Saturday, January 30, 2016

India is not Hindu, and Hindu is not India

Dear Intelligentsia,

Let's take a 5 minute lesson in vocabulary.

India: A LAND, a place which has unbroken history for over 4000 years at least. Needless to add, the cultural tradition is deep, chequered and rich.

Hinduism: A RELIGION which, according to the popular history still taught in Indian schools, is not native to India and was brought from Central Asia by an invading population called the Aryans.

The known history of India predates the invaders by at least 1500 years and since 400 BC - The Rise of Buddhism, and 790 AD, the first Arab Invasion of Sindh, this history is multicultural and owes its evolution to practitioners of many religions.

Everything that is Indian is not Hindu. Let's take a minute to understand the following common mistakes of identification:

Classical Dance: Indian

Ganesha Stuti: Hindu

Classical Music - both Carnatic and Hindustani - Indian

Saraswati Vandana: Hindu

Yoga: Indian

Gayatri Mantra: Hindu

Sanskrit: Indian

Vishnu: Hindu

Vande Mataram: National Song of India

Om Jai Jagdish Hare: Hindu

Arithmetic: Indian

Vishnu Sahastranama: Hindu

Ayurveda: Indian

Mahamrityunjay Mantra: Hindu

Arthashastra: Indian

Suprabhatams: Hindu

When in doubt, ask yourself, "Does it pertain to Hinduism?" If the answer is no, it is not Hindu.

And now, if you will please stop labelling everything Indian as the Charge of the Saffron Brigade, I will be very grateful. And happy to note that you definitely passed your Class 6 History exam. Thank you.

We Need Sanskrit in Schools

I want to make my stand clear on this one:

 I NEED Sanskrit in schools. To know Sanskrit grammar and its structure is to know perfection in language design. This is how things should be done.
IF Sanskrit was designed in the modern times by an American, we would call it "The Perfect Construct", "Genius and Beyond" and other things.

We would send our children in droves to learn this perfect language and we would be so proud of their achievement. We would speak about how learning Sanskrit teaches them to create more scientific models of thought, because they learn to envisage a thing and all its possible uses.

But that fact remains that over 2500 years later (at least), no one has been able to create a language as perfectly as Panini's Sanskrit with its flawless design of grammar and word construct.

So basically, in 2500 years, the world has not produced a linguistic genius like Panini (and his group).

And I am proud to be from the country where this awesome science of linguistics and alphabet design existed and was thus perfected.

 I Want Sanskrit in schools. None of our Intelligentsia will do a candle march to save Sanskrit in our education system, but I will.

Saturday, January 23, 2016


ਆਪਣੇ ਵਿਰਸੇ ਨੂ ਵਿਸਰਨ ਦਾ ਮੋਲ
ਕੋਈ ਨਹੀ ਚੁਕਾ ਸਕਦਾ

ਨਾ ਬੰਦਾ
ਨਾ ਕੁਨਬਾ
ਨਾ ਪਿੰਡ
ਨਾ ਦੇਸ਼
ਨਾ ਪੂਰੀ ਕਾਯਨਾਤ। 

ਵਿਰਸੇ ਦਾ ਵਿਸਰਨਾ
ਕੋਈ ਮੋੜ ਨਹੀ ਸਕਦਾ
ਨਾ ਖਿਨ
ਨਾ ਦਿਨ
ਨਾ ਹਫਤਾ
ਨਾ ਸਾਲ
ਅਤੇ  ਨਾ ਹੀ
ਆਪ ਕਾਲ

ਵਿਰਸਾ ਵਿਸਰਦਾ ਹੈ
ਇਕ ਹੀ ਵਾਰ .

अपने विरसे नु विसरण दा मोल
कोई नहीं चुका सकदा
ना बंदा
ना कुनबा
ना पिंड
ना देश
ना पूरी कायनात। 

विरसे दा विसरना
कोई मोड़ नहीं सकदा
ना खिन
ना दिन
ना हफ्ता
ना साल
और ना ही
आप काल.

विरसा विसरदा है
इक ही वार.



