Thursday, March 19, 2015

Kisan MahaPanchayat in Delhi, memorandum to PM full text

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New Delhi, March 18th 2015: Major farmer unions of India affiliated with the All India Coordination Committee of Farmers Movement (AICCFM) have launched a massive agitation against NDA's anti-farmer policies, and to seek a resolution to several burning issues pertaining to farm livelihoods, on March 18th 2015 through a Kisan Maha Panchayat in the heart of India's capital. Thousands of farmers have resolved to stay put on Parliament Street in India's capital until the government engages them in a dialogue to resolve various burning issues. Anti-farmer measures through the Land Acquisition Ordinance, recent report of Shanta Kumar High Level Committee on restructuring FCI, the mindless push by the government of GM crops, lack of fair and remunerative prices for farm produce, demand for a farm income commission, removing agriculture from free trade agreements including WTO, adequate disaster relief for farmers etc., are issues on the agenda of these farm unions. The acute farm distress in India, marked by unabated farm suicides was flagged as a matter that needs urgent addressal. It is reported that during the NDA Government since May 2014, more than 7000 farmers have committed suicide. The government, instead of increasing Budget allocation to deal with the agrarian crisis, has drastically reduced agriculture budget drastically from around 31 thousand crore in 2014-15 to around 25 thousand crores in 2015-16. In fact, the budget outlays for Dept of Agriculture and Cooperation as well as for animal husbandry and fisheries are down to the levels of budgetary allocations five years ago!

To protest against various anti-farmer policies, and to secure some long pending demands that will guarantee minimum living incomes to all farm households, thousands of farmers from all over India have congregated at the Kisan Maha Panchayat on Parliament Street in the heart of the capital today (March 18th 2015).

All the unions threatened to step up their agitation if the Ordinance-routed dilutions to the Land Acquisition Act of 2013 were not rolled back by the government. "In the current debate unfolding in the Parliament, we are watching out for those political parties which are ready to sacrifice farmers' interests as well as the food security interests of the country, in their mindless support for the industry. We would like to warn them that they will have to face increased opposition from citizens who are fighting for their basic right to livelihood. Even a preliminary prima facie analysis shows that at least 50% of the tens of lakhs of hectares that have been acquired in the name of land banks, industrial corridors, freight corridors, highways, airports and so on have remained unallotted or unutilized for the stated purpose – given that the average Indian farm household has just around one hectare of landholding, this means dispossession of lakhs of farmers straightaway, and this is totally unacceptable. In such a scenario, protecting farmers' interests without diluting consent and comprehensive impact assessment clauses in law becomes critical".

Shri Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, President, BKU Punjab said that various moves by the government in the past few months belie the BJP promises before elections that emphasized on increase in farmers' income with an acknowledgement that agriculture is the largest employer in India. "Whether it is the reported plans to dismantle the current procurement system in the country in the name of a High Level Committee report for restructuring FCI or the lack of any moves to announce MSPs that give a margin of at least 50% over cost of cultivation, it is apparent that this government is not committed to reviving agriculture or securing sustainable dignified incomes to farm households. We demand that the MSP should be at least 50% over cost of production, and that procurement systems in the country be strengthened further and not weakened in any way. We need a system which will create a win-win for food security of consumers and livelihood security of farmers", he said.

Speaking to media persons, Shri Rakesh Tikait, National Spokesperson, Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) demanded that the Government should set up a Farm Income Commission to guarantee minimum living incomes to all farm households. While such living incomes can be ensured through adequate, fair and remunerative price decisions coupled with procurement and other market intervention mechanisms, there is also a need to compensate for losses due to various natural calamities including wild animal attacks on crops. He also demanded that all arrears due to sugarcane farmers should be paid immediately and the same recovered later from the sugar industry.

"The government is exhibiting its pro-industry stance by pushing for unneeded, unwanted and unsafe GMOs in our farming. We want all open air field trials of GM crops stopped immediately in the country since such open air trials pose not only a risk of contamination but also risk of trade rejection. Further, any moves towards trade liberalization in agriculture whether through the WTO route or through free trade agreements are unacceptable to us. FTAs such as Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and EU India FTA will lead to slashing of agricultural tariff and allowing import of cheap subsidised foods which would further depress farmgate prices and drastically impact farmers' livelihood. The issues with Agreement on Agriculture are not limited to just MSP and procurement but the fact that we are getting priced out due to unfair and cleverly-camouflaged subsidies elsewhere. This is now a well-understood issue and the government has to ensure that AoA is removed from the WTO and that all FTAs being negotiated by the government should immediately drop any agriculture-related clauses", said Shri Yudhvir Singh, Convenor of the All India Coordination Committee of Indian Farmers Movements.

