Thursday, March 19, 2015
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!
Ch. Naresh Tikait,
Ratan Singh Mann
Ajmer Singh Lakhowal,
Satnam Singh Cheema,
Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, Karnataka
BKU, Madhya Pradesh
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,
Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, Karnataka
Eight Ways Monsanto Fails at Sustainable AgricultureMonsanto 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:
Monsanto's RoundupReady and Bt technologies lead to resistant weeds and insects that can make farming harder and reduce sustainability.
Roundup resistance has led to greater use of herbicides, with troubling implications for biodiversity, sustainability, and human health.
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.
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.
Monsanto's single-minded emphasis on GE fixes for farming challenges may come at the expense of cheaper, more effective solutions.
Monsanto outspends all other agribusinesses on efforts to persuade Congress and the public to maintain the industrial agriculture status quo.
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.
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.
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: http://wearebleat.tumblr.com/image/49943116504
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.
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:
Monday, March 16, 2015
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
(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
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.
Reference: https://twitter.com/AamAadmiParty/status/577096403496742912 (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 email@example.com
Another place to read it at, or download pdf:
Friday, March 13, 2015
Science" on youtube..
covering thoughts, chakras, geometry, cosmic stuff... all animated.
Thursday, March 12, 2015
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.
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Sunday, March 8, 2015
"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."
Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Informal report on Jan Sabhas conducted in Pimpri-Chinchwad, Maharashtra as part of 2014-15 Participatory Budgeting cycle
Monday, March 2, 2015
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.
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."
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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