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BOOK REVIEW ‘ENCOUNTERS WITH POLITICIANS’

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About Kalyan Singh’s ‘shock’ & Mayawati’s ‘brazen corruption’

The book ‘Encounters With Politicians’, penned by former well reputed Uttar Pradesh cadre bureaucrat Anil Swarup on the basis of his “first hand” experiences with politicians during his 38 years civil services career, wherein he held key positions during some epoch-making events, both in his cadre state and at the Centre, talks about some previously unknown or lesser known aspects and perspectives of such events, involving prime ministers, union ministers, chief ministers, and the likes.

So, among other things, he writes about UPA vs NDA government, Manmohan Singh vs Narendra Modi as prime ministers, the demolition of Babri Masjid, and how the public perception about then Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh’s complicity in the episode, in his view, was divorced from reality, the “brazen corruption” involving another UP Chief Minister Mayawati, and the great moderating and consensus-building skills of the “master strategist” late Union Minister Arun Jaitley.

Having encountered many politicians in his career in civil service, his book carries 93 short snippets featuring well-known politicians in the country, some of whom he has worked with closely.

The book, Anil Swarup’s third, was formally launched on January 21, 2024, a day before the Ram Janmbhoomi temple consecration ceremony at Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh.

The former 1981 batch Indian Administrative Service officer has held key positions like coal secretary immediately after the so called UPA coal scam, additional secretary in the cabinet secretariat of India, district magistrate of Lakhimpur Kheri during the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmbhoomi agitation under the chief ministership of Kalyan Singh, and in the chief minister’s secretariat during Mayawati’s tenure.

The writer does not hide his admiration for the way Narendra Modi as Prime Minister went about taking quick and bold decisions in close consultation with bureaucrats, who were actively encouraged to share their views on various matters, in the first half of his first tenure, initiatives that weren’t taken in the past.

‘Something happened after demonetization’

But that “amazing period”, from which the government benefitted immensely, did not last long. Something happened, a few months after demonetisation, when the scenario changed dramatically and free-flowing communication stopped. Messaging started happening that critical comments against the government even within the confines of meetings were no longer welcome.

In his book, Anil Swarup describes demonetisation as a very good idea in so far as its intended impact on curbing the role of black money in the economy was concerned, but its execution was very poor. Eventually the very purpose of the exercise was defeated as all the 1,000 rupee denomination notes returned to the RBI, apparently the entire black money got converted into white.

The writer also points out some other mindless decisions taken during the process of demonetisation which caused untold chaos and misery to the masses, like the decision to reduce the size of the 500 rupee denomination notes, which necessitated a long and tedious process of recalibrating the entire lot of ATMs.

Rs 2,000 note ‘craziest idea’

But the “craziest” of ideas was the subsequent introduction of 2,000 rupees notes, of denomination higher than the ones phased out. Then why were the 1,000 rupees denomination notes withdrawn in the first instance?

The writer also mentions the prime minister, not once, but repeatedly making factually incorrect assertions during his important addresses to the nation, like during an Independence Day speech he took credit for creating a Project Management Group (PMG) within the Cabinet Secretariat, when actually it had been done during the previous UPA government. Where was the need to make such factually incorrect claims when the government had many other genuine and significant achievements to orchestrate, he asks.

His contention is that though the prime minister is not expected to know each and every detail, it is the people around him who need to scrutinize that every mention in his speech is factually correct and point out the mistakes or factually incorrect mentions, though eventually it is up to the PM to decide if he still wants to go ahead with it.

UPA vs NDA

Comparing UPA government to the NDA government, he says that there was clearly “indecisiveness” during the UPA government. Decisions took a lot of time. In NDA government, the decisions were “pretty quick and fast”.

Another important difference was that in UPA there were too many power centres. The ministers were totally on their own. NDA was the other extreme, where everything got centred in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

Manmohan vs Modi

On the stark contrast between the persona and style of functioning of Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi as prime ministers, Anil Swarup is of the view that though Monmohan Singh, the great economist that he is, excelled in his capacity as deputy chairman of the Planning Commission and later as Union finance minister, but he disappointed as prime minister.

The writer says he thought that Manomohan Singh was “not in control of things”, which were going “haywire”, and he appeared to be “clueless”, or did not know how to go about handling these ministers. As prime minister, he could not probably “impose his honesty on his other ministers”.

On his thoughts about why that probably was the case, the writer says to his mind Manmohan Singh was never a politician. He was a fine person, a very accomplished economist, and expert and a very kind person, but not a politician. And, politicians require other attributes.

The writer feels that Manmohan Singh lacked the leadership skills to communicative with the team and get things done, something which Modi “does so well”. He’s a leader par excellence. Modi gets things done, he motivates people, talks to them. The messaging has to be loud and clear, what the leader wants from his team, what is not done. Trust Modi, he will get done what he wants done. He’s very purposeful, very decisive, very communicative when he wants to be, the former bureaucrat opines.

Kalyan Singh’s Babri role

The writer is apparently quite impressed with the persona of former BJP chief minister of Uttar Pradesh Kalyan Singh, who he feels is the most misunderstood person especially in the context of the Babri Masjid demolition by ‘kar sevaks’ in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992 when he was leading the state.

Claiming to be the only one with the chief minister at his residence when news of the episode broke, Anil Swarup, who was then Director Information & Public Relations in the state government, says that Kalyan Singh was “shocked and devastated” by the news and he immediately rang up top BJP leaders at the time Lal Krishan Advani and Rajasthan Chief Minister Bhairon Singh Shekhawat to express his anger and strong displeasure at the development since he had been advising them against gathering a large crowd of ‘kar sevaks’ near the disputed site.

The writer says Kalyan Singh was making sincere efforts to find a negotiated settlement to the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmbhoomi dispute on the lines similar to what the Supreme Court eventually decreed years later, to offer the Muslims a large chunk of land to build a grant mosque in return for withdrawing their claim over the disputed site. With his dream of finding a negotiated settlement shattered, a distraught Kalyan Singh was never the same again.

Arun Jaitley ‘man apart’

The former bureaucrat does not hide his admiration for late Union minister Arun Jaitley, whom he has described as a ‘man apart’. He was the real troubleshooter for the government, a consensus builder and “master strategist”, who endeared himself across the political spectrum.

The writer cites one particular instance to butteress Jaitley’s negotiating skills, when he extricated the government from a near hopeless situation, not being able to get a bill passed in the Rajya Sabha for auctioning the coal blocks cancelled by the Supreme Court in the wake of the so-called ‘coal scam’. Not having the required numbers in the Upper House and with an intransigent Opposition bend on stalling proceedings in Parliament, a strategy was chalked out to reach out to opposition parliamentarians and those who mattered to convince them about the value proposition behind the bill.

