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PM Modi’s 100 New Cities – will they be cause for celebration or mourning?


Through the following paragraphs, I would make a humble attempt for the average person to understand and take forward the ideas which ultimately shapes their lives.

I am an admirer of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The first time I had the opportunity to be present at a meet at the Taj Mahal Hotel Mumbai, for the Vibrant Gujrat project, I was sure he would be the Prime Minister.

And every time I zip through the New Free way from South Mumbai towards Pune, I feel glad that we had the Mr. Manmohan Singh as our PM. Who brought us economic prosperity!

The bloom turned to gloom later!

And while the present Government has won a thumping victory based on the “development agenda”. The development seems to be no different than a mindless race towards accumulating riches. We hope for saving the wealth of the Country.

As a Nation and a Citizen we have the right to develop and prosper. Nature is bountiful and Human, God’s greatest creation from time immemorial has learnt to use the resources for its growth.

But when our mother breast feeds us, nourishes and cares for us. Makes us strong and able adults. Do we throttle her, maul and maim ? As a thanks for her good deed?

Then why do we do so with Mother to all of us. The sustainer of Life. Our Mother Earth?

Pune Landslide Disaster Causes. Graphic Courtesy: Times of India

What would have been the last thoughts of those who were buried alive at Rudra Prayag and recently close to home near Pune? As mud slowly forced down the lungs of the wretched innocent?

A child whose only wish perhaps was to grow up and mend the thatch of his leaking home – not of buying the 60th floor of a high-rise, built using materials ripped and pillaged from the very surrounding the disaster happened ?

When one does not use the river sand to re-lay another fine Italian marble in his posh home…he saves young engineering students from being washed away due to the acts of the unscrupulous sand-mafia!

When one is happy to reuse and retrofit his old wooden floor & furniture, instead of seeking a new look in the study…she helps save the old parents praying for the well being of their children at the feet of Shiva!

Whenever we stop paving over the farm-lands and refuse to buy a “Non-Agricultural” plot, we stop the vulnerable Sahyadri, the Vindhyachal, the Nilgiri from dying.

And in its death throes kill civilization!

To protect Humanity…we need to build Green. And when we say Green, it must not be a green wash. (Govt’s devpt’projects to blame for tragedy: Experts).

And by building Green..we shall abate Global Warming & Climate Change.

For no panegyric text, no law ever made…has denied prosperity!

But all seem to have but forgotten..it advocates prosperity for everyone.

Sabka Saath….Sabka Vikas!

Inclusive growth does not mean a Hindu-Muslim-Sikh-Isai-Bahai-Jew & Parsi! As we like to be identified as instead of Humans. ( perhaps due to the continued erosion of Humanity?)

But also those we foolishly call beasts! And with every animal we save, in the process a tree, a shrub…an ant and a moth survives!  For they all work together to make this Planet a better World to live in!

Something we knew before we “modernized ourselves”. For where else but in India we recognize the efforts of an ANT and build a temple to honour it.The ant hill Shiva- linga at Erumbeeswarar Temple. (this yet again underscores the important of remembering ones’ culture Disconnect from ones culture is the root cause of Global Warming )

Therefore if we need to build the 100 cities, which I strongly advocate that we do. We must build sustainably.

We must preserve the green that is the cover of mother Earth. Green is the colour of the plants which bear fruit, gives us air to breath and in the bosom of the forest which provides natures bounty, gave birth to Man!

Green Building is not a fashion statement. It’s our birthright!

It is a choice between life and death! And today and evermore we must choose to Live & Let Live.

Dangers of unsustainable development. Courtesy: Times of India

And to do that we have to change our mindset. Thus let us begin from understanding the basics, without which we will never be able to build sustainably. And create the Climate Resilient Cities, which we need so much.

To begin with, how many of us can actually recognise the trees or name the flowers other than the bunch of flowers we buy at exorbitant prices in high end boutique shops? Which are discarded as soon as the “air kiss” gets over !

