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BY VIVEK PURI
India has emerged as the largest importer of edible oil in the world. The country imported millions of tonnes of edible oil last year from October 2018 to November 2019, which is a record in itself. The nation’s dependence on imported oil is expected to reach alarming levels up to 60-65 per cent.
India continues to remain an oil deficit country and imports millions of tonnes of edible oil each year to meet the demand-supply gap, making it the world’s largest importer of edible oils.
Without a dedicated focus on and support for India’s own domestic oilseed production, it would be challenging to become self-reliant in the edible oil sector. There is an urgent need to have a vision and a plan for this industry. We need to learn from the oilseed producing countries and adopt their best practices, which in turn would enable us to work towards doubling farm incomes by 2022.
Mustard is one of the most important winter oilseed crops of country. The area under cultivation witnesses some fluctuations year-on-year and has been reported to have declined marginally by one per cent as compared to last year, although the yield has been reported to have increased marginally year-on-year. However, it is still lagging far, far behind the international standards.
During the eighties, the Oilseeds Technology Mission was launched to raise the productivity of oilseed crops, with a view to reducing the import bill, which was nearly 50 per cent of our domestic requirement at that time, and in a span of 10 years after its launch, India became almost self-sufficient in edible oils, in 1993-94, with only three per cent imports, 97 per cent of edible oils were produced within the country. However, over the years, the Oilseeds Technology Mission could not keep up with the times.
The government of India should formulate a favourable policy for the indigenous edible oils sector which benefits farmers, consumers and manufacturers equally. The objective underlying the creation of the commodity exchanges in India was to benefit farmers.
Unfortunately, since the majority of farmers do not transact through commodity exchanges, which was its prime objective, it has gone into the hands of speculators, which has artificially impacted the physical market. Hence, we require a regulator like SEBI, which can keep a watch on such malpractices.
For some time now, Puri Oil Mills Limited has been recommending the establishment of a Mustard Oil Development Board by the government. Largely, such a board can be modelled along the lines of the American Soybean Association or Spain’s International Olive Council that protects and promote the interests of olive and olive oil producers, or the Malaysian Palm Oil Board, established by the Malaysian government with the aim of promoting palm oil all over the world.
The proposed Mustard Oil Development Board can play a pivotal role through research and development by developing value added products like the soya industry has done by developing soya protein, soya milk and soya nuggets, among others. Similarly, it can ensure an integrated approach to the development of the mustard industry by enhancing value addition across mustard-based products.
To conclude, Mustard Oil is an integral part of Indian agriculture, cuisine and culture. Such is the sanctity of Indian mustard oil that even our ancient treatises, find a mention of mustard’s virtues as a valuable food crop and for its medicinal properties. The medical and scientific fraternity has been rediscovering the significant health benefits offered by mustard oil.
A series of studies have shown that it is the best edible oil for heart health in India, given the dietary habits, lifestyles and culinary practices prevalent across the country. Therefore, mustard seed and Indian mustard oil does not just have economic relevance but is also an integral part of India’s rich culinary heritage.
The Indian mustard oil industry hopes Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will take note of this in the Union Budget for 2020-21. (IANS)
The US researchers have discovered a class of immune cells that plays a role in miscarriage, which affects about a quarter of pregnancies.
Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco found that the recently discovered subset of cells known as extrathymic Aire-expressing cells in the immune system may prevent the mother's immune system from attacking the placenta and fetus.
The researchers showed that pregnant mice who did not have this subset of cells were twice as likely to miscarry, and in many of these pregnancies fetal growth was severely restricted.
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"When you're pregnant, the immune system is seeing the placenta for the first time in decades -- not since the mother made a placenta when she herself was a fetus," said Eva Gillis-Buck, from UCSF.
"Our research suggests that this subset of immune cells is carrying out a sort of 'secondary education' -- sometimes many years after the better-known population of the educator cells have carried out the primary education in the thymus -- teaching T cells not to attack the fetus, the placenta and other tissues involved in pregnancy," she added. The findings are published in the journal Science Immunology.
