Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Local Futures (Economics of Happiness) Newsletter, September 2014

The newsletter was clipped short in the email (lots of great content!), so please see it in full here:

Greetings from LOCAL FUTURES

In This Update

- NYC November 8th: Localization, Climate Justice, and Hope

- People's Tribunal on the Rights of Nature

- Planet Local Photo Contest – Winning Photos Announced

Global to Local Workshop held in August in Ladakh

From our Local Bites Podcast: 

- Episode 5 - Seeds of Resilience, Seeds of Sovereignty 

From our Planet Local Series:

- Banco Palmas: Community Banking in Brazil 

- The Chikukwa Project, Zimbabwe

Vrihi & Basudha, India

From our Economics of Happiness Blog:

- Land Grabbing and the Threat to Local Land Rights

- Keeping Your Cool in a World on Fire

- Shamans, Ice Cream, and Climate Change

Other Events:

- Techno-Utopianism & The Fate of the Earth

Policy Watch:
- The Role of The World Bank and the IMF in the Ukraine Conflict

Articles of Interest:

- Helena Norberg-Hodge's talk at the Economics of Happiness conference, Bangalore, India

- Over-regulating the local: Small farmers now need a license to sell their produce

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Pune, 20 Sep : Movie Screening on Climate Change and the Global People's Movement

Inviting you to a Movie Screening and discussion...
on the People's Movement blossoming all around the world around the issue of Climate Change.
It's not just about weather, or pollution, or food, or social justice.. it's everything together.

Join us at Mona and Ajay Dalmia's place,
in Baner, Pune
from 10.30am onwards,
this Saturday, 20 September 2014

(Length: 1 hour. See )

Freak weather events like the one our countrymen in Kashmir and our neighbours in Pakistan are suffering through right now are happening with increasing intensity all across the planet; happening unexpectedly in places that aren't even in high-risk zones. Directly as a result of the rampant increase in greenhouse gas levels being dumped without any checks by an economy addicted to fossil fuels. The denialist lobbies keep picking on the warming-or-not-warming confusion, all the while distracting our attention away from the actual violent weather increases that are the real symptoms of a destabilizing global climate. It's time to disrupt the comfortable shenanigans and bring attention back to what's happening on the ground.

This weekend we're witnessing a global people's march on climate change, with thousands of people all over the world coming together and sending world leaders a clear message on the eve of a global UN summit.

Catch the action in your city here:

Monday, September 15, 2014

Schools in Medak, AP grow their mid-day meal

Around 15,000 students from 150 schools of Medak district have been growing and eating healthy green vegetables, hand picked from their own school gardens.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Kashmir and the Mainstream Indian Media

Post on FB regarding Kashmir floods issue and what TV news channels are doing with it:

Shame on channels that try to use Army relief work in flood-hit J&K to justify AFSPA and Army deployment there! Shame on attempts to use humanitarian work to justify inhumane crimes... 
I am just seething after a phone call from Times Now that asked if I would participate in a debate on how AFSPA and Army were needed in Kashmir, as proved by the relief work the Army is doing there. I said 'Shame on you' and refused. I also asked them if this means AFSPA and permanent Army presence would be ok in, say, Uttarakhand, since the Army did relief work there as well? 
How low can one fall - to exploit a natural calamity and people's tragedy in the face of floods, to justify all that Kashmir has suffered at the hands of armed forces and paramilitary - the disappearances, the mass graves, the rapes, the firing on school boys and youngsters on the streets and in funeral processions...and the total failure of any accountability or justice in custodial killings and rapes... 
Kashmir is facing a natural calamity now. Yes. But the flood of custodial killings and rapes, the flood of tears from eyes of mothers of 'disappeared' Kashmiri youth, is a man-made calamity, one in which the Indian State perpetrated in OUR name, in the name of India's citizens... If we can feel a spark of human empathy for the flood-affected people of J&K now, we should all ask ourselves if we felt any empathy for the families of thousands who lie in mass graves today, or those of the boys killed in firing by police and paramilitary on the streets... The relief work for the man-made, State-made calamity is yet to begin. When can we, the people of India, begin that much-needed relief work in Kashmir, to bring a semblance of truth and justice about the crimes committed in our name, to end the endless siege and daily humiliation there? 
Hats off to the Army personnel for their courageous rescue work - be it in J&K or Uttarakhand or anywhere else. But shame on us if we tell ourselves that relief work gives the same Army a licence to commit custodial killings and rapes with impunity....

My comment:
don't know where all the comments are going... but Thanks Kavita for cutting right through the exploit-Vs-help paradox. YES, all the help one can get during times of calamity is of course needed. Even if Chinese or or US Army came and helped then even THAT would be most welcome : they have way better machinery and could actually save everyone who's stranded there right now.
And, YES, the AFSPA must be revoked. Human rights must be honoured, otherwise we don't have any real country to defend; only an oppressor in its place. Kashmir is today being ruled like a colony by an oppressive, murderous regime PRETENDING to be India. The real India : the one I am proud to be a citizen of, has been hidden away because of AFSPA.

Related post, this one doesn't go into any balancing or perspectives; rather it's a bare-bones reporting of what's happening on the ground right now:


Pasting here Dispatches from Srinagar, as I received them. READ AND SHARE WIDELY.

Day 4 of Kashmir's worst ever catastrophe, we are back to stone ages, no electricity, no connectivity, the weather continues its scare-mongering while lakhs of our brethren remain marooned. This is turning out to be a nightmare that seems to have no end. Shops that are not inundated are running out of stocks, chemists are running out of life-saving drugs. Scores of Kashmiris have died and God knows how many will meet the same fate.

While Kashmir has been shovelled back to darkness Indian media has unleashed a vehement PR campaign for the Indian State & Indian Army. The way Indian media is portraying them right now must be making people believe that they are supermen who are full of compassion. Yet, the situation on ground is far far from reality, Indian Army was mostly seen evacuating its own men on the 8th of September, and non-locals on the 9th of September. According to Indian media 215 columns are engaged in the rescue op that amounts to about 4300 soldiers roughly, given the troop presence in Occupied Kashmir this number amounts to nothing.