Wrapped in cellophane that too …

How many of us remember when was the last time our children or we could recognise at first glance – a tree or shrub which produces the grains we eat or the fruits that are now more often put in beauty products than on a food plate ?

When we get disconnected from nature and what is natural, it is little wonder that we forget the age-old wisdom of putting importance to Roti – Kapada – Makaan !

The wise choice of sequencing  Food – Cloth – Shelter , in that order transcends both the Oriental & the Occidental World. It is of little consequence as to which civilization first mooted the idea…for if during the time of the Mahabaharata, we called ourselves “Aryans” and if they originated in Europe, then it proves beyond doubt that the world as a whole were far more intelligent and in sync with nature than we can aspire to be.

Thus when we build the 100 cities we must insure that the city grows its own food. It can be done by using the fertile soil of the building foot-print and placing every last bit of it on the roof-top or terraces, or better still make terminal market complexes which can be over the railway tracts or bus depots. Perhaps a combination of all would be the best formula.

And the best part is it would not make a farmer landless…

To grow food we require water. In fact all great Civilization and City Kingdoms grew near the banks of river or ocean. When we start to bottle water in plastic packs or it gushes out at the twirl of the tap..the disconnect from reality begins to manifest upon us. It is further compounded by the foolish yet well meaning laws that as water is the basis of life it must be either provided free or at a very nominal cost.

But, gone are the days when water used to quench a thirst, bathe a body or sow a seed. Now it is more required to fill a bottle of fizz and wash ones car. Or turn a turbine through a jet stream of steam…raised to its vapour form by ripping out Coal from the bowels of Earth. In an effort to satiate the insatiable thirst for POWER ( ? ), human have forgotten that water is a nourisher of life.

Flooded Mumbai after record-breaking rainfall. Courtesy: Times of India

And when you forget a life force & have a skewed development agenda…she comes back as a Tsunami or Flood wreaking havoc in her wake. Or simply moves away leaving parched land..fast turning into desert.To those who live in Mumbai, counting the days to rain is almost an annual ritual.

Because without rain the water bodies which provides the much needed succour simply can’t be replenished. And at the same time the rain brings with it untold misery for the citizens.

So how do we make the New Cities so as to not suffer the same misery which the current cities in India face ?

To begin with we must have stringent development control rules.

While it would take a collective will of the people to re-develop the existing Cities. The mistakes of not catering to the water needs in the new cities must be made into a crime punishable by law.

 

A fragile & beautiful ecosystem.

Lastly, where do we build our Cities and what material should be used to build them ? I find it amazing when developer after developer without giving a thought to the consequences to the ecosystem design projects in complete contravention to the lay of the land, the contours, the local populace. Every advertisement talks of connect with nature. And how one would live in harmony with it.

Each one of us would love to be in this place. But few amongst us would want to share it with the green glade, the birds & bugs ..the ant and the earthworm..the brush and the tree..the frog and the snake…animals and plants which have co-existed in perfect harmony to help nature sculpt this picture perfect place of tranquillity and peace.

Building around nature.

As I said earlier, human have the right to live a modern life-style, within an Ecologically sensitive area. Provided they follow the law which would make them build right. And most importantly learn to co-habitat with the surrounding.

Very few modern architect or developer would keep the place as it is and work along it to create space for man.They would develop it as it should be according to them. Because it is not easy to live with nature when everyday of our concious life, the commerce crazy community craving for riches vie for your attention on everything that is unsustainable in the long run..

An untrained and gullible mass considers the life-style preached by these false messiah as gospel.

Thus if we indeed need to build those 100 cities our Prime Minister has mooted let them be the dream cities which would stay behind as his legacy. Of having balanced growth of India with Sustainable Development of this planet.

Laws need to be mooted which prevent development of Urban spaces in present agricultural land. Prevent expansion of existing city sprawl into the life saving mangroves. And to achieve that the first thing which the Prime Minister must build, much in the lines of IIT’s in each state, are a University of Developers.

