Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tears, Blood, Bullets, and today, a Salute!

I do not live in Mumbai. I was not there to witness the 26/11 attack last year. Who am I to be writing about it? I am an angry, disturbed, and agitated Indian. I did not lose anyone I know in the attack. I lost a whole bunch of people I had never known or met. I lost a whole lot of fellow Indians. To what? To a group of misguided cowards who used violence against innocent Indians. A group of maniacs who left children orphaned, women widowed, people dead and bleeding on railway station platforms, on roads, in hospitals and hotels. A group of over-confident bastards who gunned down top-notch Police officials, and injured numerous others.
Police officers who fought valiantly but had no back up whatsoever. Police officers who did not even blink to think of their families in the face of a terror attack. And Mumbai may not be my home. Pune isn't my home either. My home is my country. And no random asshole from Pakistan or any other country can walk into my country and go on a killing spree.
A year after the incident that shook the world, the widowed wives want their sons to grow up to be loyal patriotic fighters like their dead fathers. They want their children educated and aware of their civic responsibility and they want them to become strong men who will not turn back when their country needs them. THAT is spirit. And it is trademark Mumbai! A city who has time and again been bombed, raided, painted red with blood, and yet, after all this, it still stands strong and sincere. It stands looking these anti-social elements in their face telling them to either give up and go or face the public rage. This remarkable regeneration property embedded in Mumbai does not come from a history or from the fact that it is our financial capital. It stems from the fact that each and every person who resides in this city, has it in his/her blood. And I don't mean to dilute the topic's intensity when I say this but, EVERY single person in Mumbai stood up to fight that day. And several of those were from Uttar Pradesh, or from Bihar, or from god-knows-where! The NSG commandos were sent from Delhi and one of them who lost his life, was from Bangalore. So, to anyone who thinks that Non-Maharashtrians don't have a place in Mumbai, kindly look inward first. The like Israel national, the child who lost his family to terrorists.
It is because of people like this, who live for states rather than country, that the image and strength of India weakens. People like this are an invitation for Pakistan to send across many more terrorists to cut through our country. And as far I know Indian history, we have one of the most strong and radiant glorious pasts. Why? Because back then it was not Hindu, Muslim or Sikh or Christian or Jew or whatever!! It was human, and Indian!
Losing that spirit, has cost us a lot and will continue to do so if we don't pick up from where we left off. Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Taliban, the LeT, the who-ever-else, will ALL be in a position to make us vulnerable.
We are the 2nd most populated country in the world. And somehow, we fail to use that to our advantage. If we make a chain and stand along our borders, there will STILL be a zillion of us left to replace those who make the chain weak. This chain is the force that binds us to each other. It is our blood. And THAT is why, when Mumbai or Kashmir get attacked, ALL of us feel the pain.
And I am really not sorry to say this and we have a right to freedom of speech so I WILL say what I want to - no matter how many ministers say that our ties with Pakistan need to be strengthened and that we are in a common battle against terrorism, I will STILL detest that country- Pakistan. I don't know how "common" this so called battle is, but what I DO know, is that Pakistan is providing shelter, food and training to those picked up people who are brainwashed to kill innocent lives. Pakistan IS the home of terrorism and what I have with Pakistan, IS war.
Let one more attack happen, let us spend another 31 Crore keeping captured (if at all they are captured) terrorists alive and let our ministers continue to say , "We are looking into the matter." let them keep looking. When we HAVE enough evidence to prove Pakistan's involvement, when we have names, WHY are we quiet and still vulnerable? If no one else is willing to fight, the public is and for the first time I know, that I am NOT alone in my statement. The people of this country are VERY strong. So terrorists, Pakistan and our own ministers, kindly do not push us to the extent that we turn democracy into rebellion and revolution. I could make this a personal war against Pakistan as well. I could want to avenge the death of a brother who got blasted into pieces because of a land-mine. But I would want anyone reading this to know, that this IS personal. Because I am an INDIAN and I will NOT continue to tolerate this endless volley of bloody attacks on my people and my countrymen no matter what state, city, town, village they are from. Also, the people of this country can be remarkably understanding if our politicians and police forces took us into confidence and answered the many floating doubts about WHY we are no better than we were when 26/11 gripped us last year? A country cannot function amicably if you leave out its people from its core issues.
I don't think the police needs to protect Kasab from anyone else but Indians who will have their blood boiling to get their hands on the boy who walked about with a thick-skinned, regretless grin and an AK-47.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hotchpotch and World War 3