It is important to note that these farmer unions are not affiliated with any political party and farmers affiliated with these unions have come from far and wide, spending their own resources, to get their voice heard with the government and to assert their rights. 

For any communication in this regard, please contact:

Rakesh Tikait: +91-9219666799; Email:
Yudhvir Singh: +91-9868146405; Email:



18th March 2015

Shri Narendra Modi,
Prime Minister of India
7, Race Course Road
New Delhi - 110011.

Dear Sir,

Subject: Memorandum seeking resolution to various issues of concern for farmers of the country and for withdrawing recent anti-farmer policies and measures – reg.

We, farmer leaders associated with All India Coordination Committee of Farmers Movement (AICCFM), are very disappointed with the NDA government policy reforms on agriculture which are unfortunately not directed for the benefit of millions of small and marginal farmers but are mainly to benefit a handful of corporates to augment their profit. We were quite hopeful that under your leadership, we would see a big support for agriculture sector and a concrete plan to deal with the on-going agrarian crisis. But in 300 days of your leadership, we have not seen any tangible gains. Agrarian crisis has become more acute and farmers' suicides are continuing unabated. We fear that the pro-corporate agricultural policy reforms in this NDA rule will further worsen our situation.

Today, more than 50 thousand farmers assembled at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi and held a Kisan Maha Panchayat to protest against your government's anti-farmer policies on agriculture. The objectionable Land Acquisition Ordinance which is bound to worsen farm livelihoods, recent report of Shanta Kumar High Level Committee on restructuring FCI, the mindless push by the government of GM crops, lack of fair and remunerative prices for farm produce, and our long-pending demand for a farm income commission etc., were the key issues which was raised by the farmers leaders at Jantar Mantar. In this age of diminishing farm returns and increasing inflation, where official data points to incomes from cultivation in agricultural households being far lower than statutory minimum wages for unskilled work, farmers are agitating to secure a long pending demand for income support that will guarantee minimum living incomes to all farm households.

Through this memorandum, members of the AICCFM would like to seek resolution of some burning issues, failing which we will be forced to launch a massive agitation against NDA's anti-farmer policies. These include:

1.      The Land Acquisition Ordinance: The Ordinance and the Bill in Lok Sabha completely reverses any pro-farmer provisions of the 2013 Act, which were brought about after decades of struggle by farmers and project displaced people. The changes being brought in by your government puts the Act back to the 1894 level. It is apparent that the key objective of amending the LARR Act 2013 is to get rid of all social safeguards that protected farmers against forcible and unjustifiable land acquisition in the name of public purpose or PPPs. We object your government's move to remove these safeguards especially, the mandatory approval of at least 70% and 80% of affected people for acquiring land for PPP projects and for private companies respectively; the provisions for 'No land without consent of people'; 'the scrutiny of public purpose'; mechanism of Social Impact Assessment with public participation in Social Impact Assessment; and No to multi-cropped land. At another level, it is seen that the government is also diluting other laws so that resource-grabbing by corporations is made easier.

The NDA government is ready to facilitate large-scale land acquisition and land grabbing for several so-called development projects, including for private sector, which will have serious impact on the livelihood security of the farmers and food security of our sovereign nation. Lakhs of hectares of land have already been acquired in the name of various development projects including freight corridors, industrial corridors, land banks, highways and so on. Some estimates put this in tens of thousands of square kilometres of land or lakhs of hectares of land. It is also reported that much of the land acquired is unallotted and under-/un-utilised by the acquirer, especially against the purpose for which it has been acquired. While there is a need for a White Paper to be issued by the government on the exact status of acquisition, compensation, utilisation put of that land for the initial-stated reason, resettlement and rehabilitation of displaced etc., it has to be remembered that in a country where the average landholding is just around one hectare of land for a majority of landholders, this magnitude of land acquisition is a direct denial of livelihood rights of lakhs of Indians.

The AICCFM farmers demand an immediate withdrawal of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill (Amendment) Bill 2015 even though it has been cleared by the Lok Sabha early this month and the same should not be tabled in Rajya Sabha at all. We urge the government to listen to the mood of the nation on the subject. The overwhelming demand is that the Ordinance should be scrapped. In fact, any deficiencies in the 2013 Act should be addressed rather than weaken the legislation against farmers' interests.

