Monday, May 2, 2016

Interesting links for April 2016

Panama Papers
...Panama Papers is the biggest-ever international cooperation of its kind. In the past 12 months, around 400 journalists from more than 100 media organizations in over 80 countries have taken part in researching the documents.
... the Panama Papers provide data on some 214,000 companies.
Indians in #PanamaPapers list: Aishwarya Rai, Amitabh Bachchan, KP Singh, Iqbal Mirchi, Adani elder brother
Are Corporate Gatekeepers Protecting Western Elites from the Leaked Panama Papers?
>> good explanation of how shell companies operate, and a round-up of the issues including taking in Craig Murray's inputs
>> refers the above and gives more of his own inputs

Donald Trump on North Korea going to war: 'Good luck, enjoy yourself folks'
>> rather than toeing the regular line of pleading and mongering etc, rather than falling into the "oh no we cannot ever let that happen" trap, he's calling N.Korea's bluff. Understandably, the people who are stuck in that loop, are scandalized. And here, Trump's non-interventionist philosophy (being accused as isolationist) is coming through. Mad dictator on the other side of the planet? Let him go do as he pleases and get royally screwed; there's no need to intervene and appease and strengthen him.
Vivaldi - the new web browser for power users
>>made by Opera browser's original creator
...What is "Spotlight?" It's a way to save you time and support critical thinking. Out of the hundreds of articles and videos I read and view every week, I will assemble a list of some of the best for everyone on our mailing list.
>> same as I'm doing! <3
Young family of 3 murdered for making expose film; a similar pattern being seen of a default assumption that if you find people dead under mysterious circumstances then it
NY Times Reporter Found Dead After Exposing MKUltra amendment which will redefine foreign companies as Indian to donate to political parties..
...a Delhi High Court judgement in 2014, before the national election, that indicted the BJP and Congress for accepting donations from the foreign company Vedanta. This was against the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA). At least, it was in violation back then...
...He just proposed an amendment to that law to make this (Vedanta) company not foreign anymore. In other words, he just saved BJP's and, wait for it, Congress' ass as well.
... Why is it surprising the Modi government is doing it? Well, that is because it was this same government that came down hard on 'some' NGOs (some of which were pursuing cases against the accused in the 2002 riots) under the same FRCA for receiving foreign donations. They were accused of using the donations for 'political activities'.
... What are the implications of this amendment? First of all, the BJP and Congress would be saved as this amendment is effective retrospectively. Secondly, it would open the doors to other such 'foreign' corporations to dictate the political scenario in our country, be it foreign policy or economics. Of course, all they have to do is to give hefty donations to political parties.
Shecup : a possible re-usable alternative to sanitary napkins
The Splitwise Guest Calculator
Crashing on a friend's couch and want to give a little something to show your appreciation? Let us tell you how much your stay was worth.
>>how the millions to billions of public funds spent on bringing hi-tech to schools has been mostly wasted, with harm to students, belittling of teachers and benefits mostly only to companies like Apple, HP etc peddling these products and services
How Policing Works in a Privatized City
Atlantic Station is a city within a city
>> Example of how a private property city area with public access is thriving in Atlanta, USA
... There were no tickets, no yelling, no moments of intimidation. No one is taking your stuff, threatening to arrest you, or even giving you tickets. You have the right of exit.
... Where monopolistic, tax-funded enforcement can be cruel, inflexible, and violent, the same enforcement brought about within the matrix of an exchange economy can yield results that are humane, orderly, and beautiful. The right to just walk away makes all the difference.
... Private enterprise is gradually bringing about what governments only promised to do, and it is happening without much fanfare.
Five Digital Services that are Freeing the World, and Why
Higher Education Is Morally and Financially Bankrupt
A system that piles debt on students in exchange for a marginal or even zero-return on their investment is morally and financially bankrupt.
Pass, Fail : An inside look at the retail scam known as the modern university
The Kids are Alright : Professors have always complained about classroom distractions. We need to teach to the students who care

