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These are a collection of SKM's writings to us his friends over a long period - the writings highlight the classic humour, critical thinking, power of observation and humanity of SKM.

From:" Swarup K. Mukherjee "<

Date sent: Mon , 2 Apr 2001 18: 09 : 08 GMT + 5.30 
Subject: [ Pantnagarus] mukherjeeda writes in for a change

Hello everyone, 
Guess what? I was in Pantnagar from 19 to 23 March! Here is my report. "Mera Pantnagar Safar-nama " Someone told me that Haldi (on the broad guage line from Delhi) is closer than Lalkuan. So I got down there. It was 5 in the morning, with a cold wind blowing and I was wearing a half shirt. By the time I ambled (lugging a suitcase, a large thermocole box containing perishable chemicals on ice and an even bigger carton containing Elisa plate reader), the university bus left without me. There was not a soul in sight. I sat there all alone, shivering in cold, waiting for some ricksha-wala to show up and cursing myself for not having gone up to Lalkuan, where I was sure to get a taxi or something. Then by and by the sky became clearer and I could make out the silhouette of elephant grass ( Kans ? ) bordering the fields and could hear birds starting their daily routine. Next the lush wheat fields became visible and then the roads and occasional trucks and tractors on the nearby Rudrapur highway. And all of a sudden I realised that I wasnít feeling miserable any more. I was actually taking in the scenary and the fresh air in deep breaths and felt at peace and at home. 

Some human activity had stirred up by then. The tea stall opened. I had a chai.It had elaichi in it. A man on a bicycle came to cut wood on the other side of the station. I called out to him if he can help me get a rickshaw. I was half expecting the apathy that I have gotten used to ( and considering my own apathy towards fellow human beings ), but he mumbled something like " these idiots are never there when you need them" and went off some where on his cycle. 5 minutes later he was back- with a ricksha-wala following him. He even helped me load my luggage on the rick (rickety and almost falling apart, must have been a vintage from our time; but boy, was I glad to have got it). Finally around seven, I reached the International Guest House. Breakfast, I was told, would be at 8. And sure enough, it was two aloo parathas with a pat of butter and a cup of chai. 

My work was in the Veterinary college (Elisa of milk from buffaloes that were being given a test seed powder in their feed) and lasted 5 days. I used to walk to work and back for lunch and again walk to the Vet. College and walk to the market in the evening and hang around there reading the dayís " Amar Ujala" and " Dainik Jagaran ", till the mosquitoes would make it unbearable. The place is pretty much the same; only a bit more crowded. The food in the IGH canteen tasted exactly the same every day, but I kind of liked it and found myself actually looking forward to it, come meal times (quite like the hostel days, isnít it?). 

Shyam Nagpal came on 22nd evening with his daughters Megha and Surabhi. I knew he would be coming to the Lambert Square guest house because his email to Pantnagarus said so and had the satisfaction of sneaking up on him and surprising him out of his pants. ( It didnít happen quite that way- I am just invoking poetic license ). We did a lot of chakkars of the market and remembered many things (incidences, people, experiences) of the mid-seventies. Took a round of the campus the next morning and cursed the current planners/ architects for ruining the original plan (and the character, the soul of Pantnagar, where wide open spaces encouraged open minds and promoted broad visions- Guys, I donít mean " broad " in the other sense-grow up, will you).Shyam was also sore that his old studentsí vegetable patch has been taken over by a departmental flower garden.

Left Pantnagar on 23rd evening around 6 pm. A colleague had come from Delhi by car,  so we took the road via Patharchatta, Rudrapur, Rampur, Moradabad and Gajraula. The  last I could not one bit recognise- gone was the thatched roof dhaba with the Sardarji serving hot kheer-in its place is a pukka modern restaurant with an elaborate menu card. The food was good, although there was no kheer available. May be I went to the wrong restaurant - there are many now where there used to be only one, with the Sardarji serving kheer in the middle of the night. 

In this trip my last glimpses of the tarai were of wheat and sugarcane fields, the day having given way to dusk, birds returning to their nests, buffaloes returning to their sheds and people on foot/bicycle/ motorcycle/ car/ tractor, without a care showing in their faces, at complete peace with the world. In those immortal words of the Persian poet (was it Amir Khusro? Or was it Omar Khayyam ?),Ö" if there is heaven on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here." 

Gosh, I love that place and would very much like to go there again (but wonít be able to make it next month).

With best wishes to all,

From: Swarup Mukherjee <
Date: Tue Oct 9, 2001 9:24 pm
Subject: Re: [Pantnagar_Clan] All quiet on the......

--- wrote:
Time to wake up folks. Please write in. Mukherjeeda
please write.

Dear All,

How could I ignore that?
This kharif season has been and the rabi too will continue to be very strenuous because apart from my pie-in-the-sky gene-tinkering I have taken on an additional responsibility of marker assisted cotton breeding, something I am not very good at, so have to work harder at it, which is why Bhaskar found me looking the same skin and bones frame as before, unlike Bhaskar himself and Alok whose middle girths were something to be seen. That is why you find me gassing less on cyberspace. Which reminds me of the birthday card my dear wife had given me many years ago on my 40th birthday. It went something like this, "An average man farts six times a day, here's wishing happy birthday to someone who is way above average."

Chollam. Tora sob bhalo thak.


--Nov 5 2001
From: Swarup Mukherjee <
Date: Mon Nov 5, 2001 11:26 pm
Subject: Re: [Pantnagar_Clan] From Waginengen at Andy's home!


An erratic Kharif is off-season for pleasant reflections. Of late I have been busting my blank (both figuratively and literally, on the road - not always highways, which often aren't much better anyway, riding frequently on uncomfortable vehicles, which is taking its toll on my blank, which had gotten used to a rather comfortable chair in an A.C. office) visiting multi-location trials etc. Not that the blank does not get busted in the office/lab, but that is purely in the figurative sense. So by the time I get to check my mail (which often has more blank busting ammunition waiting for me) the wind has gone out of the sails, or should I say, from my blank ("how disgusting" I can almost hear the 'grown-ups' in the clan saying, but frankly I don't give a damn). However the clan mails do work as a tonic, so guys please keep them coming and don't mind my silence or occassional offensive mails. Actually Bhaskar there is one thing I have been meaning to ask you (and others in the clan) and that is: There is an antique XT lying unused for quite a few years in my house. If you know of an organisation which can make use of it, I will be happy to donate it (along with a 110V transformer and dot-matrix printer) to who ever pays for the freight and promises not to return it back to me.