2.      Provide Remunerative Price for Farmers Produce and Implement C2+50: Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), in its manifesto (2014) announced that it will ensure that agriculture becomes profitable. The party and its leaders had promised to implement Swaminathan Commission Report's (2005) recommendation to provide MSP based on Cost of production (C2) plus 50% as profit margin. However, even after forming the central government, NDA has made no attempt to implement this promise; further, the MSP announcements have been extremely disappointing. We demand from the BJP government that it fulfil its commitment as announced in its manifesto and provide remunerative price for farmers produce, at C2+50%.

3.      Shanta Kumar High Level Committee Report and Recommendation on Restructuring FCI: Farmers' organisations all over the country are quite outraged at the Anti-Farmer and Anti-Food-Security recommendations of the High Level Committee (HCL) on Restructuring of Food Corporation of India (FCI). The recommendations are essentially a U-turn on BJP promises made in the manifesto which favoured universal food security. The HLC report recommends that FCI step out of procurement operations in addition to asking for dilution of the National Food Security Act (NFSA) to reduce its coverage from present 67% to 40% which would be disastrous not only for the livelihood of millions of farmers but will affect food security of the millions of India's landless, poor and destitutes. And in order to finish the MSP system, this committee recommended bringing in the cash transfer in the food security programme. We demand that the government announce that these recommendations are not acceptable to it and therefore, will not be taken on board.

4.      Write off all farm loans: The latest NSSO findings on agricultural households shows the levels of indebtedness of agricultural households. Today, the unabated phenomenon of farmers' suicide indicates that Indian farmers are reeling under such loan burden from institutional sources and private moneylenders. Farmers' leaders demand that the NDA government must write off all institutional loans of farmers. Government must also instruct public banks and cooperatives banks to give fresh loans to farmers at 0% interest.

5.      Institute Government Policy to compensate loss due to Natural Calamity: Farmers' leaders demand that the NDA government bring in a Union Policy to compensate farmers for the crop loss due to natural calamity. There should be a clear-cut provision for irrigated and non-irrigated farmers for compensation. The Government must also institute an Emergency Fund to provide compensation to farmers on an urgent basis in case of crop loss due to natural calamities, like floods, heavy rains and drought as well as wild animal attacks.

Certain parts of India, especially Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir have witnessed heavy rain and hail storm in last one week (in March 2015) which destroyed standing crops of wheat, mustard, cotton and horticulture crops like apples. We demand from your government a grant Rs. 30,000 per acre for food crops, Rs. 50,000 for cash crops and to bring in proper measures to compensate horticulture farmers as soon as possible for their loss.

6.      Trade Liberalization in Agriculture: We urge the NDA government not to allow any trade liberalization in agricultural goods through WTO or FTAs. Given the unabated and disguised subsidies given elsewhere to agricultural produce, Indian farmers end up making huge losses, when such subsidised produce gets imported. Farmers unions demand from Indian government to move a proposal in the WTO to remove Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) from WTO. Farmers also demand that agriculture-related provisions from all FTAs negotiated by the Indian government must be dropped.

7.      Institute Farmers' Pay Commission: Farmers demand from the NDA government to institute a Farmers Income Commission whose mandate will be to ensure minimum living incomes in a guaranteed fashion to all farm households. Through this commission, government must ensure income to farmers which is equal to the salary of a 4th Grade government employees to help them live a dignified life.

8.      NO to GMOs: Farmers unions would like to remind the NDA government to stay true to their earlier stand of utmost precaution with regard to GMOs, which their state governments are still reflecting at this point of time. GMOs are unneeded, unwanted and unsafe in our food and farming systems and we demand that the government do not allow any open air field trials of GMOs, further commercialisation or import of any Genetically Engineered seeds or crops or trees.

9.      Pay Arrears to Sugarcane Farmers: Sugarcane farmers have not received their arrears for the last two years. We demand that instead of forcing sugar industries to pay to farmers, the government instead pay all arrears due to sugarcane farmers immediately and collect the same from the industry.

We would like to have your intervention on these issues of major concern for farmers and we hope that you would soon take appropriate measures to address our concerns in a substantive and solid fashion.

Kind regards,

Ch. Naresh Tikait,

Dewanchand Chaudhury,
Vice President,

Yudhvir Singh,

Rajpal Sharma,

Ratan Singh Mann
BKU President

Rajesh Chouhan

Ajmer Singh Lakhowal,
State President,
BKU Punjab

Balram Lambardar,
Vice President,

Satnam Singh Cheema,

Virender Singh
BKU, Delhi

KT Gangadhar
Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, Karnataka

Jagdish Singh,
BKU, Madhya Pradesh

Vijay Jawandhia,
Shetkari Sanghatan,

KS Puttanaiah (MLA),
Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, Karnataka

K. Sella Mutthu,
President, Tamil Nadu Farmers Association, Tamil Nadu

Uzhavar Ulaippalar Katchi,
Tamil Nadu Farmers Association

S S Gill,
BKU Himachal

Chamarasa Patil
Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, Karnataka

Vidyadhar Okhla,
BKU, Rajasthan

For any communication in this regard, please contact:

Rakesh Tikait: +91-9219666799; Email:

Yudhvir Singh: +91-9868146405; Email:

Did you know that Monsanto doesn't allow independent research on its seeds?

