The GM food debate

The GM food debate

Your editorial “The false fear of GM foods" (Mint, 9 February) surely misses out on another close cousin, the fate of Bt cotton in India, as well as successive failures of crops and mass suicides. Yet we are debating it. I agree that a single failure cannot set a precedent for all effects of science on agriculture in the future in India, but we need to learn from the past and take more informed decisions.

Science is important to increase food supply, but not at the cost of our people or farmers. There would always be a threat on Indian agriculture with MNCs charging farmers for seeds. With supply being regulated (for Bt cultivation not to overshadow traditional farming), seeds will get costlier. Farmers will become dependent on MNCs to have a good harvest.

—Raj Ghosh

This is in reference to your story “Budget to facilitate financial inclusion" (Mint, 2 February). The idea of spreading financial inclusion by creating an appropriate common technology platform is quite correct. It is cost-effective, efficient and can be quickly implemented.

The government is of the opinion that the welfare funds could be made available to the beneficiaries through banks; hence the urgency to achieve financial inclusion targets. All this is desirable and fine.

But the current definition of financial inclusion is quite limited. It refers to mere deposit accounts. Poor people who have opened accounts under financial inclusion schemes have not been operating the accounts. These accounts have become dormant without further operations. Financial inclusion should also cover loan accounts. Villagers need loans at affordable rates of interest (against usurious rates charged by local moneylenders). Banks should replace moneylenders through financial inclusion schemes.

–K.V. Rao

Union home minister P. Chidambaram has made it clear that full protection will be provided to all players during the forthcoming IPL cricket matches. His word should be taken as the final stand of the government.

In the event of a state government not abiding by this stand or failing to uphold the same, the Union government should pull up the erring government. The home minister’s commitment is the stand of the Prime Minister and the Union cabinet, and is a joint responsibility.

That being so, one fails to understand Sharad Pawar, a member of the cabinet, going along with the BCCI president and getting a special dispensation from Matoshree. Any explanation diluting the seriousness of Pawar’s meeting with Bal Thackeray will not carry conviction.

There are established conventions as to how a senior Central cabinet minister has to conduct himself regarding meeting members of other political parties. It would have been in order had Pawar issued a strong statement in support of the earlier one issued by Chidambaram. Instead, Pawar going and pleading to Thackeray is unfortunate.

It is time the Prime Minister and the UPA chairperson brought discipline among cabinet members. The Prime Minister should ask Pawar to express regret for his conduct. If Pawar fails to do so, he should be asked to resign and shown the door. Will the leadership for once act boldly instead of thinking of gains in coalition politics?

—K. Venkataraman

This is in reference to your editorial “Talks without any purpose" (Mint, 8 February). It is only the poor people in Jammu and Kashmir who are used by our so-called leaders in arranging demonstrations. If a proper survey is conducted regarding the percentage of population in favour of demonstrations in the valley, it will turn out to be nominal.

Pakistani militants are everywhere holding to ransom the local people, who have no alternative but to face their guns. This position will continue till drastic steps are taken to curb such militants.

—Surinder Safaya

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