The writer was then the coal secretary of India and Jaitley was Union finance minister. He called the writer over to a meeting he was having with Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik at his residence, in which then Minister of State (independent charge) for Power & Coal Piyush Goyal and an official from the CM’s personal staff was also present. The writer was requested to explain the proposed legislation and the financial benefits likely to accrue to the state to the chief minister.

Following the explanation, and being convinced about an estimated Rs 27,000 crore revenue that would accrue to the state government from the auction of the coal blocks in the state, the chief minister’s party, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) backed the government in getting the bill passed by Parliament.

Julio Ribeiro on book

Commenting on the book, former super cop Julio Riberio, who has contributed its foreword, has written in a recent column that reading “my friend Anil’s” book “I had the happy feeling that his philosophy of government service was uncannily the same as mine.”

Ribeiro says Anil has encountered many politicians in his 38-year career in the civil service. His book classifies a hundred of them, some of whom he has worked with closely. He was always polite and attentive to their wishes, but clearly laid down a red line beyond which he was not willing to venture. Very early in his career, they learnt to respect his commitment to himself and to the people he served.

Sanjeev Chopra’s review

Being among the first ones to review the book in another published article, Sanjeev Chopra, historian, policy analyst, columnist and former Director of LBS National Academy of Administration, has written that an eminently readable and well-structured potpourri of 93 short snippets featuring some of the well-known politicians in the country, ‘Encounters with Politicians’ by Anil Swarup offers insight into the way the stalwarts exercise(d) their craft.

So, when we look at ‘Encounters with Politicians’, the first impression may be that this is going to be an ‘us’ (bureaucrats) versus ‘them’ (politicians) discourse. But as Swarup mentions in the Preface, his initial apprehensions about politicians being responsible for every conceivable ill of the country soon gave way to a healthy respect for the ground-level inputs they brought to the table, as well as an understanding that many public grievances were indeed legitimate and could be addressed within the extant framework of rules, Chopra shares.

Reviving The Amazing ‘Gobbar’dhan Art In Haryana

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An amazing art of recreating the revered Govardhan Mountain in a decorative human form, using ‘gobbar’ (cattle excreta) as a medium, on the occasion of Govardhan Puja in Haryana was seen to be slowly moving towards oblivion.

In an effort to preserve and promote the art, practised by rural women, the Haryana state department for Art and Cultural Affairs in association with an NGO for the first time ever organised a competition for women artists of Haryana domicile in the heart of the state, Rohtak.

Organised at short notice, and publicised only through social media on Govardhan Puja day on November 13, a day after Diwali, the event turned out quite a success. According to sources, as many as 42 women from across the state registered for the event, out of which 36 arrived at the venue, Andy Studio in Rohtak, and participated enthusiastically.

Their talent speaks through the pictures displayed with this write-up.

The winner pocketed a cash prize of Rs 11,000, first runner-up Rs 7100 and second runner-up Rs 5100. Seeing the exceptional talent, two other participants were presented cash prizes of Rs 2100 ech. Five more women were honoured with a cash prize of Rs 1100 each as encouragement.

None of the women went empty handed, the rest of them being handed Rs 500 each in appreciation of their participation.

Encouraged by the success of the competition, organising such events in different parts of the state from next year is being considered.

According to knowledgeable sources, Govardhan Puja is linked to the religious beliefs of the people.  Cows enjoy an honoured status of ‘Gau mata’ in their lives, which is why they worship cows. Its ‘gobbar’ is considered sacred and has traditionally been used for plastering the walls of religious places and residential quarters. Meals were also traditionally cooked in homes using ‘gobbar’ cakes as fuel. Cow urine is used as a vital ingredient in the preparation of ayurvedic medicines.

Govardhan Puja festival is celebrated with fervour in many border districts of Easte Haryana and followed in adjoining Weste Uttar Pradesh and Northe Rajasthan. A day after Diwali women get up at dawn, and using ‘gobbar’ as a medium, give human shape to the revered Govardhan mountain with its hands, feet, head, body, et al. The human form is then placed on the ground.

According to belief, Lord Krishna had lifted Govardhan mountain on his little finger to protect the residents of Vrindavan from the wrath of an arrogant Indra ‘devta’ (demi God of rain). Lord Krishna had later sermonised the people to worship Nature in the form of a symbolic Govardhan mountain, instead of Indra.

Images of calves, cows, etc are also made alongside this human form.  At some places, there is a tradition of building cow dung hillocks (in which grains are stored), which symbolize Govardhan mountain. Animal based products, and traditional implements used to make them,  like butter for example, are placed near the human image to complete the ritual. All these are then covered by placing a traditional cot over it. Towards the evening, lamps are lighted and with offerings of ‘kheel-batashe’ and sweets Govardhan Puja is ritually performed.

Next day small ‘gobbar’ balls are made from the human form of Govardhan mountain. These balls, considered very sacred, are used while performing ceremonies on auspicious occasions or used as fuel in ‘havan-yajnas’.

On the day of Govardhan Puja, cultivators and dairy owners, etc ado their cows and oxen with colourful straps or necklaces made out of ‘ghungroos’ or bells around their neck and their horns are polished by applying oil. Some also apply ‘mehndi’ on their back or ‘tilak’ on their forehead. The ‘nath’ (nose ring) of the oxen is also replaced with a new one of this day.

Oxen are a critical resource for farmers practising traditional form of cultivation and they treat the animals as their sons. In mode times, through oxen have been replaced by heavy machinery and implements in farming, oxen are still used for ploughing and other chores in many areas. The jingling of the ‘ghungroos’ or bells is like music to the farmers’ ears and is a source of relaxation and entertainment for them.

 

The Persistent Gloomy Weather in Chandigarh

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white and brown concrete building
Photo by Dollar Gill on Unsplash

As the days pass by, the weather in Chandigarh seems to be stuck in a perpetual state of gloominess. The city has been experiencing dense fog and a lack of sunshine for the past few weeks, making it feel even more depressing.

The fog has been so thick that it has affected visibility on the roads, causing inconvenience for commuters and leading to an increase in accidents. The lack of sunlight has also had an impact on the mood and energy levels of the residents, making them feel lethargic and unmotivated.

While fog is a common phenomenon during the winter months, the intensity and duration of the fog in Chandigarh this year have been particularly noteworthy. The fog has been so dense that it has enveloped the entire city, reducing visibility to a few meters at best.

One of the main reasons for the persistent foggy weather in Chandigarh is the geographical location of the city. Situated at the foothills of the Shivalik range, Chandigarh is prone to the formation of fog due to the cool air from the hills mixing with the warmer air from the plains.

In addition to the geographical factors, the pollution levels in the city have also contributed to the foggy conditions. The high levels of air pollution, caused by vehicular emissions, industrial activities, and construction dust, have created a conducive environment for the formation of fog.

