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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#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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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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Towards an incredible India !

My passion is inclusiveness.

We all talk about making India a super-power. A super-power, in my terms, is NOT the one which behaves like a street rogue, threatens other countries, follows a divide-and-rule policy, and sell weapons against each other.

A super-power is one, which has love in its heart, has so much to offer through its citizens, a nation with abundance, and willing to help through diplomacy and philanthropy.  A super-power is one which can show that little bit of fire in times of need, when a rat’s tail becomes longer than its body and wags.  As you can see, India has many of these traits already built-in. It’s ready to take on, with its majority young population of 1.2 billion, which is almost 19 percent of the world’s population, just that we need to build a few things to make that happen.

Famines and foreign invasions created a havoc in the country. In 1947, the average life expectancy was 26 years in India. We didn’t have proper food, clothing, shelter and nothing to look forward to. In 2013, today, that’s not the case. We are in a stage, where medical, technological and engineering advances have been imported, and our average life expectancy is 63 years. We are doing okay with food production. But, still there are several major gaps.

While the 30% of the India’s population that live in cities and major towns enjoy the fruits of economic well-being, 70% still live in villages and depend on agriculture. These 70% live in poverty conditions (if not ‘extreme’ as per the government wordings), don’t have a single good food a day, divided by languages in education, thus cannot go work or do higher studies in another state or a foreign country, and reproduce for generating labour force for the family for income. This is insane.

Our laws are out-dated and tax regime is in shambles.

We have enough political parties to satisfy each and everyone’s egos, now it’s time to look at what really needs to be done to make this country a super-power.

We had been clerks and accountants and xxx-dars for the British government. We maintained files and offices and provided transportation arrangements for the British officers. We are not doing anything new these days. We have not matured to respect various professions, and still look out for the job that gives the highest salary.

People from central Indian states like Bihar, West Bengal, Chattisgarh travel to other states in trains to find jobs in real estate sector in states like Kerala – leaving behind their agricultural lands, family and culture. Are we really thriving?

So, let’s look at the solutions.

As a nation, we need to make significant progress in rural (remember, 70%) primary education where the ability of the students to study, wonder and ask questions to broaden their perspectives. This will generate the next generation scientists, mathematicians, geologists, historians and any other field experts, who can wonder and awe the vast expanse of this universe and make significant advances in these fields.  Isha Vidhya (http://www.facebook.com/ishavidhya , http://www.ishavidhya.org) an NGO, works tireless on educating the rural children of India through its English medium schools with integrated computer education for the most economically backward children. Take a look at their website, their methodology of education, their management and other details.

We need leaders who inspire leaders in every field, not just politics.  We need entrepreneurs who take social problems and convert them into viable businesses. We need people who question status-quo, and suggest improvements. We need people who can take initiative in suggesting modifications to the outdated law and enable it to take it to the parliament (long shot, yes, can we do it? Of course yes, just need a bunch of committed people).

And yes, we have enough people. All it takes are hearts. Only if you could spare yourself and work on what is required to be done within your circle of influence (and you need to keep expanding this circle of influence), we can make this country shine and become a super-power. If we don’t, we don’t have the right to blame it on politicians and bureaucracy and corruption. Not anymore. It’s on us. Let’s make it happen !

This blog has been written for indiblogger.in’s ISB iDiya contest. If you like this blog, please promote it by clicking the heart icon in this page: http://www.indiblogger.in/indipost.php?post=219454 . Your vote will help this blog trend among the famous and get good visibility, and thus might help in winning the prize money (Rs.30,000/- onwards) which will be donated to Isha Vidhya for the education of rural children. You need to have an indiblogger account (http://www.indiblogger.in) to vote.

For more info. on iDiya, please visit: http://www.isb.edu/idiya/


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Endha Mozhiyil Kalvi ?

ஒரு கால கட்டத்தில், ஹிந்தி எதிர்ப்பு தேவைப்பட்டது. பேசியே இல்லாத ஒரு மொழியை, நாட்டு ஒற்றுமை என்ற பேரில், ஆட்சியிலும், தின வழக்கத்திலும் திணிக்க முற்பட்ட பொது, தெருவில் இறங்கி அதை எதிர்க்க நேரிட்டது.