I personally saw CRPF, State Police running for their lives with nothing but their service rifles. The Indian media has essentially started demonisation campaign against Kashmiris portraying us as ungrateful people who fight the same army that is saving them, the lead role in this PR is being played by NDTV, IBN7, Times Now and their valley based lackeys. For example Barkha Dutt's show on 9th evening had representatives from erstwhile oppressors of Kashmir Dogras, the present oppressors PDP, Congress, BJP, the fifth column comprising of the elite class, liberal scum, plus the Indian army and an Indian whose family was stuck in Kashmir.

There was absolutely no Kashmiri representation, in addition to this the host to chose to play the army vs separatist card at this hour of carnage and despair. The media has been doing an unpaid PR for the Indian state and Indian army. The numbers of evacuated are grossly exaggerated and most of those air-lifted are non-locals, Omar Abdullah, corroborated this claim while speaking to Sakal Bhatt atop Shankarcharya Hill.

Civil administration is absolutely non -existent so is the State Police who otherwise are at the forefront of killing, detaining and torturing Kashmiri people. Indian Army and India's NDRF were seen by me with a handful of boats, 1 or 2 in Allochi Bagh, 4-6 in Rajbagh-Jawahar Nagar belt on flood channel end. 3 boats were being used near Tengpora bridge on the 8th of September. How many boats are being used on the Jhelum end or whether that route is even accessible remains unknown.

Most of the relief operations are being carried out by locals using Tractors, trucks and tippers; and Allah knows best how long their fuel lasts. Make shift refuge centres are being run on bridges, fly-overs, embankments and masjid compounds, all of them being run and maintained by locals, this is a glimmer of hope.


The carnage cannot be put into words, it is Al-Nafsi, Al-Nafsi here in Indian Occupied Kashmir.

Taga : blockages to innovation in organizations

In Japan there is even a word to describe the various limits in innovative thinking. Taga, which literally describes the metal hoops which keep a tight hold on the wooden boards which make a barrel, is used to describe the current state of Japanese innovation. Taga is what causes organizations to decide unconsciously and automatically what is possible and what is not based on current circumstances, not future predictions, hopes or opportunities. It stops completely the ability of a company to adopt a positive attitude towards any change or new idea. Taga is usually fostered in a tacit agreement to, or unspoken understanding of, customary rules or organizational paradigms within a company. When new people join a company (usually it's the hope that new people bring new ideas) they tend to quickly become unconsciously accustomed to thinking along the lines of the existing organization paradigm. This means that it can be extremely difficult for a company to be aware of taga limiting creativity and implementation of new ideas within your own company.

Fwd: Oct 31, Nov 1-2, Pune. 10th biennial National Convention of NAPM



10th biennial National Convention of National Alliance of People's Movements
Politics of Development and Social Justice Today
31st October, 1st -2nd November, Pune
Dear Saathis,
20 years ago, in response to the rising inequality, oppression and destruction in the name of development, country's progressive individuals and sangathans came together and envisioned the birth of the National Alliance of People's Movements. There was enthusiasm, hope and determination to struggle towards establishing peace, justice and truly participatory democracy. Over the last two decades, we have been a part of the various people's movements and struggles; there have been victories and there have been setbacks. Despite the changing times which are defined by neo-liberal policies and supported unanimously by all political parties, and having damaging impacts, people's movements have continued to challenge, propose alternatives and pushed the boundaries of ideas and vision for a just society.  We witness that the rights of the people are increasingly curtailed, natural resources being appropriated and rule of law deliberately violated to undermine people's movements. However, our struggles have together built increased awareness about such draconian policies, as a result of which exploitation and injustice can no longer be justified under the rubric of nationalism. People are resolutely fighting against the violations of their rights and no longer need outside instigation. Every village, every basti, every city has people who are raising their voices against capitalist and oppressive forces. But on the other hand, religious fanaticism and violence and discrimination based on gender and caste are raising their ugly heads. On one hand the ruling classes are keen on changing the pro-people laws enacted by the Parliament and rights bestowed by the Constitution and on the other hand, it is trying to take political advantage of the existing exploitation and violence to exercise its continuing control over society.   
As we complete two decades, we feel the need to revisit those same questions we started with, in today's context. We invite you to NAPM's 10th biennial National Convention on October 31st, November 1-2nd at Rashtra Seva Dal, Pune, Maharashtra. More details will follow but this is the intimation so that you can block the dates and make arrangements for the travel. As it is the festival season, it would be good if you could make your bookings in advance.
We hope you will be part of this gathering so that with the same enthusiasm, we can move forward together and collectively understand and strategize the future course of action to fight the illusion that is being spun in the name of development but is in fact only increasing inequality and leading to destruction of natural resources. Working towards the notion of alternative development and building equitable society is our aim and we are determine to reach this end.  
In anticipation to seeing you all,
Medha Patkar, Prafulla Samantara, Dr. Sunilam, Suniti SR, Arundhati Dhuru, Gabriele Dietrich, C R Neelakandan, P Chennaiah, Ramakrishnam Raju, Saraswati Kavula, Sister Celia, Vilas Bhongade, Suhas Kolhekar, Anand Mazgaonkar, Krishnakant, Kamayani Swami, Mahendra Yadav, Bhupender Singh Rawat, Rajendra Ravi, Vimal Bhai, Meera, Madhuresh, Kanika.
Contact: Suniti SR :09423571784, Kanika :9818823252, Madhuresh: 9818905316
napmindia [at], andolan.napm [at] 

