Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Addressing the 'trust deficit'....

All NGOs work for some cause. 
And their funding is under scrutiny. 
The government or its designated department gives approval after ensuring the legitimacy of the cause. 
At the time of registration, let the govt provide a seed fund, open the NGO's account in a chosen bank, and announce that the NGO can seek funds from anyone who wishes to support the cause. 
The funds would be routed through only this account. Can't transparency be ensured this way? 
And political parties also can be considered non-governmental organizations!
".... foreign funding of NGOs is dwarfed by other foreign money coming into India. Of this, the amount used for potentially questionable purposes is about 13 per cent. Let us look at another set of issues. All organisations working in society need to be transparent and accountable, including NGOs, whether domestically or foreign funded. The RTI tries to do that for the government. But beyond the NGOs, corporates and the government, there are political parties and religious organisations. 
The Supreme Court has admitted a petition saying that India’s two major political parties, the BJP and the Congress, receive illegal foreign funding. Like other major democracies, India also does not permit political parties to receive foreign funding. But no notice has been issued by the government to the political parties. One of the parties said they have returned the money, and the matter was laid to rest after that. Would other organisations, including the corporate sector and the NGOs be permitted to respond similarly? The political parties have also violated the RTI Act by refusing to comply with CIC orders. 
Meanwhile, the Maharashtra Government has passed an ordinance that an FIR cannot be filed against legislators and senior officers without prior approval to avoid frivolous allegations. But there is no protection for ordinary citizens against harassment whether by the police, income tax or other authorities. The police investigate allegations against themselves and give themselves a clean chit. There is no remedy for citizens who need some permission from the government and there is no reply for months or years. The government has publicly used the phrase ‘tax terrorism,’ but has so far done nothing to protect the citizen. It is well known that several religious organisations and their affiliates receive foreign funding. Those that indulge in anti-national and subversive activities will not be affected by the new FCRA rules — their work is underground.
So we see a trend where government officers and elected representatives, political organisations and some religious organisations and affiliates are protected, but others are harassed. This is in line with some of the erstwhile Communist countries, such as Hungary and Russia, which are also clamping down on NGOs getting foreign funding. Interestingly there is no such clampdown in the West. Are we moving towards a free market economy along with totalitarian controls? The major reason that is offered for these controls is that sometimes NGOs indulge in activities that are “detrimental to national interest, likely to affect public interest, or likely to prejudicially affect the security, scientific, strategic or economic interest of the state.” This was the classic language used by the British colonials in order to justify new laws and regulations aimed at curbing civil liberties. This is not to say that no NGO ever does anything wrong. If they break the law, they should be brought to book. There are more than adequate laws to ensure that this happens."

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Ruralize, don't urbanize! Why do we clone our cities?

A few years ago, living in Thiruvananthapuram and watching the city - a lovable overgrown village really - burst at the seams, these were thoughts that i had shared (see Stop the cloning of cities) - Indian cities have been trying hard at developing into clones of big cities across the world, and succeeding. (Aside: In the matter of solid waste management they are just clones of each other). Bangalore was a laid back garden city till about a couple of decades ago, even though it was the aerospace-cum-electronics hub of India. If we put together all the pros and cons of living comfort, standards of living, and quality of life, we will find that the present Bengaluru has unfortunately lost its overall charm. 
We have let globalisation and technological revolutions invade our urban spaces and our mind spaces so much, and at too fast a pace, that entire sections of urban residents have forgotten to pause, look around, smell the earth, and think of whole lots of other people to whom globalisation has meant deprivation, more financial burden and regress. 
Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapuram) is a uniquely endowed, endearing, overgrown village. But it is increasingly obvious that this city is also hurtling down the ‘progress and development’ path blindly, with foolhardy zeal and no imagination whatsoever. Think of the city 20 to 30 years from now: only more glass facades, more high-rise match boxes marring the green skyline, and humongous concrete masses looking down on snarling traffic, tempers adding heat to treeless avenues... 

Mahatma Gandhi is said to have termed the city of Trivandrum as “Evergreen city of India”, blessed as it is with plenty of tree cover, and nestled on small hills between the Western Ghats and the coast. 

It is evident that with globalisation, newer technologies and industries invade and take over / overtake the very thought processes of a city and end up thrusting a narrow concept of development. Prosperity and well-being of a city starts to be measured against such yardsticks as ‘world-class’ infrastructure and the upward mobility of city residents. The public have also been manipulated and steadily moulded to believe in advertised images and perceptions of what is desirable. The unnatural creation and projection of images of perfection and desirability by the media, advertising, marketing firms, and authorities who tout ‘global standards’ delude the masses into believing that their locality and the city will attain that kind of picture-perfection - if they have wider roads, bigger buildings, more indoor comfort and malls in which to ‘chill out’. (Parks and gardens aren’t ‘cool’ enough, you see). 

