Pusa 1121: The longest single grain rice

Pusa 1121 is an evolved variety of Pusa Basmati rice developed by Indian scientists at PUSA. This variety of rice is known for its extraordinary length, which can be as much as 9.5 mm for a single grain which is world record length. It is in high demand among the rice loving Middle East.

Punjab and Haryana produce maximum rice of this variety. At 5 lakh tonnes annually, Ferozepur in Punjab tops the production. India and Pakistan both produce the rice in large quantities and export. Earlier the rice to Middle East was exported from Pakistan but India seemed to beat the Pakistan now.

Rough, milled and cooked rice of Pusa 1121(top), Pusa Basmati 1(middle) & Taraori Basmati (bottom)

In the Ferozepur area bordering the Pakistan, politics are being played on negotiating with Pakistan for giving train passage to rice for taking it to Karachi and from there exporting it to Middle East. The demand is made to revive the Rewari Karachi railway line which operated till independence. Channan wala is the last station in the Indian side. There is also demand for opening an truck route from Hussainiwala on the lines of Attari route. Below is the chart comparing rough, milled and boiled with two more varieties

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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 originated in Middle East. Rice requires plenty of water for cultivation and thus grown 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 man’s patient, persistent by a 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 may have grown 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 but the 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.

CornProgression
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.

MaizeTeosinteCross

Harappa Culture

In the early part of 3rd millennium, three great civilizations developed nearly simultaneously on Nile, Euphrates & Indus rivers. We know a great deal about the first two because they have left us written records in the form of papyrus scrolls or long engravings on stones. People of Indus valley did not left hardly any written records except few inscriptions on the seals. So knowledge about Indus valley civilization is incomplete.

Archaeologists call this civilization Harappa culture after the modern name of the place in Punjab located on the left bank of river Ravi. Meohenjo Daro, the second city, is located in Sind on the right bank of Indus river. The culture was spread over 950 miles from North to South and includes large and small cities like Kalibanga in the valley of old Sarasvati river and many villages near Ropar on upper Sutlej up to Lothal in Gujarat. That this culture was same is proved from the use of bricks of same shape and size.

This was an truly Indian people civilization with no influence or migration from the Middle East. It was the continuation of early village culture. Each city had a well-fortified citadel. The uniformity in planning of streets, bricks and layout of the cities indicate a single centralized state rather than a number of free communities.

Henna

It is natural dye derived from green henna leaves and is used to decorate the body with intricate designs in India and Pakistan. The hands and legs of the brides and her friends are adorned with intricate designs using a paste made from ground henna and juice of lemon. Motifs include birds, animals and geometrical patterns.

aupoman-hk-henna-tattoo-hand

Application of henna causes a cooling effect. It is also a fact that longer this stays on the hands more is the color darker. So after application to prevent the paste from flaking off, small amounts of lemon juice and sugar are applied. Usually after the night, it dries off. It is scraped off and hands are washed leaving behind an auburn colored dye designs on the body. It stays there for many days.

The paste is prepared from the green leaves of Lawsonia inermis, a small tree that grows in warm, arid regions of the world such as India, Pakistan, and Northern Africa. Numerous artifacts found in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean countries, dating back to 1400 B.C., show women with henna patterns on their hands. The earliest writing on an artifact that refers to the specific use of henna as an adornment for a bride or a woman’s special occasion is an inscription on a tablet from about 2100 B.C. found in northwest Syria.

It is commonly used as a hair dye. The material can also reduce dandruff, kill ringworm and head lice, act as a sunscreen. As it produces a cooling effect, in India, especially in desert areas where the temperatures are extremely high, henna was cool the body.

Staining properties of henna are due to the presence of the compound 2-hydroxy-1,4-naphthoquinone, also known as lawsone, hennotannic acid, or natural orange 6. It is present in the leaves. The leaves are plucked and dried and ground into a paste.

English: Mehndi or Henna Lawsonia inermis in H...
English: Mehndi or Henna Lawsonia inermis in Hyderabad , India. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Henna paste is prepared by mixing crushed dry henna leaves with a mild acidic ingredient like juice of lemon which helps in releasing the dye from the petals. Different oils and herbs may also be added to enhance the scent of the paste.

At room temperature, it normally takes about a day for the acid to activate the dye and three days for the paste to lose its staining capabilities. The process is faster in hotter environments.

Lawsone dye infuses skin, hair, and porous surfaces but does not permanently or chemically alter them. The dye molecules, which are about the same size as amino acid molecules, migrate from the henna paste into the outermost layer of the skin. After the dried paste is scraped off the skin, air oxidation or perspiration can further darken the stain over the next 48 hours.