Wednesday, May 27, 2015


The narrative from epic Mahabharata regarding game of dice between Kaurvas and Pandvas in which the honor of Darupdi, the wife of five Pandvas, is put at stake is an apt illustration of surrender to Lord Krishna.

Pandvas lost their entire kingdom in the gamble to Kaurvas. To save their empire, Pandvas put Darupdi as the terminal bet to salvage their empire. But they lost Darupdi too. Having won the Game, Kaurvas proceeded to take vendetta of the past enmity between the two families.  

 Duryaodhan, the head of Kaurvas clan, ordered his brother Dushasana for disrobing Darupdi from her sari. Dushasana unwraps layers and layers of her sari. Terrified with fear, she looked for some compassionate intervention by all those present in the court and especially from five husbands--the Pandavas. None responded to her agony of being abused publically.

At the last moment when the last layer of the sari was to be snatched, she remembers and prays Lord Krishna for help. A miracle occurs henceforward as her sari keeps getting extended, everyone looks upon in awe, and Dushasana himself is forced to stop due to exhaustion. That was how the honor of Darupdi was protected by Divine intermediation.

A few days later Darupdi goes in person to express her gratitude to Lord Krishna. She also asks the Lord why He helped her in the last moment and why not earlier. Lord Krishna responded that she remembered Him “only” at the last moment.

The moral is so long as disciples and seekers continue to seek illusive crutches of family, relationships or material paraphernalia; they prevent the power play of the Divinity. It is the self- extermination of ego and complete surrender that lead to the blessings and the grace of the Lord.


Gautam Buddha renounced his kingdom and family in search of Truth. He tried to find enlightenment through near total deprivation of worldly goods, including food, practicing self-mortification. After nearly starving himself to death by restricting his food intake to around a leaf or nut per day, he collapsed in a river while bathing and almost drowned. He again decided to make another attempt for His Search. Then, sitting under a pipal tree, now known as the Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya, he vowed never to arise until he had found the Truth. After 45 days of intense meditation, at the age of 35, He remained totally blank. God or Truth was nowhere to be experienced.

In a distressed state of mind his frail frame moved down the narrow pathway that led to the river. He rinsed his face with water and said to him—“The all-powerful Lord that I was looking for has made me so weak that I can hardly walk. The path of self-abnegation has left no strength in my limbs. How can I capture the ‘Most Powerful One’ when I myself am drained of all energy?. The world I have rejected and Truth is nowhere to be found. My desire and efforts gone in vain; my youth wasted. Nothingness is my achievement.”

He wept and cried; admitted to his inner self that he has no idea of the Truth and as to how it could be found. And Lo! at that very moment he got a flash and the enlightenment dawned in Him. His inner awareness ‘spoke’ to him in ‘silence’ that he has remained a mere seeker of fulfilment of his desire rather than a knower of Truth or the Lord and that the prime cause of his suffering was the expectation of materialization of his desires. Truth lies in surrendering the “root of desire”. When Buddha realized that ‘desire and reward’ were the main stumbling blocks in his search for the Truth, He became the Janana---the Gyani—the enlightened one. This is in short the entire focus of Budhhism—the teachings of Nirvana-- as a precursor for knowing the Reality.






The Government has estimated (3rd advance estimates of Ministry of Agriculture) production of pulses in 2014-15 at 17.38 million tons vs 19.25 million tons of last year – a deficit of about 10%. This shortfall is close to 2 million tons and considering the world wide availability of imported origins—be it Myanmar, Canada, Australia, Ethiopia, Tanzania Malawi or Mozambique, Indian annual demand of 23-24 million tons can abnormally spike the world prices. What are the carry in stocks after accounting for last year imports is a big question mark.

                       India is a regular importer of 3.5-4.5 million tons pulses per annum. But due to huge decline in domestic availability this year and rising consumption, import pull could be 5.5 to 6 million tons which could come at a huge cost. Sensing imminent drop in output, international bidders have already raised their CIF quotes between 8%-16% of various pulses in less than a month (see chart). This is indeed contrary to the trend of fall in agro-commodities prices by more than 20% in last one year. 