If you stand on a stretch of MG Road, you can easily forget that it is MG Road, Thiruvananthapuram; it could be MG Road, any other city. Do we need that kind of development that swallows a city’s original character? Nearly all of India’s metropolitan areas and urban spaces have gone that way. Cities have expanded to encompass suburban areas and have become nightmares to residents and the already (mostly) clueless administrators. Delhi’s tentacles extend to several sub-cities, Mumbai grows into the sea leaving its heart far behind, Chennai pincodes have grown to 600117 and Bangalore’s now joyless veins clutch outer villages. Why is Ananthapuri being compelled to follow those models? 
Heritage structures and rich, green spaces on Government-owned land should be left intact, preserved for posterity while possibly serving some public purpose. All the remaining green and open spaces within city limits – precious few of them – should serve as well-maintained oxygen pockets. 
We need to reclaim, revamp and take care of public places that had had grandiose plans bestowed on them by successive Governments. 
Why can’t we - concerned city residents – play a role in defining our vision for the city, guided by the principles of aesthetics, abundant local wisdom, heritage preservation and Nature conservation? 
In this context, it is good to note the introduction of programmes like the new Urban Design Master’s course offered at the CET, Trivandrum. Let us hope that such courses inculcate a holistic, long-term vision for cities. The budding future town planners should realize that there is much more at stake than the fortunes of the brick and mortar industry. 
A city’s growth lies not in numbers of Big Retail, multiple ‘brandnamas’, outsize cars, cooler and swankier malls, but in the numbers of residents who feel proud and happy about the right things – health, clean air, welcoming public places, mind-invigorating outlook of fellow-citizens. We must preserve what is left of the city’s character. Even if it means calling a stop to mindless real-estate expansion and ridiculous numbers of car dealerships.
"Unless citizens are motivated to live in ways not imagined before, the death of Indian cities will be rapid"
Gautam Bhatia writes in "The city's bleak future": "The Indian city’s undisguised fawning and mimicry of Western models bodes ill for an urban culture steeped in an altogether different life and pattern. Stockholm and Berlin may present a cohesive picture for initiating a computerised smartness into Indian urbanism, but they can hardly be imitated wholesale. When 60 per cent of the citizens are without local housing or access to municipal utilities, 40 per cent move about as pedestrians, with a third of those without conventional livelihood, the needs of urbanity are closer to those of Lagos or Cairo than of European or Chinese cities. A more generous and open-minded comprehension of traditional town structure by the government can provide a constructive direction to the country’s urban future."
Let's stop looking at cities as the 'engines of growth', because, these engines are adding to pollution at unmanageable rates. The government must ponder over former President Dr APK Abdul Kalam words written in the book 'Ignited Minds': The developed India will not be a nation of cities. It will be a network of prosperous villages empowered by tele-medicine, tele-education, and e-commerce....The political leaders would be working with the zeal born of the knowledge that the nation is bigger than individual interests and political parties. This attitude will lead to minimizing the rural-urban divide as progress takes place in the countryside and urbanites move to rural areas to absorb the best of what nature can give ..."

Of "Jellicut" aka "Pulikulam" & "Palingu" & the entire imbroglio

Some amazing facts here - From Jellicut to jallikattu 
"It is only the Jellicut (identified as Pulikulam) that has been described scientifically (between 1870 and 1930) as a “small bull specially bred for bull-fighting/taming in the Tamil region“, according to the Roslin Institute of the University of Edinburgh."
i read the piece with great interest. Scientific management is one logical route to protecting native breeds and all of the so-called IP, though i prefer to term it knowledge base instead. One experiences mixed feelings on learning that a few other countries have recognised the unique traits of native Indian breeds, and taken efforts at tapping the preferred qualities for better results; beginning with the fact that “American Brahman” is “the first beef cattle breed developed in the US”.
Here are a few questions that occurred to me as a layperson, following the dismaying developments of the past few days
1. Are there clear indications about the A2 milk Vs A1 milk? In Delhi, i have seen sachets marked as ‘A2 milk’ being marketed.
2. If a NZ-based company can file for patents based on ‘A2’, why have Indian companies not seized the initiative?
3. Do humans need to produce and consume such enormous amounts of milk and other dairy products at all?
4. Why won’t youth get together to protest the plastic and polythene that is discarded all over, and which our cattle ingest routinely?

