Saturday, May 31, 2014

Get bold with the real solutions

One feedback i just submitted to an aap google form:

Get bold with the real solutions even if we're sure the mainstream media will oppose them. To hell with those devil worshippers; they don't reflect the thoughts of the people. AAP has been like a dhobi ka kutta, na ghar ka na ghaat ka as far as the divide between civil society and mainstream is concerned. We tried to woo the latter, and got screwed. Now let's return to the truth; to adopting the perspectives and solutions that civil society advocates, even if they're unpopular. Have faith in the idea that the people will learn the truth eventually. And if you think the masses will never learn, then sincere request which is for your own happiness: please leave this country.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Put it out there

It doesn't matter who's gonna read it / see it / use it. It doesn't matter whether it'll spread anywhere or not; it doesn't matter how many people it will reach. That is none of your concern.
Your duty is to put what you know, out there, in a manner/form/medium that can be taken, copied by anyone who wants to.
Let someone else worry about taking it further. It will reach wherever it is destined to reach. Your duty is to let it go and set it free.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

George Monbiot: Change the economic system or die

A good thought puzzle for those who still want to keep appeasing the idea that economic growth is a must for India and it shouldn't be questioned or compromised.

It's simple. If we can't change our economic system, our number's up
by George Monbiot,, May 27, 2014

'The mother narrative to all this is carbon-fuelled expansion. Our ideologies are mere subplots.' Photograph: Alamy
Let us imagine that in 3030BC the total possessions of the people of Egypt filled one cubic metre. Let us propose that these possessions grew by 4.5% a year. How big would that stash have been by the Battle of Actium in 30BC? This is the calculation performed by the investment banker Jeremy Grantham.

Go on, take a guess. Ten times the size of the pyramids? All the sand in the Sahara? The Atlantic ocean? The volume of the planet? A little more? It's 2.5 billion billion solar systems. It does not take you long, pondering this outcome, to reach the paradoxical position that salvation lies in collapse.

To succeed is to destroy ourselves. To fail is to destroy ourselves. That is the bind we have created. Ignore if you must climate change, biodiversity collapse, the depletion of water, soil, minerals, oil; even if all these issues miraculously vanished, the mathematics of compound growth make continuity impossible.

Economic growth is an artefact of the use of fossil fuels. Before large amounts of coal were extracted, every upswing in industrial production would be met with a downswing in agricultural production, as the charcoal or horse power required by industry reduced the land available for growing food. Every prior industrial revolution collapsed, as growth could not be sustained. But coal broke this cycle and enabled – for a few hundred years – the phenomenon we now call sustained growth.

It was neither capitalism nor communism that made possible the progress and pathologies (total war, the unprecedented concentration of global wealth, planetary destruction) of the modern age. It was coal, followed by oil and gas. The meta-trend, the mother narrative, is carbon-fuelled expansion. Our ideologies are mere subplots. Now, with the accessible reserves exhausted, we must ransack the hidden corners of the planet to sustain our impossible proposition.

On Friday, a few days after scientists announced that the collapse of the west Antarctic ice sheet is now inevitable, the Ecuadorean government decided to allow oil drilling in the heart of the Yasuni national park. It had made an offer to other governments: if they gave it half the value of the oil in that part of the park, it would leave the stuff in the ground. You could see this as either blackmail or fair trade. Ecuador is poor, its oil deposits are rich. Why, the government argued, should it leave them untouched without compensation when everyone else is drilling down to the inner circle of hell? It asked for $3.6bn and received $13m. The result is that Petroamazonas, a company with a colourful record of destruction and spills, will now enter one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, in which a hectare of rainforest is said to contain more species than exist in the entire continent of North America.

Yasuni national park. Murray Cooper/Minden Pictures/Corbis
The UK oil firm Soco is now hoping to penetrate Africa's oldest national park, Virunga, in the Democratic Republic of Congo; one of the last strongholds of the mountain gorilla and the okapi, of chimpanzees and forest elephants. In Britain, where a possible 4.4 billion barrels of shale oil has just been identified in the south-east, the government fantasises about turning the leafy suburbs into a new Niger delta. To this end it's changing the trespass laws to enable drilling without consent and offering lavish bribes to local people. These new reserves solve nothing. They do not end our hunger for resources; they exacerbate it.

The trajectory of compound growth shows that the scouring of the planet has only just begun. As the volume of the global economy expands, everywhere that contains something concentrated, unusual, precious, will be sought out and exploited, its resources extracted and dispersed, the world's diverse and differentiated marvels reduced to the same grey stubble.

Some people try to solve the impossible equation with the myth of dematerialisation: the claim that as processes become more efficient and gadgets are miniaturised, we use, in aggregate, fewer materials. There is no sign that this is happening. Iron ore production has risen 180% in 10 years. The trade body Forest Industries tells us that "global paper consumption is at a record high level and it will continue to grow". If, in the digital age, we won't reduce even our consumption of paper, what hope is there for other commodities?

