Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh

Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh

Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh is a regular contributor of Imphal Times. Presently, he is teaching Mathematics at JCRE Global College. Jugeshwor can be reached at: [email protected] Or WhatsApp’s No: 9612891339.

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Every day, we have more people on planet Earth- and less topsoil, water and land with which to grow food, which leaves us with the question: how will we sustainably feed future generation of humans? Modern industrialized agriculture produces a lot of foods, but it’s also destroying the planet with its overreliance on pesticides and other agrochemicals, mechanization and mono-cropping, it’s depleting our topsoil and aquifers, polluting our water and air and destabilizing our climate. And climate change could make it harder to grow food in the years ahead, with drought, floods and extreme weather threatening food security for billions of people around the globe. So, are there options emerging that address this downside and might set up our food system for a more sustainable future? Yes, there are. Proponents of regenerative agriculture, permaculture and other emerging sustainable food production methods points out that we can sequester carbon in the soil, create more nutrients-dense food, reduce or eliminate reliance on agrochemicals and create more nutrient-dense resilient and sustainable food systems. These and other low-tech solutions work with the laws of nature and seek to enhance rather than exploit natural living systems. We know that plant require sunlight, oxygen, water and nutrients to grow. What about soil? Well, soil provides a hospitable place for a plant to anchor its roots and serves as a source of water and nutrient needed for its growth. But if these two purposes are met by other means plants would not need soil. By offering higher yield and using fewer resources, hydroponics technology may be able to mitigate impending food shortages from climate related events such as flooding, drought and high temperatures, scientists say. But how? Then, what is hydroponic farming?
Hydroponics is a type of horticulture and a sub-set of horticulture, which is a method of growing plants usually crops without soil by using mineral nutrients solutions in an aqueous solvent. Terrestrial plants may be grown with only their roots exposed to the nutrient liquids or in addition, the roots may be physically supported by an inert medium such as perlite, gravel or other substrate. Despite inert media, roots can cause changes of rhizosphere pH and root exudates can affect rhizosphere biology. The nutrients used in hydroponic system can come from many different sources, including (but not limited) fish excrement, duck manure, purchased chemicals fertilizers or artificial nutrient solutions. Plants commonly grown hydroponically on inert media includes tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, strawberries, lettuces, and marijuana and model plants like Arabidopsis thaliana. Hydroponics offers many advantages, one of them being a decrease in water usage for agriculture. To grow 1killogram of tomatoes, using intensive farming methods, require 400 liters but using hydroponic it require only 70 liters of water and 20 liters in aero-ponics. Since it takes much less water to grow, it could be possible in the future for providers in harsh environments with little accessible water to grow their own food.
Many hydroponic gardens are sprouting across the world where crops and vegetables are produced in large quantities. The method is also catching up in urban areas in India, where households meet some of their vegetable needs this way. Soilless cultivation of vegetables was known to human kind since the ancient times. However, the interest in the technology was renewed in the 19th and 20th centuries when scientists such as Julius Sachs and W.E Gerickstudied the method extensively. Among other inventions, scientists also optimized the nutrient solution that are added to water for hydroponic farming.They include macronutrient (needed in large amounts) such as carbon, phosphorus, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, sulphur, potassium, magnesium and calcium as well as chlorine. The United Nations has estimated that the global human population will reach nearly 10 billion by 2050. In 2019, about 124 million people were estimated to have faced acute food shortages from climate related events such as flooding, irregular rains, draught and high temperatures. With the rise in population and farmers struggling to cope with demand, there is a global push for sustainable fanning. As hydroponic can help grow food in controlled environment using less resources and offering healthier yields, it is seen as a sustainable solution to food security.
Advantages of hydroponic farming are: faster growth; less space consumption; no need for soil; climate control; productive use of nutrients; improves growth rate; water saving; production in any season is possible; less use of insecticides. Disadvantages of hydroponic farming are: require time and responsibility; technical knowledge and experience; risk of system failure; high cost in installation; disease spread; problems in water and electricity cut-off. Given the need for more sustainable agriculture, there has been a rise in eco-friendly start-up companies around the world that are using hydroponic technology to produce crops on large scale with a technique known as “ vertical farming”. Vertical farms are buildings filled with countless levels of hydroponic systems, growing different crops in an indoor, controlled temperatures environment. The largest vertical farm is being built in Dubai, covering 130,000 sq. ft. of land, aiming to produce 6,000 pounds of food per day, using 1/2500th, the amount of water as an equivalent soil operation. For city that imports 85% of their food, this will greatly revolutionize the way the city eats. Associated Press estimates that food produced by hydroponic technology in 2019 is worth 32 billion USD and this is projected to grow at a rate of 5% per year until 2025. While hydroponic technology may never replace conventional farming, it is breaking the paradigm of food production; we may see new generation of modern farms building green walls inside their houses or community centers to feed families fresh produce crops all year round.
In Manipur too hydroponic farming with focus on sustainability slowly gaining ground. One, Neeraj Yumnam, of Kongpal Kshetri Leikai, Porompat in Imphal East District, has successfully transformed the unused space of his rooftop into a thriving environment for exotic vegetables. Interestingly, the rows of green leafy vegetables that now spread across 1000sq.ft on his rooftop are not grown in soil but in water. The product of his farm is being sold online through social media and in a few restaurants.However as per report from District Agriculture Officer (ATMA), Imphal West, though hydroponic has prospect, it is not yet popularize in the state of Manipur and no initiative is being taken up by the Government so far. But if substantial numbers of farmers who are serious and interested in this farming practice, there can be provision for organizing training and workshops according to the needs of farmers, the A.O further said.In fact this is an urgent need that Govt. of Manipur to initiate.

