Where to Tricity???

Tricity-meaning three cities combined. One such tricity consists of 3 cities namely: Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula. Chandigarh was planned a new city as the capital of Punjab when Lahore was lost to Pakistan.

It was matter of prestige for Jawahar Lal Nehru, the first prime minister of independent India who wanted to assuage the sufferings of the Punjab which befell it due to partition. Everyone is aware of the beautifully planned city.

As the years went by, States of Himachal Pradesh and Haryana were separated from the Punjab. There was a demand by Punjab to hand over the Chandigarh city to it. Haryana also claimed the city. So the city became a object of strife between these states.


Areas which consisted Haryana were not developed like Punjab, the area being dry and hotter in weather and ignored by Governments of Punjab which were dominated by people from western parts. In a sense, Haryana was to begin from the beginning and task seemed to be daunting but has been surmounted successfully. There were disputes regarding sharing of river waters.

Moreover, they did not have any city for being selected as the capital. Capital city actually should be in the centre of the state equally approachable. After division even Chandigarh became on the border of two states away from majority areas of the Punjab.

Official Logo of the city

It was then decided to make Chandigarh a Union territory administered by Central government in addition to being the capital for Punjab as well as Haryana. The fact was nobody in the political and administrative circles wanted to be away from the city beautiful.

Cricket Stadium in Mohali

To establish more offices both Punjab and Haryana developed Mohali and Panchkula respectively which are just the extensions of Chandigarh in design and pattern.

With the development of these cities, population exploded because in the beginning the rates of properties were low as compared to Chandigarh. The Chandigarh design prohibits the city to grow vertically. So Mohali and Panchkula became the new places for building activity. The villages in the periphery of these cities also becomes crowded due to lower rentals as compared to tricity.

Rose Garden

For workforce people migrated from Eastern UP and Bihar. They slowly settled here and engaged in any type of work be it agriculture or building or vegetable vendors or security guards and rickshaws drivers and what not. Shanties came up like Mumbai.

The area is now populated with people all over from Haryana , Punjab, and Himachal Pradesh. Vehicles have exploded in numbers. Everyone seems to becomes rich overnight. There is floating population.

So everyday, the newspapers are full of stories of crime, rapes, theft, killings, accidents due to rash driving under the influence of alcohol. The original people who had the land become super rich overnight by selling portions of the land. They indulge in spending a on boozing, expensive cars and other activities.

Famous Sukhna Lake

Prices of the property have skyrocketed and cases of malpractices in acquiring the properties by government agencies abound.

The tricity is in highly dynamical state and it seems that it shall not stabilise easily. Time does not seem to near when residents shall begin to consider the city their own and care for it. We who belong to those place by birth and times when there was just Chandigarh and had agriculture land find it hard to believe the change.

Some Milestones in Food Technology

Here are some milestones in food technology

18000 B.C.

Pottery Vessels

Invention of pottery vessels. The earliest vessels were probably used just for cooking before the development of impermeable ceramics made them suitable for long-term storage. (“Dishwasher safe” is, however, still a work in progress.)

7500 B.C.

Agricultural Revolution

The beginning of the agricultural revolution. Raising crops allowed people to shift away from a migratory existence. Due to this there was time available for all sorts of other ideas to occur to us, setting the stage for civilizations to develop.

6000 B.C.


The regular flooding of the Nile river started the process of artificial irrigation. Basin irrigation, in which water channels were allowed to flood but prevented from draining began.

2500 B.C.


The Sumerians create the first pesticide, in the form of sulfur, which was dusted on crops. (No historical evidence is available on whether this was followed by a demand for appropriate cuneiform-tablet labeling.)

1500 B.C.


The development of aquaculture in China focused on carp, leading to the accidental creation of the goldfish and the later emergence of the concomitant toilet-side funeral service.

475 A.D

The horse collar

After its invention in China, the introduction of the horse collar to Europe about 400 years later led to the horse becoming the go-to source of animal labor, replacing oxen as plow animals and leading to higher food production levels.

900 -1300 A.D.

Crop rotation

Sustainable agriculture took a huge leap forward with the introduction of three-field crop rotation, resulting in the one fact about medieval farming that modern school children are likely to retain into adulthood.