When we hear that "there isn't sufficient evidence to prove that GM foods are harmful to health", maybe this is why?

However, at least this research project managed to get away with some independent research on GM foods:
Next time someone tells you "there is no evidence to prove...", do check whether there has been any real effort made to look for that evidence or not. Blindly assuming things would be anti-science now, won't it?

That's part 7 of an 8-part series of articles; synopsis below:

Eight Ways Monsanto Fails at Sustainable Agriculture

Monsanto aggressively touts its technology as vital to achieving laudable goals such as ensuring adequate food production, responding to the challenge of global warming, and reducing agriculture's negative impacts on the environment.

The reality is not so flattering. In fact, Monsanto has held back the development of sustainable agriculture, and continues to do so, in several ways:

#1: Promoting Pesticide Resistance

Monsanto's RoundupReady and Bt technologies lead to resistant weeds and insects that can make farming harder and reduce sustainability.

#2: Increasing Herbicide Use

Roundup resistance has led to greater use of herbicides, with troubling implications for biodiversity, sustainability, and human health.

#3: Spreading Gene Contamination

Engineered genes have a bad habit of turning up in non-GE crops. And when this happens, sustainable farmers—and their customers—pay a high price.

#4: Expanding Monoculture

Monsanto's emphasis on limited varieties of a few commodity crops contributes to reduced biodiversity and, as a consequence, to increased pesticide use and fertilizer pollution.

#5: Marginalizing Alternatives

Monsanto's single-minded emphasis on GE fixes for farming challenges may come at the expense of cheaper, more effective solutions.

#6: Lobbying and Advertising

Monsanto outspends all other agribusinesses on efforts to persuade Congress and the public to maintain the industrial agriculture status quo.

#7: Suppressing Research

By creating obstacles to independent research on its products, Monsanto makes it harder for farmers and policy makers to make informed decisions that can lead to more sustainable agriculture.

#8: Falling Short on Feeding the World

Monsanto contributes little to helping the world feed itself, and has failed to endorse science-backed solutions that don't give its products a central role.

Up in arms over the #beefban? Here's something you should see

Up in arms over the #beefban ?

It's ironic that while most of the world's intellectuals, progressives
and sustainability-advocates are passionately advocating a drastic
cut-down in consumption of meat from present levels, India's
intellectuals are knee-jerking to a well-timed beef-ban order passed
by the Maharashtra government recently. (Notice how something else
we're supposed to be focusing upon is being continuously sidelined?)
So the progressives in India, at least in this topic, are going in
completely the opposite way the world's progressives are moving. A
person opposing beef consumption in the west is branded a secular
tree-hugging nonviolent hippie, while someone saying the same thing in
India risks being labeled a far-right fundamentalist!

Something's not right here. India and the rest of the world aren't on
completely separate planets that spin in opposite directions. We have
things in common. Especially the biosphere of this planet that we

I'm attaching an infographic that highlights the shocking numbers of
the price this planet has to pay for beef. Go search on the net and
you'll find more stuff. Check out a movie called "Cowspiracy". The
international beef consumption is actually causing as much or more
greenhouse gas emissions than the world's transport sector. Did you
know that? One of the biggest causers of climate change is an eating
habit which could easily switch over tomorrow. Beef consumption is
literally the "holy cow" that several organizations talking about
climate destabilization don't want to touch.

See the infographic here:
Or see the attachment.

Mind, there is nobody among these scores of activists all around the
globe telling you or India's poor folks not to have meat (So stop
being so defensive! Breathe out... breathe in.. say Ooohhhhhmmmm...).
Remember the case of Easter Island? Of how they cut down all their
trees and ultimately collapsed? That's what's happening here. Excess
of something is bad for everybody, and there is a serous excess of
beef production+consumption happening on this planet right now. Bans
should be opposed of course. But not to the extent of destroying the
larger cause of having a sustainable planet to live on. Not to the
extent of declaring beef parties and eating it when you didn't need
to, just to show how democratic you are.