अपनी विरासत को भूलने का मूल्य 
कोई नहीं चुका  सकता 
न इंसान 
न परिवार 
न गाँव 
न देश 
और न ही 
पूरी सभ्यता। 
उस भूलने के पल को 
वापिस नहीं मोड़ सकता कोई 
न पल,
न घंटा 
न दिन 
न साल 
न सदी 
और न ही 
स्वयं काल 
विरासत को भूलना 
होता है 
एक ही बार 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Airlift: Movie Review

What do you say about a movie like Airlift?

THIS IS IT! (Remo Fernandes in Jhalak Dikhla Ja)

One hasn't been to too many First Day Shows in the recent past. But this story was too compelling to pass up. One lugged a child and his friend and the friend's mother. All 4 to a First Day Show. And what a treat!

The background music blends in so subtly you don't even notice it. The rest of the score is soothing, melodious and easy on the ears - not a mean feat for a quasi action film. BUT.. the best part is this - the characters are sooo beautifully etched. Each one of them - including the ensemble cast. Everyone has a place to fill, and everyone fills that place so well. Full marks to the Casting Director! And the actors, of course.

I have become an Akshay Kumar fan in the recent years. From being Bollywood's favourite Khiladi in more ways than one, this person has matured as an actor. He brings that rare thing to the screen - persona. Nimrat Kaur does justice to her role. I would have liked a lot more layering in the expressions of this rather complex character, but that's just me. Joseph - who grows in stature from that first shot when Akshay Kumar is asking him how much moneys they have, to the end. Purab Kohli as Iqbal.. what can one say? He stands out, really, REALLY stands out, is all. You will have to see his performance to know what I mean. From the man who escorts the hero to a small gathering of friends in a supermarket, to the man who ensures an identity for a woman with an infant, and then looks the hero in the eye as he walks past, this man truly is an equal.

But this was not one man's victory. Nor was it the story of one man. There were so many invisible hands who made this happen. They have been acknowledged in the end, but only in passing. They deserved so much more credit for standing by a man and supporting his battle.

One Lakh Seventy Thousand WOWs for this movie. I can only imagine the scale of that number. A full residential complex with 1000 flats has only 5000 ppl on average. A full movie hall - maybe 150. A flight - 300? 448 flights. Those are numbers that will remain in our mind for a long, long time. Sad that it took so long for someone to tell such an inspirational story, but that time only makes it more special, as we are in a position to look back and appreciate how that one battle of 1990 changed the course of world history, and continues to do so - 25 years later.

My only advice: If you are a parent, do go prepared with your history. The movie is a fantastic trigger for a discussion on the rise of religious extremism (our kids have grown up in a world where they don't know a time without terror. We have to remind them that before 1990, folks went out and did their stuff and no one really knew that thing called terror. Then Bin Laden happened, and there was no one to stop him. Then 9/11 happened, and the world has not looked back since. )

We also had a superb discussion on the use of war games by children. I explained to them that the "dead" soldiers they see in Clash of Clans, is this - ruined houses, displaced people, orphaned children. This is the truth of war, and don't let anything, or anyone, tell you otherwise. We cannot trivialise war. Or violence. And anything that does, needs to see this movie. As of this minute, my son does not want to play Clash of Clans. Or anything else that leads to war or dead soldiers. :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Constitutional Reforms that India Urgently Needs

As a citizen, this is the manifesto of Constitutional Reforms that I demand:

  • Reservations
Reservations are limited to education, and ending at higher education. No reservations for jobs, promotions etc are to be allowed. We can and will provide opportunities for Upskilling. But you need to be qualified to do the job itself.

Reservations are NOT applicable to a family where:
       1. One or both parents already have/ have had a job that was the result of reservation.
       2. The combined income of the family is over 10 lakhs per annum. Limit to be revised every 2 years.
      3. The child does not meet the minimum qualification criteria for admission.
  • State and Religion
India is a SECULAR state. Which means that the State is not a participant in the religious beliefs of the population. Accordingly:
  1. All state subsidies and benefits should be immediately withdrawn from all bodies that purport any religious affiliation at all. There should be a constitutional  provision against ever re introducing any state benefit/ subsidy/ preferential treatment / affirmative action that is even remotely connected to religion, caste or any other social means of discrimination.
         2. The fields for "Religion" should be removed from all govt forms except the census and identity ones. No one should need to indicate their religion to get medical attention, school admission etc. The country cannot report on the religion based coverage of education, jobs etc.