Furthermore, the lack of wind and rainfall in the region has exacerbated the situation. Wind helps to disperse the fog, but the absence of strong winds has allowed the fog to linger for longer periods. Similarly, rainfall helps to clear the air of pollutants, but the city has received minimal rainfall in recent weeks.

The continuous gloomy weather has had an impact on the daily lives of the residents. Outdoor activities have been limited, and people have been forced to stay indoors to avoid the fog and the cold. The lack of sunlight has also affected the vitamin D levels in individuals, leading to a higher risk of deficiencies and related health issues.

Despite the challenges posed by the weather, the residents of Chandigarh have been resilient. They have adapted to the conditions by wearing warm clothing, using fog lights while driving, and taking precautions to ensure their safety. The authorities have also been working diligently to improve visibility on the roads and monitor air pollution levels.

While the current weather may be disheartening, it is important to remember that it is temporary. The fog will eventually dissipate, and the Sun will shine brightly once again. Until then, it is crucial to take care of one’s health and make the most of the indoor activities that Chandigarh has to offer.

As we wait for the weather to improve, let us hope for clearer skies and brighter days ahead. In the meantime, let us stay positive and make the most of the situation, finding comfort in the warmth of our homes and the company of our loved ones.

Inviting Industry To Explore Tech Transfers

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India is lagging far behind the world in the area of transfer of technology (ToT) from the academia to the industry. But with the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ push, things have gradually started moving towards positive change. In this direction, the academia, industry and Punjab government have joined hands for a practical and meaningful academia-industry engagement to enhance prospects of ToT happening in various sectors of the economy.

At a joint press conference in Chandigarh on Thursday, Panjab University (PU) Chandigarh, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Punjab State Council for Science and Technology (PSCST) announced opening of registrations for the industry seeking technology in diverse sectors like engineering, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, food processing, chemicals, automation, materials, agriculture, etc to participate in a conference on ‘Industry Focused Research’ to be held at CII Chandigarh on October 12.

Panjab University Vice Chancellor Prof Renu Vig (centre) addressing the press conference at CII Chandigarh on Thursday, while Dr PJ Singh (to her left) and Dr Jatinder Kaur Arora and Prof CR Suri (to her right) listen in.

Photo By: Life In Chandigarh

In the conference, 60 scientists from 34 reputed academic and research institutes, including IITs, national science and technology research organisations, and universities, across the country will present 75+ mostly patented technologies before the industry members to explore the possibilities of transferring them for commercialization. These presentations will be done domain-wise to the relevant industry members in different halls.

While each scientist will get 15 minutes to showcase his/her technology, the subsequent discussions will revolve around the industry members’ feedback, whether it is adoptable in relevant industry or if it needs further upgradation, modification, etc. In cases where both parties – the scientist as well as the industry member – agree to work together, then the concerned technology will be transferred after following due process from academia to the industry.

PSCST will provide facilitation support for tech transfer as well as management of Intellectual Property to all the interested industries and startups.

A domain-wise list of technologies to be presented at the conference is available at https://tecpu.in/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/technologies.pdf

Industry desirous to attend this conference is required to register by paying fees of Rs 1000/person and fill online form available at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe–53WsCnGuIs9-ehwWMGRm_qUK_LEoVwb5eezkM0ctNNHOw/viewform

While candidly admitting that labs in most cases in universities and research institutions are outdated, and will take time to be gradually upgraded due to lack of funds, Panjab University Vice Chancellor Prof Renu Vig called for industry to be more open to providing internships to student researchers to give them exposure to the latest machinery, instrumentation, etc since industry is always ahead of the academia in this regard.

Emphasising that academia research needs to be industry relevant, she said that at the conference many of the technologies presented may not be ready for commercialisation and might need another round of research and upgradation.

At the same time she said thanks to the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ push, the universities and research institutions through technology enabling centres of the Department of Science & Technology (DST-TEC) and other initiatives are increasingly training students to explore entrepreneurship and not be just jobseekers, as has been happening in the past. Industry can also help in this endeavour by offering some handholding, she added.

Dr PJ Singh, Chairman, CII Punjab & CMD, Tynor Orthotics Limited, while mentioning that the MSMEs are struggling to keep pace with the fast changing technological landscape, said CII is determined to close the gap between the industry and academia for an all round win-win situation.

He informed that in order to stitch meaningful industry-academia collaborations, CII Punjab, in collaboration with DST-TEC, has created five industry-academia clubs in the engineering, information technology, pharma & medical devices, textiles and agriculture sectors. In these clubs, people from industry informally share with the academia their pain points on which innovation is desired to be done by scientists. He claimed that the activities of these clubs have gone a long way in generating trust between the two, which was sadly missing earlier.

While expressing confidence that the conference on ‘Industry Focused Research’ will set the pace for future technology transfers, he urged the industry members to take full advantage of the platform and register for it in large numbers. He is expecting an estimated 200 industry members to participate.

PSCST Executive Director Dr Jatinder Kaur Arora while extending the council’s full support to the industry for modernisation, shared that the state is transitioning fast from being an agriculture-intensive to a knowledge-intensive economy. It has received 6th rank in the third edition of the India Innovation Index issued by the Niti Aayog in 2022.

She expressed confidence that the conference would help boost R&D in the private sector, with deeper involvement of research institutions, as well as in devising strategic mechanisms for building a technology transfer platform for the region.

DST-TEC Panjab University Chairman Prof CR Suri shared that worldwide growth is being fuelled by ToTs from academia to industry, and now it is time to make this happen in India. The problem was that most technologies developed by the academia were not reaching the commercialisation stage due to lack of an institutional mechanism, but now with DST-TECs coming up in universities across the country (currently there are 22 of them) this gap is gradually getting diminished. He expressed confidence that through the conference, some technologies will eventually get transferred to the industry in due course of time.   

 

LifeInChandigarh.com  by APR Media House is an enjoyable digital reading startup, which keeps you abreast of the latest meaningful happenings of interest to large sections of folks in Chandigarh tricity, and expats from the region. It has been promoted by a public spirited senior journalist and media consultant with a view to encourage good quality and healthy journalism, a dire need of the times.

To keep in touch, drop an email or call :
rnkochhar.apr@gmail.com
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CM Bhagwant Mann Gets Nostalgic About Netherlands

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Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has fond memories of ‘Holland’ (now officially christened the Netherlands in English), first of its world champion hockey team and of its ace penalty corner specialist Floris Jan Bovelander, and then his very first four-nation foreign tour as a comedian in 1993, which took him to Belgium, Luxembourg and France, besides ‘Holland’.

