Tuesday, 31 January 2012

NEW FARM IN KENTUCKY and Permaculture Books

All glories to Shyamananda Prabhu and team!
---------- Forwarded Message ----------
From: Internet: "Syamananda Das" <sriyogapith@gmail.com>
Date: 31-Jan-12 17:06 (11:06 -0600)
To: Bharat Chandra (das) BRS (NC VAD Ministry - IN) [18367]
Remark: Global Varnasrama Mission
Subject: Hare Krishna! NEW FARM IN KENTUCKY and Permaculture Books
Hare Krishna, Please Accept My Humble Obeisances,
All Glories to Srila Prabhupada!!!!!!!!
To whom it may concern,
This is your servant Syamananda Das. I am currently part of Rupanuga
Traveling Sankirtan Party, but in April/May will be embarking on a new
mission, a combination of traveling book distribution and self sustainable
farming, hoping to integrate the ideals of permaculture on our new farm.
We are acquiring 250 acres of land just south of Lexington, KY, USA. Of
course it has to smart small at first, for there will likely be only 5-6
persons on the farm to begin with. But I thought we would "advertise" it
through your emails that you send out, in case any sincere devotee might be
interested in such prospects.
If that is the case and it can be done in any way shape or form, I would be
more than happy to include elaborate details about the farm, pictures, and
our Constitution we drew up. It is being led by His Grace Adikarta Prabhu
and overseen by His Grace Tamohar Prabhu.
Also just recently, while distributing books on a college campus in Alabama,
our Bhakta Nick met one student who gave us access, via the internet (in
electronic format), to quite a few books and writings on permaculture and
self-sustainability. He requested us to share these with anyone and
everyone. So I was thinking to share that resource with others through these
emails you send out. All Glories to Your Service.
Your Servant, Syamananda Das
------- End of Forwarded Message ------

Monday, 30 January 2012

Watch before you eat!


Watch before you eat
Air pollution contributes to heavy metals in vegetables
FARMERS in urban outskirts mostly rely on wastewater for growing vegetables.
The level of air pollutants like aerosols is also high in these areas.
Scientists have found that both these factors have a cumulative effect on
the quality of the vegetables.
The research by Banaras Hindu University (BHU) has shown that plants grown
in such conditions have high levels of heavy metals which exceeds the limits
set under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act of 1954.
imageThe researchers grew spinach, radish and tomato in earthen pots and
exposed them to both aerosols and wastewater. The pots were placed at three
different sites— Tadia, a rural agricultural belt, Cantonment area and a
highway near BHU campus in Varanasi. Pots exposed to clean water at the BHU
campus acted as control.
Deposition was found to be maximum for lead followed by copper, nickle,
chromium and cadmium. Among sites, aerosol deposition was found to be
maximum at the highway—the region receives high dose of pollutants from
heavy vehicles, small-scale industries and railway emissions.
The team found that the vegetables exposed to both aerosol and wastewater
accumulated 10–30 per cent higher amounts of heavy metals in edible parts
like leaves, fruits and roots. The results also showed that the accumulated
heavy metals contribute to dietary intake of them ranging from 1.34 to
110.40 microgram per gram through leaves (spinach), 1.04 to 105.86 microgram
per gram through root (radish) and 0.608 to 82.19 microgram per gram through
fruits (tomato).
Wastewater irrigation led to more accumulation in the root vegetables while
air pollution resulted in more metals in leafy vegetables. The researchers
also reported higher levels of heavy metals in vegetables than observed
Cadmium can cause cancer while lead can lead to behavioural problems,
learning disabilities, seizures and even death. Nickel can cause allergic
reaction and copper if ingested in high dose can lead to harmful effects on
DNA. Kumar Shubhashish, one of the researchers says, that besides posing a
threat to people who consume such vegetables, such accumulation also
decimates soil microbial population, which, in turn, disrupts soil nutrient
cycling, leading to deterioration of soil sustainability and food quality.
The study will be published in the February issue of Ecotoxicology and
Environmental Safety.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Water harvesting in the desert!


Breaking free of the shackles of government aid for basic needs
By Manu Moudgil
23 Jan 2012
Gahziram's family has been living at Ekalpaar village of Jaisalmer district
for ages but managed to build a pucca house only recently. Besides rearing
livestock, he owns 50 bigha of agricultural land which earned him Rs 2 lakh
last year.
"Of the savings, Rs 1 lakh was spent on the house. Earlier we barely used to
manage food grain for our personal consumption," he recalls.
Several beris like these provide sweet water to villagers of Jaisalmer
district (Photos: GOI Monitor)
As you stand listening to him, surrounded by the lush green of mustard, gram
and taramira, the fact that this area falls in the famous Thar desert seems
lost. One pucca house rises after another when you walk down the village.
Lot many Ghazirams have belied the geographical connotations of this area.
The neighbouring Dablapaar village reflects similar prosperity. Till five
years ago, most villagers used to migrate for work while some of them would
end up begging for food in nearby Ramgarh town. Today, the inhabitants have
not only become self-sufficient on food and water front, they are also
participating much more actively in the affairs of panchayat.
The new found self-respect is an indicator of the success people have tasted
in their fields through revival of traditional knowledge related to
methodical use of rainwater.
"Our ancestors had been self-dependent in all respects but the younger
generation fell into the trap of relying on government for their basic
needs. Now self-reliance is again taking roots and in last five years,
several villages have prospered," says Chattar Singh, who has been working
with the community to revive traditional water harvesting methods.
The area registers minimum rainfall in the country and irrigation facilities
are nil. Still, local communities have devised ways to conserve the
rainwater, however less, that nature bestows.
Dropping its common name, khet, a field gets to be called khadin here
because it's cultivated through rainwater collected in a depression. Khadins
are developed by building a paal or dorrah (earthen embankment) which helps
harvest the water coming from the vast aagaur (catchment area). The
impervious layer of bentonite beneath the soil takes up the task from here.
If at an optimal depth of 10-15 feet, this layer arrests further seepage of
water thus providing sufficient soil moisture for rabi crops to flourish.
Building khadins is a science of working along with nature which the people
have perfected through ages. The bow-shaped embankment is built in east-west
direction so that the desert wind bellowing from south to north strengthens
it with each passing year.


 The bow shape divides the force of incoming water preventing any excessive
damage to the embankment. This incoming water also carries along with it
nutrients from the catchment area thus enriching the soil fertility.
Once the water fills up to an optimal level, the rest is allowed to spill
over. The idea is not to forcibly stop water but to humour it so that it
stays in the khadin without damaging the wall. "Only 1-1.5 feet of water is
needed for a khadin. The surplus is allowed to move on to the next khadin
which is how water connects people here. They keep consulting each other on
how and when to stop or release the water," says Singh.
If around 300 small khadins spread over rain fed area of the district help
create personal bonds, big khadins like Derasar at Sehua village can be
called the pinnacle of community work.
To an inexperienced eye this khadin spread in 500 hectare may seem like an
instance of commercial farming but 250 families belonging to three different
villages tend this land for several crops.
This spirit of self-reliance also extends to provision of drinking water for
both villagers as well as their livestock.
There is no rule but out of traditional wisdom nobody defecates in the
catchment. The whole area is cleaned before the arrival of monsoon. In fact,
the community welfare is so important that nobody has built a khadin in the
catchment area of Biprasar lest it would halt the water flow to the pond.
Biprasar pond serves 12 surrounding villages and utmost care is taken to
keep it clean
The pond is believed to have 120 beris (small wells) of which 24 have been
restored. The same impervious layer, which acts as a moisture retainer for
khadins, provides sweet water if present 15-50 feet underground. Even if the
pond dries up, these beris can serve the population for three years.
It was with this vision in mind that these water sources had been developed
years ago. But due to poor maintenance in the recent past they had fallen
into disuse.
"Five years ago when the work to restore these beris was started, people of
all age groups used to come from surrounding villages and work together. Had
these beris been constructed through funding, they would have cost lakhs.
But when a community takes such work upon itself, it becomes an easy task
done with perfection," says Farhad Contractor, a social activist, who works
on water harvesting systems.
Several villages have now taken upon themselves to restore these valuable
water sources. Women of Dablapaar used to walk 12 km to reach Biprasar to
fetch water. Today, they have beris within their village which provide them
drinking water the whole year round.
Had the locals relied on government, they would have been forced to
reconcile themselves with the huge concrete tanks that dot the villages.
These tanks, fed by the Indira Gandhi Canal Project through pipes, are
supposed to be supplying drinking water.
However, ground realities contradict promises. "Either most of these tanks
remain empty or the quality of supplied water is so poor that it is used
only for washing. It is not safe to drink this water which is why people
prefer beris or talaabs," says Mohan Singh of Habur village.
Such apparent irregularities in government projects vis a vis perfection in
community work has seamlessly led to greater participation of people in
governance issues. This was evident in the last panchayat elections when
several seasoned leaders lost their support base.
Needless to say people have won the fight for survival. They are now
challenging the fiefdoms. - GOI Monitor

