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MONEY ISN’T THE REAL WEALTH, BIODIVERSITY IS

We must replace synthetic goods with biodiverse and sustainable products that help heal small communities and forests.

Indra Shekhar Singh

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Biodiversity
Biodiversity

Mayday! Mayday! Pollution, climate chaos and now Covid-19, Spaceship Earth needs to take a desperate reset, before all systems burn down. Nature is fed up, and on this World Environment Day 2020 as India battles devastation of Nisarga and Amphan, we need to reorient our “mind’s eye” to see real wealth — our biodiversity, and not currency. For, otherwise, rapture may only be far away.

For centuries, people, hills, rivers, nations, etc, have been scarified at the altar of “money”, so that our “imperialist business leaders” and “hedge fund manager” can buy their way into El Dorado.  

History teaches us that our “Brave New World” needs to be violently subjugated for gleaning maximum profits, most efficiently. Meanwhile, our children are conditioned to believe wealth comes from “bankers” and “capitalists”, and “orange juice from the refrigerator”. Their innocence is molested with images of misinformation, fear and violence as our environment — air, water, etc — and even the information in our brains are polluted. Advertising even spills into our dreams. Also, our slanted economic system is rapacious, so much so that a skilled worker/craftsman (for example, a cobbler) in Bihar, working 24×7, cannot even earn in a month what his counterpart in the US earns in a day! 

Money can never be the real wealth, as it is temporal, contingent and only a means to something else. Predatory corporatism forces countries to abandon welfare policies and privatise all our common properties — forests, oil, water, etc. It happened in the US, the UK, Russia, et al. Colonisation of the world by Europe disrupted local economies. For example, the East India Company, after its victory at Plassey, set a new conversion rate: one English Pound was made equal to 15 Indian coins (although the Indian coin was stronger and had more silver/gold in it). The current economic system is based on imperialism and acts to propagate the money economy, which is completely different from wealth.

How can we define wealth, then? Buckminster Fuller, American architect and philosopher, rightly regarded it as “our organised capability to cope effectively with the environment in sustaining our healthy regeneration and decreasing both the physical and metaphysical restrictions of the forward days of our lives.” This should be our goal. But problem occurs when we take the messenger to be the message — money to be the wealth. Money is not the real wealth.

So, how can we recreate sustainable and organic communities that nourish all? For answer, we need to go back to ancient India. Our 10,000-year-old civilisation has emerged from the forests; our wisdom comes from the Aranyakas. Our sages lived in these forests, to unravel the mysteries of the universe, while our ancestors learnt secrets of medicine and agriculture from them. In fact, each Veda has Aranyakas associated with it.

The forest and our biodiversity are alive, and they are the only tools of regenerating Earth we have. They trap the energy of the sun and transform it to meet all our needs – food, medicine, etc, so that we Humans and other animals can sustain ourselves. In return, Spaceship Earth is replenished with solar radiation too. If we examine closely, oil is nothing but transformed ancient forests and solar energy. It is now available to us after millions of years, as an emergency source for energy.

The true energy source is the sun, and the real wealth is biodiversity. Without biodiversity life is not possible on Earth. From the native cultures of the Amazon to rainforest of Indonesia, a fire of greed is burning away our real wealth – trees and biodiversity — for money. While our rivers are being poisoned, air has been polluted. By separating from nature, we are losing microbiome system that gives health and immunity.

We must think globally and act locally to preserve biodiversity. We need to adopt non-violence towards Earth and replace synthetic goods with biodiverse and sustainable products that help heal small communities and our forests. We need to even increase the biodiversity of our thali — by adopting millets, seasonal vegetables and heirloom seeds.

In the end, we must remember that Earth, forests and our gut are all connected. The ancient wisdom in the Upanishads tells us: “We become what we eat.” So, let us eat healthy and biodiverse food. We need to work to bring back biodiversity in our lives, whether through a potted plant or the replacement of white sugar with jaggery in our kitchen. It is time we synchronised our efforts to regenerate our planet with the help of biodiversity or be doomed to become “Polluto”.

The writer is Director, Policy and Outreach, National Seed Association of India.

