Live and Express

Live and Express


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The Water Problem (Episode 2)

Recently I wrote about the looming water problem in India. At that time, all I had was questions on the enormity of the issue, and how we can tackle this. I made a bucket list of all the stuff that I can do, and I quickly followed up with a few people I knew on social media and otherwise, and the results were a bit comforting, although the efforts are long-drawn projects that need constant follow-ups.

I was deeply heartened to see that many people are actually working on the water already at various levels – creating awareness, conducting sessions, executing implementations to effectively use groundwater and rainwater, and coming up with innovations that can made radical improvements to the abilities to store water.

Two of such groups that I came across were The Rainwater Club and Bhungroo. Both of them are well-known in the water circles for their work. The Rainwater Club is doing their work mostly in Karnataka and Tamilnadu, while Bhungroo has projects all over the world, but head-quartered in Gujarat.

The Rainwater Club has modules to conduct trainings and sessions in the schools, so that awareness can be created among the children. It would be great to partner with them to conduct sessions at your schools, especially if you are a group of institutions or a chain of schools.

Bhungroo is all about implementation, you can reach out to them to implement their solution in the usually drought-hit areas of your state, to see if their solution would help the situation.

These two were great starts for me to do something about the areas that I know of, while I am talking to someone in Kerala to see if there’s a potential solution for their unique issue of land level being the same as sea level along the coast, and hence water cannot be stored underground!  I am also planning to be in touch with a unique project in south India, to partner with them for projects and training on water for school children.

I will keep you posted!

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The Water Problem!

I was terribly shocked when on a fine morning this week, I saw the report from NITI Aayog about the impending water problem across India. In summary, it said that many states will run out of ground water by 2030.

This is very serious, and even more serious is the fact that around 30 cities in India will run out of water by 2020 (yes, you read that right; 2 years from now!).

It’s not like ‘Should I care? What can I do?’  It is more like ‘I got to do a thousand things that I can.’

Are you listening?

Alright, so here’s what I did. I picked up a sheet of paper and wrote down all the stuff that I can do. I am giving this here to be a starter or an inspiration for you to think of things that would work and make a difference:

1. Contact Indian organisations that are working in the field of primary and secondary education, as well as Indian organisations that work on public education, and make them create modules and syllabus that can be delivered to students and general public so that they are aware of how important water is and create awareness about the following topics:

  • Ground water restoration
  • Irrigation management
  • On-farm water use
  • Drinking water supply
  • Devising water policies

2. Strengthening the ways of predicting rains, such that general public can make arrangements to tap rain-water in whatever infrastructure they have wherever they live.

3. Try working with aerial experts to see if any additional data can be gleaned for point no. 2.

4. Creating awareness in colleges, so that the outgoing students can create products and software surrounding the issue. Bonus point: it creates jobs

5. Influencing the governments for implementation policies.

6. Contact on-the-ground organisations in various states to work on implementations in their states.

7. Work with organisations that already have a lot of reachability in remote areas (for example, population control organisations), and convince them to create awareness and educate their audiences.

What ideas do you have?  Feel free to rack your brains – because it’s you and your children who are also going to affected by this. The usual Indian apathy won’t help!

Thanks for listening.

 

 


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On social media and channelizing the minds

Why social media for me :

It was one of those strenuous days in 2017. I had too much to do in 3 or 4 activities spread across the day.  I like focus, and that’s the way I have been for the past many years. I like channelizing my mind, body and my energies in a task. But then, there are some boring moments when you would like to just get off for a minute or two, wander your body and your mind, and then get back to the task.

Social media (Facebook, Twitter, et al) have been a cure (or a curse on how you see it).  That one of two minutes of wandering of the mind away from the task using social media extended to 10 minutes, 20 minutes, and before you know, it had consumed a full 43 minutes!

“Well, that’s not good”, I told myself. I decided to take a mental inventory of HOW the time is spent on social media. I sat down and wrote a diary of all the posts I read, I liked and shared, and just “browsing”.  Though it was just my break time that I spend on social media, I wanted to justify myself on how the time is spent, because it’s my precious breath and life after all, moment after moment, before I die!

My findings!

The notes I saw alarmed me. 89% of the time was just browsing post after post in Facebook and Twitter, without any focus, learning or practicing a skill.  A typical “browse” Facebook session contained a book advertisement from a book club, an advertisement on how to “opt-in” more customers to your blog site, a post in a school group asking whether this school is better or that, a post in a music group with a picture of a guy with a violin, a group post about the latest trend in western cinema, a post in a railway group about that fantastic engine….You get the drift.

A rattling mind and the consequences

If your mind travels this fast with no focus on a specific subject or related thinking, you know where you will get to – nowhere.  It not only puts your brain in an ever-shifting mode, it will strain your brain to no-end resulting in nervousness, a sense of loss, depression, anger and a deprived feeling!  Many studies have also shown the same.