जन आन्दोलनों का राष्ट्रीय समन्वय का दसवां द्विवार्षिक राष्ट्रीय अधिवेशन
आज के दौर में विकास और सामाजिक न्याय
अक्टूबर ३१, नवम्बर १ २, पुणे
बीस साल पहले देश के संघर्षशील और प्रगतिशील साथियों और संगठनों ने देश में बढती गैरबराबरी, शोषण और विकास के नाम पर हो रहे विध्वंस को देख कर एक साथ मिलकर उस दिशा को बदलने के लिए जन आन्दोलनों के राष्ट्रीय समन्वय (NAPM) की परिकल्पना की थी. जोश था, उमंग थी, संघर्ष करने की चाहत थी और था संगठन ताकि देश में शांति, न्याय और लोकतंत्र का राज स्थापित हो सके अंतिम जन के लिए. इन दो दशकों में अनेकों संघर्षों में हम साथ चले हैं, जीते हैं, कभी हार का भी सामना करना पड़ा है, लेकिन इन सब में जन मुद्दों को आगे ही बढाया है. समय बदला है, और बड़े तेजी से बदल रहा है. आज नव उदारवादी नीतियों को भी दो दशक से ज्यादा हो चुके हैं और देश में इन नीतियों का भयावह प्रभाव भी दिख रहा है. सभी राजनैतिक पार्टियों इन नीतियों के बारे में एकमत है.
जनता के हकों को आज तेजी से रौंदा जा रहा है, प्राकृतिक संसाधनों का बेतहाशा दोहन हो रहा है, शोषण, अन्याय का बोलबाला हो रहा है, लेकिन जन संघर्षों के बदौलत जनता की समझ भी परिपक्व हुई है. आज शोषण और अन्याय को देश हित में या राष्ट्रवाद के नाम पर जायज नहीं ठहराया जा सकता. जनता उठ खड़ी होती है अपने हकों के लड़ने के लिए. आज बाहर से किसी को आकर उद्वेलित करने की जरूरत नहीं है, गाँव गाँव, क़स्बा क़स्बा, शहर शहर, हर जगह लोग अपने हकों की लडाई के लिए पूंजीवादी और दमनकारी ताकतों के खिलाफ खड़े हैं. लेकिन दूसरी ओर आज धार्मिक उन्माद तेजी से सर उठा रहा है, महिलाओं के प्रति हिंसा बढ़ रही है तो जातिगत हिंसा, भेदभाव और पक्षपात भी उसी भांति बाद रही है. जन विरोधों के कारण ही एक तरफ आज शासक वर्ग संविधान और संसद के द्वारा बनाये गए जन पक्षीय कानूनों को बदलने के लिए आमदा है तो दूसरी तरफ वह समाज में मौजूदा विषमता और हिंसा का राजनैतिक फायदा उठा कर समाज में अपनी पकड़ बनाई रखते है.
आज दो दशक बाद जरूरत महसूस होती है, उन्ही सवालों को आज के दौर में देखने की, जिसे लेकर हम चले थे. हम आपको आमंत्रित करते हैं, NAPM के दशवें दिवार्षिक राष्ट्रीय अधिवेशन में अक्टूबर ३१, नवम्बर १-२ को पुणे में. अगले कुछ दिनों में और विस्तृत जानकारी दी जायेगी, लेकिन यह पहली जानकारी हम आपको दे रहे हैं ताकि आप तारिख नोट कर लें और यात्रा की टिकट भी समय रहते कर लें. यह समय त्योहारों का है, तो बेहतर होगा अगर ट्रेन का रिजर्वेशन पहले कर लें.
आशा है आप जरूर इस महत्वपूर्ण समागम में जरूर शामिल होंगे, ताकि हम फिर उसी उत्साह के साथ मिलकर आगे के संघर्षों की भावी रूप रेखा तय कर सकें और विकास के नाम पर जो मायाजाल बुना जा रहा है जिससे सिर्फ और सिर्फ गैरबराबरी बढ़ रही है और प्राकृतिक  संपदाओं का नाश हो रहा है, उसे हम रोकने में कामयाब हो सके. वैकल्पिक विकास की अवधारणा, और एक साम्यवादी समाज की संरचना ही हमारा लक्ष्य है और उसे निर्मित करने के लिए हम कटिबद्ध हैं.
सविनय आपसे मिलने की अपेक्षा में,
मेधा पाटकर, प्रफुल्ला सामंतरा, डॉ. सुनीलम, सुनीति सु र, अरुंधती धुरु, गब्रिएले दिएत्रिच, सी आर नीलकंठन, पी चेन्निया, सिस्टर सीलिया, विलास भोंगाड़े, सुहास कोल्हेकर, आनंद माजगओंकर, कृष्णकांत, कामायनी स्वामी, महेंद्र यादव, भूपेंदर सिंह रावत, राजेंद्र रवि, विमल भाई, मीरा, मधुरेश कुमार, कनिका
संपर्क : सुनीति सु र : 09423571784 कनिका : 9818823252 मधुरेश : 9818905316
napmindia [at], andolan.napm [at]

National Alliance of People's Movements
National Office : 6/6, Jangpura B, Mathura Road, New Delhi 110014
Phone : 011 24374535 Mobile : 09818905316
Web : | napmindia [at]
Twitter : @napmindia

Saturday, September 13, 2014

(Open Letter) Inviting you to defend your stand on supporting GMOs

Hi Anand,

With reference to your pro-GMO articles on News Laundry (and I don't know where else),

I'd like to invite you to watch this movie (which of course is making an argument against GMOs, with testimonies from people who have been forced to consume GMOs and feed them to their families without any clear information given to them):

While I've seen a lot more written research and articles too on the matter, I don't want to overwhelm you. This movie will take only 1 hour of your time.

I would love to see your rebuttals to the actual scientific cellular level facts and theories expressed here rather than seeing more rhetoric from you about how evil or crazy our non-academia-approved grassroots movement leaders are. Writing below some of the flaws I've noticed in your articles thus far.

I hope you have something to say about the findings of the independent long-term trials on GMOs. You must know for sure that Monsanto has conducted only short term studies on its GMO foods (not even 6 months! That's less warranty than a cheap Chinese phone!), blocked publishing of its longer-term studies which it abruptly discontinued, and is attacking any independent long term studies on GMOs (like the Seralini 2-year study), including legally refusing to allow independent research groups to use its GMO seeds for their trials.