Look at the lives of the super-rich, who set the pace for global consumption. Are their yachts getting smaller? Their houses? Their artworks? Their purchase of rare woods, rare fish, rare stone? Those with the means buy ever bigger houses to store the growing stash of stuff they will not live long enough to use. By unremarked accretions, ever more of the surface of the planet is used to extract, manufacture and store things we don't need. Perhaps it's unsurprising that fantasies about colonising space – which tell us we can export our problems instead of solving them – have resurfaced.

As the philosopher Michael Rowan points out, the inevitabilities of compound growth mean that if last year's predicted global growth rate for 2014 (3.1%) is sustained, even if we miraculously reduced the consumption of raw materials by 90%, we delay the inevitable by just 75 years. Efficiency solves nothing while growth continues.

The inescapable failure of a society built upon growth and its destruction of the Earth's living systems are the overwhelming facts of our existence. As a result, they are mentioned almost nowhere. They are the 21st century's great taboo, the subjects guaranteed to alienate your friends and neighbours. We live as if trapped inside a Sunday supplement: obsessed with fame, fashion and the three dreary staples of middle-class conversation: recipes, renovations and resorts. Anything but the topic that demands our attention.

Statements of the bleeding obvious, the outcomes of basic arithmetic, are treated as exotic and unpardonable distractions, while the impossible proposition by which we live is regarded as so sane and normal and unremarkable that it isn't worthy of mention. That's how you measure the depth of this problem: by our inability even to discuss it.

Twitter: @georgemonbiot. A fully referenced version of this article can be found at

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Essay: A New Story for a New Economy by David Korten

"..the story of Sacred Money and Markets. It goes like this:

Time is money. Money is wealth. Making money creates wealth and is the defining purpose of the individual, business, and the economy. Those who make money are society's wealth creators. Their affluent lifestyles are their fair and just reward for their special contribution; they merit our apprecia-tion and respect. Material consumption is the path to happiness. We humans are by nature individu-alistic and competitive. The invisible hand of the free market directs our insatiable competitive drive to serve ends that maximize the wealth of all. Inequality and environmental damage are regret-table, but necessary, collateral damage on the path to prosperity for all. If we hold true to course, economic growth will eventually create sufficient wealth to end poverty and drive the technological advances needed to end human dependence on nature. 

Most readers will readily recognize—or at least suspect—that every assertion of this familiar story is false or badly misleading. Although economics courses in our most prestigious universities teach this story and corporate media constantly repeat it, it is bad ethics, bad science, and bad economics—as is extensively documented elsewhere by many authors, including myself. The ultimate proof is the environmental devastation, economic desperation, and social alienation this story leaves everywhere in its path."

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Fwd: अपडेटेड: स्वराज यूनिवर्सिटी - एडमिशनस २०१४

शुरू हो रहे हैं एडमिशनस २०१४

ओरिएंटेशन मीट, राउंड 1 – 31 मई से 1 जून 2014, उदयपुर

ओरिएंटेशन मीट, राउंड 2 – 21 से 22 जून 2014, उदयपुर 

अगर आप में ललक है खुद को समझने की, अपने सपनों को जानने और साकार करने की, तो और जानिये स्वराज यूनिवर्सिटी के बारे में I स्वराज के साथ खोजी की तरह जुड़ने के लिए आइये उदयपुर हमारी पहली ओरिएंटेशन मीट में हिस्सा लेने I यदि आप 31 मई और 1 जून को हमारे साथ जुड़ना चाहते हैं तो तुरंत फ़ोन घुमाएं – +91 8764-279-302 I


21 और 22 जून को हमारे साथ जुड़ने के लिए जल्द देखें हमारा वेबसाइट 

लिखें  <>  को I


अगर फिर भी इस प्रक्रिया से जुड़े कोई प्रश्न या शंका है तो फोन घुमाएँ- +91 8764-279-302, सुबह 9:00 से शाम 4:00 बजे के बीच।

और जानकारी के लिए

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Voters list fraud has completely skewed elections in Maharashtra

Here's an article on the issue, analyzing the details:


If you calculate the number of people who would be expected to be on the roll given the age structure as published by the Census of India and the population of a constituency as published by the Maharashtra State Election Commission, you would get the table below.







This shows that there are at least 35 pc non-existent voters.

Add to that if 25 pc of the existing electors are deleted, as is apparent from the PDF lists found pm the ECI website, the electoral rolls are off by at least off by a whopping 60 pc.

Difference Screensavers, Same OS

Joke: Bill Gates dies and meets St. Peter.
St. Peter says, "Now Bill, you have done some good things, and you have done some bad things. So I am going to let you decide where you want to go". First, St. Peter shows Bill an image of Hell with beautiful women running on beaches. Then, St Peter shows Bill an image of Heaven with robed angels playing harps on clouds.
Bill chooses Hell.