1799 A.D.

Steam-powered farm machines

The slow industrialization of agriculture started with the introduction of fixed steam-powered machinery for threshing wheat. Making this machinery more and more portable would lead to the first farm tractors.

1810 A.D.


Glass bottles were initially used for canning, but it was the Philippe de Girard’s invention of the tin can that really put this food technology on the map. The invention is often attributed to de Girard’s French friend Peter Durand, who secured the English patent on de Girard’s behalf, as France and England were inconveniently at war at the time.)

1836 A.D.

Gas stoves

The first gas stove factory opens. The stoves gave chefs a much greater degree of temperature control in cooking but would ultimately lead to the deep charcoal-versus-propane barbeque schism.

1849 A.D.

Artificial flavors

The advent of organic chemistry opened the door to artificial flavors, although not without some misfires, such as the promotion of nitrobenzene, once considered usable as a replacement for bitter almonds in confectionary with “perfect safety.” Alas, it’s now known to be a toxin capable of causing kidney, liver, and brain damage.

1851 A.D.


Artificial refrigeration made it possible to warehouse food for long periods of time and transport it over previously impossible distances, such as with the SS Dunedin, the first refrigerated cargo ship to be commercially successful. In 1882 it carried meat from New Zealand to London.

1855 A.D.

Can opener

Forty-five years after the invention of the tin can, the other shoe drops with the invention of the can opener.

1864 A.D.


The introduction of pasteurization was a huge leap forward for food safety, if something of a sad moment for cheese gourmets.

1879 A.D.

Artificial sweeteners

Saccharin, the world’s first artificial sweetener, is discovered by accident when chemist Constantin Fahlberg forgets his parents’ advice and doesn’t wash his hands properly before eating.

1889 A.D.

Instant coffee

Recent research shows that instant coffee, the bane and blessing of modern office life, was first created by David Strang in New Zealand—not, as previously believed, in 1901 by Satori Kato in Chicago.

And it goes on

Observing the Nature

How often do we leisurely watch the nature around us? General answer will be not often. Do we sit out in the evening and watch the sun going down, its glow becoming golden, and shadows lengthening and blinking through the chinks in the trees? Do we watch the groups of birds flying towards their homes after spending their day in a far off place where the food is available to forage?

Why, in the first place, they don’t make their resting places near the food. May be the supply is not available at one place throughout the year and their resting places are at optimum distance from the foraging places. Why do they always fly in the groups? Is not their pressure or competition for food? Is the father of Evolution theory listening?

After reeling under the sweltering heat for many days, if there is rain, it is like a fresh breath of life. The parched land is drenched with water pushing out the air filled with earth’s aromas into the atmosphere and filling our nostrils with ecstasy. The accompanying wind rushes into the branches which sway from side to side at the top such as in the mighty silver oak trees.

One wonders how the topmost leaves are receiving their requirement of water and nutrients. In optimistic hope of supply from the soil, additionally they must be conserving the water by reducing their stomata counts, As they are in the top, they have the benefit of plenty of sunlight. I also wonder if the leaves at the top are in any sort of communication with those at the lower branches.

Rain patters on the tins of roofs. Water begins to flow over the soil surface seeking places which are at lower level to become pooled there. The dust on the leaves which was choking the plants breath is washed up and translucency returns. Sometimes after the rain, sun comes out and everything shines resplendently. The weather becomes bearable.

What is Happening?

When someone asked the humorist writer Mark Twain which investment shall bring in the maximum profit, he had said “Buy land, they’re not making it anymore”. As always how true he was. The demand for land is rising and rising relentlessly. Our health quotient is improved day by day resulting in increased life expectancy. More people, more wealth they generate and with more wealth, everybody wants to live a life of comfort. Three basic needs: house, food and clothing are putting extreme pressure on our planet. Even though Sun is helping us in the synthesis of food, the area under agriculture is diminishing. As the demand is ever increasing, technologies are being developed to increase the yield of the crops. This invariably introduces bactericides and fertilizers which go towards harming our health in the long run. But modern humans have means to get treated, thus lending a big hand in the proliferation of medicines. Thus vicious cycles are being created every moment.