While I appreciate your drilling into numbers and making mountains out of numerical errors on the part of the less academically inclined people standing against GMOs (but where I saw you targeting the more vocal individuals in the movement and omitting official publishing by whole organizations), I felt you were getting lost in the numbers and losing sight of the more important points, such as the question of the evidences of harm caused to the health of people consuming GMOs. After all, I would still refuse to consume a cyanide pill if you coated it with vitamins and gave it to me.

Or the slightly inconvenient fact that the BT cotton crop whose sole USP was that it would not need any pesticide spraying as the plant itself is supposedly a pesticide factory, today requires more and more pesticides to be sprayed on it and that has driven widespread farmer indebtedness and suicides across India, with the input costs of patented seeds, fertilizers AND pesticides piling up and exceeding the output earnings. Or the news that the same is now happening across BT Corn fields in Latin America. Actually, I didn't notice you making any references to these serious facts at all while defending GMOs. If economic considerations are supposedly so important, then why leave the economic details about GMOs out of the debate?

While arguing for the nutritional goodness of Monsanto's patented rice, you seem to have missed out the data on the several indigenous patent-free varieties of Indian rice and millets that have medicinal properties far exceeding anything offered by Monsanto and their peers. Even if you refute these on the basis of them not being biotech-funded-academia-certified, it would have helped to at least see some mention of them while you were busy berating the people who have been talking about them.
You also seem to have missed out several research studies and UN reports that have found that organic farming yields increase over GM or conventional farming after an initial period when the soil must recover its lost microbial life. (check for the Rodale study where the different kinds were grown side by side and monitored over multiple seasons) Or the studies collating present-day food market logistics recording that today most of the world's food supply comes from the small family farms which are using half or less than half of all arable land. 

And, your assertion that organic farming can happen with patented GM seeds is seriously laughable, seeing that the GM seeds and the plants they grow into are pesticide-producers themselves. Organic means not using chemical warfare to kill insects that eat the crops. Also, the romantic co-existence idea is brought back to ground by the fact that through open air cross pollination (which, duh, happens in a field trial of GM crops) the DNA of the whole crop species gets infected by the GM strains and their well-documented drop in fertility spreads with them. 

On top of that, you left out the fact that Monsanto and peers' primary business model in the Americas has been to let their patented GM crops freely cross-pollinate with non-GMO fields and then they sue those farmers for patent infringement, without any actual role played by those farmers! This isn't some hoax you can dismiss.. it's a matter of public record... visible in these companies' own annual statements as well as public records of lawsuits registered in the judicial systems of these countries. Even before anyone knew much about the possible harms of GMOs, Vandana Shiva and her peers were fighting against this predatory exploitation by biotech companies of patents on life forms, this punishment of farmers who absolutely have no control whatsoever on where the wind brings the pollen into their fields from. (Imagine in a classroom, the teacher blows chalk dust into the air and punishes all the students on whose tables any dust lands) Your criticisms of the anti-GMO groups misses out these practices that they are standing up against, completely. To omit out this is akin to writing an essay on Hitler and not even mentioning what he did to the Jews.

You also failed to notice the sheer loopholes on the part of governing laws of countries like USA where GMOs are widespread, of relying only on the producers of GMOs to conduct safety studies on them. That's akin to relying on Arnab Goswami to give accurate figures of how many people believe what he says. And the fact that the government's food industry regulatory heads are also long-time employees or representatives or board members of companies like Monsanto. A conflict of interest that shouldn't be omitted by someone who's writing about GMOs. 

You also failed to state anything at all about the ongoing multi-million-dollar lobbying by biotech majors and their biggest clients in the US against citizen referendum measures and bills that are trying to mandate labeling of foods having GM ingredients in them. Oh, and India is now importing several of those foods btw, without any further checks. Doesn't that seem a bit fishy to you... the argument that citizens do not have a right to know whether they are consuming GMOs or not, because their producers have declared it's good for them? For a country that's experiencing an out of control epidemic of chronic diseases and previously non-existent allergies that co-incide neatly with the introduction of GMOs into their everyday food without informing them, I think that's a bit suspicious.

Lastly, not having Phd degrees under the belt while opposing a corporate for-profit and possibly harmful agenda doesn't make one anti-science. Deliberately omitting vital facts from the arguments to help weigh them on one side, is what makes one anti-science. From everything I've seen so far in the topic of GMOs, I think I'd have to be rabidly anti-science to still support the adoption of GMOs as they currently are. Do more research: Yes, by all means, in the utmost controlled, scientific, standardized safe ways we know. Push an under-tested, inadequately developed infantile technology blindly into adoption across the world and subject the entire population to an unpredictable experiment in the name of scientific progress : Sorry, Boss. I'm not stupid, and I certainly don't hate kids that badly.

Awaiting your response. I sincerely hope you will not resort to the cheap school debate competition tricks of picking on one little detail and lavishing all your attention on it while conveniently ignoring all other points. There are serious facts here, and if you cannot counter each and every one of them effectively then the argument supporting GMOs is lost. 

I'm also publishing this email on my blog (, which kind of makes this an open letter to you. But of course you can choose to dismiss me completely since I won't be attracting as much attention as News Laundry does.

PS: Please forgive me for not being a certified Wikipedian / academic and not citing references at every phrase : a practice that originated in the age of severe information scarcity. Do feel free to search any of the topics on the net in this age of information abundance, but please remember that our most official-assumed publications that even get accepted as valid sources on Wikipedia, have been caught in recent years blatantly publishing lies and misinformation in many fields, some have even led to deaths of thousands of innocent civilians. There is no such thing as the 100% objective source of information; we have no convenient escape from the responsibility of having to make our own judgements and choosing whom to believe. It does help to be open to possibilities and doing our own checking rather than blindly declaring the opposite of an argument to be true just because the argument didn't have adequate references pre-written.