The author has rightly highlighted the importance of scientific management for protection of native breeds and indeed for the preservation of the immense traditional knowledge base. This is important in view of the challenges posed by climate change and the known resilience of native flora and fauna. A holistic approach is necessary to address all the issues. 
Also, while a seemingly unbiased youth-led movement is largely good for society, we must watch out for attempts to mislead, and attempts at diverting the focus away from genuine societal concerns. For this, we need articulate public figures who can talk to the youth in the jargon which they can listen to, understand and come up with well-considered responses. 
i’d just like to insert a couple of words in the concluding statement: “Only science sans human greed can ensure commercial viability and enduring pride in our native breeds”.
Perhaps it won’t be long before the phrase post-truth gets associated with the jallikattu imbroglio currently panning out in TN.
No public figure has found the initiative to speak in a language that the youth would understand, and it’s a tragedy that none among the youth is able to articulate at all.
What we see in the Parliament, assemblies, news rooms ... is what we see on the roads too. More of emotions and instant opinions, and no intelligent discussion or informed debates. 


On Gandhiji's birthday in 1992, the Govt established the  Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Integrated Rural Energy Planning and Development (MGIIREPD) - with a view to “TAP RENEWABLE ENERGY TO THE FULLEST” and with a mission to Combat Climate Change and develop it as a “CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE” especially related with Strategic Knowledge Centre. 

The Institute - obviously set up by the Govt of the day - was renamed as Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Combating Climate Change (MGICCC) through an office order - perhaps intentionally - 30 Jan 2009. 

As given in the website, "The main objective of the Institute is to organize the Training Programmes for Government, Public Sector and Private Sector Officials in the areas of Pollution Control, Waste Management, Bio-diversity, Greening, Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Climate Change and Clean Development Mechanism. Institute is tasked to conduct Education and Mass Awareness Programmes for School Children, RWAs and Rural Women and Extension activities in the field of Climate Change and the Applications of Renewable Energy Sources by the Govt. of Delhi and conduct R&D work in collaboration with Institutions, Colleges and Universities. In view of the above set broad objective and climate change agenda for Delhi (2009-2012), MGICCC has inter-alia been mandated to pursue the following tasks as a strategic knowledge centre.

  • To oversee the use of biofuel by the government in some applications and to encourage restaurants to sell their waste fat and oil to an agency which can convert this into biofuel in collaboration with the Department of Environment, GNCTD and Delhi College of Engineering(DCE)/Delhi Technological University(DTU).
  • To launch and conduct a massive campaign of awareness about the NAPCC (National Action Plan on Climate Change) and about Delhi Government targets for the NAPCC. To achieve this objective, a comprehensive process of education and awarness involving every citizen of Delhi like communities, NGOs, Schools and Colleges, is to be initiated.
  • To prepare background paper and hold conference to increase awareness and response of the public. Discuss the impact of use of biofuels and other stringent fuel quality norms and their effects.
  • To hold discussions and seminars on the problem to find a solution and create a knowledge base about the problem of mercury in CFL lamps.
  • To start a pilot project for manufacture of small facility for biofuel and see how it can generates employment for small scale sector by involving industry and hotels and restaurants and other study institutions in collaboration with the Department of Environment, GNCTD and Delhi College of Engineering(DCE)/Delhi Technological University(DTU).

Whether or not anyone worked toward these noble goals, an RTI may reveal. But Mahatma Gandhi lives on though, in yet another name proposed in July 2012 along with a revamping of the  institute. 

Check it out here.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Knowledge must travel....

This is the translation of a verse sung by pastoralists belonging to the Kutch region of Gujarat, India.

Thursday, December 01, 2016


What i thought was lost in cyberspace, i found today.
To say that i am a wee bit satisfied.... would be an understatement!
Thanks, unknown cyber librarians and cataloguers!
But not many can make out the priceless from the valueless!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Moderation in Everything, Necessities in Moderation.

The origin of fireworks / crackers (and their use during deepAvali) has become the next contentious issue. While the debate continues, those who wish to pause and think can ponder on these -
1. CPCB (Central Pollution Control Board) site lists "Noise Standards for Fire Crackers". Unable to find regulations or emission standards.
2. There are regulations in other countries - see Consumer Fireworks and Hazards and Regulations
In recent years, newer toxic pyrotechnic compounds have been unleashed in the consumer fireworks market, without any checks whatsoever.

All religious, social and cultural practices were once environmentally sustainable.
Now each of these practices, fasts and festivals have become convenient targets for 'sustainable' businesses, trapping citizens to vulgar outward displays and transient glee. 
The climate change crisis is a valuable opportunity for the right wing government to lead the nation in reverting to sustainable and sensible practices.
Inputs welcome.