About a week later, St. Peter checks in on Bill in Hell and finds him being whipped by demons. Bill says to St. Peter, "What happened to all the beautiful women and the beaches?"
St. Peter replies, "That was just the screen saver."

The inference? This same thing is slated to happen to India! 10 yrs back it was Congress screensaver, and now, in the same fashion, BJP screensaver. Already the papers are writing, the news anchors are talking about BJP-Modi in the exact same way they were writing about Congress-Sonia-MMS 10 years ago. Screensaver tum kaunsa bhi lagao, Operating System toh same hi hai bhai!

Proposition for a Revolution : Documentary film project on Aam Aadmi Party

A documentary film made around the rise and journey of AAP up till Delhi elections, in the context of worldwide peoples' movements emerging, and cutting through the second-hand media interptretations. By film makers Vinay Shukla and Khushboo Ranka, and produced by 'Ship of Theseus' director Anand Gandhi.

The website has a video giving a sneak peek into the film.
See hindi version of the video here:

This project needs financial support to go forward.. they are doing a crowdfunding drive, with 96.8% of the target amount collected, and 5 days to go.. so please chip in, and share this with friends! I've chipped in with Rs.500. Do watch the trailer.. this is going to be awesome.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Crony Capitalism explained

India's forests are getting wiped out, people dislocated, ecologies ruptured, for mining out steel and other minerals, so they can all be sold to private companies at throwaway prices, processed and end up... here!

Plus, THIS is why car sales are being pushed in India with mega discounts, "cheap" car loans, to sell the excess here.
With that, our tax money is being diverted to build more and wider roads, highways, flyovers.. even loans are being taken from world bank etc that will be serviced by our children's tax money.
So we lose our lands, our food and oxygen producers, our limited mineral resources, our freshwater acquifers (in 2 ways : forests percolate rainwater into the ground; with trees cut, water runs off. Second, these industries use huge amounts of drinking water in their processing. Even auto industries use v.high amounts of drinking water) our treasury money that could have been spent on more important things, our public spaces, and even our internal security (do you expect all those displaced, deprived people to just roll over and die for you?) just so some companies can keep their occupation going and growing.
This, in short, is crony capitalism.

Manifesto for a new generation on planet earth - by Tamera

Good stuff!

Tamera, located in Portugal, is an international alternative college and community that's exploring solutions to various global issues. They have particularly deep inroads into a subject that's usually avoided by many : rethinking sexuality and human relationships. Exploring further what they've written and said on the topic, I found a great wisdom in establishing links between the pain of heart-break and failed relationships with the bad things being done in the world today... how one leads to the other and how this isn't a personal but a societal issue. Quoting from their manifesto page, "They also follow the principle of truth and mutual support in the areas of sexuality, love and partnership. There cannot be peace on earth as long as there is war in love."

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Movies on Rethinking the World

​Inviting friends in Pune to a weekly screening (Thursdays, 6pm onwards) of inspiring movies on rethinking the world!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

This captcha text will someday be only readable by machines

I'm just gonna say it out loud...

These captcha, enter-the-text-in-the-image things are getting sooo
complicated, so difficult to decipher,
With the first casualties being those populations that are getting on
the internet but aren't very familiar with english letters...

That some day only machines will be able to decode them.

And that, will be the end of the internet as we've known it so far,
just because some people want to use bots to mine information, create
millions of fake accounts and bombard everyone with bogus ads.

Tools to help translate movie subtitles to your language

Just found some tools that can help in translating subtitles of a
movie to your language:
Subtitles translator software:

While it works pretty nice, it can take only .sub files.

In case the subtitle file you're having is in another format like
.srt, then you can convert it to .sub using this site:
You'll have to find out the framerate of the movie in question.. you
can find out in VLC by Tools > Codec Information.

Note: The converted .sub file had unix line-endings, meaning if you
open the file in notepad in windows, there won't be any separation
between the lines, no line breaks. In the software, that created a
problem : it didn't read the other lines.

So, I converted the file to a dos/windows style text file using a
tool/program called "unix2dos",
Mind, I had to add a .txt extension to the file so this program could
load it (it only opens .txt files) After the conversion, now the
Subtitles translator software loads it nicely.

Note: the assumptions here are:
1. Your movie is saved on the computer, not a youtube video.
2. The movie already has english subtitles or something; and the subs
are in a separate file like an .srt or something.

Also, another subtitle translator software I just found when searching
for something else:

Education: Have we been dumbed down over the years?

A question on Quora:
Has America been "dumbed down" over the years?