>> some counter points to above Pass/Fail article
Interesting.. both sides have truth to them; one explanation doesn't completely do away with the other.
The Slow-Motion Financial Suicide of the Roman Empire
The Bailout State Is as Old as Rome
Flashback: 9/11 WTC Gold Heist – $1.7 Billion in Bullion Missing; Massive Insider Trading by Dozens of Major Corporations
The TSA Spent $1.4 Million on an App That Only Cost This Guy $10 to Reproduce
>> Highighting tech giant IBM's corrupt nexus and lobbying with govt.
...Which, incidentally, brings us to none other than one of Deutsche Bank's most respected credit analysts, Dominic Konstam, who clearly has an appreciation of the existential risk he finds himself in, not only career-wise, but in terms of the entire financial structure. We know this, because after reading his email blast from this morning we realize just how vast the fear, if not sheer terror, is among those who truly realize just how broken the system currently is.
... We have reposted his entire letter below, because it represents the most definitive blueprint of everything that is about to be unleashed - especially since it comes from the perspective of one of the people who is currently deep inside Deutsche Bank and realizes just how close to the edge the German bank is.
Fed Out Of Bullets, What Comes Next? - Mike Maloney & Jay Taylor
Michael Maloney, founder and owner of, defends his view that we are still in the early stages of a major deflationary environment.
... APDuino allows Kretzinger to read the sensors in his garden without any programming. Now Kretzinger's garden can send him tweets or Facebook updates if something is going wrong and Kretzinger can adjust the water flow, pH and temperature from a smartphone.
... His towers can be removed and taken to farmer's markets where customers can "pick" their strawberries or lettuce directly from the units.
You Won't Believe What We Saw In Socialist Venezuela -by WeAreChange
community and access to tools on sustainable culture
An ethics watchdog thinks that the FTC may have misled Congress about how it protected Google, and highlights how the White House went into panic mode to limit the damage to the giant ad slinger over a newspaper report last year.
omg they show how disney recycled same animation sequences in their movies
>>  nice review of Naomi Klein's book and movie, and pointing out the crucial parts that the movie seems to have misleadingly omitted.
...many of the specific steps outlined in the book do have the potential to shift our economic system in important ways. Those steps, however, are given no space at all in the film. The focus is almost entirely on transitioning to renewables, which turns the film into what is essentially an informercial for industrial wind and solar.
... partly a misreading of the protestors' motives: what has really driven these communities to resist is not climate change, but a deeply-felt desire to maintain their traditional way of life and to protect land that is sacred to them
... At its heart, the threat that all of these communities face doesn't stem from fossil fuels, but from a voracious economic system that will sacrifice them and the land they cherish for the sake of profit and growth.
... And while the tar sands region is undeniably an ecological disaster, it bears many similarities to the huge toxic lake on what was once pastureland in Baotou, on the edge of China's Gobi Desert. The area is the source of nearly two-thirds of the world's rare earth metals – used in almost every high-tech gadget (as well as in the magnets needed for electric cars and industrial wind turbines). The mine tailings and effluent from the many factories processing these metals have created an environmental disaster of truly monumental proportions: the BBC describes it as "the worst place on earth".[5] A significant shrinking of global consumer demand would help reduce Baotou's toxic lake, but it's hard to see how a shift to renewable energy would.
>> referred to above
Hidden in an unknown corner of Inner Mongolia is a toxic, nightmarish lake created by our thirst for smartphones, consumer gadgets and green tech, discovers Tim Maughan.
>> ohh shit it's in India too
From Lee Camp: Why I Just Got Arrested At #DemocracySpring [Truth&Comedy]
>> mass arrest of over 1000 ppl in Washington DC, protesting against big money in politics. This is largest arrest in a generation, and mainstream media is censoring this event.
Newsletter from Local Futures / Economics of Happiness
... But while the media has focused mostly on individual cases of wrong-doing, it's far more important to change the corrupt system that enables all of these abuses to occur.
... One small part of that system is a free trade agreement (FTA) with Panama, signed by Barack Obama in 2011, which made it easier for corporations and wealthy Americans to avoid taxes by setting up offshore accounts in Panama. At the same time, these treaties reduce the power of government to combat tax haven abuse. According to the International Business Times, "Should the U.S. embark on such an endeavor, it could be exposed to fines from international authorities."
This Experiment Using a Glass Cover and the Sun Can Generate Water Even in Drought Affected Areas!
In a semi-arid region of Satara district in Maharashtra, there is a plot of lush green land with about 20 fully-grown, beautiful trees – all of which were the part of a very efficient experiment. The seedlings for these trees were fed with water obtained from dry soil, with the help of solar energy.

Compelling series of articles by P Sainath showing how sheer profiteering is happening from the scarcity of water, and the scale of the inequality in its distribution.
One question that hangs in the air : with a major change in government in late 2014, have these realities for MH changed?
There have been huge diversions of water in the last 15 years to industrial projects. And to private companies also in the lifestyle business. To cities from villages.
India's looming water wars can destroy everything, from Make in India to smart cities
    Nikhil Inamdar writes: India has the world's largest number of people without access to clean water. The financial burden of this has fallen on its poorest agrarian communities, but the crisis is now spilling over to industries too. In Marathwada, the tanker business is the only one booming. The rest of the economy has collapsed.
Five rights loan defaulters should know they have
Right to ample notice
Right to ensure fair value
Realise balance proceeds
Right to be heard
Right to humane treatment
..."I don't know what single word I'd put [in its place]. I would talk about a process in which we become more informed, intelligent, curious, competent, skillful, aware by our interaction with the world around us, because of the mainstream of life, so to speak. In other words, I learn a great deal, but I do it in the process of living, working, playing, being with friends. There is no division in my life between learning, work, play, etc. These things are all one. I don't have a word which I could easily put in the place of 'education,' unless it might be 'living'."
...John Holt is right in saying that most people use "education" to refer to some kind of treatment. (Even "self-education" can reflect this: a self-administered treatment.) It is this usage that I am contrasting with learning, and this idea of people needing treatment, whether carried out in schools or homes or wherever, that I wish to call into question.
... We adopt the educative stance when we feel it is our right and duty to manipulate others for their own good.
... Most of us have forgotten what it was like to follow our own noses, to ask our own questions and find our own answers.
... let us not discriminate against the uncertified when it comes to the matter of employment. Several landmark studies have shown that there is no correlation between educational training and performance on the job. (See especially Ivar Berg's The Great Training Robbery, Beacon Press, 1971.) If we must assess competence for a given job, let us assess it as directly as we can, and not conflate competence with length of sitting done in educational institutions.

Excerpt from a newsletter by DEF (Digital Empowerment Foundation):
"Over the years, we've realised that tribal cultures and the digital world complement each other. Tribal culture has evolved on the principles of liberty and free speech, just like the Internet. These principles are like oxygen to these worlds, without which they will wither away and die."
George Monbiot writes: So pervasive has neoliberalism become that we seldom recognise it as an ideology. We accept the proposition that this utopian, millenarian faith describes a neutral force; a biological law, like Darwin's theory of evolution. But the philosophy arose as a conscious attempt to reshape human life and shift the locus of power.
...Neoliberal policies are everywhere beset by market failures. Not only are the banks too big to fail, but so are the corporations now charged with delivering public services. As Tony Judt pointed out in Ill Fares the Land, Hayek forgot that vital national services cannot be allowed to collapse, which means that competition cannot run its course. Business takes the profits, the state keeps the risk.
... "Investment", as Sayer notes, means two quite different things. One is the funding of productive and socially useful activities, the other is the purchase of existing assets to milk them for rent, interest, dividends and capital gains. Using the same word for different activities "camouflages the sources of wealth", leading us to confuse wealth extraction with wealth creation.
...Every invocation of Lord Keynes is an admission of failure. To propose Keynesian solutions to the crises of the 21st century is to ignore three obvious problems. It is hard to mobilise people around old ideas; the flaws exposed in the 70s have not gone away; and, most importantly, they have nothing to say about our gravest predicament: the environmental crisis. Keynesianism works by stimulating consumer demand to promote economic growth. Consumer demand and economic growth are the motors of environmental destruction.
... What the history of both Keynesianism and neoliberalism show is that it's not enough to oppose a broken system. A coherent alternative has to be proposed. For Labour, the Democrats and the wider left, the central task should be to develop an economic Apollo programme, a conscious attempt to design a new system, tailored to the demands of the 21st century.
Arvind Kejriwal Speech in Delhi Assembly 30th March 2016
Arvind Kejriwal Speech in Assembly 29th March 2016
Delhi Budget 2016 Live by Manish Sisodia (FULL SPEECH)
Delhi Govt Press Conference on Delhi Budget 2016 by Arvind Kerjiwal, Sisodia
CM Arvind Kejriwal FULL SPEECh at inauguration of 21 Mohalla Clinics
Five strong earthquakes have jolted Asia in the last several days. There have been 16 major earthquakes measuring 6.0 or higher in April alone and nine in the last seven days. The two biggest in this unprecedented wave of serious shakers just happened over the weekend in Ecuador with a mammoth 7.8 earthquake killing at least 77 people and a 7.0 in Kumamoto on Kyushu Island in southern Japan where three large earthquakes in three days have struck killing at least 41 people. Within the last two weeks, the tiny South Pacific island of Vanuatu alone has been hit with five major quakes. Four days ago a powerful 6.9 quake hit Myanmar killing two. And now with seven major shakers just in the last 96 hours alone killing at least 120 people, both laypeople and scientists alike  are growing more concerned about what may be coming next.
ABP News investigates success of Mohalla Clinic in Peeragadi
Change the Rules of the Game: Gunter Pauli at TEDxMaastricht
>> aweeesomee!
mushroom cultivation from coffee waste, paper and shoes from crushed stone, reforesting the oceans with coral.. this guy is a non-stop solutions powerhouse!
documenting over 100 case studies