--- wrote:

Mukerjeeda, silence doesnt behove you!! You should
find the time to write us one of those ever pleasant reflections of yours!

--Dec 19 2001
From: Swarup Mukherjee <
Date: Wed Dec 19, 2001 1:38 am
Subject: Re: [Pantnagar_Clan] The holiday season beckons

Holiday?! You must be joking!! Just returned home after a 14 hour work day. Tomorrow I start at 6:30 am. Will be hauling my butt to Mumbai and across the city the whole day and will get to be back home by 6 am the day after. This weekend it will be Lucknow. I must be getting real old (turned 46 last week) because now-a-days just coming back to sweet home after a trip is the most happy feeling that I get to experience (the early morning tea at Jalna railway station, the friendly haggling with the auto' or tanga walla,
watching people heading for the babool bushes with mugga in hand - the lota having long gone extinct, being greeted by the fimiliar stray dogs of our gali and finally being forgiven by the wife for having forgotten to bring the must-have thing she had repeatedly asked me to get from this place I'd just been to). Alagappa (why is 'gappa so silent? is he angry with us for giving him a hard time when he wrote in a few college-like jokes earlier this year?), remember the parody of the old Madhumati (B/W film)
song we used to sing in the hostel? One of these days I mean to write a long prose about life in Jalna to further bore the heck out of you all.

'bye for now.


--Jan 7 2002
From: Swarup Mukherjee <
Date: Mon Jan 7, 2002 9:56 pm
Subject: Re: [Pantnagar_Clan] Some mothers 'ave em!

Couldn't we raise a mere 20K ?! With so many in the clan who not only knew BBM very well but actually idolised him and thought of him as a role model at one time? I am referring to the 1971 to 74 batch walas who had overlapped at least for some time with BBM. I just got back from a T.N. tour via Bangalore where I got to reminesce, among other things, about BBM with EVS Prakash Rao who was his batchmate in M.Sc. (for a few months in P'nagar and the rest in IARI). 

My additional 1K will be sent to Bhaskar's address tomorrow. Maybe this will loosen a few additional strings somewhere.


--- sailendrabhaskar < wrote:

 By the way I have only heard from Dadu that we should send in whatever we have collected to BBM - since I havent heard from anybody else on this I take it that we send in the money pronto. Will check with my bank if all the funds have come in
and then do the needful - you guys will hear from me on this immediately thereafter.

--Jan 12 2002

From: Swarup Mukherjee <
Date: Sat Jan 12, 2002 9:13 pm
Subject: Re: [Pantnagar_Clan] Total silence again!

Actually Pramod Garg did his M.Sc. Soil Science in Pantnagar from 1976 to 1979, after which he joined IARI for his Ph.D. in Ag.Chemicals. The guy has had quite an interesting career. He worked in the R&D dept of Union Carbide in Bhopal in 1983-84. Moved to RAU in Samastipur (the original Pusa) as an Assistant Professor in '85 when UCIL Bhopal closed down. Joined Rallis's pesticide manfacturing unit near Chandigarh after a few years and worked his way up to become the factory manager. So impressed with his performance, his employers made him in-charge of a pesticide unit they had taken over in 1998, in Patencheru near ICRISAT. This unit used to be a real stinker in the literal sense. The foul odour of insecticides used to be a permanent nuiscance in that vicinity. Garg convinced his employers the need to invest in better pollution control measures and implemented them - thanks to which now folks in the surrounding villages and in ICRISAT can breath clean air. Now a days he heads four factories owned by Rallis around Hyderabad. Sits in the board of directors of a couple of them, knows all the current "management" and "quality circle" cliche`s by heart and has a membership in the
Secunderabad Club to boot. His problem is that he doesn't use email much. So, Bhaskar when you do catch up with him, get him to join the clan. Better still, tell him that he will get the bottle of scotch only if he signs in. That ought to work. 


--- sailendrabhaskar < wrote:

deliver the bottle of scotch to PK Garg (the guy is from Pusa so many of you P-gang folks may not know he is - actually I think he did spend a few weeks in P'nagar if I am not mistaken!) in Hyderabad.Thanx for his phone number - will call him up and get his address for delivery!

--Jan 25 2002

From: Swarup Mukherjee <
Date: Fri Jan 25, 2002 4:20 pm
Subject: Re: [Pantnagar_Clan] Of Tamil suffixes and prefixes

I am still unable to understand why Pelugappa is keeping away from the clan. I missed calling him up 2 weeks back when I was passing through Bangalore. Around mid- next month I will be travelling through the garden city again and will surely go see him (if
he would be in town that time).

Bye for now.


--- wrote:

Dear Gang,
This is awful! No new mail from the gang! This is the first time that there is no mail from the our clan. Whats happening folks? Bhaskar, please develop that screaming device of
yours soon. Or a virtual foot that would kick everybody where it
really hurts. Wake up every body and soon. Babu, please tell us about Bhaskars visit to yours and your visit to Bhaskars as and when the visits actually take place.
Parakh, where are you? Bye for now. 


--Feb 12 2002
From: Swarup Mukherjee <
Date: Tue Feb 12, 2002 10:17 am
Subject: Re: [Pantnagar_Clan] Viagra and Brazil


Why not get NBPGR to try this plant in India. Dobhal helped to establish Newzealand Kiwifruit in Himachal Pradesh and it is a big commercial crop of that state now. Who knows, this guarana stuff may be a hit too. Parakh are you reading this?

With best wishes to all,


--- sailendrabhaskar < wrote:
Oi Folks,

Talking about drinks, here they have this incredibly tasty aerated drink called Guarana - its so good its difficult to believe - its made from the fruit of an Amazonian plant called
Guarana which is Paulina cupada for the botanically inclined! It has a stimulant called Guaranine which is chemically identical to caffiene and the uplifting feeling it gives you is really something. Whats even better is that it kills apetite so one tends to eat a lot
less after drinking the stuff. Incidentally Anil, Pepsi tried to launch their own version of the drink here and failed but Coke seems to have managed to hang on with their Guarana product called


--Feb 14 2002
From: Swarup Mukherjee <
Date: Thu Feb 14, 2002 5:38 pm
Subject: Re: [Pantnagar_Clan] Groundnut Seeds


ICRISAT would be your best source. Too bad Ranajitda has flown the coop. But may be he can guide you to the right person in ICRISAT who handles G'nut. Over to you


--- Sankar Datta < wrote:


There are so many of you in the seed industry, may be you will be able to give me some lead. Are there some vcarieties of Groundnut developed for the extreemly dry conditions of Ananthapur region of Andhra Pradesh? If yes, who will have some foundation seed stock? Is there someone doing it in a large scale?


may be you will also be able to give us some useful tips. Are there some major commercial parties involved? Has there been any experience of getting
the genetic stock of a region changed? Where? What
did it involve?


