Friday, July 31, 2015

[Solutions] Nagpur region : 60k cu.ft. Lake built in 4 days, becomes biodiversity spot in 15 days, raises well's water level

From my friend Shweta whose family farms near Nagpur:

Hello everybody, I am very happy and excited to share that this July 2015 I with my father made a lake in our farm, this area in farm use to get water logged during rains and nothing can be grown and on contrary all the wells in this area are dry so the farmers has to depend on rain water, when we saw this area on Google map, we realized that there were the traces of rain water traveling from far area to this part of the farm so decided to dig a lake, soon we came to know about M.P. government Balram Talab yogna, and applied we also travelled to some nearby farms to see the existing ones, we dug this lake which measures 100ftx100ftx6ft in four days that was from 7july to 11july, and this Sunday on 26th July, i.e just in 15 days lake was full of water with fishes, tadpoles, snakes, insects, birds and lots of fireflies near lake :) . Also the water level of well has raised so much because of this lake...
I have also seen fox, peacocks and deers in village during summers in search of water, I hope this lake attracts a lot of biodiversity and also encourage other farmers to make small farm lakes... Thanks to Amitabh uncle who always always there to guide and encourage about water conservation, lake and always there for everything...

You can reach Shweta on shweta.bhattad[at]

Attached are photos of the lake; in case they got lost along the way, you can find them here:

PS: Kindly share with journalists you may know seeking to cover stories of positive change : this has happened just in the last 2 weeks.

What Sigmund Freud missed

..and then along came Sigmund Freud.. he delved into man's psyche, and he found something so scary, he ran straight out and didn't even bother searching any further. What he wrote of his findings became the instruction manual for governments and corporations on how to treat people, and the default assumption in the "civilized" world of the inherent nature of human beings.

Do you want to continue repeating Freud's mistake? Or do you want to pay attention to what the Old Cherokee had seen long before Freud's prematurely aborted quest?

Movie Recommendation : TOMORROWLAND

Once again..

(cartoon) Meanwhile, at World Skeptics HQ

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Can we please move on from the global warming logjam?

Comment on
(and I agree with what their findings are, btw)

Thanks for this. I wonder if we should also be looking at climate
EXTREMES instead of just warming? At least in the part of the world
where I live, there is testimony by our senior citizens about the
rainfall pattern during rainy season : that earlier we had a more
constant precipitation at low or moderate intensity (at times it would
rain "nonviolently" but constantly for a whole week or so.. we no
longer see rain like that now), but now we are having more dry days
and intermittent rainfalls at higher volume. When we average it out,
it's still more or less equal. But that's not what really matters, is
it? Our crops need the constant moderate rainfall, not dry spells with
intermittent violent showers that will damage the crops. For me it's
important to know if climate disruption is happening or not, and the
most crucial data in this are wind speeds and rain intensity. That too
not average, but rather actual day-to-day, hourly values and their
variations. Overall, average warming or cooling are irrelevant. At
best, the temperature-related data that is important is the DIFFERENCE
between max and min temperatures in the day, and over the year, for a
given location.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Pune's bus transit data : explanation and invitation to get involved

Hi Friends,

Getting around to describing an ongoing effort properly:

Today we have received bus route info data updated from PMPML, in the best form they can manage from their end. It's human-readable and machine-non-readable.

We need to reformat it to a machine-understandable standardized form which would then enable creation of apps, trip planners, GTFS feed, etc. I worked on such a format over the past few months, incorporating all the lessons we learnt in our initial encounters with the data (whose output you presently see on the website), and last month had proposed and gotten approval for such a format at a meeting with the new CMD. We even got some much appreciated data that had been prepared by ITDP in 2011. I then obtained a deport-wise breakup of the routes from the PMPML office. I then populated the 2011 data, split up depot-wise, into the standardized format. Below is the result of this exercise so far:

A snapshot of some of the data so you can get an idea of the structures:
..further down..

This spreadsheet uses data validation to ensure that every stop entered is one that is existing in an adjoining "stops" master list, snapshot below:

And here is the crucial gem : to have a proper bus routes database, you need to first have a standardized stops database, and all the routes must be built up from that stops database. ITDP's 2011 data had the stops properly standardized. In the spreadsheet, when you enter a new stop for a route, it does a Search-As-You-Type looking up this stops list and the user chooses the stop from the dropdown list.

It works with both Marathi and English (If you want to enter in English, fill in the column next to this. Marathi cell takes precedence over English in case both are filled). Being able to work with both languages is crucially important here.
You can try this out for yourself : go to the "sandbox" sheet and edit a route (just first tell me to add you to the spreadsheet editors list)

So.. we're ready with the container, now we have to put in the updated data. I plan to show PMPML staff how to update this themselves, but right now there's a large quantity of data that needs filling in, and I was wondering if anybody would like to help out? We have received the latest data from PMPML (in the original human-readable but machine unreadable form). This is what it looks like originally:

I'm converting the word file to excel and then the fonts to unicode marathi... here it is:

Of course, there would obviously be nothing better than a full-fledged high-tech routes management system for this.

I don't have the high-tech skills to make anything like that, but I was able to turn PMPML's verbally stated requirements into a technical design document with illustrations of what we need. You can see and download the design document here: (in the hopes that we might be able to find people who can help make this a reality).