He's also involved with India's largest organic tea plantation next to Kaziranga in Assam
Why The US Dollar Will Collapse in 28 May 2016 ?
39 mins long video, giving a well-worded, well-paced description of international economics, consequences of US's reckless printing more dollars,
KPP (Kinetic Power Plant) by Rosch Innovations AG
5 MW+ Systems for Sale
...Affordable (~$0.03/kW-h power production price), renewable utility plant system, capable of 100% continuous capacity output; includes back-up; 9-12-month build time, depending on size. Third party-tested (German TUV), patented (PCT), 100% guaranteed. Entertaining regional licenses; selling plants from 5 MW up.
...When I interviewed the CEO, Detlef Dohman, last April, he said that, as of then, they had around 100 MW of installed capacity running. Their patented KPP utilizes a combination of buoyancy and gravity in a proprietary system that includes their exclusive generator, air compressor, and circuit controller.
Forgotten Indian history: The brutal Maratha invasions of Bengal
For medieval India history, incidents that don't fit into an overarching Hindu versus Muslim narrative tend to be removed from popular discourse. The 1741 Maratha invasion of Bengal is one such example.
Why lakhs of Indians celebrate the British victory over the Maratha Peshwas every New Year
Five hundred Mahar soldiers scattered the 25,000-strong Peshwa army for the East India Company in Koregaon near Pune in 1818.
...Although the first Maratha ruler, Shivaji, freely recruited Mahars in his army, two centuries later, by the time of the Peshwas, the status of Mahars was lower than ever. The Peshwas were Brahmins of a particularly orthodox bent.
... Dalit recountings of the battle emphasise that when the English were approaching, Mahars offered their services to Peshwa Bajirao II. It was only when he rejected them yet again that they switched their loyalty to the British instead.
Government's response to drought 'is lacking in compassion', economists, activists tell Modi
Aruna Roy, Harsh Mander, Jean Dreze among 170 citizens who urge Centre to implement relief measures rapidly.
Soil could save Earth from overheating
New research shows that changing the way we farm and manage soils so they store carbon rather than lose it would help avoid dangerous climate change.
...So, the trick is: don't degrade healthy ecosystems, because unmanaged forests and grasslands store carbon very efficiently. Wetlands drained for agriculture surrender their soil carbon, but restored wetlands soak the stuff up.
Opinion: To solve Kashmir crisis, India first needs to treat Kashmiris as equal citizens
NIT and Handwara are the symptoms of a much deeper malaise that cannot be treated by the band-aid measures being proposed in the wake of these crises.
...Sarabhai, Balraj Puri, JP Narayan, and many others like them, incessantly implored the Indian government to stem the rot within Kashmir and its institutions in the 1950s, '60s, and into the '70s, and to take concrete steps to bring Kashmir into the national, democratic mainstream so as not to allow a victory for the opportunists.
...Their words went unheeded. So strong was the fear that Kashmir would dissociate from India that the Indian government supported a series of dictatorial, corrupt and ineffectual governments in the state – including the first National Conference government – which promised them Kashmiri loyalty. In the process, they drove Kashmiris towards the very enemy they were trying to lure them away from.
...When young Kashmiris shout pro-Pakistan and anti-India slogans, it is not necessarily because they believe that Pakistan is a better option, or because they have fallen prey to radical Islamic ideologies, but rather because they do not feel, and have never felt, included in India and its rhetoric of democracy, secularism and globalisation. This is especially true of this generation, which grew up during the insurgency and India's military response to it, an experience which they view as akin to living under an occupation.
... Handwara, where a rumour that a schoolgirl had been sexually molested by a soldier led to widespread street protests, army firing in response, and the deaths of several innocent Kashmiris.
...because it evokes memories of the loss of dignity that Kashmiris have had to suffer at the hands of the military forces for over two decades. The mistrust deepens and violence spirals further out of control as authorities mishandle the investigations into such incidents, creating a feeling amongst Kashmiris that they have no recourse to justice, especially through political institutions.
How we beat drought in Solapur
Collector Tukaram Mundhe tells Kiran Tare that solution exists in planning and implementation of existing laws in letter and spirit.
Learning / Sex
by Carol Black & Neal Marlens
Many of us have difficulty explaining the concept of unschooling, life learning, or self-directed learning to those who are unfamiliar with it.  In an attempt to help unschoolers communicate their way of looking at things to the wider community, we have come up with the following helpful worksheet in two parts.
>> car / pickup truck which doubles up as a 3KW generator
"We all rant a lot about how politicians have let the country down, how the system is messed up, however we are often ill-informed of the ways to engage with the system, of what one can do to change the system. The theme for the policy workshops therefore, is 'Beyond ranting'. What can one do, beyond ranting? The aim of the workshop is to provide a platform to citizens to develop an understanding of important policy issues, the role of a Member of Parliament, opportunities in the field of public policy and means to engage with their representatives to champion issues that citizens are passionate about."
...Our students are the achievement of a systemic commitment to producing individuals without a past for whom the future is a foreign country, cultureless ciphers who can live anywhere and perform any kind of work without inquiring about its purposes or ends, perfected tools for an economic system that prizes "flexibility" (geographic, interpersonal, ethical).
The Integral Space
12-Year Old Child Reveals One of the Best Kept Secrets in the World
The Biggest Chemical Attack On American Citizens By Their Own Government
>> Asbestos poisoning from WTC towers demolition
How they were a serious liability for the owners, links to Larry Silverstein and Dick Cheney, how they escaped big losses and made huge money from twin towers collapse.
>> Thousands of people sick and dying now, govt falsely declared whole area safe in just days after 9/11 and hasn't provided any relief/compensation to firemen, first responders etc who took brunt of it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

