An 18 day long focused Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat Campaign
will get underway from tomorrow across the country. The campaign, being
organised by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, will continue till
Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat promotes the spirit of national
integration through a deep and structured engagement between all Indian states
and union territories.
At the launch of Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat program in 2016,
Prime Minister NarendraModi stated that the initiative can build bonds between
the people of various states of the country.
Showcasing and highlighting the rich heritage and culture,
cuisines, crafts, customs and traditions of 36 states and union territories is
the central idea behind Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat. States and Union Territories
have been paired with each other to encourage the sharing of culture.
Jammu and Kashmir has been paired with Tamil Nadu, Punjab with
Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand with Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh with Kerala, Delhi
with Sikkim, and Rajasthan with Assam in the Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat
Farmers groups and lobbies, which successfully protested the
agricultural and dairy free trade provisions of the Regional Comprehensive
Economic Partnership (RCEP) leading to India pulling out of those talks, are
now urging the Centre to ensure that agricultural products stay out of the
ongoing Indo-U.S. trade negotiations as well.
Reports suggest that with U.S. President Donald Trump set to
visit India later this month, Amercian negotiators are pushing hard for the
removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers to facilitate access to the Indian
market for major crops including corn, cotton, soybean, wheat and nuts.
The U.S. is also keen on reaching a deal to open up the Indian
dairy market, which had been hindered by the fact that the U.S. cattle feed
often includes non-vegetarian elements.
Indian farm lobbies worry that this could have a disastrous
impact on domestic farmers, already facing a struggle to get remunerative prices
for their produce.
The import of genetically modified crops is also a thorny issue.
“Most of the U.S. cotton, soy, corn is GM. While Indian farmers also grow GM
cotton, India is yet to allow any GM food crop to be grown here. There are
concerns about bio-safety,” said AfsarJafri, an expert on agricultural trade
Researchers have developed and commercialised a rice variety
that is resistant to arsenic. Several studies have shown that arsenic from
groundwater and the soil can enter the food chain through paddy.
West Bengal is among the States with the highest concentration
of arsenic in groundwater, with 83 blocks across seven districts having higher
arsenic levels than permissible limits.
The new rice variety, Muktoshri — also called IET 21845 — was
developed jointly by the Rice Research Station at Chinsurah, coming under West
Bengal’s Agriculture Department and the National Botanical Research Institute,
Lucknow, over several years. A gazette notification for the commercial use of
Muktoshri was issued by West Bengal last year.
The work on developing the variety started in 2006 and by 2013
the scientists were successful. Pradip Kumar Das, a farmer at Birnagar in Nadia
district who cultivated the variety on over four hectares (30 bighas), said that
the yield was satisfactory, despite a dry spell.
According to the World Health Organization, long-term exposure
to arsenic, mainly through drinking water and food, can lead to poisoning. Skin
lesions and skin cancer are the most characteristic effects.