Two things have been annoying my head over the last week - the MNS and Pakistan.
First - the MNS.. these guys really need a life. They seem to think they have been bestowed with the official authority of being God. Someone please go open their eyes. They're a bunch of good for nothing violent adrenaline pumped jackasses. Someone from the MNS recently, after that ridiculous incident in the assembly, said, about the person who got punched, that "He should know Marathi".. Boss- get real. Who asked you to decide what someone else "should" know or not? Everyday, these guys are in the news. And strangely, or not so strangely, the only method they know how to use, to resolve an issue, is violence. They seriously need a reality check.
Im a Maharashtrian and I dont care a damn about that. I don't intend to sound patriotic at all, but I'm an Indian. I'm terrible at Marathi compared to a lot of people around me. I speak English for a major part of my communication with people. When anyone complains about their conduct, their behaviour etc, all they can do is resort to violence, burn buses, stone vehicles, and use brute force. I feel terrible writing this because all I see, is an image of my India crumbling under pressure from goons and geeks like these. I see my India, becoming a Pakistan - burning, drifting, crumbling, and slowly, being poisoned into irreparable death. If you want to fight for a Marathi cause, then advocate the spread of education, and non-corrupt educational systems. Introduce the language in schools, dont force it upon them. The only thing you achieve with force is hatred and criticism. If you want respect, dont snatch it, earn it you fool. These fat-headed politicians who eat half of the country's money and food, should be sent to military school because it looks like they are the ones who need the most discipline. In a democratic system, people have the right to freedom of speech, and whether you are fighting for Marathi people or Bengali people, you cannot take that away. And quite frankly, ditch this whole "Marathi manoos" bullshit because all you get by doing that is divisions of a country known to be united by its many cultures, faiths, and traditions. Stop encouraging monoculture. This is one party I am never voting for. As terrible as the others are, these guys are top notch when it comes to being undeserving to the core. MNS - you STINK. Now come fight against me. Hopeless masses of protoplasm. What else can you do anyway? Illiterate and unruly bunch of road-side self-proclaimers.
Moving on- Pakistan. I really am not someone who would say such things unless pushed to utter frustration. If every single Indian stands up and even pees on Pakistan, the whole country will get washed off. They should realize their worth and make amends now or just get flooded. Giving shelter terrorists, training them, and then, above all, defending them! I feel very very sorry for those innocent lives trapped in that damn country for the amount of torture they must be enduring. Had I been living in Pakistan, I'd have moved to the Sahara Desert. There are more chances of surviving with dignity there. Im honestly SO fed up of reading about and watching the news telecasting the terror attacks. One attack happens somewhere everyday! Yes we have a population problem, but the solution is not to bomb away to excess population!

We've just gotten so used to these things.. ministers say, we will look into it.. you sit and look. What will you do at the age of 67 anyway?! Just sit and look into things. Dont get up and do something about it. Just watch more people die. It is so sad that our lives have come down to this. We've accepted terrorism! That's like inviting destruction and death to our people's homes. We've become hardened insensitive citizens. We just dont care. We see, we scream, we forget. What has time come down to for us? Mankind is pitched against mankind in the name of religion and caste and country. Im starting to believe more and more strongly with each passing day, that the evolution of man to what he is today, really IS a mistake. A big mistake.

No wonder people keep saying we're years close to having a World War 3. And guess who's going to win that war- the terrorists.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Hydro Power v/s Gharial Power

Disclaimer: I am putting up an email I sent as a reply to a certain person who wanted to know more about the dangers that power plant projects pose to Gharials and the Chambal. I chose to put up the email just as it is, with no changes, because that's how I wanted it to be and as I see it, no one should have any objection to the content of the mail, including the receiver. This is in pure interest of the Gharial. Thank you. [As an intro, I'm starting with excerpts from the mail that I got from this person and then my reply].