In this university of developers make mandatory attendance of all those who want to put a project. Be it Housing or a Coal mine. Airport or a Dam. And make them learn the laws of nature. The cause and effect of each decision which they would take for the project they would want to promote – 50 years from hence!

Allow them then to alter the situations towards the least harmful. For modern human can’t develop any further today without causing some harm. Such is sadly the truth. And the answer to which perhaps remains with those wiser. And may take this tread of an idea to the Utopian state it should belong.

And to those who having crossed the passage above consider this suggestion a waste…India & the World (25 Examples of Off the Grid Homes + Green Architecture) has already started working towards this idea.

We can build cities which are in sync with nature in a much larger extent than is currently practised.

What we need is a vision which many of us in this country hope this Prime Minister & his Cabinet has. We need not have to build upon fertile soil and forest but spread the Cities to those vast swathe of arid and semi-arid lands.

To areas where uncontrolled mining and logging has decimated the land and laid it bare and waste. To those areas connected by bullet trains and express ways; waterways and air ( at times a gas filled Zeppelin can undo the carbon foot print) and making mandatory for captains of Industry & Commerce to shift at least 6% of their operations to any 3 cities of their liking within the 100 spanning the country. We would attract a sizeable population of skilled citizens to spurt life into the new cities.

And as the roots of civilization begins to take shape, the local populace would benefit.

That is when perhaps we shall have an India shining!

 

 

 

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Green Business Idea : Using Manpower & Ox-power to generate rural electricity


Green Business Ideas needn’t be about multimillion dollars of earnings. Although that kind of money does impact lives and can bring in sea-change in thoughts and actions much faster; simple things which look towards the rural landscape should also matter where the earning may be more if the latent advantages are explored. It is also important to indigenise them to the local needs. We would discuss  ideas which belong to different countries but each can work in various Nations. Perhaps it would be the best BASIC country collaboration ever towards sustainable living.

Beginning by mentioning the superlative program hosted by CNN on sustainable living especially the Eco-Solutions  program where it was shown that, water hyacinth a bane for Africa ( & Asia) could be exploited to created products one would usually associate with bamboo or jute. Although weaving with water hyacinth would be natural in the South American countries, attempting to find its commercial use in Africa is indeed wonderful. While the botanists and environmentalist may not agree, citing the commercialization as a bane to their effort to eliminate the evasive weed; one while agreeing to their line of thought could differ in the approach.

English: Water hyacinth

Water hyacinth (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The reason water hyacinth does not grow uncontrolled in the South American continent is because it has natural enemies which keeps it in check. Without such natural control available in the Asian & African continent the water hyacinth has wrecked havoc to the water-bodies. But now the biggest “natural” enemy to everything natural in this planet the honourable homo sapien; once they taste the commercial possibilities of any living or non-living material on Earth, one can bet their last dime that ‘extinction’ is not far away. Therefore one should not worry too much in supporting the poor African women in their attempt to commercialize the water hyacinth. Given the right incentive within a span of 10 years it would become less of a menace; not requiring grants from the UN to keep it under control and more of an opportunity to uplift the poor. If we attempt to think out of the box, sustainable solutions would be easier to come by. And the much needed grants could then go into attempt to rectify wrongs for which easier answer are yet to be found. It is therefore encouraging to see the USA come up with a process to produce Ethanol form water hyacinth at Lake Victoria in East Africa ( vindicating my article –The USA has given some of the top inventions to abate Climate Change.)

It is known to very few that Water Hyacinth can be used to produce Bio-fuel, which can then run a generator to produce electricity. Research on this has been happening across Nations including India, yet not enough media focus and awareness is created to bring it to the grass root level, where it would start to make a difference.

Recently, Oxfam has claimed that the lifestyle of the Maasai tribe in Africa should be embraced as a response to climate change because of their ability to farm in deserts and scrublands.Many Maasai tribes throughout Tanzania and Kenya welcome visits to their village to experience their culture, traditions, and lifestyle. In these tribe cattle plays a very important role too.