The immune system has to be educated not to attack one's own tissues and organs to prevent autoimmune disease. But pregnancy presents a unique challenge since the fetus expresses proteins found in the placenta as well as proteins whose genetics are distinct from the mother.
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"It was a conceptual leap to link Aire-expressing cells, which are critical for preventing autoimmune disease, to pregnancy," said Tippi Mackenzie, Professor of Surgery at UCSF's Center for Maternal Foetal Precision Medicine.
In the thymus, Aire-expressing cells begin interacting with other immune cells very early in life to teach them what not to attack. The thymus begins to shrink and is nearly gone by adulthood, by which time most immune cells have been educated. But as the thymus shrinks, the population of eTACs in lymph nodes and the spleen expands, the researchers explained.
The study suggests a healthy pregnancy may depend on having these cells around, they added. (IANS/KB)
The tiny emojis being shared on billions of devices worldwide can play a major role in digital communication, with most people saying that emoji compels them to feel more empathy towards others, according to an Adobe report.
Adobe's global emoji study found that emoji even helps people overcome language barriers and form connections that would otherwise be difficult to do.
"We were surprised and delighted by the discoveries made in the survey, most notably how enthusiastic respondents were for emoji as a means to express themselves," the company said in a statement.
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Emojis sometimes get criticized for being overly saccharine, but this sweetness is key when it comes to diffusing some of the heaviness of online communication.
"Many of the emoji are focused on positive emotions, so it's easy to insert them into our conversations and lighten the mood," the Adobe study said.
It's not surprising that over half of those surveyed feel more comfortable using emojis than talking on the phone or in person.
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This applies to less intense situations too. Dating, for example, can be tricky — especially when it's online or via digital apps, as it often is now.
The study also found that emoji even helps people overcome language barriers and form connections that would otherwise be difficult to do.
In celebration of World Emoji Day on Saturday, Adobe's '2021 Global Emoji Trend Report' surveyed 7,000 people in the US, the UK, Germany, France, Japan, Australia, and South Korea. (IANS/KB)
Following the grand Richard Branson show where he carried Andhra Pradesh-born Sirisha Bandla and fellow space travelers on his shoulders after successfully flying to the edge of space, it is time for Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos to applaud Sanjal Gavande, one of the key engineers who designed the New Shephard rocket set to take Bezos and the crew to space on July 20.
Billionaire Bezos is set to fly to the edge of space aboard what is touted as the world's first unpiloted suborbital flight. Born in Kalyan, Maharashtra, Gavande is a systems engineer at Blue Origin who always dreamt of designing aerospace rockets.
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After completing Bachelor's in mechanical engineering from the University of Mumbai, she flew to the US in 2011 to pursue a Master's in mechanical engineering from the Michigan Technological University. She also applied for an engineering job at the US space agency NASA but finally landed her dream job at Blue Origin
Sirisha flew to the US in 2011 to pursue a Master's in mechanical engineering from the Michigan Technological University.IANS
Bezos, his brother Mark, aviation pioneer Mary Wallace 'Wally' Funk, and other passengers are set to liftoff from west Texas and travel just beyond the edge of space on July 20. Blue Origin announced this week that Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old high school graduate from the Netherlands, would join the crew.
Oliver is the son of millionaire Joe Daemen, Founder, and CEO of the Dutch investment company Somerset Capital Partners. Blue Origin, however, did not reveal how much Daemen paid for his son's trip to space. Bezos chose July 20 as the launch date to honor the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
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The launch site for Blue Origin's first human flight will be in a remote location north of Van Horn, Texas, from where the firm had launched New Shepard for previous flights. Blue Origin has received final approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to carry humans on the New Shepard rocket into space.
On July 12, Bandla touched the edge of space with three others, including Virgin Galactic's billionaire CEO Richard Branson. Bandla vaulted into space onboard VSS Unity 22. After the successful spaceflight, Branson carried the Indian-American on his shoulders while celebrating their flight to space, at Spaceport America in New Mexico. (IANS/KB)