Sharp vertical movement in domestic prices are already reflecting the intensity of shortfall.  Chick peas (Chana) can be taken as the dominant and representative illustration of supply and demand mismatch during one year. Chickpeas price in NCDEX futures was about Rs 27/kg in May 2014 and about Rs 45/kg this year---increase of 67%. Similarly Urad (Black Matpe) and Tur (pigeon pea) prices have risen by 35% and 45% respectively on annual basis. WPI of the entire pulses complex on year to year basis in 2014-15 is up by 15% vs -1.64% in 2013-14.  


During 2006-11 GOI had mandated STC, MMTC, PEC, NAFED to import 1.5 million tons pulses per annum (or 0.375 mill tons or 3.75 lakh tons for each PSU out of which 50% were to be yellow peas) and distribute them in the market at a discount (subsidy) up to 15% depending upon the market conditions. A CAG report of December 2011 castigated these PSUs, Dept. of Consumer affairs (Ministry of food) and Ministry of Commerce for incurring a loss of about Rs 1200 crores (out of which about Rs 897 crores or 75% was attributed to import of yellow peas) on various accounts including poor handling and distribution by PSUs and lack of issuing guidelines / monitoring by the concerned Ministries. CAG may be right in certain respects but the scheme was intended to make losses—that is to import at higher price and sell at lower price-- to hammer down the escalating local prices. But there are lessons to be learnt by looking at the rear view mirror for avoiding the erroneous approach in the future.          

The government must maintain hands off approach in the current scene because of unpredictability and volatility of pulses prices. The moment government intervenes in any commodity; it flashes a signal of shortage and induces bullishness in that particular commodity. If the central and state agencies start issuing bulk tenders of import of pulses, it is going to fire international prices because of poor surpluses in world market. Private trade will be forced to stay aloof from sourcing the commodity for the fear of steep escalation of import values and simultaneous fall in prices in the Indian Bazaar due to subsidization by the government, thus accentuating scarcities. 


PSUs have no wholesale or retail outlets. Resorting to tenders for disposal through wholesale traders is long drawn out process—because traders after furnishing the performance bond of 5%-10% can relax for speculating the best prices. This leads to imported cargo remaining stocked and undelivered in the market for considerable length of time despite its availability in India. Encashment of performance bonds is no solution to rein shooting values of lentils and grams. The objective is to inject surplus in the supply side and create deflation. Levying penalties on traders provides no respite from higher prices. It is only when traders invest their own funds, then their speculative greed can be contained. The distribution system of wholesalers, dal mills and retailers is well-entrenched and the creation of any new structure would be to reinvent the wheel.

Both Chickpeas and yellow peas are vegetarian nutritional protein of 20-22% potency. India imports about 2 million tons of peas from Canada/Ukraine /France—the largest being Canada with annual production of 3.8 million tons. Indian trade has no alternative but to secure the major shortfall in Chickpeas by “adding” imports of about one million tons of yellow peas from Canada. Ukraine/France yellow peas are considered inferior by Indian trade. Moreover their availability is also limited. Yellow peas are priced at Rs 27-28/kg against Chana /Chickpeas cost of Rs 45/kg. Cheaper yellow peas will put downside pressure on expensive chickpeas and prompt substitutional consumption. 

Import of Chickpeas, Pigeon Peas(tur)and Urad (Black Matpe) from Myanmar , Australia and African countries cannot augment more than 0.5 million tons and that too at zooming prices. Total supply from Myanmar is 5.1 million tons of beans and pulses, while their domestic consumption is 3.5 million tons. Balance 1.6 million tons is exported to India, China, Bangladesh, Pakistan and elsewhere. Thus these countries cannot be banked upon for extra supplies to India.