Bhagwant Mann candidly shared these memories with a massive gathering of farmers, animal feed dealers and channel partners, at the groundbreaking ceremony of the Rs 142 crore animal feeds factory being set up by the Netherland’s more than 100 years old top 10 global animal feed company De Heus at Vividha Industrial Park in Rajpura on Sunday.

Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann unveiling the plague at the foundation stone laying ceremony of the Rs 142 crore De Heus animal feeds plant at Rajpura, on Sunday. To his left is company CEO Koen De Heus.

Also listening in intently were the Kingdom of the Netherlands’ Ambassador to India, Nepal & Bhutan Marisa Gerards and one of the two family owned company’s fourth generation CEOs Keon De Heus (the other CEO being Co De Heus, both together are leading the company).

Recalling his experiences of the capital city of Amsterdam and Rotterdam in the Netherlands, he talked about every ‘gali’ (street) in these cities having running canal water because of the country falling below the sea level. He also praised the extreme cleanliness of the place. ‘Majaal hai ik kaagaz da tukda kithe sutta mil jaave (you won’t find a single piece of paper thrown around).

All smiles, Ambassador of the Netherlands to India Marisa Gerards, De Heus International Director Rutger Oudejans, and company CEO Koen De Heus posing for photographs with Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann.

Warmly welcoming the company’s investment in Punjab, he said ‘hunn Rs 50,000 crore investment jo Punjab vich saadi sarkar de dedh saal vich aa chukki hai ohde which Rs 142 crore hor jorh lavo (Now add Rs 142 crore to the Rs 50,000 crore already invested in the state in the one and a half years of our government). He asserted that in this investment he was not counting the MoUs signed, but actual investment which had hit the ground and which is expected to generate employment for an estimated 2.90 lakh youths.

He advised farmers against depending too heavily on only traditional crops and to de risk and supplement their incomes by simultaneously indulging in practice of dairy farming, poultry, fishery, etc. 

Expressing confidence that the big investment by De Heus will open up the doors for more Dutch and other European companies to consider investing in Punjab, he urged the company officials to play the role of brand ambassadors of the state in Europe.

Listing out various companies from Germany, US, South Korea, etc. which had set up base in Punjab recently, he said the biggest of them all would be Tata Steel’s 2nd largest steel plant in the country, next only to Jamshedpur.

Reiterating the state government commitment to bring back the industry which had migrated to other states, attract new companies and help the sick industry back on its feet, he gave a blanket assurance to all companies considering fresh investments that the state government is ready to top up on all incentives they are being promised by other states. Plus, the state offers a corruption free and peaceful industrial environment, strong infrastructure, with speedy clearances, he added.

 

LifeInChandigarh.com  by APR Media House is an enjoyable digital reading startup, which keeps you abreast of the latest meaningful happenings of interest to large sections of folks in Chandigarh tricity, and expats from the region. It has been promoted by a public spirited senior journalist and media consultant with a view to encourage good quality and healthy journalism, a dire need of the times.

To keep in touch, drop an email or call :
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Bringing Progress To Farmers For Better Earnings

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Farmers in Punjab and Haryana cultivating traditional crops are looking for ways to diversify their crops, or shift to horticulture, dairy, poultry, fishery and piggery, etc. for better earnings. De Heus, a top 10 global animal feed company from The Netherlands, Northwestern Europe, brings hope to such farmers by setting up Rs 142 crore state-of-the-art plant in Rajpura, Punjab to produce quality animal feed, and bring best farm practices to help them increase their earnings.

This is the first major investment by a Dutch company in Punjab. The Netherlands is known to be the 2nd largest exporter of agricultural products in the world.

The plant, being set up by De Heus India, a direct wholly owned subsidiary of the more than 100 years old De Heus (with a global turnover of 7 billion euros in 2022), will produce a full livestock product portfolio of compound feed, concentrates, base mix and dairy mineral mixes. In the first phase, to be realized in first quarter of 2025, the plant will produce 180 kilo metric tons (kMT) of animal feed, with a potential to increase it to 240 kMT. The factory will have two dedicated lines.

Top officials of the Netherlands’ global top 10 animal feed company De Heus, Rutger Oudejans (centre), Tanveer Malik (left) and Amit Mittan addressing a press conference in Chandigarh on Saturday to announce the company’s big investment in Punjab to set up a state-of-the-art animal feed plant at Rajpura.

Photos Courtesy: De Heus India

Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann will be the Chief Guest in the groundbreaking ceremony of the company’s animal feed factory at Vividha Industrial Park, Rajpura tomorrow (October 1, 2023). Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to India, Nepal & Bhutan Marisa Gerards will be the Guest of Honour.

Addressing a press conference here on Saturday to announce the investment in Punjab, Rutger Oudejans, Business Group Director (Premix & Specialties) and Country Director India; Tanveer Malik, General Director India; and Amit Mittan, Commercial Director, De Heus India, said, “As a global leading supplier of nutritional products for animals, De Heus supports the performance of farmers – the producers of milk, eggs, fish and meat.

It provides them not only with high quality products, but also with in-depth knowledge about animal nutrition, animal husbandry and animal science. We provide them with nutritional concepts that ensure maximum animal health and optimal performance for better earnings.”

On advancing De Heus’ footprint in the country, Koen De Heus, CEO of the company, said in a message, India is an important market where we see a valuable role for De Heus, bringing advancement to farmers and local communities, having a positive impact on sustainable farming practices, increasing job opportunities and working in partnerships with local suppliers and partners, in short, powering progress. This is part of the company’s global expansion strategy, aimed at building a local presence to optimally serve farmers with high quality animal feeds and practical farming advice.”

In another message, De Heus’s Asia division CEO Gabor Fluit said, De Heus has more than 60 own production locations in over 20 countries, and exports to more than 50 countries in Europe, Asia, Middle East, Africa and Latin America. “Wherever we operate, we dedicate ourselves to bringing prosperity to our customers along the entire value chain, from the farmers, to local communities and our marketing network.”

Focusing on Punjab and Haryana, Country Director India Rutger Oudejans said, “during our six years presence in this region, producing animal feeds on rented feed mills, we have fully realized the great potential of the two states in driving accelerated growth in the areas of animal husbandry and livestock.”

Noting that “While Punjab is the dairy region in India with over 3000 commercial dairy farms, Haryana is a key poultry region exporting broilers and eggs to nearby states,” Oudejans said, “both states are rich in raw materials used in production of animal feed, with multiple crops per annum and a long tradition in farming. This is a great advantage for the company in delivering good quality feeds and ensuring their uninterrupted availability.”

Emphasising on the company’s Dutch roots, and over 100 years history, he said, “De Heus has been a partner in animal nutrition to the agricultural sector for over four generations. Being a family owned and managed business (it is still owned by the De Heus family), it relates to, and bonds closely with its customers, which are also mostly family-owned businesses.”