An answer I wrote:
Yes; and it's not just the USA. Please look up the works of John
Taylor Gatto, who wrote the books "Dumbing Us Down" and "Weapons of
Mass Instruction" on the same subject. Other persons to look up can be
John Holt, author of books like "How Children Fail" and "Learning all
the time". A recent young author (a high school student) writing about
this and coming in the news is Nikhil Goyal (american).

It goes into much deeper than test or IQ scores. Crucial parts of what
you call a person "not dumb" are the abilities to think creatively,
critically; to synthesize information into something meaningful and
useful; to empathize with others; to "get along" with other people.
And this dumbness afflicts even people who ace the system.

We all know some high achievers during our years in school/college who
despite having the highest scores and achievements, you found
impossible to reason with, or incapable of thinking out of the box, or
seriously lacking in empathy, or you found their understanding of the
world dangerously shallow. You yourself could have been one of these
persons while growing up; and now you might wonder why it all happened
that way. We find many such people ascend to high positions in society
on the back of their achievements; from where they wreak havoc. And we
frequently find more sensible, mature and capable people being
excluded because they don't have the qualifications needed.

To get to the bottom of all this, we have to question the basic
structures of our education system; see them in an integrated way
rather than focussing on how to improve Math, Science, etc.
One nice documentary film that wraps a lot of these together, is "La
Educacion Prohibida" (Spanish, but has English subtitles) or the
Forbidden Education, (youtube link: )

And for solutions, please look up "Democratic schools", "unschooling".
Two institutions that have had great success and have a lot of
documentation, info regarding this are: Sudbury Valley School in US,
and Summerhill in UK.
The alternatives aren't just limited to the West... "Nai Taleem"
education based on the ideas of freedom, self-reliance and self-rule
of Gandhi is being talked about, and practiced, a lot in pockets of
India, though they have very limited coverage and many people
associated with them haven't brought their stories to the www. There
are also many researchers and activists talking, writing about it
around the non-Western world; and there have been conferences, talks
held on these topics. Look up the works of Manish Jain, Claude
Alvares, Munir Fasheh.

Again, these things are out of the dominant mainstream academic
circuits so don't expect any glowing recommendations for these guys
from any established, entrenched institutions where the problem of
dumbing down people is happening. There may be a phd thesis here or
there, but institutionally, these people and initiatives are mostly
treated as heretics.

In higher education, there is an ongoing documentary film project
"Enlivened Learning" that documents alternative universities operating
at grassroots levels around the world that are trying to address these
issues and provide a more holistic coming-of-age to their students.

Poem: The Onus is on us

A nice poem I got on a whatsapp group:

(Fwd) The Onus is On Us -

And so here we are on the brink of d-day
This week we will know how our future will sway
The duffer, the bluffer, the man with the muffler
Which one of these men will we have to suffer

If you voted for Modi go jump in the sea
If you voted for Rahul you're dumber than he
If you voted for Kejri then that should be fine
Because sooner or later the man will resign

Democracy demands we give them a chance
But this time I think we should join in the dance
Coz whoever they are, the men at the helm
The country still belongs to us, not to them

We gave them their seats, the two-seventy-two
We voted them to power between me and you
But whether they prove to be wise men or fools
This nation is ours so let's play by the rules

Let's not break the law, can we please stand in line
Let's not pull those strings to avoid paying a fine
Let's finally get that a red light means stop
Let's not stoop to bribing the poor traffic cop

Let's be part of the reason our country is great
Let's be good citizens before it's too late
Let's serve our great country without hesitation
Let's all work together to build a strong nation

Enough of the trolling, the barbs and the fights
Now let's stick together, stand up for our rights
Enough of debates on religion and caste
Now let's be united, secular at last

They might have the seats, the two-seventy-two
But the country belongs to me and to you
And we're a billion people, a billion and plus
At the end of the day, the onus is on us

Friday, May 16, 2014

What does your victory feel like?

What does it feel like? Does it feel like relief, like a big load has been lifted off your chest, like you're able to breathe much better now? Do you feel the joy of freedom, and see a whole new world full of possibilities in front of you? Do you feel like hugging the next person? Do you feel like crying tears of joy? Do you feel empty of all hatred and full of love instead?

Or does it feel like you've conquered something... taken over.. occupied.. vanquished? Does your joy originate from your sense of pride and achievement rather than from your heart? Does it feel like you've won because you've defeated some enemy? Do you desperately need to see someone who has lost, to feel that you have won? Do you still feel like destroying, pulverizing that fallen enemy even further, even after they've been completely vanquished? Do you find yourself still not satisfied, and wanting to conquer even more?

What does your victory feel like?

What do you want it to feel like?

clues to EVM rigging in Medha Patkar's constituency.. and possibly elsewhere

Thank you BJP-Congress combine, for cheating SOO much in these elections.. in an exam if we all know someone's cheated his ass off to come as 1st rank, then we very well know how to treat the cheater, right?

