AGRICULTURE: A SERIOUS PRIORITY.

Food is the basic necessity of all living beings, and the humans are the only species who toil to grow different varieties of eatables for satisfying their hunger as well as taste. Millions of other species depend wholly on nature for food and consume very few unprocessed items throughout their life, in contrast to humans who need thousands of items differently processed in hundreds of ways in order not only to satisfy hunger but also the taste. This run for variety and taste leads to hundreds of complicated diseases and for the remedy of which he requires thousands of drugs and medicines for which he has again to depend upon agriculture.

To meet the basic requirements, production of varieties of food grains, fruits, poultry and the allied items, agriculture and the allied activities need to be given a top priority. Although a lot of development has been made in the agriculture sector including the allied activities such as horticulture, floriculture, apiculture, fishery, animal rearing, dairy, and poultry farming as well as growing of medicinal plants, yet there is a mismatch between the efforts, planning, level of production, storing, value additions, marketing, and pricing. A lot needs to be done in the field of proper planning and management of agricultural production by the concerned agencies/departments associated with this important and vital sector. All the stakeholders such as agriculture deptt. of the concerned governments, agriculture scientists, their field staff, concerned officers from electric and irrigation deptt and the bankers, especially in the underdeveloped and developing countries need to stand shoulder to shoulder with the farmers in the fields. The approach of all the concerned has to be focussed and a target-oriented and not as a mere casual social responsibility.

PROBLEMS

  • In the absence of proper and timely support and guidance especially to the marginal, small, and medium farmers they are unable to manage a balance between production, supply and demand. The incidence of continuous drought or floods leaves them in distress. Their absolute poverty gets further burdened by the bank loans they have availed. Farmers by nature are shy and hesitant about visiting various govt. offices especially which are located in the far-off cities. Under these circumstances, they are exploited by the comparatively better off people in the society including the politicians. This exploitation has discouraged them from their traditional activity since ages and compels them to migration to other activities by disposing of their land. Many such farmers go into depression and resort to suicides or become landless laborers. Maximum migration has happened in agriculture sector than in any other during the last few decades. These dangerous trends of migration and suicides are a blot on the society and the nation as a whole, so need a serious thought. WAIVING OF LOANS IS NOT THE SOLUTION. IT DOESN’T EMPOWER A FARMER IN ANY MANNER. Unless he is empowered by providing timely support, and proper guidance, he can’t come out of the vicious circle of poverty.
  • Agricultural land is shrinking day by day with the development of infrastructure, industry, services sector and housing. Fertile land especially around the cities and towns and along the highways is being converted into business markets, big housing projects, malls and palaces for holding big functions. A suitable policy needs to be made to take care of this dangerous trend.
  • Maintaining the fertility of the soil needs a serious thought. In order to produce more, we are resorting to excessive use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and insecticides. They not only spoil the fertility and aroma of the soil but are harmful to the entire living creatures including humans.
  • We are still resorting to flooding type of irrigation on a very large scale and thus wasting the water which is already in scarcity. In absence of proper distribution of water and proper management of existing canals, we are forced to resort to the drilling for water from the underground sources which in addition to being a costly proposition also disturbs the balance of nature.
  • Inspite of so much development we have failed to make value addition to our agricultural produce at the farmers level. This benefit of value addition by proper grading, attractive and convenient to handle packing, is reaped by someone else.
  • Convenient and cheap availability of duly certified high yielding hybrid seeds as well as replacing the traditional fruit orchards into high-density orchards are still in the infancy stage and need to be taken up on priority.

SOLUTIONS

  • Development in agriculture and allied activities needs to be taken as a top priority and handled in a mission mode. All concerned agencies associated with the development of agriculture, horticulture, and all activities related thereto, need to work unitedly in complete harmony with targets of final results fixed for each agency. Agriculture is not an indoor activity so the entire support system has to move to the field and stand by the farmer from sowing to the harvesting of the crop/produce. The concerned persons from the agriculture, irrigation, flood control, and power deptt. should camp in the field rather than remaining in the offices in the cities. They should ensure that all support and guidance is available to the farmer on spot. A combined support is required. Only credit dispensation to farmers would not be sufficient. ONLY MONEY CAN’T MAKE THE MARE GO.
  • There should be a complete ban on the conversion and use of agricultural land for any purpose other than agriculture. As far as possible all other activities need to be carried out on the barren and uncultivatable land. More and more land needs to be brought under agriculture by levelling and using scientific technology.
  • Use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides, and insecticides need to be gradually replaced by organic manures. Organic farming is a mantra for improving the lot of the farmers as it is cheaper and the product sells at a better rate. With a change in the lifestyle of people, they are more inclined towards organic products. Production of vermi compost which takes about one-month in making from the dung of cows and buffaloes is comparatively easier than the traditional dumping of the animal dung for years. Vermicompost is easy to make in a very short time and is very healthy organic manure. Similarly converting all types of dry grass, weed, stubble, green grass and leaves by mixing with dung in a scientific manner into green manure, saves money and the soil as well as the environment from pollution. LIKE GREEN AND WHITE REVOLUTION WHICH HAVE CHANGED THE LOT OF THE FARMERS AND STATUS OF THE COUNTRY, THE BROWN REVOLUTION i.e CONVERTING AGRICULTURE, HORTICULTURE, AND FLORICULTURE WASTE INTO ORGANIC MANURE WITHOUT USE OF ANY CHEMICALS, NEEDS TO BE TAKEN IN A MISSION MODE.
  • Making canal irrigation more effective by plugging the leakages and proper cleaning of the same in order to ensure that there is no wastage of water and it reaches the tail end. Instead of flooding type of irrigation, sprinkle and drip irrigation be practised in order to make the best use of available water.  Rainwater harvesting is the need of the hour so all water bodies need to be properly maintained. Flood channels need to be developed and properly maintained by erecting protection walls. The underground water table needs to be charged especially around the tube and bore-wells.
  • Conservation of water is the necessity in the present times. A very inspiring, innovative and successful effort has been made in the remote cold deserts of Ladakh by a young engineer Mr. Sonam Wangchuk for conserving water by making artificial glaciers out of running water from the upstream. These artificial glaciers melt during summer and provide water for irrigation. We should take inspiration from such innovators who did it in the cold desert.
  • There is hardly any value addition to crop, vegetables, and fruits at the hands of the producer resulting in less price being realised by him. Either the middlemen or the big traders who have resources and expertise reap the benefits of value addition by proper grading and attractive packaging of the produce. In absence of cold chain transportation system and cold storing facilities available to the producer, he is compelled to dispose of his produce at throwaway price lest his produce becomes stale and starts decaying. The poor fellow is exploited by the private market regulators. It is an irony that though being an agricultural economy we are importing both vegetables and fruits from small countries whereas a big chunk of our own produce gets spoiled due to less shelf life. We need to enhance the shelf life of our fruits and vegetables by developing infrastructure like cold chain transportation system and cold storing in order to increase the shelf life of fruits and vegetables in order to check their wastage.
  •   In many cases, the farmer is unable to realise even the input cost. This frustration is visible when the farmers have thrown potatoes, tomatoes, and onions and other produce on the roads in protests and anger. The government needs to come forward and devise a system for a proper price management, procurement, and distribution of the farmer’s produce. Contract farming and forward contract system/commodity trading through exchanges may be of help to manage the prices.
  • The difference between the price at which a farmer sells and the price at which a consumers purchase is huge. Neither the producer nor the consumer is benefited. The huge margin is pocketed by someone else who exploits both of them. This has to be identified and the system put on rails so that the market is properly regulated.
  • All required ingredients such as hybrid seed, fertilisers, equipment and medicines for the crops should be made available to the farmers from a place convenient to them and that too in time.

