Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Art of Learning...

The act of learning is the act of pure observation. And to learn one must have leisure. Leisure means a mind that is not constantly preoccupied but has infinite time to observe. To observe what is happening around one and within onself.

~ J.Krishnamurti

Saturday, February 13, 2010


"Each of us in our own way can try to spread compassion into people’s hearts. Western civilizations these days place great importance on filling the human “brain” with knowledge, but no one seems to care about filling the human “heart” with compassion. This is what the real role of religion is."

- Dalai Lama

Friday, December 25, 2009

Millets - Healthy and Eco-friendly

Millets are annual, warm weather grasses which are mostly grown on dry lands as rain-fed crop.Millets are probably the world's earliest food plants used by humans, and certainly the first cereal grain that was used for domestic purposes. Its use is ancient and was mentioned in the bible as a seed that bread was made from.They are the main source of protein and energy.In India, out of the total net sown area of 141 Mha, rainfed area accounts for 85 Mha spread over 177 districts. This constitutes approximately 60% of the total farming area in the country. Rainfed agriculture contributes 44% of the total food grain production of the country and produces more than 90% of sorghum, millets etc. Even after neglecting these, the rainfed regions provide livelihood to nearly 50% of the total rural workforce and sustain 60% of cattle population of the country.

Why Millets?

  • Millets need no irrigation and require very little water for their production.
  • They does not demand rich soils for their growth and hence for the owners of the dryland area , theya re a boon.
  • Millet production is not dependant on synthetic fertilizers and hence as an alternative, farmyard manures can be used.
  • Millets does not attract any pests as they can be grown under traditional methods.They can also be called as pest-free crops.
  • Millet is one of the most nutritious and easily digested of all grains; and it is high in starch, making it a good high energy food.
  • All these qualities of millet farming system make them the climate change compliant crops.

Comparative rainfall requirement for various crops


Rainfall needed (in mm)









Commonly grown millets in India are







Pearl Millet



Finger Millet



Barnyard Millet



Foxtail Millet



Kodo Millet



Proso Millet



Little Millet



Sorghum: It is one of the most important food grain crop and is cultivated widely across Maharashtra,Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and in parts of Rajasthan. The crop is hardy and cultivated in areas with rainfall beyond 350 mm.

Pearl Millet: It is a Kharif crop and is chiefly grown in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Punjab and Maharashtra. The crop can do well in the areas with less than 350 mm annual rainfall and temperatures between 25 to 35 degree Celsius.It is particularly well adapted to nutrient-poor, sandy soils.

Finger Millet: It is the most important small millet food crops of Southern Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttaranchal, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa, It is grown successfully in areas where rainfall is about 350 mm and temperatures more than 30 degree Celsius.Finger millet grows best in moist climates in almost any type of soil.

Barnyard Millet: It is the fastest growing of all millets and produces a crop in six weeks.It is grown in India from Himalayan region in the north to Deccan plateau in the south. It is generally cultivated in hill slopes and undulating fields of hilly, tribal or backward areas. The grains of barnyard millet is consumed and cooked like rice.It is usually grown as a late-season green feed in temperate climates with humid or sub-humid conditions. It makes the most rapid growth of all millets under favorable weather conditions

Foxtail Millet: At present it is grown extensively in Central Asia, northern East India.Foxtail millet requires warm weather and matures quickly in the hot summer months. It has a low water requirement, though it does not recover well from drought conditions because it has a shallow root system.Foxtail millet can be planted when it is too late to plant most other crops.

Kodo Millet: It is harvested as a wild cereal in India.It is grown in India from Kerala and TamilNadu in the south, to Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West bengal in the north.

Proso Millet: Moderately warm weather is necessary for good plant growth. Proso millet has the lowest water requirement of any grain crop; It is also subject to drought injury because of its shallow root system. It does not grow well on coarse sandy soil.

Little Millet: It is grown mainly in India. Its main virtues are the ability to produce moderate yields on very poor soils and to withstand both drought and water logging better than most other crops.

Nutrient Content of Millets












Pearl Millet






Finger Millet






Foxtail Millet






Proso Millet






Kodo Millet






Little Millet






Barnyard Millet


















In this table if we observe, nutritional values of millets are more compared to rice and wheat.Each one has more fibre than rice and wheat.Some as much as fifty times that of rice.Finger millet has thirty times more calcium than rice while every other millet has atleast twice the amount of calcium compared to rice. In their iron content also, foxtail and little millet are rich compared to rice.In this fashion, nutrient to nutrient every single millet is extraordinarily superior to rice and wheat.

Tectonic Plates: Shaping and Reshaping Gaia since ages

The structure of the earth's interior is layered, and broadly three layers can be identified- crust,mantle and the core.

Crust is the outer thin layer with a total thickness of around 100Km and forms 0.5% of the earth's volume.Mantle lies between 100 to 2900 Km below the earths surface and forms 16% of the earth's volume.Core lies between 2900 to 6400 Km below the earth's surface and accounts for 83% of the earth's volume.Our earth is undergoing deformations imperceptibly and inexorably. These deformations are caused by the movements generated by various factors:

1. The heat generated by the radioactive elements in earth's interior.

2. Movement of the crustal plates due to tectogenesis.

3. Forces generated by rotation of the earth.

4. Climatic factors

5. Isostacy.

The seafloor points to the movement of the earth's crust, in relation to each other takes place primarily due to three factors - polar wandering( It is the relative movement of the earth's crust and upper mantle with respect to the rotational poles of the earth), continental drift ( It refers to the movement of the continents relative to each other) and sea floor spreading( It describes the movement of the oceanic plates relative to one another).

