Biotechnology and Mangroves!
Tuesday, July 22 A visit to an agricultural research center gave me new appreciation for the mangroves so common in Florida. With little fresh water to maintain India's rice needs biotechnology research has isolated the gene in mangroves that make them salt tolerant. They have succeeded in injecting this gene into rice and wheat to increase production in water starved areas. An outreach program works to convince farmers of the importance in trying this new variety. Another key project involves getting the community to plant mangroves along their shoreline for coastal restoration. The tsunami in 2004 had minimal effect in an area where they had succesfully established a mangrove forest. The institute is attempting to use this example to convince people to plan mangroves trees.
At last we visited the prestigious India Institute of Technology (IIT) that we hear about at every secondary school we visit. This is the equivalent to our Harvard, Princeton or Yale Universities. There are currently seven IIT schools all of which specialize in engineering. There is an obsession about ITT. It is the ultimate ambition of every child and parent. Most of the graduates head to the US for jobs in Silicon Valley. It means lifetime prestiage. All bright students study incessantly for the exams. Over 300,000 take the exam for 6,500 seats. They have an affirmative action program mandated by the government that relaxes the cut scores for the Backward Caste applicants and the Scheduled Tribes. We got a sample of last years exam (six hours) and were blown away! It costs students about US $750. a semester!
An evening Ayurvedic message was a cultural experience. This oil massage has an ancient medicinal history. This was truly a Crisco experience that I can not do justice to in a blog!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!