The support services of De Heus focus on:

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  • Providing accessible knowledge and experience about feed, animal husbandry and cattle farming
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  • Establishing the proper nutrient requirements and a feed strategy adapted to the local situation
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  • Keeping the animals and their offspring healthy
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  • Improving the productivity of the animals
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  • Increasing the production efficiency
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  • Improving the management processes on farms
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  • Sustainable animal nutrition solutions for a changing world
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A rapidly growing world population and rising living standards are putting increasing pressure on food value chains. For a sustainable food system, production must be optimised and made more accessible and responsible. As a leading supplier of animal nutrition solutions, De Heus helps farmers improve their performance, and deliver high-quality produce efficiently and responsibly.

Every day, we work towards creating better access to safe and healthy food for a growing world population. We do so by providing our customers with the products and services they need to look after their animals and manage the sustainable development of their businesses.

As well as high-quality feed, our specialists help drive efficiency and technological progress for our customers – by offering in-depth knowledge on animal nutrition and health, as well as animal husbandry and farming. We also work with farmers to improve their environmental footprint.

Marisa Suggests Big Cycling Event In Punjab

The Netherlands’ Ambassador to India Marisa Gerards interacting with the media

Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to India, Nepal & Bhutan Marisa Gerards while interacting with media persons on the sidelines of the press conference, said she has had wide ranging discussions with Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann earlier in the day.

In her meeting with the chief minister, she explored the areas in which the Netherlands and companies from there could cooperate with entities in the northern Indian state. She suggested to the Chief Minister that since Netherlands is a country of bicycles, her country would love to be part of a big cycling event in Punjab.

Other than agriculture, there is scope for cooperate with the state in many other fields, she added.

She shared with the media that two Indo-Dutch Centres of Excellence in potato seeds and floriculture are already functional in Punjab and another one on onions is under construction.

 

LifeInChandigarh.com  by APR Media House is an enjoyable digital reading startup, which keeps you abreast of the latest meaningful happenings of interest to large sections of folks in Chandigarh tricity, and expats from the region. It has been promoted by a public spirited senior journalist and media consultant with a view to encourage good quality and healthy journalism, a dire need of the times.

To keep in touch, drop an email or call :
rnkochhar.apr@gmail.com
rn9815617676 

From Galileo, To James Webb Space Telescope

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Noted astronomer and astrophysicist Prof Ajit Kembhavi on Friday took curious students of DAV College-10 Chandigarh on a journey of technological development of the telescope ‘From Galileo to the James Webb Space Telescope’ in a quest to more deeply and comprehensively understand the fascinating world of planets, stars, galaxies, constellations, the milky way, black holes, white dwarfs, neutron stars, supernovas, and more.

In a presentation on this topic, Prof Kembhavi, a former Director at the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy & Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune, and ex-member of the Space Commission, shared that it was not Italian astronomer and physicist Galileo Galilei who invented the telescope, but he was the first to use a small optical telescope to study the universe. Beginning in 1609, he went on to make some startling astronomical discoveries.

Noted astronomer & astrophysicist Prof Ajit Kembhavi delivering a talk on the topic ‘From Galileo to the James Webb Space Telescope’ at DAV College, Sector 10, Chandigarh, on Friday.

Photo courtesy: DAV College

According to Britannica, Galileo is credited with making fundamental contributions to the sciences of motion, astronomy, and strength of materials, as also to the development of the scientific method, his formulation of (circular) inertia, the law of falling bodies, and parabolic trajectories marked the beginning of a fundamental change in the study of motion.

The talk was organised by the Society for Promotion of Science & Technology of India (SPSTI ), Chandigarh chapters of National Academy of Sciences India (NASI), Indian National Science Academy (INSA) & Indian National Young Academy of Sciences (INYAS), and Vijnana Bharti (VIBHA) in collaboration with the research cell of DAV College-10 Chandigarh.

Explaining how our understanding of the cosmos has evolved with the rapid technological advancements in both earth-based optical and space telescopes, Prof Kembhavi, said the ability of a optical telescope to harvest light from distant stars depends largely on the area of its primary mirror.

So, to overcome the challenges of making bigger and bigger circular and curved mirrors, researchers have collaborated to develop segmented mirror telescopes, with an array of smaller mirrors designed to act as segments of a single large curved mirror.

Researchers have also deployed adaptive optics, a technique of precisely deforming a mirror in order to remove the effects of atmospheric disturbance, and allow a telescope to achieve diffraction-limited imaging from the ground.

Talking about the famous Hale telescope, built in 1948 at the Palomar Observatory, Southern California, USA, which ruled astronomy into the 1990s, Prof Kembhavi said it had a primary mirror of five metres, or 200 inches, in diameter.

With the knowledge of telescopes being able to detect infrared light outside of the Earth’s atmosphere, came the advent of space telescopes like the famous Hubble space telescope in 1990.

Named in honour of the trailblazing astronomer Edwin Hubble, the Hubble Space Telescope, a large, space-based observatory of NASA, revolutionized astronomy since its launch and deployment by the space shuttle Discovery. Far above rain clouds, light pollution, and atmospheric distortions, Hubble has delivered stunning images of stars, galaxies, and other astronomical objects.

The observatory has made more than 1.5 million observations over the course of its lifetime. Over 19,000 peer-reviewed science papers have been published on its discoveries, and every current astronomy textbook includes contributions from the observatory.

Another big observatory is the Las Companas Observatory on the edge of Atacama desert, on a plateau high in the Andes Mountain range in Chile, South America, one of the driest and darkest places on the planet.  It has a very large telescope, composed of four telescopes, each more than eight meters (27 feet) in diameter, and built by an international collaboration called the European Southern Observatory.

Eventually when completed, the telescope will have seven mirrors that together will act as a 22-meter-diameter telescope, roughly 20 times as powerful as at Palomar.

At night, calm, unruffled winds off the Pacific Ocean produce some of the most exquisite stargazing conditions on Earth.

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is the largest and most powerful space telescope to date. This $10 billion NASA infrared space observatory, launched in Dec 2021, aboard an Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket, has provided the deepest and sharpest infrared images of the early universe ever taken.

There are also radio telescopes. As opposed to optical telescopes which see light, radio telescopes see radio frequency radiation emitted by extraterrestrial sources, such as stars, galaxies, and quasars, etc. These are telescopes that are used to study much longer wavelengths than visible light.

Instead of using arrangement of mirrors and lenses, a radio telescope uses a dish to focus the radio waves onto a radio receiver for a precise, clear picture of things that the human eye cannot usually see. So, if you want to view black holes, remnants of the Big Bang, or remnants of supernovas, you are going to need a radio telescope.

One of the most famous, and among the largest radio telescopes in the world is Very Long Array (VLA) in New Mexico, southern USA. It uses massive antennas each 25 metres in diameter that can be moved along a Y-shaped rail system.