If an outright ban is not practicable, then it is time for stringent regulations in the fireworks industry. Once again, it is likely to be the defense services which can come to the rescue of clueless civilian authorities who focus more on revenues than on repercussions.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Monsoon Predictions

(Predictions of) A good monsoon ought to cheer up a farmer, far more and far earlier than lesser citizens of a nation. After all, the monsoons are a sort of DBT from Nature to the farmer's soul. And the rest of the nation benefits indirectly.
But what do we notice?
Prediction of good rains cheers up stock markets, energises the brokers, adds to the disposable incomes of the elite, keeps up the GDP illusion... all this before the farmer can say ஏலேலோ ஐலசா 'Elelo ailasa'

Friday, June 03, 2016

The GDP cliche

If i hear just one more time the words: "India is growing at 7.6%, and it is the only bright spot in a year of global economic turmoil", i'll.... i'll... i'll know that the FM is somewhere in the vicinity parroting into a mike.
Here's a secret, Mr AJ - If you focus on the agricultural growth rate, your favourite 7.6% will touch the skies.
Here's another secret, Mr AJ - IMF has called the bluff on neoliberalism! So rethink the kind of reforms you are drafting.

At 7.6%, India is the fastest-growing economy or the best data fudger

‘Discrepancies’ drive GDP growth

"Badai Banglavu"

A recent episode of this long-running TV series on Asianet featured Manju Warrier, a favourite screen persona.

To a query about acting with Big B, she mentioned a small piece of info - To accommodate his long legs, Bib B sits on 4 stacked plastic chairs during breaks in shooting.
i have been an ardent supporter of chair designs that feature higher seat-levels than the standard 18".

In the same episode, Mukesh rightly used the words 'Gender determination' to convey an appeal against female foeticide.

#Mukesh #ManjuWarrier #BigB #ChairDesign #GenderDetermination #BadaiBanglavu 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Between Articles 44 and 51A, can we bridge the gap? Need for a Uniform Civic Code, the other UCC

Ahead of Deepavali, our group housing society had completed a round of whitewashing of the stilt-parking area, and the internal faces of the peripheral walls. This had hidden all the randomly-designed paan-spit marks, accumulated over a few years. Residents must have hoped that the walls stay white for a good while, before a paan-chewer decides that enough is enough, and inaugurates a new round of auspicious-coloured designs on invitingly white walls.
Aren’t you heartily sick of seeing your ‘brothers and sisters’ spit here, piss there, jump queues and signals, throw garbage, pluck flowers, jaywalk on the road, drive on footpaths, tease small creatures, shout news on TV?

Are you entitled to speed up just because your car is more powerful?
Is your time more important than the person awaiting medical care in an ambulance?
Is it mere colour-coded artwork that the police have painted on roads and at traffic junctions?

Article 44 of the Directive Principles in India sets the implementation of the ‘Uniform Civil Code’ as duty of the State. The Wiki page on the Uniform Civil Code reads – “Uniform civil code in India is the debate to replace the personal laws based on the scriptures and customs of each major religious community in the country with a common set governing every citizen. These laws are distinguished from public law and cover marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption and maintenance.”
Dr APJ Abdul Kalam has been the only decent and recent proponent of the Uniform Civil Code. In 65 years, we have had hardly a few statesmen at the helm. Instead we have been having plenty of people who are “smugly sure that their own religion is the finest in existence”, and therefore this UCC has remained elusive.

I admit that I am an ardent citizen hoping for this UCC to fructify, or for at least an informed, intelligent, sober debate on the issue. However I also feel that India needs a far more urgent look at implementing another UCC: a Uniform Civic Code, an as yet unwritten set of civic rules applicable to every citizen of India, irrespective of caste, creed, colour, gender, religion, community, educational qualifications, bank balance, VIP status, number of horns, marital status, security status, geographic location, historical ignorance levels, IQ, EQ, parentage, idiosyncrasies, political affiliations... even past misdemeanours.

In fact they are written down clearly; Article 51A of the Constitution lists eleven duties, reproduced here for the purpose of triggering forgotten high school lessons -
(a)      to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem;
(b)      to cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom;
(c)      to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India;
(d)      to defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so;
(e)      to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities; to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women;
(f)       to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture;
(g)      to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life and to have compassion for living creatures;
(h)      to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform;
(i)       to safeguard public property and to abjure violence;
(j)       to strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour and achievement;
(k)      (who is parent or guardian) to provide opportunities for education to his child, or as the case may be, ward between the age of six and fourteen years.

These duties are truly high ideals for citizens to follow, similar to the Directive Principles of State Policy that imply some high ideals to be followed by the state. Unfortunately, these duties are ‘Non-enforceable and Non-justiciable’, that is, no citizen can be punished by a court for violation of these fundamental duties.
Are these fundamental duties merely a list of churchy clichés? Unfortunately, they are just that - unless constitutional amendments give the duties higher status. Thereafter we can expect citizens’ adherence because they can be enforced, and courts will be able to take cognizance of violations and award penalties and punishments. Till then, citizen self-regulation, like media self-regulation, will remain a myth. 