Unless the interests of the farmers are safeguarded and the agriculture made an attractive, viable and profitable vocation migration from this sector would continue unabated thereby putting this important sector to serious problems.

There is a continuous growth in population on the globe and requirement of the food items is increasing every day. In India, the growth rate in the population is twenty million per year which creates additional demand for the food products every year. Unless proper planning is not done and implemented on the ground by all the concerned agencies, it is feared that we would become a  food deficient nation thus subjecting the country to exploitation by the food-surplus countries.

Agriculture as such needs to be given a focused attention in order of ensuring good income for the farmers so that people are attracted towards this sector.

 

 


 

 

COMPASSION.

Compassion is an attribute of God. It is in a way a reflection of God itself. All creatures of this universe possess this attribute of God in one way or the other of different degrees. Some are more compassionate than the others and some may be less but all have traces of this Godly attribute present in them.

Have not we seen a bitch feeding the orphaned kittens along with her own puppies, although cat and dog are arch rivals?. Or a shark taking a helpless drowning dog on her back rescuing him to the shore. This is compassion which is present in all creatures in one or the other form.

Humans who are considered as more closer to God and having this attribute in abundance, but with the over influence of the mind or the Satan or the Shaitan on him, this basic quality remains overshadowed or subdued. We do feel an urge to help the needy when they are in distress or need our help and care and at the same time something takes over on our concern for others and the whole attention gets diverted from the feelings of compassion for others. This negative tendency in the humans who are becoming more self-centred and selfish in the modern times of rush for everything is the real cause for dissatisfaction, tension, and depression in life.

How alighted and satisfied we feel when we are cared for by someone. How happy we are when we are assured and are confident that someone is there to come to our rescue in case of an adversity. This one-way traffic is a sign of sheer selfishness. Can someone else also hope for our help and assistance? Are we mentally and voluntarily prepared to come forward to help others? We must; in case we want to achieve happiness and satisfaction. ‘TREAT OTHERS WHAT YOU WANT OTHERS TO TREAT YOU’ is an old adage. Love begets love and hate begets hate. As you sow so shall ye reap. It is as such completely in one’s own hands to remain happy and satisfied by reciprocating the same with others.

In case you are interested to taste some abuses or get few slaps on your cheek, go and slap someone or abuse someone and see the results. The results would be surprising, as you may get your choicest abuses showered on you as well as a volley of slaps on your cheeks to your complete satisfaction. This is an example of reaction to which we all are subjected to. We don’t have or we don’t maintain our own characteristics and qualities but our life and actions have become a  mere reaction. We always react not act and this reaction produces heat, hatred, and animosity which is a cause of frustration, dissatisfaction, and depression for us. REAL PLEASURE AND SATISFACTION COMES BY GIVING, FORGIVING AND CARING FOR OTHERS AND NEVER BY HOPING AND  WISHING TO BE RECEIVING  AND BEING CARED  BY OTHERS.

Forgive and Forget is the mantra for a happy life. In the circumstances when someone abuses and frowns upon you, maybe for any reason, and instead of reacting with double the force which is bound to create a chain reaction, if you just control yourself, force a pleasant smile on your face and beg pardon from the other person, although for no fault of yours; just feel the experience. Your opponent will feel ashamed for his behaviour towards you. Embrace him and give him a warm hug and a loving pat. It may seem to be very difficult but the results are amazing. An intellectual person has said, ” If there is one fool let there be not two”. Always try to avoid situations which result in exchanging of heated arguments and ultimate quarrels. Always try to have a compassionate feeling and attitude towards others. This makes life easier for you as well as for others.

We should never fail in our duty to help others as long as we live. Compassion turns the deadliest foes into friends. We should continue increasing our area of compassion throughout our life. This would create an atmosphere of peace all around us. Kindness doesn’t cost anything but instead, it gives us a lot of satisfaction and peace of mind. There should never be any dearth of love and compassion in our heart for anyone without any discrimination of caste, colour, or race.

No one has ever achieved peace and satisfaction by amassing wealth or by owning huge stocks of worldly materials by working day and night like a slave, contrarily he becomes more greedy in the mad race of more and more material. For doing this we sacrifice the lofty principles of life and become more distressed and dissatisfied. None in this world has ever achieved peace, satisfaction, and happiness out of the materialistic possessions as the lust for the same never gets satisfied. We become slaves of the possessions and not their masters. We should never fail in our duty to help the needy and our heart should start melting with the passion of compassion for those who need our attention and help. This feeling will burn any negativity from our mind and give us a lot of satisfaction.