How come suddenly flight ticket and iphone

Just backup-posting here a common reply to many people disparaging on social media about how some popular social icon is suddenly using iPhone and going on a flight when he's supposed to be poor:

Financial assistance flows in like water after you actually stand up for something that matters. Even many friends of mine who could never afford have received iPhones as gifts to help them with the good work they're doing. And air tickets can be bought FOR you by well wishers. This guy's well wishers aren't just your poor slaves.

Critics, thoda toh dimaag istamaal kiya karo

The Way of the Marathon - by Abhishek Thakur

Re-posting from my friend Kiran's FB post :


There are two distinct ways I have seen people engage in the social space.

The first is like a sprint. There is a burst of energy, like Bolt trying to run his 100 metres. Post a fellowship or a program, you are totally fired up. You realise that the world has burning problems, and you dive right in.

Soon, you have a social enterprise. Or, you are already volunteering 16 hours a day for some cause, relentlessly.

It's all great. You get acknowledgement from the people around. You have exciting stories to tell and feel the throbbing passion.

But sooner or later, burnout begins to loom on the horizon. The wake up call may be through a health crisis or a break up. It could be a parent losing patience or friends giving up on you. But it comes.

And with that comes disillusionment and 'giving up'. There may even be some bitterness – about how things will never change. There's a story about why it won't work or why you will get back to 'it' later.

But there is another way to engage with social change – the one I have seen the elders of this space choose.

This is the way of the marathon.

Just as you prepare to run for a marathon, this involves careful preparation. This preparation is at many levels. At the mental level it is understanding your cause. At the physical level it is taking care of your health. But the most important preparation is spiritual.

Social change can be a depressing journey. Consider your experience. Problems are super complex, solutions may not work and things keep getting worse. There are few blips of success. The work is time and thought intensive. And it is often underpaid.

In this scenario, spiritual practice is the fountain of hope.

After the initial burst of energy has fizzled, life can seem quite directionless. Many of us head back to corporate jobs. Others go for further studies, looking back at their social tryst as a youthful fling. Some save 'social work' for post retirement repentance.

But the way of the marathon requires each of us to care for ourselves. to nurture ourselves as the space through which Life will do its work. This journey is not for years but for decades spanning a lifetime – there is no exit strategy here.

My practices include journaling and meditation. On the path, the company of noble friends helps - these are others who are on the path and inspire me to keep walking. Self care includes eating healthy food, exercising and keeping the brain active.

The way of the marathon also involves preparing those around you to live with your choices. As they say, if you want to walk fast, walk alone. But if you want to walk far, walk together.

The marathon way is also about learning to live within one's means. Creating a financial 'model' that allows us to sustain work in the long run is as essential.

Finally, there is no better way (or reason) to grow than to serve. Contemplation has to become a way of life.

I am preparing for a marathon (and already running it). And I'm looking forward to a joyful jog all the way to the finish line. Like every generation, we too will chip into the journey of the planet.

The only question is – will we get burned out by it or have a blast while it lasts!"

- Abhishek, our thakur.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The two-pronged team effort required to solve the farming problem

Its a two-pronged team that needs to work together here. 

We have the pioneers like all the wonderful people I've met practicing permaculture / natural farming who like scouts actually get out there, work independently of established systems, figure out the solutions and get proof of concept and relay it back. 

And we have the social workers who have deep connections who need to take this info and relay it to the masses and governments. 

This relaying and receiving of vital info needs some work. 

Many social sector people think the solutions are only for rich folks (who could afford to pioneer) because they see only the rich ones doing it first. (It has to begin somewhere, right? Even the petrol engine was too costly at first! So unfair & demanding to expect only the poor to solve the biggest problems!).

And our pioneers can lose patience after trying to do the social guy's job & failing frustratingly.

What both sides need to realize is that they need to work as a team. One prepares the medicine while the other prepares the patient to be able to take the medicine effectively.

The pioneer has to be by definition disconnected, hence she/he is unable to connect with and convince even the neighbouring villagers to adopt the solutions she/he has innovated.

The social worker has to be by definition connected and occupied in firefighting constant crises, hence she/he is unable to think outside the box and innovate solutions.

One can innovate but not scale or defend their solution in face of attacks by the mainstream. 
The other can scale up and defend the solution long enough to make it mainstream, but cannot innovate.

By working together, they can innovate AND scale.

The two shall complete each other. Yin and Yang shall join forces and that's how we're going to solve the farming problem, and turn every micro-region of this planet into self-sufficient in food, turn agriculture into a net CO2 sink, restore the ecological balance and win our planet back.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Why so much hatred for Kejriwal?

If you are curious to know why so many whatsapp fwds are going overboard with their hatred for Arvind Kejriwal, simply spend some time reading posts on this: or this:

Kaam theek se karo toh opposition maaf nahin karegi :)

What's an UnConference?

This wrote itself this morning while I was trying to figure out a mailer for an unconference event we're doing next week here in Pune.
I'm separating the lines here to make it more readable.

What's an UnConference?

Imagine your last time at a conference, with a captive audience of everyone having to listen to one expert up on the podium, wishing you could get some more time to talk with the new friend you made at tea break. 

An unconference, also known as an open space event, decentralizes to multiple simultaneous breakout sessions where smaller groups can interact more intimately around a chosen topic. 

