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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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The Bengaluru-Coimbatore Uday Express (Train no. 22665)

On June 10th, Indian Railways has introduced the Bengularu-Coimbatore Uday Express, which starts at around 2:15 PM in Bengaluru, and reaches Coimbatore at 9 pm. This is a double-decker AC coaches train, with a highly equipped WAP 7i electric engine, that takes the Tiruppatur route to reach Salem. The train no. is 22665.

There has been a lot of excitement among the railways community because they consider it as an ‘advanced’ train, may be because of the fact that it is fitted with a 7i engine, and has AC coaches.

To me, as a passenger, the double-decker AC coach is a disappointment as it is too cramped, and the leg space is too little. I have experienced this with the Bangalore-Chennai double-decker. Also, the air-conditioning is too unfriendly, and it gets really cold. One won’t be able to sit in the coach for more than 4 hours. Thus, these AC coaches are suitable for travel only upto 4 hours while sitting, say from Bangalore to Salem.

The travel time between Bangalore and Coimbatore is usually 6.5 hours, and anything above 6 hours is not suitable for a sitting train, and should be made as a sleeper train. But, the Uday express, as of now, takes 7 hours to reach Coimbatore, so it would be very inconvenient for the passengers. The train reaches Tiruppur at 7:40 PM, but it then reaches Coimbatore only at 9:00 PM, which is 1 hour and 20 minutes in between, but the usual express train travel between Tiruppur and Coimbatore is only 40 minutes. When asked about this, they say that the section between Tiruppur and Coimbatore is too crowded at that time, so the train might stop in some loops to let the other trains pass.

This is a very inefficient usage of the highly capable 7i engine – to stop in loops for around 40 minutes. Also, the passengers inside the train would be anxious to reach Coimbatore, having crossed Tiruppur, but they have to wait for another 40 minutes in signals!

I would suggest that the Railways relook at the itinerary and reduce the travel time. Probably the train can be made as non-stop, or only with one stop (say, Salem), and given very high priority over other trains, so that it does not stop in any loops or signals. This will make an efficient use of the high-power engine.

There is significant distance between Bangalore and Coimbatore (around 418 kms), and it is not suitable for a sitting train. What is required between Bangalore and Coimbatore are two more sleeper trains. Kanyakumari Island express reaches Coimbatore at an unholy hour of 3:15 AM. Mumbai Kurla – Coimbatore express is always late to reach Bangalore and unreliable. Thus, two more sleeper trains that start around 10 PM and 10:30 PM are required from Bangalore.

It’s great to have the latest technology engine and AC coaches, but if the passengers are not satisfied with the travel time and the comfort of the coach, it would be a waste.

We will have to wait and see the popularity of Uday express. Currently around 880 seats are being offered in this train, and we will watch how much of them get filled every day.

As such, if there is another option like taking a Airavat bus from Bangalore, one would prefer that, rather than taking this train.

Will the Railways take notice and take relevant steps?


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#India to beat #China in #Population by 2022; Child #Adoption process getting simpler

Life is a mixed bag.

Last week, two significant headlines hit the news. The first is about the estimate that the India Population is going to exceed China by 2022which is a bad news, as we had expected it to happen by 2028 earlier.  The other is about the child adoption process in India is getting faster, easier and transparentwhich is a good news, as more people including NRIs can adopt in a simpler way moving forward.

One is a problem, and other is a potential solution. While some even neglect to think that the child adoption is a potential solution to the population problem (and say that adoption is emotional, the child and parent should connect well, one cannot adopt ANY child, etc, which are all reasonable), many consider it as a viable solution.  Here is an example of a parent who thinks so.

The Central Adoption Resource Agency has created a database of children that are waiting for adoption, and it has linked the adoption agencies to the database.  This way quick access to children to be adopted is available to the agencies.  Potential parents can now register online for them to be considered.  The guidance will be effective by August 2015, is what the post says.

With these updates, the urban folks of India now have a choice.  We have written several blogs before encouraging urban parents to adopt and why.  Several things have changed from the past, and attitude of the young generation is changing too.  With limited resources that India has, population has to be kept under strict check, and adoption is one way out – to give life to an existing child rather than creating another which will add additional burden to the country – burden may be a strong word, but yes, that’s how it is – with population increasing 1.6% in India every year!


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Aadhaar, National Population Register and #India #Population

Yesterdays report in The Economic Times says that the Indian Government has decided to link Aadhaar information to National Population Register (NPR).

This is a very good move. This will not only benefit people who are benefited by the various schemes, it will also bring accountability to the population count, who everyone is, and where they generally live. And this will help in measures related to resource allocation (money and workforce) in implementing government plans and schemes.

It will also help check illegal immigration from Bangladesh. One of the serious issues that we have in the states bordering Bangladesh is that identifying individuals had become difficult for the police and the establishment because of the facial features.   Many Indian citizens who live in the remote areas do not have identity cards like PAN, thus it would be impossible to identify whether a person is an Indian citizen or not. Now, with Aadhaar linking to the NPR, bio-metric information is stored to the master database, so more accountability is brought in.

In addition, it would be great if birth & death registrations become online for quick updates to population count, so that planning become efficient.