There is a great debate in the west about GHG emission form cattle, which is mostly reared for production of beef. With many becoming vegetarians and vegans the debate on consumption and rearing of cattle is still on with respect to their contribution to Global Warming. Those who may not know, in India  practising Hindus consider cattle as sacred. The word “Panjerpol” means an old home for cattle. While the word “Gaushala” denotes a dairy farm. Panjerpol is where devout Hindu’s like to see the cows to go, when their useful life as a milch cow or an Oxen ends, so that they can spend the remainder years in comfort. The charitable trust which I visited is run by some of the most successful businessmen in Pune, Maharashtra,India whose vision is exemplary. Considering every cow as Kamdhenu and all bulls as Nandi the teachings of sustainable living is practised even now.

In the day and age of increased awareness of the benefits of natural fertilizers,using  Cow Manure Fertilizer For
Growing Vegetables, – supply the best bulk form of organic matter to the garden. The fantastic soil conditioning ability of cow manure due to the amount of quality organic matter, that no processed fertilizer can match, is reason enough to use cow manure fertilizer whenever possible to the garden. The soil amending properties of this really great natural fertilizer has to be used to be properly appreciated. In another article Cow Urine Can Cure Many Diseases, the author an Ayurvedic Physician, from Gujrat goes on to say – …The analysis of cow urine has shown that it contains nitrogen, sulphur, phosphate, sodium, manganese, carbolic acid, iron, silicon, chlorine, magnesium, melci, citric, titric, succenic, calcium salts, vitamin a, b, c, d, e, minerals, lactose, enzymes, creatinine, hormones and gold acids.Cow urine treatment and research centre, in Indore (Madhyapradesh, India) has conducted a lot of research in the past few years and reached at the conclusion that it is capable of curing diabetes, blood pressure, asthma, psoriasis, eczema, heart attack, blockage in arteries, fits, cancer, aids, piles, prostrate, arthritis, migraine, thyroid, ulcer, acidity, constipation, gynecological problems, ear and nose problems, abortion and several other diseases. Cow is a mobile dispensary. It is the treasure of medicines. The cow urine therapy is capable of curing several curable and incurable diseases. The holy texts, like atharva veda, charak samhita, rajni ghuntu, vridhabhagabhatt, amritasagar, bhavprakash, sushrut samhita contain beautiful description about these things. It must be noted the late Prime Minister of India Shri Morarji Desai advocated Ayurvedic treatment similar to the one mentioned.

The above sets the stage across two continents on the importance of cattle and hyacinth as two factors which can play an important role in sustainable living in rural areas and thus advocates one of the agendas of the UNFCCC charter.

OX-Driven Electric Generator

The same amount of difference it would make, should the poor and marginalised farmer in India use his oxen to produce electricity. This is yet another aspect I understood on my visit to the Panjerpol near Pune. The article Ox-driven generators set to solve power crisis- BIT Mesra’s non-conventional energy gadget promises to steal show at Udyog Mela reads – An oxen-driven generator set, developed by BIT Mesra’s mechanical engineering department, is set to draw crowds to the forthcoming Jharkhand Udyog Mela 2008 at Morabadi grounds.BIT Mesra has booked a stall in the 11-day fair slated to start from November 15. The fair promises to be a good platform to inform the rural masses, NGOs and, most importantly, agencies working in the field of non-conventional energy about the importance of pollution-free power generating machines. A single unit of such a machine would be able to provide power to at least eight households.

This actually complements an article in another blog Engineering for Change which has devised the same idea by using bicycles –This innovation is one of our Promising Prototypes of IEEE’s Global Humanitarian Technology Conference in Seattle. Bike-powered electricity generators are a practical solution for Indian households. Surveying the country’s energy landscape, with its tight living spaces, expensive land, and far too many people for the power the country produces, bike generators make sense. Venkat Natarajan and his team at Intel Technology India in Bangalore came to that conclusion and they are testing their own low-cost designs.