When will these amendments become an enforceable part of the Constitution of India?

DIY... Let’s DIO!

The friendly neighbourhood cobbler, tailor, knife-sharpener, plumber, electrician and all other valuable roadside service providers are an endangered lot. We the conspicuous consumers are least concerned. When a household item needs to be fixed, we ought to give more than a fair chance to all these sustainable livelihoods – and ourselves – and avoid creating additional trash, a practice in which we have become amazing pros.

The mixer-grinder jar’s lid comes with a smaller removable top, which is used to add water while grinding. When we went looking for the small part to replace a broken one, we found that we had to buy the whole lid. I’m glad we decided against buying the entire lid, because back home, we found two things that could do the job. One was the lid of an empty bottle of Eno, and the other a similar lid of a small asafoetida box. So now i have an endless supply of these lids, enough to start a small-parts business, and can compete with the original parts supplier.

Our son’s watch has a well-loved and well-worn Velcro strap. Fair wear and tear took the zing off the Velcro, and out we went, looking for a spare strap. None of the showy, brightly lit welcoming, air-conditioned showrooms had one to spare. Back home, my husband gave the strap a good wash, removed the old Velcro, and went down to the tailor at the gate. That hard-working gentleman securely stitched on to the strap a new piece of black Velcro, and the watch is as good as new. It cost us a whopping Rs 20 for the spare part and the labour.

The bathroom mirror disintegrated and fell off the wall mounting in parts. The flat piece of mirror first came undone from the wooden base, and gently settled on top of the wash basin. The glass strips on three sides then detached one after another, and rested directly below. Instead of having to stare at the wooden base where my reflection ought to have been, off came this wooden base, awaiting disposal. We put off the errand of buying a new mirror to the weekend. For a week my husband managed to shave either from memory, or from habit, or both. Then I decided that the bottle of synthetic resin adhesive must help, and all the parts of the mirror submitted meekly to my commands as they allowed themselves to be fixed on to the base again and then be pressurised to stay on, overnight. Since the next morning, the mirror was back on the wall, ready and waiting to take on the worst of Snow White’s rivals. And yes, I might launch a mirror-fixing service too.

The tubelight fixture looked old. The tube too. Bracing ourselves for additional expenditure in buying a new set and getting it fixed by the electrician, we found out that end fittings costing Rs 20 a pair would suffice. We bought the end fittings, and then it was an endless wait for the electrician to turn up. Several days later, an investigation revealed that fixing those end fittings amounted to child’s play, and so we DIO – did it ourselves. Then we dutifully thanked the electrician silently – it was because he didn’t turn up that we had the chance to learn and DIO. 

Next time you are tempted to throw away and buy new, pause. Tell yourself that there has to be a better way than the use and throw path. Yes, you can let the friendly (sometimes pricey) neighbourhood service providers earn an honest job’s wage, but certainly try to DIY; it’s not rocket science.

Remember the popular tagline of a fast-acting glue? Well, when we DIO, we can even fix broken hearts.

The Elusive Chair (TEC) - A Form Vs Function Debate

Have you sat in a chair and felt - "Wow, this is comfortable!"? 

Of late, we are spoiled for choice. We can sink into luxurious sofas, and lose ourselves in blissful sleep. You can plonk yourself down in luxury, and be counted among the couch potatoes. You can relax and sit back, looking around pleasantly as you await your turn in all sorts of foyers and lounges. 

But if your knees have aged before you have, they put up all kinds of protests when it comes to getting off the chair. All those waiting-room chairs 'receive' you whole-heartedly, but seem to turn the other way when the time comes to 'return' you on your feet. You just can't get up from them gracefully; they are awful for older / weaker-kneed people.

We invariably do not think twice about the chairs we see and use everyday, do we.

For several months now, I've been looking for suitable seating that responds to a few simple specifications.
- Sturdy enough for a senior citizen with limited mobility
- The height of the seat is 22-23 inches, a good 4+ inches above the 'standard' 18 inches
- the backrest is comfortable
- The cushion is not too soft; it should NOT sink inward.
- Must be available in both versions: with / without armrest.
- Must be reasonably priced
- No fancy attachments or silly frills

So we went up and down Delhi's markets searching for TEC. Happy furniture-wallahs welcomed us and showed us umpteen varieties of dining chairs, writing chairs, luxuriously inviting sofas, ottomans, executive chairs, bar-chairs, revolving chairs, lounge chairs, rocking chairs, elegant bamboo dreams, antique-looking regal thrones, but never TEC.