--March 17 2002

From: Swarup Mukherjee <
Date: Sun Mar 17, 2002 9:58 pm
Subject: Re: [Pantnagar_Clan]

Dear All,

We have a good thing going here. Let us keep it alive and kicking (and screaming, arguing, bickering and laughing). I will write in atleast once a week. Actually I am not that busy doing important things as
have been pretending. I read each and every Clan email
and have been too selfish to acknowledge frequently
enough. Sorry.

Dadu, your writings are very graphic. Good tonic for the heart. Bhaskar, needless to say, takes the cake for versatility. Alok's double barrel firings are just like that. The occassional mail from the less prolific writers are very welcome because they come from so many corners of the country and the globe.

When ever I see mail from Bahl, I am reminded of the fact that he was the first soul that Astad and I met in Pantnagar. It was pouring rain and he had come to receive us at Nagla station, as our high school senior Vasant Gandhi (his room mate at that time) couldn't make it for some reason. Falgunida's mails, short and to the point, remind me of his asking me during ragging time (along with his batch mate Pillai - wonder what happened to him) why I came to Pantnagar? I said "to do research". He retorted "What research?". I couldn't answer then. Actually, I don't think I can answer that even now.

Ranajitda used to have a poster in his Subhash Bhavan penthouse suite. The Mad Magazine boy was eating a corn cob and his signature missing-front-tooth left a neat ring of un-eaten kernels. I always wanted that poster. What did you do with it Ranajitda? By the way, I too got an email in my office from the Nigerian chap about transfering millions of dollars. He must have some means of digging out addresses from the archives in your email system. Khoob Shabhdhaan !

The jokes Saroj/Pradeep sent last week were great, especially the one about the spoon in the waiter's pocket. The one about the nudist camp gave me the shudders, because the only thing in which I am really above average is farting. On that pleasant note, let me sign off for now.

On that pleasant note, let me sign off for now.

-Mukherjee S.K.

--March 25 2002
From: Swarup Mukherjee <
Date: Mon Mar 25, 2002 7:30 pm
Subject: Re: [Pantnagar_Clan] meeting

Ramdeo is currently DIG Human Rights, UP Police and is based in Lucknow. Phone:(522) 208371.

Here is something I learnt recently about land owners rights in rural Maharashtra: My neighbour's house is on a quarter acre plot, which has some grass growing on it. He lets a farmer graze his cow there in exchange of a litre of milk daily. A few days back the farmer was collecting the cowdung which he needed for lapeoing in front of his house. The land owner made him pay Rs.5/- for the dung, saying that it was produced while the cow was grazing on his land, so the dung belongs to him!

Hee Haw.

-Mukherjee S.K.

--- regina < wrote:
Hi Folks, he was in Moradabad. Our lala Agarwal will give the correct whereabouts of Ramdeo,IPS

DB Parakh

--March 27 2002
From: Swarup Mukherjee <
Date: Wed Mar 27, 2002 7:35 pm
Subject: Re: [Pantnagar_Clan] Thanx Parakh

Actually, that was because I had promised to write in once a week (even if didn't have anything profound to say). Hope that by this week-end I will think up an interesting story.


--- sailendrabhaskar < wrote:
Hi All,

Mukerjeeda it was good to hear from you even if it was one of those short ones but I guess.

--March 29 2002
From: Swarup Mukherjee <
Date: Fri Mar 29, 2002 6:27 pm
Subject: hot off the press news

This is great news. Real need-based, socially relevant and appropriate technology (copied from the on-line timesofindia.


REUTERS [ FRIDAY, MARCH 29, 2002 2:15:21 AM ]

LONDON: Scientists in Trombay's Bhabha Atomic Research Center have come up with a cure for flatulence, by blasting guilty foodstuffs such as beans with gamma rays to knock out the offending chemicals that cause the problem, New Scientist magazine said on Wednesday.

Bacteria in the large intestine are responsible for the gases that cause flatulence, and when these bugs eat certain types of carbohydrate called oligosaccharides they produce a mixture of methane and smelly sulphurous gases, which cause the social embarrassment. The finger of blame is most commonly pointed at beans and vegetables, 60 percent of whose carbohydrates are made up of oligosaccharides. So Jammala Machaiah and Mrinal Pednekar in the food-science laboratory at BARC decided to see whether small doses of radiation affected these carbohydrates in various beans common in Indian cuisine. Using standard food treatment technology, they irradiated samples of mung beans, chickpeas, black-eyed beans and red kidney beans with a low-intensity gamma-ray, before giving the beans their standard two day soak prior to cooking. The scientists, whose research will appear in the journal Food Chemistry, found the irradiation dramatically accelerated a reduction in oligosaccharides which occurs naturally in the soaking process, the magazine said. After two days soaking, the levels of oligosaccharides in mung beans had fallen by 70 percent, compared to a 35 percent reduction in un-irradiated, but soaked, beans. Black-eyed beans and chickpeas also showed a marked fall but kidney beans were found to hold stubbornly onto their oligosaccharides. 

