Thursday, 14 September 2017

Phillip Ball writes about the narrative in the UK
Many intellectuals”, he says, “sneer at patriotism.”  he quotes Norman Lamont a Brexiter.
So there’s your choice (once again): get behind Brexit and be a patriot and, or oppose it and be unpatriotic. Loyalty to country (and thereby to “democracy”), or loyalty to the EU: it’s one or the other. "
At another place, he says "Here is Theresa May, in her barely literate foreword, on the national sentiment:...."
more than what she says, the fact that he feels she is "barely literate" is what I notice.
Then there is Trump.
And for those in India, does it  sound familiar?
But at least Brexit was done through a referendum. 

This sudden contempt for the experts, the decisions made based on ideas put forth by "barely literate" people, decisions that affect a huge number of people who willy-nilly bear its consequences, where will it all lead us?

Saturday, 2 September 2017

The proposal to link all the rivers of India has been revived.
Many people get many ideas. But each idea must be studied for its short and long term effects.
Is it really a good idea to link rivers?
Have we studied the effect this will have on the ecosystems of the different rivers and their flood plains, and most importantly their deltas? Is it even possible to predict what effect it will have? What about the decrease in the inflow of fresh water into the Bay of Bengal? Will it effect water circulation in the Bay and will this affect our monsoons? If yes, can we predict what will happen and are we prepared for it? I doubt if even the best models (if any) we have can accurately predict the consequences of linking all our rivers.
 As usual, are we just jumping into the water without testing its depth?

But then we currently do not like experts.... what do experts/scientists/economists/environmentalists know?
 Ok, if we don't believe in science, at least, let us be fully religious and believe that god who created these rivers must have meant for them to be different rivers. Will we do a Ganga aarti in Thanjavur or Vijayawada?
In fact, even if we just believe that nature is god-given and must not be messed with, we will all be better off. I am quite ignorant, but to me it seems that the "mantra pushpam" that is recited everyday in most temples and religious ceremonies, is a reminder to respect nature if we wish to live in prosperity. I think all this yagnas and pujas for forests, rivers varuna bhagavan etc would at least teach us to have a healthy respect for nature. But currently,we neither believe in scientific evidence, nor in our old religious traditions of worshiping nature.


Thursday, 31 August 2017

A headline "Could the Mumbai deluge have been avoided? Experts say Yes".

But we don't like experts. What do experts know? They have only studied a subject for 20 years of their lives. What do economists know about econoimcs? what do environmentalists know about the environment?
Vedas are thousands of years old.
It is written in the vedas that Mumbai will get flooded in 2005 and 2017 and again after a few years. To mitigate the effects, we must protect cows and do proper yagna. Our devotion to Ganesha has been deficient,so we are suffering.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

I like the new mantra we have, thanks to the recent events.
"I did my best".

Why are you late to class?
I did my best to reach on time.

Why is your presentation to the client not done?
Oh I did my best.

Mumbai floods?
The municipality did its best.

So everyone is doing his or her best. No wonder we are the BEST



Thursday, 17 August 2017

I hear a lot of lamentations about the demise of the joint family system. Such people never lived in one or were surely not the daughters-in-law of a joint family.
In an average joint family, the father-in-law lays down the law and all must obey about how much money is to be spent, who is allowed what who goes where etc. On the domestic front, the mother-in-law decides who should do what work, what and how much to cook and who should be given how much food. Usually, the daughter in law gets to do all the work and has to eat last what, if any, is left over.
The situation is better if the household is wealthy, where cooks and maids do the heavy work. still, what to do, where to go when to even visit relatives is never in the daughter in law's hands.
There is a study that shows intra-family status of the mother determines the child's nutrition level.
I have experienced life in a joint family for short spells, and though it is fun to play with cousins, the work that the women do is tremendous. However, cunning women can game the system and make life easier for themselves, worse for others.
The accepted standard model is however, ill treat the daughter-in-law.
The joint family for all its ideal of binding people together, does not guarantee that a man will not physically abuse his wife. That also happens with the in-laws looking on.
 In short, joint family is good for the top dogs.

Friday, 7 July 2017

ancient buildings

The thousand pillar temple near Warangal is being renovated by the ASI. They are using the ancient technique of building walls using river sand, kadukkai (terminalia chebula) and jaggery.  It has always surprised me that the Golconda fort has walls that look quite new and are still standing, whereas, modern day houses last maybe 3 or 4 decades at best and some of the recent flats look as if they will crumble in the second monsoon they face.
There is an article about how the Roman forts were built, and why they are still standing in some places. They used volcanic ash and lime, and treated the bricks by immersing them in seawater. Two different but very effective technologies. 
Many houses built in the 19th century, have walls that shine, sort of glowing walls. This was done by crushing shells from the riverbed and using that powder as plaster for the walls....mother of pearl walls so to speak.
These technologies may not be useful now since we cannot afford the river sand to build so many houses, but surely there might have been some technologies that we have lost, that could be of use to us now.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Anecdotes cannot be evidence of any phenomenon, but evidence is made of anecdotes.
I have lived in Hyderabad since 1986 and have employed a large number of maids. One of them who worked for me in 2002, had lands which she and her family farmed in Medak district. The government had decided to build the Singur dam on the Manjira river to supply drinking water to the growing city of Hyderabad. This was in the early '90s. They acquired lands from farmers, one of them being this maid's family. They did not get any compensation immediately, and having no means of livelihood, came to Hyderabad to work as flower sellers. She then took up domestic work and ended working for me and a few others. In 2002, the government decided to give her compensation for the lands and she went off for a few days to her village. After a lot of red tape, she got 25000 as compensation. Even in 2002, 25000  was a small amount, and it came almost a decade late. Somehow, she had the option of working as a domestic servant and was lucky to survive. How tough it must be for most people to be uprooted from their homes and told to fend for themselves with their means of livelihood taken away.
My current maid has farmlands in a place near Hyderabad, but her family cannot farm there since there is no water. All around Hyderabad, this is the story.........farmlands are fallow since there is no water. Telangana is a semi-arid region. We have an institute ICRISAT that does research on crops for such regions, but how many farmers get know-how from them and  raise suitable crops I don't know. It is definitely not a vast majority.
Israel raises tomatoes in the desert. I still remember a picture of tomatoes growing amidst desert sands that I saw decades back. So why do we not pass technical know-how more effectively to our farmers?
Do government departments have competent people manning them? This year, the Telangana government asked all farmers to sow chillies. There is now a glut and prices are low. Did they not do the math?
The state water testing departments has people who don't know how to test water properly. The forest department has planted a forest of eucalyptus all along the road to BITS Pilani Hyd....these are just some examples. We get frivolous solutions to serious problems like floating thermocol sheets on lakes.
Should not the administration get competent people to advise and then follow the good advice?




Phillip Ball writes about the narrative in the UK "  “ Many intellectuals”, he says, “sneer at patriotism.”    he quotes Norman Lamon...