Where is the rural land going? The need to get the house to live in is the answer. We are so short of the land that we have begun to expand our living space vertically. We are thus loosing our touch with the soil from which we are constituted. We try to create replica of the gardens in our homes in the form of potted plants. The urban monster is like an octopus which is spreading its tentacles and grabbing the rural land ruthlessly. It is swelling day by day. The farmers are forced to sell their lands to make way for housing societies. The idioms like “How green was my valley” are getting redefined.

The prices of the land are increasing in an unthinkable manner and still there are buyers. There are financial institutions to make it possible and lure the people. In these circumstances, whole life of person goes into paying debts which are multiplied through installments and interest many times over.

In the featureless plains of Punjab, the land was as flat as drawing board. Not an inch of land is left which is not under the plough. The pressure on the land has been so heavy that its natural fertility has been reduced to almost nil. Now it has become simply a container in which unless you do not add fertilizers, water and other nutrients, you will not get anything. The water level beneath has gone down drastically. Whereas previously it was about 25-40 meters, now it has touched 100 meters. The agriculture has thus become an costly venture.

In the older times, in Punjab the girls when married generally never claimed their share in the parental land and it will go to the brothers after the father is gone. These are things of past now. With the land fetching exorbitant prices, there have been cases of husband sending the woman to go to her parents and ask  for her share. Even if she does not want, she is forced to. Some of the son-in-laws are threatening the parents of girls to keep the girls back or give her her share. There have been violent scenes at many houses. I know a family in which the woman had done the work in her in-laws place like an bullock. From morning till night, it has been all work , work and work. In addition, she had reared 5 children. The man had been many extra marital affairs which everyone knows. Despite all this, she had been happy and content. And now when her brothers sold their land, her husband sent her to get her share or otherwise don’t come back to his house. Such stories abound now.

Slow Food Movement and Navdanya

The world, especially in the cities, is becoming a busy place. The system of joint families exist only now largely in the villages. As more and more people are becoming educated, they migrate towards the cities where their qualification can earn them a good living. As the cities are becoming overcrowded, the cost of living increases and ultimately migrants are not in much better condition than they were at the native places.

The life has become so much hectic in the cities that the food for which we all are toiling day and night has taken a back seat in the list of preferences of human beings.

The people are always in a rush. You can easily figure out children munching pieces of bread, apple or chocolates on their way to school.

In India, food is linked with pious and religious feelings and is partaken after thanksgiving. Hands and face are washed before taking the food. Members present in the house prefer to sit on the mats on cleaned floor and see to it that they eat together.

All this is changing rapidly due to the fact that more and more members of the family are employed somewhere and their schedules are different. People don’t enjoy their food. Some eat it while walking or doing office work.

Due to this, it  has become a world of fast food. The meals which are available within a few minutes after ordering. These are generally addictive type of foods because they appeal to taste buds. They are very high in fat and other harmful ingredients and contribute a great deal in the problem of obesity.

The concept of fast food also means eating out. Eating out the bad food at a higher cost. Results of all this become apparent when health problems like stress, obesity, blood problem and diabetes occur at an early age.

Many groups of people are making efforts to reverse this pernicious trend. One such movement is Slow Food movement. It was started by Carlo Petrini in 1986 in Italy.

This movement strives to preserve tradition and regional cuisine of a region. It encourages the residents to preserve and grow the local varieties of seeds. The movement has since expanded globally to over 100,000 members in 132 countries. Its goals of sustainable foods and promotion of local small businesses are paralleled by a political agenda directed against globalization of agricultural products.

In India, efforts are on to hark back to good old days and traditions followed in those days. One such movement is Navdanya (nine seeds) movement.

Movement has been started by Dr. Vandana Shiva, in Dehradun. Dr.Shiva has analyzed in depth the green revolution in Punjab which ushered the country into self dependence in foodgrains.

She has concluded that examined in the broader and long time context, it has done more harm to the land of state than the benefits. Results are proving it to be true.

Green revolution crops used single strains of seeds which necessiated the need of using very high quantities of insecticides. They also high amounts of fertilizers and water.