So the google spreadsheet is a low-tech substitute to at least get working with what we have till we get to such a system. Because it is standardized, follows a clear logical order and doesn't have random blank lines, formatting etc, a programmer could convert the data there to something he/she is comfortable working with, like XML, JSON, or if they get it right, even GTFS feed. I was able to use some excel formulae to generate a KML file of the routes of one depot. So this is essentially a middle-step that would reformat PMPML's data to a machine-readable plus human-readable and editable form that an app developer can then make use of. (Just FYI, GTFS format is NOT human-readable, so please don't expect anybody to go manually editing 6 lakh line long GTFS feeds, that's never going to happen. See an analysis here. GTFS would be the output of a good routes management system. Lekin system kya apna chacha banaayega? :P)

I also have a clear goal to prioritize openness of data and ownership of PMPML (and by extension, commuters of Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad) over the data : they should be able to edit it when they need to and the data should not get divorced away from them like it has happened the last few times. Keeping things as simple and usable as possible is priority, so if you can suggest ways to do more of that then it would be great.

So inviting your involvement with this, in whichever form is most comfortable for you. You could even do this as an internship (we'll figure out certification formalities, don't worry) You could edit existing routes, fill in missing routes or stops, point out apocalypse-causing errors, get to work on making a sexy routes management system,  go to PMPML and train the staff there to populate this, etc etc. If you volunteer to edit information for a depot, I'll add you to the spreadsheet and selectively unlock that depot's sheet for you to edit. Or just share this email with groups who you think might be able to help. Please feel free to write back to me on nikhil.js [at] if you have any queries.

PS: Just to clarify, I'm not involved with the website of PMPML. I only volunteered to help with the bus routes data when there was a need to convert data in Shree-Dev font to Unicode Marathi.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

About the QEG (Quantum Energy Generator) project

Cross-posting from

Why This Project Is Important:

Help us Spread Suppressed Knowledge to the Engineers that Can Build
the Solutions We All Need.

The reason this information is so important is because you won't find
any other set of information out there like this that teaches
engineers how to build a device that utilizes technology that has been
suppressed and underutilized for 130 years. This knowledge was banned
from engineering universities because it was a threat to the profits
of the energy industry. But everything is changing now. The energy
grids are old, out dated and failing along with the monopolies that
control them. We have to research alternative solutions to replace
them before the current system fails.

Like, solar, wind, and magnetics, the QEG utilizes yet another form of
renewable energy called radiant, or dominant energy. The QEG is a
switched reluctance motor and this technology is not new, and has now
finally come back into use. Switch reluctance motors are poised to
lead in the alternative energy industry of the future despite any
newer, fancier technologies that may come out. This is because of
their simple construction and low manufacturing costs. In fact this
technology is already being utilized today in major motor
manufacturing companies such as HVCT, who has developed their switched
reluctance motor technologies to empower the next generation of
electric motors.

Fix the World wants to help get this knowledge directly into the hands
of the people and we want to do so without patents and restrictions.
We need your help to get this information translated into as many
languages as possible.

Explaining the Suppression of this Knowledge:

You may have heard the words "Free Energy" and perhaps you felt
skeptical or found some of the explanations of this concept confusing.
What I'd like to do right now is try to make this very simple for
everyone to understand in practical terms and take some of the mystery
out of the concept of "Free Energy".

So basically there are two kinds of energy that exist in the world.

One kind everyone knows about because we use this energy to power
everything in our lives. The devices used to create this energy are
called closed systems. In these systems you have to blow something up,
or burn something, or consume something like wood, gas or coal in
order to create energy that you can use. All of these systems are
incredibly wasteful and were designed to ensure that you consume as
much coal, oil, or gas as you possibly can. They all require a lot
more energy in, just to produce a smaller amount of energy out. All
that extra energy that you are putting into the device is just being
wasted in heat production, which is why we always have to have a fan
on a motor in order to blow out all the wasted heat.

The second kind of energy very few people know about. The devices used
to create this kind of energy are called open systems. In these
systems, you work with the energy that is already there to help
accumulate it and convert it into a useable form. You do not need to
consume something in order to create energy like oil, coal or gas, and
all energy that is created within these devices is cycled back into
the device and used, so none of it is wasted. These forms of energy
devices are not "magical" they are very real. Think about it. Does the
sun need to purchase fuel from an energy company to keep shining? How
about the wind? Or flowing water? Or magnets? All of these are forms
of natural energy and we can build devices that can capture these
forms of energy and convert them into electricity that we can use.
Electricity that does not require fuel and waste.

So by now you might be asking, "If there are really two ways to create
energy devices, why are we only using the most wasteful systems? And
if there is another kind of system that we could use to be more
efficient, why do so few people know about them? We had this same
question, and when we did the research, we found that the knowledge
about this kind of energy and how to build efficient open systems was
purposefully redacted from all engineering institutions over 100 years
ago in order to help monopolize the energy companies and bring them
big profits.

Now this next part is really important, because ultimately what we the
people are trying to do with this campaign, is to help undo the damage
that was done 130 years ago.

You see, back in the late 1800's a series of events occurred that
would shape the next century of our industrial development.

James Clerk Maxwell was a famous physicist, his biggest achievement
was to formulate a set of equations that describe electricity. These
are the same formula's that are taught to electrical engineers all
over the world to this day. Except Maxwell identified two separate
systems in his ORIGINAL work: a closed system and an open system.

One year after Maxwells death, in a series of moves that were financed
by J.P. Morgan and Thomas Edison, all knowledge of open systems was
removed from all of Maxwells work and banned from all educational

This was done back then to ensure that the greedy energy industries
would keep making us pay for the oil, coal and gas required to create
energy in their closed devices and systems. As a result, the systems
we have are outdated and on the verge of collapsing, we are being told
that the resources needed to run these devices are running out, and we
have millions of engineers graduating from prestigious universities
with absolutely no education on how to build the efficient open system
devices we need to solve our impending problem.

