India and cow slaughter

Despite Police warnings against cow slaughter, reports say cow slaughter happened in Hyderabad recently. AP & Telangana law prohibits cow slaughter completely. If it can happen in the state where it is completely prohibited by law, imagine the situation in places where it is allowed like Kerala or Karnataka. With the new CONGRESS govt lifting the ban, it was reported that more than 100,000 cattle were illegally brought into Karnataka. Again, this is in spite of Karnataka high court ban on illegal transportation of cattle.

Reports say more than 30, 000 slaughter houses ILLEGALLY in country. And yet, we don’t have law to make cow slaughter illegal in whole country.

The Politicians who support cow slaughter (for what ever reason) say if they ban cow slaughter, it is huge loss to beef industry. I have one question, cant they ban killing one animal? Is there anyone who is gonna die if they don’t eat cow? That much blood thirsty?

Well, killing any animal is not fair. However, killing cow in India is completely different, Cow forms the basis of Indian way of living. Every Vedic scripture, and every historical (remember it is not mythological, evidences are there) scriptures clearly mentions the importance of cow, like no other animal. The name GOVINDA was given to god only because he saved GOVU (Cow). India itself completely depends on cow. No single deity in any temple can be worshiped with out cow milk, curd, ghee. No single Yaga/Homam/Havan can be performed with out cow products.

It is said that, if the whole world is one home, India is place to worship. That is why like in no other country, since thousands of years, with its advanced mathematical system, rituals were conducted in India for the welfare of world. I’m not praising India, its just another place. I’m only stressing on its philosophy. And that place has to be pristine always. Adi Shankaracharya, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Swami Vivekananda …. take anyone from any part of India, they spoke for cow. They did not give their opinion, they spoke from Vedas.

You may not believe in god, but can you not leave one animal in India that we consider sacred?
As a scholar mentioned, more than as law, it should come from people’s hearts, just as a pure love for another person, who don’t want cow slaughter to happen.

Wish it will happen soon.

SAVE COWS. 

Plagiarism: An unseen cancer in education system

While most of the colleges, parents and students, who are a part of Indian education system are much focused on scoring higher grades, ranks in the schools and Universities, we forget one key aspect in education, which is ‘plagiarism’.


I guess most of people who is reading this blog, knows what plagiarism is. I just wanted to focus on how its happening in educational institutions, and a student perspective of that. Plagiarism, as defined by Oxford dictionary is the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own. 

Exams are often the only way parents and teachers evaluate a student understanding. Even today majority number of schools and colleges stresses for ranks, marks, percentages, grades etc etc. Coming from such place I was always worried about scoring good marks and the feeling of “have to score better than someone”. Result was not bad, never had arrears in exams. But what I missed out is the knowledge on what I’m studying.
Did I not pass exam? I passed all exams! Did I cheated in exams? No. Then I should know what I wrote right! Here comes the picture of what happened with my education system. 
As like students in any other educational institution offering University education, we were also give assignments, project works etc.,  And, I submitted them like most other students. However, what I missed out that time was, the assignment was not about doing “copy and paste” from wikipedia or few other textbooks, but instead we need to write something creative. We were told to search for information in wikipedia and “something” and submit it.

This is not just about me, you’ll find that today if you go to number of colleges over there.

I did not even know it is called as plagiarism until I started my masters.

Will I do that same internet copy and paste stuff now? I can now prove how much stuff in internet is junk (not saying it is not useful).


What was the shift? ”Awareness”. That resulted in altering the way I look at science giving a whole new perspective. When I write my understanding gets hundred times more clearer and I get more doubts for sure. And that’s where I’m learning. I’m writing same thesis since three months and every time I get feedback, I get even more excited about altering report. Because I know it will make a difference to my writing.
In a way, plagiarism is equal to malpractice in exams. And because no one can see this happening, its considered “okay” in our system. It is not. Its a cancer in education system. No one would like to cheat, unless if cheating is made very easy, during when human brain thinks its survival is important. It is simple, most people would follow rules in traffic (most people do, imagine if most people dont follow, it’ll be even more chaos, observe in road if u want), and some people for some reason, dont want to follow at sometime or always, and if a cop is standing there, he wont do that. (if he does, let him go to hell).

