Thursday, August 14, 2008

Modern Pesticides Ancient Safety Standards and Assertive Action for Positive Change

Shri Naresh Kumar s/o Sunder Lal of village Tanda (mobile: 9996324954) is a symbol of India: he is modern and ancient at the same time. He is an optimist as well, always ready for change and to improve. He is my hero and I dedicate the rest of my life to serve him and his ilk.

The spray machine was a give-away. Shri Sanjay Singla and I could make out that this person on a motor-cycle must be a spray operator. These people existed even in the 1970s when I first entered farm-input marketing. However, there were symbols of change. The mobile was most striking. Naresh Kumar gets calls from farmers who want their fields sprayed. You can call him as well, wherever you may reside. Soon, Naresh will have a 3G mobile and the Internet will be at his beck and call. India is on the march!

Naresh will have protective clothing by the time you read this, but he has sprayed with his tee-shirt until I met him. He has never had a medical check-up, and has no medical records. Who will answer to his family if he succumbs to abusive practices?

Naresh exhibits typical signs of synthetic pyrethroid and neo-nicotinoid poisoning. He cannot sleep at night because his entire back itches and burns. You can see the swelling of his face in the photograph above.

I have warned Naresh that protective clothing makes one feel hot. However, Naresh is not afraid of facing any inconvenience to safeguard his health. He is cynical though, because unethical pesticide companies have promised him help in the past, but failed to deliver.

This will not happen again. I take personal responsibility to train Naresh and others like him in safe and judicious pesticide use, just as my mentors did when I was his age. I will also offer him a free medical check-up through my friend Shri Raj Singh of Bawana, and build an electronic medical record for him.

Please hold me accountable for these tasks, and help with all the resources at your command, to improve pesticide safety standards around the world. I am sick and fed-up of idle criticism by armchair-activists. Let us walk the talk.

Tomorrow is the best day to start.

Jai Hind!

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