PPS: Thanks for sharing your email on the site, to facilitate 2-way communication rather than one-way. All websites publishing articles should do this.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Fwd: 100 days

100 days of Modi government : Tall claims, but disappointing performance

The discredited Congress-led UPA government was replaced by the BJP-led NDA government with a resounding mandate. However, if the first 100 days are any indication, its work has been anything but landmark and emphatic.

Given below is the Aam Aadmi Party's assessment on main points :

Black Money

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's top priority was to bring back the black money stashed in foreign banks, which he reinforced in every speech during the election campaign. The current Home Minister Rajnath Singh had said that he would bring back the black money from foreign countries within 100 days. BJP leader Subramaniam Swamy had claimed that only two months were needed to bring back the Rs. 120 lakh crore back to the country, and even advocated abolishing the income tax for 40 years, since we'd have enough revenue not to need this tax.

But the actionsc fall short and are insignificant compared to the promises. 100 days are up. Where is the black money? The government has only set up the cursory SIT on Black Money, that too following the directions of the Supreme Court.
The government has taken no action to fill the huge number of vacancies in the Central Board of Direct Taxes, Excise and Customs, which would thoroughly investigate claims of corruption across the country. The government hasn't reverted, repealed or even commented upon the double tax avoidance treaties or participatory notes, which are important in smuggling black money away from India. It hasn't implemented any of the key recommendations of the White Paper on Black Money tabled in Parliament in 2012.

Achche din have arrived but only for those who want to keep their black money.

Price Rise

Another important electoral issue that the BJP and Narendra Modi raised was price rise and its effect on the Aam Aadmi. However, in the first 100 days of the BJP government, the prices of diesel, kerosene, milk, tomatoes, onions, potatoes and nearly every essential commodity went up by astronomical levels. And it's not as if farmers benefited from this price rise, as they received lower real minimum support prices, adjusted for inflation.

The Union Budget: Arun Jaitley or P. Chidambaram

For those looking for patterns of similarity, the Union Budget was a clear example of how the Modi government represented cosmetic change and not something more fundamental. Spending on education and health remained exactly the same, and so did the expenditure on women, children and the socially disadvantaged. There were tax deduction announcements, disinvestment, FDI allottment increases, PPPs, calls for modernization, but somehow the Aam Aadmi remained under the radar for Shri Arun Jaitley.

Criminalizing Parliament and Making India Corrupt

For all the talk of removing MPs with a criminal record from Parliament, there has been little action to follow it up. Twelve out of the 44 Ministers in the Modi-goverment have serious criminal charges against them. Nihal Chand, a minister of the government is facing rape allegations against him in a 2011 case. Yet, their cases aren't even close to being solved and have not been fast-tracked. Lok Sabha MP from Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath continues to make polarizing statements to flare Hindu-Muslim tensions even as the PM issues a 10 year moratorium on communal hatred. This doublespeak doesn't go unnoticed. At the same time, the government has shown excessive speed in removing honest officers who fight corruption like Sanjiv Chaturvedi at AIIMS and clipping the powers of institutions that fight corruption like the Delhi Anti-Corruption Bureau. The government may make tall claims about fighting corruption but it has worked only to promote this social and economic evil.

Destroying the Environment

The goverment has proposed to loosen the regulations and make as many as 19 amendments in the Land Acquisition Act in a bid to please industrialists without taking care of the environment, farmers and the rural poor. The height of the Narmada dam will be raised. Irrigation projects requiring 2,000-10,000 hectares are now exempt from the scrutiny of the Centre and can be cleared by state governments. Those requiring less than 2,000 hectares will require no green clearance at all. The new government has also diluted the Forest Rights Act that requires the consent of the local tribal population for diverting forestland. Instead of gram sabhas (village councils) certifying that their rights had been settled and that they had consented to projects, the district administrations have now been asked to do the same. The process of reviewing the National Green Tribunal Act to reduce the judicial tribunal to an administrative one has been initiated. Slowly and steadily, the government is paving the way for the real backers of the 2014 election, the corrupt businesses of Indian industry to dictate the rules of government and the usage of public goods.

Which brings us to the most important point. A government which holds private interests above public good will end up being the same, even if its declared motives are Nehruvian socialism or Hindu nationalism. The fear with Narendra Modi's government isn't that they will do something radically different and crazy, but rather that they will end up being the UPA government. And the first 100 days, an indicator of a government's priorities and policy goals, exhibit that this government is selling the public old wine in a new bottle, albeit with new leaky holes.
Rather, what we have seen is the same sort of governance or lack thereof, with excellent public relations management and high-definition photographs on Twitter.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

13 years on

13 years on...

9/11 - Echoes of Darkness [Mini-documentary]

Some of us know what really happened. And we're not falling for the crap that goes for the official story, No Sir.

Vermicompost project in slum area creates earnings for residents while taking care of organic waste

Vermiculture uses worms in a controlled environment to do what they are best at- converting organic waste into nutrient-rich compost in nature's way of recycling.

Members of the community groups underwent training and initiated a small-scale trial project investing Rs.2,200 (£29) they had raised from the sanitation blocks. They bought 4,000 red worms, Eisenia foetida, commonly known as the red wiggler or manure worm, which are best suited to composting.

Encouraged by the initial results the community then set up a larger scheme. An area of land by the communal toilet blocks was set aside with a small shed and composting arrangements for the worms.

Now in every 45 day cycle, for an investment of Rs.500, nearly one tonne of compost is produced. The compost is packed in bags and sold for Rs.5 per kilogramme, making nearly Rs.3000 per cycle.

The success has spread to other slum communities and individual households, which are now also carrying out vermiculture projects. The original project now even breeds and sells worms to those wishing to follow its example.