So what is required now, one thing that would really make a huge difference is to 1. create awareness among students that Plagiarism is Cheating. 2.There are huge number of plagiarism checkers available online now, so I guess, it wont charge much for an institution to subscribe and make sure assignments are sent through those software. 


My intention is not to criticize any of the colleges or teachers. The increasing number of colleges for Science and technology in India lead to a rapid decline in the quality of education. Find out a student who is completing B.Tech or B.E. and check his/her final year project report for plagiarism. You’ll be surprised to see number of cases plagiarism happens.
The happiness in writing a report by yourself, doing research, getting comments. Its amazing! It takes time, but its amazing.

If anyone student reading this, I’d say, trust yourself, you can be very much better in writing than the report you thought of copying. Unfortunately, by copying you killed that awesome person in you! 

That’s what I see for myself! 🙂

P.S. There are many colleges and Universities uses ‘anti plagiarism’ software and create awareness among students. I heard Sastra University does that and some more probably. But if you go to engineering colleges like in A.P. or Telangana or in TamilNadu, You’ll see really lot of engineering colleges, where staff do not know what plagiarism is.

We should start a campaign for Anti plagiarism creating awareness about that.

Farmer Suicides in India: Is it a GM Technology failure or Government negligence or Societal silence?

Over 60% of Indian population directly or indirectly dependent on Agriculture. If rain, soil fertility, seed quality etc., are the things that influence the Agriculture, it is often the Middlemen who influence the value of the crop. Unfortunately both play a critical role in farmer lives rather than his hard work.

When it comes to Indian Agriculture, one thing that is significantly looked upon is farmer suicides. I really don’
t want to touch upon the statistics in detail as you can find them easily anywhere in the internet, through Wikipedia or NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau of India). But, just to give a sense of severity, Since 1995 more than 270,000 farmers died in India and There was one death every 30 minutes. The fact that the Government of India, denied the farmer suicides until the media focused on the issue shows the commitment of Govt. in noticing the Farmer suicides. 

                                                                                                                                                                  Photo: www.livemint.com

When it comes to the reasons, a significant number of people linking farmers suicides to the GM crops. The fact that the farmer suicides started in the mid 90’s and the GM was first introduced in 2002 and and for those 7 years there were no Genetically modified crops in India. I’m not saying that, no one committed suicide because of Bt Cotton, which was a GM. But, the reason being as similar as the other reasons.

Monsoon effect:

Over 80% of the farmland relies on rains in India. The insufficient or improper rainfall causes crop failure, which is a common factor to be considered. It is also to be noted that the Suicide rate increased in those areas. 

Influence of Genetically modified crops (GM):

When it comes to the GM cotton, Monsanto released Bt cotton seeds calling them as “Magic Seeds”, which costed 10 times more than normal variety, flooded the Indian agricultural market, monopolizing the market. 
(GMOs were introduced in India in 2002 by Monsanto after a Trade agreement between Government of India and International Monitory Fund, headquartered are in Washington, D.C., United States. It was then the international companies like Monsanto, Syngenta and Corgill entered India in a large scale.)


Govt Studies:
In 2005, the Tata Institute was asked to submit a report on this by High Court of Maharastra and after its study, the institute reported, “Govt. apathy, the absence of a safety net for farmers, lack of access of Information related to agriculture are the chief causes for the desperate conditions for the farmers in the state.”

ICAR submitted a report saying, from 2007-12, the cost of Cotton cultivation jumped, the pesticide costs associated with that also rising and the crop yield is reduced. And 
In 2012, for the first time, ICAR and CICR submitted a report linking GM to the suicides, which resulted in Supreme court suspending all the field trials of transgenic crops for a period of 10 years.


