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Revamping Schools To Curbing Child Marriage: How An IAS Officer Is Transforming Rajasthan

Rajasthan has witnessed major social evils like child marriage, dowry, untouchability, lack of education for girls, and so on… for many decades now. Ironically, all these malpractices continue to prevail in many parts of the state even to this day. In the Dalit community, most girls are not allowed to go to school, while on the other hand, most of the upper caste families prevent their daughters from studying further after completing primary and secondary education. Sadly, the spectre of child marriage is still haunting most of the SC, ST and OBC communities. Rampant discrimination against Dalits and payment of dowry in marriages across castes continue even in the 21st century.However, several social activists and young administrators are working towards overcoming these social evils today.Rajasthan’s Bhilwara district is one such district where things have been changed dramatically ever since a young IAS officer, Athar Aamir Khan, took charge as the SDM of the newly created Badnor subdivision.A Kashmiri-born 26-year-old, Athar Aamir Khan, became a household name after he secured the second rank in civil service exam in 2016. Last year in December, Athar assumed position as an SDM in Badnor, which is around 80 Km away from Bhilwara district. While speaking to the people of Badnor, I came to realize how lucky they are to have Athar as an SDM in their tribal-majority area; the latter is working on several fronts, to curb the prevalence of child marriage, reform the education system, put an end to illegal encroachment and maintain panchayat discipline. However, his prime focus is to build a new educational environment, which is of course very commendable.Sunil Mali, who is from Badnor, praised Athar’s remarkable job stating that the way he tackles the angry mob is absolutely remarkable. “I have never seen Athar in an annoyed mood. He is a very calm and cool officer. Athar’s first priority seems to reform the education system and promote girls education in our area. With his conscious efforts and contribution from locals, almost all our government schools have got study furniture in our subdivision. He often holds meetings with teachers and asserts to improve education and bring awareness to fight against child marriage in their respective areas. His effort towards transforming government schools and encouraging child education is like a metamorphosis in our zone,” Sunil said.Child marriage is a longstanding problem in Rajasthan, and Bhilwara is one of the worst affected areas all over India, where more than 50% of girls are married off before reaching the age of 18.Athar has directed all the police stations in the district to keep an eye on the occurrence of child marriages and ordered appropriate action to be taken against this harmful practice and the accused families. He has also set up a control room which is monitoring incidents of child marriage. Sharing the details of one such incident, Sunil said that recently Athar had secretly arrived at a marriage function and not only did he immediately stop the marriage and free the minors from the shackles of the wedding, but he also fined the accused families under The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006.Athar has shared his own stories on social media many a time. While sharing his campaign against child marriage, Athar wrote the following Instagram post, “This time of the year is marriage season in Rajasthan and also, unfortunately, the time when child marriages peak. As a part of our campaign to end the menace of child marriage, we are holding these meetings and interactions with people in every gram panchayat of our subdivision to bring awareness about the issue. We have also set up a control room and are monitoring all GPs round the clock. Though the issue is very complex and has not just one but a number of root causes we hope with motivation and strong enforcement of law we will be able to make a dent this time around!!”An IAS aspirant, Monika Rajpurohit, who hails from Badnor, said, “We are lucky to have such a great officer like Athar in our newly created subdivision, whose tireless efforts have significantly changed many things in our life. We have been seeing a poor education system, lack of school infrastructures, gender inequalities in schools, but now students are getting study tables, books, computers and even libraries are being made for the public. Things are changing gradually and we are very thankful to Athar for working towards a better future of our generation.”Source:
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Coimbatore agri engineer grows crops out of thin air — and very little water

Prabhu Sankar, an agricultural engineer based in Coimbatore, was deeply concerned about the dwindling returns of farmers. That, coupled with a desire to get a toehold in the corporate scene, prompted this engineering graduate from the Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth in Pune to look for innovative ideas in corporate farming.Thanyas Organic Pvt Ltd, the start-up he founded with a few friends, has perfected farming techniques that can increase the productivity of a piece of land by at least 10 times with substantially less water and nutrients.The start-up is being incubated at the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University’s (TNAU) Agri Business Directorate in Coimbatore.“The beauty is that the entire farm can be managed remotely using the internet of things (IoT),” says R Murugesan, Director of Agriculture Business Development at TNAU, who heads the incubation centre.The technique can be used to grow vegetables, flowers, medicinal plants and spices, he says.Thanyas’ 30,000 sq ft experimental farm, which the start-up uses to test out various protocols, is located at Palladam, in Tirupur district.Cloud-based fertigationUsing a cloud-based server, Sankar, sitting 40 km away in Coimbatore, can not only schedule a fertigation session, but also actively monitor the plants every day. “We will use similar procedures for a 10,000 sq ft pilot farm that we are putting up for Rallis India, a Tata concern, in Lonavala, near Pune,” says the 45-year-old Sankar.Thanyas’ Palladam farm produces nearly 80 types of vegetables. The farm is based on aeroponics, an advanced version of soil-less agriculture, in which water and nutrients are sprayed on the suspended roots of the plants.While the technique has been evolving since the 1970s in the West, developing similar protocols for the tropics and sub-tropics is a tough job, says Sankar.The plants are grown on raised beds that stand a few feet from the ground, making it possible to cultivate several rows on either side of the bed.“Such aeroponics-based vertical farming offers several advantages over conventional farming,” says Sankar. “Unlike in its technological cousin hydroponics, the roots of plants grown in an aeroponic system are suspended in the air and the spraying of water and nutrients leads to an oxygen-rich, misty environment,” he explains.Also, the enhanced oxygen availability at the root zone leaves disease-causing pathogens dormant, improves uptake of minerals by plants and development of healthy root systems. “This leads to a multi-fold increase in plant metabolism, which in turn results in a vast increase in production from a unit area,” says Sankar, who worked in agriculture extension for two decades before turning entrepreneur.“We have shown that there can be a 10-20 fold increase in production while water consumption goes down to 10 per cent of what is required in conventional farming. The increase in output happens also because the cropping cycle is reduced,” he adds.Spreading rootsNABARD has contacted Thanyas for a small demonstration facility at its Lucknow campus. According to TNAU’s Murugesan, the Prince of Qatar has evinced interest in an aeroponics-based vertical farm in his kingdom.“Initially it will be on a 2.5- or 5-acre land; if successful it may get extended to 250 acres,” he says.Source:
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