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Live and Express

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The Water problem – Episode 3 – The Heroes

Whenever we talk about big issues like population, food, or water, all of us are taken aback on what we could do on a personal level. In fact, we restrict our efforts to very minimal, get satisfied that that’s all we could do. While every small efforts are appreciated, we need to think out-of-the-box, open up our minds and look at things at various angles on how we could help.

Many of us are well-educated, with degrees on various subjects, and will be able to help in several ways. Many heroes are inspiring to me in how much we could help. I came across one inspiring example today in Times of India – in the article about how a 82-year old man constructed 14 tanks in an arid region to keep his hill green!  In fact, he had invested whatever he had just for this cause!  Such ingenuity and enterpreneurship is the need of the hour – to solve our big problems!

If a man with very scarce resources can do so much, imagine how much we could do! It’s just a matter of heart. In today’s world of instant reachability and abundant resources, I don’t think it would never be a problem for us.

More to come!


Chennai: Are you going to bathe out of water bottles?

Chennai is always remembered for its December Carnatic music concerts and the aroma of filter coffee!

But that’s not everything Chennai is remembered for. On the bitter side, it’s remembered for its never ending water woes. And the bad news is, it just got worse, because of the expansion of the city.

recent report states that while Chennai’s current water supply is 600 million litters per day, it’s demand for water is going to grow to 1584 million litres per day in just 3 years! Urgent measures like getting ready to use the full capacity of desalination plants are going to yield very minimal results, as the demand is going to grow 2.5 times!

Chennai already has severe water shortage problem, and there’s no addition to the existing sources of water.

With a population of 8.6 million people as of January 30, 2014 (remember it was 4.3 million in 2001!), the demand is getting worse because of population explosion, immigration and urbanization. People can take pride with the fact that Chennai is growing by boundaries, and hence their real estate value is going to go up, but with no water to drink and use, the city’s existence and value is going to collapse if not now but in the near future.

In spite of Tamilnadu having many Tier 2 cities, the immigration is still happening to Chennai. Moving some Government functions and IT/BPO industries to the other Tier 2 cities will help mitigate the problem a bit. There are several logical choices like Trichy, Madurai, Tirunelveli and Erode.

Government is taking all the steps possible to take care of the water problem, but, ultimately it is in the citizens hands on how this can be mitigated.

I am not a water conservation advocate, because I know that at this scale, any amount of water conservation will not solve problem. I am not a tree planting advocate for Chennai, because (a) in Chennai, all the land has been usurped, (b) even if we start planting trees now, it will take 10 to 15 years for the trees to grow and take care of the water level – not to mention the Chennai problem of salt water mixing with underground water.

But I am going to suggest that Chennai folks stop their reproduction!  Irrespective of whatever the Government does to mitigate the situation, even, if the state capital offices and IT/BPO companies are moved to other cities, if people keep on giving birth, it is not going to help the situation.

One could stay single (or) marry but not generate babies (or) adopt instead of giving birth.

There’s still a tendency to run to fertility clinics when existing people don’t have water to drink and use, and there are children on streets with no one to take care of them.  Instead, folks should think of going to adoption centers and orphanage homes and see if they can adopt.

I am providing a few links on how individuals can act than blaming it on everyone and everything else.

As someone said, Chennai is drinking from water bottles, it won’t be far when it starts to bathe from water bottles. Now, that would be sad.


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On the event of World Earth Day 2014

Greetings on World Earth Day 2014!

Many of you might have seen the movie #Gravity. In the final scenes, the heroine gasps and gasps and tries to breathe anxiously for some pints of oxygen, and finally when her parachute lands on Earth, she grabs the mud and feels thankful for finally being home to the mother Earth!  I guess that’s the feeling that everyone of us should have for having the privilege in being here in this beautiful planet which supports us.