We located a carpenter and a sturdy-looking set of four second-hand dining chairs. When confronted with the need, he though about it, and eventually we decided on a plausible modification that could very well solve the issue. After that it was an eager wait for the "all-done-and-ready" call.
It remained a dream. The carpenter had bitten off more than he could chew, and our address read "Square One".

Determined to hunt down TEC, we set off to the famed Jail Road, known for furniture shops. After trudging from shop to shop, and checking out their dusty godowns, armed with a measuring tape, there it was, TEC, in foam and steel. It looked dirty and dated, but in a jiffy the shop-owner had it dusted and re-wrapped in new cellophane wrap. Did he have another, please? Oh yes, madam, er... no madam, just the one.

Thankfully I found a sturdy enough design that included armrests, with a not-too-soft cushion to be used as per need.

And that's why I now feel confident enough to launch TEC (Seating Consultants).

So how low (high) is too low (high) when it comes to furniture? You want a thumb  rule? 
1. Be kind to your knees. 
2. If you are happy with 'low', nothing can beat the Good Earth, the floor under your feet. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Between the land and the sea - Notes from #ChennaiRains 10

1. Piyush Manush added 2 new photos. 

This 96 sq feet bamboo structure could easily house a family of four till they reconstruct thier homes and lives. A lot of improvisation would be done to the same and it would also be fitted with solar lights ..All this for only 4800/-
Make a difference to the lives of the people who have been rendered homeless .. Come join us at Gandhi Stadium. We at Salem Citizens Forum have announced Salem's effort to focus on Shelter building for the homeless and we are sure all will contribute ...
For contributions from abroad pls do use this account no -
Piyush Sethia,
Bank of Maharashtra,
S.B. Acc- 20111114356
IFSC Code- MAHB0000375..
banks are finding it difficult to handle funds for trust accounts. For local contributions please do send to -
Ac name & No - Mari Sthalam- Salem,: 915020020105876
Branch - Axis Bank -Ramakrishna Road
Ifsc code- UTIB 0000170

Bamboo Shelter update - We are modifying & tinkering with the earlier design.
1. Making sure that the shelter lasts for a decade by treating the whole bamboo.. the treatment is done by heating the bamboo with CSNL solution.
2. Implanting a iron pole so that the bamboo does not touch get immersed in soil.. pic 2 ..
3. Champaka suggests that a glass bottle lining around the shelter will ensure no scorpions, lizards or snakes enter the premises.
maximum in a weeks time we hope to despatch atleast 30 shelters a day depending on th e availability of labor. Pls suggest if any changes are to be made ..

Volunteer Sharan
Help was posted for an aged couple (76,82 respectively) highly diabetic with a son affected by cancer and his child , who hadn't had anything for 2 full days. No water , No food , nothing. Their house had water until the first floor and they couldn't step out. The house went unnoticed during rescue operations and also the family had lost all connectivity since the phones were dead. Information was received through a fb post and somehow no one seemed to have been able to do much about it because of the lack of connectivity to the place. Water was 12 ft or more.
After a few hours ,a young man aged 24-25 , completely drenched was seen very efficiently trying to reach the place through ropes. He looked exhausted , but didn't give up. He managed to reach the house and the old couple was delighted to see someone come and give them food, after 2 entire days. He was shocked as to how the boy reached them, wherein even the boats or any trained sources couldn't reach. He thanked him and blessed him. On his way back from that house he noticed a lady with a small kid and enquired what happened . The lady was stranded all alone and was pleading to be shifted as the boats hadn't reached the place. The next moment the kid was on the boy's shoulders , carefully clinging on to this boy and the lady held the shoulders of the boy firmly , and they were on the other side of the scene in some time. After having done this , when the boy was getting some rest , the naval officer there got into conversation with him and got to know he was just a common man and this was the first time ever he did a rescue. Much to the astonishment of the officer. He was told that he has all capabilities to join the Air Force , army or naval force. When asked further , as to how he reached the place , this was known. He had travelled all the way from ECR, to Ashok Nagar. On the way , due to diversions he had to come through Vadapalani . While he was taking a turn , a brash car guy knocked him down. All the supplies he had bought for the family to be rescued was down the water. The supplies he bought were with the little money he had left as his salary hadn't been credited for the month. Nothing could be done , he had a family to be saved. He went ahead and reached a supplies place where he took in some bread and milk along with glucose for the family which was sinking because of their ailments. On reaching Ashok pillar , the water keel had come up to 8 ft and vehicles couldn't go. He parked his bike in a neighbouring road and started into the water . Wherein another rescuer Mr.Vincent introduced himself and they both were going in together. Finally they reached a place which was 5 -10 minutes from the destination . Vincent had to go and this boy was all alone not having a clue as to what had to be done. Courage , selflessness made him surpass the obstacles and he reached the family . The old man was the only person who was stable. The rest of them were sinking in hunger and low blood sugar levels. And once the supplies were given they regained consciousness. There was no media to cover this humongous effort but we salute that boy. Enquiring about him we got to know his name is Sharan. He has taken his life at stake to help the family . God bless him