Wednesday, 07 April 2021 17:39

Challenges of Nurses in India

Nurses have been described as “Sheet –Anchor” in the health care system that aims to provide primary healthcare to all. Nursing is a distinctive profession which is the cusp of the Arts and Science. Nurses and midwives constitute nearly half the health workforce population around the world. In India nurses make two-third of health workforce. Nurses despite being critical link between healthcare sector and patients they are exploited, treated with lack of respect and dignity at workplace. There is a state of paradox in health care industry that on one end there is great demand for health professionals while on the other end it is evident that the nurses are not paid well. Currently in India the Physician- Nurses ratio is not satisfactory. The country needs 2.4 million nurses to meet the growing demands as reported by HLEG (High Level Expert Group). Nursing binds human society with a bond of care and affection. Nursing is a calling to care, which offers an oasis of poignant stories and pool of challenges. The scope of nursing practices has expanded and extended to different settings other than hospitals only. Nurses deal with the most precious thing in this world—the human life. Nurses are often the lynchpin component across a wide continuum of care. A nurse’s professional skills and training contribute significantly to successful patient outcomes in a variety of care settings- from acute and tertiary care to prevention and wellness programs. Their smiling face and compassionate touch and care provide great satisfaction to the patient. Despite urbanization and globalization, in India the health care system in the country continues to face formidable challenges. The healthcare system has become increasingly detached from the curative aspect and more focusing on the satisfaction of material needs and enlarging the profit-earning aspects. This has led to unaffordability of curative care to many common people due to present framework of the health care system in the country. Consequently, the health care system is being plagued with various problems. The solution is to delve deeper into the roots of the problems and explore possible solutions to curb them.
Nurses play an integral role in the health care industry, providing care to the patients and carrying out leadership roles in hospitals, health system and other organizations. Although nursing profession can be rewarding but it is equally challenging and it entails a huge level of dedication and commitment. Nurses need to be focused on not only the patient needs but also on management of the system of care. This often creates unfortunate hassles irrespective of how hard the nurses’ work towards patient care.This entails a lot of managerial skills. Reduced workforce and lack of quality care leads to overburdened workforce which further leads to higher morbidity and mortality. It is of paramount importance that all people everywhere should have access to a skilled motivated and supportive nursing care within a robust healthcare system. The importance of nurses in healthcare should be underlined for attempting to create a better quality care for all. However there are certain challenges that nurse in the present healthcare system face. These challenges arise due to issue at the organizational, state and national levels. It is of utmost importance to first recognize and understand each and every possible challenges faced by nurses in order to deal with them efficiently—not just recognize and understand them but also find solution to mitigate them.
In India, healthcare system is undergoing a radical change and there are unmet health targets. This is due to the change in demographic advancement in medical technology, profit-earning mentality, immigration, task shifting, education-service gap and economic recession, to list a few. Nurses are subservient to medical fraternity eventhough long back it has been developed as profession (WHO). Nurses facilitate cooperation from other healthcare providers, e.g doctors. Paramedical staff and other ancillary staff. There are several daunting challenges faced by nurses at workplace which leave them less efficient in rendering quality care to patients, thereby hoisting an unhealthy reputation to that particular healthcare setting. Nevertheless these challenges are arguably the primary motivators for nurses to leave their profession, fewer students opting for nursing profession thereby contributing to staff shortage. They move to other countries as remuneration and working conditions and respect is better there. Challenges faced by nurses at workplace are: workplace mental violence; shortage of staff; workplace health hazards; long working hours; lack of synchronicity; lack of recognition; non-nursing roles etc. All the listed challenges are somehow interlinked and independent. It is necessary for us to look deep within these problems and to reach the core of these challenges in order to find solution for the same. Some of the possible tips are: positive practice environment; availability and adequacy of sample of equipment’s; positive team work; prepare and well planned policy for recruitment; closing education –service gap; work balance; evidence based practice etc. Patients and public have the right to the highest performance from the health care professionals and this can be achieved in a workplace that enables and sustains a motivated and well-prepared workforce. Catering to the needs of nurses and combating their challenges can make nurses empowered, encouraged and affirmed to continue doing what they do best without any barriers.