The Square Kilometer Array (SKA), once it comes up, will be the world’s largest radio telescope. It will use a network of thousands of antennas to be installed both in Australia and in South Africa. Combing the recorded signals, it will be possible to obtain a collecting area equivalent to a one parabolic antenna of one square kilometers.

At the end of the presentation, inquisitive students got their queries and doubts addressed by Prof  Ajit Kembhavi. 

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Diversification Inescapable, But Govt Must Mitigate Risk

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It was the culmination of a series of Innovative Farmers’ meets, organised by the CII Northern Region across four cities in Punjab and Haryana from July end through to mid September 2023, and the near consensus that emerged was that diversification of agriculture is inescapable, but for it to succeed, the government will have to take responsibility for mitigating the risks to farmers.

The meets were organised at Siwani and Hisar in Haryana and Amritsar and Sangrur in Punjab.

Addressing the inaugural session of the culmination ceremony held at the CII Northern Region headquarters in Chandigarh on Tuesday, Guest of Honour and Haryana Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Minister Jai Prakash Dalal joined the chorus from farmers and farm experts that all stake holders, from policy makers, to bureaucrats, farmers, agricultural research institutions, to the industry, will have to join hands in making farming a profitable proposition through diversification of crops.

Haryana Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Minister JP Dalal addressing farmers at the inaugural session of the Culmination Ceremony of Innovative Farmers’ Meet, organised by CII Northern Region at its headquarters in Chandigarh, on Tuesday.

Photos courtesy: CII NR

For this to happen, the central and state governments, in conjunction with the industry, will have to take up the responsibility for creating the infrastructure, like storage and cold chains and an efficient marketing network, so that the farmers are assured of earnings better than the assured returns from the MSP regime for wheat-paddy cycle. Only then will be farmers feel confident enough to break away from the vicious cropping pattern, Dalal, who also holds the portfolio of Dairying and Animal Husbandry, candidly admitted.

Himself practicing farming, and coming from a farming family, Dalal asserted that he had a deep understood of how the small and marginal land-owning farmers, as well as the landless contract farmers, were barely able to eke out a living for their families. They neither have the risk taking capacity, nor the appetite to take a risk by diversifying into other crops like maize, cotton, oil seeds, pulses, etc and into horticulture, animal husbandry, fisheries and the likes.

The massive and unpredictable fluctuations in prices of especially fruits and vegetables created by the forces of demand and supply, natural and man-made disruptions, inadequate infrastructure like storage facilities and cold chains, etc. and marketing support are weighing heavy on the minds of the farmers and dissuading them from moving away from the MSP-assured incomes, he added.

Under the circumstances, the governments will have to support the farmers with risk mitigation measures by facilitating creation of a robust infrastructure and an efficient and effective marketing network. The private sector will also have to play a greater role in this endeavour, Dalal stated.

Talking about his own state, the minister said Haryana is among the frontrunner states as far as providing facilities and incentives for diversification of agriculture is concerned. Work has already commenced on establishing a massive international horticulture market at Ghanaur in Sonipat district. To be executed in phases, the India International Horticulture Market (IIHM) will not only provide farmers from the entire region direct access to international markets.

He said during the weeklong visit to Japan by a Haryana delegation led by him earlier this year to study modern farm practices, opportunities were also explored for international funding of the backward linkages of IIHM down to the block level so that the farmers’ produce was picked up from their farms itself for being marketed in international markets.

The proposal under the mega project is to build hundreds of pack houses and set up cold chains, crop e-market and information & community data sharing platforms in the state. Sorting of the produce, packaging, branding and transportation will form part of the entire exercise.

Counting other successes of the state towards conservation of scarce water resources and diversification, Dalal claimed that two lakh acres more land under traditional paddy cultivation had been converted to the water-saving direct-seeded rice (DSR) technique, and one lakh acres had been brought under horticulture production.

As a result of various subsidies, support prices and other incentives, the minister asserted that farmers in the state had turned around their fortunes in various diversified farm practices like aquaculture, especially ‘jhinga’ fish, sunflower oilseeds, floriculture, etc.

He proudly shared that at different times progressive farmers from Haryana have been honoured with the Padma Shri national award for pioneering work in the field of diversification of agriculture. These are Kanwal Singh Chauhan from Sonipat district (for propagating baby corn as a profitable pursuit), Sultan Singh from Karnal district (fish breeding) and Narender Singh from Panipat district (dairy development).

Encouraging others to emulate these pioneers, Dalal informed that his vision and plan to encourage 10,000 small farmers from the state to become ‘crorepatis’ in the next few years through diversified farm practises was progressing well and expressed confidence that it will achieve success.

The other Guest of Honour, Punjab’s Horticulture Minister Chetan Singh Jouramajra did not show up, giving credence to the growing impression that the present dispensation in the state does not value CII platforms as much.

Representatives of the state government have been missing from several conferences, seminars and meets organised by the prestigious industry body in recent times, unlike in the past when chief ministers, ministers, chief secretaries and other senior functionaries from the state were frequent participants.

Panellists at the inaugural session of the Culmination Ceremony of Innovative Farmers’ Meet, organised by CII Northern Region at its headquarters in Chandigarh, on Tuesday, pose for a group photograph.

Representing the Punjab government, KAP Sinha, Special Chief Secretary, Agriculture & Farmer Welfare, Punjab, while emphasising the state government’s commitment to strengthening the critical infrastructure along the entire agricultural value chain, including storage, cold chains, marketing network, etc., called upon farmers to adopt modern farm practices to increase their incomes.

Giving the example of the expansive farms run by Namdhari Sikhs in Ramnagar area near Bangalore, he said it presented a perfect model of modern farm practices, all with minimal use of chemical pesticides and no government dependency, for the farming community in this region to emulate. He also offered to organise state sponsored study visits by farmers to the farms.

Intervening at this point, Gurmeet Singh Bhatia, Chairman of Ajooni Biotech Ltd. and moderator for the Culmination Ceremony of the Innovative Farmers’ Meet, offered that the CII Northern Region could organise one such visit for a delegation of farmers.

Established in the year 2000, Namdhari’s Fresh (https://www.namdharifresh.com/) has aggregated thousands of acres of farms belonging to a close network of farmers, and using modern farm practices, including network of pack houses and integrated cold chain, is exporting its nationally and internationally food safety certified produce of exotic and ethnic vegetables and fruits to markets in Europe, Middle East, South East Asia and Australia.

Dr Jaswant Singh, Director, Agriculture, Punjab, cautioned farmers against the indiscriminate spraying of pesticides and insecticides on their crops. He informed that to counter the challenge posed by unacceptable limits of chemical residues found in rice exports, and their consequent rejection in international markets, the state government had completely banned 10 different harmful pesticide products, found to be at the root cause of the problem.

