Eating is an agricultural act - Wendell Berry

Saturday, June 30, 2007

what a school

this is a photo from a TOI report on june 16, the day schools started.
the school is Rushikul Gurukul Vidyalaya at Ghatkopar.

i did same in march 2006 as described here under experiment 5.
absolutely wonderful feeling.

Friday, June 29, 2007

MC/BC

"the MC is hopeless and inept."
"he is in meeting with the MC."
"the MC is doing this for his BC chamchas."

mc = municipal comissioner
bc = backward class

all this is heard in the municipal corporation head office today.
i think they have this acronym on purpose.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

mumbai phrases 1 - joined hokay

also said as joint hokay.

means "have joined since".

used like this: "i am now with a restaurant, joined hokay 3 months over."

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

mon'late'

the rains are now bigger on the satta bazaar than cricket.
tons of newsprint is now wasted on endless speculation on the monsoons.

and as usual, the rains are watching the Indian Meteorology Dept forecast.
the clouds must be saying, "hey, we are supposed to be at full throttle today, why don't we piss on them, lets go to rainbow dance bar."

but it is raining now and well at that .
and as usual, citizenry are at misery at all the assorted problems that faces a poorly managed city, which is potentially administered by the most inept group.

no more ranting, only getting wet.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

brahmin in buddha vihar

buddha vihars are places of worship for buddhists.
majority of buddhists in india are from the dalit community.
ambedkar led a large scale conversion of dalits to buddhism in protest to the stiflingly entrenched caste system in india.
when this was embedded in india's freedom struggle, there were healthy conflicts between gandhi and ambedkar. read here for a detailed thesis on this conflict between 2 geniuses.

gandhi adorned the 'untouchables' with the title of harijan (children of god).
many (including ambedkar) thought this was extremely patronising and rejected this title.

and in the south, periyar led a widespread campaign against brahmins (or rather as some say, against brahminism).

in the midst of this history lesson, mayawati (the undisputed leader of the dalits through her party - Bahujan Samaj Party) wins a historic election in UP in June 2007.
one of the major reasons attributed to her victory, is the alliance with brahmins.
very few saw the significance of this inspired strategy made in 2005, leading to a completely unexpected 'dalit-brahmin-muslim' trimurti combination.

yesterday, i was in a buddha vihar in a dalit scavenger community in mumbai making a presentation pitching for a educational program for their children.
i was born into a brahmin family.
loving it.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

2 speeches

the 2 top bills of the world - clinton and gates were together at the harvard university 2007 commencement.

some parts of clinton's speech are striking
In the United States in the last decade, we have had six years of economic growth, an all-time high in the stock market, a 40-year high in corporate profits. Workers are doing better every year with productivity, but median wages are stagnant. And there’s actually been in all this so-called recovery a 4 percent increase in the percentage of people working full-time falling below the poverty line, and a 4 percent increase in the percentage of people working, who with their families, have lost their health insurance. It’s an unequal time.
When the human genome was sequenced, .....– the most interesting thing to me was the discovery that human beings with their three billion genomes are 99.9 percent identical genetically. So if you look around this vast crowd today, at the military caps and the baseball caps and the cowboy hats and the turbans, if you look at all the different colors of skin, all the heights, all the widths, all the everything, it’s all rooted in one-tenth of one percent of our genetic make-up. Don’t you think it’s interesting that not just people you find appalling, but all the rest of us, spend 90 percent of our lives thinking about that one-tenth of one percent?
and here goes gates - making supreme sense
... humanity’s greatest advances are not in its discoveries – but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity. Whether through democracy, strong public education, quality health care, or broad economic opportunity – reducing inequity is the highest human achievement.
I left campus knowing little about the millions of young people cheated out of
educational opportunities here in this country. And I knew nothing about the
millions of people living in unspeakable poverty and disease in developing
countries.
We can make market forces work better for the poor if we can develop a more creative capitalism – if we can stretch the reach of market forces so that more people can make a profit, or at least make a living, serving people who are suffering from the worst inequities. We also can press governments around the world to spend taxpayer money in ways that better reflect the values of the people who pay the taxes.
please take time to read the entire speech.
you could ignore clinton's repartees based in americanisms, the latter half is where the real juice is.

suburban dumping mindset

this title is inspired by the latest brainwave from the BMC's new plan for stray dogs.

1. shifting 5 lakh dogs to the suburbs.
even without the details/arguments of how unfair it is to the dogs, the sheer lack of economic sense is befuddling:
as the article says, just feeding the dogs will costs Rs 1 crore a day. over and above, the level of infra needed and manpower will then make it one of the largest expense head in the BMC budget.

2. the mega plans of the BMC and MMRDA plan to move the slum dwellers to relocation sites in the suburbs. here are the stats over the last 3 years in just one area.

3. and the garbage dumping sites are all in the suburbs. at 8000 tons per day, it is a lot of junk.

i use this example often when i talk about cleanliness:
cleaning you house, area should and does not mean that you clean you house and doorstep and dump them in front of the neighbours' or on the road.

the same is applicable here too.
there is more land/space available in the suburbs for sure, but this is ridiculous.

there is hardly any concerted effort from the authorities and more importantly - we ourselves are so 'not bothered'.

some fantastic ideas and solutions are happening in our very midst.
1. sterilisation of stray dogs. read this for a greater understanding of stray dog population control.
2. slum rehabilitation without builder mafia ruling the roost.
3. minimising waste, waste segregation and composting.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

the men who planted trees

there is a lovely story from france (world war vintage) on elezard bouffier - the man who planted trees.
there is a debate whether it is fact or fiction.
whatever be the case, the story really touched me.

and here we have a indisputable factual story of a modern day indian bouffier - velusamy.

it is literally because of these inspiring people that it still rains. (a csm paraphrasing of a tamil saying).