Relief contributions - utilisation status (no hard numbers, just to give you a sense of what we have been doing - hard number update to be posted by Srinivas Krishnaswamy later this week.
Hello family and friends - you have contributed and have been contributing very generously, so here's a little update on some of the micro relief projects we have undertaken with the funds given.
1. Relief materials towards 100 displaced anglo indian families - the contribution for this will be done on saturday by Uday Shankar - we have bought / collected the following material for the women coming - nighties, blankets, plastic pais, some toiletries
2. Adolescent girls home (320 girls - 20 more children are expected tomorrow via childline which is why the count has increased from 300) - we have bought / collected the following - innerwear for the children, nighties, leggings and tees, soaps, shampoos, and other toiletries. Still collecting / buying plastic mats, mosquito nets, buckets and mugs and napkins. The contribution for this will be delivered by me or Srini directly.
3. TREE foundation - collecting on behalf of TREE foundation . They are supporting close to 1500 families, so we have a large collection list including clothing for the whole family, blankets, napkins, etc.We deliver relief ourselves to Tree foundation and coordinate with Neelu Dhungana .
4. Basin Bridge displaced colony - collecting for 150 children (from 15 day old infants to 3 year old children) - supplies needed include milk powder, diapers and warm clothing. Again relief contribution is being coordinated with on ground volunteer, and will be delivered by one of our friends. (so beware everyone on my friend list!)
5. ECR Kuppam - request for 150 families - need is for saris, inskirts, nighties, mens shirts, lungis, pais, anti fungal cream, mosquito coils and basic rations. Still don't know how we will be sending these.
Apart from the above, we are also getting relief requests from an NGO based in adyar, and one working in Chemenchery. Both require cooking utensils, so I plan to start a separate drive for this.
We are kind of ready with micro projects 1 and 2. We have barely started with 3. Still rattling the tins for 4 and 5.
And this is just us. We are doing a very tiny amount of relief work, and not even full time. Imagine the vast ocean that still needs to be covered.
So this post strated as an update, and by the end, I am back to my appeal.
Please open your hearts and wallets and contribute. Bhoomika trust is one option - I don't have details but you can do a Facebook search and my friend Koushik Udayashanker has also posted about them.. Bhargavii Mani is doing fantatsic relief work.And also seeks contributions.
So do we. So here is where you can send in funds.
Name : Preethi Sukumaran
Bank : State Bank of India, Besant Nagar Branch ( Chennai)
IFSC : SBIN0003274
Account # : 20175773856
Please do note that this is our personal bank account number & not that of an NGO - so you will not be getting a tax deductible receipt.
What you will get is accountability for your valuable contribution, details and updates of how the monies are spent, thank you notes on FB, a Jaadu Ki Jhappi when you visit Chennai ( if you don't find it creepy) and of course , free samples of awesome krya products.
Thanks a ton! smile emoticon

Between the land and the sea - Notes from #ChennaiRains 9

Time to Recover Chennai's Lakes/Ponds/Streams.
EFI is initiating a document with photographs and proofs of encroachment into waterways, which will be submitted to the Govt of TamilNadu. We want all of you to participate, kindly help us by clicking photographs of encroaching Structure/Establishment or any form of obstruction and email it to
1. If you know of a lake/pond/stream in Chennai where there is an obstruction, kindly click photographs of the same.
2. Email it to us at with name of location.
3. The Encroachment Could range from: Building, Parking of heavy vehicles, Bill Boards, Garbage, Construction Debris etc...
What will EFI Do?
1. Garbage, construction debris etc can be removed through voluntary efforts with govt permission. Vehicular obstruction can also be eliminated through appropriate dialogue with concerned drivers.
2. If they are larger structures and are a definite encroachment a report shall be presented to the Govt for action.
Let's work together positively in rebuilding Chennai, let's start with recovering our waterways.
-Jai Hind-