Urging farmers to pursue progressive agricultural practices, Dr Shailender Kaur, Director, Horticulture, Punjab, emphasised that the road to farmers’ prosperity lay in practice of horticulture.

Listing out a host of horticulture crops being successfully grown in Punjab, which were giving much better returns than the traditional wheat-paddy cycle, she said setting up local level processing facilities by small entrepreneurs with an investment of up to Rs 25 lakh would prove beneficial for all stakeholders.

Sharing that Punjab farmers were already supplying seed potato to the entire country, she said there is still a huge untapped potential for horticulture development in the state. Stressing the need for farmers to cut down on pre-harvest input costs for profitability, she also suggested that the agricultural research institutions should work on developing new processing grade crop varieties for betterment of the farming community.

In a separate session on ‘Paving the Path to Progressive Agriculture’, while sharing their experiences with farmers, senior functionaries from various participating agri and agro tech companies, explained to the farmers how the use of modern practices would help them cut down on input costs, save the already scarce water resources, reduce reliance on the now hard-to-get labour, enhance productivity and decrease harmful chemical residues in their produce.

The participating companies were PI Industries, FMC Corporation, Dhanuka Agritech, Mahindra & Mahindra (Swaraj Division) and JK Tyres & Industries.

Farmers were advised to switch to newly developed bio molecule based pesticides, which are safe to use on crops, and strictly use them in prescribed quantities and at suggested intervals. They must also avoid random spraying of these chemicals and choose the right chemicals for their identified crop-specific problems.

The use of modern spraying techniques like drone tech and boom sprayers was also emphasised. The farmers were informed that now early warning systems have been developed which can timely warn them against the onset of disease and threat of pest attack.

Reminding farmers of the heavy crop losses suffered due to the use of uncertified seeds during last year’s crop season, they recommended that the farmers use only certified seeds to harvest a good crop.

 

LifeInChandigarh.com  by APR Media House is an enjoyable digital reading startup, which keeps you abreast of the latest meaningful happenings of interest to large sections of folks in Chandigarh tricity, and expats from the region. It has been promoted by a public spirited senior journalist and media consultant with a view to encourage good quality and healthy journalism, a dire need of the times.

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Now Route Your Low Value Exports Via India Post

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The concept of cross-border e-commerce is catching up and the ‘Dak Ghar Niryat Kendras (DNKs)’ being opened at the grassroots level in nearby India Post offices across the country are expected to play a pivotal role in facilitating medium, small and micro enterprises, start-ups, traders, rural artisans etc. to conveniently and directly export their products without having to rely on complex supply chains.

This facility, provided under the provision of the new Foreign Trade Policy 2023, was highlighted at the inaugural session of the Conference on Demystifying Trade and Investment organised by the CII Northern Region at its headquarters in Chandigarh on Tuesday.

Canada’s Consul General in Chandigarh Patrick Hébert addressing a Conference On Demystifying Trade & Investment, organised by CII Northern Region, at its hedquarters in Chandigarh, on Monday.

Photos By: LifeInChandigarh.com & CII NR

The conference brought together industry leaders, policy makers, and experts to deliberate on the pivotal role standards play in enhancing India’s exports, and the essential preparations required by the industry to seamlessly integrate into the global supply chains.

An initiative of the India Post and the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), hundreds of DNKs are already operational and opening of 3,000-4,000 more has been fast tracked.

The aim of setting up DNKs is to provide ease of booking and transmission, electronic filing of Postal Bill of Export and customs clearance, while ensuring visibility and transparency in the whole process.

The DNKs work in a ‘hub-and-spoke model’ with Foreign Post Offices (FPOs) to facilitate cross-border e-commerce. Their integration with e-marketplaces/aggregators will ensure end-to-end logistic support to the exporters registered on such e-marketplaces.

The government is encouraging exporters to leverage technologies such as UPI, e-Rupee, and the robust e-commerce infrastructure in the country to expand the reach of Indian products worldwide. Goods up to value of Rs 5 lakh can be exported through this channel.

The move comes in the backdrop of declining exports amid slowing global trade, and India looking for new avenues of exports and exploring new markets for its goods and commodities.

Union Minister of State for Commerce & Industry Som Prakash (centre) poses with panellanists at the inaugural session of the Conference On Demystifying Trade & Investment, organised by CII Northern Region, at its hedquarters in Chandigarh, on Monday.

Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Som Prakash, the chief guest, highlighted various measures taken by the central government to facilitate and spur growth in exports in line with the goal set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of making India a developed country by 2047, when the country celebrates 100 years of its independence.

With a view to reduce dependence on imports and realize India’s vision of becoming AatmaNirbhar, the central government has introduced Production Linked Incentive (PLI) schemes for 14 key sectors to spur indigenous production, and enhance exports, he said.

Continuing with measures aimed at enhancing Ease of Doing Business (EoDB), Som Prakash informed the audience that the Government of India has reduced 39,000 compliances. Recently, various Acts have been amended and 183 provisions across 42 Central Acts administered by 19 ministries have been decriminalized.

Further, he mentioned that the Centre’s initiatives such as the PM Gatishakti and National Logistics Policy, aimed at drastically reducing the cost of logistics from 40 per cent to 10 per cent are bold measures in this direction. More than 24 sectors will be selected for implementation of the Logistics Policy, he added.

Addressing the gathering, Canada’s Consul General in Chandigarh Patrick Hébert, despite the persistent irritants in Indo-Canadian relations, and Canadian government having called a pause to the negotiations over a free trade pact with India in the run up to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to India to participate in the G20 summit, expressed confidence over the successful conclusion of Early Progress Trade Agreement, which will be a precursor to the signing of a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.

He noted with satisfaction that the trade between the two countries is growing at a fair clip. The economies of the two countries are mutually complimentary. India is currently focusing heavily on green and clean energy and agri foods sector and Canada has the requisite expertise to help India in these areas. Artificial intelligence and data analytics are other technology areas in which the two countries can collaborate, he added.

Hébert stressed that Canada offers an attractive destination for investments since it opens the doors to several lucrative markets globally with the country having free trade agreements (FTAs) with 50+ countries, which make up for more than a half of the global GDP.

He cited a recent tie-up between a Canadian company and Mahindra & Mahindra Limited which will have a direct positive impact on the agriculture sector, especially the problem of stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana and other affected states.

The Saskatchewan, Canada based Clean Seed Capital Group Ltd. earlier this year signed a MoU with Mahindra and Mahindra Limited to bring the SMART Seeder MINI-MAX™, and related technologies, to Indian farmers with a goal of helping eradicate stubble burning, reduce input costs, boost crop production, enhance water conservation, and protect agricultural soils from further deterioration, caused by the overuse of chemical fertilizers and extreme tilling.