But, sadly, as with every sense of living, we have abandoned our gratitude in the search of individuality. My own home, my own TV, my own smartphone, my own space and my own everything. In the pursuit of this myness and iEverything, we have almost destroyed the planet. On one side, we keep building spaces for people to stay and industries to work, and on the other hand, we have destroyed green, which is the basis of our breath.   How many minutes do you think you can live without breathing?

In the past 2 or 3 decades, while Earth’s population grew dramatically, we were trying to curb the symptoms of environmental destruction – like reducing the carbon levels and trying to plant more and more trees. All these are absolutely necessary, no question about it, but it’s just that we have crossed a threshold point where the no. of human beings in this planet have exceeded certain limit, and their demands for living are anyway going to have an impact on the environment.

I am not a lamentor, but you would be already aware of the fact that the projection of Earth’s population is 11 billion by 2100. We are seeing the ill-effects of over-population in many countries in Asia and Africa, where the population continues to be growing. Do you think Earth can handle 4 billion more?

So how many of these human beings are we going to tell – Conserve water, eat environmental friendly food, don’t kill animals, don’t do industry, live ecologically friendly, etc. First of all, it’s not scalable, and next, you can’t force such things as we have become a democratic world mostly living on individual choices.

While continuing to carry out the environmentally friendly actions that are necessary, we should also look at how to contain the population.

I will specifically talk about India – as I live here, and know the context. India is 70% rural and 30% urban. That 70% rural is mostly having livelihood issues, insufficient education, malnourishment, sanitation and health issues. They reproduce to get more family members so that they all can go do labour work and support the family. This is the reality. The only way to reach out to them and ask them not to have more and more babies to provide economic development opportunities along with economic reward for not having babies.

In the urban India, there are opportunities to adopt. India has a good network for adoption homes. People in urban areas have access to social networking and hence awareness can be created asking them to adopt instead of reproduce. The change is slowly happening, and people are making personal choices in their lives.

On top of these, the policy support from the Government is very much required, in terms of awareness creation, economic rewards, tax breaks, etc. It has been a long time since the Indian Government has done anything with regards to population awareness, and it need to start again.

India holds 17% of the world’s population in 2% of the world’s land. That’s tragic. Every human being need 0.5 hectare of space of living self-sufficiently as per global statistics. Based on these, the living in India looks like is not the way to live. Statistically, India does not need another baby for the next 20 years.

All these boil down to how we manage Earth and its resources while we strive for the livelihood and well-being of the existing and future generations. So, if we want to protect Earth, containing population holds a major chunk of action. It needs be done, so that we can all live well, and leave a wonderful Earth for the future generations to come.

Happy World Earth Day!


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Being a nature’s friend…

What would be your take on being a Nature’s friend?

There are so many themes that are talked about today on Nature or the environment, but to me it’s about protecting and nurturing the wonderful planet that we have been given. It’s a privelege to be in this algae-bluish-green rock that’s 2 stones away from the sun, breathing the fresh air, thriving and frolicking in this awesome earth!

But, for our conveniences and comfort, we have almost destroyed this planet in the past 3 decades in so many ways. Especially, the last two decades has seen the individualism rise to its peak – with people looking for individual comfort, diverging from the landscape of the past of few well-to-do and many minions. Well, that’s fine, only if we didn’t have this many heads! Especially, in India, the 1.3 billion!

Once a person is here in this earth as a human being, you cannot ask them to limit their aspirations – be a miser on their wishes, earn less money and live within the means – all these advices are not going to bear fruit – in this age of technology enablement, democracy and freedom. The only other option is not to bring in more and more human beings to this planet. We all have that choice as individuals, and if we really care about the Nature, that’s the best way of being the Nature’s friend!

Let me explain in more detail with some statistics – with data – for the folks who are not convinced of this.

Out of the 7 billion population of the world, 1.3 billion are in India!  That’s 17% of world’s population living in 2% of the world’s land! You will very well agree that every human being need the basics of – air, water, food, space to live, education and job. Let me just take these basic 6 parameters without going into other extended parameters like energy, aspirations, travel and entertainment. Now, let’s look at where we stand in each of the 6 basic parameters:


There’s oxygen depletion happening in earth, and they say that by 2025, we will have 40% less oxygen. Can you imagine breathing 7 times a minute instead of the regular 12 times a minute?


