Monday, 22 June 2015

Daily News Mail - News of 21/06/2015

It’s destination Rishikesh - the yoga capital of the world
  • What the diamond industry is to Surat, yoga is to Rishikesh. With about 150 ashrams and yoga schools, the town is widely regarded as the unofficial yoga capital of the world. The charges range from Rs 500 to 1,000 a day and the courses last for a week to six months.
  • Rishikesh and yoga insinuated themselves into popular culture worldwide when the iconic British band, The Beatles, visited Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram in 1968. The ashram, now in a decrepit(decrepit meaning - weak) state, is better known as the ‘Beatles ashram’.
  • After the United Nations declared June 21 as International Yoga Day in December, yoga schools and ashrams here have got a huge leg-up.
Bt Cotton responsible for suicides in rain-fed areas: study
‘Suicides decrease with increasing farm size and yield, but increase with the area under Bt Cotton’
  • The cultivation of Bt Cotton, a genetically modified, insect-resistant cotton variety, is a risky affair for Indian farmers practising rain-fed agriculture, says a latest study published by California-based agricultural scientists in the journal Environmental Sciences Europe .
  • Annual suicide rates of farmers in rain-fed areas are directly related to increase in Bt Cotton adoption, say the scientists Andrew Paul Gutierrez, Luigi Ponti, Hans R. Herren, Johann Baumgartner and Peter E. Kenmore, who are associated with the University of California, Berkeley, and the Centre for the Analysis of Sustainable Agricultural Systems, California.
  • Revisiting the raw annual suicide data for Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka and Maharashtra during 2001-2010, the authors found 86,607 of 549,414 suicides were by farmers, and 87 per cent were men with the numbers peaking in the 30-44 age group.
  • Total suicides per year per State were regressed singly on the averages of proportion of area seeded to rain-fed cotton, average farm size, cotton-growing area, area under Bt Cotton, proportion of area under Bt Cotton, and simulated average yield a hectare that includes the effects of weather.
  • Excluding the proportion of area seeded to rain-fed cotton, linear multiple regression shows suicides decrease with increasing farm size and yield, but increase with the area under Bt Cotton, the authors say.
War of words over GM mustard
  • Even as the Union government is yet to pronounce a policy on genetically modified crops, a civil society group says there are attempts to seek the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC)’s nod for commercialisation of the GM mustard crop, opening the door to genetically engineered food crops in the country.
  • An indefinite moratorium was placed on the commercial release of GM brinjal in 2010 -- the first GM food crop -- following public protests, while attempts to bring GM mustard were rejected by regulators in 2002 after farmers and consumers raised a hue and cry over genetic engineering of mustard which is used in ayurveda and consumed as a vegetable too.
  • Expressing concern over the manner in which field trials of GM mustard DMH 11 (Dhara Mustard Hybrid 11) were recently done in Punjab and the Indian Agriculture Research Institute in Delhi violating laid down norms, the Coalition for GM Free India said the GEAC was considering approvals for GM mustard but was not transparent about the data.
  • The GM mustard ‘DMH 11’ has been developed by the Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants, the University of Delhi, led by former Delhi University Vice-Chancellor Deepak Pental, with support from the Department of Biotechnology and the National Dairy Development Board. The developers claim higher yield, but the civil society group challenges this saying the yields are no different from non-GM hybrids and, therefore, there is no need for GM crop which has potential to contaminate non-GM fields.
  • Convener of the Coalition Rajesh Krishnan said: “Delhi University’s GM mustard is essentially a backdoor entry for herbicide-tolerant crops into India in the guise of a public sector GM crop. An attempt was made for similar GM mustard by an MNC into India in 2002 which the regulators firmly rejected. Several panels, including a Parliamentary Committee, have rejected the use of herbicide- tolerant crops in India for health, environmental and socio-economic reasons.”
Herbicide - a substance that is toxic to plants and is used to destroy unwanted vegetation(weeds).
Yoga guru will be PM’s guest
  • On June 21 when thousands of people will flock to Rajpath in Delhi to observe the International Day of Yoga, a yoga guru from Ramakrishna Mission will be among Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s guest.
  • Swami Atmapriyananda, the Vice-Chancellor of the Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda University has been invited by the Modi government. “The yoga demonstration at Rajpath is expect to start at 6.45 a.m. I have been invited as a Yoga Guru but I am going there as a humble representative of Ramakrishna Mission,” Swami Atmapriyananda told The Hindu .
  • Swami Atmapriyananda said Mr. Modi was helping realise Swami Vivekananda’s message of introducing yoga to the whole world. “Swami Vivekananda had said that India will be ‘jagat guru’ or world leader in terms of philosophy, spirituality and meditation,” he said. Meanwhile in Kolkata, Union IT & Communication Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad would attend the International Day of Yoga event in Salt Lake.

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