Shocking! Control tag of EVM used in the Election of My Constituency Found on the ROAD!

May 15, 2014 at 11:28pm

15TH May, 2014


I wish to bring a shocking incident to your notice. An address tag used on the Control Unit used at Polling Station No.29 at Shivajinagar / Mankhurd assembly segment of the Mumbai North East Parliamentary constituency was found on the road at Shivajinagar today. This address tag is an important identifier of the machine used on the day of polling and the tag being found on the road indicates that the machine could have been tampered with before being transported to the place of storage after the elections. We have already filed a complaint with the Returning Officer and urged him not to start counting in this booth till thorough investigation is done in this matter. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Student debt from high-fees education

Some images on student loan / education fees debt (to financers and even to family)

This post is just for an introduction. I encourage you to read up more on this, especially if you're planning to send your son/daughter abroad for higher studies.
There's a lot of good infographics that you can find: Go to and search for "student loan debt infographic"

Also, an earlier post of mine on this:

The Myth of Progress

Excerpt from Chapter 1: Walking on Lava:

As the financial wizards lose their powers of levitation, as the politicians and economists struggle to conjure new explanations, it starts to dawn on us that behind the curtain, at the heart of the Emerald City, sits not the benign and omnipotent invisible hand we had been promised, but something else entirely. Something responsible for what Marx, writing not so long before Conrad, cast as the 'everlasting uncertainty and anguish' of the 'bourgeois epoch'; a time in which 'all that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned.' Draw back the curtain, follow the tireless motion of cogs and wheels back to its source, and you will find the engine driving our civilisation: the myth of progress.

The myth of progress is to us what the myth of god-given warrior prowess was to the Romans, or the myth of eternal salvation was to the conquistadors: without it, our efforts cannot be sustained. Onto the root stock of Western Christianity, the Enlightenment at its most optimistic grafted a vision of an Earthly paradise, towards which human effort guided by calculative reason could take us. Following this guidance, each generation will live a better life than the life of those that went before it. History becomes an escalator, and the only way is up. On the top floor is human perfection. It is important that this should remain just out of reach in order to sustain the sensation of motion.

Recent history, however, has given this mechanism something of a battering. The past century too often threatened a descent into hell, rather than the promised heaven on Earth. Even within the prosperous and liberal societies of the West progress has, in many ways, failed to deliver the goods. Today's generation are demonstrably less content, and consequently less optimistic, than those that went before. They work longer hours, with less security, and less chance of leaving behind the social back- ground into which they were born. They fear crime, social breakdown, overdevelopment, environmental collapse. They do not believe that the future will be better than the past. Individually, they are less constrained by class and convention than their parents or grandparents, but more constrained by law, surveillance, state proscription and personal debt. Their physical health is better, their mental health more fragile. Nobody knows what is coming. Nobody wants to look.

Read it full (it's a whole book) on

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Losing his/her deposit? That's only for corrupt candidates

From where the hell did they invent the phrase of a candidate "losing his/her deposit", "jamaanat jabt" if they fail to win an election?
I think it relates directly from from the practice of spending huge amounts of money to get elected, and corruption after getting elected. The candidates have to "deposit" a large amount of money, taking a lot from funders. With every deposit, there's a recovery, gains to be made, through corruption, through swindling money meant for public expenditure, if he/she gets elected. If the candidate fails to win the election, there is no scope of making these gains now, and so they lose the deposit.

The implication sent across is that there is something massive to lose if you don't win an election. Like, say your property if you're deeply in debt. Or, your life if you're deeply in debt to criminals. This would be accurate only if the candidate is corrupt and is pumping in money into his/her campaign with a direct intention of making a fortune from it, as if it's an investment.

And so it felt strange to read articles that talked of an honest party's /independent candidate losing their deposit. 

What deposit? They haven't made any deposit.

The money spent in the campaign of an honest candidate is publicly donated money. And it is spent with the intention of campaigning for an election, not making a fortune. There is no threat of what horrible thing will happen if the election is lost. If the candidate loses the election, then it's just an election lost this time around. That's it; it doesn't signify the candidate losing anything major.

So, regarding the whole Kejriwal Vs Modi contest in Varanasi, I'd say this:
If Arvind Kejriwal loses this one, then he doesn't lose any deposit; he doesn't lose anything in that context.

It may be India that pushes the world into nuclear holocaust

Yesterday evening, my Dad had kept Zee News running on the TV.

They had gotten into the nationalism-through-enemy mode. In one shot, this channel was painting the Pakistani media, its leaders, its people and "its terrorists" all with the same brush. As if they're all in cahoots and that all 5-year-old children in Pakistan are just as evil as any terrorist organization.