2. For all Chennai friends. Please do take part, or be in touch with this activity.
Let us realise that we need not wait for Assembly elections every time to hope for the better. Nearer to us than state assemblies are the civic institutions, who may give the impression of working, but are really capable of achieving far better social and civic objectives if citizens of each ward become more proactive and watchful. 
Let us break the corporator-contractor nexus, and claim the civic agencies, please!
Nityanand Jayaraman
SEIZE THE OPPORTUNITY: Beyond Relief & Rehabilitation to Reclaiming Chennai, Our Lives and Democracy
WHEN: 13 December, 2015. 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
WHERE: SPACES, No. 1 Elliots Beach Road, Besant Nagar, Chennai 600 090
KEY SPEAKERS: No VIPs, No Eminent Speakers. Nobody over 35.
(Participants of ALL AGES welcome -- ENTRY FREE)
"The Chennai rains were sort of a 'truth ink' that wiped clean (and exposed) all the farces of the urban establishment," wrote a youngster Samudra Gupta on his facebook. That is true. The urban establishment stands exposed. But so does the fact that we, the people, are not in control of the Government. Our democracy has been captured by vested interests. From aesthetics to functionality, our cities are planned to please corporate investors, real estate sharks, and vile contractors, not residents or the vast majority of urban poor who make this city a home for themselves and others. What also stands exposed is that in the tension between environment and development, the environment will do no balancing.
As people, our anger at the failure of the "system" is justified. The youth who have been dismissed as "useless" and without a sense of social responsibility or purpose are the ones that pulled (are pulling) the city out of filth and floodwaters. Surely, as people who ably faced the daunting task of rescue, relief and rehabilitation in the face of a useless and anti-social establishment, these countless volunteers, back-office geeks, valiant rescuers and coordinators of youth-run portals -- like TheNewsMinute & Thelogicalindian -- can take on the far more formidable task of handling the disaster that our democracy has become.
How can we reclaim our government? How can we re-fashion our economy to ensure that we function within the limits set by nature? How do we redesign our society so that regardless of whether or not there is prosperity, we can ensure that there is no poverty?
These questions are too important to leave in the hands of those who have brought us to this pass.
Please spread the word, and join this brainstorm session to ensure that the opportunity presented by the disaster is not wasted.
For more information, contact: Archanaa Seker -- 9840523235  
3. My Chennai added 10 new photos.
True that!
Creatives credit: IN1947

Peter Van Geit· 
‪#‎ChennaiRains‬ ‪#‎FloodRelief‬ Chennai Trekking Club Launches TN Flood Relief Map:
Our volunteers made tremendous progress mapping the relief status in the city - 45% of target areas have been surveyed! So far we identified 40 areas identified where no relief has reached yet. Our CTC Relief Center has dispatched materials to 7 areas. Many others are in progress. Please direct any relief materials to our center (contacts: Prasanna: 9994816896, Manoj 9597119618). We ensure it reaches the most needy. We need volunteers to help us scout 72 remaining areas mostly in the city outskirts.
Any volunteer doing survey / NGO doing relief can update the map directly:
Blue marker: area needs survey => require volunteers to scout => update survey results on map.
Red marker: survey done / needs relief => Relief NGO contact volunteer => dispatch relief materials => email to clear this area
Green marker: survey done / relief complete => no further action required
Any other area that requires relief can be added directly to map.
Please share with your friends/NGOs.
Chennai clean up - an important event
There is a very much important event happening on Sunday hosted by @restore and Organic farmer's market at Tre farms, Chetpet. Rekha RamuParthasarathy VMGopi DevarajanRadhika Rammohan,Sangeetha Sriram are the organisers behind the event.
This is a workshop to let everyone know why handing over bleaching powder and stuff like dettol(which I too have been guilty of collecting in the Chennai relief work) is not the greatest way to clean.
They are going to be talking about using AEM or activated effective micro organisms is a super, natural alternative to the above.
Srinivas Krishnaswamy and I plan to trek it from Siruseri on Sunday to join in and learn more.
We also plan to carry some more stuff you can clean your homes with which are natural, do not pollute and do a great job too.
So if you are around these parts on Sunday or even if you aren't, do land up. I hear several thousand litres of diluted AEM would be available gratis courtesy the manufacturers.
So come with empty bottles, fresh notebooks and pens and an open mind.
Human civilization and its need to clean has been around for a zillion years. Synthetic soap and other cleaning supplies for barely 160 years.
You do the math. (Of course we were all cleaning. Only with better stuff).

6.  Aarti Madhusudan.

Angels, all of them. In our area they are from Madurai. Grateful to these wonderful people who are cleaning our city for us.
Aarti Madhusudan added 2 new photos.
12 hrs
The city has been ravaged - there is muck and garbage everywhere - conservancy workers alone can't manage - the corporation has gotten people from other cities to come in to help - here is a bunch of folks from trichy - I saw teams from Cbe and Madurai too - if you bump into them do acknowledge and just say "thanks Anna" ad see them beam 

smile emoticon

Shade - and shades!

Shade - and shades!

Lest we forget

Lest we forget

Think about it -