Thursday, December 20, 2007

Water Matter

India makes up to 2.5% of the global land mass; we not only have a good 4% of the global freshwater resource but also are endowed with an average annual rainfall of 925 mm from the Southwest and Northeast monsoons. But we are under a huge demographic stress as we have over 16% of the global population in the 2.5% land mass.

Increase in population density is leading to a shortage of freshwater; we are drawing up the underground water to meet this demand. Urbanization may not be as rapid compared to global standards but the population density is exploiting the underground water causing long-term damages to the water tables. Water tables are depleting, and excess drilling is leading to contamination of underground water.

The hydrological imbalance needs some immediate attention and a sound water management process to be put in place. Few years ago one would have argued that expanding capacity of reservoirs and creating surface water bodies would help to store fresh water, but that argument is not strong enough in the current scenario. Surface water is easily contaminated by pesticides, industrial waste and human waste making it less usable.

With an annual rainfall of 925 mm, rainwater becomes the primary source and the single largest source of fresh water, and a proper harvesting plan both at a macro level and micro levels is critical. Macro may be more as government undertaking the activity but at a micro level, we in our own communities can implement it to address the ever growing demand for fresh water.

Rainwater harvesting in simple terms mean conservation and efficient utilization of rainwater. Harvesting can be done either as collection to storage for immediate use or to recharge back into the groundwater aquifers.

A basic calculation on a house of 100 sq mts, built in a place with 600 mm of annual rainfall, assuming that only 60% of it is getting harvested it would add up to appox 36000 liters of water per annum.

A community based approach to make harvesting part of housing plan and larger constructions like apartments, schools, commercial complexes and office buildings will help in better utilization of the rainwater, which otherwise would flow into the drainages or dry up form the surface water storages.

Rainwater harvesting is definitely not new to India, it is recorded as early as the Indus valley civilization. In many cities responsible citizens have implemented harvesting, even though much needed legislation on making it mandatory for all types of constructions does not really exists.

As a step forward in conservation of our natural resources, at our community level we should make rainwater harvesting a revolution. We need to actively put forward the agenda to the policy makers both at local and state level to make rainwater harvesting a mandatory requirement in all construction and penalize defaulters.

Be a responsible citizen, little effort from your end will go a long way to conserve freshwater for all.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Save Earth - How you can 'do it'!!!

Ten things you can do take to make a difference:

01. Change bulbs from Incandescent to Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL) TODAY

02. Optimum use of ENERGY; Change to Solar Heater today & say NO to Geysers
03. Save ELECTRICITY, WATER and FUEL
04. Turn-off Computers, those extra bulbs, other electronic gadgets when not in use
05. Implement Rain water harvesting in your homes
06. Walk more; Drive less, Use public transport, Buy fuel-efficient Cars, Go car pool
07. Use RECYCLED paper
08. "Say NO to PLASTIC"
09. Aforestation; Plant more Trees
10. Educate others on GLOBAL WARMING; create awareness in your community

Please send this information to every one you know.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

City under siege

Lush green parks, peaceful city, garden city, pensioners paradise, hill station of south if all these phrases reminds you of a city called ‘Bangalore’ aka ‘Bengaluru’ then you really ‘romancing’ history. The 740 sq km of the IT capital of India is crumbling under its own weight.

Rated as one of the fastest growing cities in Asia, as it surged to be back office for the world, very popularly christened as "Bangalored", did not realize the constrains of growth. Any company setting up its base in India 5 years ago would have had Bangalore on the top of their list, but today it is not a surprise if city does not feature in that list at all. The development of the city did not keep its date with the pace of growth. It could be true to cities like Delhi & Mumbai who have grappled with growth, but Bangalore was well positioned to learn from others mistakes and skip the learning curve.

The woes of the city are two folds - one the infrastructure (only roads are focused) and the other environmental. The city has over 28 lac vehicles on its roads, which is thrice the capacity it can take; it adds 1150 new vehicle on its roads every day accumulating to the chaos. 2-wheelers make up to 73% of Bangalore traffic and 4-wheelers/cars are 15%.