Friday, 20 January 2012

A Great Opportunity! Vrindavan Village depiction for ILS

Dear Vaisnavas,
Please accept my humble obeisances,
All glories to Srila Prabhupada,
By now you must all be aware of a major event - ISKCON Leadership Sangha
Program scheduled to be held at Sridham Mayapur from Feb 10th to Feb 17th.
You will be very happy to know that Village Initiative Committee (VIC) of
SPT-GBC has been exclusively been alloted on request a plot of 2000sqft.
The idea and purpose behind this request from the committee was to inspire,
exchange and share with the leaders all about Global Varnasrama Mission!
In this 2000sqft, we are making a village atmosphere on a mini scale.
Diorama presentation, literatures, Q&A booth, Worskshops and much more!
Your participation in making this happen will be greatly appreciated! We
will need help in painting the mud walls, setting up the models in the
premises, arranging the banners and posters, making a rangoli decoration at
the entrance of the village, and much more either in cash, kind or by
physical effort will truly give the leaders a unique experience and help in
pushing forward this important mission of Daiva Varnasrama Dharma.
Your suggestions, ideas and inputs are most welcome at this moment of time!
Please contact Manu Prakash Prabhu at our Daiva Varnasrama Ministry office,
Chakra building, #137, or call him at: +91 9635418397
We are also seeking information from participants from different continents
who are from communities participating in ILS and would like to invite them
to display their community efforts in the form of banners, posters,
pictures, pamphlets, products or any form of literatures.
Seeking your blessings and looking forward to hear from you,
Thank you very much for your kind attention,
your servant,
Bharat Chandra Dasa
National Coordinator
ISKCON Daiva Varnasrama Ministry-In
Corresponding Sec- Village Initiative Committee
*** visit: www.globalvarnasramamission@blogspot.com ***

Tuesday, 17 January 2012


Great thanks to Charles Prabhu for this important information!
Visit: **** www.theeconomicsofhappiness.org****
**** www.localfutures.org***************
In gist,
Few speakers in the conference are (download pdf on conference details from
website for more speakers and other information):
1. Vandana Shiva (India): a world-renowned activist, physicist, feminist and
the founder of Navdanya.
2. Annie Leonard (United States): is author and host of The Story of Stuff
and director of The Story of Stuff Project.
3. Richard Heinberg (United States): is the author of ten books, including
The Party's Over, Peak Everything, and The End of Growth: Adapting to Our
New Economic Reality.
4. Helena Norberg-Hodge (Australia): is the founder and director of the
International Society for Ecology and Culture (ISEC)
Registration Fees: $250 (before FEB 1) and $300 (after FEB 1).
Themes of the conference:
Breaking Down the Old Economy
• Corporate hegemony and the tyranny of Wall Street
• Jobless growth: scaled-up businesses, scaled-down jobs
• Born to buy: competition, stress, and the work-and-spend treadmill
• Corporate propaganda: greenwashing, "statistics" and other lies
• Fair trade, micro-credit, and the South's "need" for Northern
• Schooling the world: specialized knowledge and the loss of
place-based wisdom
Small Scale on a Large Scale: Threads of a Global Movement
• Leveling the playing field: policy steps to control the
• Ancient Futures: learning from traditional cultures
• North-South dialogue: countering the romanticized images of the
• Global movements: from Via Campesina to #Occupy
• Harnessing technology and the media
Local Futures: Envisioning an Economics of Happiness
• Local food, global prosperity
• Powering local economies: decentralized, renewable energy paths
• Business and banking for thriving communities
• Education for meaningful livelihoods and sustainable economies
• Heart, body and spirit: well-being in a post-consumer world
Reweaving the Fabric of Hope: Lessons from Around the World
• Local food for local communities: learning from Detroit
• Beyond oil: Cuba's second revolution
• Indigenous resistance: the Zapatistas
• Community from the ground up: Ecovillages and intentional
• Yardsticks of real progress: GNH, GPI and the Happiness Initiative

---------- Forwarded Message ----------
From: Internet: "Charles Alban" <charlesalban49@gmail.com>
Date: 17-Jan-12 23:44 (15:44 -0800)
Subject: Fwd: The Economics of Happiness Conference Update
i wonder if this would be worth attending?
They have some good speakers. Actually, there should be an ISKCON speaker.
Helena-Norberg Hodge wrote a very insightful book called Ancient Futures:
Learning from Ladakh, on which the film is based. i read the book several
times. it goes into the insidious nature of modern
so-called civilization and the devastating effects it has on stable
traditional cultures.
Visit: www.globalvarnasramamission.blogspot.com

Monday, 16 January 2012

Modern state plunder

Samba Das:

In the morning of 5 January, a team of police and militia was despatched to
a farm that belonged to the family of Doan Van Vuon.
Their mission was to force 52-year-old Mr Vuon and his family out and to
seize their land, a stretch of marshes along the coast in the northern city
of Haiphong.
For full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-16571102

The BBC's Nga Pham looks at how a violent stand-off over farmland repossession has focused attention on the issue across Vietnam.  It was like a scene from an action movie.

In the morning of 5 January, a team of police and militia was despatched to a farm that belonged to the family of Doan Van Vuon.

Their mission was to force 52-year-old Mr Vuon and his family out and to seize their land, a stretch of marshes along the coast in the northern city of Haiphong.
As they moved in towards the farmhouse, a homemade mine buried in the grass exploded, knocking two policemen off their feet.

From inside, Mr Vuon's men began firing shotguns at the approaching police, injuring six, including the local district police chief.

Reinforcements were sent in a show of force on a scale that had never been seen before in the city - more than 100 police officers with firearms, sniffer dogs, and minesweepers in bullet-proof gear.
The head of Haiphong police himself was present, together with four of his deputies. Loudspeakers broke the morning quiet.

After four hours, when police finally broke into the house they found it empty apart from a couple of gas cylinders that officers believed were intended for use as improvised explosive devices. All the men were gone.

Debt challenge
The incident immediately became headline news, not least because of the unexpectedly fierce resistance by the farmer's family. Rarely have the police been fired at during land clearances before.
As all land in Vietnam belongs to the state, Doan Van Vuon was given the land to farm by the district government for 14 years, according to an agreement between the two parties.
Vietnamese farmer (file image) Farmers say they need longer leases to clear debt and make a proper living

Now the local government wants it back, saying part of it is needed for a future infrastructure project. The remaining part can be rented at a higher cost.
Mr Vuon protested against the decision, arguing that his family had spent 20 years developing the land. Not only did he have to work hard, he also had to borrow a large sum of money.
Without the land rights, he could not see how he could repay the debt and make a living.
Eight meetings to negotiate new terms with the family failed and the local government decided to evict them.
Mr Vuon, his brother and two other relatives were arrested one day after the shooting incident and they are now in detention on attempted murder charges.
His wife, Nguyen Thi Thuong, told the BBC: "We were pushed into a corner. We didn't know what to do. We had nowhere to go."

Privatisation calls
The local authorities insist everything was done in accordance with the law.
Yet the public are now raising questions about the Land Law, which many think is far from perfect.
The law, in effect since 1993, stipulates that households and individuals are entitled to land rights for a "limited period" of 20 years. After that, subject to availability and other factors, local governments will decide whether the land use can be extended.
This, some say, gives officials at district level too much power in deciding people's livelihoods and creates a fertile environment for corruption.

The 20-year limit is another topic for heated debate among the population and in parliament.
Former Vice-Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Dang Hung Vo, when in office, argued that farming was a long-term business and 20 years were not enough for farmers to yield a proper income. He proposed increasing it to 99 years or abolishing the time limit.
More than a million individuals in Vietnam were awarded land rights in 1993. Next year some of them will face the danger of their farmland being redistributed, or worse still, confiscated.

There are already calls to privatise land in order to manage it better and more fairly.
According to Vietnam's constitution, all land belongs to the state and comes "under ownership of the entire people". To privatise land ownership means changing the constitution, something politicians are reluctant to consider as it clashes with "the very core principle of socialism".
Nguyen Dinh Loc, former minister of justice who sat on the drafting board of the current constitution, recalled in an interview with domestic media that "nobody had the courage to speak about [privatisation]".

Land rights remain one of the most contentious issues in Vietnam, with hundreds of cases of public grievance occurring each year, each more serious than the other.
And the problem continues ticking away while lawmakers struggle to figure out what to do next.