Results are not a happy augury. Water table has gone down. High amount of dangerous contaminants have seeped into the earth and underground water causing high instances of diseases like cancer. Even the vegetables and grains contain high amount of banned insecticides and pesticides.

Ultimate cost the nation is going to pay is very high. It is another matter that whatever our elders sowed has to be eaten by the coming generations.

The biggest culprit in this fiasco is the government which has closed their eyes to the use of dangerous pesticides. The others are agriculture universities because it is these universities which recommend these to the illiterate farmers.

Navdanya movement strives to preserve and multiply the local seed varieties. In fact, it has successfully saved the many varieties from extinction. In nutshell, the strategy is to sow mixed crops. Such crops are less prone to be affected en-masse and in fact grow successfully utilizing the different nutrients from the soil.

The fertilizers are dung manure and pesticides are prepared from the leaves of trees like neem. The movement has revived the organic farming in the region.

Identification of Plants and Trees in My Locality

Innumerable plants grow on the earth. The very diversity is mind boggling. We did not even know the names of plants growing around us. In fact, most of us never bother to even look around. These become just the backdrop of landscape we dwell in. I don’t think that even God, the creator, has given them names. It is us mortals, who in order to make our life easier document the things. We give nomenclature to everything living in the nature. We have classified them into different kingdoms for our convenience and harmony in the views of different individuals.

I always has the curiosity to know the names of plants around us, the plants which give us hope, clean the atmosphere and provide oxygen for us humans to breathe, give beauty to the surroundings. I admit I don’t know the names of most of them.

In this effort, while searching and searching for days, I chanced upon a website about the flowering trees of India. This site is treasure trove of information about the plants and trees. Thanks to this website, I have been identify some of the plants and trees growing in my colony. Here is a start.


It is also called century plant. It is native of Mexico. In India it has different names like Kamal Cactus, Gwarpatha, Kantala. Its scientific name is agave Americana.


Snake Plant

Also known as Mother in law’s tongue plant. Its botanical name is Sansevieria trifasciata. It belongs to Agavaceae (agave family). It originally belongs to Africa and is best suited for potting. It is sturdy plant and requires minimal care.

(snake plant)

Cashew Nut Tree

Cashew nut is a nut every Indian is aware of. It is amongst the famous dry fruits like almonds and other nuts. Following are two pictures of this tree. The nut is used in many sweets as well as in culinary preparations. The tree is known by many names like Kaju in Hindi, Kaju in Marathi. In Goa where it grows in abundance, a wine is made by fermenting the fruit. The wine is called Feni.

It must have been introduced here by Portuguese who brought it from Brazil. They called it Caju.


Fishtail Palm

This tree stands in the ground behind hospital in our colony. It looks very majestic. Those beaded threads hanging in a huge bunch like the beard of an saint.

Common names around India are Fishtail Palm, Jaggery Palm, Toddy Palm, Wine Palm. Its botanical name is Caryota urens. And it belongs to Palm family.

(Fishtail Palm)

When these palms grow to reach a height of about 20 feet, they start producing flowers at the top of the trunk with subsequent flowers produced lower and lower on the trunk. When the lowest flower blooms, the tree dies. Flowers are long plait like bunches hanging down.


These are the trees which bear very beautiful flowers. These flowers hang on the tree branches like garlands. The flowers has a very short life: only one night. By the morning, the branches which were laden with flowers begin to shed the flowers which plop like rain on the surface. Whole ground beneath the trees become a carpet of red color, which nature seems to have rolled out to welcome the passersby.

Common names are Barringtonia, Freshwater Mangrove, Indian Oak, Indian Putat.


Traveler’s Palm

This plant is growing in the lawn in front of our office lawn. Its botanical name is Ravenala madagascariensis and belongs Strelitziaceae (Bird of Paradise) family.

The tree is native of Madagascar. It is not a palm in true sense. Part it looks like Banana and part as a palm.

A lot of rain water collects in the tree frond brackets. Travelers are said to be make use of this water in a forest. That is the reason it got its name.

(Traveler’s Palm)

Kadam Tree

The tree has many names in Indian languages as in Hindi it is called Kadamb. Its botanical name is Neolamarckia cadamba.

