Category Archives: Free Falling

Independence or in-dependence?

We have to know that there is always another side. The stand you take, as they say, depends on which side you sit. The need to see the other person’s viewpoint is central to any enrolment we seek of other people to our collective concerns.

There is an identity that is whole, and many ways of see what that means as quality of life, in the end, for India and us as people.

There are 600 million young Indians under 25. Nearly 150 million of them are just turning 18. We need 1 million jobs a month for the next 300 months if we have to keep young aspirations fulfilled. There are less than 2 pc who are graduates, and 94 per cent of work force in all segments is literate. The make the wealth. The small majority of educated only manage the wealth.

There are 260,000 panchayats. Every 30th Indian is an elected person, with nearly 30 million who are elected by some body or other — panchayats, urban local bodies, cooperatives, unions, different administrative bodies across both rural and urban India.

Clearly those who have 20 to 30 years of good working years before them should focus on building opportunities out of every challenge and deficit that exists.

In the room today at the CSO meet, the elephant that was terribly missing and we were not even aware of is Governance. Not government. Lincoln’s famous line from the Gettysburg address, “of, by and for the people” needs amending. He forgot the 4th preposition: from the people.

Governments as we have known them in the last hundred years have outlived their utility, if ever they had one. For 2,000 years India saw self-governance at the village. We need to reinvent that mechanism of self-governing with actions on all urban infrastructure needs coming from the people, all of us. No one stops us from doing it, except our own inertia. Hamare Mai baap sarkar to karegi, is the stock response you get in many villages of today. We heard Sunday too at least two participants saying that the government should be doing it.

Over 50 years with multiple subsidies and incentives and the government trampling over every institution of governance, people at the local levels of administration have been emasculated of their ability to govern themselves. In every village there are now at least 32 schemes running — from housing, to health, to farm subsidies, to charities and donations for temples and mosques and churches. The need for planning and shaping one’s own destiny is non-existent.  

There has to be a return to that past into this future if we have to get the 600 plus districts to secure sustainable ways of working. The single biggest hurdle is the government of course, for the beast will resist every attempt to cage it. How do we the people decide therefore to find ways of ridding ourselves of our dependence on the Government, and not increasing it? How do we stop ourselves from saying, The Government should do this, or that? How do we discourage any debate on what the Government should be doing to mend their ways and bringing efficiency?

That will indeed be Poorna Swaraj. We are colonized still. By many forms of government and the bureaucracy that touch our lives. It is more so in small towns and in villages than it is in urban India. Its invidious influence has to be stopped.

But this will mean taking upon ourselves all those things we can do without the government — energy, water, waste, education, health, food and agriculture, housing. If in each of these areas we are able to find solutions and make investments in our own homes, and villages and city wards, we will then secure freedom from the government and its tentacles. Imagine a situation where as amass of people we are able to say No to the Government and run our housing colonies with the water supply board, or the sewerage board, the electricity board, and the waste-collecting contractors of the city municipalities. All these agencies will panic! We would have shown them we don’t need them.

It is not an ideal. It is within the realm of possibility. Look at what happened to the Telephone Exchanges of the 1980s which used to suppress demand so badly that you had to wait in years-long line for securing a telephone line. They have been consigned to the dustbin. The same happened to the Post Office system which was as large as it used to be. Can you now imagine making a ‘lightning call’ and waiting for 3 hours to reach someone who is just 12 hours away? Many in young India do not even know of such scenarios that existed here until 20 years ago.
It is such Poorna Swaraj from the Government that we should secure.

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Talk to your kids about global warming

Global Warming 2/2

They are the future. The problem is kids learn from your behavior including when and how much to freak out. If you are constantly fretting over global warming, how can you keep them positive about their future? Continue reading

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Don’t pay a sin tax

English: Clean Energy Bike Français : Vélo Cle...

Have you heard of carbon credits? People call it a sin tax. You pay extra money and keep driving your SUV. That is not on. It abuses the global ecosystem. Continue reading

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What media says about ZED way of living…

Patterns of Light

 

From outside, the Biodiversity Conservation India Limited (BCIL) office in the plush Sadashiva Nagar in Bangalore looks like any other building. But once you step inside, you realise that it is pleasantly different. A part of the premises is lit up and powered by wind energy, while a large number of flowerpots and a staircase, work as makeshift air-conditioners. And a machine that resembles a water dispenser converts moisture in the air into clean drinking water…

Click here to read the rest of the story.

 

 

 

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Need to kill 10,000 sq km of forests and rich lands

Savandurga hillside forest, Bangalore, India

Image via Wikipedia

The six sectors occupied in 2009 about 0.7 million hectares [or 7000 sq km]. This included land leased out to mine coal, bauxite, limestone, and iron ore.

But this might be a gross underestimation because in the past, industry has acquired far more than what is required for power production facilities. Golf courses are not uncommon in industry premises and golf turf consumes 30 liters per square foot of grass. Continue reading

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The Mahua Magic

I was two hours outside of Nagpur in the Melghat region sometime ago. I chanced upon a tribal hamlet and spent two days in the village. It was April and fragrant mahua flowers were spread for drying in front of every house. The residents said they were preserving the flowers for the rainy season to make mahua bhakhar. It is a sweet bread made of dried mahua flowers and sorghum flour. Locals believe the warm properties of the flower protect from chills and aches during the rains. Amused by my curiosity an elderly lady in the hamlet prepared two bhakhars for me and offered a bag full of dried flowers to take home. Continue reading

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Drain starch water for low-carb rice

White Rice

Image via Wikipedia

To some of you the TV campaign for a rice called Arise must still be fresh in the mind. The company that promoted it was Marico and it claimed a 20% reduction in carbohydrates with this rice variety. The claim was based on just one study and a nutrient analysis. Nutritional claims have to be substantiated with data. It was not in this case. Marico said Arise has been studied in some of India’s premier institutes that confirm it is healthier than other white polished rice. When asked if it would not be simpler to reduce carbohydrates by draining starch water from the cooked rice. An official said in-home techniques will not consistently lead to desired benefits. Continue reading

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Soil pH has declined significantly since 1980s in India & China

Fertilizer-Burn on a cannabis sativa leaf.

Image via Wikipedia

Each plant and its soil life form have a particular soil pH it is used to. It is like blood pressure in our bodies, that varies many levels even within a day. Any change can lead to complications in the organism’s metabolism. Decrease in pH modifies top soils, a major source of crop nutrients.

Soil pH declined significantly from the 1980s to 2000s in nearly all crop production areas in India and China. Average decline was between 0.13 and 0.8. Typically pH value hovers at an average of eight across most lands of the world. Continue reading

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Painkillers is a billion-dollar market!

Only the painkillers market in India is at Rs 4,000 crores a year. The annual growth in this market segment is 16 per cent. Consumers have varied choices in the type of drug (aspirin, ibuprofen) and of strength (low, regular, extra strong). In the US, 81 per cent households buy analgesics four times a year.

Pic: healingbackpain.co.uk

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The silence of the sheep

He is a young and earnest doctor. Vasudev Garg is a vet working in the remote parts of Jaisalmer district. He is responsible for the wellbeing of animals in a radius of over 120 kilometers. He has no means of transportation to get to each of his patients. So the burden is on the herder to transport his animals to the hospital. Continue reading

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