இன்று நடைமுறையில் இந்தியாவை ஒருமைபடுத்த ஹிந்தி போதாது என்பது தெளிவாகிவிட்டது. இந்தியாவிலும் சரி, உலக நாடுகளிலும் சரி, மற்ற மக்களுடன் பேசவும், கல்வி கற்கவும், தொழில் செய்யவும், ஆங்கிலம் தான் தொடர்பு மொழியாக இருக்கிறது. இதை உணர்ந்து, நமது ஆரம்ப பள்ளிகளில் ஆங்கிலத்தை கட்டாயமாக்கவேண்டும் அல்லவா?பிரிட்டிஷ் காரர்கள் என்ன நன்மை, கெடுதல் செய்தார்களோ தெரியாது, ஆனால், ஆங்கிலம் என்ற வாய்ப்பை விடு சென்றிருக்கிறார்கள். பயன்படுத்த வேண்டியது நமது புத்திசாலித்தனம்.மொழிகளை பொறுத்தவரையில் நமது நாடு துண்டு துண்டாக இருக்கிறது. தமிழ்நாட்டில் பத்தாவது வரை தமிழில் கற்ற பாடங்களை, ஹோசூரில் இருந்து முப்பது கிலோமீட்டர் தொலைவில் உள்ள பெங்களூருவில் பயன்படுத்த முடியாது. காரணம் மொழி. அப்படியென்றால், நமது குழந்தைகளை “தமிழ்நாட்டிலேயே இரு” என்று கட்டி போட முடியுமா? வேறு மாநிலங்களிலும், நாடுகளிலும் இருக்கும் வாய்ப்புகளை அவர்கள் பயன்படுத்த கூடாதா ? உலக அளவில் நமது மக்கள் சிறந்து பணியாற்ற வேண்டுமென்றால், அவர்களை ஆங்கிலத்திலும் தயார்படுத்த வேண்டுமா, கூடாதா?

தீவிரவாதத்தால் சோர்ந்து இருக்கும் நாடுகளை பாருங்கள். அங்கெல்லாம், துப்பாக்கியும், குண்டையும் எடுத்தவர்களின் காரணத்தை யோசியுங்கள். மற்றவர்களுடன் கலந்து பழக முடியாத வெறுமை உண்டாகிய வெறுப்பு, வேலை வாய்ப்புகள் கிடைக்காத கோபம். காரணம், மொழி. அவர்களுடைய சொந்த மொழியை தவிர, வேறு எந்த மொழியையும் கற்காததால், aவர்கள் கூட்டை விட்டு வெளியே வரமுடியவில்லை. இதே நிலைமை, நமது நாட்டிலும் உண்டாகும் ஆபத்து கட்டாயம் இருக்கிறது. அதை தவிர்க்க, ஆங்கிலம் கற்பது தேவை ! இது இப்போதே ஆரிம்பிக்க வேண்டிய செயல் !

இந்தியாவை அடுத்த வல்லரசாக போகிறோம் என்று கட்சிக்கு கட்சி கூவி கூவி விற்கிறார்கள். அதை எப்படி செயல்படுத்த போகிறோம் என்ற தெளிவு இருக்கிறதா ? நமது நாட்டில் எழுபது விழுக்காடு மக்கள் கிராமங்களில் இருக்கிறார்கள். இவர்கள் ஆங்கிலம் கற்று வளரவில்லை என்றால், எப்படி நமது நாடு வல்லரசாகும்? ஒரு குறிப்பிட்ட வட்டத்தில் உள்ளவர்கள் மட்டும் (உதாரணம் : நகரங்கள்) ஆங்கிலம் பேசி, வர்த்தகம் செய்தால், எப்படி நம் நாட்டை வல்லரசு என்று கூறிக்கொள்ள முடியும்? மற்ற எழுபது விழுக்காடு மக்கள் விட்டுப்போய் துப்பாக்கி தூக்கும் ஆபத்து இருக்கிறதா இல்லையா ?

பிழைப்பை விடுங்கள். ஒரு மனிதனாக, இன்னொரு சமுதாயத்தில் இருக்கும் மனிதனுடன் உரையாட, கருத்துகளை பகிர்ந்து கொள்ள, ஒருத்தருக்கு ஒருத்தர் உதவி கொள்ள, மொழி அவசியமாகி இருக்கிறது. இன்டர்நெட் மூலம் இன்று உலகத்தின் எந்த மூலையிலும் உள்ள மனிதர்களுடனும் தொடர்பு கொள்ள முடியும். இன்டர்நெட்-இல் பெரும்பான்மையாக பயன்படுத்தப்படும் மொழி, ஆங்கிலம்.

எனவே, ஆங்கிலத்தை ஆரம்ப பள்ளியிலிருந்து கட்டாயமாக வேண்டியது அவசியம் ! அதை இன்றே செய்திடல் வேண்டும் !