Articles

AGRICULTURE, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, BIODIVERSITY, CLIMATE CHANGE, PUBLIC LEADERSHIP

AGRICULTURE, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, BIODIVERSITY, CLIMATE CHANGE, PUBLIC LEADERSHIP

Address during the Inaugural Session at the National Level Capacity Building Workshop – Promoting Eco Agriculture For Sustainability & Climate Change Impacts Management held on 19th December 2011 at Mumbai.

Parama Poojya Kakaji Kantisen Shroff, Hon. Justice B P Singh, Dr. Kirit N Shelat, my friend and  brother Anuj Sinha, Dr. Sanjay Deshmukh, Mr. Ashwin Shroff, Mr. Bhikubhai Dhabi, Mr. Gopi Chanda, distinguished persons in the audience, ISPL staff and experts, persons from media, farmers, NGO Municipal/Government officials, my dear teachers and students, all of you here – NAMASKAAR, PRANAAM.

It is indeed a great pleasure and honour for me to be here and to be sharing some thoughts with you.

Each era, generation – sometimes at a global level, sometimes at the level of societies and nations go through the grip of some IDEALS, sometimes OBSESSIONS, and sometimes FADS.

These lead to lots of ENERGY, CREATIVITY, ACTIONS, GROWTH, DEVELOPMENT  sometimes TURMOILS, STRIFES, MASS HYSTERIA, WAR AND DESTRUCTION as well.

The current phase of human history especially over the past decade or may be for 5 to 6 years  is an INTERESTING PERIOD in human history and hopefully not in EARTH’s HISTORY.  Mother Earth is much more stronger than what we think.

There is a great churning all around; Hope seems to be much lesser than what it was hundred years ago, during the beginning of the 20th century – if we  take the world as a whole.

Before I proceed further, may I ask you both students and teachers as to what do you think are shaping, gripping.  You can tell quickly about

-              WORRIES – FEARS

-              HOPES

-              GRIPPING IDEAS

Be telegraphic ……quick….fast….so that we can get a quick sample.  Don’t think too much……..You can change your ideas LATER.

React on those…………….. (during the meeting there were many responses ranging from Corruption, Population, Pollution etc., Quick comments made)

Now I go to some items starting early 20th century, to get a historical perspective.

Gripping IDEA for whole world was then the POWER OF SCIENCE, power of Industrialisation, science encompassing health, agriculture etc.,

IDEA:  everything was under the CONTROL OF HUMAN EFFORT.  Imperialist-Colonialist societies, nations had their own HOPES and VISIONS of ruing the world. 

Oppressed colonies had the hope of liberation and use ‘SCIENCE’ to catch up with Imperial developed world.

WORRIES: None at that time, it was grat EUPHORIA

IDEA:  great future for all people; poverty can be ELIMINATED.  You have SOVIET UNION 1917 – later many INDEPENDENT NATIONS. 

But we had two TERRIBLE WORLD WARS. 

1945 – TWO ATOMIC BOMBS dropped.

Many NEW NATIONS came through liberation.  Then HOPES of GREAT RENEWALS.

I was LUCKY(??) to be born 1944 – Soon A FREE INDIA

PERSONNALLY I was gripped by the powerful songs of Subrahmanya Bharati, a great Indian Poet (whose modernity was so INCLUSIVE: GENDER,POOR CASTE;….(Tamil quotings “Tani Manithanukku Unavu Illai Enil indha Jagaththinai Azhiththiduvom”.  If one individual does not have food, we will destroy the whole Universe).

Link it with the Food security paper of UN,

Then the writings of Swami Vivekananada a who envisioned STRONG INDIANS and UNITY OF HUMANITY

And writings of Jawaharlal Nehru (who envisaged a MODERN INDIA BEING FRIENDS WITH SCIENCE

Of course I had world influence of Renaissance, Rationality, (Great western scholars, philosophers, Voltaire, Marx, Hegel and action leaders LENIN ….MAO etc.,) All these led meScience and Technology. 

