on external inputs, is the opposite; it has to avoid mono-culture and go for mixed farming and crop rotation as these are required for nutritional and crop protection purposes.

So, mixed farming and crop rotation are not optional but essential elements of the organic farming system or at least, self-reliant organic farming. Similarly, there has to be a change in the irrigation methods.

In organic farming, soil biology is very important; for soil-microorganisms, heavy irrigation is an absolute no-no; microbes would be drowned. For conventional farming, soil biology is almost of no consequence as soil microbes are more or less dead. So, in organic farming, irrigation has to be minimal not only to save on water but also to get a higher yield.

Organic farming is not just an alternative system of plant nutrition but a completely different paradigm, involving a different set of agronomic practices. This is not reflected in experimental protocols and package of practices recommended by NPOF, except in a few recent cases. Experimental protocols make it clear that equivalent NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) is provided through organic inputs.

This is an unnecessary addition to the cost of organic farming. If there is biodiversity, we do not have to provide all nutrients externally. Soil microorganisms and companion crops will take care of some of it. Incidentally, this is evident in NPOF experiments too.

It was observed that all crops registered a higher yield under reduced application of manures (75% nutrients only through organic manures with total organic management) compared to 100% nutrients’ supply through organic manures.

The yield increase was found to be 18%, 12%, 14%, 7.4% and 6% for cotton, maize, chilli, sunflower and beetroot, respectively, at Coimbatore. This means that when, rather than the full dose of nitrogen, only 75% of the requirement was supplied through the organic route, the yields were even better.

And this is just under mono-cropping conditions. Imagine the savings in input costs and yield increase if all elements of organic farming like mixed cropping, crop rotation, trees, improved composting etc. were to be practised. The entire farm economics would be different.

Moreover, rather than crop-to-crop comparison between organic and conventional farming systems, the farm income/yield over a year at the least or, better still, over a crop rotation cycle should be compared. Recently, the NPOF has taken steps in this direction.

Since 2013-14, it has started developing ‘Integrated Organic Farming System models’. In the first year, these models evaluated at Coimbatore and Dharwad increased “the net income by two to seven times over the existing system”. Actually, this experiment is the first real step towards undertaking a ‘farming systems research’.

Profitable venture

Most organic farmers, at least to begin with, have a narrow vision of organic farming. They think that by discontinuing the use of agro-chemicals, they have adopted organic farming, even though they make no other change in the agronomic practices. Such farmers experience a sharp decline in the yield.

But those who manage the transition to a broader view of organic farming and change the whole set of agronomic practices find that they are getting comparable yield, along with a decline in the cost of production and reduced risk of production. The transition to comparable yield in organic farming is dependent on the skills and inputs of the farmers.

As regards profitability, if the number of organic farmers dependent on farming for a livelihood is steadily increasing and that too without systemic marketing support, and farmers are continuing into the third/fourth year and expanding the area under organic farming, it implies that they must be finding it profitable.

Kudarti Kheti Abhiyan, a civil society initiative, has been promoting self-reliant organic farming in Haryana for the past about 10 years. It offers technical training with no marketing support.

And even without marketing support, the number of farmers who have totally shifted to organic farming has been steadily increasing (and most of these are small farmers dependent on farming for survival). However, organic farming still has a long way to go.

The Hindu – ‘Indus Valley settlers had a distinct genetic lineage’

Genome shows no Steppe pastoralist or Iranian farmer link.

Special Correspondent

New Delhi – India, 07 September 2019. Throwing fresh light on the Indus Valley Civilisation, a study of DNA from skeletal remains excavated from the Harappan cemetery at Rakhigarhi argues that the hunter-gatherers of South Asia, who then became a settled people, have an independent origin.

The researchers who conducted the study contend that the theory of the Harappans having Steppe pastoral or ancient Iranian farmer ancestry thus stands refuted. The finding also negates the hypothesis about mass migration during Harappan times from outside South Asia, they argue.

Vasant Shinde, the professor who headed the Rakhigarhi Project said on Friday that researchers had successfully sequenced the first genome of an individual from Harappa and combining it with archaeological data, found that hunter-gatherers of South Asia had an independent origin, and authored the settled way of life in this part of the world.

“They do not contain genome from either the Steppe region or ancient Iranian farmers. The genetic continuity from hunter gatherer to modern times is visible in the DNA results,” Prof. Shinde, affiliated to the Department of Archaeology, Deccan College Post-Graduate and Research Institute, Pune, said.

The study, he said, finds that the same hunter-gatherer communities developed into agricultural communities and formed the Harappan civilisation.