It is to be noted that India was and is fastly moving towards urbanization and industrialization, which made and which IS making, government and Society not worried about whats happening in the Rural India. There was no counselling given for those poor farmers about how to survive in the fast transforming economy for whom the agriculture was the only option. 


As Mark Henick was saying in TEDx talks, People commit suicides, because for them their future looks, CONSTRICTED, DARKENED AND COLLAPSED. And they feel, not good enough and not smart enough to survive in the society. Which we can relate to what happened with those farmers. 


So, What is actually responsible for this?


1. Wasn’t the society that accepted a bank giving loan with 7% interest to buy a Mercedes-Benz and 12-14% for a farmer buying a tractor for agriculture???? (“Benz makes a history as Aurangabad gets 150 Mercedes cars at one go”- The Indian Express, Oct 15, 2010 AND “Of luxury cars and lowly tractors”The Hindu, Dec 27, 2010).

                Photo: www.krishidesh.wordpress.com

2. Wasn’t the Government which framed committees repeatedly until it gets the report it wanted to put in records? ( The Maharastra Govt., where one of the highest suicide rate recorded had 13 committees being formed until it accepted the 13th committee report it wanted to put in record, just to give a sense of height of its craziness, in the may of 2010, there were three official estimates of farm suicides in the Vidarbha region varied by 5,500 percent. What was that?)

3. Wasn’t the political influence that made Government officials NOT TO SELL the ordinary seeds but ONLY Bt Cotton seeds? ( There was no option but to plant Bt Cotton as there were no Non-GM made available to farmers, which should have been made available for them to choose).

4. Wasn’t the companies who didn’t take responsibility to make their customers farmers aware of the Usage of the GM seeds in their own language, HOW COME WE CANT GO TO A CONSUMER COURT FOR THAT? ( The Monsanto didn’t give the clear instructions in their native languages, like the GM varieties requiring more water than normal ones etc.,).

PS: No matter what people think, I have faith in Indian Judicial system. If not one level, at other level it acts according to constitution. Unfortunately, that time it takes for a judgement is long, which is an undeniable fact.

Need for rebuilding Public Schooling in India

Sending children to the private schools is one of the most common thing in India. We pay tax to Govt. to pay teachers and they do recruit pretty good teachers.

Is it that the Govt. schools are bad and govt. teachers wont perform well OR we fail to get them work? I know, if the private schools doesn’t perform up to expectations, parents rip them off of or sometimes vice versa.

I don’t mean to criticize either the govt. schools or the private school system. I really think, Govt. school education should be given more importance than private because,

1. Public pay taxes which means, we are paying Govt. money just for nothing (w.r.t. education), and we pay to private schools also which otherwise saves so much money for the people.

2. Not just the people who can afford private education study well, but also the poor when there performance in the public schools.

It is to be noted that the education is the most critical thing for the Country’s economy to develop. AND along with the urban, rural India has to be educated as equally as urban.

Now the question is, what is required to make that happen in the Govt. schools????


P.S.: I’m not blaming current Public schooling system or Private schooling system. But I’m looking at emphasizing the need for us to make use of public schools more than private.

Genetically modified crops – Amazing science and stupid protests!

Before I started studying the “actual” science of Genetically modified crops and I was very actively looking at the organizations like Greenpeace, and was thinking, wow! such a committed people, fighting for environmental protection, fighting for farmer protection, etc… 

When I actually started studying I realized that I was just one of million others who are following them, with out even having a clue about why they are required and how they are made.

Maize original form and modified form

Need for GMOs:


The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations says, world food production has to be improved by 70% by 2050 and the production has to be doubled in developing countries to meet the growing population requirements.

The question is how much you can feed with the Conventional breeding? Does these organizations say, we don’t care about the growing population, we care about our environment? Its good if they think about environment. But it makes no sense at all, if they say, “We can only save the environment by not allowing the GMOs.” What will they answer to the fact that, throughout the history ALL crops have been genetically modified from by domestication, selection and control of breeding over a very long periods of time.

