Eating is an agricultural act - Wendell Berry

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

attacking trains - perspectives

big time drama happened today in WB on the Rajdhani express being taken over/hijacked by naxals/maoists, etc.
all ended well and no one was hurt and so on.
i agree that it is very troublesome and stressful and threatening (as passengers, as train Ops Research people, law enforcement people, etc).

but using the trains as a protest mechanism, these happen in mumbai quite frequently,
1. Feb 8, 2009 in Borivali.
2. Sep 2, 2009 in Nallasopara.

the latest one is planned and the mumbai one's are spontaneous.
but net net, the frustrations of the people result in violent behaviour.

of course, violence cannot be justified from any angle.
but i am just bringing together 'similar' incidents with different 'perspectives'.

p.s. - hey protesters, leave the trains alone

sardar sarovar - stories of displacement

indiatogether is running a series of articles by neeta deshpande covering the displacement (displaced by the dam) of the locals post the sardar sarovar dam over the narmada.

part 1 and part 2 are very readable. it is saddening that development is a many winners-many losers concept.
and that's never going to work. ever.

do follow the series.

while on the subject of water, here is a study - unravelling bhakra which highlights that the iconic bhakra nangal dam may not really deserve its legendary status.

for the record - i am anti big dams.

Monday, October 26, 2009

jeevan vidya - madhyasht darshan

i have been hearing/reading in parts about the concept of जीवन विद्या (jeevan vidya) aka मध्यस्त दर्शन (Madhyasth means Mediating. Darshan means Insight (of reality - direct understanding of reality or knowledge)).

the concept is explained here in some level of detail here. i find it really fascinating.
to get my teeth sunk into it, i will need to do a 7 day शिविर (shivir - workshops).

along with vipassana, this is another self-discovery is shall be definitely doing in 2010.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

circular reference

winning is for losers...

after making this insightful statement yesterday(!!), i find that there are websites and movies with the same title.

Friday, October 23, 2009

mere paas...

a poor master of arts student falls in love with a rich girl.
the girl's father gets to know and berates him using big words like haisiyat (status), aukaat (guts), majaal (how dare), jurrat (gargantuan error), etc., and ends with "what do you have?"

poor guy says. "mere paas MA hai!"

ok, cheap one.
here is more...
1. injured eagle - mere paas claw hai
2. poor lawyer - mere paas law hai
3. poor cowboy - mere paas quick draw hai
4. poor lumberjack - mere paas saw hai
5. poor indian (red variety) - mere paas squaw hai
6. lech walesa - mere paas warsaw hai
7. poor vegetarian - mere paas coleslaw hai

ok. time to go.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

maha mess

the vidhan sabha election results are out.
maharashtra re-elects the Cong-NCP alliance into power.

my hopes have been powdered, but i had expected these results.

so here is a nice good bye to maharashtra.
the next 5 years will be destructive, if their previous 10 is any indication.

we buy trash

india is moving into becoming the leading importer of trash from across the globe.
According to an estimate, India imported around 16.8 lakh tonnes of ‘waste
paper’ in 2005-2006, valued at about $290 million. However, environmental
activists say that much of the socalled recyclable waste that is imported is
trash and ends up in Indian dumps, landfills and sometimes, even farmlands. In
September last year, environmental activist Nityanand Jayaraman discovered that
ITC’s paper factory in Coimbatore had dumped hundreds of tonnes of municipal
solid waste — household garbage, in other words — from the UK into agricultural
wells in the area.

while the above article only covers paper and municipal waste, the highest value of trash imports is scrap metal. and plans to regulate it by the govt has been scrapped. how ironic...

Indian imports of metal scrap are worth over $1 billion per year.
"The DGFT and the customs took a bold and courageous decision to scrap the regulation altogether. This means you can freely export scrap to India."
The regulations were introduced to safeguard workers dealing with metal recycling in India, underlining that the country would not accept second-rate material.

old timers will recall that the metal scrap from the twin towers debris has been extensively used in india.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

amrut jal and amrut mitti

after attending the city farming working last month, we decided to put the training into action.
the key to life in the planet is the continuous work of nature in recycling the organic matter back into the soil.
this typically happens in forests with the help of animal, birds (their droppings).

so how does one replicate this natural process on a terrace.
through the efforts of shripad dabohlkar and deepak suchde, the concept of natueco farming has been created.
the former is the founder of प्रयोग परिवार (prayog parivar) (an incredible family of experimenters) and the latter is continuing the legacy.