Kadam was the favourite tree of Krishna and is held in great esteem in Hindu mythology. A postal stamp was issued by the Indian Postal Department to commemorate this tree


Land Stories 

Land used to be like one’s mother in India as more than 70% people are still dependent on the land for their livelihood. Before the introduction of modern agricultural equipment like tractors, bullocks were used virtually for all agricultural tasks like tilling the land, pulling the cart which the farmer used for bringing the produce and fodder home for cattle. Agriculture was completely manual and commerce was not a factor. A farmer produced only enough for his family needs. Agriculture was dependent on the surface water available through rivers and rains. Thus it was wholly dependent on the natural factors.

Now the story is different. Even small farmers own the tractors which is economically not viable for small pieces of land. But it is a rat race. Many of them take the loans which become difficult to repay. A tractor can do many days work in a few hours. Need for manual labor arises only during the sowing of the crops. Bullocks have been phased out and are facing the same fate as the girls face: they have become unwelcome.

Land is so much precious to the owner that hawks are on the outlook to grab any piece of it by hook or crook. Wars had been fought over the land. Most prominent example is the epic story of Mahabharata in which cause of the biggest battle between cousins was about the possession of land, cattle and women.

But as the cities are expanding at a furious rate, the value of the land is increasing. What the land can do to its owners will be illustrated by three scenarios.

Scenario No.1

State of Haryana was carved out from Punjab. It is a fact that people of Haryana were neglected by Punjab and considered backward, Haryana was separated from Punjab. But city of Chandigarh, which was the capital of Punjab was not given to any one of these states and made a union territory. It was also made the capital of both the states. The reality now is that the capital of both these sites is located nor in the middle but in one corner of both the states.

As Chandigarh could not be expanded more, both Haryana and Punjab decided to construct the extensions of it on their own sides. Haryana thus acquired the agricultural land adjacent to Chandigarh. There were many villages in the area with farmers having small land holdings. All were given a meagre compensation. Overnight they lost what they were dependent on. Being conversant with agriculture only, they faced difficulty to carry on their lives. They migrated here and there and on their lands mushroomed the concrete buildings with their owners being outsiders who could afford to buy them. Panchkula city was thus born.

Scenario No.2

This one is a really interesting and shows how in same country but at different time points, the fortunes can turn for some. District of Mohali in Punjab was carved in such a way that it’s one side touched Panchkula district of Haryana. So some villages which though abutting Panchkula became part of Punjab and their lands were not acquired by government.

These villages are situated near the ghaggar river and land is very poor for manual farming. The reason is that where the land is situated, the river flowed once and thus has left huge amounts of pebbles and sand covered with alluvial. Thus it is full of pebbles and bullocks were unable to till it.  Additionally there were uneven land surfaces which again posed challenges for farming.

Thus the land owners eked out a pathetic life. They lived hand to mouth. But somehow, barring a few they didn’t part off with their land which in any case no other farmer will buy due to poor quality.

But the demon of city expansion and opening of information technology parks and some pharmaceutical companies resulted in the large influx of people from interiors of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and so on resulted in the construction frenzy. There was no scope for expansion of Panchkula. So these adjoining areas became the focal points of building activity. Overnight, the land which was useless became the gold mine for the owners. They sold portions for a windfall. The farmers who have not seen money were dazed and it took them days to come back to reality from dream.

They constructed palaces for living. They became educated suddenly. As the money came, so we’re associations with powerful people like politicians. Some of them even began to grab the unoccupied or reserved lands. With a part of money bought tractors and modern equipment for remainder of land and procured cheaper land in the nearby districts. The elderly still can be identified to have done back breaking work but new generation is all like managers and leaders.

Scenario No.3

This story is similar to previous one but with small difference. It is from Sanand district in Gujarat. As the Tata nano car factory relocated here from Bengal, the villagers nearby had windfall. They used to be working as labors, peons and other lower rung jobs in the future Factories and manufacturing units for monthly wages like rupees 6000 to 15000 as their land was not fertile or due to lack of resources was not providing them with enough. Suddenly the arrival of entrepreneurs they became millionaires overnight by selling their land. After the initial excitement, Many of them have decilded to carry on with those peanut wages jobs to keep themselves busy. More than hundreds of millionaires are working as helping hands in the factories there!!!!. The interest on their fixed deposits is enough for their requirements.