Several business stalwarts are beating their chest that they have invested on water resources since the next world war is going to be on water! Fair enough if you want to be an autocrat who want to rule and control large masses of people, but if you want to be a sensible human being, you would rather contribute to creating awareness about containing the no. of people such that we all have water to drink. Water conservationists talk about conserving every drop of water from the tap, saving every water resource, etc. That’s all fine, but if the no. of human beings keep on increasing, how are they going to find land to live and water to use? They will encroach lakes, and thus bring down the amount of water available, in addition to consuming more & more water!


No doubt India has done well on agriculture, but of late, we have lost our traditional grains and millets, and also looking for imports of wheat from foreign countries! This could be because of mismanagement, but the point is if we mismanaging with the existing levels of population itself, how will we able to manage more? We should be ashamed to that the sons and daughters of our agricultural workers do not even eat a single good meal everyday. As it stands, this scenario does not support ‘Nature’.

Space to live

Needless to say – the more no. of more human beings – more demand for living space – lakes, foothills, riversides enroached and houses built – and we cry foul and blame God when earthquakes, floods and natural disasters kill people – as happened in Uttaranchal recently. Well, is it the Nature’s fault ?


70% of India lives in villages, and we all know the story of rural education. No intervention is helping because of the sheer no. of children that need be educated. Quality is already suffering, and in addition, if we have more and more babies, who is going to educate them? Let’s not forget that uneducated, unskilled people are a burden to the nation than being assets. If they are not educated, how will they be sensible enough to take care of ‘Nature’ ?


Our workforce population between the age of 22 and 60 is going to increase from 575 million to 810 million in the span of next 15 years. This is without counting the babies that might come by in the next 2 decades. How are we going to give job opportunities to them, and what will happen to the ‘Nature’ while we build office and factory infrastructure for these people?

As it stands, we are looking at a very gloomy, bleak picture at Nature and its resources. We have leveraged to the maximum extent possible, wherein the demand can never be met with the supplies. It’s time that we need to reduce our demands by containing the no. of people – abstaining from having babies for the next two decades, and every one of us working in whatever ways possible to spread the message and making personal decisions in life – to be single, to marry but not to generate babies, but may be adopt, etc.

Government policies can be enforced to reward familes without children or families that totally adopt children, and not give the financial benefits for the families that generate babies. India, being a democratic country, will take many years for the people to accept any government initiated measures – and economic carrot being the prime motivator that could work in this market driven picture. We cannot enforce things on people, and we have known by experience that it does not work. Only way is to create awareness.

The urban people can adopt. The rural can stop generating babies for labour, while their economic wellbeing can be taken care by social enterpreneurship, NGOs and government measures.

If we all put our heart and soul on this, this can really work, and we will be doing a very big favour to the Nature by being a sensible race that nurture this planet and not destroy it for its selfish needs.

Otherwise, any amount of trees planted is not going to help. Any amount of water conservation is not going to help. And any amount of pollution control is not going to help. Because, we have exceeded the threshold of those measures being helpful and being scalable.

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I’m alone….


I'm alone....

I’m alone..
Life surrounds me with joy
With much to savour and enjoy
But I’m alone!

Distant clouds roar with thunder
To trumpet their happiness and ever-rising wonder
But I’m alone!

The mountains roll in a greeny pack
With stories to tell and take us aback
‘This is heaven!’ they groan
But I’m alone !

The grasses brush my lengthy feet
Nodding their heads ‘Oh how sweet!’
But I stand here forlorn
Sad that I’m here alone !

Plant many of my brothers and sisters
With majestic lineup of dense clusters
So we can cry out loudly and proudly
That we are not anymore alone !