BMTC, the state managed city public transport system ply's over 4000 buses every day covering appx 4600 kms. BMTC carries less than 50% of the commuters, making public transport unreliable at all times. Added to the size of the traffic comes the condition of Bangalore roads; narrow lanes, bad quality of the roads, pot holes all over and encroachment has reduced the average speed of the moving traffic from 20 kmph to 13-15 kmph. Today it’s really acceptable to go late to office or an appointment and say "got stuck in a traffic jam" anyone will empathize with you.

Managing the pace of the city is one, but a political will to implement the much-needed option is another. It has taken the city to come close to its metro dream almost 23 years. Metro was first proposed in 1984 and no real effort was made to push it through. Unstable to visionless to no government, at the end metro project has seen it all. If one assumes that the metro will some how change the transport system and ease the city roads then here is a shocker - the metro will only cover 37 kms of distance carrying less than 2 lac commuters in the first phase.

Once you take a long breather visualizing what is installed for you on Bangalore roads in years to come, you would feel chocked with the air you are breathing. Bangalore vehicles consume over 5 lac metric tons of petrol, 7 lac metric tons of diesel every year and a large amount of adulterated fuel and kerosene. According to a report ‘the air pollution levels in the city are no better than an industrial age steel works town’. The RPM (respirable particulate matter) is three times more than the acceptable level.

Over 47,000 auto-rickshaws and an increasing number of cars are running on LPG. This shift in the type of fuel could bring in some relief to the air pollution levels in the city. But this is certainly not good in the long term as it contributes to the green-house gases leading to global warming.

The misery does not end here:
  1. City generates 2200 tons of garbage per day with no disposable mechanism

  2. Outdated building laws that does not address the current concern

  3. Construction industry taking advantage of outdated building laws

  4. Shortage of electricity and water

  5. Underground water tables drying up

  6. Water contamination due to poor drainage system

  7. Lesser green space with no check on the encroachments

  8. Lack of will to make hard decisions by any government

Bangalore is at a stage where all the issues are at an 'important & urgent' state; any action taken has to be a holistic approach with a long term solution. Cribbing about the problems is not good enough. We need to make it heard loud and clear and bring in suggestion and contribute to make things better for the city.

Some of the immediate actionables can be:

  1. Reward & penalization program for the road contractors who take up the road projects

  2. Stop commercialization of lakes and encroachment of forest and parks

  3. Relook at the allotment of land for trusts, societies and commercial buildings in the residential areas

  4. Revisit construction laws making it more environmental friendly like compulsory rain water harvesting and use of solar energy for all building plans both residential & commercial

  5. Stringent implementation of environmental laws for all large scale constructions

  6. Deployment of small size buses to increase road coverage of public transport system

  7. Change over to CNG and fix a deadline for a 100% implementation

As the citizens of Bangalore let’s voice our opinion and do what ever it takes to make this city better.

- The Bangalorean

Sunday, December 9, 2007

GOAL.........less!!!!

Late night shows are generally a NO-NO but was in Pune for a meeting and decided to watch the primer show of 'GOAL' the latest John-Bip's movie along with some colleagues.

Should I say from start to finish the movie had no GOAL, a long drag of some 40+ year old men with large bellies trying to make the best use of their legs, Bip's seductive one-liners for John and every scene in the movie trying to overwhelm the viewer emotionally with no real football story or any story for that matter.

An atrocious star cast, did I say Arshad Warsi was there in the movie too, seemed like he was for ever wondering why he was in the movie. Our good old Boman Irani ‘Mamu’ in a full blown belly searching for words before every dialog making him look character less.

The anthem that was sung at the beginning of every match they played can put my 10 year old nephew to shame; it was ridiculous stupid with no meaning and purpose what so ever. The 'billu rani' song was I guess a last minute addition to compensate for the less glamorous look of Bip’s.

If ever we had had the worst movie award in the filmfare, ‘GOAL’ will not only be nominated in all categories but will also win all those awards.

Like ‘No Smoking’, ‘GOAL’ too went up in smoke for the sexy J & B with the HOT JISM. Its time the 'buy one get one free' pair realized that talent is not = to skin.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Proud to be an Indian

We do not have to 'romance history' or 'live on past glory', here are some recent facts and the history or the background we come with.