A compassionate heart brings us closer to God who is an embodiment of love, peace, and tranquillity. We need to behave better than any other creature in this universe only then will we really deserve to be called humans. Only compassion and love will bring satisfaction to the hearts and peace in the world.

 

 

SAVE THE EARTH

Earth is one of the wonderful planets of this Universe which is bestowed with all the ingredients and attributes for the growth and sustaining of the life of all types. No other known planet is so suitably placed in the orbit around the energy source i.e the Sun, as the Earth. Nature has created the earth in its super divine design and placed it at a distance where the energies from the Sun such as heat, light, ultraviolet and infrared rays and many other effective energies reach earth in very suitable doses thus making it a perfect habitat for the life.

The rotation of the earth around its axis makes it possible to expose all its parts to the sun in such a manner that every part of it gets energies from the sun in the required amount. Day and night are also formed by this function of the earth. The revolution of the earth around the sun in a slightly oval-shaped orbit makes it possible for it to remain at different distances from the sun which is the cause of different seasons during the year. Is this phenomena not a gift of nature for the mankind and the entire life on earth? Had this not been the case, half of the world would have been in the constant darkness and the rest in a never-ending day, as well as no change in seasons across the globe. Can one imagine such a situation? Could the life sustain on this globe in such situations? Certainly not.

Nature has created a blanket of different gases called Atmosphere around the earth which acts as a medium for the rays of the sun to reach earth and transfer energy. It created a cover of the Ozone layer around the atmosphere in order to replenish the shortfall of life-sustaining Oxygen in the atmosphere. Hundreds of metals and minerals, precious stones and jewels, oils and lubricants, water in streams running over and under the earth’s crust were provided with a definite purpose to support life in all forms, may it be the plant kingdom, reptiles, microbes, birds, animals, and the humans. Earth consists of 70% water in the oceans, lakes, rivers, ponds, and reserve deposits in the form of huge glaciers. Life exists in the water, may it be cold glaciers at a sub-zero temperature or warmer and salty oceans and also in the atmosphere such as germs and microbes.

Nature has provided everything to earth in order to sustain life on it as well in the water bodies and air. The beautiful and amazing marine life compels us to believe in God’s divine creativity.

It is beyond human comprehension to judge the divine Art of nature as to why different minerals were placed in different quantities at different places? Why so many minerals with different attributes were created? Why were rocks of different density formed and why were clay, sand, stones, deserts, mountains formed at some places and not everywhere? Scientists do give different theories to prove their point of view but they don’t fully convince the intellect. Every component of the earth, its density, movements, shape, and size is made with some specific purpose and nothing is without a reason or purpose. Is it humanly possible to create such a complex system and maintain it the way nature is maintaining?

If we look at the different living species on earth we find that they in one or the other form have similar attributes as the earth itself. All have solids, liquids, air, energy and sense in different proportions and require different types of environment to sustain on earth. The earth as discussed above creates a required atmosphere for every living creature out of a complex composition of its constituents. Take the example of humans who are at the top of creation. They fully resemble in many ways with the earth like a child to his mother. Humans too have 70% water in their body like earth. They have the solid mass of different densities. They have hard bones like the rocks in the earth. They too have veins running through the whole body carrying blood and other essentials like the under streams running beneath the earth’s crust. They have growth of hair almost on a major portion of their body like vegetation on the earth. They too keep moving like the earth. They have many types of chemical and saline liquids in their body like the earth which has a mixture of different oils such as crude oil in her body. Humans have the attribute to propagate life by fertilizing the seed and giving birth to their offsprings and the earth too does this by fertilizing the seed which falls in its soil during a particular season and which sprouts out of its bosom as a baby plant and grows by and by to become a grown tree.

It is perhaps because of this relationship of humans with the earth that many call it as Mother Earth.

When the earth is providing us everything for our sustenance, growth, comfort, and development, then, is not this our prime responsibility to keep it neat, clean, and healthy in our own interest? Are we sincerely contributing a bit to keep the earth in a perfectly healthy condition? The answer is a big ‘NO’. Instead, we are leaving no stone unturned to destroy the very delicate balance of nature to satisfy our various tendencies such as greed, superiority complex, taste, and sadistic pleasures and the like. There is no dearth of anything which we actually need on this planet, but still, we extract various items from the earth’s body in order to fill our stores. We are continuously extracting all known metals and minerals, oils, even rocks(marble, granite etc), coal, and precious stones etc. etc. from the body of the earth thereby disturbing its very composition. Although the earth has the quality to slowly and slowly replenish the deficiency created by us, but not at the rate and speed at which we are damaging it. Every metal which has been placed at different locations and at different depths in the earth’s body has a particular strength and they release particular radiations to counter the harmful radiations coming from other planets. Just think,  if we have iron, sodium, potassium, or calcium deficiency in our body, can we lead a healthy life? Earth also suffers when we cause such deficiencies to it.

We are recklessly extracting crude and other oils  from earth’s body thus perhaps removing the lubricants from the bones(Rocks) of the earth with the result that during movement, its joints become stiff, crack like our bones and due to uneven movement of its plates the earthquakes happen to cause a lot of destruction on the surface as well as in the oceans thereby causing great tsunamis which in turn destroy all the development we made by disturbing the nature. We don’t learn any lesson from this and continue our tirade to disturb nature. Earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, windstorms, hurricanes, cloudbursts, floods are all caused by our actions against nature and the earth.

We are polluting the atmosphere by burning coal and oil for power and transport. We risk life by producing atomic energy where any mishap can wipe the entire life from the globe. We have not learned any lesson from the great disasters created by atom bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, instead, we are continuously stockpiling atomic arsenals. We create smoke pollution by burning coal, wood and grass. We pollute rivers, lakes and other water bodies by throwing garbage and factory pollutants in them. We are polluting the oceans by throwing deadly missiles, and other bombs in them thus destroying the marine life. We are cutting the forests and building multi-story buildings thus converting green cover into brown habitats. Excessive use of electric and electronic gadgets is creating E-pollution. The hospital wastage full of infections, dangerous atomic wastage, electronic wastage, and plastic wastage is either dumped or thrown into the water bodies causing irreparable damage to the environment, ecology, and atmosphere.  We are extracting water from underground sources thereby disturbing the underground water table. All this is adding to the global warming and the air pollution which are very dangerous for all type of life on the earth. We are in a way digging our own graves. Unless we mend our ways, the day is not far when the earth will not bear this torture and will tremble out of pain and nothing will withstand the force of the great upheavals.