The one who believes in God is as foolish as the one who doesn’t

I read a speech of J. Krishnamurthi where he says "The one who believes in God is as foolish as the one who doesn't". I was amused. I shared this with my flat-mate. He narrated me a story of Buddha. Once Buddha was walking with Ananda, they came across a passerby who was loudly reciting the name of God. Buddha asked him "Where is your God… Have you seen him…?" The passerby was dumb folded. He just left silently. They came across another one who was condemning God and said there is no such thing called God. Buddha asked him "Is there no God really… Can you prove it?" The passerby gave no answer and left mute. Ananda asked Buddha "What is this? Is there a God or not?". "God- it doesn't matter whether there is any or not. What matters is the question!" replied Buddha.
This world is so beautifully interwoven and complicated! Let's free ourselves from the brutality of dualism and plunge back into to manifold!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

India's forests on track to get wiped out

The sad part is that the middle class, heavily separated from on-the-ground reality and overly dependent on news agencies owned by the same private players benefiting from this scam, won't even realize that wiping out the nation's forests does NOTHING at all towards increasing the country's progress; doesn't do jack towards a better economy. The short-term gains go overwhelmingly into private pockets, and the nation is left with several times more, and recurring long-term expenses to cope with the externalized costs of loss of natural resources : higher costs of living for the poorest, reduced land productivity, loss of water acquifers, increased natural disasters like landslides which are happening directly because of wiping out of forests. The costs overwhelmingly outweigh the benefits, but are made invisible through omission.

There is absolutely no difference between UPA and NDA governments on these counts. Their actions betray their homogeneity as far as the environment is concerned. They're both ultimately the private agents of the entities that have funded them. And yeah, Rs.20,000+ crores is the investment made in these elections : the filthiest in the country's history, the one that broke all past records to bring the highest number of persons with serious criminal and/or corruption charges into Parliament. The obvious intention is to take away India's last remaining natural resources from its people and hand them over to the investors coveting them.

If this were happening in some other country, we'd laugh at how stupid those people are, to keep on falling for personality cults, to not even think about the future generations in the blind daze of materialistic growth, to vote in parties and leaders that are so obviously being funded by the elites to do their bidding, to be so ridiculously ignorant of where the money funding these massive campaigns is coming from. 

The joke's on us now.

Some basic facts about Genetically Modified food

Some basic facts about GMOs :

Genetic Engineering is not nearly the same as hybridization. Unlike the age-old practice of selective breeding, genetic engineering forces genes from unrelated species to create an entirely new (and patentable) life form. As Summit speakerAndrew Kimbrell puts it, "genetic engineering is to traditional crossbreeding as the nuclear bomb is to the sword."

There is evidence of human death and illness. Find out how a genetically modified food supplement killed dozens of Americans and sickened thousands, and how the FDA covered up the full story and kept Congress in the dark. Find out why industry-funded research is faulty and specifically designed to avoid finding problems. Get the startling truth from independent research conducted around the world.

There are long-term environmental effects. GMO crops can easily cross-pollinate with organic or non-GMO crops. Find out how GMO crops are permanently contaminating your food supply, and why you should be alarmed.

GMOs don't yield more food or reduce pesticide use. Proponents of GMOs say they're necessary to feed a hungry world, but studies show just the opposite, concluding that GMOs have so far not reduced hunger and poverty, improved nutrition, or facilitated social and environmental sustainability. In fact, GMO farmers have to use MORE pesticides, further polluting the environment with toxic residues. And some GMO crops are even registered with the EPA as pesticides.

Doctors are prescribing non-GMO diets with huge success. Thousands of physicians all over the U.S. are following the advice of The American Academy of Environmental Medicine and advising patients to stop eating GMOs. What kind of results are they seeing in their patients? Prepare to be amazed!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Pick the rule we're going to break

While following the current sets of rules and the limitations they set on us, making a difference, achieving the good that we want, is impossible. Many times the prevalent rules trap us in a bind where neither this nor that can work. As long as we obey the rules, we cannot save ourselves from our impending doom.

Renewable energy will never be cheaper than subsidized, cost-externalized grid power.
The poor have no reason to buy costlier renewable power, and they also have no choice but to be at the whims of grid power with full day powercuts.
The rich in urban areas can not be allowed to convert to renewable, otherwise there will be no one to cross-subsidize grid electricity for rural areas.
Those social sector organisations will never see beyond their specific causes, will never work together.
The poor have no hope other than complying with the systems that thrive by exploiting them.
No one else is going to vote for the good guys; no point in me supporting them.
The pollution being done is irreversible.
There is no way to have both prosperity and good environment.
Education cannot be done without enslaving the student.
People need to be controlled; they cannot survive by themselves.
Men are inherently abusers of women and little children.
Women will always be their own gender's worst enemies.
A romantic relationship with someone you work with will never work out.
Religion can only divide and destroy.
Atheists don't have any morals.
Only the ruthless can survive.
There is no choice but to sacrifice the environment and the natives for the sake of growth.
We cannot afford getting off fossil fuel dependence.
Organic farming is not financially viable.
Continuously degrading land leaves us with no choice but to keep pumping in more and more fertilizers.
There is no choice but to stuff all our babies with vaccines even if we know they cause problems. They simply don't stand a chance against natural diseases unless they are vaccinated against every possible one.
Shutting down industries doing immense harm to the land, water and air or to the general public will cause too much unemployment, and all those people will never, ever, ever find other, better avenues for making a living.
If we provide the basic necessities for living to everyone, everyone will become a lazy slob, no one will do any proper work anymore, and everything will collapse.
People who don't even have the basic necessities of living cannot be expected to think about big picture like conserving the environment, etc.
People who have the basics taken care of, must work for more and more money to guarantee future security. They have no time for things like conservation.

These are some of the rules and assumptions that dominate our current civilization.

Therefore, the task ahead of us, for those who do want things to get better, is deciding which rule, which assumption of the status quo, we're going to break.