--April 1 2002
From: Swarup Mukherjee <
Date: Mon Apr 1, 2002 2:15 am
Subject: Jalna samachar


I have done it atlast! I got a Phalaenopsis (a humidity loving orchid) to flower in the back of my house, without the benefit of a green-house, even though an expert on commercial cultivation of orchids once told me that it can't be done in these parts because of the low R.H. This historical moment happened on the day of Holi when I was cowering in the back, hiding from aggressive neighbours. It is a different matter altogether that it took 3 years of sprinkling water twice a day and that thus far only 6 of the 40 orchid plants I brought from Bangalore have survived and that this one turned out to have wierd-looking flowers, proving the point Bernard Shaw once made about the possibility of his proposed progeny inheriting his beauty and the actress's brains. It happened like this: Several years back I had crossed a small yellow flowered but prolific Phalaenopsis species from Sikkim with a very pretty flowered but shy bearing Thailand-type Phaelonopsis, with the hope of obtaining a knock-out hybrid. But the one plant which has flowered now appears to have inherited the poor bearing from the pretty parent and the size and colour from the other parent. Such is my luck! (Dadu, Andy, please don't lecture me about looking for interseting recombinants and/or transgressive segregants in F-2. It took 5 years for the F-1 to flower!) I remember once Andy consoling me after I lost a lot in a game of teen patte, saying that those who are unlucky in cards are lucky in love. What love?! The wife has "cutty-karoed" me for suggesting to her that she give up her quest for a car driver's licence (she almost ran over a poor fellow while practicing on a busy road today) and instead practice with my old-but- functional scooter and get a two wheeler license. And here I am, sleepless in Jalna, tapping away on the key board at 2 am, hoping to get some more consolation and moral support from the clan !! Just kidding guys. Rest assured that she will feed me a good breakfast and pack a nice lunch for me in the moring and I won't be writing another long one this time tomorrow. Bahl, you have any Shairi appropriate for the situation ? -Mukherjeeda

--April 5 2002
From: Swarup Mukherjee <
Date: Fri Apr 5, 2002 10:33 pm
Subject: whomovedmywhatever

Dear Clan,

My weekly write-in is due. Since the snap of the orchid isn't developed yet and I do not have anything nice to say this time (and yet can't get away with not saying anything at all, due to the fatwa issued by Ayatolla Bhaskar), I will be my usual obnoxious self. As I understood them, the 32 slide summary of "Who moved my cheese" said quite a few things, like

(a) Change is inevitable
(b) Be alert to notice change
(c) Be quick (and if possible, proactive) in responding to change
(d) Don't be complacent

These are bits of age-old common wisdom which had helped to shape human civilisations across the globe, be they quasi-independent (rural) economies or larger inter-dependent urban societies, upto the middle of the 20th century. During the post WW-II reconstructive and subsequent industrial growth phase, these "sooj-boojh" evapourated from the janata's psyche due to the advent of two dominant (but surprisingly, politically opposite) cultural forces (1) the "free-lunch" culture propagated by opportunistic pink idealogues and (2) the culture of the good-for-nothing white-collar middle-management executives. 

These two groups of parasites thrived,(1) due to the short-sightedness of their governments and (2) due to the stupidity of their employers, who themselves gave up their down-to-earth common sense (and started wearing "peacock feathers") and surrounded themselves by smartly dressed "managers" good at essentially nothing but brown nosing. Complacency set in, both at the organisational level and at the societal level. Not surprisingly, after a few decades of such unsustainable culture, most of these organisations, and the economies where such organisations made up the majority, collapsed or are tottering at the brink of collapse because most of the people were generating hot air and not bringing in the bread (or for that matter the cheese). This caused and is causing a lot of pain and misery, where the sufferrer is often not directly responsible for his/her misfortune. This also offered an opportunity to some other hot air generators to rake in the moolah by writing best sellers like "Who Moved My Cheese." My next mail, if you guys don't vote me out of the clan in the mean time, will have an American annecdote which is somewhat analogous to our "peacock feather" story from the panchatantra. 

--April 11 2002
From: Swarup Mukherjee <
Date: Thu Apr 11, 2002 12:07 am
Subject: Re: [Pantnagar_Clan] Fwd: URGENT: Bt cotton

Dear Tapas,

The article by Devender Sharma that you have forwarded, though a very readable literary piece, contains quite a few factual errors, un-supported claims, un-founded assumptions and out-of context (and therefore highly misleading) statements. I have a policy of keeping matters relating to my current profession out of the clan mail. So here is what I will do, I will write to you separately this weekend as it will take me a long time to compose the point by point rebuttal.

But just a general comment (and this is also in light of your earlier remark on your institute have these disgusting pro-GMO seminars every year) on conflict of interest: Every technology will disturb something or somebody. For example, agriculture, one of the early technologies that nomadic men adopted, screwed the pristine nature quite thoroughly. Population pressure on one side and greed on the other, screwed (and is continuing to screw) the not-so-pristine-any-more nature that is left. Even today, agrarian settlers are threatening the idyllic life-style of many isolated tribes in forests and hills. If you dig a bore-well, thinking that it would solve the water problem in your community, someone with an open pond nearby might object saying that it would lower the water level in his pond, even though it would be more hygenic for him to draw the underground water instead of using the filthy surface water (this actually happened to a relative of mine several years ago).

And this is only the low-tech stuff: I wouldn't get into the possible harms to human-life that "high-tech" can bring about, like weak muscle development due to over-dependence on machines (which personally I think is not likely before 10,000 years and by then humans will think of a way out). By the way, did you know that some intellectual gas-bag has predicted that in a few centuries from now humans will not have molar teeth because of eating soft processed food which does not need the use of the molars - but I digress -so back to the topic.

The big GMO debate is not so much about Bt cotton as it is about raising non-tarrif barriers by the EU against relatively cheaper soybean and maize (and possibly rapeseed also?)imports from North America, most of which is transgenic. Bt cotton is loose change compared to the giga-bucks involved. This is why MNCs, which sell or are expecting to sell a huge quantity transgenic grain seeds and produce there-of, are sponsoring symposia after symposia, among opinion leaders (like Bose Institute) in potential markets to high-light the advantages of transgenic crops.

Thus all the hue and cry in Europe, which our arm-chair intellectuals picked up very fast and are feeling important by "educating" folks who get easily swayed by provocative stories in the press (look at what happens during communal riots). I am not for once saying they are working for vested interests, for they are all honourable men and women. But I am really amazed at the amount of funding that social "science" related to GM crops gets these days. Last month I had a German ag. econ. post-doc from U.C.Berkley chato-ing me and my colleagues for one whole week!

Which incidentally brings me to the same story that I promised that I will share with the clan: I read it in an old issue of the Readers Digest a long time ago, but it got etched in my memory.