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India Population, rural unemployment and #MakeInIndia

Indian Government has initiated the #MakeInIndia campaign to harvest the workforce of young Indian population, increase employment through private ventures, increase foreign capital and thus boost Indian economy.

This is a great initiative.

Employment, literacy, population, labor, economy, and internal migration are all inter-twined areas.

When I started studying India population and collecting data, I was also interested in finding out why there is so much of population.

When the illiterate rural family who does not have the skills (be it white-collar, blue-collar or any other skills) is unemployed, their mindset works like ‘If I generate many babies, those children will grow up, earn money for the family, and we will all live happily’.  Since they themselves are unable to support the family through their employment, they think their children might help.

If the rural people have jobs and if their basic essentials are taken care of well, they will stop producing babies for labor.  This will significantly slow down the population growth. They will also stop migrating to far-off states and urban cities in look for employment. They will stay at their origins, sustain their culture and live well. And that should be the goal of any employment initiative – to bring employment close to the home of the people.

With this in mind, I collected information about the rural districts where the unemployment is huge.  Thanks to the Census 2010, this information is readily available from India Census web-site.

There are hundreds of rural districts with millions of people unemployed.  The most unemployed rural districts fall under just three states: Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal.  These three states constitute 47 out the 50 top rural districts in non-working population!  And not a coincidence, these are the three big states in which the population & population density are the highest!

Indian Government should first implement the #MakeInIndia in these rural districts and create jobs.  This will reduce the huge burden of unemployment, and tremendously help in containing population through economic empowerment, which will reduce the stress on the natural resources, and thus protect the environment too.  This will also reduce the stress on the other states/cities which are affected by migration from these states.

Given below is the list of the top 5o rural non-working population districts of India (Source: Census 2010) :

State District Non working
WB S 24 Parganas 3869583
WB Murshidabad 3695310
Bihar P. Champaran 3073465
UP Azamgarh 2966814
WB P. Medinipur 2932972
Bihar Muzaffarpur 2923198
UP Allahabad 2861171
Bihar Samastipur 2811017
UP Jaunpur 2804774
WB Pur. Medinipur 2787352
WB Barddhaman 2770069
Bihar Madhubani 2738744
WB N 24 Parganas 2719493
UP Sitapur 2690613
Bihar Saran 2649028
UP Gorakhpur 2506676
WB Nadia 2438125
Bihar Darbhanga 2436689
UP Kheri 2434230
UP Sultanpur 2412975
UP Hardoi 2393945
Bihar Gaya 2326032
UP Kushinagar 2324939
Bihar Vaishali 2265128
Bihar Siwan 2263918
UP Moradabad 2247849
UP Ghazipur 2217015
AP East Godavari 2203869
Bihar Patna 2184567
Bihar P.Champaran 2174799
Bihar Sitamarhi 2174714
UP Bahraich 2135098
WB Maldah 2113423
UP Budaun 2109749
UP Gonda 2104821
UP Pratapgarh 2020511
WB Hugli 2017615
UP Muz.Nagar 2008744
UP Ballia 2007207
UP Deoria 1990563
UP Rae Bareli 1988497
UP Bareilly 1985597
WB Bankura 1939987
UP Bijnor 1929865
Kar. Belgaum 1892472
WB Birbhum 1884465
Bihar Purnia 1878404
Bihar Katihar 1860824
Mah. Pune 1849639
UP Bara Banki 1841041
Total 118857595


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India Population and infertility clinics

To anyone, who is on top of the statistics on India Population, it would sound weird to hear that there’s a claim that there are not sufficient infertility clinics and treatment in India. But, as the recent article shows, they claim that India need more infertility treatment clinics !

It’s kind of weird. On one hand, we are running short of resources because of overwhelming population. On the other hand, we are still running to infertility treatment clinics. So, where is the disconnect?  It is in people’s minds where they are still seeing only children born out of their womb as their children.

I was talking to a friend recently who declared “Every responsible person in India should have their own children, in order to generate responsible citizens!” So, if one adopts a child which does not have anyone to care for, give them education and nurturing, would the child not grow as a responsible citizen?  It will, but, people think that their own blood and genes is so sacrosanct to generate ‘responsible’ citizens, and other people’s genes are not.

So, this individual ‘responsible’ reproduction, even with the aid of infertility treatment, has given rise to collective irresponsibility of generating mind-blowing 1.4 billion population.

The funny thing is the article above says that the infertility treatment is not ‘enough’ for India, and advocates ‘budget’ infertility treatment too!  I wonder if these doctors ever see the population statistics, or just their own survival!

I was talking to a writer today who said, ‘Venkat, with the economic prosperity, the no. of children will go down’.  Agreed, but when?  Time has run out already.  70% of the population is still under-privileged, and the ‘economic prosperity’ has not reached them. They still generate babies for labour.  By the time they achieve the prosperity, India will have irreversible issues.

If rural generates babies for labour, and city people go to any extent to have their own children, where will this end up?

Urban, semi-urban people have the luxury to make personal choices of not to have babies or adopt. They should exercise those choices. And that will make them as true patriots of India!

How can you help?