Later VIKRAM SARABHAI, Atomic Energy, Space, Hi Tech, Electronics, Green Revolution.

Socialist, slogans – Garibi Hatao

Not all of them are bad…………..(as I look back!)

Major changes which took place are:

-              Indian population grew, leaps and bounds.

-              Average of an Indian age grew

-              Bengal Famine of 1940’s, plagues, malaria, cholera, epidemic never repeated.  You are all now lot better than what  we were.

-              Even most of the CURRENT POOR are better than poor of the past.

But      ASPIRATIONS

            EXPECTATIONS

            COMPARISONS

Go up!

Also S&T has been humbled from its IMPERIOUS position of early 20th Century (in the minds of people, even science thinkers)

It is      USEFUL

            ESSENTIAL

            NEEDED FOR ALL

            BUT NOT SUFFICIENT

            MONO VISIONS

            MONO CULTURES

            MONOLITHIC GOVERNANCE

            MONO SOLUTIONS

            MONOLOGUE

No longer enough.

Nature is DIVERSITY

Therefore,

 MONO APPROACHES  will be TAKE A HIT and also can cause DISASTERS.

Economists who tried to imitate PHYSICS and MATHS to attempt MONO-PARAMETER measurements of human developments, either as

–            Rate of GDP growth

–            Or planned Input-Output Matrix\

–            Or stock market Index

–            Or MACRO ECONOMIC parameter like FISCAL DEFICIT etc.,

–            ADDED MORE HARM.

No doubt all these parameters have relevance – only as a part of a whole.  But to fit them into strict mathematical formulations to make policies, economists suppressed many crucial ancient parameters, which are not easily quantifiable.

So dear students and teachers and the elite assembled here and especially the HEADLINE seeking media, let us all remember that

-           NATURE  EVOLVES

-           IT IS VERY DIVERSE

-           MOST THINGS IN NATURE ARE INTERCONNECTED

-           THERE IS  NO “ONE SIZE FIT ALL SOLUTION”

Nature progresses through

-              Competition

-              Survival

-              Selection amongst mutants (change agents)

-              Diversity

-              Pluralism

-              Symbiosis

-              Syncretic adjustments

If we remember these basic principles, we can address all the key words of the theme with five elements beautifully brought out by the organisers

-              Agriculture

-              Sustainable development

-              Biodiversity

-              Climate change

-              Public Leadership

(Audience is asked these questions one by one:  How many of you have HOPE ABOUT FUTURE OF INDIA? ABOUT YOUR OWN FUTURE?  Hand raising: Not many for both.  Second had more hands than the first.  Some comments were made on that).

First let us recapture five elements briefly.  Three items  out of them are crucial in the coming years and decade.

“Annam Brahma”  â€œFood is God” we  tended to forget  this  simple  mantra  as  its  availability became very easy for RICH, ELITE &MIDDLE CLASS.  I cannot forget.  I was in Bombay during 1944-49 and later 1957-1964.  Oh God what a rationing of food grains, water, milk………. So I understand the spirit and words of “Annam Brahma” very well!

Now, coming to good, is it enough to assert RIGHT to FOOD OR NUTRITION.

The RIGHT TO FOOD – UN paper by Olivier D Schutter  (20 december 2010)addresses some important issues.  Somehow the word RIGHT, does not meet the needs of people.  It leads to lots of papers, talks, activism etc.,

Nature does not give RIGHT.  It poses before you

-              REALITIES

-              RESPONSIBILITIES

Empowers you with

-              REASON

-              RESPONSES

We are all a part of the whole – in the EVOLUTIONARY CHAIN, CHALLENGES…………….

Being ADAPTIVE to processes in NATURE, we can survive and flourish – now and for our future generations by which is meant:

All of  you all and your children, (grand)n children and also all the biosphere and its future.

Eco-agro-technology is very good.

Many items proposed by and pursued by Dr. Kirit Shelat, Aswin Shroff, Kantisen Bhai for agriculture and biodiversity come in that category.