It was during the WWII in the pacific theater. A small polyneasian island was being used by the US army as a back-up refuelling centre. There was not much action in that island except for the weekly supply plane that would bring in the ration, etc., for the small staff manning the unit. To help the plane land, which had to be in the night for operational constraints, the unit members would line up on both sides of the runway holding burning torches and one man would wave two burning torches by criss-crossing his hands at one end of the runway. Soon a plane would descend from the sky and yield from its cargo bay cases containing among other things bottles of liquor, the few of which were given to the native islanders as a token of gratitude for letting the US army use their island.

The war ended. The yanks left. The plane bringing in the booze stopped coming. But the islanders had got used to the whisky, yet they were too lazy to learn how to make hooch. So what did they do? Once a week, i.e., on the erstwhile supply-day, they would line up the runway in the night holding burning torches, with one of them waving two torches at one end of the runway, just like they had seen the yanks do, hoping for a plane carrying cases of whisky to land. Needless to say, such out of context activity did not yield the desired result.

So what is good for Europe (bra-burning protests etc.) about letting in GM farm produce, is not necessarily good for India also, even though it makes great news reports. I wish rational thinking and a context-specifc risk-benefit comparision, along with strategic planning for the country's economy, would go into making informed choices (and not fashion-statements or rabble rousing sentimentalities), be it in the adoption of technology or life-style or culture.

I could ramble on and on. But let me stop here (and spare you all further ordeal).


--April 14 2002
From: Swarup Mukherjee <
Date: Sun Apr 14, 2002 9:08 pm
Subject: Re: [Pantnagar_Clan] whomovedmywhatever


I think you pretty much said it in your last sentence. Most of us just are doling out bullshit from the comfort of our cushioned chairs in front of the PC, rather than doing some thing concrete to substantially change the rotten system. However, please don't lose heart. I think all of us are trying to do our part by pursuing our professions sincerely and setting a good example for others to follow.

Actually I did try to associate with some politicians, who I thought were well meaning, during a part of my 4 and a half year free-lunch goof-off Ph.D. days, but left them in disgust when I realised how self-serving they really were. At that time I vowed to use my life, to do honestly what I am good at, for whatever little it is worth, and thus contribute to the development of my country.

Yes, there is a lot of rot in India, be it cultural (slave mentality and lazyness) and the resultant economic rot (inefficiency in the work place), or biological (a population way above the carrying capacity of mother nature - I can almost hear all the Malthus-bashers in the clan gritting their teeth in rage), or political (the expediency of lying through one's teeth and grabbing or holding on to power even at the cost of the nation itself). Taking a radical stand against it may not be the answer in a country like India, where change takes more than one generation. People who tried the radical path have perished and achieved nothing but more hardships for the very people they were fighting for. If at all India can come out of this quagmire, it will be through a "grass-root cultural evolution" borne out of necessity and not anybody's diktat.

You must be thinking "What kind of cultural evolution is this old fart talking about?" It is like eating in the dhaba rather than at the Macdonalds which today's Economic Times said have come up (and are coming up in more numbers) on the Indian highways. When Pizza Hut started in Bangalore, short-sighted politicians had stones thrown at it and the MNC got public sympathy in the process. My kind of "cultural evolution" would have been to open a Paratha Hut across the road and out-sell the bugger. (I would have done it but didn't have the cash to invest. May be that's something I will do when I retire. And no, I have not seen Lagaan yet.)

But seriously Tarzan, I would like to have a verbal chat (no e-chat for me please) with you one of these days. May be it will be during my survey of the coming Kharif field trials in MP.

That brings me to the close of my weekly diatribe in the clan-mail.


--- vinay varman < wrote:

dear mukherji da sir,

Your analysis of todays system malady was enlightening.Is there a way out? did India have a chance after colonial rule and following the east india system even today?. After 18 years of govt free lunches realise what does one do?.what was the contribution?. sometimes I feel that there is too much control in india.It is my suspicion that there is too much control in it required?. Indians by nature in india are not patriotic(except when burning others families)what about modis deliberate withdrawal and police it not the failure of the system to turn out such rulers.and now they want to encash these feelings by holding elections. who is to blame? is it not better to have dfree lunches and write such bullsh-- than really do something. 

--April 18 2002
From: Swarup Mukherjee <
Date: Thu Apr 18, 2002 2:59 am
Subject: Re: [Pantnagar_Clan] RANDOM NOTES FROM DELHI

Shyam, please don't courier me the book on Sardar Patel. I will pick it up when I come to your place after the monsoon sets in (and the tempers cool down in the country). As you suggested, let's keep the mails flowing until Bhaskar gets back to base.

Dear Clan,

So Shyam thinks that a nation wide chain of Puran Singh Ka Dhaba is possible. I believe it is so (and sustainable, as long as one ensures that expansion is largely supported by cash-flow and not mostly by debt and/or equity - oops - there I go again, ladling out
hollow EVA jargon).

Shyam always thinks big. I remember when we met (after a long gap of nearly a decade) at a conference at the Ashoka Hotel in 1990, he said that he was aiming for a
Rs. 100 crore super-speciality convention centre someday. I was thinking "He can't be serious! A couple of crores maybe, but a hundred crores!?" Today I am
sure he will do it.

But, being an ardent Schumaker fan (not the racing car driver, you nitwits, but the guy who wrote "Small is beautiful"), I will root for the the single unit Pop and Mom establishments. Which is not to say that I won't patronise Shyam's dhaba chain; after reading the samples from the proposed menu card, my mouth is watering already.


--April 20 2002
From: Swarup Mukherjee <
Date: Sat Apr 20, 2002 9:59 pm
Subject: Re: [Pantnagar_Clan] This ones from Campinas in Brazil

Dear Clan

The wife is taking a well deserved two week break from looking after me (actually she has gone to the "desh" to attend a wedding). While going, she made me a new chicken dish so that I won't feel too sad and lonely, at least until the food lasts. The thing turned out to be quite tasty, so I wrote down the recipe for Shyam's dhaba. Here it is:

Tangy Chicken (without gravy)

Prerequisite: Carrot pieces kept in salt+vinegar for at least 3 months (every household should preserve 10 kg carrots during peak season and eat them from time to time year-round.)

Cut 750 g bone less chicken meat into half to ĺ inch pieces. Marinade in half cup vinegar + half teaspoon red chilli powder + 2 level teaspoon salt, for 4 to 5 hours with hourly mixing. Cut 200 g onions into fine shreds. Make a paste of 2 hot green chillis +50g ginger. Chop 200 g tomatoes into small pieces.