The Energy Grid is Failing

You see, the electricity that we pay a fortune for is becoming more
and more unreliable. It seems like people are loosing power every time
even a mild storm would blow through. And its no secret why this is
happening, and why power outages and extended failures will be
happening more and more and for longer periods of time for everyone in
the coming years. The cold hard truth is, our energy grids are
completely outdated. In fact a decent amount of the energy grid was
constructed over 100 years ago, and most of the equipment on the grid
is already running 20 years past its life expectancy. For example, In
America, The American society of civil engineers actually gave the
energy grid a grade of D+ and said that unless it gets a 673 Billion
dollar overhaul within the next year, the energy grid could completely
break down, which would lead to a wide spread energy crisis. And
currently there is no National plan to make these updates. And every
day the grid gets worse, and continues to rapidly age.

We don't have an Energy Crisis. We have a suppression of clean
technology crisis. And it's time the people take the knowledge and the
power back into their own hands and do something about it.

In this campaign that is for the people and by the people, we are
doing our part to do just that. We are focusing on making sure the
knowledge on how to build these open systems is put into the hands of
the engineers who can build them. If we spread this knowledge now,
these devices can be built and developed so that we have an
alternative to replace our failing grid before millions of families
everywhere in well populated areas are left for weeks or even longer
without the energy they need to survive.

Right now, times are changing. The monopolies are breaking down along
side their outdated technology. It's time to lift the suppression of
this knowledge and share it with every engineer we can in their own

-- Cross-posting from

Saturday, July 11, 2015

[Article] 6 lessons from Spain's democratic revolution

Cross-posting from by Erica Sagrans . I originally saw it on

On May 24, the Barcelona En Comú coalition celebrates winning the city's mayoral race and 10 city council seats. Photographs by Robert Pluma.

Web Only / Views » May 29, 2015

6 Lessons for the U.S. from Spain's Democratic Revolution

How Spain's 15M movement went from occupying city squares to city halls—without compromising its independence

BY Erica Sagrans

An important part of progressives' recent electoral success can be traced to a strong network of locally organized 'social centers' across Spain. These are spaces where community members can interact and share ideas, whether that means organizing a demonstration, taking Zumba classes or checking out library book.

When tens of thousands of people occupied city squares across Spain in the spring of 2011 as part of the 15M movement, their demand was simple: ¡Democracy Real Ya!—"a real democracy," instead of the corrupt, top-down system that had failed to address the country's skyrocketing foreclosures and unemployment.

On Sunday, May 24, Spain took a huge step towards the kind of radical democracy that the occupiers envisioned. In municipal elections, Barcelona, Madrid and several other cities elected new mayors or governments from progressive platforms that have emerged out of the 15M movement.

In Barcelona, the new mayor is Ada Colau, co-founder of the anti-foreclosure group called the PAH (Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca/Platform of People Affected by Mortgages), which has moved families that need housing into empty, bank-owned buildings. Colau was elected with the backing of Barcelona En Comú, a citizen platform that includes groups that came directly out of the 15M movement, as well as Podemos, the insurgent left party that has risen to national prominence. And in Madrid, Ahora Madrid's "popular unity" candidate Manuela Carmena, a well-respected former judge and labor lawyer, is poised to become mayor once a coalition government is formed.

I traveled to Barcelona and Madrid last week with a group of U.S. activists to witness the historic elections firsthand and learn from Spain's independent social movements. What I saw was a whole new way of doing politics—a model that has the potential to shake up U.S. assumptions about how to run and fund successful movements and campaigns.

Here are six key lessons that U.S. activists and organizers can learn from the wins in Spain—ideas to help us build a stronger and more inclusive progressive movement both within electoral politics and outside them.

1) Movements should keep pushing for radical and participatory democracy by engaging directly with electoral politics—while also maintaining their independence from established parties.

In advance of Spain's municipal elections, movement activists worked with existing political parties to create new "convergence" platforms of "popular unity" specifically for May 24. Barcelona En Comú and Ahora Madrid were not traditional parties, but rather a mix of groups working together—including Podemos and more local efforts that had come out of 15M and the activism that preceded it—while maintaining their own structures and decision-making process.

Though complicated and challenging, this structure allowed movement groups to maintain their autonomy without being engulfed by the larger party, Podemos. (While many Spanish activists are encouraged by the rise of Podemos, they are also quick to remind you that the party did not come from the 15M movement).

The 15M anniversary march in Madrid on May 16. (Robert Pluma)

2. Take steps before the vote to make sure the officials you elect will be accountable to the movement.

Barcelona En Comú candidates signed a code of political ethics called "Governing by obeying," in which they agreed to a reduced salary and making their schedules and income sources public. They also pledged to open up local government, democratize government institutions and promote increased, direct citizen participation as a way to strengthen social movements and make sure they don't lose energy post-victory. Marina Lopez, an activist with Barcelona En Comú, says that now that they have taken power in city government, "we have to continue to exist as a political organization that is close to the citizens and neighborhoods… this is our strength."

When Ada Colau and 10 new City Council members took to the stage at the Barcelona En Comú victory party on Sunday, what struck me was that they looked like, well, activists, and not professional politicians. Colau wore jeans, and the others looked like they'd been out organizing all day, no suits or heels in sight.

Ada Colau and the new City Council members onstage. (Robert Pluma)

What these local efforts in Spain have done so far is rightly say that activists should run for office—but that once elected, they can remain activists pushing for a more open and participatory democracy.

Ernesto Garcia Lopez, an organizer with Ahora Madrid, says that in addition to working inside the governing coalition, he and others are now focused on showing that the outside movement continues.

"We're going to create a huge wave of collective assemblies in each neighborhood in order to create pressure to power local government by the movement and citizens directly," he says. "If we only think about management of new government, then our idea of radical democracy is not possible."  

