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Sweet Paradox: India’s Drought-Stricken Farmers plant the Thirstiest Crop ‘Sugarcane’

What makes the sugar cane plantation lucrative is its hardiness and the higher returns ensured by the state policies

Weighing of Sugarcanes in Sugar Mills. Wikimedia commons.
  • The plantation of sugarcane poses a threat to the usually arid zone and might plunge it back into drought
  • The increasing gap in income between the regular crop growers and the cane producers might lead to social unrest – warn experts
  • Indian government expects that a rise in subsidies for crops like oilseeds and common pulses will bring a change in the patterns of farming

Aurangabad, India, October 21, 2016: On the arrival of the very first nourishing monsoon showers in the drought-stricken zones of central India, farmers like Santosh Wagh hurried back to the plantations of sugarcane, the thirstiest crop; despite frequent appeals from the Indian government not to do so!

What makes the sugar cane plantation lucrative is its hardiness and the higher returns ensured by the state policies. These reasons lead the farmers to sow the crop despite the extreme water-demand of the cane relative to other crops. The plantation of sugarcane poses a threat to the usually arid zone and might plunge it back into drought, mentioned Reuters.

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Wagh, 31, hails from Marathwada and plants 1.5 acres (0.6 hectares) of sugar cane and she says “It is the only reliable crop. Earlier this year I cultivated onions and incurred a 50,000 rupees loss as prices crashed.”

According to Reuters, the largest sugar producing state in India, Maharashtra, suffered the most horrific drought 4 months ago as it damaged livestock devastating the crops and emptied reservoirs while slowing down the hydroelectric power output.

thirstiest crop
Sugarcane. Wikimedia

Compared to a commonly grown crop, chickpeas, consuming only 4 million litres of waters in its growing cycle; the cane consumes nearly 22.5 million litres and therefore the environmentalists and the government blamed the cane production for water scarcity.

According to Reuters, the increasing gap in income between the regular crop growers and the cane producers might lead to social unrest and the water scarcity will keep growing without the intervention of the government- warn experts.

Pradeep Purandare, a former professor at Maharashtra Water and Land Management Institute, said “The government asks farmers to shift to less water consuming crops, but it does little to support those crops. It failed to solve the problems of oilseed and pulses growers.”

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“Returns from other crops are unpredictable. This year it allowed 5 tonnes of onions to rot. Prices were so low that my losses would have increased by transporting onions to the market,” said an Aurangabad farmer, Suresh Kothawale.

“We are creating oilseeds and pulses as an alternative for sugar cane by raising their minimum support prices,” said a senior official at India’s Agriculture Ministry who declined to be named.

But the industry critics claim that pulse and oilseed MSP exists on paper only.

In Marathwada the sugar mill build-up was primarily initiated by the politicians in order to gain prosperity in multiple areas of Maharashtra, focusing on regions with plentiful water.

“But later politicians opened mills everywhere, even in areas where drinking water is not available, to build a constituency rather than making farmers rich,” said a political analyst, Jaidev Dole to Reuters.

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Cane can withstand dry spells, heavy rainfall, diseases and less vulnerable to pests; and thus attracts farmers to sow it more. “I had taken crop insurance for pulses last year, but didn’t get compensation despite losing an entire crop,” said Sharad Mate, a farmer from Sillod, Aurangabad.

Indian government expects that a rise in subsidies for crops like oilseeds and common pulses will bring a change in the patterns of farming.

– prepared by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC

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India will soon ask Malaysia to extradite Preacher Zakir Naik

India will soon approach Malaysia with a request to extradite hardline Islamic preacher Zakir Naik.

India will Request Malayasia to extradite Zakir Naik
India will Request Malayasia to extradite Zakir Naik. wikimedia commons
  • India will seek the Malaysian government’s help in extraditing televangelist Zakir Naik who faces charges of money laundering and inciting hatred through his sermons broadcast on Peace TV, the foreign ministry said Friday.

Zakir Naik obtained permanent residency in Malaysia 

Officials will approach their Malaysian counterparts with the extradition request sometime within the next two weeks, Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar told a weekly news briefing in New Delhi.

“Any formal request seeking the assistance of a foreign government in cases of extradition requires a completion of the internal legal process involving consultation with other ministries involved in the case,” Kumar said.

“At this stage, we are nearing the completion of this process and as soon as this process is complete we will be making an official request to the Malaysian government in this matter,” Kumar said. “It could be a couple of days or a couple of weeks. But it would be soon and the nature of our request would also be clear.”

Naik fled India a month before terrorist carried out a massacre at a café in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in July 2016. This week, Malaysia’s deputy prime minister said the Islamic preacher legally obtained permanent residency in the country, and that Malaysian authorities would arrest him only if he broke local laws or was found to be involved in terrorist activities.

Naik’s speeches allegedly inspired some of the militants who carried out the siege at the Holey Artisan Bakery café in Dhaka, where 29 people, including 20 hostages and five gunmen, were killed.

In November 2016, the Indian government banned Naik’s Mumbai-based NGO Islamic Research Foundation, which partly funded the Peace TV channel that is banned in India, Bangladesh and several other countries.

Kumar said because the Indian government had knowledge of Naik’s whereabouts, the legal procedures would be tailored to requirements between the two countries in their extradition treaty.

Advocate challenges charges

“Naik is being hounded because he hails from a minority community. The charges that the investigating agencies are trying to frame are all stale and are hardly incriminating,” advocate S. Hariharan told BenarNews in a phone interview from Delhi.