Still, there is time to mend our ways and use the abundant resources which nature has provided us in a proper manner without disturbing its balance in any manner.

Saving the earth is the responsibility of every one of us. We can’t put it on to the governments. No government can do anything without the contribution of its subjects. We do need energy, but, it is not necessary to disturb nature for that, as it has provided us with the abundance of resources for the green energy. Hydro-power, wind energy, and solar power are the best sources of renewable energy. Some intellectuals advice us to save water for the future. Not only water, we have to save all other resources and not to waste anything. Can’t we just copy the natures beautiful water management system? How nature transports pure water from the oceans which otherwise have salty water to all over the plains and mountains. If we don’t conserve water it is our fault and not nature’s. Can’t we resort to water harvesting in a big way and conserve water bodies. Nature stores water as reserves for us in lakes and ponds as well as on the mountain tops in the form of glaciers which continue melting and providing regular supply through rivers and streams. These rivers can be used to transport goods and merchandise thus reducing vehicular pollution. There will never be a dearth of anything on earth as nature knows the art of keeping a balance by itself. It is only we the humans who disturb the balance of nature and so suffer at its hands.

All eighty-four lac species(as per scriptures) existing on the earth are contributing in one or the other way to the conservation of ecology, environment, and health of the earth except Humans. It is only the humans who always remain unsatisfied and contribute to polluting and disturbing the beautiful balance of nature.

It is in our own interest to take care of our  Mother Earth, which provides us with almost everything in a neat, clean and healthy condition. Let us do this in a mission mode religiously and with utmost sincerity. This needs to be passed on to the younger generations from the very childhood; only then we can pass on a healthy and worth living planet to the coming generations.

DWINDLING TRUST IN BANKS- 20 Steps/ Remedial measures Suggested

The deteriorating health of banks during the past couple of years has shaken the public confidence in the banking systems. The ever-increasing NPAs which at present are estimated to have touched a whopping figure of about Nine lakhs crores sends shivers down the spine of the stakeholders. Every year a fresh and heavy dose is added to the portfolio of bad loans and the trend doesn’t seem to have an end. This volcanic effect if not arrested, will wipe out the important agent of economy i.e. banking from the scene.

Another monster endangering the industry is the increasing incidences of big frauds in the banking sector in the recent years. It appears as if the bankers have surrendered before the fraudsters and the defaulters. The causes have already been discussed in earlier blogs Defects in bank audits and inspections and Bank’s NPAs. The faith and trust of the public in the banking sector is shaken badly. BANK IS THE OTHER NAME OF TRUST. PEOPLE KEEP MONEY WITH BANKS ON THE TRUST THAT THEY WILL GET GOOD RETURNS AND THEIR FUNDS WOULD REMAIN SAFE. However, with all said and done, the following 20 measures are suggested to regain public confidence in the banking sector:-

  1. Remove uncertainty in the banking operations once for all. Clean up the balance sheet and don’t keep any NPAs under the lid. Any evergreening or hiding of NPAs may be a short time solution but its effects are dangerous. BRING COMPLETE TRANSPARENCY IN THE OPERATIONS.
  2. Once done, you can start afresh and can put the progress on track and by moving slowly and cautiously you can regain the lost speed by putting in more vigor, experience, honesty, and hard work.
  3. With speed, you need to avoid accidents by choosing the right tracks and extra vigilance. Make internal inspection and controls more effective and purposeful rather than a mere formality. The concurrent audit is a very effective tool for inspections as it nips the evil in the bud. Make it more effective by allocating the job to experienced and hard working people. More stress should be on spot rectification rather than just pointing out and reporting. Any mistake or an irregularity if allowed to stay for some time takes roots and destroys the system, so spot rectification is need of the hour to stop the spread of the weed.
  4. At present, there seem to be too many inspections by different departments and controlling heads and some of which are an overlapping on one and the other. Too much of everything is bad including the number of inspections. The number doesn’t matter, it is the quality which counts. It is generally seen that inexperienced people and not so good performers are placed in the audit and inspection wings in the bank. This attitude needs to be totally changed, and efficient, knowledgeable and hardworking people should be allocated this job. Unless a serious thought is given to this issue and the inspection/audit deptt. is not strengthened, the chances of intrusions into the systems would continue, thereby adversely affecting the health of the banks.
  5. Specially trained staff should handle credit appraisals, sanctions, and disbursement of loans. Follow up of credit disbursed should be done on time and in a very effective manner. Inexperienced and untrained staff is prone to make mistakes, mishandle, and ultimately land the bank in trouble. Don’t jump into the fields about which you have no experience. Many banks went into trouble especially in the consortium financing because of their lack of adequate experience and blindly following the leader of the consortium.
  6. Controlling offices to be more vibrant and vigilant. Every tier through which the credit proposal moves including the board of directors, must add value to the proposal and share responsibility. No one can shirk responsibility on the pretext of being nontechnical in the respective field. This is a very dangerous attitude. People at the helm should be more serious, accountable and responsible.
  7. Banks should have experts as directors on the boards of the bank who could provide better guidance and direction based on their rich expertise and experience in their respective fields. Persons with political leanings/connections should as far as possible be not appointed as directors on the boards of the banks.
  8. A periodic rotation/shifting of people in the credit wing be done regularly as well as proper training and refresher courses be conducted for the persons handling credit in order to keep them abreast with day to day changes in the credit market, its procedures, and emerging risks.
  9. No proposal should be handled in a hurry. It may be processed expeditiously but not in a hurry. The prospective borrower is always in hurry, make him appreciate that even hurry takes some time. There have been instances when the highest body of the bank i.e. board of directors have complained that sufficient time was not provided for evaluating the agenda of the board meeting and some proposals were introduced as a supplementary agenda item on the day of the board meeting. How can one expect any value addition by any expert to such an item on the agenda?
  10. With the digital and online banking have taken roots, the interface interaction with the customers seem to have taken the back seat. Although the banks have effective complaint redressal systems yet face to face interaction is very important. Banks must conduct periodic customer meets at all levels and listen to the point of view and suggestions of customers and redress their grievances if any. The customer is the working capital of the bank. His suggestions must be evaluated and acted upon on merits of each case.
  11. Interaction with the staff by the executives at different levels helps in knowing their expectations from the bank as well as sharing the expectations of the management with the staff. This needs to be done periodically wherein individual staff targets can be set and evaluated. The concerns and policies of the bank must be shared with the staff as a family and they should be involved in the overall development of the institution and encouraged to meet individual targets. This can help banks to build good teams and induce a sense of responsibility, understanding, and a deep sense of belonging to the institution.
  12. The policy decisions of the board as well as of the regulators must be strictly followed in letter and spirit.
  13. Banks must learn from the past experience and avoid entering into waters whose depth and force of the flow is not known.
  14. Avoid wasteful and avoidable expenditure as you are under the constant public glare. This creates a lot of negative publicity for the institution.
  15. The seniors at all levels have to be a role model for others in the field of dedication, devotion, hard work, honesty, transparency, simplicity, no favoritism, and expenditure control.
  16. Banks should not spare the rod where ever required without any prejudice or bias. They should also be not miser in encouraging and promoting people to achieve the given targets.
  17. Banks must have a workable and sound whistleblower policy. People at the top need to be sensitive to even minor and feeble signals of misdeeds by anyone in the institution. They should read between the lines and make independent investigations where ever required.
  18. Banks should create and strengthen other layers of income from para-banking activities and also try to increase income from fee-based and non-fund based business.
  19. Banks, till date, had been enjoying the luxury of managing comfortable NIM (Net interest margin) which is a ratio of the difference in interest earned on assets and interest paid on deposits to the assets. Since there are a number of well-organized trade and industry association both at the local and national level who manage to get the interest on trade and industrial loans reduced, but unfortunately there is hardly any organized body representing the depositors who can watch their interests. The result is that depositors have no option than to accept whatever is offered to them. The consumers of the credit manage a good deal, banks manage a comfortable NIM, and all this adversely affects the returns for the depositors. This situation is fast changing with more awareness especially through the internet and the depositors are searching for the better green pastures in the shape of mutual funds and other instruments with better security and returns. The shift of capital to cryptocurrencies is a matter of concern for the banks. In such circumstances, the banks may find it a bit hard to mobilize funds except after sacrificing a good part of their NIM.
  20. In view of above banks need to make long-term strategies for managing funds and lay more stress on non-fund based and fee-based income. A more scientific asset liability management and better risk management strategy will go along way in increasing incomes of the banks. The funds locked in bad debts need a special focus of the top management. The recently passed insolvency and bankruptcy act is a boon for the secured creditors though with a cost yet very useful for recovery and cleaning the balance sheets of the banks.                                                                                                                                                           The suggestions put forth are not exclusive and the banks can take any other measure to improve its working and image in the overall interests of all the stakeholders and also in order to regain the lost ground.