Photo by VinodVV Photography (


In search of an arecanut plantation

The route:

I have always been fascinated by plantations in general.  I had earlier driven from Bengaluru to Ooty and visited the hills with my brother, and always wanted to do mountain driving.  I have a car, which is luxurious, stylish, powerful as well as sensitive.

One of those days, couple of years down the line, I somehow wanted to go visit arecanut plantations.  I never planned where I am going to drive to, but I had the general idea that Karnataka has a lot of arecanut, and it would be worthwhile to drive around.  Generally, I did a google search and found that Malnad had a lot of arecanut (but at that point of time, I didn’t know the extent of arecanut in Sirsi district, otherwise I would have gone there!).  I also found that there are some pockets of arecanut in Chitradurga, Shimoga, Thirthahalli and then Agumbe, so I decided to drive around.

I first visited Chitradurga.  I knew that if I just went there and ask the landlords that I want to see an arecanut plantation, many would have suspicious eyes (and so did they), so I had a theory.  In real, one of my friends was doing a research, so I told these guys that I wanted to collect some statistics about arecanut.  But this guy was not convinced.  He asked me, ‘Where is your friend doing the research?’.  I said, ‘In Tamilnadu’.  He said ‘Oh, we have a big research institute down here in Davengere.  Why should we give data for a Tamilnadu institute?’.  I was laughing within myself, but kept quiet.  He then conceded and sent four guys with me in my car to show me around.  Off I went with a piece of paper, asked some questions about the growth, the no. of years it takes, the yield, the type, etc.  At that point of time, I was really interested.  And the guy started explaining enthusiastically, so it went well.  After an hour or so, I decided it’s time to call it off and came back to the office.  Now the owner was still suspicious.  He might have thought that I am a land grabber, so he started asking pointed questions.  I said I will let him know later about my details, and just left abruptly.  That was fun!   Phew!

Then I started driving towards Shimoga.  In this stretch, I found a lot of small farmers with 5 to 6 acres of arecanut plantations.  Generally I was driving along the country side at around a speed of 70 kmph.  I stopped and had Chai at some towns.  It was around noon, but the weather was pleasant, and monsoon was about to start – clouds and chilly winds.  I was kind of tired, and I found this farmer doing work alone in his plantation, so I decided to stop and say hello to him.  He was an elder person – somewhere in his 70s, and was driving his tractor in the field.  The arecanut plantations were right next to the field.  I just parked my car, and went along the field.  Huge difference between the landlord of Chitradurga, and this simple farmer of Shimoga.  He welcomed me with a friendly smile (in fact he grinned, he was so happy to see someone stop by and have a look at his plantation!), and asked me where I am from.  I said I am from Bangalore, and asked him how many acres he has.  He said 7 acres, and also said he is managing all these by himself.  I was just looking around in general but didn’t ask further questions.  Then I said goodbye to him and started driving again.

When I reached the outskirts of Thirthahalli, it was pouring like hell.  I had located a homestay near Thirthahalli, which was located in the center of arecanut plantations, so I called them from Thirthahalli and said I am coming just for a visit.  He came in his van and guided my car towards his homestay.  When I reached his homestay, he and his wife greeted me warmly and showed me around his place.  The house was built with Malnad architecture.  I told him the reason why I came.  We had a general discussion about his homestay, his visitor traffic, maintenance woes, etc.  They served me hot tea with love.  By the time I left, monsoon rain was in torrents, and I had to have my wiper at full speed, but still I insisted on driving, rather than staying back, because I loved the rain!  I started driving in the general direction towards Agumbe.

When I reached the outskirts of Agumbe, I found a narrow ghat road that was full of arecanut, and so I started driving in that road.  At one point, there came an intersection which had a road to Sringeri.  I was tempted for a moment if I should drive to Sringeri, but then I reminded myself of the goal, and consoled myself that there will be another time.  After all, Sringeri is not far off, and always accessible . So, I decided to come back to the main road of Agumbe.