Monday, June 11, 2007

WED and conservation - my promises

while i wrote these posts on WED and ideas on conservation, i was being nagged internally.

while ceaselessly propounding ideas, i did not promise anything.
it did come to me hard while writing. but then the ideas did not come freely. struggled to push out the boundaries.

so here are 2 items which i promised that day and am managing well.
1. no more newspapers. i averaged 2 a day.
2. switched to fountain pen (pens which are refilled with liquid ink).

love is god

saw a fantastic tamil movie - anbe sivam - over the weekend.

it is an outstanding movie from all aspects.

the lyrics here i share are something which seared me. given in tamil and my interpretation.

aatthigam paesum adiyaarkellaam sivamae anbaagum,
aatthigam vaesum nallavarukkoe anbae sivamaagum

siva (god) means love to the siva bhakts (adiyaar) who chant his name (believers)
love mean siva (god) to the 'saints'/good men (nallavar) who discard/disregard religion (agnostics)

there is a real parallel in my mind to gandhi's definition of truth. when everyone said
'god is truth', he said 'truth is god' (satya hi eashwar hai).

Sunday, June 10, 2007

2 to 2 to 2 2

this is a puzzle.

not original, of course.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

against all odds

back-to-back inspirational stories of people who have braved the worst to succeed...against all odds.

1. the magnificent 7 from the mumbai train blasts of 7/11.
2. the rickshaw-puller's son who cracked it into the IAS.

it is rare that the mainstream media does this and when they do, they need the pat on the back.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

WED - ideas on conservation

comments and promises from the comments on the WED 2007 post1 and post 2 prodded me to try to make a simple list of conservation tips.

1. bucket baths - time tested method in india. saves tons of water (18 Tons a year at least). having grown up in chennai, we grew up on mini bucket baths!!
1a. on same note, turn off the tap while brushing teeth and washing the face.
1b. half close the valves under the basin and kitchen sink to keep water flow at less than niagara level.
1c. fill a plastic bottle with sand and 'sink' it into your toilet 'flush' cistern. so each time you flush you will save 1 liter of water.

2. buy local produce - minimise plastic packaged stuff for fresh produce like fruits and veggies. to stretch, one could even try to buy rice and pulses from the local grocer.

3. configure computer monitors to power saving mode within 10 mins of 'rest', shutdown within 20 mins of 'rest'. same with laptops.

4. turn off appliances at the plug/switch and not just at the remote control level. this was all over the billboards etc during the mumbai power crisis last month.

5. minimise buying imported items. read here for some alarming statistics

6. in your workplace and maybe even homes, keep the blinds/curtains open and allow sunlight to light up your space.

good luck.

WED - follow up

after the last line of yesterday's post, here is a rocking example of a mega scale clean up at the borivali national park (aka sanjay gandhi national park).

... along with WWF and some independent volunteers, managed to clean up nearly
500-600 acres of the park in just one day. We manually collected plastic bags,
cups and bottles, cleaned up the nursery plants, deweeded the garden and tidied
up the stretch frequented by visitors. To us, it was an ideal way to start off
World Environment Day...

and in the words of volunteers who participated makes me smile

...I have lived near SGNP all my life and witnessed how the forest is abused
by the visitors. I cleaned it today, and if it gets dirty tomorrow, I will clean
it again and again—till people start noticing...

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

world environment day

today it is the world environment day.

daily news and analysis has a series of articles on the situation in maharashtra and mumbai.
1. Urbanisation has turned on time bomb in state - has statistics on the deterioration in life due to pollution.
2. the rapid decrease in tigers and indiscriminate poaching can destroy eco system.
3. escalation of water crisis in maharashtra - 3 crore of the population depends n water supplied through tankers and less than 50% have access to sanitation facilities.
4. some thoughts and ideas on citizen action

as individuals, we tend to believe that we are too small and ineffectual to be able to impact this degradation.
this is as true as the fact that this post will be read by more than 5 people.

we can only do small things and that's what we should keep doing even though we may think that it may not save the world as it will surely postpone doomsday by additional nanosecond.

Monday, June 04, 2007

NOW activism

shikshantar has compiled a list of writings and thoughts of veteran activists on the current structure and nature of activism.

this is my stand out activist moment. tiananmen square and this outstanding photo of an outstanding young rebel.
of course there are aplenty if you are able to read the wiki entry in detail.

as you read the welcome and juantia brown one starts to contemplate the real meaning of activism.
i liked the article by donella meadows.
am still reading and re-reading.

at the start, gandhi's seminal hind swaraj is mentioned. here is the full text of his writing.
still reading and re-reading

Friday, June 01, 2007

trickle down - what's that again?

today's headline news is the spectacular growth of the indian economy - 9.4%, next only to china.
hindustan times
indian express
times of india
business line

i had earlier posted a small link to an interview which questioned the trickle down effect.
here is another 'is it trickling' analysis from how the other half lives.
the full article is authored by jagmohan for the tribune.

this is certainly open to debate as readers are aware about how statistics are manipulated to suit one's viewpoint.