Farmers across America Ditch Tractors for Oxen

Farmers across America Ditch Tractors for Oxen
Cheap: A pair of plough-ready oxen cost $3,000 (£1,800) - roughly the same
as a second hand tractor

May 12, 2011 — LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (DAILY MAIL) — Farmers across America
ditch tractors for oxen in bid to beat rising fuel prices.

Wisconsin-based traditional farming school teaches 20 farmers every weekend
from all over country
When farmers Danielle and Matt Boerson realised they could no longer afford
to run their tractors, they took the bull by the horns - and ditched them
for oxen. Soaring petrol prices had become so high that the couple, who run
an 80-acre farm near Madison, Wisconsin, were forced to get rid of their two
tractors, hay baler, plough and rotavator. So they took a course at the
agricultural institute in traditional farming techniques.
'It gave me the confidence that, yes, I could do this', Danielle told the
Times. 'It just required a lot of concentration and a firm voice.' Their
instructor was former peace core volunteer Dick Roosenberg, 64, who learned
the trade while working for the UN in West Africa. He took the skills he had
honed back to Michigan and set up Tillers International.
At first the company was aimed at helping Third World farmers harvest in the
cheapest way possible. On the side, he also helped historically-themed
villages. But his specialist knowledge is now enjoying a new wave of
interest with farmers from Wisconsin to Alaska now joining his courses. He
is already teaching up to 20 farmers every weekend.

Best machine: Oxen only eat grass and can work for up to 14 years.
They are also a handy source of fertilizer.

'People want to get away from petroleum fuels where they can, because it's
getting more expensive,' he said. A pair of plough-ready oxen cost $3,000
(£1,800) - roughly the same as a second hand tractor. But younger cattle are
a snip at $150 each. They only eat grass and can work for up to 14 years.

Old times: Two teams of oxen dig ground for the foundation of a school
in Whitley, Kentucky, in the early 1900s

The only downside is that they are slow and are not viable on a large farm.
They are however perfect for 'small farms, with high-value garden crops',
said Mr. Roosenberg. Todd Juzwiak, 42, bought two oxen after learning how to
command them with Mr. Roosenberg. He told the Times: 'We are definitely
saving on fuel. Though it's not necessarily easier. Tractors don't often
jump over fences.'

Cows in the city

---------- Forwarded Message ----------
From: Samba (das) (Mayapur Masterplan)
To: Global Varnasrama Mission [741]
To: Bharat Chandra (das) BRS (NC VAD Ministry - IN) [16089]
Subject: Cows in the city
Interesting article about a little known British tradition.
(Text PAMHO:22222937) --------------------------------------
------- End of Forwarded Message ------
Life as a Liverpool urban cowboy
Joe Capstick, Marlborough Road, Liverpool. Photo courtesy of Joan Fenney,
Margaret Rowlands and Duncan Scott. In 1900 there were 900 registered cow
houses across Liverpool
Continue reading the main story
Related Stories
Crisis in the dairy industry?
Dairy farmers quitting industry
They were once at the heart of every high street.
Tucked away behind brick walls in tight terraced streets, a little bit of
the countryside in the city.
The Liverpool cow houses were home to over 4,000 cows, providing local
people with fresh milk and cheese.
The practice peaked in the early 1900s when there were 900 establishments
across the city.
The story of the city cow houses - run by young farmers who moved from their
family farms in Yorkshire to Liverpool - is told in a new book, Urban
Cowboys, by Cheshire author Duncan Scott.
"The cow houses would be on the end of a normal street of houses," he said.
"The cows would be milked on the spot in the back yard and the milk was
bottled on site and the families would deliver to doorsteps on local rounds
covering four or five miles."
Family business

The farmers retained strong links with their family farms in Yorkshire, but
many settled in the city.
Joan Fenney, 79, who has lived in the dairy on Rose Lane since she was
three-years-old, said it was a close-knit family business.
Harper's dairy Rose Lane Harper's Dairy in Mossley Hill was home to 30 cows,
two horses and one bull
"We took over the milk business in 1935 and my mother and father worked it,"
she said.
"We had 30 cows, two horses and one bull and I started working the milk
round when I was 16, delivering and collecting.
"My aunt was at Allerton Farm Dairy, my grandfather had the place at
Chestnut Grove in Wavertree, and my mother's family had the place opposite
the Brookhouse on Smithdown Road."
The dairy was very much part of home life and the shop was a room in the
house so the family was always on hand to serve customers.
The white tiled room still remains, complete with black and white counter,
but the shelves are now lined with empty egg boxes and plants.
Two remain
Outside, the shippon, where the cows were kept, still stands with the
original feeding troughs, the stall for the horse and even the old milk
crates still stacked in the corner.
"The cows went in the early 1950s but we carried on selling through the
shop," Mrs Fenney continued.
"The business was changing."
Joan Feeney Joan Fenney put the dairy shop's closure down to the rise in
local supermarkets
As big corporate dairies began to take over, the smaller ones began to
close. Local dairies tried to survive by buying in milk to continue to
deliver on their rounds.
By 1949 the number of cow houses in Liverpool had fallen to 129 and in July
1975 the last cow house in the city closed.
Only two cow house buildings still remain in Liverpool: Marlborough Road in
West Derby, which was the last to close, and Harper's Dairy in Rose Lane.
Harper's managed to keep the dairy shop running by buying in milk to sell
but finally closed in 2000, something which Mrs Fenney says was due to a
rise in local supermarkets.
"It was so upsetting, it just fell through your fingers," she said.
"As soon as they built the supermarkets people said 'No, we won't leave
you', but they did.
"You dreaded getting a note in the bottle saying 'No milk till further
notice'. You knew very well that they wouldn't start again."

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Self-sufficient lifestyle!

---------- Forwarded Message ----------
Letter PAMHO:21764807 (14 lines)
From: Samba (das) (Mayapur Masterplan)
Date: 14-Jun-11 06:36 (12:06 +0530)
To: Global Varnasrama Mission [662]
Subject: Interesting article
In 1987 Akiko Wada left her bustling hi-tech metropolis in Japan to go
backpacking with friends around the remote mountains of northern Pakistan.
But once she discovered the beautiful village of Balanguru and the unique
Kalash tribe that lived there, she decided to stay.
An island of high-altitude tranquility within a sea of violent change, she
adopted Balanguru as her new home and decided to "become Kalash" and adopt a
simple life - no phones, no television and, at the time I was visiting, no
She laments the changes she has witnessed, saying that while it is good that
boys from the area are getting an education, the simplicity of life when she
first arrived is under threat.
Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/13637608
------- End of Forwarded Message ------
The Japanese tourist who joined Pakistani mountain tribe
By Nosheen Abbas Kalash valley
In 1987 Akiko Wada left her bustling hi-tech metropolis in Japan to go
backpacking with friends around the remote mountains of northern Pakistan.
But once she discovered the beautiful village of Balanguru and the unique
Kalash tribe that lived there, she decided to stay.
An island of high-altitude tranquility within a sea of violent change, she
adopted Balanguru as her new home and decided to "become Kalash" and adopt a
simple life - no phones, no television and, at the time I was visiting, no
She might even be the first foreigner to adopt the mountain tribe as her
own, but she says that the regular stream of anthropologists who lived among
them allowed the Kalash people to become accustomed to outsiders.
"They are very happy that someone stays with them, they welcome it. They are
a minority so they feel proud if someone from outside joins them," she said.
Continue reading the main story
The Kalash are not Muslim: they worship their ancestors as well as a
pantheon of 12 gods and goddesses.
She learned the language and never looked back.
But it was a different story back home in Japan. Her father was incensed and
she was not allowed to return to his house for almost a decade. Now her
parents are elderly and she has been to visit them, although her immediate
family has never come to see her in her new mountain home.
Friends no longer come either, she says, as they are afraid to visit
Pakistan because of the violence.
Akiko says she chose to stay because she was impressed by the Kalash's
self-sufficient lifestyle.
"They follow nature, they are self-dependent, weave their own dresses. It is
not like working in the office. It attracted me."
She even married into the tribe, but the relationship foundered.
"We are separated now. He used to help and he used to be co-operative.
Through him I thought I could do something for the community, like I thought
of it as a dreami but he changed."
Helping the community
Despite the estrangement, she has a deep link with the community and today
Akiko is a respected Kalash. Twelve years ago she came up with the idea of
making hand-made paper using many kinds of waste material as a way of
generating an income. She attempted to involve children from the community.
kalash house that akiko lives in Akiko lives with no phone and no television
Through the Japanese government she got a generator for the village. A part
of her house also serves as a multi-purpose hall for the Kalash community.
"In the morning we do crafts and then the children come in the evening for
the library... My Kalash relatives have a lot of functions and it usually
involves the entire village."
Although she is protective of Kalash culture, Akiko also has her criticisms.
"Women can only wash their hands in the village, otherwise they have to go
outside of the village to take a bath or wash their hair. In some villagers
the closest water is two hours away. I feel this is really unfair."
So Akiko began building common bathrooms for the women of the village, but
the project has met with limited success. She says there needs to be a
change in attitudes.
"I don't say anything. They themselves need to be awarei but I find some of
these taboo traditions very annoying," she says.
Outside pressure
Akiko also feels the Kalash have been besieged by modernity and Islamic
missionaries. During the 1980s, under the regime of Gen Zia-ul-Haq, a wave
of Islamisation reportedly saw self-styled "guardians of religion" forcibly
converting many minorities including the Kalash.
Electioneering also kicked off in the area at that time. "Money started
flowing in, political candidates came with money and the projects that NGOs
did showed no results. I think now Kalash are following the Pakistani system
and they are not as simple and pure as they used to be."
She laments the changes she has witnessed, saying that while it is good that
boys from the area are getting an education, the simplicity of life when she
first arrived is under threat.
"There is no difference between them and a Karachi boy. They don't go to the
fields and herd sheep any more."
Such a conservative attitude appears incongruous coming from the mouth of a
Japanese-turned-Kalash, but Akiko Wada is clearly respected among the
community here.
During a recent Kalash festival she was right in the middle of proceedings -
ordinarily a place where only Kalash are allowed - and when the cleric was
reciting a prayer, she was sitting on a chair as one of the core circle of

