Friday, 1 April 2016


Effect of climate change.

Sushree Shailani Suman

 1- Perishing green plants: Is global warming the cause?
Global warming is a growing concern worldwide with climate change being the most talked subject. Its effects are well known on plants and the photosynthetic process. The increased concentration of heat-trapping greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) has accelerated global warming in manifold and led to extreme events such as cyclonic storms, typhoons, drought, unseasonal rainfall, and heat waves.
2- How do plants deal with global warming?
The most surprising fact about CO2 is its ability to increase the rate of photosynthesis in green plants, particularly the C3 plants. Through photosynthesis, green plants absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and subsequently convert it into organic products (like carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, etc.) and byproducts (like oxygen). This process has been considered as a source of carbon dioxide sequestration. 
Elevated atmospheric CO2 levels lead to temperature rise with a concomitant increase in the rate of transpiration by the green plants. However, if the plant responds by stomatal closure, the rate of transpiration may decrease. This does not allow excess CO2 to enter the plant and results in an increased survival rate during water scarcity. The advantages are time bound. This also has several adverse effects on the photosynthetic process as absorption of less CO2 means stunted growth. Closed stomata for a longer duration may lead to starvation in plants. Due to less partial pressure of CO2, the stomata will be left open, resulting in rapid water loss along with CO2 intake. Subsequently, the plants wither, wilt and die, which may have huge social implications.
The decomposition of organic matter in the soil is also stimulated by the increased CO2 levels to be easily made available for the plants’ absorption, which in turn increases the rate of photosynthesis and carbon fixation.
Apart from the above-mentioned facts, the enhanced level of CO2 is also marked by increased plant growth that might sound good to the farmers. Conversely, the weeds surrounding the vegetation tend to grow at a faster rate in such environmental conditions.
But such responses by the photosynthetic plants are dependent on diverse environmental factors such as availability of water, moisture content of the soil, nutrient content, atmospheric temperature, and variable CO2 concentration, etc. Responses may be negative or positive depending on the exact nature of changes and the factors that initially limited the growth and rate of photosynthesis.


Green revolution and its loopholes

Sushree Shailani Suman

1- Green Revolution for Mass: The advanced Mexican agricultural technology introduced by Norman Borlaug made a way out for the evolutionary technology in India, which was initiated as a trial project by Dr. M.S. Swaminathan in the northern states of India, especially Punjab and Haryana. The technology received various approbations from the scientific circles: “Green revolution describes the spectacular increase that took place during 1967–1978, and is continuing in the production of food grains in India”- was cited by J.G. Harrar.

2- Advancements: Green revolution proved to be a track changer in the traditional farming techniques (introduction of tractors, thrashers, harvesters; use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, for instant increase in the yield, etc.) as well as replacing the traditional seeds with high yielding varieties or seeds with genetic superiority.

3- Prolonged Loopholes: Apart from the advantages, green revolution proved to be a bane in disguise for the farmers. It has over burdened them with the increasing costs of chemical fertilizers, pesticides as well as other chemicals. The technology aimed at increasing the production of only the staple cereal crops, like rice and wheat, that too only in the north Indian states. The technology was not well implemented or did not give a proceeding result in many parts of the country.

The genetically superior seeds demanded more water, fertilizers and other accessory chemicals, for their growth and development. The overuse of these chemical ingredients has led to the detoriation and deformation in the chemistry and structure of the soil. The natural soil microbiotas are kept aloof of the soil organic carbon content, which is their nutrition source. The unavailability of the soil carbon leads to a decrease in the concentration of the beneficial soil microbiota that plays an important role in maintaining the structure of the soil. Due to this, the soil particles are left apart and they become compact and lose the water holding capacity.

The depletion in the soil organic carbon leads to the decrease in the soil’s buffering capacity that in turn affects the pH level of the soil. Lowering in the pH level affects various parameters like the unavailability of phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, which in turn affects the physiology of the plants; stunted growth of the plants, decreased root biomass and length, etc. whereas high pH level leads to a decrease in the availability of micronutrients like copper, zinc, boron, etc., which also affects the overall growth and developmental process of the plant. Decrease in the buffering capacity also leads to an increase in the thatch layer, which in turn aggravates the pathogenic population in the soil. In order to kill these pathogens, it is needed to use chemicals that, on the contrary, kill the beneficial organisms in the soil too.