Rather, a constructive out-of-the-box way to deal with #beefban is as follows:
1. Identify the economically weak segments of society that currently
depend upon beef consumption for their essential nutrients intake.
2. Study the local geography, land use patterns etc.
3. Campaign for getting these communities access to ways they can grow
their own food, or otherwise secure alternative healthy sources of
nutrition at same or cheaper expense. Like access to vacant lots
without needing ownership, or assistance in setting up microfarms like
how Venezuela is doing.
4. Chances are that you'll find the root causes behind poor
communities' reliance on beef consumption are some bigger historical
injustices that need to be undone. Simply opposing a ban and stopping
there won't do anything to address those larger injustices.. heck, we
might end up continuing them.

Couple of points I want to make about the tendency of activism:

1. Being extremely rigid about a few pre-selected principles (like our
right to choose what to eat and what not to) while casually giving a
pass to other equally important ones (like our duty to be a
responsible consumer who doesn't harm the planet) really only makes
one.. a fundamentalist! (ie, jo ek hi funda pe atkaa hua hai; aur kuch
bhi sunna nahin chahta)

2. It's not worth giving up long-term wisdom just to get all fiery and
riled up about a sudden ban happening somewhere. If we become like
that, then we have given the powers that be a way of gaming us,
manipulating us.. a no-brainer recipe for keeping the thinkers and
speakers amongst the citizenry distracted while they can get away with
their more subtle and far-reaching actual plans. Apart from being
utterly useless, sudden decisions like bans are also diversion tactics
in the psy-ops war going on, delivered with excellent timing and
designed to distract. What we need is a measured response and
conscious allocation of priorities after taking the larger context
into consideration. Not beef-parties which would only end up
strengthening the logic for keeping the ban in place.

3. Reality is not binary; it is multi-faceted. Just because a segment
that you disagree with supports something doesn't mean you
automatically have to oppose it. Step away from binary logic. There
are several sectors emerging over the past decade where mainstream
science and academia have been proved disastrously wrong while
faith-based groups have been proven unexpectedly right, even if they
themselves didn't know exactly how they were right about it and even
if they're still wrong about a host of other issues. We need to be
intelligent and use mental filters instead of blockades.

Disclosure : The author of this email/post is a vegetarian. Duh.
PS: The focus on beef and not on other sources of meat or on milk
consumption is intentional and calculated. Message to the quire: One
step at a time, people. Let's pick our battles wisely.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Rodale Institute's report on side-by-side conventional vs organic Farming Systems Trial (FST) over 30 year period
Rodale Institute's report on side-by-side conventional vs organic
Farming Systems Trial (FST) over 30 year period.

Quick summary points:
1. Organic yields match conventional yields.
2. Organic outperforms conventional in years of drought.
3. Organic farming systems build rather than deplete soil organic
matter, making it a more sustainable system.
4. Organic farming uses 45% less energy and is more efficient.
5. Conventional systems produce 40% more greenhouse gases.
6. Organic farming systems are more profitable than conventional.

Documentary on rape issue that I feel is much better than #IndiasDaughter

I'd like to share about another documentary that I believe is way more effective in highlighting not just the issue of rape in India but even the systemic changes needed and the path ahead. And if we look from the perspective of distinguishing between retributive justice and restorative justice, then I believe this documentary goes the restorative way whereas "India's Daughter" goes the retributive way.

And I am personally of the opinion that documentary movies are supposed to be restorative and not retributive; that they should increase our level of consciousness, not our level of anger, and enable us to act from a space of positivity, even with the darkest of issues. I also strongly believe that looking at problems from a systemic perspective, where issues are interlinked, where we don't fall into the victim-perpetrator paradigm is necessary.

This documentary had some difference that it was part of a series of documentaries, had a talk show format, and managed to get screened.. just once... on a national television channel. Unfortunately, a lot of people who ought to have seen it missed it, and because it "already came once", don't put that much of an importance on watching it screening-style and having a real discussion on it. In short, we tended to discriminate against it because it has come on TV. The few times I've shared a proposal to screen it, I got a reply "lekin yeh toh already TV pe aa chuka hai na" as if I'm trying to re-telecast a Bigg Boss episode that happened 2 years ago. I get such a response even from people who hadn't seen it! :P. So a little rebranding maybe necessary.. would gladly welcome some inputs on it. I think screening this the way we screen other documentary films, and having a discussion on it, will be extremely helpful in really opening up a dialogue as well as bringing out actionable steps around womens issues.

Please click here to see this documentary and know more:

On youtube, this is available in many Indian languages:

(pls screen in the local language!)