I won’t repeat them.  When we deal with Agriculture we cannot be narrowly guided by the food prices, farmers, retailers etc.,  There is a huge domestication animal population (estimated to be about half the human population)  They need food too.  Also wild ones……………Some solutions may  be to use agro wastes.  These are good ideas.  But look at India:  agro wastes have competitive uses ranging from fuel to habitat building material…………….

Therefore the solutions have to be LOCAL.

Another important reality:  the very high population (in some places population density as well) of the world and India as well.  Therefore solutions cannot be by going back in millennia.  We can learn from the past but we need many elements of modern science, biotechnology, water conservation and repeated reuse technologies, food and agri-product preservation technologies as well as new materials, power sources, electronics, optonics, ICT, nanotechnology etc.,

And such applications of modern S&T knowledge and also new researches for animal husbandry, poultry, fisheries, new forms of food and other commercial agriculture products like textiles etc., Waste soils, marshy soils etc., would require newer technologies to be put to use.  Waste water recycling may have to spread to every part: agriculture, industry, services, habitats etc.,

In the search of sustainable developments, sustainable agriculture and biodiversity protection, disaster management etc., we need more and more of S&T-BUT NOT JUST THE CURRENT FORMS OF “FOLLOWER” TYPE APPROACHES and/or ivory tower approaches.  NOT MORE OF THE SAME, but with the new orientations described earlier. Also insect world and pests are part of NATURE………….We have to continuously learn to deal with them.  It is not a one time solution.

That is why we are here: to SEEK, to SEARCH; to ACT.

We need to change our mind sets, discover new paradigms but the goal is to reach all human beings very soon with good quality of living, not as doles of subsidies but with an enjoyable work culture which will provide HUMAN DIGNITY.  We all have to have PRODUCTIVE WORK and REPRODUCTIVE WEALTH to borrow from C.Subramanian from his “India of my Dreams” (1972).  I have quoted it and explained with current context in my book “EMPOWERING INDIANS with economic business and technological strengths” (2001)

Also in emphasising agriculture, we SHULD NOT ignore

-              Manufacturing and

-              Services

This TRIO is crucial for final enrichment of life of all and to provide equity.

They are mutually dependent.  The classification into these sectors is only for convenience of economics calculations.

A balance between them is not into just in numbers or percentages in terms of GDP but in terms how they result in long term sustainability and near term availability of a reasonable quality life for all and a feeling of security of today and for a distance future.

All the ideas given earlier are scientifically tenable and most of them economically and socially feasible.

But can we realise them and achieve the goals of universal equity, respectful income for all families, and long term sustenance of them with some growth……………….? 

That brings us to PUBLIC LEADESHIP.

I do not want to extend this talk too long…………..Let me use some telegraphic (slightly more than TWITTER) language……………

In India we have suffered through OVERCENTRALISATION – not just at Delhi, but also in  the State capitals.  To achieve these goals we need

-              decentralisation

-              devolution of powers

-              delegation even up to lowest implementing level

-              excellent feed back system between various levels – (learning from how the biology and brain functions to create such f b system).

-              Tolerance to failures (not an audit-punish obsession)

-              Rebuild trust despite current mood of executive bashing

-              No one size fit all type uniform criteria for implementation of public accountability

-              Remember Indian people’s affordability

The above does not mean BIG is out.  Public leaders are out.

NO!  NO!

They have crucial roles too:

-              Central/Federal Govt. has a role to take care of security-internal and global; geopolitics, geo-opportunities………..so many grand things.

-              State Govts will have so much of role in terms ECOLOGY, KNOWLEDE CREATION, DISSEMINATION and also global involvement.

-              Big industries etc., are also needed be it for power, biomedical, high quality Pharma, Advance Research, defence, ICT, including Mobile……..

-              BIG versus SMALL is an artificial debate.  NATURE does not categorise one or another as winner.

Remove VERSUS, capture DIVERSITY.  Right items to be executed at right place.  Learn from BIOLOGY and SOCIAL ADAPTIONS.

 

 (Y S Rajan)