Social media tools for streamlining

Social media tools that help you segregate topics as streams based on hashtags or keywords are helpful. It helps browse through the social media posts and organize your thoughts on one direction, learning a thing or two about a topic and participating in a discussion.  But many of us do not use those tools on a native basis, but login to the social media sites directly.   In this year, I have reminded myself to use these tools instead of logging into social media sites directly, and save myself of the mental stress!  If I ever wanted to take a 2-minute break, that should not be and won’t be on the social media sites, but a short walk, a visit to the restroom, a cup of water and then back to work again.

Not just the break time!

We all know the three things that are required to excel – Learn, Practice, Network.  A typical successful person’s time management has these components.  For all of these, accessing the Internet has become a necessity.  For learning and networking, social media has become important.  We just need be careful that our learning and networking time is used productively, not just during the break time, but during our work time also, and be conscious that our precious time is not wasted in endless, mindless browsing.

So…

I thought I would just share my thoughts on this, which I had been postponing for a while now. I wrote a Facebook post (there you go!) on this sometime back, but not sure how many people it reached, so here I am, writing a blog.  Hopefully it’s useful for you!
Thanks for listening!


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#India’s 1/3rd is #youth. Is it time to rejoice?

While inaugurating the World Population Day 2014 with UNFPA, Honourable Home Minister of India has said that India’s 1/3rd is youth.  While this is good news that we have the resources at hands to build a vibrant nation, we are not prepared to tap the potential of this youth – due to many mismanagement issues. It’s not a time to rejoice, but to commit ourselves and work in the right direction to unleash the potential of this youth, otherwise, it’s going to be a disaster of uneducated, unemployed people constituting 1/3rd of the nation.

Ground reality is harsh.  A recent report shows that 1/3rd of the country is poor. Mr. Rajnath Singh is all for listening and addressing the concerns of the youth. This is good, and at the first place, quality education is unavailable in 70% of India, which are rural.  Several NGOs are pitching in and trying to change the rural education landscape by running quality schools, but there is grapevine that government is mulling imposing a law which prohibits NGOs which does not have a certain amount of funds to close their schools!  So, government schools don’t have the necessary quality and infrastructure; private schools will be closed if they don’t show sufficient money. Where will 1/3rd of India Population go for education?

If strong structural changes are not brought in, all these 1/3rd of the population will be capable of only manual labour.  And it shows today, where people from central and east central states are moving to other far-off states in search of labour jobs, leaving alone their homes, culture and lands.  This is clearly not an indication of a vibrant culture, but may be of a blind economy.

On top of all, the country will go crazy trying to educate with youth whose number keeps multiplying year after year.  Unless there’s a policy on population of India (to stop generation of more and more babies), India is going to multiply many fold and keep adding to the uneducated rural youth problem – which in turn will lead to inefficiency, crimes and hopelessness.

So, what’s India’s Population Policy?


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#Gift an #Education, Make a #Life ! – #Isha Vidhya

5 months ago, #IshaVidhya applied for accreditation with #GlobalGiving, a respected online fundraising platform which partners with corporates, employees and individual donors around the world.

Isha Vidhya crossed the fundraising requirements of $5,000 from 40 donors in just 23 days to become a permanent online member partner of GlobalGiving, thanks to many general public, supporters & wellwishers worldwide. They recognize Isha Vidhya’s work in transforming the rural education landscape of #India, and especially in #Tamilnadu. With its high quality education through carefully crafted methodology to the most economically backward children, Isha Vidhya is making a signficant difference in the lives of many rural families – many of them are first generation school-goers.

The fundraising was started to fund the critical infrastructure needs of the rural school near #Dharmapuri in Tamilnadu, needs like academic material, furniture for classroom and staff, compound wall, water facilities, digital class room, etc.

IshaVidhya has obtained $10,175 in donations from 104 donors. It’s heartening to see that 13 of those donations are from #corporate employees through employee gift cards, whose companies are partners with GlobalGiving, and be able to donate to Isha Vidhya through the GlobalGiving portal.

There’s still a long way to go to reach the fundraising target of $97,750, so awareness about this good work need be made to spread the word far and wide so that many more can support this building of rural India through education.

And the good news for the existing donors is that your project Isha Vidhya is in a very good standing at GlobalGiving, in many categories including donations, no. of donors, number and quality of project reports, and frequency of donations. It is expected that IshaVidhya will soon be in the ‘Leader’ category at GlobalGiving, at which time it will be introduced to more corporates, employees, and offered more exposure opportunities.

On February 12th, 2014, between 9:00 AM USA Eastern Standard Time and 23:59 PM USA Eastern Standard Time (between Feb 12, 2014 19:30 PM Indian Standard Time and Feb 13 10:29 AM Indian Standard Time) (what would be the time at my place? : http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html), donations made to Isha Vidhya at the Global Giving portal will be matched 30% by Global Giving, upto a maximum of $1000 per donor, till the Global Giving matching funds of $75,000 run out.  This is a great opportunity for everyone to donate and show their support for Isha Vidhya’s work. The link is:

http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/ishavidhya

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Spanish !