ISCKON ideas

Developing Green Business Ideas which actually impact the lives of the Undeveloped or the Least Developed Nations must be given priority and WRI, CAN-International, Greenpeace and the likes  should try to make this as an agenda to be showcased at the next UNFCCC meet in Europe. As I have advocated always, it is not important whether we are aware of the possibilities, it is important that the poor and the needy are given the opportunity to exploit so. Water hyacinth covers the serene Vembanad Lake,is as recent a news as October 2012 whereas Biotech Students to Produce Alternate Source of Energy in Surat, published in June 1, 2011 pre-dates the problem taken up by the Times of India news. While BIT Mesra’s Ox-power electricity was showcased in 2008. Actually if one researches further this concept was already in place way back in 1985 and finds mention in Prabhupada News. Had it been encouraged and popularised by the Union and State governments in India, THE GREAT INDIAN BLACKOUT OF 2012 might have been averted. But sensible thinking and foresight is not an Indian thing. We are conditioned for lethargic and knee-jerk administrative reactions.

It is important for the UN to seriously consider taking up a dedicated media space to beam down relevant news and information, as mentioned above on a  24x7x365 basis around the world much like the popular Discovery or National Geographic TV programs. This would at least enable a ground-swell which may see some change for the better in the Developing and Under-developed countries where administrative apathy is rife.

How difficult is it for the media moguls to partner with the UN to launch such ground breaking idea? Something that would benefit the world and encourage people to people contact, thus bringing unto fore new ideas which could perhaps have commercial value? In many of the You Tube links attached to this article one can see so many home-grown ideas which can not get much traction due to want of audience. Some die out simply because the immediate society has no need of it, while it could have been a game changer a continent across; it may perhaps save lives. It can happen even now, in fact it must.

Most of India’s 20 nuclear reactors are on the list of the most unreliable 50 in the world, and villagers near the Tarapur plant have been bearing the brunt of after-effects of radiation. In spite of their complaints, all they’ve got from the govt is assurance of reduced exposure, which is no less risky, finds Dilnaz Boga. Poonam Hambire, a resident of Ghivali village, 12km from Boisar in Thane district, is at the forefront of the anti-nuclear agitation against the Tarapur Atomic Power Station (TAPS). “Women have to come forward as false cases are slapped against the male protesters in Tarapur,” she alleges. Her village lies within the 1.6km radius around one the country’s oldest nuclear reactors built by General Electric in the 1960s. It’s the same model as Japan’s Fukushima reactor. The effects of radiation are obvious in every home not only in Ghivali but also in the neighbouring villages.At Hambire’s home, her eight-year-old nephew’s garlanded photo adorns the wall. “He died of lung cancer, but we couldn’t get his medical reports from the government heath centre. It’s hard to talk about it as his father who is employed at the plant will lose his job. None of the sick villagers get their medical papers,” she claims.

The very argument that India needs to develop and maintain costly Nuclear plants, pales in comparison to the fact that using simple tools, the country under its NEREGA mission can utilize only a fraction of the allocated Nuclear development money and yet bring about enormous social benefit. The most telling; India has unemployed youth in villages who could if given a chance, pedal for 24 hours a day in shifts to continuously produce electricity. Which not only could then be stored and then evacuated into the grid for transmission and distribution but the labour could be paid for by the power companies.

As per the survey conducted by Labour Bureau of the Government of India, 40 Million are unemployed with an Unemployment Rate of 9.4%. The survey was conducted in 28 States/UTs spread across the country in which about 99 per cent of the country’s population reside. It estimates that the population of the country is 1182 million with 63.5% in the working age of 15 – 59 years, however, not everyone who is in the working age is interested in joining the work force, so the worker population ratio is much lower. There are an estimated 238 million households, of which 172 million are rural and 66 million are urban. Out of the total population of the States/UTs covered, 872 million persons (73.8 per cent) live in rural areas and 310 million persons (26.2 per cent) live in urban areas.As per The-Pedal-A-Watt-Bicycle-Generator an average rider will produce between 125 and 300 watts. So even if we consider one-third of 872 million people, the mathematics works out to be a decent amount of power generation + employment scheme wrapped into one. Will the Governments listen ?

 

 

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