It liberates participants to go seek out what they're most interested in, with full freedom to move

It empowers participants to host sessions on topics they're interested in even if they're not experts but just curious

And, if you just want to talk at length with one or two people or play with kids or catch a nap, we encourage you to bunk sessions and do that! 

With that, we have a mela-like atmosphere with stalls and common spaces for random interactions. 

We also try to make the schedule have maximum room possible for unstructured interactions while still keeping a structure. 

We have an opening circle for settling in, orienting ourselves and planning the day's sessions, and a closing circle at end of event for regrouping and reflecting on our experiences.

Further reading:

>> Howzit ?!

For reference, see details about our event here. And below is the timetable we're following for this event:




9am onwards

Find the place, walk in and registrations

9.30 - 11.00 am

Opening circle

11.30 am - 1 pm

Breakout Session 1

1 - 2.30 pm

Lunch & Mela

2.30 - 3.30 pm

Breakout Session 2

3.30 - 4.30 pm

Breakout Session 3

4.30 - 5 pm

Tea & snacks

5 - 6 pm

Closing circle

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Invite for PUVU-4, Saturday 30 April 2016, 10am-6pm, @Yerwada (Pune Urban Village UnConference)

Hi Friends,

Inviting you to a fun-filled Saturday for yourself and the family, at the Pune Urban Village UnConference!

A day of celebration of our authentic selves, a day of sharing, caring and co-creation.
RSVP here!

Short version:
Event: Pune Urban Village Unconference, 4th edition
Date: Saturday, 30 April 2016
Time:  10am to 6pm
Venue: Thoughtworks, 6th floor, Binarus building, Deepak Complex, Deepak Nitrate Road, Yerawada, Pune.

Entry is free; for lunch by caterers charge is Rs.100/plate. You can bring your own food or get it from thela's outside the building's gate.
Click here : RSVP / lunch booking
Join the FB event page

Contact persons:
Urmila Samson, +91-9422-330-377
Nikhil VJ, +91-966-583-1250, nikhil.js [at]
(please try to SMS/Whatsapp first)

10 am onwards
Find the place, walk in and registrations
Opening circle and sessions planning
12.15 - 1 pm
Breakout Session 1
1 - 2.30 pm
Lunch & Mela
2.30 - 3.30 pm
Breakout Session 2
3.30 - 4.30 pm
Breakout Session 3
4.30 - 5 pm
Tea & snacks
5 - 6 pm
Closing circle

Special activity : Dariya Dil Dukaan! Please bring gifts that you would like to share with others!

Bring and put up posters about your initiative / organization!
Stalls : Most welcome. Contact us to let us know. Come on Fri 29th 5.30pm onwards to set up your stall. If more stalls, pls be accommodating to share table space. Note: footfalls expected : 100 to 200 ppl; no fees but no guarantees on sales either.

Directions: From Yerwada, take left at Gunjan theatre. After a chowk, along Golf course east wall , turn right at Sates tax office. Take left gate opp thela's, find tall office building 100m in.
by Bus: Route 24 from Katraj/Swargate/Station going towards MH housing board, get off at Sales tax office stop, after Netaji chowk. Cross the road to right side. Alternately, take a bus going towards Nagpur Chawl. See bus routes here.

Poster: (pls share among your networks!)

The Long Version:

Welcome to PUVU 4;  A day of celebration of our authentic selves, a day of sharing, caring and co-creation.

Please do bring family, friends, elders and children along. Everybody is welcome.

(Note: all of the below will be adequately explained at the opening circle as well, so make sure you catch it!)

What's an UnConference?
Imagine your last time at a conference, with a captive audience of everyone having to listen to one expert up on the podium, wishing you could get some more time to talk with the new friend you made at tea break. An unconference, also known as an open space event, decentralizes to multiple simultaneous breakout sessions where smaller groups can interact more intimately around a chosen topic. It liberates participants to go seek out what they're most interested in, with full freedom to move. It empowers participants to host sessions on topics they're interested in even if they're not experts but just curious. And, if you just want to talk at length with one or two people or play with kids or catch a nap, we encourage you to bunk sessions and do that! With that, we have a mela-like atmosphere with stalls and common spaces for random interactions. We also try to make the schedule have maximum room possible for unstructured interactions while still keeping a structure. We have an opening circle for settling in, orienting ourselves and planning the day's sessions, and a closing circle at end of event for regrouping and reflecting on our experiences.

Further reading:

Dariya Dil Dukaan
Bring your stuff, we're having a big one!
Dariya Dil Dukaan emerges as a space to share and pass on things (clothes, books, jewelry, music, accessories, toys, just about anything) that we have enjoyed and now feel the need to give away/pass on/share. Many times we have these wonderful things that we don't feel the need for anymore or simply want to now give away. So, instead of selling or gifting away to people who may not really need or have any use of it, we offer it up in space where people come to give and receive such gifts. In the process, we also aim to move away from consumerism to conscious living by recycling instead of wasting. There is no keeping track of who gives what or who takes what but a lot of sharing of stories and love. We give and receive in joy and gratitude.

Further reading:

Timetable shared at top. Learning from previous puvu's, we want to value everyone's time and be punctual. We'll start dot on time, and finish at 6pm sharp so no one has to miss the closing circle.

Thoughtworks' regular catering is providing full thali of healthy cooked food, at Rs.100/plate if you register in advance. We need to get a headcount to avoid wastage or shortage, so kindly register here by Thursday 28th night. Our volunteer will take payment in cash and give you your lunch coupon on Saturday morning.
You can get food from home and also share with friends! You'll get plates, cups, spoons to use and can heat things in the microwave. Also, there are regular thela's outside the campus so you can step out during lunch-break and eat there too.
For walk-ins who want to have the TW catering's food, there is usually extra food cooked. If available, you can buy your plate after 1.45pm at Rs.150/plate (pay at counter). This is to make sure the people who registered aren't left without food, hoping you understand! Best to register now.

This beautiful venue is very generously provided to us free of charge, and on weekdays is an active office space. So please help us in cleaning up properly at the end of the day if you can stay back for a bit after 6pm.