FREEDOM AND PEACE.

Freedom and peace are interrelated and every one including all creatures wish to have absolute peace as well as freedom. Is it possible to have absolute freedom and peace in this world? This seems to be just an illusion and a mirage and the humans since inception have been trying very hard to achieve this but have miserably failed in their mission. For attaining peace we have been fighting wars and have left no stone unturned to wipe out the entire creation from the globe. This certainly is not the right solution. The great wars of Ramayana and Mahabarta followed by thousands of wars all along the dynasties have failed to provide lasting peace and freedom to the different nations.

Peace is a bliss, it is to be felt internally by stabilizing and calming the waves of our mind. We, instead try to find peace externally by oppressing those who don’t appreciate our point of view, and for that, we choose a wrong path which results in disasters, animosity, hate, and wars. Many wars happened for the search of peace. This approach is a product of a biased, and arrogant mind. Only Peace can induce peace and wars are certainly not a solution.

Similar is the case with Freedom. It too has to be experienced. It is not something tangible. We have to identify the masters who have enslaved us. Many of them are internal such as mind, senses, anger, greed, pride, attachment etc. They keep us within their control and make us dance to their tunes. They are the mother of all evils. How can we enjoy freedom under their slavery? We are bound to our religion and there is nothing bad in it. No religion advocates hate, all preach universal brotherhood, love, and trust in one God. But is this actually happening on the ground? We become biased and lose objectivity resulting in losing whatever little freedom we have. We don’t stop at religion, we have divided ourselves further into castes, subcastes, creeds, and colors. Belonging to the same country we are divided into different regions, states, cities, areas, and even to streets. Under such a mental setup how can one remain unbiased and hence feel free?

Freedom of any type always has some limitations. Freedom of speech does not give you the right to hurt anyone’s sentiments by your words. You can’t move freely across the national boundaries unless you have proper permissions. You have to act within the limits permissible under the law of the land. For building a simple house on your own land with your own money, you need a lot of permissions from the concerned agencies. You are made to pay taxes against your will and you don’t get a job of your choice despite required qualification. Doesn’t this look ridiculous if we hope to enjoy full freedom? Sometimes we feel that the birds and animals are far better than us as they enjoy full freedom and peace. Yes, they do because they don’t have much of the bondings such as greed, lust, hate, prejudice, bias, attachment, pride and they have not divided themselves into different religions, and castes. They have not divided the earth into different countries or regions and have not drawn any boundaries. They have full faith in the Almighty and live to His will as against humans who have no control over their wishes and are always begging for more and more. HOW CAN A BEGGAR EXPERIENCE FREEDOM AND PEACE? And above all, We the humans being the descendants of THE ADAM AND THE EVE who disobeyed God and ate the forbidden fruit have to pay for their as well as of our own sins.

