1 Sept 2021

Drones to Deliver Vaccines?!?


In recent months, there was hype in the media about using drones – remote controlled small flying craft – to deliver vaccines. The banter got excited when a government agency invited drone operators to set up a pilot project for delivering medical supplies. It was promptly assumed drones would be to supply COVID19 vaccine to poorly connected rural areas, especially villages in remote mountain regions.

The premise for considering such a vaccine delivery mechanism inferred that many rural parts of India do not have suitable infrastructure and roads to enable last-mile connectivity. I was reached out, for opinion and guidance on how drones could safely bridge the gaps in cold-chain logistics for vaccines.

My immediate response was that the idea is inefficient at multiple levels and I saw no urgent purpose to use drones for delivering these vaccines.

28 Aug 2021

India's Policy Pathway to a Food System

Discussion Paper

‘Game changing’ policies, actions & initiatives of the Government of India that shaped the path for a sustainable Food System


The background to this paper is the United Nations Food Systems Summit 2021 (UNFSS) and a review of the 'game changing' interventions that were identified and documented in the five theme documents prepared for this Summit. In turn, it triggered a recap of the various policy actions taken by India in developing its current day Food System. It was seen that many of the initiatives taken in India have been along the lines that fulfil the criteria laid down by the UNFSS. 

The UNFSS has defined three primary criteria to prioritise ‘Game changing’ policies, actions & initiatives across the identified action areas.  These criteria are Impact potential at scale; Actionability (taking into account politics, capacity, costs, tools); and Sustainability (including delivering beyond 2030). Further, it suggests ‘game changing’ solutions should support towards gender equity, empowering youth, and create synergies. 

The concept of 'Food System' - the complex web of activities involving the production, processing, transport, and consumption of food - is about adopting a system approach to how we think and act in relation to food. Note, that while the Food System is inherently linked with agricultural activities, it does not include all of agriculture.

25 Jan 2021

Visoning the Cold chain in 2021

 Farming can no longer be relegated merely to serfdom functions of cultivation, rearing, harvesting or catching of produce. Production alone cannot be seen as a sufficient condition! The new favoured approach includes ensuring that the production off farms is translated into wholesome delivery at demand side. A long overdue emphasis on post-production activities is coming to fore. 

Production delivered, in-full, in-quality and in-time, is farming fulfilled; naturally demanding that agri-logistics be seen as a secondary agricultural activity. This is why, in case of high value perishables cold-chain is imperative. It is the sole means to safely handle and transfer perishable value in the post-production phase of their marketable life-cycle. Farm production, to varying degrees, is dependent on biological factors but once harvested, the perishable produce must connect with consumption and within a predetermined time-line. By perishables, I include in meaning all fresh produce with an inherent expiry – such as fruits, vegetables, meats, fish and milk. 

A surreal dream becomes a persuasive vision... when it is rooted in some tractable ground realities.

21 Oct 2020

War Games with COVID19

The vaccine to end all vaccines, or something like that, could start rolling out for the public-at-large in just a matter of months. This could be seen to bring relief ... fingers-crossed …  from becoming an inadvertent host to this coronavirus. 

Yet, it will be more appropriate if the vaccine is not perceived as a personal condom to safeguard selected individuals from COVID19, but is seen as the mainstay of a program to eradicate the virus.

There is a fine distinction between a personal prophylactic against disease and achieving population scale immunity to stop the spread of a disease. Enmasse, entire populations or around 65 to 75 per cent as the scientists tell, must be inoculated (and in quick-time) to rid us of COVID19. 

14 Apr 2020

Start-up Rural India, after Covid19

Most of rural India witnessed an unseasonal reverse migration of its able bodied manpower, who had to return perforce fearing prolonged economic duress. In the backdrop of the Covid19 pandemic, this movement from urban centres to home villages, was undertaken in defiance of a nationwide curfew. 

As this virus spreads its reach, it is quite evident that the risk of disease is heightened in localities with a high population density. When working in cities, these workers (termed migrants), tolerated crowded and squalid living conditions, usually in illegally built building blocks and slum areas that do not even pretend to have basic norms. Typically employing themselves in blue collar jobs and semi-skilled tasks, often as informal labourers, this workforce by now would understand that they are safer in the more open expanses of rural India.

8 Apr 2020

Computing a Graded Exit from Covid19 Lockdown

The Covid-19 lockdown required a cessation of all non-essential physical interaction, so as to minimise the transmission of the novel coronavirus between humans. 

Governments all over, want to curtail the rampant spread and recurrence of the virus that mainly transfers via respiratory droplets, needing physical proximity between its victims. Indirect transmission, by way of fomites, is not fully documented but any community spread would mean as much. A graded ending of the lockdown is needed.