Milk and Srila Prabhupada

"Saints and sages in the renounced order of life, do go to the houses of
the householders at the time of milking the cow early in the morning
expecting some quantity of milk for subsistence. A pound of milk fresh from
the milk bag of a cow is sufficient to feed an adult with all vitamin values
derived from food and therefore saints and sages would live only on drinking
milk." (SB 1.19.39. -1964 purport)

"Prabhupada wanted milk and sent Srutakirti out. Srutakirti was his new
servant, and he was fresh from America. After ten minutes, Srutakirti
returned pot in hand, complaining that the hotel staff wouldn't cooperate.
Prabhupada insisted that he wanted hot milk and Srutakirti left again for
the hotel kitchen. Ten minutes passed and Srutakirti again returned with
cold milk. The staff wouldn't let him into the hotel kitchen.
Prabhupada looked sharply at Srutakirti, "You are not serious!" Sudama Vipra
Swami, "Big Dave," heavy set, with a skull and crossbones tattooed on his
arm, picked up the milk pot and walked out. He returned five minutes later
with steaming hot milk. "Sometimes you have to yell, Srila Prabhupada," he
said. Prabhupäda smiled. " (from My Glorious Master by Bhurijana Das)
"The men had come with some prepared questions. They first wanted to know
how Srila Prabhupada related his strong interest in dairy products to modern
thinking on cholesterol. Dr. Harrap wondered whether Çréla Prabhupäda was
disturbed about such views. Prabhupada looked to Satsvarüpa Goswami for
clarification. Satsvarüpa pointed out to Prabhupäda that there were modern
theories that milk was actually harmful.
Prabhupada was incredulous. "Milk is harmful? How is it harmful? If it is
harmful, why are you giving milk to children?"
Dr. Harrap explained that there were differences between cow's milk, which
had a very low proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids-only about 2 per
cent-and human milk, which contained a much higher level-10 to 12 per cent
polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Prabhupada was not about to change his views. "But I think there was a book,
Miracles of Milk, written by an American. He has greatly valued milk and
milk products. Similarly, we Indians, we give very, very much importance to
milk and milk products."
Dr. Harrap agreed, but continued to describe how, in recent years, there had
been shown to be a relationship between the cholesterol level and the ratio
between saturated and polyunsaturated fat in the diet: the lower the level
of polyunsaturated fat, the higher the level of cholesterol in the blood.
This, he explained, had been associated with heart disease. As a result
there had been quite a move amongst many medical practitioners to prescribe
diets that were low in saturated fats.
"Still," Prabhupada explained, "milk is very important." He cited that Krsna
Himself recommended cow protection. "We are following the leadership of
Krsna. Krsna was so fond of cows, cows' milk, cows' butter, that he was
stealing butter."
Prabhupada pointed to the painting of this pastime on the wall. Formerly,
Prabhupada explained, saintly persons used to live in the forest and their
sustenance was fruits and milk. "They used to keep cows and draw milk from
them, as well as whatever fruits were available in the forest, and they have
given us these literatures."
Indicating the volume of Srimad-Bhagavatam on his desk, Prabhupada
continued: "Vyasadeva has written Mahabharata, one hundred thousand verses,
and similarly, this Srimad-Bhagavatam, he has given us eighteen thousand
verses. And each verse is full of so much grave meaning, that if you study,
it will take months and months together. So they developed such nice brains
simply by drinking milk and eating fruits." (from The Great Transcendental
Adventure by Kurma Das)

Friday, 13 January 2012

Simple Technology

Sorry for delay in posting this.
---------- Forwarded Message ----------
From:      Internet: "Shyamasundara Dasa" <shyamasundaradasa@gmail.com>
Date:      20-Sep-11 06:35 (12:05 +0530)
To:        Global Varnasrama Mission
Subject:   Simple technology-light from a bottle of water

9 September 2011 Last updated at 01:31 GMT  Help

A simple initiative in the Philippines is bringing a bit of brightness into
the lives of the country's poorest people.

The project is called "Litre of Light", and the technology involved is just
a plastic bottle filled with water.

It's an environmentally-friendly alternative to an electric light bulb, and
it's virtually free.

The BBC's Kate McGeown reports from Manila.
(Text PAMHO:22254139) --------------------------------------

------- End of Forwarded Message ------

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

The Real Clash

---------- Forwarded Message ----------
Letter PAMHO:22064694 (84 lines)
From: Internet: "Shyamasundara Dasa" <shyamasundaradasa@gmail.com>
Date: 12-Aug-11 05:59 (11:29 +0530)
To: Global Varnasrama Mission [737]
To: Bharat Chandra (das) BRS (NC VAD Ministry - IN) [15729]
12-Aug-11 07:14)
Reference: Text PAMHO:22062140 by Internet: Nanda Kumar
Comment: Text PAMHO:22068738 by Internet: "Greg Jay" <jay.greg@gmail.com>
Comment: Text PAMHO:22077452 by Madhavananda (das) GGS (Gopal Jiu
Publications - IN)
Subject: The Real Clash
The following excerpt from "The Real Clash" by James Kurth gives insight
the current social unrest http://tinyurl.com/4ybgmwn in the UK

James Kurth is professor of political science at Swarthmore College.
Publication Information: Article Title: The Real Clash. Contributors: James
Kurth - author. Magazine Title: The National Interest. Issue: 37.
Publication Date: Fall 1994. Page Number: 3+. COPYRIGHT 1994 The National
Affairs, Inc.; COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group
The transformation from industrial to post-industrial economy: At the most
obvious level, this means the replacement of industrial production with
service processes. These changes have been noted and discussed for more than
a generation, at least since Daniel Bell published his seminal The Coming of
Post-Industrial Society (1973). It will prove useful for our purposes,
however, to emphasize one dimension of this transformation--that of gender.
The agricultural economy was one that employed both men and women. They
were, it is true, employed at different tasks, but they worked at the same
place, the farm, which was also the home. The industrial economy largely
employed men. They worked both at different tasks from those of women and at
a different place, the factory, which was away from the home. The service
economy is like the agricultural economy in that it employs both men and
women. But it employs them at much the same tasks and at the same place, the
office. Like the industrial economy, that place is away from the home. These
simple differences in tasks and place have had and will continue to have
enormous consequences for society.
The greatest movement of the second half of the nineteenth century was the
movement of men from the farm to the factory. Out of that movement arose
many of the political movements that shaped the history of the
time--socialism and anti-socialism, revolutions, and civil wars. The full
consequences of this movement from the farm to the factory culminated in the
first half of the twentieth century with the Communist revolution in Russia,
the National Socialist reaction in Germany, and the Second World War that
included the great struggle between the two.
The greatest movement of the second half of the twentieth century has been
the movement of women from the home to the office. Out of that movement
there have already arisen political movements that are beginning to shape
the history of our own time. One is feminism, with its political demands
ranging from equal opportunity to academic deconstructionism to abortion
rights. Feminism has in turn produced a new form of conservatism. These new
conservatives speak of "family values;" their adversaries call them "the
religious right."
The full consequences of this movement from the home to the office will only
culminate in the first half of the twenty-first century. They may not take
the form of revolutions, civil wars, and world wars, as did the earlier
movement of men from the farm to the factory. Feminists have constructed
elaborate theories about how women are far less violent than men. But there
are other factors at work.
The movement from farm to factory in large measure brought about the
replacement of the extended family with the nuclear family. The movement
from home to office is carrying this process one step further. It separates
the parents from the children, as well as enabling the wife to separate
herself from the husband. By splitting the nuclear family, it is helping to
bring about the replacement of the nuclear family with the non-family
("non-traditional" family, as seen by feminists; no family at all, as seen
by conservatives). The splitting of the family's nucleus, like the splitting
of the atom's nucleus, will release an enormous amount of energy (which
feminists see as liberating and conservatives see as simply destructive).
Some indication of that energy, and its direction, may be gleaned from the
behavior of the children of split families or single-parent families,
especially where they have reached a critical mass forming more than half
the population, as in the large cities of America. In such locales, there is
not much evidence of "Western civilization" or even of civility. For
thousands of years, the city was the source of civilization. In contemporary
America, however, it has become the source of barbarism.
(Text PAMHO:22064694) --------------------------------------
------- End of Forwarded Message ------