It was around 5:45 PM and it was getting dark.  I went to a hotel, had some refreshments and hot tea, and then I wanted to make a call, but lo, there was no signal in my mobile phone, as it was a high mountain area.  The hotel owner helped me with his mobile, which had CellOne, and the signal was good.  After a couple of calls, I decided that its dangerous to go down to Mangalore in the dark, and so stayed back in a hotel near Agumbe bus station.  The stay was okay.

In the late morning next day, I started driving down to Mangalore.  I loved the hair-pin bends, drove through Udupi, and reached Mangalore around 4:00 PM.  I went to an office which maintains the register of all the arecanut plantations in Karnataka and had a discussion with an officer.  They told me that if I go to Sirsi, I would be lost in Arecanut, so I made a mental note to visit Sirsi next time.  Stayed in Mangalore that night, started driving to Bangalore next day morning, and reached Bangalore around 4:00 PM.

Overall, it was a fun trip.  My escapades continued and I did some more arecanut digging in Mettupalayam and Salem hills in Tamilnadu.  More on this later!

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Chalu Maradha Thimmakka asks why not trees instead of babies?

பசுமை பாட்டி ‘சாலு மரத திம்மக்கா’’சாலு மரத திம்மக்கா’ என்றால், கர்நாடகாவுக்கே தெரியும்!எண்பது ஆண்டுகளுக்கு முன்பு வரை பொட்டல் காடாக இருந்த கூதூர் கிராமத்தில்… இன்று சாலை நெடுக இருபுறங்களிலும் ஆயிரத்துக்கும் மேற்பட்ட ஆலமரங்கள் சலசலக்கின்றன. தேசிய நெடுஞ்சாலையிலிருந்து கூதூர் வரை நீளும் சுமார் 20 கிலோ மீட்டர் சாலை முழுக்க வரிசையாக (சாலுத) நின்று, ஊருக்கே நிழலாற்றும் அம்மரங்களை நட்டு வளர்த்த திம்மக்கா பாட்டிக்கு இப்போது வயது… 101!இந்த பசுமைச் சேவைக்காக… சிறந்த தேசியக் குடிமகன் விருது, நான்கு குடியரசுத் தலைவர்களின் கையால் பெற்ற விருதுகள், மூன்று பிரதமர்களிடமிருந்து பெற்ற விருதுகள், பல முதலமைச்சர்கள் அதிசயித்து அளித்த மாநில விருதுகள், தன்னார்வ, பெண் நல நிறுவனங்கள் வழங்கிய விருதுகள், பட்டங்கள் என குவித்திருக்கும் திம்மக்கா பாட்டியின் கூதூர் கிராமம் இருப்பது… செல்போன் சிக்னல்கூட கிடைக்காத, பெங்களூரு ஊரக மாவட்டமான மாகடி தாலுகாவில்!

பயணம் நெடுகிலும் திம்மக்கா பாட்டி வளர்த்திருக்கும் ஆலமரங்கள் தலையசைத்து வரவேற்கின்றன. வாசலில் நம்மைக் கண்டவுடன், முந்தானையில் முடிந்திருந்த கசங்கிய 10 ரூபாய் நோட்டைக் கொடுத்து, டீ வாங்கிவர ஆள் அனுப்புகிறார். உடனடியாகக் குளித்து, விபூதி பூசி, பளிச்சென அணிந்து சிரிக்கிறார்… ஐந்து நிமிடங்களுக்குள்!

