Feast for Thought

Not pontificating. Only trying to bat on the side of the environment. And ethics. And simple living. And slowing down. (And trying to learn and practise before preaching or teaching...)

Friday, December 27, 2013

Downsides of Tourism, Progress and Development-1 - "Water, Water Everywhere....?"

Truly bemused.
At the multiple versions of progress and development in my country.
We 'progressed' from a smaller car to a small car about 10 years ago, that takes us conveniently on short road-trips to simple destinations, for down-to-earth purposes.

Roads, cars, water
Earlier this week, we traveled to Rameswaram and Dhanushkodi to take in sights of the bluest expanse of seas, temples tiny and huge, holy theerthams, cyclone-ravaged ruins, and awesome achievements in infrastructure.
Salt in the making
 A modified salt-making process could provide potable water, surely?
Ruins at Dhanushkodi

Azure seas - sight for city-sore eyes, but livelihood for fisherfolk 

For faster and smoother progress
But with the senses long awakened to the rather obvious 'downsides' of tourism, we have returned with less solace (not that we went seeking any).
Women and girls with water pots in their hand and heads are a familiar sight all over arid regions in India, for a long time now, Independence notwithstanding.
Pan to Dec 2013. Here are impressions from the route to Rameswaram along the East Coast Road.
Is she asking me: What's new you think, lady?

A few potfuls. While we are guilty of 'enjoying' whole tankfuls...

"Yes, our business is prospering"

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Power of the Radio

Did you get to read "War of the worlds in the theatre of the mind"? 

I did, and sent a mail message to the author, appreciating the article, and the power of the radio. (The author is a retired Deputy Director-General of AIR and former Station Director of AIR, Chennai). 

I share the author's reply - "I greatly value your comments about my article on the radio play 'War of the Worlds' and your appreciation for AIR's Public Service Broadcast.As you have rightly said AIR, Thiruvanathapuram is an acclaimed leader in broadcasting. I had the privilege of heading that station during 2003-2004.You may be surprised to see the attachment to this mail (Letters to the Editor-The Hindu dated 13 Nov.2009) which always finds a mention in my presentations on how AIR is held in high esteem by the intelligentsia."

The attachment contained a digital copy of one of my letters to the editor (can be accessed online here). 

So have no doubts at all that "What goes around comes around"!  as Vivek just noted.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Insensitive ads

A couple of recent print ads seem quite insensitive / ironical,  or a combination of both, given the glaring and present reality.
Farmer, forgive the MoA for they know not.....

Own a piece of earth? cosmos? universe? Indeed!

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Tuesday, August 06, 2013

A newspaper for kids in School

A little contrived I thought, but I wish them all the best.

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Friday, August 02, 2013

Shimshipa Tree at the Trivandrum Museum campus

Shimshipa Vrksham, the species of tree associated with Sita at Lanka

Flowers of the Shimshipa tree

The canopy of the Shimshipa tree

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Needed, such an Anti-Corruption Agency, a "Sharp-Fanged Outfit"

"One major reason for this difference is the KPK. Since it began operating in 2004, the KPK has investigated and prosecuted well over 300 cases, including dozens of members of Parliament, ministers, heads of government agencies, governors, mayors, judges and police officers. It has an astonishing 100 per cent conviction rate and has recovered state assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars." 

Surely all our well-meaning whistle-blowers can get together and bring about a similar organization?
A ‘gecko’ with a taste for corruption - The Hindu


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Mid Day Meal Tragedies

In the defense organization where I served, every meal prepared in the mess for serving personnel is tasted by the officer on duty, well before meal time.
I am sure there must be such procedure in the MDM system of the HR ministry. It is possible that such a routine is not followed by (the mostly) indifferent staff?
Have a look at the MDM website. All features of the site relate to budget and monetary aspects of the scheme. A message to the new MOS - "In your tenure can you please make the HRD ministry’s MDM website relate much better to the human aspect?" did not elicit any response, of course.
Tragic incidents will continue to take place, while the website continues to offer, at best, bland / cold / hard facts transferred verbatim from the paper files at your ministry. Achievements would get recorded, and these unfortunate incidents will be found in only news archives.
Utterly saddened....
What it takes to deliver midday meal | Down To Earth

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"Go Plastic Free: Find your Strength"

Friends, Indians, country-people, lend me your intellect-connected senses. 
I had the opportunity to speak to Mr Selvam, who runs a roadside recycling business near Ulloor in Trivandrum, Kerala. All sorts of plastic and packaging material do go for recycling. If only you would take the trouble of segregating the waste generated in your house. I do. 
I clean milk sachets and stack them
I empty polythene packages that dry grocery comes in and collect them over a period.
All you need to do is take the trouble of segregating readying them for the recycler. If you cannot deposit the stuff yourself, Mr Selvam and colleagues can arrange for pick-up. 

Dear friends, these days there are two aspects of public life that stink in this capital city of God's own country. One is the garbage, the other is politics. As concerned citizens, we can certainly do our bit for reducing the ill-effects of the former. As to the latter, we have to let our 'representatives' battle it out on the streets, in the Legislative Assembly, and at cozy tête-à-têtes with the media.

