Indian food, agriculture, health, hygiene, and environment have been largely dependent on cows for thousands of years..
Cows roaming the streets and eating from garbage bins are a common sight in almost every part of India. Even though there have been multiple government interventions, the problem persists. Most recently, the New Delhi Municipal Corporation, one of the four municipal bodies in the national capital, had announced an ambitious plan to implant chips in cattle with the owners’ information. Using the chip, authorities plan to track down erring cattle owners and fine them Rs 25,000 every time their cattle is found abandoned. Crossbred cattle form the third group, which accounts for 21 per cent of the total cattle in the country. These are a product of various failed government-backed programmes started almost 60 years ago to crossbreed popular Indian varieties (Sahiwal, Red Sindhi, and Tharparkar) with the exotic ones such as Jersey and Holstein Friesian. While the first generation of crossbreed varieties saw an increase in milk yield, this could not be sustained in the subsequent generations. The other challenge was that most varieties failed to adapt to the Indian conditions, making them too expensive to be maintained by small and marginal farmers. Their average lifespan is also less than that of indigenous breeds.READ MORE
Grasses are our most important plants, both for agriculture and sustaining fragile environments. Our daily lives involve activities in which the grass family (Poacae) has a multidimensional role. There are religious, economic, historical, political and various other facets of our intimate relationship to the family of grasses; from this common family, a number of species have been domesticated, including cereals, and -- in the order of edible dry matter -- wheat, rice, maize, barley, sorghum, oats, rye and the 16-odd millets. Not only are these cereals consumed directly, a significant proportion of the so-called coarse grains are fed to livestock for high quality proteins in the form of milk, meat and eggs. Other than cereals, a number of other grasses have been domesticated: bamboos, which have almost innumerable uses, and sugarcane, perhaps the most important in terms of material value and socio-political impact. Several species of grass have been grown for their aromatic oils: lemon grass, citronella grass and vetiver. The light of evolution Vetiver has recently been vigorously promoted for the control of soil erosion and moisture conservation. And there is the saying: "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution." Although the known fossil records of grasses is not extensive, it is generally believed that they originated in the Cretaceous period, about 66 million years ago, perhaps in the forests or in the forest-savanna ecotones. Fossil records suggest that the taxonomic diversity of grasses were well-established by the Miocene period.READ MORE