Ghee or not

---------- Forwarded Message ----------
From: Gaura Sakti (das) SRS (New Vraja-dhama - HU)
Date: 21-Nov-11 08:25 (09:25 +0100)
Subject: Re: ghee or not
Hare Krishna,
As I see we always come to a dead end with this issue.
It is because of the following:
Untill the categroy of "blood-milk" is not determined with all its natural
qualities till all this kind of discussions and debtes will bring no fruit.
The word "blood-milk" is generally used by Balabhadra Prabhu, who is the
Cow Protection Minister of ISKCON. The way he is using is it in general
speaking is as follows (he may correct me on this):
blood-milk = milk coming from abused cows
(expoilted, phisically offended, killed)
So the real issue behind all what is going on here is of theological nature:
1. Is using blood-milk contains sin?
- if yes can it be nullified by offering it to the Lord
2. Is using blood-milk acceptable practice in Iskcon in certain
3. Is using milk acceptable in Iskcon in all circumstances?
4. Is paying for blood-milk considered as a direct support for Cow Killing
5. Is using blood-milk and paying for blood-milk irreligious and adharmic
action which is against the most basic religious dogma of not just a
vaisnava but all hindu religion, namely protecting the cows?
I guess, Balabhadra Prabhu, unless these 5 points (can be further detailed)
will be answered by the Brahminical Board and formulated as a statement by
the GBC, these discussions will never come to end and cow abuse will never
be stopped in Iskcon and by Iskcon.
For those who follow these discussions for at least 6 months it is very
clear that even senior devotees and Iskcon officiers answer the above
questions in not even a slightly different but in a strongly opposit way.
That is what I found here and that was quite shocking for me.
So please discriminate the illusion from truth with the strength of divine
knowledge. After getting clear answers from the very top, we can define
what way Iskcon should take further its policy regarding
Hare Krishna,
Your servant,
Gaura Sakti das, NVD

On Mon, Nov 21, 2011 at 7:30 AM, Madan Gopal (das) RNS (Chowpatty, Mumbai -
IN) <Madan.Gopal.RNS@pamho.net> wrote:
> > Can you follow up by supporting your statement of "truth" with evidence
> > from guru/ sadhu/shastra & Srila Prabhupada?
> >
> > On Nov 18, 2011, at 6:00 AM, Madan Gopal (das) RNS (Chowpatty, Mumbai -
> > IN) wrote:
> >
> > > Why can't we accept the truth that we can offer no ghee lamps to our
> > > lord ships. Let us offer oil lamps from oil from good sources as it is
> > > availble.
> I might not be able to provide back up now as I am little busy with some
> land dealing in India at place where I preach.
> My point was if we have two choices - blood stained ghee(factory made) and
> oil without violence. What we should prefer.
> About easily obtained I would like to quote purport of HDG Srila
> on SB 11.27.15
> About pure items/ ingredients I would like to quote SB 6.18.52
> And a combined quote for above two points in translation of SB 10.86.41
> The point under debate is weather to accept ghee as produce of slaughter
> and
> thus not support cow protection.
> Also we may not offer lamp as ghee is not available. But as we see in case
> of pana nrsimha deities in Andra Pradesh the items offered to the lord are
> as available in that particular age.
> For the lord in respective ages Nectar (amruta), ghee, milk and jaggery
> water is offerd. So in Kali yuga pure jaggary water can be available so it
> is offered. Actually speaking what to speak of ghee it difficutl to get
> good
> pure milk.
> So better offer what we have of good quality.
> In ayurvedic scriptures it is said til (seasame) oil is next to ghee. So
> we want to avoid blood ghee and pure ghee is not available then we have
> choices. Offer no lamp or good oil lamp and I would prefer latter. Some
> can go for first which can also be OK.
> More sashtric backup after one month as land dealing in India do take that
> much or more time.
> I don't want to challenge or debate with senior devotee like your good
> but just writting my thoughts and understanding.
> Your servant
> Madan Gopal das
(Text PAMHO:22551481) --------------------------------------
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Monday, 9 January 2012

Milk Contaminated!

With animal fat and urine amongst other things:


Das, Madhavananda Das


NEW DELHI: Beware, your daily glass of good health could actually be doing you harm. As much as 70% of milk samples picked up from the capital by a government agency failed to conform to standards.

Of the 71 samples randomly taken from Delhi for testing by the Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), 50 were found to be contaminated with glucose and skim milk powder (SMP), which is usually added to milk in the lean season to enhance volumes.

Elsewhere in the 33 states and UTs study, milk was found adulterated with detergent, fat and even urea, besides the age-old dilution with water. Across the country, 68.4% of the samples were found contaminated.

Only in Goa and Puducherry did 100% of the samples tested conform to required standards. At the other end were West Bengal, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and Mizoram, where not a single sample tested met the norms.

Other prominent states fared just a shade better. Around 89% of the samples tested from Gujarat, 83% from Jammu & Kashmir, 81% from Punjab, 76% from Rajasthan, 70% from Delhi and Haryana and 65% from Maharashtra failed the test. Around half of the samples from Madhya Pradesh (48%) also met a similar fate.

States with comparatively better results included Kerala where 28% of samples did not conform to the FSSAI standards, Karnataka (22%), Tamil Nadu (12%) and Andhra Pradesh (6.7%).

The samples were collected randomly and analysed from 33 states totaling a sample size of 1,791. Just 31.5% of the samples tested (565) conformed to the FSSAI standards while the rest 1,226 (68.4%) failed the test.

A study conducted by Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) across 33 states has found that milk was adulterated with detergent, fat and even urea, besides the age-old practice of diluting it with water. Across the country, 68.4% of the samples were found contaminated.

These were sent to government laboratories like Department of Food and Drug Testing of Puducherry, Central Food Laboratory in Pune, Food Reasearch and Standardization Laboratory in Ghaziabad, State Public Health Laboratory in Guwahati and Central Food Laboratory, Kolkata, for testing against presence of adulterants like fat, neutralizers, hydrogen peroxide, sugar, starch, glucose, urea, detergent, formalin and vegetable fat.

Detergent was found in 103 samples (8.4%). "This was because milk tanks were not properly washed. Detergents in milk can cause health problems," FSSAI official told TOI. The non-conforming samples in rural areas numbered 381 (31%) out of which 64 (16.7%) were packet milk and 317 (83.2%) were loose samples.

In urban areas, the number of non-confirming samples were 845 (68.9%) out of which 282 (33.3%) were packed and 563 (66.6%) were loose.

The most common adulteration was that of fat and solid not food (SNF), found in 574 (46.8%) of the non-conforming samples. This, scientists say, is because of dilution of milk with water. The second highest parameter of non-conformity was skim milk powder in 548 samples (44.69%) which includes presence of glucose in 477 samples. Glucose could have been added to milk probably to enhance SNF.

The report asked state enforcement authorities to check whether the new FSSAI rules are being complied with. An earlier first-of-its-kind study of milk boiling habits that involved 2,400 women across eight major cities had found that Chandigarh leads the pack in boiling milk, doing it more than three times a day. While 84% women in Kolkata boiled milk for more than five minutes, about 46% of women in Pune preferred to boil milk in high temperatures. The study, by the Indian Medical Academy, said, "About 49% boil milk more than thrice before consumption. Around 56% boil it for more than 5 minutes, and 73% don't stir while boiling," said Dr Pawan Gupta, IMA.

This only confirms that food adulteration is common in India. Even milk, consumed primarily by children, isn't spared. What's particularly worrying is the kind of substances used to adulterate, including toxic chemicals. This shows the trade off between the risk of getting caught and the 'reward' of huge profits is skewed heavily in favour of the latter. The government must focus on raising the risks to the adulterator. One way of doing this is by hiking the penalty, including making it analogous to attempt to murder in extreme cases. It's equally important to regularly check foodstuff for adulteration and ensure speedy trials.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Vechur of Kerala - World's smallest cow breed

Many thanks to H.H.Bhakti Rasamrta Maharaj for this wonderful post!