Short clips here for those with slower net connections or seeing on mobile:

(change the "hindi" to other languages like "tamil", "marathi", "malayalam" etc in the link above)

PS: Personal opinion: If we prioritize to defiantly screen things just because an authority has officially banned it, or because it's "all the rage right now", then we're setting ourselves up for a well-laid trap of distraction and can be gamed by the powers that be.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Which kind of patriot do you choose to be?

Came across this graphic on twitter. OCR'd it!

PATRIOTISM: Having traveled quite extensively in the last 21 years, I
have met three types of people:

1. Those who have not seen the world or ever had a chance to
experience other cultures, but believe that their country is the best;

2. Those who have seen the world but felt like an outsider everywhere
(because they could not or would not bother to make an extra effort
to get to know other cultures) so they have decided that their country
is the best;

3. Those who have seen the world but they are so confused that they
consider doing anything patriotic or sounding remotely patriotic a
mild form of provincialism and backwardness (such people always
declare themselves as citizen of the world and term "global" is always
at the tip of their tongue);

4. then there is a fourth kind: those who are open to accepting
whatever has become less enchanting about their country and culture
and still be proud of what is good

---- the people belonging to the last category are the ones who take
their nation forward because understanding what is broken, is the
first step to fix it.

Credits: Aadya Shukla, .. don't know him though.. his message was shared
as a screenshot.

(Apologies for the blind assumption of being male.. Should've guessed from the content. Remarkable dose of wisdom and humility. Patriotism as it should be.)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Tagore's Sriniketan Experiment

In 1906, Tagore released his 15 point Village Reconstruction Charter in Pabna (now in Bangladesh). This document makes clear that making villages autonomous was chief among his concerns. It was necessary to use "indigenously made goods."

Further, all the village disputes had to be settled within through a process of village arbitration.

A community grain bank was necessary to guard against famines.

In a gesture towards the necessity of women's autonomy, the Charter asks that "housewives" be trained in a trade that could enhance the family's income.

While Tagore sought autonomy for villages, he did not wish that they remain isolated. In his view, it was necessary that "brotherhood" was cultivated between "hamlets, villages and districts."

A few of Tagore's concerns were generally shared by reform minded intellectuals and government officials: science and history had to be taught in village schools; and, demographic data had to be compiled meticulously for every village.

Many of his concerns were however unique. His Charter, for instance, stressed the need for building communal harmony and asked that the essence of all religions be taught in schools.

Call from Delhi govt for suggestions on public WiFi (10-point questionnaire)

Copied this from AAP's twitter timeline (across multiple tweets). It's a unique opportunity for tech entrepreneurs out there. If you have the tech know-how, here's a government waiting for you to come and deliver it. Don't miss it! ::

Reference: (and the tweets just before it)

Aam Aadmi Party government of Delhi wants to give its every citizen the 'Right to WiFi.'

The universal access to Internet is a transformative idea that can empower citizen.

Delhi Dialogue Commission has come up with a set of ten questions for a wider consultation to inform its work.

Q 1. How do you define public wifi? Kindly suggest case studies on public wifi from other parts of the world.

Q 2. What should be the ideal level of access to public wifi? Can it be made available right upto your doorstep? 1/2
Q 2. If yes, what are the feasibility and technological challenges? Or shud it be available at well-defined public spaces in neighbourhoods?

Q 3. What is the infrastructure and technology required to create the public WiFi network?

Q 4. What should be the essential services that a government should aim at providing through public WiFi?

Q 5. What is the capex and opex required to create and operate public WiFi?

Q 6. What could be a model that makes public WiFi viable, sustainable and scalable in terms of usage, technology and financials?

Q 7. Can public WiFi network be made financially self-sustainable if viewed from the welfare service perspective alone?

Q 8. Should there be multiple operators or an exclusive operator in a well-defined zone of the city?

Q 9. What could be the operating architecture that brings all the stake holders together?

Q 10. What are the advantages and disadvantages of a private enterprise model vis a vis a PSU model?

#AAP govt would like to invite suggestions, viewpoints nd recommendations to each of the above 10 questions on its email id

Read "The Moneyless Manifesto" by Mark Boyle online, or download

Friday, March 13, 2015

Spirit Science : animated video series

My friend pointed me to some very interesting videos titled "Spirit
Science" on youtube..

covering thoughts, chakras, geometry, cosmic stuff... all animated.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Why you should support forced vaccinations

A commentary on the arguments I have seen that support forced vaccinations. Being the devil's advocate...

Everything is simply co-incidence, the warnings written on the labels are just for show, and the blanket zero-liability laws and blanket exemptions from safety testing are also mere formalities that don't have any relation with reality.