The researchers also suggest that there was a movement of people from east to west as the Harappan people’s presence is evident at sites like Gonur in Turkmenistan and Sahr-i-Sokhta in Iran. “As the Harappans traded with Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Persian Gulf and almost all across South Asia, there was bound to be movement of people resulting in a mixed genetic history.

India had a heterogeneous population right from the beginning of settled life,” Professor Shinde said. There was a hint that settled life and domestication went from South Asia to West Asia.

The Rakhigarhi study was reported in a paper titled “An Ancient Harappan Genome Lacks Ancestry from Steppe Pastoralists or Iranian farmers” in the journal Cell on Thursday.
Also Read

Origins of farming

In Europe, ancient-DNA studies have shown that agriculture tended to spread through an influx of people with ancestry in Anatolia, in modern day Turkey.

The new study shows a similar dynamic in Iran and Turan (southern Central Asia), where the researchers found that Anatolian-related ancestry and farming arrived around the same time.

In South Asia, however, the story appears quite different.

Not only did the researchers find an absence of Anatolian-related ancestry, they saw that Iranian-related ancestry in South Asians comes from a lineage that separated from ancient Iranian farmers and hunter-gatherers before those groups split from each other, nearly 9,000 years ago.

The researchers, therefore, concluded that farming in South Asia was not due to the movement of people from the farming cultures of the west and that local foragers adopted it.

“Researchers find no trace of the Anatolian-related ancestry that is a hallmark of the spread of farming to the west, but the Iranian-related ancestry they detected in South Asians comes from a lineage that separated from ancient Iranian farmers and hunter-gatherers before those groups split from each other,” a statement highlighting the findings says.

“Prior to the arrival of steppe pastoralists bringing their Indo-European languages about 4,000 years ago, we find no evidence of large-scale movements of people into South Asia,” David Reich, a geneticist and a co-author of the study, based in the United States, said in a statement.

The Tribune – CM seeks fresh tribunal on river waters, writes to Modi

Says groundwater scarce, canals state’s lifeline

Rajmeet Singh – Tribune News Service

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 03 September 2019. Even as Punjab got temporary relief today when the Supreme Court gave four more months to Punjab, Haryana and the Centre to find an amicable solution to break the deadlock between the two states over the Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal, the state government has made a fresh bid before the Centre for a reassessment of the volume of river waters.

Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking a fresh tribunal for reassessment of river waters in Punjab. While giving a background of the sensitive issue, the CM, in his two-page letter, has also touched the law and order implications on the sensitive issue.

The CM is reported to have also raised the issue at today’s meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah, though there was no official statement on this.

Punjab has been contesting that the availability of surface water has drastically changed over the years and the state is facing a severe shortage of groundwater due to its over exploitation.

Demanding that a tribunal be set up for a reassessment of river water in Punjab, including the Ravi-Beas basin, Punjab has stated that it has been 30 years since the assessment of Ravi-Beas waters was done by the Eradi Tribunal (set up in 1986).

The amount of water coming in the basin has fallen drastically, hence the need for its reassessment. Initially estimated at 17 MAF (million acre feet), the Eradi Tribunal had put its estimates at 19 MAF. Now, the flow in the rivers has come down from17.17 MAF to 14.34 MAF.

The state has stated that in case the canal was constructed, 10 lakh hectares of agricultural land in Punjab would turn into a desert. Total agricultural land in Punjab is 105 lakh acres, compared to 80 lakh acres in Haryana.

Besides, the state, at its meeting with the officials of Haryana and the Centre, has staked its claim to Yamuna waters. Punjab argues that if Haryana stakes claim to water on the plea that it was also a part of Punjab before reorganisation in 1966, then Haryana should also share Yamuna waters.

As Haryana draws 4.65 MAF through the Yamuna, 60 per cent of it should be shared with Punjab, says the state.

The Asian Age – Ram Rahim parole plea rejected again

In her petition, Kaur submitted that her husband had earned the necessary good conduct remission reports for the parole as required under law.

Tanveer Thakur

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 28 August 2019. The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday refused to grant relief to Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh after his wife, Harjeet Kaur, filed a petition seeking his release on parole to look after his ailing mother.

In her petition, Kaur submitted that her husband had earned the necessary good conduct remission reports for the parole as required under law. Kaur submitted that Ram Rahim had been sentenced to imprisonment for two terms of 10 years by a Panchkula special judge. He has also been sentenced to undergo life imprisonment in a murder case.

She added that his mother, Naseeb Kaur, 85, was suffering from a heart ailment and needed to undergo an angiography. The petition said the mother was “old and weak” and had expressed “desire that her only son” Gurmeet Ram Rahim be present to attend to her. The Bench was of the opinion that Ram Rahim could himself file the plea.