Incidentally, I am in Kerala at present and was heading to meet this man!

Both articles (5th Jan and 6th Jan) are pasted below along with their links.

------- Forwarded Message ----------
From:      Bhakti Rasamrita Swami
Subject:   Nice articles in The Hindu
Hare Krishna,dear Bharat Chandra prabhu,I thought I should inform you about
two nice articles in the Hindu newspaper of 5th & 6th January written by
P.Sainath on the Vechur cows.I am not aware of how to send the articles to
the Global Varnasrama mission conference.Perhaps you could do     that.Regards,Bhakti Rasamrita Swami
------- End of Forwarded Message ------


1) http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/sainath/article2775282.ece
2) http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/sainath/article2778130.ece

DATE: January 5, 2012

Holy cow! Small is beautiful
P. Sainath

Chandran ‘Master’ with the tiny Vechur calf, the latest addition to his diverse herd. He has animals of 11 different indigenous breeds in his compound. Photo: P. Sainath
The Hindu Chandran ‘Master’ with the tiny Vechur calf, the latest addition to his diverse herd. He has animals of 11 different indigenous breeds in his compound. Photo: P. Sainath

Endemic species of cow faces extinction Call for steps to conserve indigenous livestock breeds Milk of the indigenous Vechur cow beneficial to health Cattle class: native vs exotic

Kerala 'masters' struggle to keep alive rare cattle breeds.

When Kerala Agriculture Minister K.P. Mohanan paid Chandran ‘Master' Rs.15,000 for a Vechur calf last September, he was rewarding a conscious law-breaker. Yet, the Minister, on behalf of the Livestock Development Board, was doing the right thing — and everyone approved. Chandran ‘Master' and other intrepid souls have helped keep Kerala's unique cattle varieties alive. This, despite antiquated laws that made the breeding of such animals by farmers illegal without a licence from the State's Director of Animal Husbandry. And through some years when livestock inspectors relentlessly castrated the bulls of these ‘inferior' breeds, boosting the dominance of crossbred cattle.

This flowed partly from the idea that higher milk yields, regardless of costs and consequences, were all that mattered. In what could mark an attitude shift, the State is now paying rebel farmers for resisting its own depredations.

Chandran Master keeps 24 head of cattle, mostly rare indigenous breeds, in the compound of his home in P. Vemballur village of Thrissur district. These include the tiny Vechur cow, symbol of Kerala's domestic cattle crisis. By 2000, the animal was on the FAO's World Watch List of Domestic Animal Diversity, in its ‘Critical-Maintained Breeds List.' A variety makes that list “when the number of breeding females” is 100 or less. Or when “the total number of breeding males” is five or less. Or if the overall count is 120 or less, and falling.
Smallest cattle breed

In Chandran Master's home, the count is rising. “I gave the Livestock Board five Vechur calves,” he says proudly. And got two Gir calves and Rs. 45,000 in return. A tiny Vechur calf had been born — in his compound — just six hours before we arrived there. Her mother, a fine animal, is 82 cm high. The Vechur is the world's smallest cattle breed. November 2010 saw Diana, a 77-cm Vechur (also from Thrissur district), enter the Guinness Book of Records as the smallest cow in the world.


Mostly, this breed averages around 90 cm in height and about 130 kg in weight. It yields up to 3 litres of milk a day and requires very little by way of feed or maintenance.

Alongside the “world's smallest cow” are the Vadakara Dwarf, the Kasargode Dwarf, the High Range Dwarf and other indigenous cattle breeds. The 72-year-old former school teacher scoffs at the official mind-set on cattle. “The cow for them is just a milk-production machine” he says. “Their view has no room for the composition and quality of the milk. Much less for the role of cattle in agriculture and in a farmer's life. None at all for the impact on the environment, diversity or community.”

Nambiyandra Ayyappan Chandran ‘Master' is an award-winning former English teacher who worked 36 years in Kerala and Oman. He has “pledged what remains of my life” to conserving breeds of Bos indicus (native Indian cattle). His living room sports a huge photo of the Rs.15,000 cheque from the Kerala Livestock Development Board. “Roughly what I lose each month on my passion.” But Chandran Master is okay with that.
‘Zero maintenance'

“My cows,” he points out, “are zero maintenance — they are native and do not need a high-input diet.” But he also tries to grow 30 types of mangoes and an equal number of bamboo varieties, all indigenous. Also a few native kinds of fish and many traditional plants. His son tries to bridge the household deficit through high-earning horticulture. If the family converted some of its 18 acres to real estate, he would be rich, but Chandran Master has “a mission and a passion.”

“Malayalis take the easy way out in everything,” Minister K.P. Mohanan had said while handing over the KLDB cheque. “Hence, they have not taken pains to preserve native breeds such as Vechur cow and Kasargode Dwarf. Instead, they have gone for cross-bred varieties. Malayalis should be aware of a global movement for preservation of domestic breeds of animals.” (The Hindu, Sept. 25, 2011).

However, native breeds were ruined not by people but by official policies over a long time.

Kerala's anti-indigenous drive across decades was one factor in the collapse of its native cattle numbers. Livestock Census figures show a drop of 48 per cent in the total cattle population between 1996 and 2007. But it goes back further, to when the Kerala Livestock Improvement Act of 1961 gave “the licensing officer” the “power to order castration of bulls.” And farmers ordered to castrate their bulls had 30 days to do so. An amended Act in 1968 also promised fines and imprisonment for those failing to comply.

Dr. Sosamma Iype, retired Professor, Animal Breeding and Genetics from Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) was a pioneer in reviving the Vechur breed. She and Dr. Abraham Varkey, retired Professor of Veterinary Surgery, make this point. “On the one hand, you needed a licence from the State director of the Animal Husbandry Department to be able to keep a bull. On the other, an inspector finding such a bull [Vechur or any other kind] was bound by orders to castrate it! So no one ever sought a licence!” The castrations drove some native breeds to near extinction. (Similar drives occurred in other parts of the country, notably Orissa. There, an insane project aimed at boosting milk production, all but wiped out the Khariar Bull, the best breed of the Kalahandi region by 1980. It also transformed what was then a milk-surplus region, into a milk-deficit one).

Still, the Vechur survived. Partly, says Professor Varkey, “because a few escaped, being in regions too remote or forested for the vets to reach. And partly because Temple Bulls were exempted for religious reasons.”

They also survive because of people like Sosamma Iype. She and others were part of a drive to conserve local breeds that saw the founding of the Vechur Conservation Trust in 1998. “The search for survivors, though, began in 1988,” says Prof. Iype. “And with the help of a student search team headed by Anil Zachariah, we found eight by the end of that year. We got Rs. 51,000 sanctioned by the then Vice Chancellor of KAU to buy the eight animals and provide them with feed.” Her work at KAU saw a turnaround in the fate of the Vechur breed and earned it wide recognition.
Milk yields and input costs

But don't the crossbreeds outclass native breeds in milk yield? “That can't be the only yardstick,” says Prof. Iype. “Check the milk yields against input costs. The expense of the crossbreeds is enormous. They are far more prone to outbreaks of illness as we were reminded again in 2009 during a severe outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease. There are indeed several farmers who prefer crossbreeds as an income source, through sale of milk. There are also 25-30 per cent, who prefer smaller, less costly animals. These households look at it from the point of view of home consumption, quality of milk and food security. “The Trust today promotes the cause of not only the Vechur, but other Kerala breeds of cattle, goats, pigs and ducks as well.

Back in his home in P. Vemballur village, Chandran Master wants to know: “When are you going to help me get a Khariar Bull from Orissa?”


DATE: 6th Jan

Cattle class: native vs exotic
P. Sainath

The mother Vechur cow is 82 cm tall. Vechur is the world’s smallest cattle breed. Photo : P. Sainath

Kerala is feeling the ill-effects of an official policy that favoured disease-prone crossbreeds over low-maintenance native breeds.

Visitors flow in and out of Chandran Master's compound in P. Vemballur, Thrissur, Kerala. Students, teachers, trainees in animal husbandry work and even officials walk around like it's a public space. And in some ways, it is. People come a distance to see his 22 cows and two bulls — mostly from rare indigenous breeds. Also, the many kinds of mango, bamboo and fish he has cultivated, again species native to India. The former English teacher also boasts a classic Kathiawari horse and several native breeds of poultry. But the star attractions are the tiny Vechur — “the world's smallest cow” — and other dwarf varieties of Kerala cattle.