3) Create physical spaces for local organizing outside of existing institutions

An important part of progressives' recent electoral success can be traced to a strong network of locally organized "social centers" across Spain. These are spaces where community members can interact and share ideas, whether that means organizing a demonstration, taking Zumba classes or checking out library book. Many subsist on small membership fees or income from a bar or café. Many served as gathering places for organizing 15M after the movement decided to end its large-scale occupations and focus on building neighborhood-level power.

In the United States, similar spaces are much harder to find—partly because rents are so much higher in major cities. But some American activists are taking inspiration from Spain's social centers and starting their own. Lucas Shapiro, who organized the activist delegation to Spain I took part in, is creating the Mayday Space in Brooklyn, with the aim of fostering a "interconnected movement ecosystem" where different projects and people can overlap, share ideas and shift the political terrain. Shapiro, who spent time at the social center Ateneu Candela in Terrassa, Spain, says that these centers "create a cultural current within a city that reinforces the autonomous spirit of resistance."

4) Question the professionalization of movement organizing

Two words we never heard in Spain were "staff" and "volunteer." Almost every organizer we met—whether for a group, movement or campaign—was doing the work in their free time, without an institutional affiliation or paycheck.

Luis Moreno-Caballud, an activist and professor at the University of Pennsylvania from Spain who took part in our delegation, points out that in the United States, the paid versus unpaid distinction can create a separation between "professional" activists and volunteers or people affected by an issue. In Spain, there are not paid staff who tell volunteers what to do—the volunteers are the leaders, with much more decision-making power.

I've found, too, that the large institutions and amounts of money involved in U.S. political organizing can sometimes make it hard to figure out if we're doing the work we want to do, or the work that we can get funded. And the focus on funding can create an atmosphere of competition for grants and resources.

While it's tempting to romanticize the purity of getting money out of politics—break free of capitalism!—Spain's model has its own drawbacks. Organizers in the United States can get paid for doing movement work we care about, and without funding, for many of us that would not be possible. And with an unemployment rate above 40 percent for young people in Spain, I suspect that many Spanish activists would not object to getting paid for doing work that generally aligns with their values.

But Moreno-Caballud suggests exploring alternatives to institutional or big-donor funding. "It can be powerful when you see you can do things without money," he says. He suggests that U.S. activists can look at strategies of mutual aid and building a social economy—where organizers exchange goods and services—or an alternative economy, through activist-run bookstores or bars.

A volunteer movement means, too, that more time can be spent organizing instead of writing grants or fundraising. As Lucía Lois Méndez de Vigo from the Patio Maravillas social center in Madrid told us, "We have one meeting a year to talk about money." As someone who's spent countless hours writing fundraising emails and calling donors to ask for money, that sounds like a pretty great idea.  

From what I saw, the lack of professionalization in Spain's social justice movement also seemed to create a culture that is less ego-driven. For the most part, organizing jobs don't exist, and there isn't a career ladder—so people are generally doing things with their spare time because it's what they want to be doing and believe in, and they aren't assessed based on title or organization, but reputation and work they've done.

5) Inject some creativity into our electoral campaigns

Elections in the U.S. are fast becoming more a science than an art, with a focus on exactly how many times a voter needs to be contacted, in what ways and with which words. Yet for all our data-driven sophistication, as I saw the campaigning happening in Spain I couldn't help but feel like our U.S. campaigns are, by comparison, a little rote and lifeless.

A week before the election in Madrid, I joined Ahora Madrid for a "walking tour" of the gentrifying neighborhood of Malasaña. But it was more like a parade, led by bikes flying Ahora Madrid flags and speakers blasting campaign songs. Every few blocks, we paused, and a speaker explained through the bullhorn what was happening in the neighborhood. People gave out flyers and buttons, talked to passersby and put up stickers. Up at the front, someone rolled a 7-foot inflatable blue plastic ball emblazoned with the campaign's demand, Agua Publica, through the narrow cobblestone streets.

We shouldn't abandon what's been proven to be effective to get voters to the polls. But what Podemos and these local platforms have managed to do is use imagination and humor to completely transform the sense of what's politically possible in Spain. As one Podemos banner reads, "When was the last time you voted with hope?"

6) Put feminism and women's leadership front and center

Sunday's local election results broke new ground for women in Spain. Ada Colau is the first female mayor of Barcelona—in a region of Spain, Catalonia, where previously only 14.2 percent of cities were run by women. Six of the 11 people elected to municipal offices on the Barcelona En Comú ticket are women, and one, Laura Perez, is a well-known feminist leader.

That's no accident: The campaigns had an explicitly feminist agenda that includes fighting the "feminization" of poverty and expanding our gendered ideas of leadership. Several of the organizers I spoke with talked about getting away from the traditional idea of a male leader who speaks loudly and confidently and tells everyone what to do, and moving more towards a style of cooperation, discussion and listening. In her election night speech, Ada Colau focused on thanking the "common" people—the people who did the work of caring for the kids and making the food. Feminists, she said, have shown that there's another way to do politics.


The Barcelona En Comú victory party on May 24. (Robert Pluma)

Many activists in the United States feel that we have to choose one of two options: Suck it up and compromise to help a Democratic Party we aren't always ideologically aligned with, or sit on the sidelines of electoral politics. But Spain shows a third way is possible—a social movement can take part in politics while maintaining its activist identity and independence.