PERMIAN , 225 million years ago

TRIASSIC , 200 million years ago

JURASSIC , 135 million years ago

CRETACEOUS , 65 million years ago


Continental Drift theory: Wegner,a climatologist wanted to investigate the relative distribution of land and sea and the climatic aberrations of the past.He postulated that originally(225 million years ago) all of the land masses of earth were locked together as a great supercontinent called PANGAEA which was covered by one big ocean called PANTHALASSA. A sea called TETHYS divided the PANGAEA into two huge landmasses _ LAURENTIA to the north and GONDWANALAND to the south of Tethys.The drift started around 200 million years ago and the continents began to break up and drift away from one another. The drift was in two directions - equatorwards due to interaction of forces of gravity and buoyancy, and westwards due to tidal currents because of the earth's motion and the drift is still continuing.From the analysis of the continental drift The following points can be observed.

1. South America and Africa seem to fit in with each other, especially the bulge of Brazil fits into the Gulf of Guinea.

2. Greenland seems to fit in well with Ellesmere and Baffin islands.

3. The east coast of India, Madgascar and Africa seem to have been joined.

4. North and South America on one side and Africa and Europe on the other fit along the mid-Atlantic ridge.

But, the main drawback of the wegner's theory is that he failed to explain why this drift began only in the Mesozoic era and not in the period prior to it.

Sea floor spreading: The authors of this theory recognised the existence of Pangaea , tethys and Panthalassa and tried to explain the apparent movement of sea floor at specific locations.According to this theory, the intense heat generated by radioactive substances in the mantle(100 to 2900 Km below the earth surface) seeks a path to escape, and gives rise to the formation of convection currents in the mantle. Wherever rising limbs of these currents meet, oceanic ridges are formed on the sea floor and wherever the falling limbs meet oceanic trenches are formed.At the ridges, the eruption results in upwelling of the magmatic material. This causes movement of the crust.After upwelling, the hot magma cools down, solidifies and moves apart to make way for the material of successive eruptions. This results in effective sea floor spreading. Thus discrete segments of earth's crust are formed by solidification of this erupted material at mid-oceanic ridges. Based on this, theory of plate tectonics was formulated.

Plate tectonics: According to this theory, the lithosphere(upper 100 Km of the earth's crust) is broken into a number of plates or sections, each of which is capable of independent movement over the asthenosphere.The movement of these crustal plates causes the formation of various landforms and is the principal cause of all earth movements.There are six major plates and many minor ones. The major plates are American, Eurasian, African, Indo-Australian, Pacific and the Antarctic. The minor plates include North American, South American, Nazca, Turkish, Aegean, Arabian, Caribbean, Phillipine, Juan de Fuca and the Iranian plate. The average thickness of these plates is around 100 Km and the entire thickness is involved in crustal spreading and are moving at a speed that has been estimated at 1 to 10 cm per year

Types of Plate Boundaries:

At the boundaries of the plates, various deformations occur as the plates interact.

There are 3 primary types of Tectonic Plate boundaries:Divergent boundaries; Convergent boundaries; and Transform boundaries.

At divergent boundaries new crust is created as two or more plates pull away from each other. Oceans are born and grow wider where plates diverge or pull apart.When a diverging boundary occurs on land a 'rift', or separation will arise and over time that mass of land will break apart into distinct land masses and the surrounding water will fill the space between them.For example, Surtsey island(south of Iceland) was born along mid-Atlantic ridge and even earthquakes also occur at the divergent boundaries.

Here crust is destroyed and recycled back into the interior of the Earth as one plate dives under another.The zone of collision may undergo crumpling and folding and folded mountains may emerge.When one of the plates is an oceanic plate, it gets embedded int he asthenosphere of the continental plate and as a result, trenches are formed at the zone of subduction. The subducted material gets heated up and is thrown out forming volcanic islands.Similarly, When two continents meet head-on, neither is subducted because the continental rocks are relatively light and, like two colliding icebergs, resist downward motion. Instead, the crust tends to buckle and be pushed upward or sideways.The collision of India into Asia 50 million years ago caused the Eurasian Plate to crumple up and override the Indian Plate. After the collision, the slow continuous convergence of the two plates over millions of years pushed up the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau to their present heights.

Transform-Fault Boundaries are where two plates are sliding horizontally past one another. These are also known as transform boundaries or more commonly as faults.

When two plates move sideways against each other (at a transform plate boundary), there is a tremendous amount of friction which makes the movement jerky. The plates slip, then stick as the friction and pressure build up to incredible levels. When the pressure is released suddenly, and the plates suddenly jerk apart, this is an earthquake.San Andreas fault along the western coast of USA is an example.

Thus, all landforms are influenced directly or indirectly by tectogenesis which provides energy for formation of landforms. Because of interplay of the factors, the plate margins are areas of intense volcanic and earthquake activity.

Significance of plate tectonics:

If the present trends continue, North and South Americas will separate. A piece of land will separate from western USA, and California will move northwards closer to San Fransisco. A piece of land will separate from the east coast of Africa. Australia will move closer to Asia.Two hundred million years from now a new Pangaea will be formed when all lands again converge. Then, inevitably, another break-up will ensue as our restless planet continues to reform and reshape itself.