“The charges lack veracity and would not stand scrutiny in the court of law. We will be challenging the extradition and deportation.”

Last week, the Indian government filed a 61-page charge sheet against Naik alleging he was involved in a criminal conspiracy by lauding terrorist organizations. In April, a non-bailable warrant was issued against him in an alleged case of money laundering through his NGO and a shell company.

In Malaysia meanwhile, the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) has urged the government to ignore any request from India to extradite Zakir Naik, Reuters reported.

“For Muslim individuals, even when they won by using arguments and not weapons, like Dr. Zakir Naik, they are considered terrorists because their arguments cannot be countered,” PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang wrote last week in an opinion piece published in Harakah Daily.(BenarNews)

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Government approves FDI proposals worth Rs 24.56 cr

Government approves FDI proposals worth Rs 24.56 cr

The government on Thursday said that it has approved foreign direct investment (FDI) proposals worth Rs 24.56 crore, including one from Sterling Commerce Solutions India.

“During the month of October, the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), Ministry of Finance has disposed off three FDI proposals aggregating to foreign investment of Rs 24.56 crore,” an official statement said.

 The proposal of Sterling Commerce Solutions India, worth Rs 24.56 crore of FDI, has been approved that seeks to issue shares to the shareholders of three wholly owned subsidiaries of IBM India upon their merger with the company.

Another proposal from Arval India, which does not require any additional FDI, has been approved to undertake the activity of financial lease in addition to the current activity of operating lease, the statement said.

The ministry said that a proposal from Ivanhoe India Equities Inc to provide investment advisory services to overseas entities by a yet to be incorporated Indian investee company has been returned as it was premature.(IANS)

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Crossfire between Rohingya Insurgents and Myanmar Military leaves Hindu Refugees In a Deadlock

Hindus form a small but an established minority in Myanmar and Bangladesh

Rohingya Hindu refugees
A Rohingya refugee distributes wheat, donated by locals, among other refugees at a camp for the refugees in New Delhi, India.
  • The Hindu refugees, who fled to Bangladesh, have placed their hopes on the Modi  government 
  • The Hindu refugees are scared of moving back to the Buddhist majority Myanmar’s Rakhine state
  • The Indian government was waiting for the Supreme Court to hear an appeal against the home ministry’s plans of deporting Rohingya Muslims from the country 

New Delhi, September 21, 2017: The crossfire between Rohingya insurgents and Myanmar’s military has left hundreds of Hindus, who fled to Bangladesh, placing their hopes on the Indian government.

Around 500 Hindus have taken shelter in a cleared-out chicken farm, in a Hindu hamlet in the southeast of Bangladesh. The place is situated at a distance of a couple of miles, where most of the 421,000 Rohingya Muslims, who also fled violence in Myanmar since August 25, have taken abode, mentions the Reuters report.

The Hindu refugees are scared of moving back to their villages in the Buddhist majority Myanmar’s restless Rakhine state. Modi government, meanwhile, is working to make things easier for Hindus, christians, Buddhists, and other minorities from Pakistan and Bangladesh to gain access to Indian citizenship.

“India is also known as Hindustan, the land of the Hindus,” said a Hindu refugee, Niranjan Rudra, “We just want a peaceful life in India, not much. We may not get that in Myanmar or here.”

The fellow refugees agreed and shared their desire of getting this message received by the Indian government through media.

The Indian government, however, has declined to comment on hopes of Hindu refugees. it was waiting for the Supreme Court to hear an appeal against the home ministry’s plans of deporting around 40,000 Rohingya Muslims from India.

Achintya Biswas, a senior member of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) also called the World Hindu Council, on the other hand, stated India as the natural destination for the Hindus fleeing Myanmar.

Also readStop Lecturing And Demonizing India over its Plan to Deport 40,000 Stateless Rohingya Muslims: Minister

“Hindu families must be allowed to enter India by the government,” Biswas said, according to a report by Reuters, “Where else will they go? This is their place of origin.”

Biswas said the VHP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, would be submitting a report to the home ministry demanding a new policy that would be allowing Hindu refugees from Myanmar and Bangladesh to seek asylum in India.

While India’s Home Ministry spokesman, K.S. Dhatwalia declined to comment, a senior home ministry official in New Delhi, on the condition of anonymity, mentioned that no Hindu in Myanmar or Bangladesh affected by the violence had approached Indian authorities.

“At this juncture we have no SOS calls from Hindus,” the official said.

“Also, the Supreme Court is yet to decide whether India should deport Rohingya Muslims or not. The matter is sub-judice and any policy decision will be taken only after the court’s order.”

Hindus form a small but an established minority in Myanmar and Bangladesh. Rudra along with other Hindu refugees talked about how they fled soon after Rohingya insurgents attacked 30 Myanmar police posts, instigating a fierce military counterattack.

“Our village in Myanmar was surrounded by hundreds of men in black masks on the morning of Aug. 25,” said Veena Sheel, a mother-of-two whose husband works in Malaysia.

“They called some men out and asked them to fight the security forces … a few hours after we heard gunshots,” she added.

Soon after taking office in 2014, the Modi government issued orders stating that no Hindu, or refugees of other minority from Bangladesh and Pakistan would be deemed as illegal immigrants even if they had entered the country without having the required documents, on or before December 31, 2014.

India, indeed, is in a tough situation, where it can’t compromise with the principles it holds being a Secular nation that is always engaged in humanitarian activities, but will also need to keep in mind the potential security threats that might come along with such an act of acceptance.

-prepared by Samiksha Goel of NewsGram. Twitter @goel_samiksha