Of course, the context is different in the United States. Before Occupy Wall Street, Spain's 15M movement took hold in a deeper way than Occupy did in the United States. It started in 2011 with the 15M movement of Indignados—the Outraged—protesting the way Spain had been controlled by a two-party system for over 30 years; outraged at politicians' failure to respond to the severe economic crisis, rampant corruption and skyrocketing foreclosures and unemployment. And it led to a fundamental change in Spain's political landscape, with an explosion of new activist groups, organizing spaces and political parties.

While Spain's parliamentary system means that creating new parties is easier than in the U.S., local elections in particular often present a more open field. City Council elections in places like Chicago and Los Angeles are non-partisan, and could be a space for similar movement-driven coalitions like we saw in Spain. In building them, we should look to the 15M movement as a model for creating the kind of radical participatory democracy we thought we could only imagine. 

Erica Sagrans

Erica Sagrans is the campaign manager of Ready for Warren, a grassroots effort to draft Elizabeth Warren to run for president in 2016. You can read more about the recent social movement delegation to Spain at, and follow Erica on Twitter at @EricaS.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Fwd: New initiative on Data Issues in the Social sector (DATAMEET - Pune)

From Craig D'Souza, Pune:

Dear All,
I would like to inform you of a new initiative starting up in Pune. The goal of this initiative is to engage with themes of open data and civic issues in Pune city. This might be of interest to you.

To achieve this goal we are building a community of volunteers to get together and work on data issues in the social sector. This group will be the Pune Chapter of the Bangalore based NGO, 'Datameet'. The main focus of their work is to bring together professionals from the social sectors as well as the technology sectors to collectively brainstorm and work on the quality and access of open data related to civic issues (health, education, environment, water, waste, sanitation etc.)

In this process we equally need both active non-profit organisations/social enterprises/academics and technologically savvy individuals to participate. We would like to understand your concerns/thoughts regarding data and work together to catalyze problem solving in Pune city.

Over the last few weeks we sent out an interest form and have received many enthusiastic responses so far. You can still fill up and forward the interest form to colleagues/friends that might be interested (Click here) 

To take this forward we have picked a venue and date for Datameet Pune's first meetup. It will be held at the Thoughtworks Pune office on Monday, 13th of July at 7 p.m.. The full address is as given below, or you can find your way there using google maps as well. Click here 

ThoughtWorks Technologies India Pvt Ltd.
6th Floor, Binarius Building, 
Deepak Complex, National Games Road
Shastrinagar, Yerawada
Pune, Maharashtra 411006

We hope that you can make it and hope this location and timing is convenient. If not, come anyway, we are open to suggestions for other venues and timings for the next meeting. 

Also attached is a flyer for the meetup that you can forward. It would be great if you could send a short RSVP to me at this e-mail so we have a confirmed number and we can arrange logistics accordingly. 

Hoping to see you there! 

Best Regards,
Craig Dsouza, Nikhil VJ

Mobile: Craig: 7276085960, Nikhil: 9665831250 (Please call Craig with any queries!)

P.S.: (As far as personal introductions go, I, Craig work with a Pune based NGO called SOPPECOM in research on rural water management and Nikhil works on projects of the Centre for Environment Education (CEE) Pune on participatory budgeting and analysis of public transport data and we are both data enthusiasts :)

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Shit, Hydra is real

Shit, Hydra is real.
(Have you watched Captain America - Winter Soldier? Watch it for the backstory!)

Illuminati Wife Tells All - interview with Kay Griggs.

4 parts, 45 mins ~ 2 hours videos

Pune, India
Self-designed learner at Swaraj University <>

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Pune: Workshop on observing children, 18+19 July, Indradhanushya, 11am-5pm both days

Workshop on observing children

18 and 19 July.

Time 11 am to 5 pm both days.

Venue: Indradhanushya environment centre of pune corporation.
Opp sachin tendulkar jogging park, kanhere path, near mhatre bridge, rajendranagar, pune 30.


We are planning a workshop on how to observe children. We will be using few videos from our collection to explore that.

Importance of observing children-
Children are close to nature. When left free their behaviour is as per the design/ intent of nature. They play, they make things and they make 'toys'. All these activities to explore and understand the world around them. This is LEARNING. Integral nature of learning or the effortless aspect of learning or the neuro biological/physiological basis for learning  can be seen in children before we interfere with this process. The way children learn the world is the way all biological beings learn to sustain life. The logic of the process and the structure of the content are defined by existential nature of
learning and living. In fact they are only re discovering the world in them!
Play had been the natural process by which children made sense of the world. children learned the way physical/ natural world functions by studying the way things looked (FORM), what is possible with what is
around (QUALITY) and the way things happened (PROCESS or PHENOMENON) apart from social life which were also mastered though various kind of play. Learning has been an inherent, autonomous, sub conscious activity which is the basis of life on earth. If we truly want to understand how learning happens observing children is very crucial.

When we are observing children we should be free from all the notions about children we normally carry. It should be unconditional and should start from the paradigm of Unknown. This very process is a process of de-schooling and un- conditioning.
The observing activity needs to be very subtle. Children shouldn't be disturbed nor they should be aware that they are being observed. If they become aware of observation , performing may start happening.
This process of observation can be extended in general to learn to SEE. What blocks seeing is our notion that we know, which has been instilled by the schooling system and our rational mind which
constantly wants to reason so that the mind can be put to rest. We are actually reasoning away as we do not have the ability to hold questions and doubts.

About our resource person, Mr. Jinan,in his own words-
My enquiry has been rooted in experience. I stopped reading in 1990 or so and this re wired my cognitive process and stopped reasoning as a way for comprehension. My cognitive source shifted from books/ words to the world. Observation/ attention/ awareness/ sensitivity/ experience became my cognitive process and self organizing became the process of comprehension. Automatically conscious reasoning stopped and reasoning became subconscious and an integral aspect of experience.
This means understanding began to happen! It was not forced by reasoning.  Seeing/ recognizing patterns became inherent way of understanding. Insight became the way of knowing.