Recent facts list: www.ibef.org/download/IndiaFacts.pdf

Some well know facts:

India is the world's largest, oldest, continuous civilization.

India is the world's largest democracy.

India never invaded any country in her last 10000 years of history.

Varanasi, also known as Benares, was called "the ancient city" when Lord Buddha visited it in 500 B.C.E, and is the oldest, continuously inhabited city in the world today.

India invented the Number System. Aryabhatta invented zero.

The World's first university was established in Takshashila in 700BC. More than 10,500 students from all over the world studied more than 60 subjects. The University of Nalanda built in the 4th century BC was one of the greatest achievements of ancient India in the field of education.

Sanskrit is the mother of all the European languages. Sanskrit is the most suitable language for computer software- a report in Forbes magazine, July 1987.

Ayurveda is the earliest school of medicine known to humans. Charaka, the father of medicine consolidated Ayurveda 2500 years ago. Today Ayurveda is fast regaining its rightful place in our civilization.

Although modern images of India often show poverty and lack of development, India was the richest country on earth until the time of British invasion in the early 17th Century. Christopher Columbus was attracted by India's wealth.

The art of Navigation was bornin the river Sindhu 6000 years ago. The very word Navigation is derived from the Sanskrit word NAVGATIH. The word navy is also derived from Sanskrit 'Nou'.

Bhaskaracharya calculated the time taken by the earth to orbit the sun hundreds of years before the astronomer Smart. Time taken by earth to orbit the sun: (5th century) 365.258756484 days.

The value of pi was first calculated by Budhayana, and he explained the concept of what is known as the Pythagorean Theorem. He discovered this in the 6th century long before the European mathematicians.

Algebra, trigonometry and calculus came from India. Quadratic equations were by Sridharacharya in the 11th century.

The largest numbers the Greeks and the Romans used were 106 whereas Hindus used numbers as big as 10**53(10 to the power of 53) with specific names as early as 5000 BCE during the Vedic period. Even today, the largest used number is Tera 10**12(10 to the power of 12).

IEEE has proved what has been a century old suspicion in the world scientific community that the pioneer of wireless communication was Prof. Jagdish Bose and not Marconi.

The earliest reservoir and dam for irrigation was built in Saurashtra.

According to Saka King Rudradaman I of 150 CE a beautiful lake called Sudarshana was constructed on the hills of Raivataka during Chandragupta Maurya's time.

Chess (Shataranja or AshtaPada) was invented in India.

Sushruta is the father of surgery. 2600 years ago he and health scientists of his time conducted complicated surgeries like cesareans, cataract, artificial limbs, fractures, urinary stones and even plastic surgery and brain surgery. Usage of anesthesia was well known in ancient India.

Over 125 surgical equipment were used. Deep knowledge of anatomy, physiology, etiology, embryology, digestion, metabolism, genetics and immunity is also found in many texts.

When many cultures were only nomadic forest dwellers over 5000 years ago, Indians established Harappan culture in Sindhu Valley (Indus Valley Civilization).

The four religons born in India, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism, are followed by 25% of the world's population.

The place value system, the decimal system was developed in India in 100 BC.

India is one of the few countries in the World, which gained independence without violence.

India has the second largest pool of Scientists and Engineers in the World.

India is the largest English speaking nation in the world.

India is the only country other than US and Japan, to have built a super computer indigenously.

Following facts were published in a German Magazine which deals with world history.

- 38% of Doctors in America are Indians
- 12% of Scientists in America are Indians
- 36% of NASA employees are Indians
- 34% of Microsoft employees are Indians
- 28% of IBM employees are Indians
- 17% of Intel employees are Indians
- 13% of Xerox employees are Indians

Famous Quotes on India (by non-Indians)

Albert Einstein said: We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been made.

Mark Twain said: India is, the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great grand mother of tradition. Our most valuable and most instructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only.

French scholar Romain Rolland said: If there is one place on the face of earth where all the dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it is India.

Hu Shih, former Ambassador of China to USA said: India conquered and dominated China culturally for 20 centuries without ever having to send a single soldier across her border.

- Source Internet

Tuesday, December 4, 2007