"hi Apoorva,
Thanks for your quick resaponse. You would be happy to know that your articles -'Once upon a time A ghariyal lived' & 'Headed the Dino way' have not only been published in Twinkle Magazine Oct 31 issue but your story has been publishd as cover story. The issue raised by you has also found place in the editorial of the magazine. I really appreciate your concern for the Gharials & other wild life. I am a civil engineer and work as an Executive Engineer for MP Power Genrating Co. Ltd. I look after Survey, Investigation and planning of Hydro Power projects. As you may be aware that Hydro Power is one of the most pollution free forms of energy.Once built no fuel is required to run the plant. Moreover the hydro power plants are capable of running as peaking power plants because of its ability to start and stop quickly unlike a thermal power plant. As such it is considered ideal to have a optimal mix of thermal and hydro power project capacities around 60:40. In our country this ratio is far below the desired one and Govt. is giving lot of thrust for adding hydro power capacity. However construction of hydro power requires building of dams and diverting water to power house which certainly changes the natural regieme of the water and also results in submergence of large area of land running sometimes into several sq. kms. As such many environmental issues on this account crop up while plnning a hydro power project based on reservoir or even based on run off the river. You would also appreciate that producing any form of electical energy - hydel, thermal or atomic has some kind of environmental impact and/ or risk. As we know that electrical energy is one of the most important and convinient energy sources and has become almost indispensible with rise in its demand every day. Being a public and poilictical issue ther is a large pressure on public utilities to build more and more power projects.Further increasing sale rates of energy and chnges in electricity regulations are attracting lot of private playesr to build power plants. Any kind of power plant requires consumptive use of water and the same is to be drawn from the river by creating a storage. Thus the need (or compulsion) of constructing more and more dams and reservoirs is growing which is creating a kind of conflict among the Environmetalist, Power utilities, Public and Govenment. Certianly ways and means have to be found out keeping in view the ground relaities to preserve the nature/ environment along with building new projects. In this direction what I feel stongly that the technocrates and environmentalist should work together like a team and not like enimeis. There is a greater need to reach an understanding of each others views and issues. Otherwise aletrnative convinient ways of fullfilling the need of electricity like - using inverters, diesel/ petrol generators, kerosine, fuel wood etc. would also harm the environment which would in turn directly or indirectly affect the wild life. Your article on Ghariyals drawn my attention as I am associated with Surveys, invetigation and planning of a series of projects on Chambal River in which issues of Ghariyals sanctury is a major one. The National Board for Wild Life has rejected the proposal recently..."


Several issues need to be addressed as regards your email. Firstly, "Environmentalist" is a term I do not prefer to be associated. I am more of a practical conservationist. And just because I want to see the wildlife conserved, does not mean that I am against development. None of us are against development. We live in the same country. We face the same issues. So we understand what needs the people of this country have and what can be done to fulfil those needs.
As far as energy goes, I have studied Environmental Science, and a major portion of that was energy, conventional and non-conventional sources, and power generation. I understand the details involved in issues that have conservationists, politicians, developers and the Government at war-heads with each other.
As regards the articles being published in magazines and the editorial coverage, I am pleased that an important point such as this got across to several people. The main point behind all these articles is awareness. However, awareness does not mean merely KNOWING about a problem. It also means knowing why it exists and what can be done to stop it from aggravating.
The problem in Chambal is not something that can be solved with one deal or one meeting. It is very clear, and hence, has a very obvious solution. I will come to that once I explain to you WHY there is just one solution.