‘ஏழைக் குடும்பத்துல பிறந்தவ நான். 16 வயசுல, என் எசமான் சிக்கையா கையில புடிச்சுக் கொடுத்துட்டாங்க. பேகூர்ல இருந்து கூதூருக்கு வந்துட்டோம். கல்யாணமாகி 10 வருஷம் ஆகியும், குழந்தை எதுவும் உண்டாகல. ஏறாத கோயில் இல்லை. விரதம் இருந்தே உடம்பு வீணா போச்சு. அக்கம்பக்கம் ஜாடை மாடையா பேசின பேச்சு, உயிரை வதைச்சுது. காலையில இருந்து சாயங்காலம் வரைக்கும் காட்டுல உழைச்சுட்டு வீடு வந்தா, சோறு இறங்காது… நிம்மதியான தூக்கமும் இருக்காது. ஒரு கட்டத்துல தூக்கு மாட்டிக்கலாம்னு நினைக்கற அளவுக்கு மனசு வெறுத்துட்டேன்”- இதைச் சொல்லும்போது, இந்த 101 வயதிலும் கண்கள் இடுங்குகின்றன.

”வயித்துல சுமந்து வளர்க்கறது மட்டும்தான் உசுரா..? ஆண்டவன் படைப்புல ஆடு, மாடு, மரம், செடினு எல்லாமே உயிருதான்ங்கிற உண்மையை, அப்போ என் மனசு தவிச்ச தவிப்பு மூலமா உணர்ந்தேன். ‘குழி பறிச்சு, கன்று நட்டு, தண்ணிவிட்டு… அந்தச் செடியையே புள்ளையா வளர்ப்போம். என் புள்ளைங்க வளர்ந்து, இந்த ஆத்தாவுக்கு மட்டுமில்ல… ஊருக்கே நிழல் கொடுக்கும்’னு என் மனசுக்கு ஒரு தெளிவு கிடைச்சுது.

காடு, மேடுனு அலைஞ்சி, திரிஞ்சி நிறைய ஆலமரக் கன்றுகளா கொண்டு வந்து, பதியம் போட்டு வளர்த்து, கொஞ்சம் பெருசானதும், ரோட்டோரத்துல குழி தோண்டி நட்டோம். இப்படி ஆலமரக் கன்றுகளா நட்டுட்டே இருந்தோம். மழை வரும்போதே குழிவெட்டி சேமிச்சாதான் தண்ணி. அப்படி சேர்ந்த தண்ணியை கிணத்துல, குளத்துல இருந்து எடுத்துட்டு வந்து நானும் எசமானும் கஷ்டம் பார்க்காம ஊத்தி ஊத்தி வளர்த்தோம்.

ஒரு தடவை குடிக்கக்கூட தண்ணி இல்லாத அளவுக்கு பஞ்சம். பக்கத்து ஊர்ல இருந்து ஆளுக்கு ரெண்டு மண்பானையில தண்ணி எடுத்துட்டு வந்து செடிகளுக்கு ஊத்தினோம். சுடுவெயில்ல தலையில ஒண்ணு, இடுப்புல ஒண்ணுனு ரெண்டு பானையோட வரும்போது, கல் தடுக்கி விழுந்து, முட்டியில ரத்தம். கீழ கிடந்து அழ ஆரம்பிச்சுட்டேன். ‘சரியாயிடும்’னு என் எசமான் பதறிக் கட்டுப்போட, ‘தண்ணியெல்லாம் கொட்டிப் போச்சேனுதான் அழுவறேன்’னு நான் சொல்ல, கண்கலங்கிட்டார்!”
நாமும் கலங்கித்தான் போனோம்.

– திம்மாக்காவின் வார்த்தைகளை, சுற்றி நின்ற ஊர்க்கூட்டம் நன்றியும், நெகிழ்ச்சியுமாக ஆமோதித்தது !

நன்றி:- அவள் விகடன்

என்னவென்றால் நாம் ஆயிரம் மரம் வளர்க்க வேண்டாம் குறைந்தது வீட்டுக்கு இரண்டு மரம் வளர்ப்போம்…!!! அதுவே மிக பெரிய பசுமை புரட்சியை உண்டாக்கும்…!!!

வருங்கால சந்ததிக்கு நாமும் ஒரு எடுத்துக்காட்டாய் இருப்போம்…!!!

நன்றி:-நொய்யல் பாதுகாப்பு அமைப்பு