the core of natueco farming, is around soil creation.
called अमृत मिट्टी (amrut mitti), this is the main object of this post.
its preparation is detailed here and is quite simple and aims to replicate the natural processes in a controlled environment. the process involves the preparation of अमृत जल (amrut jal), which provides all the microbes.

we went through the process over the last 3 weeks and we are now one week after laying down the layers of biomass and soil. in another 2-3 weeks times, we should have our first attempt ready to use.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

kamal - 50 years and counting

i grew up on kamal (and rajinikanth).
but kamal was always the main man.
from an inexplicable juvenile star-struck teenager to an explicable mature star-struck adult.
that's been one of the journeys that i continue to cherish.

more so, when i saw the celebrations of kamal's 50 years in cinema.
over 3 hours of people lavishing praise over praise on kamal (what else, one would say).
but nothing felt over-saccharine.
everyone (other than the nauseating anchors) behaved like a bunch of students saying their thank-yous to their fantastic teacher.
only that the teacher is still going to continue to teach them.

2 speeches just blew me away.
the last 2.
the penultimate was rajini's memorable anecdotes:

Rajinikanth in his speech referred to Kamal as “Kalai Ulagam Anna. Rajini added that he has enough material to speak on Kamal’s achievements for two days and in 1975 when he joined movies Kamal was already a very big star and could have easily overshadowed him in the 10 odd films they did together.

“ He never interfered with my character or tried to cut me down in any of the films we did together. Please note as a star he was much bigger than me and any director would have gladly chopped my role or refused to cast me, if Kamal had asked them. But after Ninaithale Inikkum, he called me and told me that it is better for my growth as a hero if we do not work together, and I gained by it,” was Rajinikanth’s simple straightforward explanation.

and so much more...

and kamal responds, like only he can.
first on the statuettes of his parents that his fans gift him:
i don't consider my parents as dead. they continue to live in my fans
and responding to rajini's anecdote, he brings forth their intimate friendship to the public eye.
Which actor in the world will be so honest and straight forward in his talk? There were stars before us but they were never as friendly as we were, and we have proved that two top actors can be healthy rivals. Rajinikanth will always remain my best friend forever.
and he remained dry eyed through his speech at the end of which he goes down on his knees and prostrates in front of the entire audience.
WOW level.

signing off,
unabashed mega fan of kamal

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

be the change (BTC)

obama massively popularised "be the change".
the quotations page says that gandhi said - "You must be the change you want to see in the world."
there are many websites with BTC fundas.
1. be the change
2. be the change inc
3. the be the change symposium

CNN ran (runs?!) a massive campaign around BTC.
massive amounts of collateral has been made with BTC.
it is becoming the favourite slogan of advertisers.
kate edmonson has a beautiful song around BTC.

so imagine my consternation and surprise when i saw this question.
the question raiser (Enuga Reddy) is a renowned scholar of MKG.
after reading the response, i decided to ask around.

so after checking with a few other scholars, it is confirmed.
the many variations of the BTC quotes DO NOT appear in the collected works of mahatma gandhi.
it is likely that MKG may have said something to that effect in gujarati and in passing and has been paraphrased by arun gandhi.

not that it really matters much.
BTC is something that MKG is likely to have said and surely enough he lived it more than anyone else.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

choices, tough ones

the LS elections just passed 5 months ago.
i did a prediction and fared miserably.

the maharashtra state elections are around the corner. on oct 13th 2009.
plans to boost voting percentage by shutting down the city is afoot.

against all that is me, i would prefer that the shiv sena-bjp combination comes to power as against the congress-ncp.
kumar ketkar's interview (loksatta editor) is a good read.
so is tvr shenoy's general analysis.
sainath has made it amply clear about how the farmers have suffered.

as much as i cant stand the right wing-hindutva chanting saffron combine, the cong-NCP have raped and plundered and pillaged maharashtra for the last 10 years.... a la ghazni, ghori et al.

so am hoping (not predicting) that ss-bjp come to power (sigh).