         3. The country will have a common civil code. All religion based legislation to be voided.

         4. Any religious body that issues a "Voting Advisory" in the form of Farmaan, Fatwa, Guidance, or any other format, will be liable for criminal prosecution. Every voter is enjoined to vote according to their own intellect and no one should be able to persuade this decision. If the said body is a "Society" or "Trust" or other NGO organisation registered in India, the registration will be cancelled after 2 violations.

         5. Any candidate who is found to be soliciting votes, either formally or informally, on grounds of religion, caste or other social discrimination bases, will be summarily disqualified and will face a 10 year ban on fighting any elections in the Republic of India. A repeat violation will ensure a lifetime ban. For this, informal conversations, recorded through stealth recording, are permissible evidence and will invite action.

  • The Voter's Responsibility
             1. Voting is a constitutional obligation. Anyone who abstains from their duty to vote for over 8 months, or for 2 elections of any level, will automatically have their Aadhar Card and Election Card cancelled. The PAN card will then be picked up for scrutiny, to ascertain that the said voter is a resident of India, and has not moved out of the country.

            2. Before voting, the voter will have to answer 5 questions about the manifesto of one of the candidates. The questions can be answered in writing or audio, by pressing an option button. The voter must answer at least 2 out of these 5 correctly to be eligible to vote. It is a part of the constitutional obligation to read manifestoes and vote accordingly.

  • The Citizen's Responsibility
1. The state will NOT sponsor free education, medical support, ration card(subsidised food) for more than two children per household. If you want to have more children, earn enough to clothe and feed them.

2. Where a child is found to be in child labour while still living with his/her parents, the parents will be prosecuted for neglect and child abuse.  It is the responsibility of the parent to ensure that the children are sent to state sponsored schools or at least kept out of the workforce, are adequately clothed and are kept in a secure environment. If a parent is found negligent in protecting the Child's Rights, they will be entitled to criminal prosecution, because a parent is supposed to be the cocoon of safety that a child has. All children will immediately be put in state care.

Friday, January 01, 2016

7 Sources of Delhi's Pollution you didn't know about

1. E Waste

India's capital is emerging as the world's dumping capital for e-waste, with hazardous activities taking place and like to generate e-waste to an extent of 50,000 metric tonnes (MT) per annum by 2015 from the current level of 30,000 metric tonnes per annum, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 25%, according to an Assocham estimate.

The Assocham latest study revealed that currently e-waste of Delhi is approximately 30,000 metric tones per annum and employs more than 1.5 lakh workers in city's various organised and unorganised recycling units, said DS Rawat, secretary general of Assocham while releasing the Assocham paper.

 "While the list is growing ,so is the quantity as these products are getting more affordable and more and more people are using them. Increasing usage also leads to more of them coming up for disposal, thus increasing the rate of obsolescence and replacement," added Rawat.

The paper further stated that large e-waste centres exist in Delhi, NCR, Meerut, Firozabad, Chennai, Bangalore and Mumbai, with 85,000 recyclers working in Delhi-NCR alone.

Workers are poorly-protected in an environment where e-waste from PC monitors, PCBs, CDs, motherboards, cables, toner cartridges, light bulbs and tube-lights are burned in the open, releasing lead, mercury toxins into the air.

Metals and non-degradable materials such as gold and platinum, aluminium, cadmium, mercury, lead and brominated flame-retardants are retrieved.

The paper further mentioned that Delhi alone gets around 85% of the electronic waste generated in the developed world.

In terms of total e-waste produced internally or brought from outside for recycling, Delhi's e-waste weighs between 25,000 and 30,000 metric tonnes per year.

The study highlights that though Mumbai and Chennai are the top importers of junk computers and electronic waste in India, Delhi has emerged as the main hub of e-waste recycling in India, and perhaps the world.

The e-waste imported from Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai makes its way to Delhi, as there is a ready market for glass and plastic in the NCR. Also, the wastes from Mumbai constitute a bulk of the 1,500 tonnes discarded electronics that land in Delhi's scrap yards everyday.