Fighting elections without major funding from vested interests.
Voting for the guys who spent least in campaigning and whom you know have your best interests at heart.
Conducting an event on zero money, or gift economy /pay as you can.
Getting an all powerful management to reverse a bad decision they had sworn they'd stick to.
Growing food where it's believed impossible to grow any.
Working together with people you had no hope of getting along with.
Forgiving a wrong or injustice for achieving a greater cause.
Making another human being the center of your universe.
Letting go of your rightful profit so you can enable something wonderful to happen.
Initiating an enterprise that doesn't fit in any category.
Doing a tv show focusing on serious social issues and not following any entertainment / attention grabbing strategies.
Choosing the more expensive option because you found a value in it that goes beyond its functionalities.
Letting the other person have the last word even if you're sure they are wrongc.
Paying for the next person in line.
Giving the other person your seat because you'll feel more relaxed seeing him/her relax.
Doing something that's guaranteed to fail for the simple reason that its the right thing to do.
Letting healthy food, an active, engaged life and a happy non-oppressive upbringing be the vaccine for your child.
Giving amnesty to those who were part of the corrupt system and had to play by its rules so far rather than going after them; giving everyone a fresh start.

In doing any of these and so many more, we break the unwritten rules of the status quo. Doing so, we empower ourselves and others to break free of the fate spelled out for us by that status quo.

Throughout history, change has always happened, no matter how strong, how vicious the status quo. And it has always happened by breaking the existing rules. So it's not as onerous a task as doing something that's physically impossible; it's mostly just doing something that a lot of people want to but think they can't. Many possible things are forbidden by the rules; we only have to break that do one of them.

When once a rule of the status quo is broken, the halo surrounding it is shattered. Even if things revert back to where they were, the next time around the breaking will happen faster, easier and more widespread. So, put on your long-term glasses; and lets go ahead and break a few of these stupid rules!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Interesting links for August 2014

I'm trying to aggregate things together then post.
Links to interesting pages, videos etc I came across in August 2014:

A vision of food for all
Kauai girl drafts bill calling for community food forests

Where and how to get free labor, what to expect from volunteers, and why it's totally worth it.

Bolivia declares Israel a terrorist state

Eminent scientists have written to @narendramodi cautioning against GM field trials.

The First Man-Made Biological Leaf Turns Light and Water Into Oxygen

Schoolgirl becomes a 'water ambassador' : Delhi 12th std girl sets up water purifiers for communities that lack access to clean drinking water.

 Restaurant in Toronto, Canada  staffed by deaf waiters, started by Anjan Manikumar
 Elon  Musk, Tesla Motors open-source all their patents, to spur the electric vehicle industry and assure that anyone using their technology will not get sued or have to pay any royalties.
 Dominated by Tiger Moms, cram schools and highly authoritarian teachers, South Korean education produces ranks of overachieving students who pay a stiff price in health and happiness. The entire program amounts to child abuse. It should be reformed and restructured without delay. 
There is a very systematic effort to discourage farming by promoting the idea that small-scale farming is not viable and Ekta Parishad has always taken the opposite stance. We have maintained that giving land to the landless is the only way for a long term sustainable solution for landless families to come out of poverty, achieve food security and feed the nation. The added benefit is that this is the way to counter climate change as well. This UN Report confirms what we have been saying for a long time." - Ravi Badri
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) volunteers are set to lend their helping hand in making Bangalore free from garbage. As part of this initiative, the AAP volunteers are launching - Freedom from Garbage - an initiative to segregate waste at source Read: A Million Pounds on Three Acres: Urban Farmer Proves That Small Scale Farming Can Feed the World

एक स्कूल जो आत्मनिर्भर बनना सिखाता है

 Chris Hedges
Elites Will Make Gazans of Us All

On using piped gas:
the blasts killed at least 25 people and revised the number of injured to 267. Four firefighters who rushed to the scene after residents smelled gas were among those killed in the blasts.

This week, scientists made a disturbing discovery in the Arctic Ocean: They saw "vast methane plumes escaping from the seafloor,"

Internet literacy

Green game-changers

GM BT-Corn no longer resistant to pests:

More Proof The Music Industry Is Fake
Software "Autotune" increasingly used to alter artists' vocals to match music

Net metering:
Delhi's 1st solar tariff this month - Aug 9, 2014

THE OTHER ILLITERACY -- The Indian road to unsustainability - Ramachandra Guha, 9 Aug 2014, telegraphindia
Excerpt: "The study estimated that in the year 2009, the cost of environmental degradation in India was about Rs 3.75 trillion, equivalent to 5.7 per cent of the gross domestic product. In other words, if the air had not been so polluted, if the forests had not been so rapidly felled, if the soil had not become so toxic or saline owing to over-use of chemicals, if water sources had remained uncontaminated and so on - in that case, India would have added more than five percentage points to its annual growth rate. "

Quick guide to the swiss elections:

Ecotopia emerging: sustainable forests and healthy livelihoods go hand in hand

A remarkable piece on a remarkable man Debal Deb whose mission is to protect India's stunning diversity of rice, shared here because of the intricate links between biodiversity, food security, farmers and water. "The communitarian ethos defining Deb's work contrasts sharply with agricultural policymaking, where the voices of the small farmer-the largest group of Indians-are often impossible to detect."
He particularly sought out areas that were remote, un-irrigated, and had marginal farmers who could not afford chemical inputs and seeds from the market. "The places Indian elites like to call 'backward', such as tribal areas, were those with the greatest chances of having retained these varieties over time," says Deb. "When I would find such a variety, I would ask the farmer's family for a handful, explain why I wanted it, thank them for preserving a vital part of our heritage, and urge them to not give up cultivating it.
Deb counters the official argument that indigenous varieties result in inferior yields: "I have several varieties which outperform the so-called high-yielding varieties." High yields do not ensure food security, he reminds, pointing out that India is home to record stockpiles of rice and wheat, as well as a quarter of the world's undernourished. Over lunch-greens, vegetables, dal and rice combining eight different varieties from the farm-Deb asks if we can evaluate our heirlooms in money. "Imagine a unique painting, a ornament which has been in your family for 200 years-would you sell it off to make money?" he asks. "That's how these indigenous rice varieties are-they are our culture."