The visitors' interest also reflects a growing concern in the State about the fate of domestic breeds of cattle and other livestock. Like elsewhere, a strong emphasis on crossbred cattle that aimed at higher milk production also saw a sharp decline in native animals. There is now a serious debate on the results of that approach. Kerala's cattle population declined by around 48 per cent between 1996 and 2007.
Changed stance

Dr. R. Vijayakumar, Director of Kerala's Animal Husbandry Department (AHD), says the State's new breeding policy “limits exotic [that is, non-native] germplasm to 50 per cent of cattle. We are now also propagating native breeds. We even conduct artificial insemination with the semen of native bulls.” And while the number of animals may have fallen between 1996 and 2007, “milk productivity of cows in the State rose in that period. From an average of six litres a day to 8.5 litres, even as crossbreeds came to account for 87 per cent of Kerala's cattle.”

However, the cost of milk production is much higher with the crossbreeds. The feed requirement of native dwarf breeds like Vechur and Kasargode are very minor. Their feed-to-milk conversion is very good. The crossbreeds are high-maintenance animals and are disease-prone. “See this Vadakara Dwarf,” says Chandran Master. “I doubt I spend five to ten rupees on her feed daily. Still she gives me three to four litres. But the quality of her milk is highly prized and I could get Rs.50 a litre for it. So even in that way, the benefit is greater. There is no high standard of feed required either. Kitchen scraps and leftovers can be used. And they don't require special sheds or anything.” He, however, does not sell milk. He does sell “very few calves each year when the numbers exceed my capacity to manage.”

Of the Vechur, he says its milk has medicinal qualities recorded by Ayurveda ages ago. In more recent times, studies at the Kerala Agricultural University have also shown the percentage of fats and total solids of the Vechur cow to be higher than that found in crossbred cows. The smaller size of the fat globules in the Vechur's milk makes it more suitable for infants and the sick.

AHD Director R. Vijayakumar says the decline of native species had many causes. Not just the castrations of ‘non-descript' varieties that had occurred in a much earlier period. He points to “the trend towards cash crops which brought about a decline in animal-based agriculture and to a younger generation of farmers with no time or patience for rearing large animals — they prefer smaller ruminants. And to a greater interest in crossbreeds due to their higher milk productivity.”
Hardy and healthy

But costs and maintenance are another matter. “Before I switched to local breeds in 1994,” says Chandran Master, “I had three crossbreds, including one Swiss Brown. I had to spend up to Rs.400 a day on each. The feed was very costly and over Rs.200 a day. Pellet feed, rice powder, wheat powder, oil cake, green grass, it's endless. They would fall ill all the time and the vet was here every week, with each visit costing me Rs.150 apart from the expense of arranging a vehicle for him.”

Since making his switch: “No vet has attended my cows for 17 years. And I have not even insured a single one of them. These are hardy, healthy creatures.” And several experts do point out that India's native cattle (Bos indicus) have evolved to cope with the climate and to “withstand diseases, parasites and calve easily without human assistance.” Scientists like Dr. Sosamma Iype, who pioneered the revival of the Vechur at KAU, also point out that these dwarf animals “have good resistance to foot and mouth disease and mastitis. Both, diseases which plague crossbred cows in Kerala. Vechur cattle also have a far lower incidence of respiratory infections.”

Most livestock owners in Kerala are either small or marginal farmers or even landless. The State has the highest percentage of crossbreeds in the country. And while its average milk yield has risen, production is far below demand. The State is not amongst the top producers in the country. Feed utilisation per litre of milk is also one of the highest in India. Critics say it's wrong to ignore the steep fall in cattle numbers and native breeds that has hurt the State, alongside decades-old policies that made it illegal for a farmer to keep any bull without a licence for it. That licence is only granted at the level of State Director of the AHD.

Technically, Chandran Master and others are breaking the law. But surely the State has no way of knowing whether a farmer is keeping an “illegal” bull? “A hostile panchayat can make life hell for a farmer,” says one expert. “If that farmer is at odds with the ruling outfit of that panchayat, they can keep him in court for months.”
Red tape nightmare

Haritha Bhoomi (Green Earth) a journal on agriculture recently summed up the red tape involved in permissions of any kind: Say a farmer wishes to exceed the limit of six large animals and 20 head of poultry, even by a minor number. He needs clearances from the panchayat to just start the process. If you exceed the quota, you have to go to the Pollution Control Board. Depending on the size of the establishment you wish to build, you will need certificates from the District Town Planner. Perhaps even from the State Chief Town Planner. Manage to get these done and you have to prepare a technical report for the panchayat and get three or four certificates from them. Then the farmer must get clearances from the district medical officer to whom he has to submit NOCs from all residents within 100 metres of his planned farm.

On my first visit to Chandran Master's home I had run into a Livestock Inspector (LI) from another region. Wishing to remain unnamed, he told me “On most of my visits I see the problems faced by the crossbreeds. They fall ill with the slightest change in climate. They cannot take the heat.” Chandran Master chipped in: “You cannot sleep one night peacefully. Crossbreds can't stand ten minutes of rain. With local breeds, you don't even need cowsheds.” The LI nodded: “If I keep a cow, it will be a Vechur.”

(PS: Following Thursday's story in The Hindu, the Sahabaghya Vikash Abhiyan, a community-based body deeply involved in Kalahandi's agriculture, has announced it will gift Chandran Master two calves of the rare Khariar breed. The challenge now is to transport them from western Orissa to Thrissur in Kerala.)

Madhya pradesh bans cow slaughter!

Thanks to Lala Krishna Prabhu for this wonderful news!

---------- Forwarded Message ----------
From:      Internet: "narasimham l mantha" <gotoml@rediffmail.com>
Subject:   Madhya pradesh banned cow slaughter
Madhya pradesh Govt has enforced a rule that bans cow slaughter!
Here is the link.


Your humble Servant,
Lala Krishna Das.
------- End of Forwarded Message ------

BHOPAL: President Pratibha Patil has granted her assent to the long-pending Madhya Pradesh Cow Progeny Slaughter Prevention (Amendment) Bill which proposes seven-year imprisonment for cow slaughter.

The Gau-Vansh Vadh Pratishedh (Sanshodhan) Vidheyak has received the Presidential approval following which it has become an act and has subsequently been published in the extraordinary gazette, an official release said today.

In fulfillment of its commitment to protecting and conserving cow progeny, the state government had passed the amendment bill in the state Assembly in 2010 to remove the flaws in the Madhya Pradesh Gauvansh Pratishedh Adhiniyam 2004 (Madhya Pradesh Cow Progeny Slaughter Prevention Regulation), the release said.

The amendment act also obviated the difficulties and to make the provisions more stringent.

With the enforcement of the amended act, now the responsibility of proving the prosecution wrong would lie with the accused in case of cow slaughter.

Similarly, a guilty of cow slaughter would be liable to imprisonment for seven years instead of present three years and a minimum fine of Rs 5,000 which may be increased by the court.

The amended act provides that no person shall slaughter or cause to be slaughtered or offered for slaughter of any cow progeny by any means.

Besides, no person, including transporter, shall transport or offer for transport or cause to be transported any cow progeny himself or by his agent, servant or by any other person acting in his behalf within the state or outside the state for the purpose of its slaughter in contravention of the provisions of the Act or with the knowledge that it will be or is likely to be slaughtered.

The amended Act also has provisions for specifying necessary actions for feeding and rearing the cow progeny.

Under the Act, any police officer not below the rank of head constable or any person authorised in this behalf by competent authority shall have the power of entry, inspection, search and seizure and to present the case in the court.

It may be mentioned here that the state government had forwarded the amendment Bill on September 3, 2010 to the Union Home Ministry for Presidential nod.

The assent was received on December 22, 2011. The amended Act has been published in the extraordinary gazette of Madhya Pradesh on December 31, 2011.

The state government would take action for enforcement of the amended Act through a notification.

Free permaculture course

Thanks to Nanda Kumar Prabhu for this interesting post!

---------- Forwarded Message ----------
From:      Internet: "Nanda Kumar" <nandakumar108@gmail.com>
Subject:   free permaculture course videos - 40 hour....
Dear team


I have found this site very interesting. this free 40 hour course
(free videos) is a true preparation for farm living - and filled with
great ideas & techneques.



Nanda kumar Das

------- End of Forwarded Message ------

"First you make them human, then you talk about United Nations"

Thanks to Nanda Kumar Prabhu and H.H. Bhakti Vikas Maharaj for this post!