Friday, 02 April 2021 17:12

Impacts of Ground Water Depletion

Ground water is the water found under ground in the cracks and spaces in soil, sand and rock. It is stored in and moves slowly through geologic formations of soils, sand and rocks called aquifers. It is one of the Nation’s most important natural resources. It plays a major role in ensuring livelihood security across the world, especially in economies. Ground water contains mineral ions which slowly dissolved from soil particles, sediments and rocks named as dissolved solids. Continuous discharge of industrial effluents, domestic sewage, use of fertilizers and pesticides, waste dump and over exploitation of the resources have badly impact on ground water sustainability. Though over utilization of ground water is the key factor for ground water depletion but there are other factors which have negative impacts on ground water sustainability. The most important impact on ground water depletion is loss of base flow; other impact being severe crisis of safe drinking water and irrigated water.
Ground water is one of the extremely valuable renewable resources. Now a days pollution of ground water resources is a matter of serious concern. Ground water quality comprises the physical, chemical and biological qualities of water. Temperature, turbidity, color, taste and odor are the physical quality of water. pH, E.C, N,P,K ,organic carbon etc. represent the chemical quality and total microbiological count etc. stand for biological quality of ground water. Microbial components are also available in ground water. There are different forms where ground water is stored and human can withdrawal from there namely aquifers, wells etc. Manmade activities play a key role for depletion of natural composition of ground water through disposal or dissemination of toxic chemicals and microbial matter at the land surface and into soils, or through waste water. In India most of the population is dependent on groundwater as the only source of much clean drinking water supply than surface water. Sustainable ground water management is a burning challenge for the 21st century because it ensured livelihood security across the world. Agriculture dependent countries like India are most relied on ground water. Although ground water is mentioned as renewable resource but it does not recycle rapidly. The ground water recycling depends on aquifers depth, type, location and connectivity etc. Generally the average time of renewal of ground water is 1,400 years as per World water Balance, 1978. Significantly renewal rate of shallow ground water are about 15 times less than deep ground water (Jones-1997). Of all the Earth’s water, fresh water is very limited (3%) compare to saline water (97%). Of all the limited and valuable fresh water, a huge amount of water (68, 7%) is permanently stored in icecap and glaciers and other huge amount of fresh water is stored as ground water. Approximately out of 37 million cubic kilometers of total fresh water about 8 million cubic kilometers of fresh water is stored as ground water. So ground water is a key source of fresh water.
Fresh water demand rise day by day, especially for irrigation purpose. The percentage of total irrigation water increased 23% in 1950 to 42% in 2000. Water shortage increased dramatically and it is projected that around 3 billion people will be water stressed by 2025. Increasing demand of water and decreasing availability of water create a significant pressure on groundwater and this ultimately depleted the ground water quality. At present, approximately 61% of total irrigation water has come from ground water. Expansion of agricultural field and decreasing pattern of usage of surface water, accelerates the over exploitation of ground water. Though over utilization of ground wateris the key factor for ground water depletion but there are also other important factors those have negative impact on ground water sustainability. Contamination or presumption contamination also has adverse impact on ground water. Agricultural chemicals like N, P, K, pesticides etc. percolate through soil and contaminate the ground water. Naturally occurring constituents like arsenic fluoride, chloride etc. contaminate the ground water and made the water unsafe.
The most important impact of groundwater depletion is loss of base flow. If the base flow is reduced then there are different crucial additional impacts take place. These are: increased magnitude and frequency of floods; loss of wetland and riparian vegetation; changes in channel morphology; accelerates erosion; increased frequency of drought and loss of biodiversity. Other impacts of ground water depletion are severe crisis of safe drinking water and irrigated water. Ground water, as a valuable resource, we should meet its sustainability for our basic needs. Firstly, we should not exploit in an unsustainable manner. Ground water use policy should be sustainable and depends on basin’s recharge capacity. We should follow the ground water basin mass balance equation , where P= precipitation, E + Evaporation, T= Evapotranspiration, Q= Surface runoff ,G= ground water runoff, D= Deep percolation. In rural areas where ground water is the main source for drinking, implementation of well-head protection is necessity and secondly must control the waste water to percolating through soil and disposing of waste water to neighboring septic system. Tapping primary deep percolation and secondary shallow percolation are important measures for maintaining ground water sustainability. Baseline and time dependent hydrological studies are necessary to monitor the ground water. Conjunctive use of surface water and ground water, desalination, recycling and waste water reuse, water harvesting , increase recharge to the ground water system are also an effective measure to promote sustainable ground water supply. Protection of the water resource from depletion is not possible unless the users agree to cooperate and manage the resource themselves in a sustainable manner. More over state also needs to play a key role of facilitating and fostering community action for sustainable management. Lastly awareness should be raised towards ground water sustainability.