All this doesn’t mean that peace and freedom are not possible. These can be easily achieved by learning something from the birds and animals. We need to shun violence, hate, greed, bias, and all other negative attributes and respect and love all humans because we are the children of same universal Father. We need to bring an element of objectivity in our thinking process as well as enhancing the area of our compassion beyond our family to neighbors, streets, cities, states, countries, castes, religions and to the whole human race and extend it further to include animals and birds and trees. The more we enlarge our contours of compassion, more peace and freedom will surround us. We have to empower our soul which is a particle of God in us and control our mind i:e the negative power within us. Whenever we are about to make a mistake, the positive power in us i:e the soul definitely stops us, though feebly, but we ignore the command under the influence of our mind and its tricks and get involved into a conflict. The soul will always direct you to love and peace whereas the mind entangles us in the negativities. Tolerance and submission are the roads to peace and real freedom.

The greatest advocate and worshiper of peace, tolerance, and non-violence of the modern times -Mahatma Gandhi has said that in case someone slaps you on one cheek, please don’t react but instead, offer the other cheek to him. By this, he didn’t mean that you should unnecessarily keep on getting slaps on your cheeks from every tom and harry. He wanted to convey that we should not be intolerant and react to all actions. No one will unnecessarily hurt you without a reason, and when you react then he will respond and an unending chain reaction will set into motion. The only way to avoid this is to not to react. We generally don’t value our own virtues and our actions are mostly a result of our reactions towards other’s actions. Then, where are the peace and freedom? A very revered Muslim saint Sheikh Fareed has in one of his Kalaam said,” Jo te maaray mukian, tina na mareen Kum, aap nerhay kar ja ke paer una de chum”. Which means that in case someone beats you by fists,  don’t react and respond by hitting him back with heavy blows but instead go near him and kiss his feet. This will bring peace and end the conflict.

Fights, wars, and oppression are not the solutions. We need to empower our soul and control the mind to achieve peace, tranquility and real freedom. Tolerance, compassion, love and objective thinking are the tools required at the micro level to attain peace and experience complete freedom in the real sense at the macro level.

 

 

 

 

JAMMU AND KASHMIR. A HEAVEN ON EARTH. PART 3

The largest part of Jammu and Kashmir state is Ladakh region situated deep within the mighty Himalayan mountains. A sparsely populated region having only two districts Leh and Kargil having a combined population of about two lakhs comprising mainly of Buddhists, Muslims, and few Christians.

Ladakh is a cold desert with naked mountains all around and all along. A pollution free region deficient in oxygen and vegetation has very vast plain areas within high mountains dotted with green patches here and there on the areas which receive water from the melting glaciers in summers. Because of the absence of pollution, the view of distant mountain ranges is clearly visible and a camera can catch the beautiful pictures of the area with an amazing clarity.

Ladakh has a mixture of Tibetan and Indian culture. People of all faiths are highly religious, tolerant, very simple and gentle. Each village, town, and the city is having Monasteries, Mosques, Churches, and Gurudwaras. People of Ladakh love and respect their culture and have maintained their values till date inspite of the spicy tampering of modernization. Ladakh is full of beauty, festivity, and a colorful environment which is available nowhere in the world except this wonderland.

Places in and around Leh

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Leh Palace situated on a hill overlooking Leh town was built by the king of Leh in the 17th century. From this nine-story high building, you can have an amazing panoramic view of the entire Leh town. The night view of the palace is very charming.

General Zorawar Fort within Leh city was built by Dogra General Zorawar Singh and was the base of Dogra rulers. A mosque and a Hindu temple exist in this fort which is a symbol of Hindu Muslim brotherhood.

Shanti_Stupa

Shanti Stupa built on a hillock in Changspa area of Leh by the Japanese Buddhist appears like a pearl on the barren hill. The view is magnificent especially after the sunset when it glows in the dark with special lights all around it and appears as if the moon has landed on the hill.

You can also see The highest polo ground in the world situated within the city itself. Local Polo teams play matches in this ground and even all public functions are also held here.

Leh airport is a unique airport which is not plane but a sliding one. Landing and take off is possible only from a particular side only; landing from the downside and take off from the higher side of the runway.

Pathar Sahib

Gurudwara Pather Sahib situated some 25 km from Leh on Srinagar Kargil Leh highway was built in 1517 AD in commemoration of the visit of Guru Nanak Dev Ji Maharaj. It is said that earlier it was called Nanak Gompa in the memory of Nanak Lama. A saint or Faqir in the local language is called a Lama. It is said that when Guru Nanak Dev Ji visited this place it was haunted by a big demon who used to torture local people. The people requested Guru Nanak to help them. One day when Guru Nanak was sitting for his meditation the demon saw him and to finish Guru Nanak, he rolled down a huge stone rock from the top of an adjacent hill. The rock came rolling down the hill with great force but stopped the moment it touched Guru Nanak Dev Ji sitting in meditation. The demon was surprised, he came down and tried to press the rock against Guru Nanak with his foot. He was further surprised to find that the rock had melted and his foot was stuck in the melted rock. He begged pardon from Guru Nanak and promised not to harm anyone thereafter. The rock still has an imprint of Guru Nanak Dev Ji Maharaj on it. This Gurudwara is now maintained by Indian Army. Langer Parshad is served to all who visit the Gurudwara.

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Magnetic Hill is believed to have magnetic properties. You keep your vehicle with the engine turned off without brakes on the road, it starts moving uphill slowly. It is believed that the hill nearby having magnetic field attracts the vehicles and they start moving.

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Indus and Zanskar river Confluence between Pather Sahib Gurudwara and village Nimmo can be seen from the national highway itself. One with crystal clear blue waters and the other with brown muddy waters merge together to be one at this place. The site is really worth seeing.

Stok Palace and Stok monastery are in Stok village across Indus river opposit Leh. The King of Leh shifted to this palace after he left Leh palace.

Hall of fame near Leh airport portrays war heroes of Indo Pak and Indo China wars as well as those who laid down their lives in Saichin and Kargil Wars.

Ladakh is filled with Buddhist monasteries which are centers of cultural, spiritual, and traditional values. These heritage places have existed for centuries and are well maintained by local priests called Lamas. These beautiful places have grand idols of Buddha and his incarnations. The grand Tanka paintings on the walls of these monasteries with shining and bright colors are a masterpiece work of local art.

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The main monasteries are, Hemis Monastery is also known as Hemis Gumpa, Thiksey monastery on the hillock at Thiksey village, Likir monastery, Spituk monastery, Stakna monastery, Dikshit monastery, Alchi monastery, Phayang monastery, Takthok monastery, Sumda Chun monastery, and Lamayuru monastery in addition to other numberless monasteries spread all over this heaven.