Thus as the Mark Twain once advised someone who came to him for investing the money to “invest in the land because they don’t make it anymore”. Land can catapult your future.

Fabled Jand Tree

There are many references to “Jand” tree in Punjabi literature. Foremost it is connected to a place called Danabad the village of Mirza in the legend of “Mirza-Sahiban”. After getting Sahiba from her home on the day of her marriage to someone else, and sneaking on his mare-called Bakki in local language, he decides to take rest under the cool shade of Jand tree. He was overconfident that even after taking rest for the summer noon, he will make it easily to his native place before the end of the day. Rest is well known. He was killed by Sahiban’s brothers who came chasing them.

Then there is a famous Gurudwara called “Jand Sahib” in Bathinda Punjab where Guru Gobind Singh is said to have rested under a Jand tree. And there is one tree located behind Kiran Cinema in sector 22 in Chandigarh which I saw today. This is said to be very old and indeed it looked like that as only skeleton was there. Many people worship it. I always thought about how this tree must look when alive.

I found a very beautiful video describing the beauty of this tree by Mirza. it is in Punjabi language but brief summary of the meaning is “Mirza describes the cool shade of Jand tree, the branches are touching the ground, you shouldn’t say no to sitting under the shade of it. And why to stress the mare in the hot sun because it is not rainy season. You don’t worry, we will reach Danabad (his native village) before the sunset

Before Chandigarh came into existence, there were villages here. People lived mostly rural life based on agriculture. They worship female goddesses which is attested by many temples in the area. Like Hindu culture they worshiped trees and idols. The Jand tree is one such tree which was worshiped in the area.

There are not many trees of this species in this area nowadays. I was curious to know how this tree looked like and other details. I found an article in the English daily “The Tribune” which gives the good information about the tree.

The tree known by scientific name of “prosopis cineraria” is endemic to dry areas and is found mostly in Rajasthan and adjoining areas of Punjab and Haryana. It is known by is known as “Jand” in Hindi and Punjabi, “jandi” in Haryanvi, “khejri” in Rajasthani, and “sami or samri” in Gujarati. The tree plays an important role in ecosystem of arid and semi-arid areas. All the parts of the tree are useful, it is called kalp taru or wish fulfilling tree.

During Vedic times, khejri wood was used to kindle the sacred fire for performing yajana. There are references of it in Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Lord Rama worshipped khejri tree known as Sami  Pooja, which represents the goddess of power, before he led his army to kill Ravana. The worshipping of this tree is referred to as samipuja. Pandavas also worshipped this tree and hid their weapons in it during their agyatavasa.

Khejri tree provides shelter and protection to animals and birds in desert areas. This tree is home to many large birds like kites, hawks and vultures.

Many Rajasthani families use the green and unripe pods (known as sangri) in preparation of curries and pickles. The importance of the medicinal value of samitree has been highlighted in our ancient literature. The bark of the tree provides immediate relief to a person bitten by snake or scorpion. Its leaves and fruits are used in preparing medicines for curing nervous disorders. The medicines prepared from its bark are also used for treating diarrhoea, dysentery, piles, worm infestations and other skin problems. The bark is also used to cure leprosy, bronchitis, asthma, tumour of muscles and to improve concentration. The gum of the tree is nutritive and good in taste and is used by pregnant woman at the time of delivery.

Gurdev Khush!!Rice Magician

Importance of Rice

Rice is the staple food for the majority of population living in many Asian countries particularly those living along the coastal areas because fish and rice go along best. Rice is held in high esteem and is used in many religious ceremonies. For example in India Annapurna is the Hindu Goddess of rice. Her name comes from the Sanskrit word for rice, anna. She is often depicted with a rice spoon in her hand.


Rice requires plenty of water for its growth and many flood prone areas in Bangladesh, rice is grown extensively. In contrast, wheat is grown in North India and population eats bread made from the wheat. Wheat does not require much water as compared to Rice. Wheat contains more micro-nutrients than rice.