The modern day maize was genetically modified through selective breeding for about thousand years and it was shown that the difference was only 5 genes from the original Teosinte plant and the maize. That is of course a genetic modification. And it is definitely not possible to wait for another thousand years by doing selective breeding to improve yield or quantity of the crop.

Normal white rice and GM Golden rice

Take the example of golden rice, which is considered as unarguably beneficial, which can solve problem of
malnutrition in children. Being a rich source of Vitamin A, it can save almost 200 millions of lives which are affected by Vit A deficiency, that causes millions of deaths, and blindness millions of people/ children etc and also golden rice is cheaper than the normal one.

I just want to repeat same questions to people who oppose GMOs.

Do you want millions of people to starve just because you think it will destroy environment and unnatural product?


If no, then what is your way to deal with that? With out modifying Genes, how can you improve yield to maintain the food source for growing population in the world?

My Passion For Plants

As a saying in The sacred and Divine language Sanskrit, “Vruksho Rakshathi Rakshitaha” which means if you save the trees you will be saved by them. Plants form the basis for the human existence. It is well known fact that the ancient scriptures like Vedas, which form the basis of the Sanatana Dharma (The Eternal Law, which is mistakenly given a name as Hinduism and made as a religion in modern times) gave a huge importance to the plants by making all the medicinally important plants be worshiped everyday in all the houses.

Plants are really beautiful, source for oxygen, and more importantly, they feed people all over the world. In fact, there are approximately 399 million Indians (2006), 7.3 million Americans, 3.6 million in UK, and another 3.8 million in rest of Europe, etc., depend “only” on plants for food.


These are not the only reasons to like plants. As Nobel laureate Richard Feynman says if you go deeper everything is interesting, Plant biology is also an addiction.

It is always interesting to know what it takes for a plant to look like what it looks like? What it takes for a plant to stand steady and adapt to of different environmental conditions even there is no motility for them. And more than that, I’m jealous of them personally because unlike me they are completely independent on their parents. (I’m not saying depending is bad :P)


I was brought up in a district which is identified as 2nd lowest rainfall receiving district in the country after Jaisalmer district in Rajasthan and one of 31 drought prone districts out of 671 districts, by Govt. of India. Being a child, looking at headlines in News papers “Crop failure, Millions of rupees loss, farmers suicides” almost every year. I was always puzzled by questions like, ‘why does these plants grow normally and give profits to the farmers? What’s wrong with them’. With out my knowledge, I started being passionate for plant biology and fortunately my Father backed me and accepted for me to study biology, which is like an adventure for him to send his son, 500 km away in an unknown place. And that’s where I was so fascinated by the way the plant parts look under microscopes. I wanted to explore more and chose to go for Biotechnology in my bachelor’s degree and I must acknowledge, my father did adventures at all stages of my studies, for my bachelors he sent me to another state in India and for my masters to another country. Being a bachelor’s student I started exploring plant science in what every possible way. I worked in industries that deals with plant tissue culture, Bio control agents, bio pesticides, did work on anti bacterial evaluation of few medicinal plants of India. And that’s when I realized, plants are greater than humans. The bacteria which we are scared of, being killed by the secondary metabolites of those plants. Isn’t that amazing?

Studying Plant growth and development at Uppsala University is an amazing experience, for the first time I got to look at plant root under confocal microscope, and plant flowers under an electron microscope and learning its mechanisms. What more I want other than just being in the presence of the beauty of the plant. Whether it may be evolution’s natural selection or God’s creation, it doesn’t matter for the fact that plants are beautiful, not just by the way they look outside, but by their structural, functional and physiological beauty. These things improved my passion for plants.
Figure:
A: Scanning Electron Microscope image of Arabidopsis ovule, taken by my best friends and lab partners, Patrick Martin, David Solbach and myself at Uppsala University during Plant Growth and Development course.
B. Amazing little plant in Skokloaster forests and a picture that gave me confidence that I can also take good pictures.
C. Photograph by myself at Uppsala University botanical garden.
D. Victoria plant leafs, considered as the largest leaf. Photo by myself at Uppsala University Botanical garden.