I have been living with non literate people from 1989. ( i call them sense cognites and the literates, the mind cognites)  The purpose being to understand their knowing process as I was concerned with my
own rootless ness which modern education gifted me. My research has been on two aspects which are 1. The cognitive crisis of modernity  and 2. The biological roots of being human. Put it in another way how is our 'being-ness' formed. What I have been feeling is that in the context of modernity human
beings are becoming human knowings!
Man's dependence on mediated knowledge shifts his cognitive system. In the context of modernity literacy brought in total change in the consciousness of man. Total structure of cognition changed. In fact we stopped cognizing and started engaging with communication. Eyes instead of seeing become aid for thinking. Eyes also change the way they  'see' the world. Fragmentation of left/ right brain happens/
ardha naari-eeshwara quality in the being shifts to masculine quality, collective nature becomes self centric, nature centric being becomes anthropocentric etc...

All biological beings are cognitive beings. We can only learn the context. This is not a limitation. Context is as vast as the world.
There is no end to learning within the context if you really begin to learn. Real context is ONESELF. As much as one discovers the outer world/ reality/ truth one also discovers the inner world.
From my own experience of enquiry into the biological roots of cognition, beauty and values  i have noticed some fundamental difference with the ways in which modern knowledge system explores.
Deeper, wholistic and integrated understanding happens in the kind of enquiry which is the result of awakening finer ability to observe.
Instead of seeking knowledge one needs to develop sensitivity so that knowledge is revealed.

The workshop will be held in the spirit of exploration and enquiry and not with mere argumentative spirit.

Amol, Reva and Ranjana, who are together with jinan in the 'Reimagining Schools' Research' , will also share their experiences.

The days are.. 18 and 19 July.

Time 11 am to 5 pm both days.

Venue: Indradhanushya environment centre of pune corporation.
Opp sachin tendulkar jogging park, kanhere path, near mhatre bridge, rajendranagar, pune 30.

Voluntary contributions are invited to meet the expenses of resource persons.

Please contact Ranjana Baji <> to know more.

Collecting inputs on a much-needed Manual for men..

Hi friends and especially ladies,
Given my vast experience (really, a bit too vast) in this sector, and looking at disturbing news related to it coming on a near daily basis, an idea came about putting together a manual on:

Handling Rejections in Romance Gracefully
-- A manual for men

A tell-tale of our times : I searched for this concept on the net and all I found were manuals for women on how to reject men safely (!) or handle being rejected gracefully. Saala mard ko kyun koi nahin bolta! It's time we addressed the other half too, don't you think?

Do send in your experiences! This needs to be experiential (honestly, theories and concepts just don't work on us! We learn more from example!) so the more real-world non-examples (ie, instances where it wasn't handled gracefully), the better!

PS: Anonymity will be maintained.

PPS: Men, if you want to start complaining about.. you know what I'm talking about.. then just search the net, all the resources and avenues are already there. And do NOT reply here about your unfortunate experiences, this email is solidly about something else entirely and must not be hijacked. Go draft another email with some other subject line. (and this is a part of the graceful-handling training, so just go with it!) If I see you replying here with your Ramayan and especially if you do it in public, I will re-post this instruction in large bold letters include your case as a non-example. So don't make me!

Piplantri village in Rajasthan plants 111 trees when a girl is born, and other wonderful initiatives

Received in an email forward from multiple sources. Found a fuller article in a news site here: that had some more information, like "Over the last six years, people here have managed to plant over a quarter million trees on the village's grazing commons- inlcuding neem, sheesham, mango, Amla among others."
(Also not mentioned in the email-forward below is that this village has also banned alcohol. After that line came "there has not been any police case here for the last 7 to 8 years". Now I wonder if that line was omitted on purpose ;)

India's other daughters – The village that plants 111 trees, when a girl is born !!
     In a country that still favours the birth of a son, Piplantri village in Rajasthan not only embraces daughters, but has created a tradition that benefits both the local people and the planet.  This endearing village makes a conscious effort to save girl children and the green cover at the same time, by planting 111 trees every time a girl is born.  A brilliant exercise in eco-feminism, this should inspire India and the rest of the world.
     This wonderful eco-conscious tradition ensures that an increase in human population will never come at a cost to the environment.  It is literally helping to ensure a greener future with each new generation. 

     The village gathers as a community and plants 111 fruit trees in honour of every newborn female child.


     Village residents collect Rs. 21,000 among themselves and Rs.10,000 from the girl's parents.  This sum of Rs. 31,000 is made into a 20-year fixed deposit in a Bank, for the girl.


     Parents are legally bound by a signed affidavit stating that their daughter will receive proper education.  The affadavit also mandates that the girl should be married only after she reaches legal age and the trees planted after her birth would be correctly looked after.

     The community ensures that the trees survive, attaining fruition as the girl grows up.

     The villagers don't just plant trees, they look after them as well.  To protect the trees from termites, the residents plant Aloe vera plants around them. 

     These trees, and especially the Aloe vera plants, are now a source of livelihood for several residents.

     This unique tradition was first suggested by the village's former leader, Shyam Sundar Paliwal, in honour of his daughter who passed away at a young age.  In the last 6 years, over a quarter of a million trees have been planted.

     Villagers claim there has not been any police case here for the last 7 to 8 years.

     This is a heartwarming and inspiring story that MUST be shared and replicated as much as possible across India and the world.

Monday, July 6, 2015

One of the biggest things holding India back is the over-availability of funds

This is a personal insight. You're reading a blog that is mostly full of personal insights or other people's forwarded insights.