As the population is increasing, the number of mouths to feed are increasing. So every Government is striving to increase the production. Research is being done continually to develop strains which give more yield, less prone to attack by bugs and do not grow much stalk because longer the stock more are chances of its falling and getting damaged.

Rice Magician

Surprisingly, the man behind this research hails from Punjab where the wheat is the dominant crop. Dr Gurdev Singh Khush may not be a household name. But his rice varieties are. By the time he was 25, Dr. Khush had already received a Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture at the Punjab Agricultural University Ludhiana in India, as well as a Ph.D. in genetics from the University of California, Davis in the US.

After several years at UC Davis researching genetics of tomatoes, Dr. Khush moved on to the International Rice Research Institute plant breeding department in 1967, where he worked with Dr. Beachell. In less than five years, he became head of IRRI’s plant breeding department and was well on his way to developing his own new varieties of “miracle rice” based on Dr. Beachell’s IR8.

In the last 32 years, he and his team at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Manila, have introduced over 300 new grain varieties, including IR8, IR36, IR64 and IR72, which triggered the Green Revolution in Asia in the 1960s. Today, IRRI rice varieties and their progenies are planted in over 70 per cent of the world’s rice-fields.

“Farmers were initially skeptical about our new grain varieties, which took less time to mature than traditional varieties. But our perseverance paid dividends,” recalls Dr Khush. During the first 25 years of Dr Khush’s program, world rice production doubled from 256 million tonnes in 1966 to 518 million tonnes in 1990, enabling an additional 700 million people to obtain adequate nutrition.

In 1976, Dr Khush introduced IR36, called “the miracle rice” that has since become one of the world’s most widely grown food crop varieties. According to IRRI estimates, IR36 has added about five million tonnes of rice annually to Asia’s food supply and accounts for an additional $1 billion yearly income to Asian farmers.


What prompted Khush to take up a career in agricultural research? “I come from Punjab, in northern India. There was a lot of poverty and not enough food. My father was a farmer, and he strongly encouraged me to do something for the agricultural community,” says the 64-year-old scientist. His pioneering research has won him many awards, the most notable being the World Food Prize in 1996, which he won for his contribution to “advancing human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of the world’s food supply.” The prize, widely regarded as the equivalent of a Nobel Prize for agriculture, is awarded by the World Food Prize Foundation based at Des Moines (USA).

Khush is now working on new grain varieties designed to increase yields by another 25 per cent. “The mission of my life is to continue to work towards the improvement of rice, and to be able to feed more and more people,” says Dr Khush.

Corn: Propeller of lives

Corn along with rice and maize are the basic grains used all over the world. They evolved in different parts of the world in different climates and conditions. Wheat for example is said to have been originated in Middle East. Rice requires plenty of water for cultivation and thus grown in the areas where rains are heavy or other sources of water are easily available. Here we are talking about the evolution of corn.

Evolution of the parent wild varieties have taken place through man’s method of selective breeding over the centuries.  The history of modern-day maize begins at the dawn of human agriculture, about 10,000 years ago. Ancient farmers in what is now Mexico took the first steps in domesticating maize when they simply chose which kernels (seeds) to plant.

These farmers noticed that not all plants were the same. Some plants grew larger than others, or maybe some kernels tasted better or were easier to grind. The farmers saved kernels from plants with desirable characteristics and planted them for the next season’s harvest. This process is known as selective breeding or artificial selection. Maize cobs became larger over time, with more rows of kernels, eventually taking on the form of modern maize.

Evolution is said to be gradual and slow. But in the case of corn, it evolution occurred in a burst of fairly small time. After a long search, the scientists became sure about the ancestor of maize. Its name is Teosinte. Plants are totally dissimilar in physical appearance but their DNA is very similar and two can be easily crossed to produce modified intermediate varieties. Samples bear an unmistakable resemblance to modern maize.

Following shows a collection of sizes and shapes of cobs beginning from the earliest.

Second picture shows the comparison of Maize and Teosinte plant and cobs from which Corn has evolved over thousands of year. The hybrid corn resulting from crossing the two is also shown at bottom.

The author is thankful to the following link for the two diagrams and ideas


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