I got introduced to Spanish in a very funny way. I was on a job break at that time, and I used to play some online games which were popular at that point of time. Through one of the games, I got a few regular acquaintances who were also playing the same game. Then, we became friends and started interacting over social networks. And some of those friends were from the Latin America.

The most frequently used expression by them at that point of time was ‘Donde eres’, and I was not at all tired in repeatedly answering them ‘Vivo India!’, and then to get the exclamation from them in reply ‘Ah !’.

After a few years, I got interested in exploring about Spanish language, and found that it is the second most spoken language in the entire world, next to the first Chinese Mandarin. I was surprised that English is not the first one or two. Or may be it is catching up, but then, as far as Spanish is concerned, it’s spoken in all countries of South America except Brazil (which speaks Portuguese), Mexico, United States of America, the Caribbean nations, Spain and some portions of North Africa.

There’s so much of trade happening between the Spanish speaking world and China. Latin population is getting much influential in United States of America.

Well, folks, isn’t that a good enough motivation to learn a language?

I could have chosen to learn Chinese Mandarin to start with, and even now I can, but Spanish felt sweet and lively to me than Chinese. May be some day, I will learn Chinese Mandarin too! But that’s later.

Hasta La Vista !


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The #HopeProject #IndiBlogger meet – #Bangalore – December 15, 2013

I got the email intimation about the #HopeProject #IndiBlogger meet at #Bangalore that was going to happen at Bangalore on December 15th a week back. I was always looking forward to participate in a blogger meet for a while, and I was excited that there’s an opportunity to attend one in Bangalore itself.

Came December 15th, and off I went to the #Microsoft R&D campus in Lavelle Road. The venue was decorated pretty nice, and the IndiBlogger folks have been taking care of all aspects starting from registration to ushering to photographs in a very professional way. I liked the part about people entering their Indiblogger-registered email id., and then their Twitter ID showing in the live event feed along with the time when they walked in. That was cool.

There was a whiteboard in which many keywords were written, and each blogger was asked to write a keyword that they looking forward to in 2014. Swati took the pictures of the bloggers along with those individual sheets showing against the background of the whiteboard.

The event started with Anoop Johnson welcoming everyone, followed by Nihal taking all of us through step-to-step towards “We will…We will.. Rock you!” to get us all out of the so-called ‘corporate’ mode, and help us relax and have fun!

After this, we had introductions from each blogger who is coming for the Bangalore meet for the first time, and everyone was given a minute’s time to introduce themselves, the topics that they blog about, and the theme of hope that they have in mind for 2014.

I thought a lot about my theme. I have been volunteering for fund-raising for rural education for underprivileged children, but at the same time, on the big picture perspective, I am always concerned about how as Indians we are going to help ourselves when we have so many people. So, even though I would be working a lot on the rural education front in 2014, my focus would be to create awareness about India population perils and how we need to control it – among various forums, channels, organisations, policy-makers and individuals, and so, I chose my theme as ‘Population’.

I was given a golden chance to present my 5-slide presentation on population & control approach during the introduction session, thanks to Anoop. The reason I am saying it’s a golden chance was because – we were yet to get into the thick of things about the agenda of the meet; we just had started the meeting, and the attendees were still very attentive on what was being said by everyone, and so I had the attention of the entire audience with an open mind so that I can put across my views. And good enough it was received well and understood by many. They could appreciate the seriousness of the situation as I had projected the gloomy picture with the help of supporting data collected from the India Census 2010, sincere thanks to data collected by Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.

After the introductions, all the bloggers got into groups of 5 and played a Milaap theme picture-puzzle solving game. Three groups won the 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes, which had gift codes for donations made at the Milaap web-site. It was good fun and a nice team-work exercise.

This was followed by high tea which included samosas, biscuits, and coffee-tea. We had an opportunity to mingle with fellow bloggers. I had the chance to introduce myself with Raghav, Jey, Sangeeta and Knitha.

We then got into the main agenda of the meeting – the #HopeProject by #Milaap, which is trying to eradicate the DevaDaasi system from the many districts along the Maharashtra-Karnataka border through micro-financing. Anoj Viswanathan, and Aditi, the founders of Milaap presented about their work, which was followed by a real-life sharing by a person from Belgaum district who got out of the DevaDaasi system and explained the challenges and how she managed to form a group to help people like her. There was a video which showed a sad story before Milaap intervention, and how the person’s life changed after the intervention.

It was enlightening to see how there are still many portions in India which are under the clutches of blind beliefs, people who would trade other people for money in the disguise of religious beliefs, etc. It almost looked like there was no doctrine of law and enforcements in these places. Kudos to Milaap which is doing a fantastic job in rehabilitating these people are making them enterpreneurs so that they can take their life in their own hands!  This was followed by a photograph session.

After the video and the talk, the forum was split into three or four groups for discussions, during which time I had to leave.

It was a wonderful energetic meet!  I wish I had taken pictures for sharing, but unfortunately I didn’t. I hope this blog itself has the meet visualized in words!

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