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Pangong Lake

Two world famous lakes in the Himalayan region exist in Ladakh; Tsomoriri lake and Pan gong lake which is about 80 km in length with blue waters, half is in India and half in China. To reach Pan-gong lake one has to cross Chang-la pass which is second highest motor-able road in the world; the first being too in Ladakh known as Khardungla pass at a height of 17582 feet from the sea level.

Sand Dunes Nubra Valley

White sand dunes at village Hunder in Nubra valley are a wonder on such heights in this Heaven. Double hump camels exist only in this valley in the country. A ride on the double hump camel is an experience worth enjoying and remembering for life.

Moon land on the Lamayuru hills on Kargil Leh national highway is a wonder on earth. These moon lands are situated on the mountains at Lamayuru village which resemble moon’s surface.

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The original Aryan race existed on the banks of Indus river known as Indus valley civilization. This race is believed to still exist in two distinct villages Dah and Hanu in Leh. They have maintained their distinct culture, character, and traditions. They don’t mix with other cultures of Ladakh and have a separate distinct identity. Their appearance is different from the Buddhist/Mongolian race. They have long face and long nose and they support a unique cap fitted with flowers.

During the summers there are very nice local vegetables available in Ladakh such as Turnip, local Reddish, Cauliflower, Peas, Knoll, Broccoli, and Spinach. Generally, ladies sell these fresh vegetables in the market on the footpaths. Turnip and peas of Ladakh are very famous.

The hot springs in this sub-zero zone at Chumathang village in Leh district is a wonder in the area.

Ladakh is also famous for the best Apricots which grow in plenty in the entire region. Leh barries is another wild fruit known for its rich contents of vitamin C.

Chiru

Ladakh is known the world over for the production of famous Pashmina, as well as ShahToosh. Shahtoosh is obtained from a Tibetan Antelope(Chiru), which is now banned because of the danger of extinction of this Antelope. These Shahtoosh shawls made by master craftsmen are priced between Rs 3 to 4 lakhs per piece.

Watching the Sky at night during a full moon night as well as dark moonless night is worth experiencing. During a moonless night, you can see the brightly shining stars, bigger in size than usual in the plains. The milky way which has disappeared from the scene due to a lot of pollution and smoke in the plains is very clearly visible from Leh area. Nights are colder, silent, and free from any disturbances. With sufficient warm clothes or sleeping bag, you lay during a night on the ground in a vast field away from the village or a town and experience the pleasure and tranquillity of silence. Only you and The God and no one else in this world to disturb you. You cant have such an opportunity to really enjoy nature like this anywhere except in Ladakh. During a moonlit night, you feel as if you are really in the heavens. The size of the full moon is much bigger at this altitude and it shines more brightly. You can read a book in the moonlight. The mountains changing colors with the change in the position of the sun during day and moon during the night present a unique beauty of these barren heights.

A tour of  Ladakh is not complete without a visit to Suru and Zanskar valleys which provide an opportunity to experience adventure tourism and white water rafting in addition to giving a very exhilarating feeling and experience worth enjoying.

A land of Lamas, Spirituality and peace is a real heaven on earth.

JAMMU AND KASHMIR- A HEAVEN ON EARTH. Part 2

Jammu and Kashmir as a State comprise of Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh regions. In part one of the blog, a humble effort was made to describe the incredible beauty of the culture, people, and places of Kashmir region. In this blog, an effort is being made to showcase Jammu region of this beautiful state which is also known as a jewel in the crown of India. Jammu is also the winter capital of the state. It is believed to have been founded in the 14th century BC by Raja Jambu Lochan who saw a lion and a goat drinking water side by side on the bank of River Tawi. Inspired by the coexistence and tolerance between two arch rivals; lion and Goat, standing side by side, the king decided to build a city at this place on the bank’s of river Tawi also known as Surya Putri (The daughter of Sun).

Jammu region is the land of Dogras which consist of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians. A sizable population consists of nomad Gujjars and Bakerwals who keep on migrating from place to place in search of pastures in order to feed their cattle comprising of Sheep, Goat, Buffaloes, and Horses. Dogras; the people of Jammu are very hard working, simple but very brave, and a peace-loving people. All communities have been living in peace and freely practicing their faith through the centuries. Dogras like their Kashmiri brothers are highly religious. As in Kashmir, you can see a lot of temples, mosques, gurudwaras, churches and other religious places, as well, in every part of the cities as well as in towns and villages in this region. Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and Christians join each other in their inter-community celebrations, be it Eid, Diwali, Gurpurab or Christmas. This love amongst the different communities, as well as their peaceful coexistence, is a unique attribute of this Land.

Amazing  Places to visit in Jammu:-   

Jammu city is divided into two parts, Old Jammu and New Jammu. Jammu is also known as the city of temples. Raghunath temple, Ranbireshwar temple,  Bawe Wali  Mata temple, and Peer Kho Cave temple are the main attractions in addition to the many small temples spread across the city. There are Mosques, Dargahs, Gurudwaras, and Churches all over the city. Dargah Baba Budan Shah near Jammu airport and Dargah Baba Roshan Shah Vali also known as Dargah Nau gaj (Means nine yards) as he is believed to be very long in height situated in the center of the old city are revered by Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and people from all faiths alike.

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The old city has many heritage buildings such as Mubarak Mandi, Amar Mahal, and Dogra Art Museum, Bahu Fort, Raghunath temple, and Gandhi memorial Science college, formerly known as  Prince of Wales college are worth seeing.

shiv-khoriThe places of religious tourism include a pilgrimage to the Holy Cave of Mata Vaishno Ji near Katra town in the Trikuta hills, Shiv Khori temple in District Reasi of Jammu, Sudh Mahadev temple near Chenani and Kirmichi temple in Udhampur District.

 

budha-amarnath-jiBudha Amarnath Ji temple in Mandi, and Gurudwara Nangali Sahab in the picturesque hill on the bank of Drungali Nallah in Poonch district and a beautiful Gurudwara on a hillock at Akhnoor on the banks of river Chenab add to the spiritual and serene atmosphere in the area.