---------- Forwarded Message ----------
From:      Internet: "Nanda Kumar" <nandakumar108@gmail.com>
Subject:   Re: Fw: Srila Prabhupada in Mauritius
------Original Message-----------
From: H.H. Bhakti Vikasa Swami Maharaj

Bhargava das:  Mauritius was developed by two devotees. It's a small island off the east coast of Africa. Prabhupada said some very profound things in Mauritius. He was very serious with the young people who came to visit him.
He didn't like the idea of dependence on a cash crop. Sugarcane was the cash crop.
His comment to those young people was "The first duty of a nation is
to become self-sufficient." And that was an extremely profound statement because if you look at the world situation and you look at so many of the trouble spots, it's all about trying to exploit somebody else's natural resources - like America and Europe trying to exploit the oil resources of other areas. And if each country would take that seriously, becoming self-sufficient, you wouldn't have these major conflicts going on in the world.

So when Prabhupada said that, it was extremely profound. When one of them asked, "What is your movement doing to help the world?" he said, "We're taking animals and turning them into human beings," and then he gave a very fiery lecture. Then at the end he told Brahmananda, "Take the tape of this and send it to Back to Godhead, and they should make an article out of this.
The title of the article should be 'First you make them human, then you talk about United Nations.'"

------- End of Forwarded Message ------

Village Economy

Thanks to Srinath Prabhu for this quote:


Prabhup€da: A local man cannot get. He's starving. And the man in big cities, he's doing nothing, he simply has got paper to sign and paper money he's attracting. All production. And they are starving. This is modern civilization. Everything, milk, vegetables, fish, everything, this ch€n€. Otherwise, within the village you can get everything. Village economy. Everything very cheap. And as soon as they got these transport facilities, the local men, they could not eat, and these lazy rascals, they are getting everything. Big, big cities like Calcutta, Bombay, they (have) millions of population. They are not producing anything. The producer is different man. They are simply artificially cheating them by paper money and they take. This is modern civilization... Simply creating problems. Lavana haila ithe gatila jagya.(?) This modern civilization, they could not make any profit. They have created some problems, that's all. Very dangerous civilization.

*Room conversation, Vrindavana, Sept 16, 1976*

Every 30 min!

Thanks to Bharat Prabhu for the original post.


"Every 30 Minutes": Crushed by Debt and Neoliberal Reforms, Indian Farmers Commit Suicide at Staggering Rate

A quarter of a million Indian farmers have committed suicide in the last 16 years—an average of one suicide every 30 minutes. The crisis has ballooned with economic liberalization that has removed agricultural subsidies and opened Indian agriculture to the global market. Small farmers are often trapped in a cycle of insurmountable debt, leading many to take their lives out of sheer desperation. We speak with Smita Narula of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University Law School, co-author of a new report on farmer suicides in India. [includes rush transcript]

Smita Narula, faculty director of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University Law School, co-author of the report, "Every Thirty Minutes: Farmer Suicides, Human Rights and the Agrarian Crisis in India."

AMY GOODMAN: We turn to the issue of farmer suicides in India, where a quarter of a million farmers have committed suicide in the last 16 years. On average, that figure suggests one farmer commits suicide every 30 minutes.

Today, the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at NYU Law School will release a report called "Every Thirty Minutes: Farmer Suicides, Human Rights and the Agrarian Crisis in India."

The agricultural sector in India has become more vulnerable to global markets as a result of economic liberalization. Reforms in the country have included the removal of agricultural subsidies and the opening of Indian agriculture to the global market. These reforms have led to increased costs, while reducing yields and profits for many farmers.

As a result, small farmers are often trapped in a cycle of insurmountable debt, leading many to take their lives out of sheer desperation. The rate of suicide is highest among cotton farmers. Like other cash crops in India, the cotton industry is increasingly dominated by foreign multinational corporations that tend to promote genetically modified cottonseed and often control the cost, quality and availability of agricultural inputs.

To discuss this issue, we’re joined by Smita Narula, faculty director of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at NYU.

SMITA NARULA: Good morning.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about this report that you are just releasing today.

SMITA NARULA: Our major finding for this report is that all the issues that you just described are major human rights issues. And what we’re faced with in India is a human rights crisis of epic proportions. The crisis affects the human rights of Indian farmers and their family members in extremely profound ways. We found that their rights to life, to water, food and adequate standard of living, and their right to an effective remedy, is extremely affected by this crisis. Additionally, the government has hard human rights legal obligations to respond to the crisis, but we’ve found that it has failed, by and large, to take any effective measures to address the suicides that are taking place.

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, this number is unbelievable. Thirty — every 30 minutes, an Indian farmer commits suicide?

SMITA NARULA: And that’s been going on for years and years. And what these intense numbers don’t reveal are two things. One is that the numbers themselves are failing to capture the enormity of the problem. In what we call a failure of information on the part of the Indian government, entire categories of farmers are completely left out of the purview of farm suicide statistics, because they don’t formally own title to land. This includes women farmers, Dalit, or so-called lower caste farmers, as well as Adivasi, or tribal community farmers. In addition, the government’s programs and the relief programs that they’ve offered fail to capture not only this broad category, but also fail to provide timely debt relief and compensation or address broader structural issues that are leading to these suicides in the country.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the issue of globalization and how it’s affecting these farmers.

SMITA NARULA: Sure. So, basically, ultimately, the proximate cause for a number of these suicides is farmer indebtedness. What lies behind that indebtedness is two decades of market liberalization in India, which have resulted in two simultaneous processes. First, the government has withdrawn significantly from the agricultural sector. It has reduced subsidies. It has decreased access to rural credit. Irrigation is insufficient and doesn’t reach most farmers who need it. And at the same time, it has encouraged a switch over to cash crop cultivation, of which cotton is one example.

Simultaneously, the market has been opened up to global competitors, which makes Indian farmers extremely vulnerable. And at the same time, foreign multinationals now dominate industries, such as the cotton industry, including dominating the key inputs that are needed for cotton. In the case of cotton, in particular, the genetically modified Bt cottonseed has been promoted so effectively in India that it now dominates the entire sector, and between its cost, quality and availability, has an enormous impact on farmer costs and profits and yields to the point that it’s landing them in enormous debt. And many of them, ironically, are actually consuming the very pesticide that they went into debt to purchase, to kill themselves when they can’t escape that cycle of debt.

AMY GOODMAN: They’re consuming the pesticide.

SMITA NARULA: That’s correct. And behind each and every one of these numbers — the statistics are, appalling as they are, every 30 minutes — it’s hard to get our heads around it — but something else that the report tries to do is to put a human face on these numbers and tragedies. So, take two stories to put that humanity back into it. There are farmers in Vidarbha, Maharashtra, which is seen as an epicenter of this crisis, and an epicenter of cotton production in the country. Farmers now address their suicide notes to the prime minister and to the president, hoping that their last words, before they kill themselves, will reach an audience that’s going to take action.

Then you have farmers like Nanda Bhandare, who is a widow, and she lost her husband in 2008. As a result, she had to pull her 10- and 12-year-old children out of school to work the farm. They own seven acres of land, and after toiling every day on that land for a year, she likely won’t earn more than $250 for the entire year. She may have received compensation from the government, but that’s certainly been eaten up by the private moneylenders who her husband took out loans from, because there’s no rural credit in the country. And now she is struggling to afford basic needs for her family.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about genetically modified seeds and U.S. multinational corporations.

SMITA NARULA: So, genetically modified seeds. Bt cottonseed is the cottonseed input that dominates the cotton industry now. And what the genetic modification promises to do is to produce a toxin within the seed that kills a very common pest that affects the cotton crop in India. The Bt cottonseed, which is —- has been marketed by Monsanto, among other multinationals, requires two resources that are already scarce for most Indian smallholder farmers. That’s money and water. Bt cottonseeds cost anywhere from two times to 10 times as much as regular cottonseed, and they also require a great deal more water in order to yield successful crops. The farmers often go to private moneylenders, who charge exorbitant interest rates, to purchase the seeds, on the promises and based on aggressive marketing that they will bring greater financial security. But then, because 65 percent of cotton farms in India are rain-fed and don’t have access to irrigation, the crops inevitably fail. And also, increasing drought has made that the case for many farmers. So they’ve gone into insurmountable debt to purchase the inputs. They don’t have the yields. They repeat this cycle for a couple of seasons. And by the end of it, they’re simply trapped in a cycle that they can’t get out of, and they consume the very pesticide that they purchased, in order to kill themselves. And -—

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, what needs to be done?

SMITA NARULA: There are many things that the government can do and should do. The first is to address the failure of information. The government has failed to adequately capture the scope of the problem, as I described before. There is a failure of intervention. The debt relief program, that the government proudly boasts about to human rights committees, doesn’t reach most farmers, leaves many out of their purview, and provides too little. And there are structural issues. The government needs to put human rights at the center of its agricultural policies, and it needs to regulate multinational corporations, which it’s not doing, rather than approving more and more GM crops in the country, when so many have already devastated farmers’ lives.

AMY GOODMAN: Smita Narula, I want to thank you for being with us. We’ll link to your study at our website, from the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at NYU Law School.


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