Have a good look at this infographic, courtesy  Go Plastic Free: Find your Strength

plastics mindmap-low-res

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"The dishonesty in counting the poor"

The dishonesty in counting the poor
Excellent and hard-hitting... but targeted at people, already thick-skinned, who fortify themselves in air-conditioned boardrooms located on the top floors of glass edifices.
These 'planners' look at figures on paper and at numbers crunched out by lifeless statistical codes, and then doubtless carry out extremely specialised normalisation and other adjustments.  Reminds me of the STORY about a group of scientists who tested a particular pattern of monkey behaviour ("monkey ladder banana experiment")

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Read Between the Lines - 1

"This is the point that I brought back to Washington — that it would be to the U.S.’s advantage to actually work with the Indians because there are things the Indian nuclear complex can do in their facilities that we no longer can do. There are people that they have and programmes that they have that we have abandoned.
As the U.S. looks seriously to get back into the nuclear energy business, it should look towards India as to how to do cooperative research for the benefit of the Americans."
My take: The interviewer's ndtv affiliations are apparent. The interviewee's current interests are not quite evident though. Also, what was the purpose of the current visit? 
"it would be to the U.S.’s advantage to actually work with the Indians" - more clarity needed here. US's ECONOMIC advantage perhaps?
"As the U.S. looks seriously to get back into the nuclear energy business, it should look towards India as to how to do cooperative research for the benefit of the Americans."
-this is somewhat clear. the "business" of nuclear energy
"What India can learn from Fukushima" should have been titled Experts continue to be Non-committal

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Opening India's door to More Junk?

1. Big Retail = Consumerism + High Volume Junk (Packaging + processed food).
2. Will the Govt look at FDI in Recycling and Waste management, please?
3. Will the Recycling be made a sector, and given importance, ahead of manufacturing?
4. Will Big Retail take all the junk back to their countries?
30 % local sourcing norm can't be met: Walmart

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What Bharatvaasis can be proud of

I am proud of being a citizen of the nation where Gandhiji live as a SANATHANI.
I am proud of having been able to hear first hand accounts of Mahaa Periyavaa.
I am proud of living in Bharatvarsh, where we "share a way of life common to all, a spiritual and material culture so all-pervading as to be invisible to those within it like the air they breath...".

What do you feel after reading What Hindus can and should be proud of by Ramachandra Guha?
[Note for the author Mr RAM..G:
Not sure if you have attempted to understand Sanathana Dharma in its entirety. That way of life is beyond politicized petty-minds and conditioned elitists.
I note that in page 582-583 of your book India After Gandhi as well as in your present article, you emphasize that Rama is a mythological character, not a historical one. Your insistence is unfortunate]. 
Quoting from Sanathana Dharma Blog
"Santhana Dharma, because of its diversity and flexibility has no single figurehead or guru. This also means the dharma allows each of us to pick and choose what we feel is appropriate for us. As Swami Chinmayananda says 'Sanathana is a svayam dharma (self-help philosophy)'. Void of any hard and fast rules or probations, you can pray at home lighting a little diya (lamp) or hold a massive satsang (get-together), you may choose to eat meat, even beef (I have yet to come across any Sanathani scripture that prohibits eating beef - I stand corrected), you may choose to believe in Advaita (one god), or if you are a greenie at heart choose Samkhya (purusha (man) and prakriti (nature)), you may even choose to refute the existence of god completely and decide to call yourself a Lokayata. I don’t know of any other religious system that accommodates Nastikas (atheists) in its realm, Sanathana does this hands down and that's why it remains eternal. Swami Vivekananda goes on to say Jesus Christ and Prophet Mohammed were one of the 24 reincarnation of Lord Vishnu. Whether you were born in Banaras or Kalgoorlie does not matter, what makes you a true Sanathani is your good karma (deeds) that will carve your niyati (fate), moving forward.

I end this article by quoting Mahatma Gandhi’s comments when asked about the chances of him converting to Christianity - ‘How can I possibly embrace another religion without completely u understanding mine’.

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Planning Commission, Please Make the Planning Meaningful

The planning commission should get out of air conditioned rooms and sit among the slum-dwellers in cities or / and set up camp near village panchayat locations.
To do that of course, they should first step out of their coat, suit and tie, and get into more comfortable local wear that suits the outdoor weather.
Believe me, their thinking will undergo a change for the better! I am not being cynical.
This is a seriously sincere suggestion.
Vanishing poverty trick - The Hindu

Indian Boardrooms 

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Sunday, January 06, 2013

Swathi Sangeetholsavam

If you are a music buff and happen to be in Trivandrum till 13 Jan, perhaps you may think of attending concerts at the Swathi Sangeetholsavam.event.
Venue: Kuthira Maliga, adjacent to Sree Ananthapadmanabhaswamy Temple.
Dates: Jan 4 to Jan 13
Complete schedule
Frankly, I am trying to keep superlatives under control, after attending the second day's concert by Prince Rama Varma, accompanied by Sri S.Varadarajan (Violin), Sri B.Harikumar (Mridangam), and Dr S.Karthick (Ghatam)were each expert artistes by themselves. It was easy to see "democracy" on stage, as the singer-prince put it, all the five artistes (including the tanpura player) displaying their individualism and their perfection as accompaniments.


(But why do members of the audience persist in applauding in between numbers?)
The outdoor setting in the palace premises, with the stage probably directly below the room where Maharaja Swati Tirunal composed his masterpieces. The ambience was superb, the audio was just right, too; thankfully the PA system jockey set the volume at low to medium decibels (usually the amplifiers' presence leaves the ears smarting for long... ).
Prince Rama Varma chose some of the rarer compositions of Maharaja Swati Tirunal, like 

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