Heat two tablespoon oil in a frying pan. After the initial heating, keep the flame on medium. Mix 2 teaspoon jeera powder and 1 teaspoon dhania powder into the oil and then the chilli-garlic paste. Stirfor a minute and then add the onion. Stir until it
turns golden and add the marinaded chicken (minus the liquid) into the fry pan. Save the marinading liquid for a subsequent step.

Stir the chicken pieces intermittently, making sure that nothing sticks to the floor of the pan, which is to be kept covered in between stirring. After 5 minutes, add 100 g vinegar-preserved-carrot pieces, the chopped tomatoes and the saved marinade into the fry pan and stir the mixture continuously for about 10minutes (when one hand starts acheing, use the other) again making sure that nothing sticks to the floor of the pan. Check the salt in between and if desired, sprinkle some and mix well.

Goes great with phulka or rumali roti. Tastes even better when re-heated the next day.

The recipe in my next mail will be for "Spicy Micro-waved Baigan".


--May 1 2002
From: Swarup Mukherjee <
Date: Wed May 1, 2002 12:05 pm
Subject: Re: [Pantnagar_Clan] Teachers

Dear Clan,

I am sneaking this one off from my office PC, something close to what I had once recommended the sacking of two probationers for doing. This is because my home PC modem has gone kaput and I haven't had a chance to get a new one. But couldn't stay away from the action for too long.

My favourite teachers:

1) 1st year: Khanna of Introductory Organic Chemistry. It was winter and we in the H.Sc. Batch were 8 + Bahl from the previous batch. The classes were held on the terrace of CBSH under the balmy winter sun and Khanna would say "Bahl, work hard, work hard".

2) 2nd year: M G Jackson of Introductory Animal Sci., a real no nonsense practical person who used simple terms to explain complex phenomenon.

3) 3rd year: K.V. Peter, taugh vegetable crops so well that I wanted to become a tomato breeder. So I took as many extra courses in genetics as I could in the 4th year.

4) 4th year: R.C. Chaudhry, who taught Evolution. And B.B.Singh, who taught Genetics 300 so well that I made up my mind to take up basic genetics and not plant breeding for my M.Sc.

Incidentally, B.B.Singh was dissappointed when he found out that I was wasting my time on fashionable things like "basic genetics" and not working on crop breeding. It was ironic, because he was the very person who had unintentionally inspired me to go that way. Well, if it is of any consolation, I am back in plant breeding, though more by default than by design.

I will send in the Spicy Baked Baigan in my next mail.

Best wishes,


--May 5 2002
From: Swarup Mukherjee <
Date: Sun May 5, 2002 5:16 pm

Recipe for Spicy Baked Baigan (100% Vegetatian):

Make a homogeneous paste of the following ingradients. One spoon jeera powder, one spoon corriander powder, quarter spoon salt, quarter spoon red-chilli powder, a pinch or two of garam masala and one spoon ful vegetable oil. For folks from the Gangetic plain, kachchi-ghani mustard oil is recommended. Those from outside the mustard oil appreciating belt (I pity you guys) can use groundnut or sesame oil. Do not use water at all.

Choose small sized (about 3 inches) brinjals. Make many punctures on the outside with a fork. Then make two (or three, if the fruit is a bit bigger) longitudinal cuts from the distal tip of the fruit upto the calyx, such that the quarter (or one sixth) sections are held together at the proximal end. Smear the masala paste on the cut surfaces with a knife (like how the Kheera-walahs apply salt in the cucumbers) and also on the punctured outer surface. Smear liberally. Make more masala paste, in the same proportion of ingradients, depending on how many brinjals you are using.

Bake in a microwave oven in a casserol dish with a loose cover. Or, bake in a regular oven after covering with aluminium foil. Serve hot. Eat with roti, or as such.


--May 25 2002
From: Swarup Mukherjee <
Date: Sat May 25, 2002 8:28 am
Subject: empty inbox

What ? ! No clan mail for three days ? ! ! Has everyone gone hiding in nuke fallout shelters ?

Well this one is just so that whoever checks in next doesn't get the same dissapointment as I did.

Not having much to say this week except that we in Marathwada are waiting like "chatak pakshi" for the rains, I will type in a joke which I may have shared
in this forum earlier also (if I have, please don't throw any cyber-chappals at me):

Once a society dame came up to Prof. Henry Higgins, the phonetician, during a cocktail party and asked "I understand you can tell where a person is from by his/her accent. Can you tell where I come from ?"

"Sure," said the Prof. "You are from West London."

The woman said, "You are right; but how did you guess?"

"It is from the way you roll your R's," The Prof. said.

The woman remarked, "But, that's because I am wearing high heels."


--May 31 2002
From: Swarup Mukherjee <
Date: Fri May 31, 2002 8:23 pm
Subject: Re: [Pantnagar_Clan] Where is everybody????

Life (today) is great. Got back home for work before 7 pm for the first time in a month, Sundays no exception- no kidding. Had a nice cup of Red Label tea spiked with a pinch of Darjeeling leaves. Normally it is a straight dash to the dinner table. Then I open the customary email, half thinking that it would be either be empty and bhanjoing in my mind a suitable diatribe against all and sundry.

But lo and behold! There were 5 in the inbox ! Including one from Babu Einstein Verghese. Dadu, 'Gappa and Anil, thank you for your mails, even if it took a danda from Bhaskar, who ofcourse deserves the biggest thanks for untiringly prodding the herd along. Hindustan may danda ke siwa kuchh kaam nahi karta. We in the clan are no exception.

The news in Jalna is that it rained a bit two days back and our jowar and bajra seed sales have shot up. Maize is lagging behind, but we were never a big player in that segment. Desi cotton, which is naturally quite tolerant to insects, is also doing well. Dadu will be glad to know that it is all non-transgenic. What ever happened to desi cotton (Gossypium arboreum) cultivation in Bengal ? In trade parlance it is still called Bengal Deshi.

Must sign off now, or I will miss the champi on my thinning pate that the wife promised for coming home early. Bhaskar, don't fret. We wont let you down. Occassional minor let downs maybe. But not major.