  1. Venue is disabled-friendly? >> Yes.
  2. Toilets? >> Plenty, and clean ones. It's an IT company.
  3. Venue is Indoor/outdoor ? >> Indoor, air conditioned IT company space. Sorry, no real grass or trees though.
  4. Stalls? >> Most welcome! Please contact us directly. Please come to the venue on Fri 29th Apr, 5.30pm to set up your stall.
  5. Can I schedule and announce a session in advance? >> You can announce, but you can't schedule it. The very essence of this event is that the people who have gathered co-create the day together. What you're planning, might very well get grouped with something similar someone else has planned. So please be patient till the opening circle is done. Also, note that the sessions have to be two-way interactions, not monologues. Please use the FB event page to announce your intention of doing the session and get others interested.
  6. Can I screen a film?  >> No, not this time, sorry. We really want us to disconnect from technology/consumption-mode and talk to each other, do hands-on things together. Please choose some other event for your screening, or collaborate to do a screenings mela sometime! You can do short clips as part of the session, but we'll leave you to hook up screens etc yourself.
  7. Can I access the wifi? >> No. If there's a special need, please get in touch. The computers in the session rooms usually have net on.
  8. Can I shoot photos / videos? >> For sharing with everyone, yes! We need you! If taking something focused or shooting a session, please take your subjects' prior permission. If kids, please take their permission for sure and locate their parents to share with them.
  9. Breakout session? >> Literally! There will be around 6 spaces available, so in that one session slot, upto 6 parallel sessions with different topics can be happening. We'll have a central board where info will be posted. Check out some pics to get an idea.
  10. What topics will be covered? >> That's the catch: even we don't know yet, as they gets co-created in the morning circle! Expect topics around alternative life paths, wellness, healing, learning, societal issues, sustainability, ecology, current events, emotions, life experiences, hands-on activities, etc.
  11. What about my kids? >> Kids are the kings and queens of the unconference! They'll have all the common spaces to play to their heart's content, and there will be activities and games going on to participate in. We also want the kids to get free from parental supervision and create their own experiences with peers. On safety: last 3 events, no major incident. That said, do take care. Do you want to host a hands-on activity? Please contact us!
  12. But my child is a baby / toddler >> The venue also has a creche room for toddlers. Check out pics on our FB page! A lot of babies have come and enjoyed all past PUVU's, there is space for diaper changing etc, helpful people all around and very clean washrooms.
  13. Snacks? >> On gift economy basis, we'll collect contributions during the day for buying snacks (probably samosa) for everyone. You can also bring snacks from home and share. Humbly requesting to minimize plastic waste. We also hope there'll be stalls selling delicious things to munch on during the day!
  14. How can I help make this awesome? >> Please contact us immediately! We need volunteers for decorations, chart-making, timekeeping, registrations (best way to get to know everybody!), note-taking, recording, etc
  15. I have filled registration form, but did not get any confirmation? >> Of course you're confirmed.. we invited you! We're not stopping anyone from coming. The event is free for all by default (but bring an ID for the security check at the gate!). By RSVP'ing, you have confirmed that you will come. Still, let's check if we can do some automation here to send an auto-confirmation email...
  16. If I call you up when the event is just starting, or just few hours before to ask for directions to the venue or for any other clarifications for which I have not bothered reading the FAQ's properly, then will you answer my call? >> No. Because there will be 10 others like you calling at the same time. We can answer your queries, or we can do the event. Not both. Besides, see what's written at top: please try to sms/whatsapp first.

Looking forward to seeing you on Saturday the 30th!
PUVU-4 Organizing team

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Swaraj University Course Design Questions

Swaraj University Course Design Questions
Designing a course syllabus is all about choices. Things to think
about when working on syllabus:
1.      What are the main topics you would like to cover to introduce
someone to the field? What are you choosing to exclude?
2.      What is the history of the field?
3.      Who are the important authors / pioneers / experimenters in the
field and what ideas have they contributed?
4.      What are the trends happening in the field?
5.      What are the innovations happening in the field?
6.      What are the key debates that are going on in the field?
7.      What are interesting projects / experiments / organizations going
on regarding this topic around the world?
8.      What are key learning materials in terms books, articles, videos,
exercises, games, models, frameworks, websites, etc?
9.      Talk to your mentors, what do they suggest?
Extra Questions:
1.      What kind of homework will you give?
2.      How will you evaluate the learners?
3.      How will you get feedback on your course?

(had a tough time hunting this down just now, so making a backup on the blog)

Monday, April 11, 2016

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Interesting links for March 2016

Interesting links for March 2016

Tips on cleaning your data for mapping

Offering a few tips for teams that want to put their data on a map:

1. Bring your data to a flat excel table. Avoid having any merged cells in the header. Keep the headers in the first row only; from row 2 onwards your data should start. Example: If you had a super-header of "Expenses", and sub-columns of 2011 & 2012, then turn that into two distinct columns titles like "Expenses_2011", "Expenses_2012".

2. Even for the data rows, please clean this up. Un-merge the cells, repeat common information or delete that column (like, first column in your file is useless - there's only one state right?).

3. Make a new latitude column and a longitude column in your table. You have to assign lat-long to each row.

4.For bulk finding lat-long, this tool might help:
Copy-paste the locations column in the textbox, and it searches with google maps and takes the lat-long of the top match. Disclaimer: zero guarantees for accuracy! Note: wait for it as it cycles through each location. Once it's done, you can copy-paste the output CSV textbox and paste>import wizard in excel, or save as a .csv file and open it in excel / calc, etc.

5. To manually find lat-long of a location by clicking on a map, here's a good tool:

6. Once your data is simplified and ready to be machine-readable, you can now upload the excel/spreadsheet to a mapping service. I'll recommend two: CartoDB :, and Google MyMaps:

Example: Recently for Pune we got a little data about accidents, and some entries had lat-longs. So I was able to use my free account on to make this:
Its nowhere near publishing levels because the data we've gotten isn't proper. But this could give you an idea.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

[Rethinking] Why we shouldn't rely on corporate media reportage of Panama Papers leak

Don't get satisfied with our media dangling just a few celebrities' , dons' and businessmens' names. (article copied below)

Further links:
Video: What I learned from the Panama Papers - Corbett Report
>> illustrates how the coverage is predominantly targeting America's opponents only with little to no direct evidence; while the status quo remains untouched.