Pulses come in raw form and require polishing, splitting, sorting, packing etc with 75% recovery rate—a task that cannot be effectively undertaken by any official agency. Let the private trade take initiative to import, process and distribute. Wholesalers, dal millers and retailers have payment, lending and credit arrangements that are beyond the purview of PSUs. The prescription from the Government is—do not panic and don’t indulge in bulk imports through PSUs or for the state governments. Accord priority to import vessels for unloading if there is port congestion. Do not insist on methyl bromide fumigation of cargos and facilitate entry with aluminium phosphide fumigants. Importers can operate freely only if there is no fear of other parallel channels with subsidised prices. Avoid enforcing any stock limits. Impositions of stock limits choke arteries of distribution and thus are counterproductive.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015



Sufism mandates that a “mureed” (disciple ) be initiated  by  a living  “Murshid” (Guru/Master) for exploring inner life, while maintaining a balance in outer life. Master, the initiator is termed as “pita” (father) Guru and the Guru’s Guru is called “Dada” (grandfather) Guru.
Sheikh Farid (1172-1267A.D.), of Multan (Pakistan) had the rarest privilege of getting initiated by His own Master, Sufi Saint  Bakhtiar Kaki and Kaki’s Master Moinuddin Chisti of Ajmer , whose Dargah is revered by followers of all faiths till date.
After attaining proficiency in Islamic studies, Farid met Bakhtiar Kaki in Delhi when his own Master, Moinuddin Chishti, was also present. Looking at Farid, Moinuddin Chishti remarked, “Farid is the lamp that will illuminate ‘silsila’ of Derveshs.”…meaning that a chain of Masters will follow Farid. Moinuddin then beckoned Kaki to bless Farid on mystic path.  
Kaki bowed on feet of Moinuddin Chishti and apologized that in exalted presence of his own Master he can not do so. Both Sufi saints, then, sat down with full solemnity and initiated Farid, later known as  Baba Farid, into secrets of inner life.  
History does not record any such “ one time spiritual endowment” that was bestowed upon any saint by PITA GURU and DADA GURU. Who was Farid’s Master? Both! as all perfect masters  are one in “shabad swaroop”.



What is to be inferred from “flesh”? Simply speaking, it is the bondage to (the prison house of) body. Man’s core and crux is flesh, his conception is by flesh, formed and framed in flesh itself. Till the end of his life, all his “give and take” is with bodies of flesh. All his sufferings are when he is in flesh. To be free from the pain and anguish of the body, he must cut himself from the flesh. 
How can he cut himself off from the world of flesh? That is feasible only, if he is under no compulsion to reincarnate himself in ‘tissues of flesh’ in future. Then his relationship with flesh ceases. It is that state of existence which is beyond the cycle of transmigration.
The prohibition on food of flesh is self imposed by the yearners who are aware of the purpose of human life and wish to pursue path of mysticism. If one feeds oneself on flesh, he establishes an intense and intimate relationship with the flesh that he digests. He therefore continues to be in the cycle of flesh and bodies. Mirdad, the mystic says, “To feed on Death is to become food for Death. To live by other’s pain is to become a prey for pain. So has decreed the Omniwill”.
Whether the feed is of flesh or of vegetation, the same karmic principle applies except that ‘debt of death’ of vegetarian diet is very minimal and can be settled by prayer and meditation. 
Hazur Maharaj Ji often mentioned a Persian quote in Satsangs --- “ Babar-ba hosh* kun ki aalam dubara naest”---be fully aware (like a Lion’s vigor) that human life is precious; its recurrence is rare; should not be wasted in seeking temporal pleasures. (*Babar means a Lion; hosh means awareness).
Hazur would then add that those who have scant value of human birth and no reckoning of the future course of life, think ---“Babar-ba ash** kun ki aalam dubara naest”---- that this life is meant for total indulgence in physical gratification and such an opportunity might not be available again. (**ash in Urdu/ Persian means sensations of pleasure).
The yearners of mystic reality are a breed that is the rarest among the rare. The devotees of a Master do not get entangled in the mire of this illusive reality of ‘ash’ and remain always in ‘hosh’. To free themselves from the bondage of flesh in future, they willingly abandon the ingestion of food of flesh in compliance with the teachings of their God masters so that they owe no “Debt to Death”.
This is a small step, but indeed the foremost one, on the path of spiritualism. Mirdad says that this life of flesh then becomes a ‘bridge to the fleshless life’.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015