Apart from these drawbacks, the technology of green revolution has neither proved to be a long-term solution, nor has it ensured food security for the rising population of our country.


Thursday, 14 January 2016

Female Foeticide a matter of shame

Female foeticide is the elimination of girl child after sex determination test from the womb. Girl child is killed before birth just to fulfill the wishes of old members in the family of getting boy baby first. All the process gone under familial pressure especially by husband or in-laws. General reason behind abortion becomes unplanned pregnancy however female foeticide becomes planned by the families. People believe that boys are the key to continue their family lineage however they do not understand the most simple thing that girls are reasons to give birth to new entity in the world not boys. People in the Indian society are used to of giving birth to the child continuously until they get boy baby by killing all the girl baby earlier to the boy. Daughters are given less respect and priority than sons in Indian society from the ancient time. They did not have same access like boys in the areas of education, healthcare, nutrition, play, etc.

The frequency of female foeticide in India is assumed to be an estimation derived from its high birth sex ratio, that is the ratio of boys to girls at birth. The natural ratio is assumed to be between 103 to 107, and any number above it is considered as suggestive of female foeticide. According to the decennial Indian census, the sex ratio in the 0 to 6 age group in India has risen from 102.4 males per 100 females in 1961, to 104.2 in 1980, to 107.5 in 2001, to 108.9 in 2011.
Over the past decade, Odisha has witnessed a drastic reduction in the sex ratio of children within the age-group 0-6 years, according to the Population Foundation of India. The  child sex ratio, according to the 2001 census, stands at 950 girls to 1,000 boys in Orissa. This is a significant decline from 1991, when the ratio was 967 girls per 1,000 boys.In 2011 941 in 1000 boys.
 The Indian government has passed Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (PCPNDT) in 1994 to ban and punish prenatal sex screening and female foeticide. It is currently illegal in India to determine or disclose sex of the foetus to anyone. However, there are concerns that PCPNDT Act has been poorly enforced by authorities.

Females not only face inequality in this culture, they are even denied the right to be born. Why do so many families selectively abort baby daughters? In a word: economics. Aborting female fetuses is both practical and socially acceptable in India. Female foeticide is driven by many factors, but primarily by the prospect of having to pay a dowry to the future bridegroom of a daughter. While sons offer security to their families in old age and can perform the rites for the souls of deceased parents and ancestors, daughters are perceived as a social and economic burden. Prenatal sex detection technologies have been misused, allowing the selective abortions of female offspring to proliferate. Legally, however, female feticide is a penal offence. Although female infanticide has long been committed in India, foeticide is a relatively new practice, emerging concurrently with the advent of technological advancements in prenatal sex determination on a large scale in the 1990s. While abortion is legal in India, it is a crime to abort a pregnancy solely because the fetus is female. Strict laws and penalties are in place for violators. These laws, however, have not stemmed the tide of this abhorrent practice.

The advancement of ultrasound technology in India came in 1979 however its spread was slow. But became widespread in 2000s. It is estimated that since 1990s, more than 10 million of female foetuses have been aborted because of being girl. We can see that female foeticide has been practiced through the history and cultural background. Earlier, people believed that male babies are superior as they would provide manual labor as well as lead the family lineage in future. Son is considered as family asset however a daughter is a liability.

In order to control the population and stop female foeticide, Government of India made various rules and regulations against female foeticide and trend of abortions after sex determination tests. Killing of a baby girl through abortion has been an offense all through the country. Doctors found performing sex determination tests and abortions especially for killing girl baby would be guilty and lose their license. Awareness about the importance of girl child in the society is major weapon to get relief from the female foeticide.Recent awareness programmes like Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, or Save girls campaign, etc have been made regarding girl’s rights.

Anuradha Mohanty
ExecutiveDirector ,PECUC