Medical procedures banning registering of any complications that immediately followed the shot as linked to the shot are perfectly ok, and so is ending the careers of medical professionals who worried for their patients and pointed out such a linkage.

There is no need to address that CDC whistleblower case, we can just pretend the leak never happened.

Everything is backed by very very very very very very good science, and all those very's should absolve us of any obligation to present any actual research or test that was explicitly looking for any problems.

Evidence is completely unnecessary when full assurance is given. We're supposed to trust the authorities, there's no need for them to earn our trust.

Open trials with the entire population where anything that goes wrong can be easily attributed away to 100s of other environmental factors, should be accepted as scientific evidence that see, since we're all not extinct yet, it must be safe.

It's a very noble cause which co-incidentally yields extremely high profit margins every year for a few corporations that hold patents on species-saving essentials, proving once and for all that yes, government-backed monopolistic capitalism can and will save the world.

I'd have to sincerely believe in all of the above to be 100% on board with the forced vaccination agenda.
As matters currently stand, I do not.

PS: Kindly note the emphasis on the term "forced". You wanna beat up just the anti-vaccination people? Go elsewhere, buddy. And don't forget the inhaler / tablets.
PPS: No, I'm not trying to prove anything here, hence no references to "proofs". This is a satire piece. Co-incidentally, the pro-forced-vaccination page that prompted this satire also did not bother referencing one single piece of evidence, and they were actually trying to make a point and convince people.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Report from Vikalp Sangam, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, held in Feb 2015

Gathering of Tamil Nadu groups near Madurai

The Vikalp Sangam held near Madurai recently, was a rejuvenating and recharging experience for folk who have worked on development issues for decades. The difference was, this was not merely another talk shop. Ashish Kothari of Kalpavriksh, a founding person behind the series of gatherings for 'Another world is possible', outlined the fact that everyone present knows that we are slowly but surely destroying the earth and creating more and more inequalities. The question is what can we do about it. The inspiring part was the many, many people who are doing something concrete and positive to save the planet, who told their inspirational stories.

This was not a place for arm-chair activists to hold forth on the problems of the world. Here, we listened to a multitude of people, young and old, who have done years of conservation work to green the earth. To feed us with  healthy organic grains and vegetables, to reforest arid lands and to bring back valuable ancient wisdom, so the younger generation can continue the work begun by iconic people like Nammalwar, founder of the biggest organic farmers' movement in Tamilnadu.

Coming of Age -- the Organic Community of India

Coming of Age: the Organic Community of India
Bharat Mansata

The largest organic farming confluence in the world – over 2,500 participants from 22 states of India – gathered at the National Organic Convention in Chandigarh from Feb 28 to March 2, 2015. The flood of registrations had to be stopped a month in advance. Such zeal surely signals the growing recognition of agro-ecology as a burning imperative of our times, reflecting the Convention aim to 'Mainstream Organic Farming!'  

At the concluding session, Shri Prakash Singh Badal, Chief Minister of the frontline state of India's 'Green Revolution', ironically hailed organic agriculture as "the need of the hour," marking the full turn of a circle. He mourned the heavy burden of chemical poisons that the land, farmers and people of Punjab have had to bear, admitting sadly that "Mother Earth, Father Water, and Guru Air" have all been desecrated. Toxic pesticides have devastated the health of Punjab. "You people," said Badal – addressing a packed auditorium of organic farmers, seed savers, ecologists, scientists and activists – "are the heroes of this new struggle to save the nation!"

Sunday, March 8, 2015

A post-party politics and post-party democracy

"It seems to me that this outfit, whatever the name it decides to call itself by, will be a harbinger of what seems to be seeking to make its appearance worldwide – a post-party politics and post-party democracy. The possibility that it might become a party and yet not be one, is interesting and new – though I am aware that there are many among Kejriwal's confidantes who would like it to become a party right away. If these advisors have their way, we can rest assured that it will be the end of this interesting new experiment."

YESS this is what I've been thinking of it too!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Informal report on Jan Sabhas conducted in Pimpri-Chinchwad, Maharashtra as part of 2014-15 Participatory Budgeting cycle

Jan Sabhas conducted by Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC, Maharashtra) at all 6 administrative zones as part of 2014-15 Participatory Budgeting cycle

A personal, informal report by Nikhil V.J. who attended all the events mentioned as a member of Citizens Facilitation Network.