Vrindaba Gohil, Commissioner of Customs (Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh), Customs Commissionerate – Ludhiana, encouraged businesses to take full advantage of various schemes floated by the central government to empower them to become competitive in the global market, like Manufacturing and Other Operations in Warehouse (MOOWR) scheme and Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) scheme, which streamlines customs procedures and is currently undergoing changes to enhance the efficiency of the supply chain further.

Informing the gathering that Certificates of Origin are now being issued by DGFT (Director General Foreign Trade) without charging any fees to facilitate trade and exports, Utpal Kumar Acharya, Joint DGFT – Chandigarh, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir & Leh Ladakh, also urged exporters to take advantage of the one-time Amnesty Scheme to address default on export obligations.

He encouraged traders and exporters to keep themselves updated on various new developments and regulations on relevant websites of the central government and also keep sending their written feedback for consideration by the government so that  necessary amendments, if found necessary, can be made from time to time.

Earlier, welcoming the delegates, Amit Thapar, Chairman, CII Northern Region Task Force on Exports, and President of Ganga Acrowools Limited, emphasized the need for the manufacturing sector to be ready to produce world-class products at world-class prices, or run the risk of closure of businesses. In the process of manufacturing there cannot be any compromises on safeguarding critical issues of health, safety and the environment, he added.

The inaugural session was followed by a panel discussion on ‘Non-Tariff Barriers: Going beyond just Technical Standards’, exploring the impact of varying quality standards, improving national quality infrastructure, sustainability in Non-Tariff Measures, and the challenges posed by comprehensive free trade agreements (FTAs).

 

LifeInChandigarh.com  by APR Media House is an enjoyable digital reading startup, which keeps you abreast of the latest meaningful happenings of interest to large sections of folks in Chandigarh tricity, and expats from the region. It has been promoted by a public spirited senior journalist and media consultant with a view to encourage good quality and healthy journalism, a dire need of the times.

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Allow Students Freedom, Space To Think Out Of The Box

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Emphasising that humans are natural learners, hence the challenge and primary goal of education must be to nurture already curious, flexible, and potentially critical thinkers, a noted educationist and behaviour analyst has raised questions whether our schools are killing creativity, and whether we are not snatching the children of their childhood?

Delivery a colloquium lecture, 69th in a series, on the subject “Need For Educational Transformation: Why, What & How” on the Panjab University Chandigarh campus recently, Prof. Santoshi Haldar, from the University of Calcutta, observed that for a significant proportion of children enrolled in schools, the quality of education being imparted to them remains in question.

Prof. Santoshi Haldar delivering the PU Colloquium Lecture on the topic “Need For Educational Transformation: Why, What & How” on the Punjab University campus.

Photo By: Life In Chandigarh

In her presentation, she reflected on some of the evidence-based strategies and approaches of experiential learning from some of the best minds in the world. It also carried some excerpts from the presenter’s own research findings and current ongoing work.

The occasion exposed the ill-preparedness of the university authorities in handling exigencies during such important events. First there was a power failure at the venue, the SS Bhatnagar University of Chemical Engineering & Technology Auditorium, with apparently no viable power backup. And, the presentation would not run on the laptop, with the organisers failing to find another one. Finally, the issues were resolved but not before a substantial delay.

The poor quality of projection of the presentation on the wall for the benefit of the audience and output of the sound system thoroughly exposed the university’s outdated infrastructure.

Coming back to the insightful and thought-provoking presentation, Prof Santoshi pointed out that the important questions before us today are: Are we preparing students for a meaningful future? Are we making good human beings and responsible global citizens with desirable moral and ethical code of behaviour and actions?

Among other questions are: Are we going in the right direction? What’s lacking? What are the gaps? What are the appropriate strategies for the right direction and how to go about it? What is education, and what should be the goal education for a sustainable, inclusive and equitable society?

In response, she quoted Sir Ken Robinson, British author, speaker and international advisor on education, to say “If you design a system to do something specific, don’t be surprised if it does it. If you run an education system based on standardisation and conformity, that suppresses individuality, imagination, and creativity, don’t be surprised if that’s what it does.”

Robinson advocates that “Clear, critical thinking should be at the heart of every (teaching) discipline in school, and a cultivated habit outside it too.”

Stressing on the need to give children, and students, freedom and space to think on their own, and encourage them to go beyond their boundaries as part of their learning process, Prof Santoshi quoted another expert to say that when children are in charge of their learning, and it’s engaging, they explore for the answer. They own the information in a way they don’t when you just tell them the answers.

So, the teachers have to learn to let go, and not over condition their students. A teacher’s job is not to provide the answers, but to pose “Big Questions” that motivate their students to do their own investigation, she added.

Dwelling on the importance of emotion-based pedagogy in learning, Prof Santoshi said we only think deeply about things we care about. Therefore, meaningful thinking and learning are inherently emotional.

Emotions are powerful motivators of learning as they activate brain mechanisms that originally evolved to manage our basic survival, which is why educators must find ways to leverage the emotional aspects of learning, she explained.

Presenting another quote she said to unlock their confidence and find their passion, students need help in overcoming emotional barriers that cause them to resist studies. She motivated teachers to play a major role in this process.

Focussing on the urgent need for re-skilling especially in the light of the fact that by 2030, Indians are expected to account for 18% of the global population, she said it is important to ponder over how we are educating our youth, and whether they are sufficiently skilled to face the future.

In this context, she quoted political scientist and public intellectural Andrew Hacker to say that “The world economy no longer pays for what you know, but for what you can do with what you know…. this challenges not only the content of what we teach but the ways in which we teach.”

In conclusion, Prof Santoshi advocated that school cultures need to promote entrepreneurship, global awareness, and a humanistic outlook that includes an appreciation of diverse backgrounds and viewpoints. At the same time the importance of traditional knowledge and practices for sustainability cannot be underestimated, she said, adding that youngsters need to be made aware of their local and traditional knowledge.

About Prof Santoshi Haldar

Prof Santoshi Haldar, a post graduate in Education and a Ph.D in Applied Psychology, is also a certified Behaviour Analyst from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, USA. Recipient of several national and international awards and prestigious fellowships, Prof Santoshi has been working for the past over two decades in various international and national academic and research endeavours for the inclusive growth of people from secluded and marginalised communities through engaging and effective pathways.

Dr Santoshi also provides behavioural intervention services, especially to people with autism spectrum disorder along with training the parents and practitioners.

 

LifeInChandigarh.com  by APR Media House is an enjoyable digital reading startup, which keeps you abreast of the latest meaningful happenings of interest to large sections of folks in Chandigarh tricity, and expats from the region. It has been promoted by a public spirited senior journalist and media consultant with a view to encourage good quality and healthy journalism, a dire need of the times.

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