--Jun 4 2002
From: Swarup Mukherjee <
Date: Tue Jun 4, 2002 9:39 pm
Subject: Of jowar and bajra

Dear Clan,

Dadu's specific queries about cultivation of millets has provided me with yet another opportunity to air my two bit opinions and views etc. (I do seem to have too many of them, don't I. Earlier I used to send them to newspaper editors, who never bothered to acknowledge their receipt, let alone print them. The clan_mail has come as such a blessing: I have you guys for a captive audience, much like the boring agronomy and economics teachers in Pantnagar.) But I digress.

I am taking this opportunity to also address a general malaise among the city folks, in lapping up poorly researched articles written by socialites and arm-chair intellectuals whose sampling radius in the case of agricultural issues is less than 50 km around major urban centres (mostly just New Delhi) where they can be assured of good liquor. Now Dadu don't feel bad, I am not attacking you one bit.

These urban centres are almost always in or near river valleys where assured irrigation led to the replacement of millets with input responsive rice and wheat. (Ask Ramdeo, whose family used to eat bajre ki roti upto 30 years back. Poor chap recently got transferred from Lucknow to Agra within days of Mayawati becoming CM of UP). But the vast hinterland that makes up the real India is unirrigated and jowar mostly in the deccan plateau, bajra mostly in the west and ragi almost solely in the south continue to be as popular as ever, very much in the staple diet.

Millions of farmers look to the skies for rains and with the first hint of monsoon pull out their saved seeds of local varieties, or buy fresh seeds in the case of hybrids, depending on whether they are growing for the home or the market (they are wiser than the city folks give them credit for). So naturally seed sales pick up after the pre-monsoon showers. It is true that greed did induce a large (numerically, but proportionately a small part of the subsistance farming population) number of farmers to take up cash crops in place of staples like millets and in many of those cases they did not have food to eat when their cash crops failed due to lack of rain (and no irrigation facility) or uncontrolable pestilience.

Incidentally, a lot of hybrid bajra is grown in Maharashtra, Andhra and Karnataka as a cash crop which is bought for chicken feed formulation. So the market price fluctuates with the fortunes of the poultry industry. (Bhaskar, any bitter-sweet memories ?)

So here's calling all suckers of the world to unite and look beyond the small-sample researches done by no good urbane pseudos; you have nothing to loose but your tunnel vision.

Dadu dhorle amaye petabe !


--Jun 5 2002
From: Swarup Mukherjee <
Date: Wed Jun 5, 2002 8:50 pm
Subject: Knee, Swaminathan and Millets

Saroj, the one thing that can provide great relief to a painful knee is paer dabaoing by the spouse. Pradeep, please heed this and do thy duty.

Bhaskar, send us a photo of you and MSS sitting on the dias.

Dadu, I will get you some good jowar and bajra varieties. But don't even think of feeding bajra to people not used to it, as it is difficult to digest. Jowar is milder on the stomach, but not as drought resistant as the former. Funny how there is always a trade off between advantages/disadvantages. But I am sure science will soon break these natural linkages which traditional plant breeding has not been able to do so far.

I am going to be a bit tied up the next two weeks - kharif planning and getting the season started. So please don't mind if I miss writing in during this time.

Take care everybody.


--Jun 12 2002
From: Swarup Mukherjee <
Date: Wed Jun 12, 2002 10:05 pm
Subject: Re: [Pantnagar_Clan] Anil Bahl at his fatherly best

Anil, The adult in the picture was you ? You sure look different in it. Or it could be the setting/angle of the pic, or the paternal glow. The last time I saw you (in Bhopal rly. stn. May 1984) was when you were chhara. Guys from my high school days say that I look the same old joker.

Bhaskar, as I said earlier I may not write but I read the clan mail regularly. In fact it is one of those things I look forward to when heading home from work.

Rest of the gang, please don't be selfish like me (read only - most of the time) and write in often.



Here is a snap of Anil at his fatherly best trying to con his son into having his food! This was taken at his house in Windsor, Connecticut while Iwas out there making a pain of myself.



--Jun 17 2002
From: Swarup Mukherjee <
Date: Mon Jun 17, 2002 8:35 pm
Subject: just sharing something i read today

This is good to read and follow.


This is nice reading, but short. Enjoy! This is what The Dalai Lama has to say on the millennium. All it takes is a few seconds to read and think over.

Do not keep this message.


1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great

2. When you lose, don't lose the lesson..

3. Follow the three R's:
    Respect for self,
    Respect for others, and
    Responsibility for all your actions.

4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke
    of luck.

5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.

6. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.

7. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

8. Spend some time alone every day.

9. Open your arms to change, but don't let go of your values.

10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.

11. Live a good, honourable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll be able to enjoy it a second time.

12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.

13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation.
     Don't bring up the past.

14. Share your knowledge. It's a way to achieve immortality.

15. Be gentle with the earth.

16. Once a year, go someplace you've never been before.

17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each
     other exceeds your need for each other.

18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.

19. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.

The above was sent to me by a colleague in the office. I thought this would be nice to share with the gang, especially since I don't have anything new to report this week.


--Jun 23 2002
From: Swarup Mukherjee <
Date: Sun Jun 23, 2002 8:13 pm
Subject: Re: [Pantnagar_Clan] Nicaragua and literacy

It was good to hear from Falgunida after quite some time. Keep up the good work. Even though it is not actually in Bharat-desh, it is going to benefit some section of humanity; and might even become a model for others to follow, including in Bharat-desh where we all are so proud to be burdened with 3000+ years of historical baggage and not being able to send a team to the football world cup games.

Bhaskar, I hope your son gets selected in the SSC. It is always better for one to get out of the town from where he/she passes high school. My best wishes to Ashwin.

One of those behavioural quarks about human beings is that people just can't resist the temptation of telling jokes. In some places (e.g., my mess during post graduation; the week end beer guzzler's group during my post-doc stint), there was a rule that whosoever lets out a joke that is democratically voted to be a stinker, will have to pay a fine (e.g., a snack treat in East Patel Nagar or the next round of beer). Let's think of such a system for the clan. The modalities of the fine payment would be tough to decide; but it can be done regionally, eg., Mahesh can call Ajit and Pruthi over when I visit him in Bangalore next.