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SC clubs Kerala MP’s petition with pleas challenging farm laws

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New Delhi [India], January 28 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Thursday clubbed a writ petition filed by Congress Lok Sabha MP from Kerala TN Prathapan, with the rest of the petitions pending before it challenging the farm laws and issued notice to the Union of India (UOI) in the matter.
A three-judge bench of the Apex Court, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Sharad Arvind Bobde, issued notice to the UOI and clubbed the writ petition filed by Thrissur MP, Prathapan, with other petitions pending before it.
During the course of the hearing, the CJI asked, the petitioner, “are you a farmer?”
To it, Prathapan’s lawyer, replied, “Yes, I am an MP and a farmer too.”
The CJI asked him, “you want the existing system to continue?”
The lawyer for Prathapan, said, “we want MSP (Minimum Supply Price) to continue in the matter.”
The CJI said, “please show us the provision and statute, which withdraws the MSP.”
“Issue notice and post it with other connected matters,” the CJI led bench of the Apex Court today said.
The Supreme Court on January 12, stayed the implementation of three farm laws and asked the committee formed by it concerning the three farm laws to submit its report within two months.
Farmers have been protesting on the different borders of the national capital since November 26 against the three newly enacted farm laws – Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; the Farmers Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and farm Services Act 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. (ANI)

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One lakh trained NCC cadets will serve in coastal, border areas: PM Modi

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New Delhi [India], January 28 (ANI): One lakh National Cadet Corps (NCC) cadets, which are being trained by the Army, Navy and Air Force, will serve in coastal and border areas, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi while addressing the NCC Rally at Cariappa Ground in Delhi on Thursday.
“On August 15, last year, it was announced that NCC will be given new responsibilities in around 175 districts in the coastal and border areas. For this, around 1 lakh NCC cadets are being trained by Army, Navy and Air Force. Out of these, one third are girl cadets,” said Prime Minister Modi.
Hailing NCC cadets for helping the government amid the COVID-19 pandemic, he said: “Be it the floods or any other calamity, NCC cadets helped the people of this country last year. During the Corona pandemic, lakhs of cadets worked with the administration and society across the country. Their work is commendable.”
Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and the three armed services Chiefs were also present on the occasion.

The Prime Minister wore an NCC cap, reviewed March Past by NCC contingents and witnessed cultural performance during the event. (ANI)

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India’s COVID-19 recovery rate now nearly 97 per cent

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New Delhi [India], January 28 (ANI): With a consistent rise in cumulative recoveries of coronavirus, India’s recovery rate has reached nearly 97 per cent, informed the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) on Thursday, while adding that it is one of the highest globally.
Total cumulative recoveries stand at 1,03,73,606 today with 14,301 patients recovered and discharged in the last 24 hours.
“India’s total active caseload has dropped to less than 1.75 lakh (1,73,740) today and the active caseload now consists of just 1.62 per cent of India’s total positive cases,” it said.
Following the national trend of sustained decline in active cases, 31 states/UTs have recorded less than 5,000 active cases.
Around 78 per cent of the active cases are concentrated in five states — Kerala, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and West Bengal.
According to the Health Ministry, as on January 28, 2021, till 7:30 am, more than 23.5 lakh (23,55,979) beneficiaries have received the vaccination under the countrywide COVID-19 vaccination exercise.
In the last 24 hours, 3,26,499 people were vaccinated across 6,102 sessions and 42,674 sessions have been conducted so far.
Around 77.84 per cent of the new recovered cases are observed to be concentrated in seven states/UTs, the ministry said.
Kerala has reported the maximum number of single-day recoveries with 5,006 newly recovered cases. A total of 2,556 people recovered in Maharashtra in the past 24 hours followed by 944 in Karnataka.
There were 11,666 daily new cases registered in the last 24 hour and 81.96 per cent of the new cases are from six states and UTs.
Kerala continues to report the highest daily new cases at 5,659. It is followed by Maharashtra with 2,171, while Tamil Nadu reported 512 new cases.
A total of 123 deaths were recorded in the last 24 hours.
Seven states/UTs account for 75.61 per cent of the new deaths. Maharashtra saw the maximum casualties (32). Kerala follows with 20 daily deaths and Punjab with 10. (ANI)

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Schools, colleges reopen after a gap of 10 months in Manipur