Wednesday, 24 March 2021 17:05

Privatization of Nationalized Banks

Banks play a very important role and are one of the key driving forces in our country. Most of us are already accustomed to their basic functions of receiving deposits and providing loans to people. But over the years banks in India evolved to perform functions like providing lockers, insurance, mutual funds, transferring funds and also play a key role for digital payments and transfers. They also aid the growth of the country by absorbing the excess capital from the economy and redirecting its use towards production and growth. However, every year we see multiple banks getting scammed, failing and eventually RBI and government intervening for its rescue. These instances have happened ways too many times to recall all of them. Many economists have suggested the government after viewing public banks with unease to take action and now the government is in talks to privatizebanking sector. According to a report in the Economic Times, government’s think tank, Niti Aayog has kept six public sector banks (PSBs) that were part of the last round of consolidation and State Bank of India out of privatization plan. The other five PSBs are Punjab National Bank, Union of Bank, Canara Bank, Indian Bank, and Bank of Baroda. Banking is one of the strategic sectors under the new framework put up by the government. Under the policy, the government would have limited number of state-owned entities in strategic sectors.
Privatization of nationalized banks being touted as a one-step solution to the evils of NPAs, bad loans and other inefficiencies in the banking sector. However this debate is typically one-sided and does not do justice to this complex issue. A good solution to any problem requires first and foremost that the problem is thoroughly analyzed and the root causes are identified. But the shrill voices that demand privatization of nationalized banks do not explain what the root causes of the current round of banking sector problems are. They also do not even attempt to explain how privatization would put an end to those problems. Many of these voices also recommend that the Chairperson of nationalized bank should be someone picked from the private sector. It is claimed that this too would be able to resolve the problems that nationalized bank face. However in the case of Air India, a similar move (of bringing someone from the private sector to head the airlines) has not yielded desired result and has not succeeded in turning around the airlines and making it profitable. It is generally claimed that Air India suffers from a multitude of problems- as a government owned entity. It is required to operate many unprofitable flights in order to meet the government’s social obligations: there is political interference in its functioning; workers unions exploit the airlines; many workers especially at lower levels are grossly overpaid and are far less productive than their private sector counterparts. Now it is easy to see that these problems are systemic issues and merely bringing in one person at the top cannot resolve these issues. Even if the airline is privatized, it may still be subjected to political interference and workers unions’ related issues. Similarly, in the case of nationalized banks, there is a multitude issues that these bank face. First they are required to operate many unprofitable branches in rural and semi-urban areas in order to meet the government’s target of making banking more accessible to people. Then, they have to content with priority sector lending regulations and welfare oriented lending regulations. In fact some of the largest bad loans come from priority sector lending. Workers unions and overpaid junior level staff (especially when compared to private sector) are a reality for the nationalized banks as well. These are systemic issues and need long-term solutions. A knee-jerk reactionary privatization is not going to resolve these problems. Another point that private sector banks too suffer from many problems. The central Bank, RBI has often upbraided many private sector banks for not following norms properly. On many occasions even fines and penalties have been imposed on these banks. In fact nationalized banks have a far better track record than private sector banks in this regards. Thus it would be presumptuous to say that merely privatizing nationalized banks will make them more efficient and profitable. What is needed is a more thoughtful approach. First and foremost, private sector banks should be given the freedom to hire and fire workers, especially at lower levels. Individual banks should be given the freedom to fix salaries at market rates rather than follow universal government mandated rates. Secondly, priority sector lending and welfare based lending should be handled by specialized and dedicated institutions rather than by commercial banks. These are the changes that the Indian banking sector and economy in general desperately need.
All India Nationalized Banks Officers Federation (AINBOF) has opposed privatization of Public Sector Banks as it will lead to increase in service charges and will take banking beyond the reach of common man. In a statement, AINBOF said, privatization will primarily impact the general public onlyas the social objective will be lost in the name of profitability. Service charge will be increased and customers who are able to bear those charges only will be serviced. This will take banking beyond the reach of common man which was the primary objective of nationalization, it said. It said, though the government’s agenda of privatization started way back in 1991 immediately after liberalization, the trade unions were successful in thwarting the ill-conceived moves of successive governments over the past three decades and maintaining the public sector status. Often many private sector banks that came into existence , today only a handful which are promoted by the financial houses like ICICI, UTI,IDBI, HDFC are surviving and many of the private sector entities that commenced their banking operations after 1990 were either closed or merged. Former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan also viewed that privatization alone won’t solve the problems of banking sector and even private lenders are not immune to the problem of bad assets in a slowing economy.

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