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

narural disaster week

8th Sep - 10 Sep - Flash floods sweep across turkey.
22nd Sep - massive floods in georgia, USA.
29th Sep - Undersea earthquake spawns tsunami and hots the samoan islands.
30th Sep and 1st Oct - earthquakes rock indonesian islands.
26th Sep - 4th Oct - typhoons ketsana and parma slams philippines, vietnam, cambodia and laos.
1ct Oct - 6th Oct - torrential rains drown large parts of AP and Karnataka in South india.

of course, they are all related.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

roy, millworkers et al

reading arundhati roy's interview in the TOI of OCt 2nd, we decided to hear her out as she was going to address the Mumbai Girni Kamgaar Sangharsh Samiti's (मुंबई गिर्नी कामगार संघर्ष समिति) 20th anniversary.

astute followers of this blog will immediately see that she has raised the issues covered in my post of Oct 1 - impending civil war.
even astuter followers of this blog will also recall my 'support' to the millworkers - mills to high street - phoenix from the ashes.

i like roy (even though i have not read her claim to fame - Booker prize winning - the God of Small Things) as i think her role is to conflate the multiple struggles going on across the country and bring each of these struggles to each others' notice.
another of my favourites - ramachandra guha - has had a slugfest with roy in 2000-01. i am inclined to side with roy on this one.

coming back to the event...
roy spoke sparingly (her hindi is woeful for someone who has spent years in the hinterlands) in a full blown marathi meeting, recalling points mentioned in the TOI interview.
also present was nikhil wagle - present editor of IBN Lokmat (the 24 hours Marathi news channel) and pushpa bhave.

happy weekend reading.

Friday, October 02, 2009

monsoon 2009 - baarish gul

i followed the 2008 monsoon over maharashtra reasonably closely.
not this year.
so remedying the situation.
'worst drought since 1972' screams TOI.
the india monsoon map tells the story (courtesy - IMD, Mumbai):
22% less than normal.
22/36 divisions are reporting 'deficient' rainfall

but the most striking statistic is the normal rainfall expected in each region.
the lowest is west rajasthan (256.8 mm per year)...quite obvious na, desert and all that.
but next is tamilnadu (285.2 mm per year). mind you that TN gets most of its rain from the north east monsoon, but this figure is still quite remarkable considering that kerala - a stone's throw away - gets a whopping 2071.2 mm a year.
the western ghats do a bloody swell job.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

impending civil war!?

tehelka reports that we are at a warlike situation.
this war is against the maoists aka naxalites aka 'terrorists'.
these people are supposed to have resorted to excessive violence against the state to stake their claim/people's claim.
their main geography cover some states in central india - MP, Chattisgarh, Maharashtra, AP, WB, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa. the government has made a monumental blunder by raising the Salwa Judum to counter the naxal violence.
people (with guns) against people (with guns) has never worked.

some simple nice people/orgs (like binayak sen/PUCL) have been accused of being naxalites/sympathisers.

coming back to the tehelka story which stung me:
Over this past year, the Home Ministry has been planning a major armed offensive against the Naxals, particularly in Chhattisgarh. According to reports, the plan involves stationing around 75,000 troops in the heartland of India — including special CRPF commandos, the ITBP and the BSF. Scattered newspaper accounts have spoken of forces being withdrawn from Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast; there is also talk of bringing in the feared Rashtriya Rifles — a battalion created specially for counter-insurgency work — and the purchase of bomb trucks, bomb blankets, bomb baskets, and sophisticated new weaponry. Minister Chidambaram has also said that if necessity dictates, he will bring in the special forces of the army.
why is it a scary thought?
The decision to launch such a massive armed operation on home ground — due to start this November — should have triggered animated political, civil society and media debate. But Operation Green Hunt — as the offensive is being termed — has been gathering force in almost complete silence. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister Chidambaram have variously called Naxals — or “Maoists” — “the gravest threat to India’s internal security.” Perhaps a military offensive against them is the answer, but is it the only answer? Is it the best answer? Will it provide a solution? Who will be impacted by this offensive? What will be its repercussions? Who are we really declaring war on? What are we declaring war on? Are we going into this with eyes wide open? Is there anything we should have learned from the seemingly irreparable psychological mess in Kashmir and the Northeast? These are the questions a democratic society should be asking.
himanshu kumar needs to be heard.
As Himanshu Kumar, a Gandhian and the only human rights activist on ground zero in faraway Dantewada where Operation Green Hunt is to be launched, says, “We can all be agreed on the premise that Naxalism is a problem, but why are these poor people attracted to a politics that will end in death? Have we created such a heinous system that death is more attractive than the deprivations and humiliations this system doles out? If that is so, why should I defend this system? All that these people want is food, health care, school, clothes and their legitimate right over their land. Yet, instead of weaning them away by strengthening the democratic process, if we are going to run our democracy only on the strength of weapons, I fear we are entering a dangerous and irrepairable state. We are headed for civil war.”
i am seriously worried.