Assocham has also strongly advocated the need to bring out effective legislation to prevent entry of child labour into its collection, segregation and distribution.

As per the estimates, more then 35,000-45,000 child labourers in the age group from 10 to 14 years are observed to be engaged in various e-waste activities, without adequate protection and safeguards in Delhi's various yards and recycling workshops.

"Domestic e-waste including computer, TV, mobiles and refrigerators contain over 1,000 toxic material, which contaminate soil and ground water. Exposure can cause headache, irritability, nausea, vomiting, eye pain. Recyclers may suffer liver, kidney and neurological disorders," said Dr BK Rao, chairman of Assocham Health committee releasing the Assocham paper.

Due to lack of awareness, they are risking their health and the environment as well. They use strong acids to retrieve precious metals such as gold.

Working in poorly-ventilated enclosed areas without masks and technical expertise results in exposure to dangerous and slow-poisoning chemicals, adds the paper.

It also highlights that that there are no clear guidelines for the unorganized sector to handle e-waste. The recyclers are not fully aware of the health risks.

''These products have components that contain toxic substances like lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium, plastic, PVC, BFRs, barium, beryllium, and carcinogens like carbon black and heavy metals. This deadly mix can cause severe health problems in those handling the waste," adds Dr Rao.

Printed circuit boards, for instance, contain heavy metals like Antimony, Gold, Silver, Chromium, Zinc, Lead, Tin and Copper. The method of extracting these materials from circuit boards is highly hazardous and involves heating the metals in the open.

2. Sewage

Though the Yamuna starts getting polluted by pesticides and fertilisers as it enters Haryana, most of the pollution occurs in Delhi. More than 10 million people live in Delhi. Yet it does not have a proper sewage disposal system.Nineteen drains from Delhi open into the Yamuna. At one time, these carried rainwater. But because of the poor sewage disposal system, water carrying sewage is discharged into these drains, from where it finds its way to the river.In Delhi, along a stretch, the Yamuna is choked by water hyacinth—a weed. This is an example of eutrophication. Dead fish are also found in the river as soon as the monsoon begins. This is due to the sudden increase in pesticide and other pollutant levels.Industrial wastes also find their way into the river from large industrial units (22 in Haryana, 42 in Delhi and 17 in Uttar Pradesh) and many small industrial units. Surprisingly, though Delhi constitutes only 2% of the catchment area, it is responsible for 80% of the pollution of the river.
Sewage in water directly leads to the production of methane and other deadly gases, which enter Delhi's air.

3. Industry and Power Generation - None of these plants have been shut down when I last checked.

In addition to power plants within the city, a lot of RWAs that ensure 100% power supply run Diesel based DG sets that contribute directly to air pollution.

Contrary to popular belief, most of the air pollution in Delhi is not due to vehicular traffic. Main contributors to particulate matter in the PM10 range, as a recent study shows, are road dust (50%) and industry (23%)--vehicles accounted for only 7%. Among industrial contributors, power plants within Delhi city limits were the main culprits.[7]

4. Hospital Waste

5. Burning Trash

6. Poor Solid Waste Management
- Go to the Section on Solid Waste Management

Analyses by NEERI of solid waste at the landfills demonstrates that in most parts of the landfill the deposited waste is stabilized with the passage of time. However, such stabilisation requires prolonged periods of time and invariably causes environmental pollution, due to the escape of generated gas and leachate, if land disposal is practised in the present manner. In the proposed system, biogas generated during landfilling will be recovered and utilised gainfully. NEERI has suggested Optimal Design of System Elements, including collection, transportation, processing and disposal. The resource requirement for the proposed system for the collection equipment and its replacement has been estimated.

7. Construction
Particulate Matter is directly related to the Construction Industry. Construction Activity is responsible for dust generation, esp in dry zones like NCR. Construction materials add significantly to the Suspended Particulate Matter.

And Endnote:
1. Delhi Govt does not know what is causing pollution in Delhi :
"If vehicles are not causing air pollution, then what is the cause. Can anyone tell us the reason of rest 80 per cent of air pollution? Think of children who are living on antibiotics due to pollution. Do we have no responsibility towards them," the bench had asked.

2. Studies that no one acted on:

3. What are the causes of pollution in Delhi