Video: The Largest Leak In History, What You Need To Know About The Panama Papers by WeAreChange

Article on zerohedge on how tax havens are shifting to the USA

Here Are Some Of The Americans In The "Panama Papers"

‘US pretends fighting tax havens while creating its own’

'Who’s funding this?’ CIA & MI5 whistleblowers question credibility of Panama Papers coverage
...While neither Vladimir Putin nor any members of his family were mentioned in the Panama Papers leak, most Western media chose to break the story with the Russian president’s photo.
...Meanwhile, both experts question the speed with which the information contained in the papers is being released, calling on the news outlets to make all of the information public instead of holding on to it, creating a mystery where there shouldn’t be one.
“There is an obligation for the people who hold these documents to release the full text. I would caution people that the main points are not out [yet] – all we see so far is what the corporate media selected for us to see, while certainly [there are] people in the US who do not want [everything] released until after the presidential primaries,” McGovern stressed.
Good analysis, covering both what the papers confirm (that the world's financial system is rigged to help the wealthy avoid taxes legally), and the questionable intentions behind targeting only of those who have defied US and Wall Street hegemony.

Video, by WeAreChange again: Panama Papers Psyop, Complete Inside Job by Real Elites
Newsletter from Local Futures / Economics of Happiness
... But while the media has focused mostly on individual cases of wrong-doing, it’s far more important to change the corrupt system that enables all of these abuses to occur.

Corporate Media Gatekeepers Protect Western 1% From Panama Leak

Whoever leaked the Mossack Fonseca papers appears motivated by a genuine desire to expose the system that enables the ultra wealthy to hide their massive stashes, often corruptly obtained and all involved in tax avoidance. These Panamanian lawyers hide the wealth of a significant proportion of the 1%, and the massive leak of their documents ought to be a wonderful thing.
Unfortunately the leaker has made the dreadful mistake of turning to the western corporate media to publicise the results. In consequence the first major story, published today by the Guardian, is all about Vladimir Putin and a cellist on the fiddle. As it happens I believe the story and have no doubt Putin is bent.
But why focus on Russia? Russian wealth is only a tiny minority of the money hidden away with the aid of Mossack Fonseca. In fact, it soon becomes obvious that the selective reporting is going to stink.
The Suddeutsche Zeitung, which received the leak, gives a detailed explanation of the methodology the corporate media used to search the files. The main search they have done is for names associated with breaking UN sanctions regimes. The Guardian reports this too and helpfully lists those countries as Zimbabwe, North Korea, Russia and Syria. The filtering of this Mossack Fonseca information by the corporate media follows a direct western governmental agenda. There is no mention at all of use of Mossack Fonseca by massive western corporations or western billionaires – the main customers. And the Guardian is quick to reassure that "much of the leaked material will remain private."
What do you expect? The leak is being managed by the grandly but laughably named "International Consortium of Investigative Journalists", which is funded and organised entirely by the USA's Center for Public Integrity. Their funders include
Ford Foundation
Carnegie Endowment
Rockefeller Family Fund
W K Kellogg Foundation
Open Society Foundation (Soros)
among many others. Do not expect a genuine expose of western capitalism. The dirty secrets of western corporations will remain unpublished.
Expect hits at Russia, Iran and Syria and some tiny "balancing" western country like Iceland. A superannuated UK peer or two will be sacrificed – someone already with dementia.
The corporate media – the Guardian and BBC in the UK – have exclusive access to the database which you and I cannot see. They are protecting themselves from even seeing western corporations' sensitive information by only looking at those documents which are brought up by specific searches such as UN sanctions busters. Never forget the Guardian smashed its copies of the Snowden files on the instruction of MI6.
What if they did Mossack Fonseca database searches on the owners of all the corporate media and their companies, and all the editors and senior corporate media journalists? What if they did Mossack Fonseca searches on all the most senior people at the BBC? What if they did Mossack Fonseca searches on every donor to the Center for Public Integrity and their companies?
What if they did Mossack Fonseca searches on every listed company in the western stock exchanges, and on every western millionaire they could trace?
That would be much more interesting. I know Russia and China are corrupt, you don't have to tell me that. What if you look at things that we might, here in the west, be able to rise up and do something about?
And what if you corporate lapdogs let the people see the actual data?
Hundreds of thousands of people have read this post in the 11 hours since it was published – despite it being overnight here in the UK. There are 235,918 "impressions" on twitter (as twitter calls them) and over 3,700 people have "shared" so far on Facebook, bringing scores of new readers each.
I would remind you that this blog is produced free for the public good and you are welcome to republish or re-use this article or any other material freely anywhere without requesting further permission.

PS: Sincere apologies if you got multiple copies of this email. And, here's the obligatory Disclaimer.

Monday, April 4, 2016

What if we need some disobedience of rules to survive?

Here's a thought arising from seeing something about the nature of water (read the full post here).
Although water (H2O) is a liquid, it breaks nearly all the rules that liquids are supposed to follow. It just doesn't behave the same way that the liquid forms of other elements or compounds behave, and it has characteristics that are totally unique; inapplicable to any other element or compound in existence.

Life on planet Earth is possible because of water.
It is precisely the law-breaking, rule-bending characteristics of water, and its unique properties, that make life possible.
If water followed all the rules obediently like the other liquids do, then life on Earth (and probably elsewhere) would not be possible.
In a system as ruthlessly rigid, unrelenting as physical science, because one little compound decided to chuck the rules, life became possible, sustainable, thriving.
In what other systems in our lives : relationships, love, friendships, education, healthcare, jobs, governance, finance, technology, science, law, justice... can a little breaking of the rules be existentially essential to making life possible, sustainable, thriving?
And mind that even in physical science, if all the elements and compounds went about breaking rules in an unthinking way, that would make life impossible as well. So I'm not going there; I hope you don't either. The "little" word is key. Besides, water's antics don't seem chaotic or unintentional to me; there's something holistic and positively constructive about it. It's not a rule breaker in the negative sense.