The plea came two years after Ram Rahim was sentenced to two 10-year terms in a rape case. His wife had sought a three-week parole for him to tend to his ailing mother on the grounds that the convict had earned “good conduct remission reports”.

Earlier, jail authorities in Rohtak, where he is undergoing sentence, refused to grant him the parole to meet his ailing mother.

The decision not to grant the parole was taken by jail superintendent Sunil Sangwan on August 9 after Justice Kuldip Singh of the Punjab and Haryana High Court directed the state to take a decision on the representation of Ram Rahim Singh’s wife.

The Tribune – Meeting between Punjab and Haryana on SYL remains inconclusive

Ravi S Singh, Tribune News Service

New Delhi – India, 21 August 2019. A joint meeting of officials of Punjab and Haryana governments led by their respective chief secretaries which was convened by the Union Jal Shakti Ministry on the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal imbroglio on Wednesday remained inconclusive with both sides remaining steadfast to their earlier stands.

Another round of a similar meeting of both the sides is expected to be convened by the ministry within a week.
“The meeting has been inconclusive. Both sides are engaged in talks on SYL,” said Union Jal Shakti Secretary UP Singh.

“The ministry’s role is limited to facilitate meetings between both the sides so that they could talk on resolving the issue as asked by the Supreme Court,” Singh added.

The Punjab legislature’s impugned termination of Agreement Act had junked all agreements to share the state’s river waters with other states.

With regard to apex court’s judgment, Punjab Government has taken the stand that the rivers in the state have shrunk and the state was not in a position to share waters as it had become water-deficit.

The two states have hardened their position following the judgment, resulting in the logjam.

The apex court has listed hearing in SYL issue on September 3 before which all sides will need to firm up their positions. – …and now it’s turn of Punjab; Meeting between Centre, Punjab and Haryana to complete SYL-canal tomorrow

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 15 August 2019. After revoking the special status of Jammu & Kashmir by scrapping Article 370, the BJP led saffron Indian government seems all set for hitting its next target Punjab. It is learnt that the Centre, Punjab and Haryana will be sitting together tomorrow to discuss upon completing the construction of SYL canal.

It is noteworthy here that this meeting has been called upon at the behest of the Supreme Court of India, which will be convened by the secretary of Union Water Resources Ministry. The Chief Secretaries of Punjab and Haryana will represent the two states in this meeting while the principal secretaries, irrigation, of both states will also be present.

On July 9, the Supreme Court of India had directed the chief ministers of Punjab and Haryana to constitute a high level committee of its officials to sort out the SYL-canal issue.

After observing that its previous orders of completing the construction of SYL-canal were not being imposed, the Supreme Court had said that if the two states can’t sort out this issue then the Centre must help them.

The next hearing on this case is scheduled for September 3.

What is Punjab’s stance on SYL-canal?

On 14 March 2016, the former SAD led Punjab government had unanimously passed The Satluj-Yamuna Link Canal Land (Transfer of Proprietary Rights) Act-2016 in the Punjab assembly.

It was decided to de-notify the land acquired from farmers for the SYL-Canal project and return it back to them free of cost.

While the Governor’s assent to Bill was being awaited, the Haryana government had moved to the Supreme Court seeking annulation of the Satluj-Yamuna Link Canal Land (Transfer of Proprietary Rights) Act-2016 passed by the Punjab government.

…and now it’s turn of Punjab; Meeting between Centre, Punjab and Haryana to complete SYL-canal tomorrow – Now, Haryana CM Khattar makes objectionable comment on Kashmiri girls

Sikh24 Editors

New Delhi – India, 10 August 2019. After snatching the special status of J&K by scrapping the Article 370, the BJP leaders are continuously humiliating the Kashmiris with degraded comments about the Kashmiri girls. Apart from the blind followers of BJP, prominent BJP leaders have also started making such objectionable comments about Kashmiri girls.

On August 9, the Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar stated that now they can bring the girls from Kashmir to for marriage.

“Our minister OP Dhankhar used to say that he will bring ‘bahu’ (daughter-in-law) from Bihar. But nowadays people are saying that the path to Kashmir has been cleared. No, we will bring girls from Kashmir,” he added.

Meanwhile, the SAD (Amritsar) has sharply reacted to Khattar’s statement by saying that the BJP is depicting its degraded mindset and animal instinct.

SAD (Amritsar) leader Navdeep Singh has said that a sharp reaction by the Kashmiri people to the Indian state is probable in coming days. He advised the Hindutva leaders to stop dreaming of ruling over Kashmir.