Hamas is practically Israel's agent, empowered, enriched and installed by Israel to weaken Hezbollah and hijack the original Palestinian movement for self-determination. Replaced a legitimate civilian struggle with a violent militant group pretending to be fighting for their cause. Hamas co-operated with Israel fully in this conflict... dutifully violating cease-fires and launching completely useless and pointless rockets every time, as if on cue, so that IDF's next murderous bombing run and indiscriminate killing round can be justified. If it wasn't for Hamas behaving so contrarily and irresponsibly, Israel wouldn't have been able to get away with the Nazi-level atrocities they've committed.

Jeffrey Smith Challenge to Neil deGrasse Tyson Short - The Institute for Responsible Technology

"people don't destroy evidence that proves their innocence. They only destroy evidence that proves their guilt."

"The government of India we inherited with our independence has not changed its character or spots even after the transfer of power from the British. It remains a foreign institution, an exotic implant. It has no connection with our political or justice traditions, our cultural history. Thus, while it is required to enforce a constitutional mode of development, it continues by way of habit to implement the older colonial form of development whose interests have always been contrary to the country's interests."

How is it possible that more than 170 health workers have been infected?
" We are just assured that Ebola "is not airborne" and that getting infected "requires close contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person".  If this is true, then how have more than 170 health workers caught the disease?  These workers are dressed head to toe in suits that are specifically designed to prevent the spread of the virus.  So how is this happening?  I could understand a handful of "mistakes" by health workers, but this is unlike anything that we have ever seen in the history of infectious diseases.  These health workers take extraordinary precautions to keep from getting the virus.  If it is spreading so easily to them, what chance is the general population going to have?"

A different, longer-term take on the ISIS engulfing Iraq

The coexistence of several different nationalities within a larger state where different peoples, cultures and worldviews exist and are recognized.
A plurinational state is formed by political and administrative decentralization, wherein the administrative system is culturally heterogeneous and allows the participation of all the social sectors and groups. The elements of a plurinational state include being plural, redistributive, antibureaucratic, and a democracy that defends solidarity. It also has the following additional characteristics: decentralization, autonomy, sustainability, equality, and diversity.

Himachal Pradesh makes restrictions for farmers and milk sellers : they all now need a food license to be allowed to sell their food.

PM Modi being dictatorial

Drastic changes in police behaviour in one day in a US town where people were protesting against fatal shooting of an innocent black teenager.
First night they were all in riot gear and military equipment and attacked peaceful protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets, tensions really escalated.
Then, the highway patrol was put in charge. Next day, all armour masks etc off, the same police freely mingled with the protesters and joined them peacefully. Massive change in the whole town atmosphere in just one day.
EDIT : This seems to be a cover-up / hasty conclusion story. The bad cops were back after that and things have been really spiralling out of control there.

The statistics and numbers behind the current grim reality of farming being a dying profession, being deliberately made non-viable through economic policies, and the bias against farming as a profession.

International web conference of homeschoolers / unschoolers. Several recordings of sessions available online.

"Collecting data on human learning based on children's behavior in school is like collecting data on killer whales based on their behavior at Sea World."
Where have You been forming your opinions on how children learn and grow? There's a growing need to go back and question the basic assumptions educators have that can bias their initial data and observations, which ultimately push their conclusions away from reality.

A wonderful graphic putting it all together. It's frightening how many of these are causally neglected nowadays when I hear people voicing their opinions about one of the other issue.

Suing Facebook over privact violations : Crow-sourcing co-litigants

Gary Harrington, a 64 year-old from Eagle Point, Oregon was sentenced to 30 days in jail, for doing rainwater harvesting on his private property, and not taking permits which he had been previously advised were not necessary. Also ordered to destroy and drain out his ponds.

Environmental leader Marina Silva might become candidate for Brazilian leadership. She was environment minister until she resigned in 2008 over policy disagreements with Lula, who she criticized for pursuing "material growth at any cost," at the expense of the poor and the environment.

I had lost track of what all was going on in Egypt.. this is a very cruel thing indeed to have come after the historic Tahrir Square revolution. Such a ruthless massacre (over 1000 peaceful protesters slaughtered with disproportionate and overwhelming military force!) to have happened in 2013, and nearly no mention of it in the media since! The description reminded me of India's Jalianwalabag massacre. Also, this fitted in a piece of the puzzle about the Gaza genocide.. I had been wondering how come the Egyptians aren't doing anything. This sequence of events comes as a warning to all peaceful revolutions : the military and police forces need to be reigned in. They cannot be trusted, not even if they're pretending to be all benevolent and in support of the people. My prayers for the victims of Rab'a.

In response to a "don't let your children be farmers"

Infographic on time spent doing housework, men and women, in various countries of the world

A bhutta seller on Bangalore's roads created a folding overhead fan, with blades made out of plastic plates, to provide constant air to the coals he roasts his corns on.

Meghalaya's living bridges

Disturbing truths behind Oral Polio Vaccines in India, pushed by Bill Gates, endorsed by Amitabh Bacchan and other bolywood stars:

National Lawyers Guild, other Legal Organizations urge International Criminal Court to Investigate War Crimes by Israeli, U.S. Leaders in Gaza

Line-X, a spray-on polymer that we coat on an object, solidifies into a protective layer that absorbs and elastically spreads impact energy. It claims to render objects unbreakable.

The main aim of the military industrial complex is to make war happen

The military industrial complex that's calling the shots behind US military actions..

Does not want this side to win or that side to win, in any war.

What is wants is that war should happen. Doesn't matter which side "wins". They need to make war happen.

And so, with that aim in focus,

It now makes perfect business sense..

To fund and empower any and all factions that want to do armed conflict.

They don't need to be making just one side well-defended and armed to the teeth.

Through various different fronts, they can arm even the other sides

And promote and bring to the fore such leaderships among any oppressed peoples

Who will favour violent ways of rebelling against their oppressers rather than non-violent ways.

Their objective is to make war happen.

For that, every side must be militarized.

So now think, if we need to beat such a force, whose main aim is to make war happen,

How would one go about it?
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