One of the biggest things holding India back is the over-availability of funds.

Thanks to that, innovation is coming at steep price tags. One GPS-mapping project at some point got a Rs.1 crore sanction for something that plainly didn't cost Rs.1 crore.. and now everybody wants that kind of money.

And so there's very little sharing, cross-polination going on, because the monetary stakes are so high.

People are locked-in to set solutions and methods and proprietary models, and since that's been rewarding, there's no incentive to change ways. People who should be at the cutting edge of tech are haplessly ignorant of all the innovations happening in the open source world.

A famous South American mayor has quoted : "Innovation begins when you remove a zero from the budget".

The best technological solutions out there aren't those that cost a hell lot of money and need very-very-very-high IT "expertise". I've been looking at many of these, and apart from some drudge-work that's obviously outsourced to lower-paid underlings, honestly it's just a lot of hot air.

The best technological solutions out there are those that INCREASE people's voluntary participation; empower them to make small differences that all add up to huge things, decentralize power, and above all, when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, are SIMPLE, and CHEAP.

So it should cost you somewhere around Rs.0 to GPS-map all the streetlights in Pune. Stipend for the people involved, their transport and food for the days they worked on the project? Fine, but that will only come up to a few thousand bucks per head, the total will only be in the lower lakhs. Not freakin 100 times inflated!

And while there is increasing scope of using technology to better governance, I'm sorry my dear programmer friends, that doesn't mean this can become a big-money thing. The whole concept of IT solutions costing a bomb was an artificial one to begin with.. it runs exclusively on the ignorance of the opposite person, and that's a rapidly diminishing resource.

So, to anyone in local government / transport bodies reading this : PLEASE STOP WASTING PEOPLE'S MONEY ON HI-FI IT SOLUTIONS. The innovation you seek will come when you remove a zero from the budget. Instead, one effective way you can go about this is to open up your data and declare contests for the best open-source solutions. India is chock-full of engineering colleges looking for projects to do. Start a contest and see what response you get.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Fwd: While Mumbai was paralyzed with rains, 1000 families build homes



National Office : 6/6 Jangpura B, New Delhi – 110 014 . Phone : 011 2437 4535 | 9818905316

E-mail: napmindia[at] | Web :


While Mumbai was paralysed by rains, 1000 families build homes 

Last night, while Mumbai was paralyzed by the rains, over 1000 families worked tirelessly through the night, reclaiming land in Mandala that was snatched from them a decade earlier in the brutal 2005 demolitions and then twice again subsequently. On the 26th of May, they had begun a Satyagraha for their rights. They were supported by social activist Medha Patkar, Swaraj Abhiyan, RPI and Aam Aadmi Party.

This has been a ten-year-long battle that the residents of Mandala have been fighting with civic authorities and the political establishment. Previous governments and authorities have made several promises including the promise of Mandala being the pilot project for the Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY). Not one promise has been fulfilled.  For the last 25 days, they have fasted, marched, written petitions and even staged a sit-in at the Collector's office. Unwilling to wait any further for the government to respond, they decided it was time to build their homes and find shelter from the rains.

The police arrived at midnight, harassed residents and left. Munira, a resident of Mandala said "We settled this land when there was nothing here, how can we let the government take it from us?" Medha Patkar showed paintings that the young children of Mandala had drawn - a house with a road surrounded by greenery - and said that they had launched this satyagraha to "secure the future of these children."

This morning, when the sun rose, hundreds of structures had gone up. The rains haven't dampened spirits and people are working  to complete construction of their homes by the end of the day.
Some of the residents have been on a hunger strike protesting the government's inaction while many others have been fasting for Ramzan. Work is on in full swing and by nightfall, residents of Mandala will have taken what is rightfully theirs.

For details contact Bilal : 099586 6055 and Atiq: 99873 08058

Friday, July 3, 2015

Rush log #3JUL15

"What're you up to what're you up to"... I've been rotten at updating, so here's an experimental, rush day's log:

Morning : Met people at PMPML who had requested to come, showed them how to install Unicode typing on WinXP computers, and how to convert existing Kruti or ShreeDev legacy text to Unicode using the unicode converters of technical-hindi group.

Before lunch : Met PMPML transport officer and got depot-wise list of bus routes from him.

Post lunch : COEP : Met the DSY batches and discussed with them on how to go about current survey

3pm: Prasanna Desai Architects (PDA) met the gang there and accompanied them to a meeting where a lot of pune's and pcmc's admins had gathered to talk about Hinjewadi.

Evening: Returned home, and completed the forms for COEP interns survey and sent them out.

Night: Working on PMPML data.. might diverge into other stuff too.

To do: LOTSS of fun stuff that would otherwise be boring if I didn't have the larger picture in mind.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Fwd: Out of School Survey - 4th July


While there is full support for survey, if the plan to put unerasable
ink on fingers of children "caught" out of school is still on, then
I'd like to point to this PIL filed at Nagpur bench of High Court
regarding the matter. Kindly read the full text of the PIL. Please
keep in mind that the litigants are themselves lifelong champions for
childrens rights and education, including people leading major
alternative education movements like Gandhi's Nai Talim. One major
concern is that even children learning under NIOS or other open
schooling platforms or homeschooling (a recognized form of education
in most countries) or alternative education which don't involved
compulsory daily attendance, will get caught up and marked as being
out of school.

I have included in CC some of the PIL litigants. But requesting you to
resist knee-jerk reaction.