But let's look at the other extreme. What if, by going overboard on strictly and absolutely applying all the rules down to the very last detail, without any allowance for any exception at all, we will end up making life unlivable?
If that is so, then should this inform the demands by social movements, democracy, transparency, accountability campaigns, activists etc? Can they make room for this in their advocacy and proposed reforms? Can they figure out where to draw the line?

Check these out for more research:
Barry Schwartz makes a passionate call for "practical wisdom" as an antidote to a society gone mad with bureaucracy. He argues powerfully that rules often fail us, incentives often backfire, and practical, everyday wisdom will help rebuild our world.
(this talk gave some of the first disruptions in my own thought processes, challenged what I believed to be right, and made me question some things I have been standing for since long)
John Oliver's Last Week Tonight show on youtube : many of his episodes focus hilariously on the vastly shitty consequences in various fields in the US of what Barry Schwartz is talking about.

PS: Sincere apologies if you got multiple copies of this email. And, here's the obligatory Disclaimer.

4th phase of water : Dr.Gerard Pollock

4th phase of water : talk and research by Dr.Gerard Pollock

Opens up a whole lot of questions, thoughts, and possibilities about water, its connection with light, what role it plays in our bodies, and this might call for a fundamental re-learning of what water is, and (indirectly, as an outcome should you choose to apply it) offers a fresh perspective to relook at the traditional practices of holy water, therapies using water, etc.

Quoting excerpts from the second link:

nothing short of ground-breaking. The fourth phase of water is, in a nutshell, living water. It's referred to as EZ water—EZ standing for "exclusion zone"—which has a negative charge. This water can hold energy, much like a battery, and can deliver energy too.

"There's a famous website ( put together by a British scientist, Martin Chaplin. Martin lists numerous anomalies associated with water," Dr. Pollack says. "In other words, things that shouldn't be according to what we know about water...

The more anomalies we have, the more we begin to think that maybe there's something fundamental about water that we really don't know. That's the core of what I'm trying to do. In our laboratory at the University of Washington, we've done many experiments over the last decade. These experiments have clearly shown the existence of this additional phase of water."

"We found that if we put a simple tube, like a straw, made of hydrophilic material, in water... there's water flow through the tube at high speed. This happens spontaneously. But it shouldn't happen spontaneously. The common idea is that if you want to drive fluid through a pipe or tube, you need to apply pressure. But we have no pressure here. There's no pressure difference between the input and output. But flow builds up spontaneously, and it keeps going.

Recently, we found that if we add light, the flow goes faster. It means that light has a particular effect; especially ultraviolet light, but other wavelengths as well. It speeds up the flow. We think that somehow the exclusion zones (EZs) are involved because inside those tubes, there's a little annular ring of exclusion zone, and inside that is an area full of protons... It seems that the exclusion zone and the pressure of these protons are driving the flow."

From Charles Eisenstein's essay:

Let me emphasize that this is not a New Age book by someone of questionable scientific credentials. This is a book on chemistry, albeit one easily accessible to lay people. Pollack is a highly decorated professor at the University of Washington, author of numerous peer-reviewed papers, recipient of the 2012 Prigogine Medal, and editor of the academic journal Water. I mention this because in a field fraught with what some call pseudo-science, but what I'll politely call speculative inquiry unburdened by scientific rigor, paradigm-busting theories attract an inordinate degree of hostility.
One would think that after two hundred or more years of modern chemistry, something as fundamental and seemingly simple as water would be thoroughly understood by now. Before reading this book, I took for granted the explanations my high school and college textbooks offered for evaporation, capillary action, freezing, bubble formation, Brownian motion, and surface tension. Everyone else assumes the same thing, which may be why the conventional explanations are seldom scrutinized. However, as The Fourth Phase of Water demonstrates, a little creative scrutiny reveals severe deficiencies in conventional explanations.


The website does a great job of listing all the ways water doesn't behave like a textbook liquid, and one would be amazed to see how this *cheating* of the laws governing most liquids by water makes life on this planet possible.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

expressing a little about my recurring pattern in matters of love

I'm feeling angry at myself, and sad, for keeping on falling in love,
at various times, with a woman who it turns out will never want to
love me back, while completely ignoring that there is at least one
woman in my life at that time who would gladly love me back if I just
paid her a little more attention. I usually find out only much later,
when she has moved on.

The communication paradox

Sometimes it feels like I can get my point across to any person on
earth except the one person I really want to communicate to.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Organic Terrace Gardening weekend workshops in Pune (various places) over April 2016

Pls see attached poster for full details.

Facilitated by Hemal Patel, who was among the organizers of the recent
Sustainable Living Pune Convergence last Sunday.

Contribution: Rs.1000/person, 50% discount for kids/students.

Contact number: 9011355709 (Hemal)

Monday, March 28, 2016

Please don't give up on love

A prayer for an anonymous friend..

Please don't give up on love yet. Let time pass, let the wounds heal.

Don't be so hard on yourself; don't go too much into the concept of
what happens on outside being reflection of inner defects only.. it's
all nice n spiritual n all but I think there can be times we take that
too far. We're only human, babaa, there's no need to witch-hunt each
and everything about ourselves. Heck, what characteristic has manifested
as a negative in your experience in relationship, might even have a
positive manifestation in another sphere of your life. By trying to eliminate
one, what if you end up degrading even what's good about you? We
might be better off seeking structures, being in environments that better
accommodate those characteristics of ours, that channel them

You may have to analyze your patterns till now and change the way
you look for love. Girls with great looks do attract the worst-fitting
of the males around at first tries :P

Consider these..
  • Simplify your tastes (especially when it comes to consumerism),
  • Raise some bare-minimum ethical / health standards that had earlier been lowered in the interest of being progressive, non-judgemental, unconditional etc,
  • Introduce some grounding parameters, like alignment with causes you're passionate about, or integrity etc in worldly life too (yes, it does matter, our worldly and personal lives aren't completely separated. Extent u decide.),
  • Involve community in the search, let your close friends / folks whom you gel with, find and recommend someone, or ask them to help you evaluate someone you're considering.

But please don't give up on love. There will come a time when you'll be
ready for it again, and if you make room for it in your life, it will
be wonderful, something that will make all those trials and
tribulations worth it.

Let it slumber, but please, please don't give up on it. You deserve this. It
will happen, please let it when the time comes.
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