The news from Jalna is that the rains have given us a real KLPD after a promising start at the beginning of the month. Hope it rains well in the next few days, or else the cotton crop in Marathwada is going to take a beating. Millets are safe, so no fear on the food security side, but quite a few "mulgi chi lagan"s might get postponed. So let us (even the atheists and the agnostics please) pray for good rains, not just in Marathwada but every where in Bharat Desh - where the men don't make it to international football, but the women excell in beauty contests and the children crap on the roadsides. (Bhaskar, before you take a dig, I admit that this is a straight take-off from Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion. And Shyam, I just can't help being cynical occassionally - even though it goes against your advice on positive thinkng.)


--Jun 25 2002
From: Swarup Mukherjee <
Date: Tue Jun 25, 2002 7:31 pm
Subject: Re: [Pantnagar_Clan] Lagey raho, Lagey raho likhega, likhega

I wrote a long one on Sunday evening, how come it did not go? It is Tuesday evening now and still the in box messages bear the date of last Saturday, except one
from Ranajit which was dated Sunday. Now I have forgotten what I had written then except that it was pretty profound stuff.

Any way, enjoyed the ones that came. Hope this one reaches the clan address alright.


--Jul 1 2002
From: Swarup Mukherjee <
Date: Mon Jul 1, 2002 9:56 pm

Thanks to Bhaskar for the old picture of Tagy, Bhaskar and me. It brought back fond memories of those carefree days when I could afford the luxury of sleeping till 10 a.m.

Thanks to Saroj for the steady stream of jokes, which my wife and I enjoy a lot. The recent one about the garden rake was an absolute gem.

The good news is that we have had good rains last week and can take up our Kharif planting with confidence and hope for a bountiful harvest. Some folks in western Maharashtra are getting a lot more than needed right now and are crying foul. But once the flood waters recede, they too will get back to replanting and surely get a good crop and be thankful for the recharged ground water level.

Rains bring smiles on peoples faces, especially in semi-arid lands like Marathwada.

Take care y'all.


--Jul 9 2002
From: Swarup Mukherjee <
Date: Tue Jul 9, 2002 11:03 pm
Subject: Re: [Pantnagar_Clan] I need the rake.


Congratulations on your promotion. I will definitely find some excuse to go to Bangalore and take you up on your offer of drinks, before you get transferred. How come Ajit is so silent these days. He doesn't have kharif sowing like some of us, so what's the excuse?


--- mahesh alagappa < wrote:

Hi all,

Sorry for the few days of silence. was enjoying the fruits of hard work ! I got my ass kicked up the corporate ladder and am now in what is termed in Banking parlance an "Executive". It means nothing much except that ur arse gets kicked that much
harder when u goof up and u get some fringe benefits over and above what u have right now. none that less it is a recognition of sorts and paves the way for the top mgt slot. So next time someone is in town the drinks are on me.

--Jul 22 2002
From: Swarup Mukherjee <
Date: Mon Jul 22, 2002 8:18 pm
Subject: Re: [Pantnagar_Clan] Beautiful Mondays!

Thanks for all the jokes/anecdotes, Mahesh, Bhasker
and Pradeep/Saroj.

Today, as expected, the wife flunked her driving test. To prevent myself from constantly taunting her and being at the receiving end of her wrath, I am going to
immerse myself in work for the next few weeks, which means being temporarily incommunicado.

Bye for now.


--Jul 25 2002
From: Swarup Mukherjee <
Date: Thu Jul 25, 2002 9:10 pm
Subject: Re: [Pantnagar_Clan] Of drivers and the driven


I don't think I can make it to the USA this fall (or the next). So please take a few pictures of the autmn colours in and around your property and e-mail them.


--- bahl anil < wrote:

We finally have our piece of Americana perched on a high ridge offering the bliss of solitude. 6.92 acres of wooded property surrounded on all three sides by northern red oaks. Come fall these trees are bound to unleash a riot of colorful spectacle.

--Jul 29 2002
From: Swarup Mukherjee <
Date: Mon Jul 29, 2002 10:10 pm
Subject: Re: [Pantnagar_Clan] This wasnt one of those beautiful Mondays!!


For me this turned out to be a pretty good day in the end. When I got home a few minutes back, after a long and tiring day of boring paper work in the office, the
wife greeted me with a broad smile (or was it a gloating smirk) on her face. You see, she cleared and got her driving licence today; a remarkable feat considering that I and everyone around, even her driving instructor, had given up hope.

Bhaskar, I am sure others will write in once the weekend stupour evaporates and the thought process restarts as we settle into the week.

Bye for now.


--Aug 7 2002
From: Swarup Mukherjee <
Date: Wed Aug 7, 2002 9:06 pm
Subject: Re: [Pantnagar_Clan] Pantnagar News


Where were you around 10:45 this morning ? I was in your building to meet someone, so I just peeped into your office to say hi, but you were not there. Must be attending some important meeting.


Just got back from a gruelling trip of Punjab and Haryana. It is hot out there. No rains. But with canal or ground water aplenty, paddy is growing every where with full irrigation. So the humidity is very high out there and I sweated like anything. Had a few hours in Delhi, which wasn't much better. Back in Maharashtra it feels like Ooty, because it has rained well most of this week. Sure hope N.India gets its due share of rains, however belated. 

Bhaskar, how did the final tests (ENT etc.) go ? Is Ashwin going to Lonavala then ?

--Aug 11 2002
From: Swarup Mukherjee <
Date: Sun Aug 11, 2002 7:39 am
Subject: Re: [Pantnagar_Clan] Who was that moron who said vegetative propogation wasnt fun?

Nice picture. Looks like a bundle of dynamite sticks. Are you going to start a mail order business selling this thing ? Count me in as one of your first customers.


--Aug 15 2002
From: Swarup Mukherjee <
Date: Thu Aug 15, 2002 6:56 pm
Subject: Independence day


Today I got to hoist the national flag at our company's Independence Day function. The reason hit my tube-light brain afterwards, during the post-hoisting kachori gulab-jamun session, when I found myself to be the senior most in the crowd. All the other buddas have retired. So on a day when one should be brimming with enthusiasm, I came back home feeling old.

I thought I would take an afternoon nap, in line with my "old geezer" status. But my wife, who thinks that her husband is a dapper of a forty-something young chap, didn't let me have my siesta and instead made me sit through "Sarfarosh" which was coming in doordarshan. I hadn't seen it earlier and am glad that I didn't sleep the afternoon away.

So, with full josh of a still young at heart, here's wishing you all Happy Independence Day.