Chichi Mata, Purmandal and Sidh Swankha in the district Samba. Sukrala Mata and Jasrota Mata temple and Jasrota fort in Kathua District.

Pilgrimage to Mani Mahesh, Machail Mata, Vasuki nag temple and Kailash Kund in the lush green meadows of Bhadarwah also known as Mini Kashmir. Dargah Baba Ghulam Shah Badsha in the beautiful hills of Thanna Mandi in Rajouri district.

Heritage buildings of tourist interest around the region include old temples, forts, and sarais (inns) built by the rulers of the state as well as by the Great Mughals all along the old Mughal road.

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Akhnoor-fort

The list of the old forts includes Akhnoor fort, Ramnagar Fort, Sheesh Mahal Ramnagar, Bhimgarh Fort, Poonch Fort, Basohli Fort, Dharnider Fort, and many others. The entire old Mogul road and the old route from Jammu to Katra Vaishno Devi Ji are dotted with sarais (resting places) which are now in ruins excepting few such as  Chingus fort and Chingus Sarai near Rajouri on old Mughal road.

Chingus is a Persian word meaning intestines. Chingus Sarai was used by the Mughals as a transit camp during their annual journey to Kashmir. The great Mughal Emperor Jahangir died en- route from Kashmir, and the wise queen, in order to protect the dead body from decaying, got the intestines and other belly parts removed and buried at the Chingus fort. Jahangir has two graves, one at Chingus where his intestines were buried and the other in Lahore where his body was laid to rest.

Suchetgarh-WagahBorder tourism includes a visit to historic Suchetgarh post which served as an octroi post in the pre-partition era. It is situated in R S Pura area on Jammu Sialkot road and rail link; though road link still exists but rail line has been abandoned after the partition of the country in 1947. Sialkot in Pakistan is only 11 Km from this post. Like Wagah post in Punjab, the road to Pakistan is blocked by the gates both by India and Pakistan.The gates are opened for visits by the teams of UNO or for the flag meetings of sector commanders of India and Pakistan. There is a huge Peepal tree on the zero line, half of which in India and half in Pakistan. A raised platform around this tree is maintained by both the countries on their respective sides. Tourists are allowed to go up to this point on Indian side with the special arrangements with the Border Security Force officers manning this post. While way back one can visit the world famous Gharana Wetlands a home for the migratory birds. This R S Pura area is known for world famous Basmati rice with a unique aroma.

The other border point of tourist intert is Chamalyal border post in Ramgarh sector. This too is very close to the international border with Pakistan. Chamalyal is a shrine of a Hindu Sufi saint Baba Daleep Singh Manhas. The earth and water of the well at this place are called shakkar and sharbat and are known for their medicinal properties to cure all types of skin diseases. Thousands of devotees visit this place throughout the year from all over the country as well as abroad and get cured of the skin diseases.

baba-chamliyal-melaAn annual fair is held on the last Thursday of June every year. People in large number from India as well as from Pakistan participate and share earth and water (Shakkar and Sharbat) from this place.  During first few years when the annual fair started  devotees from  Pakistan were also allowed to cross the international border and participate in the annual fair, but the practice was abandoned after some time for security reasons and now the people from Pakistan celebrate the occasion within their territory and now only  few Army officers with their team are allowed to come for paying obeisance on behalf of the devotees from Pakistan.They offer Chadder as a mark of respect on the grave of the Sufi saint on behalf of people of Pakistan. Earth and water of this shrine (Shakkar and Sharbat) are allowed to be carried as much as required across the border for distribution amongst the devotees. This Shrine is a unique symbol of Hindu Muslim brotherhood.

Other places of tourists interests include Patnitop which is located on the hilltop surrounded by the thick green cover of Cedar trees. This place is a fine health resort with the pollution free pleasant atmosphere and is visited by a good number of local as well as foreign tourists especially the pilgrims of Mata Vaishno Devi Ji. vaishno-deviIt is just 112 Km from  Jammu and 85 Km from Katra, the base camp for Mata Vaishno Devi shrine. Kud and Batote, two beautiful towns are 5 Km each on the western and northern side of this beautiful spot on Jammu Srinagar national highway. Both these small towns too are health resorts. During winters Patnitop receives good snowfall and is visited by more tourists than summers.

patnitop.jpgFrom Patnitop one can go to enjoy the beauty of the picturesque Sanasar just 7 Km down the hill and on the way can have a view of Natha Top. Chenani and Mantalai are other beautiful places worth visiting nearby Patnitop. As already said there is hardly any place in Jammu and Kashmir which is not worth seeing. The scenic beauty, green meadows, and natural landscapes in Bhadarwah and Kishtwarh area will never fade from your memory once you personally see these places. Bhadarwah is connected to Chamba in Himachal Pradesh by a 59 Km road, This tourist circuit gives an experience of life, thrill, and adventure.

basohli-paintingBasohli paintings of the 17th and 18th century are a unique style of painting fusing Hindu mythology, Mughal miniature techniques, and folk art of local hills. Basohli is a small hill town in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir. It is also known for the weaving of pashmina shawls. Beautiful and greatly revered Chamunda Mata, Sheetla Mata, and Basohli temples are places worth visiting. A cold and cozy place nearby worth seeing is Banni.

Mansar Lake and Surinsar lake in District samba, Katoriasar lake in the Pirpanchal range, and Siar Baba waterfalls in Reasi district are worth visiting.

The greenery of the vast meadows along Mughal road to Kashmir with herds of sheep grazing and moving majestically at the whistles of the shepherds is an example of beautiful bondage between the humans and animals. Noori Chhamb near Chandimarh village on Mughal road is a symbol of love between Great Mughal King Jahangir and Queen Noor Jahan. Chhamb in local language means a big waterfall. During their sojourn to and from Kashmir, Noor Jahan used to enjoy a bath under this waterfall and the king used to see her image in a mirror fixed on a rock at some distance away without disturbing the queen. 

It is very difficult to describe the details and beauty of all the places in this heaven on earth in a short blog. Come and see with your own eyes, as the beauty is indescribable…………..( to be continued as part 3 )