Monday, 4 December 2017

India urges UN to declare 2018 as 'International Year of Millets'

India urges UN to declare 2018 as 'International Year of Millets'

by Vishwa Mohan | Times of India| Nov 22, 2017


NEW DELHI: India has sent a proposal to the United Nations (UN) for declaring the year 2018 as 'International Year of Millets'.
The proposal, if agreed, will raise awareness about millets among consumers, policy makers, industry and R&D sector. Millet is a common term to categorise small-seeded grasses that are often termed nutri-cereals or dryland-cereals. It includes sorghum, pearl millet, ragi, small millet, foxtail millet, proso millet, barnyard millet, kodo millet and other millets.
The country's proposal was sent to the global body recently by the Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh.
"Promotion of production and consumption of millets through conscious efforts at global level is likely to contribute substantially in the fight against targeted hunger and mitigate the effect of climate change in long run. Popularising millets would benefit future generations of farmers as well as consumers," said an official statement.
Eminent agriculture scientist, M S Swaminathan, is learnt to have suggested the central government for this move in order to popularise cultivation and consumption of millets. Nutritionally superior to wheat and rice due to their higher levels of protein with more balanced amino acid profile, crude fiber and minerals such as Iron, Zinc, and Phosphorous, millets can provide nutritional security and act as a shield against nutritional deficiency, especially among children and women.
Swaminathan, popularly known as father of green revolution in India, had even suggested the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) for declaring one year in the current decade as International Year of Millets and Underutlised Crops. The FAO is specialised agency of the UN that leads international efforts to defeat hunger.
"The anaemia (iron deficiency), B-complex vitamin deficiency, pellagra (niacin deficiency) can be effectively tackled with intake of less expensive but nutritionally rich food grains like millets. Millets can also help tackle health challenges such as obesity, diabetes and lifestyle problems as they are gluten free, have a low glycemic index and are high in dietary fibre and antioxidants", said the statement, issued by the agriculture ministry on Wednesday.
Adapted to harsh environment of the semi-arid tropics, millets are considered backbone for dry land agriculture. Millets are climate resilient crops that have a low carbon and water footprint. These crops can withstand high temperatures and grow on poor soils with little or no external inputs.
"In times of climate change, they are often the last crop standing and, thus, are a good risk management strategy for resource-poor marginal farmers", said the ministry.


Two related Documentaries by Dinesh Lakhanpal

Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FRDI)

Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FRDI)

The proposed FRDI Bill will make the recovery of Indian economy impossible


December 2, 2017

A Critique of Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FRDI) Bill, 2017 titled ‘Wrong Diagnosis, Harmful Prescription’ jointly published by AIBOC, NAPM, NTUI and Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA) was released at the meeting.
 
Speaking at the occasion legal scholar, Dr Usha Ramanathan said that the major economic decisions are taken without any consultation or public debate. Referring to the mandatory and forced use of UID for all financial transactions she said,  “extraordinary ambitions of the technology makers are putting the monetary system of this country under brutal attack.”
 
Thomas Franco, General Secretary of AIBOC, said that the bill would have an adverse impact on the common people, who deposit money at the Bank to earn interest. Moreover, the bill provides for a cap on the withdrawal as a measure for the banks to increase the spending and bridge the losses caused by faulty lending. 
 
Drawing attention to the recovery rate of the National Company Law Tribunal, he mentioned that in the first case of insolvency, the recovery rate was just six percent. He asked for the need the to fix the accountability of the Bank’s management, RBI representatives, and Finance Ministry representatives in the case of defaults.
 
Economist Meera Nangia drew the attention of the audience on the steep haircuts, which causes loss to the public and the capability of all 22 Asset Reconciliation Companies, which have a capital of Rs 100 crore each as capital. She asked, “How will they deal with the total NPA, which by government’s conservative estimates if of over 8 lakh crore?” 
 
The Public sector as a whole and specifically the banking sector is on the brink of an overhaul, Madhuresh Kumar, National Convenor of NAPM said. He added that the privatisation of banks has been one of the coveted goals of liberalisation policies, but has been resisted by the bank employees and progressive people in general. Despite this, there has been a concerted effort to privatise public sector bank over the decades. This time, the government is using the NPA crisis to further the agenda of privatisation.
 
The proposed Bill seeks to destroy the value of the industries, which are assets of the society and not only of the promoters. Mody said. The Asset Resolution Companies will take away the value of these assets by breaking up the company and selling it in parts. The Bill doesn’t seek to punish the promoters, who followed the wrong policies.
 
Background:
Attempts to privatise the public sector banks have been ongoing since the economic reforms. The current crisis with the rising NPAs in the banking sector is being used as another opportunity to overhaul the banking system. With years of propaganda of an inefficient public sector, a climate of disinvestment is only perfect to liquidate any public sector financial institution! Hence what we are facing today is not just an NPA crisis is a conscious effort to reverse the nationalisation of banks and to end public sector.
 
The combination of merging small banks to create a few ‘lending giants’ along with the introduction of payment banks is a perfect way to end brick and mortar branches. The proposals of ‘haircuts’ (a fancy term for write-offs,) the policy of demonetisation, evergreening of loans, selling bad loans at a pittance to asset reconstruction companies are all measures that would further weaken the public sector banks.  A slew of legislation on banking sector, in the form of, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), 2016, the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 and the Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FRDI) Bill, 2017 were introduced in haste and without a debate in order to make the PSBs weak and subservient. Particularly the FRDI puts most of the PSBs under the threat of being liquidated.
 
Banks apart, the entire public sector is facing disinvestment, privatisation, and selling of assets and resources in the name of cutting losses. It is vital for all progressive sections of the society, cutting across political affiliations to come together in building a rock-solid resistance. 
 
Link of Wrong Diagnosis, Harmful Prescription: A Critique of Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FRDI) Bill, 2017:

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