And with that the anchor was stoking a mad pride in Modi. Repeating again and again that the Pakistanis were afraid of Modi. Again, on what basis was he saying all this? Simple. The Pakistani media has been reporting on the truth about Modi. The same things that India's independent media - what's left of it, in online websites and social media - has been reporting. The same things that the media around the world have been reporting. A media organization in the neighbouring country reporting that Modi has evil agendas : translates to the entire country being afraid of Modi. Wow, what brilliant deduction powers! And for some reason we're supposed to be proud of that. Why is that being pushed on to us without any real explanation?

Well, if this kind of crap is permitted to proceed unhindered, then what's in store? A Nazi-like regime in a nuclear-armed country, with a belligerent leader who's going to end up provoking conflict. Given the conventional disparities between the military mights of Pakistan and India, Modi will leave Pakistan with no choice but to resort to the nuclear option to defend themselves. And that will spark off a full-blown nuclear war. Plenty of experts have already declared that a nuclear war between India and Pakistan will end the world as we know it, with the radiation and the smoke spreading around the world, polluting water sources, blocking out the sun enough to  destroying all food crops.

It's shocking to come to the realization that after all these years of treating Pakistan as the nuclear rogue state and a threat to the world, it might very well turn out that it was India that pushed the world into destruction and chaos.

I'm angry at these bloody channels for giving a full push to the death of us all; and I'm just as angry at people like my Dad to keep such crap running on their TV, who are not having the tendency to think, analyse and foresee where this will take us.

Indian independence movement would be branded as British Agents by the Mughals

For decades even the Indian independence struggle may have been branded as something that was a "distraction" which was cutting the opportunities of the Mughals coming back to power. You could call them "British Agents". It took time, but ultimately the Indian people decided that they didn't want British rule but neither did they want Mughal rule. It was time for something new; something that had no recent precedent in this part of the world.

Today, the Congress and the BJP are two corrupt monsters and we keep jumping out of one's mouth only to fall into the other's. And recently it's been found that both these monsters are actually being controlled by the same puppet masters. If, like our freedom fighters from half a century ago, you started an initiative to stop this never-ending cycle, what would your initiative look like? Would the media that's also owned by these masters, spare you, or would it do its best to sully your image and brand you as the "agents" of the current rulers, for the crime of trying to prevent the people from falling into the second monster's jaws?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Poem: Bik raha hai sab kuch | everything is for sale

This poem was shared on facebook recently:

बिक गयी है धरती, गगन बिक न जाए !
बिक रहा है पानी, पवन बिक न जाए !

चाँद पर भी बिकने लगी है जमीं,
डर है की सूरज की तपन बिक न जाए !

हर जगह बिकने लगी है स्वार्थ नीति,
डर है की कहीं धर्म बिक न जाए !

देकर दहॆज ख़रीदा गया है अब दुल्हे को,
कही उसी के हाथों दुल्हन बिक न जाए !

हर काम की रिश्वत ले रहे अब ये नेता,
कही इन्ही के हाथों वतन बिक न जाए !

सरे आम बिकने लगे अब तोह सांसद,
डर है की कहीं संसद भवन बिक न जाए !

आदमी मरा तोह भी आँखें खुली हुई हैं,
डरता है मुर्दा, कहीं कफ़न बिक न जाए !

Benjamin Franklin on education of Native Indians

"The commissioners from Virginia acquainted the Native Indians by a speech, that there was at Williamsburg a college, with a fund for educating Indian youth; and that, if the Six Nations would send down half a dozen of their young lads to that college, the government would take care that they should be well provided for, and instructed in all the learning of the white people. It is one of the Indian rules of politeness not to answer a public proposition the same day that it is made; they think it would be treating it as a light matter, and that they show it respect by taking time to consider it, as of a matter important. They therefore deferred their answer till the day following; when their speaker began, by expressing their deep sense of the kindness of the Virginia government, in making them that offer; "for we know," says he, "that you highly esteem the kind of learning taught in those Colleges, and that the maintenance of our young men, while with you, would be very expensive to you. We are convinced, therefore, that you mean to do us good by your proposal; and we thank you heartily. But you, who are wise, must know that different nations have different conceptions of things; and you will therefore not take it amiss, if our ideas of this kind of education happen not to be the same with yours. We have had some experience of it; several of our young people were formerly brought up at the colleges of the northern provinces; they were instructed in all your sciences; but, when they came back to us, they were bad runners, ignorant of every means of living in the woods, unable to bear either cold or hunger, knew neither how to build a cabin, take a deer, or kill an enemy, spoke our language imperfectly, were therefore neither fit for hunters, warriors, nor counselors; they were totally good for nothing. We are however not the less obliged by your kind offer, though we decline accepting it; and, to show our grateful sense of it, if the gentlemen of Virginia will send us a dozen of their sons, we will take great care of their education, instruct them in all we know, and make men of them."