To strengthen this year's participatory budgeting process, the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation has taken a unique initiative, the first of its kind to happen in any Indian city (as far as we know), and conducted Jan Sabhas for all 6 zones (A to F) between 22 and 24 December 2014. Here, citizens who had submitted participatory budget suggestions were invited to interact with zonal officers and junior engineers from all departments, to find out about the technical feasibility of their suggestion. This process was facilitated by the Citizens Facilitation Network (CFN), which is a joint collaboration between Pimpri Chinchwad Citizens Forum (PCCF), Center for Environment Education (CEE) and Janwani. The member organisations brought their unique skillsets on board, including citizens outreach, in-depth data analysis, session facilitation, and timely and effective co-ordination with all stakeholders.

1. Participatory budget: PCMC sees massive increase in citizens' participation
A whopping 844 suggestions were received from citizens in PCMC this year : a significant growth from just 75 last year. This highlighted the increasing levels of public awareness in PCMC. One-third of these came from Zone A. Electoral ward no.16 (Akurdi Gaothan) scored the highest (83) number of suggestions made. Many citizens groups including senior citizens organisations contributed several suggestions, not just regarding their own localities but on behalf of all sections of society including the poor and those who make their living on the streets, who are much more dependent on public services like public toilets.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Interesting links for February 2015 - #AAP related
An open letter to Ms Kiran Bedi from Shabnam Hashmi
Delhi polls 2015: Arvind Kejriwal 2.0
The AAP 'funding scam' farce - Is the media plain stupid or a sellout?
Six lessens in affordable politics: AAP victory shows how elections can be fought on a shoestring budget
Arvind Kejriwal spoofs himself. Never seen a political leader be so cool with jokes about himself.

Interesting links for February 2015

Huge number of AAP-related links for Feb 2015... am separating them out in a separate post.
A wonderful school / community center in Chandigarh
A summary of plans for improving bus transport in Pune through people-friendly route maps
How female foeticide in India came about, and who were the first to blow the whistle about it
Nonviolent protesters are terrorists??
llustrative of what happens when the criminals are in charge of the proceedings.
"The UN has pulled endless stunts on Syria's Ambassador, with the obvious intent of distorting reality and prolonging the proxy war on Syria.

Ambassador al-Ja'afari maintains that he is routinely assigned the worst translators, to convolute his message. "Every time I speak at the Security Council (SC), they choose a bad interpreter who is not able to fully interpret what I am saying," he said. On one occasion at the SC, the Syrian Ambassador said he saw a staff member signal to the interpreters to switch the adept interpreter for the inept. "I saw it with my own eyes. They changed the interpreter to a poor one."

Ambassador al-Ja'afari is one of the only-if not the only-ambassadors to the UN to repeatedly over the years have his microphone and/or video feed cut when he speaks.

Correspondent Nizar Abboud has been an invaluable source of footage of the Syrian Ambassador's speeches otherwise unavailable thanks to cut UN feeds. Abboud says the cuts are not due to "technical problems," but instead often done "by senior officials at the United Nations." Of one such incident, Abboud said: "The journalists were furious about it, they wanted to hear what the Ambassador was saying and suddenly he went off air."

Can AAP supporters move beyond single-person politics?

Don't know how relevant this may seem, especially coming from a chronically inactive AAP supporter, but here goes:

Laying out my basic underlying assumptions:
I believe teamwork and multi-person leadership, is the real alternative to one-man-cult politics as personified by PM Modi. What will solve the nation's and indeed the world's problems is multilateralism and not unilateralism. It is about role-based leadership, with different kinds of team members stepping in, and more importantly, out, of different leadership requirements at dfferent times. The same rule that applies to this planet, also boils down to countries, movements, organizations, NGOs and even private companies, to teams that are working towards a common goal, and all the way down to the family. Everywhere I have noticed the same pattern : when leadership gets concentrated with just one person or a permanent exclusive group of people, things start to go wrong. And that is not because of any bad intentions on the person's part, mind : Even in a family running on patriarchal values, the father / grandfather isn't evil. It is the STRUCTURE of the system that centralizes leadership that makes bad things happen due to the weakening of proper checks and balances. Our problems are systemic. Replacing one bad supreme leader with a "good" supreme leader is not going to solve the problems, as several friends of mine honestly assumed it would.

Moving beyond single-person politics:
For participants in movements, this is where the difference between being a mindless fan and a mindful follower makes its mark. It requires that while trusting good leaders and working whole-heartedly under their guidance, we take care to pledge a higher degree of allegiance to the ideas and values, beyond the person. And that we prepare ourselves for the day when we will have to choose between our leaders and our core values. In 1947, if the members of the Congress party had given the ideas of Swaraj, nonviolence, self-reliance, Nai Talim etc more importance than they gave to Gandhi, then Congress would not have been taken over by corrupts.

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