Saturday, February 27, 2010

Jai Ho Ramesh!

With the decision of announcing indefinite moratorium on Bt Brinjals’ immediate commercialization by Jairam Ramesh, the incumbent Minister of State (I/C) become the darling of the masses. His well thought, argued and articulated decision might have surfaced the tussle within the cabinet, with the vehement attacks by none other the Mr. Irresponsible Sharad Pawar and Shri Prithviraj Chavan over the issue. Even the PM has backed his sheer heartedness and the responsibly taken decision. He single handedly took the situation in control with the consensus of majority stakeholders unlike own Agri Minister Sharad Pawarjee, the man who is still untouched by the feelings and reeling of a common man, when the food items and almost all the essentials’ prices reached to an unprecedented level.

Earlier too Mr Pawar commented that the proposed consultations has nothing to do with the Bt Brinjal and the GEAC’s recommendation is final approval and the very moment it was befittingly the words have been returned to him by Mr Ramesh saying that if he remembers then GEAC falls under the prerogative of Environment ministry and as such it has been constituted for the appraisal and not for the final say on the approval of the Genetically Engineered crops and other products. And it has been entrusted only the task of appraisal and recommendation, and not the final approval. I am here for the final say and it would be taken after consulting all the stakeholders and considering the views from everyone. GEAC has fallen as the first ire of people and the minister, and thereafter has been aptly rechristened as “Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee” from the dillemic nomination of “Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee” by the ministry.

It is very hard to realize that why the Marathi ministers, I mean Pawar & Chavan are supporting the MNC (Monsanto), is there any under the table deal among them or, just their association with Maha-grown seed giant Mahyco and thus to keep their Marathi proud high, keeping aside the lives of teeming millions. Why not Mr Pawar and Chavan be first fed with the newly developed Brinjal, in case they are so assured of the associated risks. Let the Scientists and the agents of Bt Brinjal be the best guinea pigs for the conduct of the health tests.

Many advocacy forums including the scientific fraternity of ICAR & CSIR are vehemently supporting the Bt Brinjal cause, irrespective of the Bt cotton experience, but it seems they have forgot the graveyard beneath the cotton success saga throughout the dry tracts of the country, Vidarbha, Telangana, Rayalseema, Northern Karnataka, Punjab etc. The researchers take the denial as their credibility issue and as their contribution to the society have been questioned. But why the compromise on environmental & health safety for the interests of these so called irresponsible researchers. Researchers should not take it as a case of battle lost, but it is just the re-designing of scientific strategies in the larger interest of the common man and the farming community, and instead it is a “win-win situation” for all including the science. Any research has to have some social angles/ dimensions other than the economic gains, which is blatantly violated/ refused in India. It has to be gauged on the parameters of acceptance as per the demand, local taste and tradition of a place, unlike the thousands innumerable varieties developed by the National Agricultural Research System (NARS) handful of which can be seen today in market and in the field, which is utter waste of money, resources and time. The time is ripe for the refinement of science by appropriating the reforms in the system. But for introducing any technology, it has to be taken to be taken for consultation before the stakeholders involved for the gauging the pros and cons of the same and no committee/ autonomous body having the authority to take the autonomous decision based on some lab tests and data provided by that too the producers, which needs to be scrutinized, before considered as reliable and base material for the appraisal purpose.

What is the hurry, when lots of things viz. health hazards, biodiversity risks and many other known & unknown effects are put on the stake and in the condition when there would be no “U” turn? The halt looked mature other than the half cooked speeches of the critics and some of the ministers, which is taken decisively after consensus among the aam admi and reknown scientists like MS Swaminathan, PM Bhargava etc. The Ministry of Agriculture, S&T and HR has to re-define their role and responsibility towards the society with sensible liability, which is running unilaterally with the futile efforts and he outcomes. Merely promoting biotechnology/ GM is not the panacea for food security, but has to have a better perspective for the same.

He became the first minister to initiate the concept of consultation in policy-making for making the consensus among all the stakeholders and considering multitude of issues. The man tirelessly travelled and chaired the consultations across the 7 states and even hurdled with abuses and curses by social organisations & farmers. But sometimes the curses only turns into the blessings in disguise, do prove in the case and given him the strength for steadfastly taking the issues without any sort of bias. Today the outcome is that Ramesh has emerged the champion of all and his tireless effort is clearly reflected in the decision report presented for which he conducted global reviews and consultations for addressing the cause of the ground zero people. The decision will surely have long term impact on the scientific research in India and has raised the bar for other ministries and organizations to show their final liability and duties towards the aam admi.

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