- Benjamin Franklin (1784)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Using an existing law in Maharashtra to get govt to respond to excessive delays

For tackling extensive delays in government work on something that concerns you, here's a suggestion by Sailesh Gandhi, prominent RTI Activist, who then served as a Central Information Commissioner for a couple of years and who gave many landmark decisions (rare example of an aam aadmi being part of the Govt).

Awareness about this Act is likely to be low in various Govt. depts (unlike RTI), so consistent and persistent use of these provisions will also serve that purpose.

 YOU Can Get Prompt Action         

Many Citizens find that when they make applications for certain services or for some corrections or make a complaint or representation to Government bodies they get no response. Now there is a very powerful law in Maharashtra which can empower us.  If citizens use it with RTI it can result in better governance and delivery of timely services. Its name is a mouthful: 'Government Servants Regulation of Transfers and Prevention of Delay in Discharge of Official Duties Act (Act 21 of 2006)'. The first part –Chapter 2- specifies that government servants must have a tenure of three years and should normally be transferred only in April or May. If this is violated reasons must be given. Citizens can use this to curb arbitrary transfers of good officers like Khemka or Pardeshi.

The second part, Rule 10 effectively says that no decision on any file can take more than 45 days if a matter has to be decided within the department, and no more than 90 days where other departments have to be consulted.  Rule 10 (3) [ 64C for BMC] along with the rules requires the competent authority to do a preliminary investigation within 15 working days and take disciplinary action if negligence is established.

In short if an application/complaint/representation has received no response for over 90 days, if the citizen brings it to the notice of the competent authority (Secretary of the department), the Secretary is obliged to take steps to fix responsibility for dereliction of duty.

If you have received no response to your application/complaint/representation in Maharashtra please send a letter on the following lines to the Secretary of the department:

    " I had given my application for……….. on ………….. Since then I have received no communication. I would like to draw your attention to Section 10 of the Transfers and Delays Act 21 of 2006/ ( 64C of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act) which mandates that no decision can be kept pending for over 3 months. In the instant case, no decision has been communicated to me despite the lapse of…… months. I request to conduct a preliminary enquiry to fix responsibility on the officers responsible for this delay and take appropriate disciplinary action against them. I request that the report of the enquiry may please be sent to me.

     I look forward to your early action in the above matter,"

Infinite growth and family honour

We really need to question the ethic of infinite growth in material wealth, when applied to families, legacy and honour. If Dhirubai Ambani's sons had been a couple of "lazy bums" who had no interest in taking their father's empire forward; if Mukesh and Anil were just content to live off the multiple lifetimes of riches they'd inherited, then India wouldn't be in the mess she is in right now. This "dharma" of taking forward your father's "samraajya", protecting his legacy, and multiplying already good-enough wealth at all costs, is causing immense harm to everyone. There are other ways of growing after the material aspect has been done : spiritual, logical, empathic. Heck, even if a silver spoon son gets wasted on booze n drugs etc, he's still doing the world a favor by internalizing the destruction rather than externalizing it, but look how we'd treat him.

Look up the life work of John Robbins and Foster Gamble to see how much more they've given to the world by walking away from their parents' business empires and using their inheritance for the good of the planet. Simple living is a lot more honourable than being a "badaa aadmi". So to all well-off parents, please avoid pushing your kids into becoming planet-rapers. Our current benchmarks of ethics and family honour are seriously messed up.

proponents and opponents : what if they're both right?

My comment on

I'm finding myself agreeing with all the sides, and by extension disagreeing with their disagreements.

Conspicuous by absence are the writer's views on ETs, UFOs, free energy and the questions of who carried out the 9/11 attacks : were they really done by terrorists or were they a meticulously planned, inside job to garner justification for the terrible wars that have followed, which, I'll add is inextricably linked with the topics that the author does cover: the world's financial state, dependence on fossil fuels, agribusiness etc. We need to know the truth about 9/11 to really see how such huge amounts of wealth were diverted from doing good for the world to doing immense harm.

I too concur that global warming / climate change is really happening and is being caused by human fossil fuel usage. But I also agree that this issue is being taken disadvantage of by the world elite to justify global taxation, policing, new world order. By doing so, they are not really doing anything to solve the climate crisis, and on top of it, blocking of the very things that can solve the climate crisis. This is manifesting in many ways already : indigenous communities are being stopped from gathering firewood, to stop pollution and preserve forests, while their government lets industries clear-cut several times more forests. People are being prevented from having off-the-grid homes, from collecting their own rainwater or treating their own waste, citing interpretations of UN health/sanitation standards. Big government is actively working around the world to prevent people from solving climate change problems, taking the mantle on itself and then doing nothing or worse.