One colleague of mine who isn't connected with any of this and just
found out about the 4th July exercise today, asked me this simple

If it is genuinely felt that putting unerasable black ink mark on
fingers of children will not cause any trauma and is not a negative
thing and is in no way "branding" them in any bad light, then why
don't the authorities invert this exercise and mark all the kids who
are ATTENDING school? This will be much easier to do, as all the
schools are at known locations and so the exercise will not involve
going door to door. Then any child found without the ink can be
detected to be NOT in school. The objective of the survey will be
accomplished, without going through a manhunt type activity. And if
they genuinely believe this inking of children is not a
negative-branding or trauma-causing activity and doesn't violate the
child's rights then there shouldn't be a problem.

Humble request to take out 20 minutes of your precious time, read the
PIL's full text and think deeply and clearly about exactly what we're
trying to do here and if it is truly the ONLY way to do it.

And I absolutely agree with you that this is coming at extremely short
notice : The PIL's next hearing was scheduled for yesterday only and I
have not received updates yet from the litigants of what happened. The
4th July exercise (which is a Maharashtra-wide exercise ordered by GoM
as the GR in the google drive folder will show) should have been
announced at least a few months earlier and there should have been an
open and inclusive HEARING about the matter, inputs from stakeholders
should have been taken before proceeding with it in such a dictatorial
manner. Thanks.

Nikhil [..]

(this was a reply to a broadcast email:)

On 7/2/15, Swadhar Pune [..] wrote:
> Why dont we give this to Radio Mirch and other FM stations
> [..]
> On Thu, 02 Jul 2015 15:00:16 +0530 ARC - Action for the Rights of Child Pune
> wrote
>>Respected All,
> All of you may be aware of that PMC is conducting survey on a large scale on
> 4th
> July to enroll out of school children in schools. More then 13000 teacher
> will
> participate in this survey. Survey will be conducted at ward level. The
> survey
> will focus on areas like construction sites, footpaths, public places and
> slum
> areas etc.
> PMC Education Board has provided central phone number-020 25534628 to
> receive
> complains/ guide citizens regarding enrollment of out of school children.Â
> In case NGOs/ citizens found any child out of school they can call on the
> number
> provided above to register complain or give information related to school
> enrollment of out of school children.Â
> In case you don';t get expected response from the PMC on the above number
> please
> do contact ARC Coordinators on [..]

( haven't taken permissions from people involved to share their
contacts. If you have further questions them please contact me on
nikhil.js [at] )

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The search for a more human rational explanation of humanity

This article brings out the rift which makes me steer towards being a person who respects emotions and intuition more than the current standards of logic. I identify myself with this guy much, much more than all the "rational" explanations I've heard that describes human beings. In all my travels I've seen that the less "educated" or "modern/sophisticated" a person is, while at the same time still being exposed to the same or more stark realities, the more he/she is likely to be like this guy. This seems to be the default state of human beings.. not what Fraud.. sorry, Freud (:P) predicted.

How is that happening?  I think it's because the mainstream explanations of human behaviour have an interference effect : Being taught that human beings are self-maximizing rational selfish beings ends up influencing people to behave that way more. That is, our "passive" sources of knowledge are playing an active interfering role. This really screws the whole objectivity notion of knowledge, and sabotages the "failsafe" of the knowledge establishment (the assumption that they will honestly change their stance when more facts emerge which challenge present assumptions.. honestly I don't see that happening without a serious fight). An influential resource like, say, Wikipedia or Harvard or National Geographic or BBC, if it makes a mistake and portrays an erroneous conclusion as fact, then chances are that they will make it come true and turn the false assumption into reality. Later on there's no way in our present mechanism to prove that they were wrong.

This has implications far beyond the intellectual debates : war, terrorism, economic instability, fortunes of competing sides.. all of these when predicted with enough persuasion, become real even if they initially had no basis in reality. If the world's media propagandizes that a country is full of terrorists, then the actions that follow end up making terrorism more and more prevalent there, which then reinforces that notion, irrespective of what reality was previously. If a country's media continuously predicts a certain side's victory in the next election, then that's precisely what happens even if it wasn't true to begin with. The "placebo" effect is only exposed at the rare times when sufficient numbers of people, or ardent-enough changemakers, see through the prophecy and do something radical, difficult and challenging to violate it. (As we saw in the recent Delhi elections. Now please don't get started with the latter developments.. that's another placebo effect underway that's currently not getting violated! :)

An erroneous interpretation of this all is to assume that depriving people of knowledge is the way to keep them human. I'd like to declare here and now that I absolutely disagree with that idea and I think this type of conclusion is the result of the same simplistic, linera, knee-jerk, ill-thought-out, short-sighted thinking that created the self-maximizing selfish individual explanation of humanity in the first place. All the examples we've seen of good, ethically conscious people who positively impact people's lives and make good things happen.. aren't people who were deprived of knowledge.. rather they are people who have seen MORE of the worst of humanity, people who have had more exposure than others, and a greater quality of exposure to different perspectives and conflicting viewpoints. Therefore the theory of depriving knowledge to preserve humanity falls flat on its face when confronted with facts on the ground. Rather my conclusion is that there should be more exposure to conflicting viewpoints without much effort to settle the debate, if anyone is thinking of how to go about this pedagogically. Tip for educators : Confusion Achha Hai! This is what I experiences in my two years at Swaraj University, and I'm extremely thankful to our facilitators for their self-restraint.

It would be great if anyone who claims themselves to be a rationalist can work on this and bring up an explanation that predicts this side of humanity rather than what is currently predicted by the self-proclaimed rationalists occupying the commanding heights of academia, industry and government. That is, it would be great to see a rational explanation of humanity that acknowledges and factors emotions/values/intuition/faith in, and takes account of their positive effects, rather than taking the conventional and convenient path of censoring them out or dehumanizing/de-existing them.


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