Tejinder Narang
By the time this article appears, the Government would have procured more than 20 million tons of wheat this year from various States, in addition to 17 million tons of carry in stock as of 1.04.2015. Apart from good milling quality and pursuant to relaxation in specifications, lustre loss variety is also bought in abundance; broken and shrivelled percentage in grains is enhanced from 6% to 9%-10%; moisture content is raised from 12% to 14% across the board. Though value cuts were intended to be applied initially, they were later foregone; sellers/farmers will now realize full MSP value of Rs 1450/qtl.
Such relaxations are subject to condition that this deficient quality will be consumed within procuring States under TPDS and welfare schemes.  FIFO—first in first out –mandate that is applied for stock distribution to official stocks will not apply for current dispensation. That means older grains of previous years can stay stocked while latest /current year acquisitions will be destocked first.
A practical approach is adopted by Food Ministry due to exigencies arisen out of exceptional climatic conditions in February and March 2015. Government should not hesitate in procurement of low quality wheat as all shades and grades of wheat are abundantly marketable at a price. Traders do not have the financial muscle to buy large tonnages at the harvest time and official intervention is helpful both for farmers and the trade. 

 Prima facie, FCI and State Government Agencies (SGAs) will have in their possession four broad categories of wheat—first, FAQ (fair average quality) or common grade milling type; second, lustre loss class—the one which has lost its sheen and reportedly gives lesser flour yield; third, which could be any of these two classes indicated earlier but with elevated percentage of broken/ shrivelled content; four, which is inedible for human consumption due to lack of hygienic handling/ warehousing. Third and fourth categories can be straight way classified as “feed wheat”.
Grain quality is characterized into two main factors (i) intrinsic and (ii) extrinsic. The intrinsic factors of grain include color, nutrients, bulk density, odour, aroma, size and shape. Color is an important primary factor for characterization and grading, trade, and processing of grain. It is a common criteria used in wheat trade and thus lustre loss qualifies as a deficiency in intrinsic factors. The extrinsic factors includes, age, broken/damaged grain, immature grain, foreign matter, infected grain and moisture content. Lustre loss wheat may require blending with better quality grain and likewise flour yields may be affected by higher shrivelled proportion.
FCI’s “quality control” parameters as listed on its website are also silent about three “intrinsic”  constituents-- a) bulk density  –technically called test weight—which is varies usually between 74-78 kg/hectolitre( b) protein  content that fluctuates around 9%-14%;(c) gluten content—the measure of stretch- ability of flour, which hovers around 22%-28%. Export tenders of FCI have been stipulating all forms of refractions/ constituents and Indian wheat complies with these requirements.
What is required now for the FCI is to descript in detail the missing elements of protein, test weight and gluten in tabulated form in quality control protocol for all the four categories of wheat that are now available in its system.
Russian wheat is classified as No.2, No.3, No.4, respectively by calibrating it with protein content of 13.5%, 12%, 10% and No. 5 type is termed as feed wheat. They are also priced in the sliding scale. USA /EU/Canada have similarly differentiated their grains as soft, hard and feed wheat etc. Identity determination is critical in the Indian context this year especially when ubiquitous tonnages of sub-optimal quality of wheat are distributed under PDS and welfare schemes.
It is incumbent upon the Government to take following actions--Segregate the good wheat from lustre loss and other flawed varieties; list out the parameters and refractions of varied groupings; differentially calibrate their prices for OMSS purpose; let the TPDS and users of other welfare schemes know the type of wheat being made available to them lest there be resentment by the PDS users for serving them with less than the best quality of wheat.
Notwithstanding the above, there is a very large market of lustre loss quality and de-weathered grains as feed wheat in India and abroad. Demand for feed can easily fetch Rs 10/kg (equivalent to maize prices) versus Rs 4-6/kg for BPL and APL and Rs 2/kg in AAY scheme. It will make economic sense to auction lustre loss and other bulk grains with 9-10% broken/ shrivelled content.  Millers can blend this wheat with good quality produce. Traders can consider exporting if auction price is about Rs 10/kg or so and feed /food millers abroad.
Selling all four types of wheat by FCI/SGAs at “one fixed” OMSS price is illogical. Initiative must come from government in rating the prices of deficient varieties for marketability or let the price discovery be arrived through auction/tendering. In fact good quality/FAQ wheat –whether of current or earlier years –should be supplied under TPDS and other welfare schemes for prevention of any political controversy while other types can be disposed of as suggested.