On the issue of governments, I think there is a mistake in imagining that there can be either full government or zero government. In fact, I see this black-or-white absolutist mentality causing a lot of the problems. There were times in most parts of the world when the state mostly kept its nose out of day-to-day affairs and when the people formed their own direct governments at village scale. Gandhi's concepts of Swaraj call for those kinds of governance, rather than the abusive, divisive Westminster models that are being assumed as the only model of democracy.

So it's kind of confusing. I agree that the us/them divide cannot solve the problems. But I also agree that there are forces at work doing bad things on this planet with an agenda of enriching themselves at the expense of everyone else. You can say that these people may be thoroughly infected with the us/them divisions, and while we should work to heal them, we better not keep allowing them to kill us all while we're trying to heal them. It might be a good idea to restrain them during treatment.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Fwd: Swaraj University Orientation round for 2014-16 program, 31 May - 1 June 2014, @Udaipur, Rajasthan

Swaraj University admissions are now open for the 5th batch of khoji-learners. Please mark the dates for 1st Round of Orientation: May 31 and June 1, 2014.
For more info, please write to <> and check out

Scroll down to read about experiences of some of the Khojis!

Stories from the journey of some khojis from the 2012-14 batch:

​Coming from a small village near Amritsar, 21 year old Kamalbir Kaur was, at the time of joining Swaraj, a withdrawn, shy girl who had just graduated but wasn't sure what she wanted to do in life. She was disturbed by reckless consumerism in society and wanted to do something about it. At Swaraj she found the time, the space and the trusted peer group to groom her creativity and her passion for stopping waste. She found her calling when she tried her hand at the sewing machine, was glued to it for several days and started churning out bags, purses, wallets etc made from waste materials. She hasn't looked back since; she visited various handicrafts organizations in the country like Karm Marg and Green the Gap. Learning from their models, she has now started a social enterprise of her own, selling her designer line of bags and other accessories all made from waste materials. She has trained and employed some girls from a nearby village and is working on increasing output to meet the rising demand for her bags from friends, exhibitions and handicraft stores. Social inclusion, women's empowerment and zero-waste philosophies are high priorities for this budding entrepreneur. When asked about the subtler shifts during her journey in Swaraj, Kamalbir talks about her increased self-confidence, positivity, rigour, and ability to understand and work with all kinds of people learned from the experiences of starting an enterprise from scratch. She envisions a future where she can spread the idea of simple living and ending consumerism.

Nikhil Sheth, 28, from Pune, left a corporate job in the IT sector in 2010 to spend time understanding the world and find his true calling. After some volunteering and a brief stint with an educational NGO, his explorations led him to Swaraj University. Here, he found the supportive peer group and autonomy in determining his learning that he had been searching for. With a broad vision of transitioning to a sustainable and happy world, he has dabbled in various fields, from rethinking education to event management, web design for social causes to organic farming and off-the-grid living. He is passionate about connecting people and dreams about living a life close to nature. He says that the program gave him radically different and deep perspectives into the root causes behind various social issues, and linked him up to a huge national and international community of change-makers and problem solvers. He plans to take the idea of Swaraj (self-rule) and gift culture forward and work on throwing the spotlight on the many little-known solutions and alternatives that can solve most problems.

Nachiketa Doctor, 23, from Baroda, grew up diagnosed as a "dyslexic" child. After failing to clear class 10 several times and not being able to find suitable avenues for growth, he came to Swaraj University in 2012. His love for animals took him to internships with animal treatment and rescue organizations. Simultaneously he was exploring his interests in music and dance. A volunteering stint at a weeklong conference in Pune introduced him to event organization. After that, he started exploring the theater platform and there found a way to express himself and connect with people. He worked with theater groups in Kolkota and Delhi, and participated in a cross-country traveling theater tour with a 12-person group performing  "Mr.India", a play about displaced communities. They did 34 shows in 5 states across the country including Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand and reached over 5000 people, performing at villages and settlements where displaced communities were residing. Through his involvement he has cultivated a deep understanding of various social justice issues. Asked what have been his learnings, he observes a big difference in his outlook towards the world, and narrates how finding his calling in theater and in caring for others helped him change his behavior and reactions to situations for the better. In the future, he hopes to open up theater for more kids who are being labeled as slow learners, and continue performing theater for social issues.

​Siddharth Yamkar, 22, hails from a mountainous tribal community in Maharashtra. Deeply unsatisfied with the lack of any real learning in his engineering course in Mumbai, he dropped out midway and joined Swaraj University in 2012. He believes in learning by doing and integrating hands-on work with design and planning. After a series of internships with pioneers in solar and pedal-powered technologies and experimenting with several self-designed projects, he has mixed his passion for machines with the ideas of sustainability to learn designing and fabricating end-to-end solutions for solar heating, electricity and more. He plans to be a renewable energy entrepreneur and is currently interning with SELCO, Bangalore. His creations include a solar charging backpack and a solar cooker made out of recycled materials.

Gift Economy

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