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Imphal (Manipur) [India], January 28 (ANI): After a gap of ten months, schools and colleges in Manipur reopened from Wednesday with several COVID-19 safety procedures in place.
Sangeeta Mayengbam, Principal of Tamphasana Girls Higher Secondary School in Imphal, said that students are allowed to attend classes after getting consent from their parents or guardians.
“Students are allowed to attend classes after showing the consent certificate from their parents. One student is allowed to sit on a bench at a time and students are instructed to sit in a zig-zag manner with proper social distancing. The school authorities have distributed face masks among the students,” Sangeeta said while speaking to ANI.
Freshers who attended her first class were very enthusiastic and felt quite a sense of happiness to be back again.
“I feel very happy to attend the first class of the 11th standard. I am very excited to find new friends and teachers,” said Nemshi Usha, a student.
Another student said that she was very happy and excited to attend normal classes instead of online classes, as her doubts remained unclear in the virtual sessions.
The state cabinet had earlier taken the decision to reopen the schools from classes 9 to 12 from January 27, after they were closed for months owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The government in its cabinet meeting had taken a decision to re-open schools for Classes 9 to 12 from January 27, 2021, for the academic session 2020 in order to prepare themselves for the ensuring examinations,” the Directorate of Education of Schools, Manipur said while issuing an order.
A list of COVID-19 safety measures has been issued to all school authorities.
Manipur has so far reported 29,007 COVID-19 positive cases while 28,476 persons have recovered from the disease. The death toll of the state stands at 370.
Students were seen attending the classes with face masks and maintaining social distancing. The new freshers were enthusiastic to attend normal classes at their respective schools. (ANI)

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R-Day violence: Amit Shah meets injured police personnel at Delhi hospitals

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New Delhi [India], January 28 (ANI): Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday met police personnel who were injured in the violence during farmers’ tractor rally on January 26 in north Delhi hospitals.
He met the injured police personnel at the Sushruta Trauma Centre and Tirath Ram Shah Hospital, Civil Lines.
“Meeting the injured Delhi Police personnel. We are proud of their courage and bravery,” Shah wrote on his official Twitter account.

Protestors broke barricades to enter Delhi and indulged in vandalism across several parts of the national capital during their tractor rally organised to protest against the Centre’s three new farm laws on Tuesday. Several public and private properties were damaged in acts of vandalism by the protestors, leaving many police personnel injured.
Delhi Police Commissioner SN Shrivastava on Wednesday said that 394 police personnel sustained injuries in the violence during farmers’ tractor rally on Republic Day in Delhi.
Nineteen people have been arrested so far and over 25 criminal cases registered by Delhi Police in connection with the violence. Some of the police personnel are admitted to ICU wards due to their critical condition. (ANI)

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Lal Quila, Jama Masjid metro stations reopened, says DMRC

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New Delhi [India], January 28 (ANI): The entry and exit gates of all metro stations including Lal Quila and Jama Masjid are open, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) informed on Thursday.
The entry and exit gates of Lal Quila metro station and entry at Jama Masjid metro station were closed as per precautionary measures due to the protests at several places against the new agriculture laws.
“Entry and exit gates of Lal Quila and Jama Masjid metro stations are open. All stations are open. Normal services on all lines,” DMRC tweeted.
Meanwhile, heavy security has been deployed near the Red Fort where a group of protestors entered the fort and unfurled flags from its ramparts on Tuesday.
This comes as farmers broke barricades on Tuesday to enter Delhi and indulged in vandalism across several parts of the national capital during their Kisan tractor rally organised to protest against the Centre’s three new farm laws.
Several public and private properties were damaged in acts of vandalism by the protestors, while one farmer died after his tractor overturned at ITO.
At least 19 people have so far been arrested and over 25 criminal cases registered by Delhi Police in connection with the violence.
A total of 394 police personnel sustained injuries in the violence and several of them are still admitted to hospitals. Some of them are admitted to ICU wards, informed Police Commissioner (CP) SN Shrivastava on Wednesday.
Farmers have been protesting on the different borders of the national capital since November 26 against the three newly enacted farm laws – Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; the Farmers Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and farm Services Act 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. (ANI)

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