We need power for a country that is the 2nd most populated country in the world. We have many mouths to feed, many things to achieve. We have a brilliant culture and strong traditions. Yet somehow, we have forgotten to value what is more important than all of this. The one thing that sustains all life. Water.
97% of the world's water is sea water. Of the remaining 3%, only 1% is available to us in the form of fresh water. That 1% does not belong to anyone. And that brings us to the fact that most of us overlook - we share our resources with all other living beings. This includes the Gharials in Chambal, the Gangetic Dolphin, the Otters, the Mahseer and several more. These species depend entirely on fresh water for their survival.
We have more evolved brains. We are more intelligent apparently. Thus, we have the technology to invent and discover. This is why I need you to understand that I am not someone against technology. I respect the upcoming techno field but at the same time, I feel that it is mis-applied. It is used more towards mankind's destruction that its advantage.
The Sun provide 10 raised to 16 quantity of Solar energy. The entire Earth's requirement of energy put together comes to 10 raised to 13. That means we have 1000 times more energy coming in from the Sun than all of mankind would need to function. We have a massive coastline. We have mountains, hills, and ravines. Tidal energy and Wind energy can easily be harvested from these resources if the right amount of dedication, enthusiasm, and technology is used. EVERY year our country spends ridiculous amounts of money on absolutely useless things. All that could be wisely used to develop these non-conventional sources of energy.
Why we still don't have a system in place for these new sources, is because we just simply don't want to let go of our conventional thermal, and hydro power. We still want petroleum and diesel to burn instead of CNG and other alternatives.
So, please dont expect me to believe that what we NEED today, is a hydro power project. That too, coming up in the Chambal area, or any other area which is ecologically sensitive. Try and realize, that today, most of India is ecologically sensitive because we MADE it that way.
You were asking about a solution. There is only one solution. Whether we meet, speak or email, that wont change. The National Board for Wildlife and the MoEF have been very correct in passing their decision.
If you understood my article on Gharials and the Chambal and the threats they face, you will obviously be aware of the fact that it is not a pretty picture at all. The Gharials are not having a gala time in an ecosystem which is degrading day by day. The local people mine sand regularly for construction purposes, and they remove this from the nesting sites of the Crocs. That puts a huge dampner on their survival.
It has been observed over years that the water levels in Chambal are fluctuating erratically because of the erratic monsoon. Global warming has even changed and affected seasons. So at a time when we should all really be fighting to save our wildlife, we are fighting to set up power plants and telling each other that "there will obviously be environmental damage". That is a very escapist and ignorant way of looking at things.
Please understand that I do not mean to be arrogant. I mean to drive home my point which seems to have been left incomplete by the article. As far as rural areas go, villages are now happier with Biogas plants than they were with wood and coal burning energy means. So if they can adapt to ecologically safe methods, it is but natural that we, being educated, should also show the same concern.

The solution is, to not build any more dams and barrages on the Chambal as whatever little is left for the Gharials, is essential for their survival. The water levels fluctuate already due to the monsoon and stronger summers. With that, if more dams come up, things will go completely under the water. It is not just the Gharial that is endangered. The Gangetic River Dolphin, which has recently been declared as India's National Aquatic animal, and the River Otters, the Mahseer fish, etc, are ALL endangerd species. These species help to give the Chambal a protected area status, which in turn, protects not just the quality of the Chambal's waters, but also safeguards these animals from falling prey to habitat destruction and pollution. Nature has enough problems to give these animals as their survival rates are not that high anyway. Man is only blindly and cruelly adding to those. If these animals go extinct, the Chambal will become what the Yamuna is today. It will turn black with pollution, chemicals, sewage, industrial waste, human waste, and will be afloat with dead Gharials.

I am sorry to crush your hope but you must understand that when an animal is called Critically Endangered, it is one step from COMPLETE extinction.


Have refrained from adding the person's name on purpose. I think it's a good thing that engineers, and people who are connected with these projects actually want to know more about the threats to the wildlife they will be affecting, but also, like I said, awareness has more to it, than just merely knowing of the existence of a problem.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Living without Gharials in a Modern day Hell

Sometimes, you are just not satisfied. And then sometimes you're calm and ok with what you're doing. Well, I'm usually in category no.1 not because I have some ridiculous inferiority disease but because no matter what I do, I just don't end up doing enough to satisfy that damn ocean of "I want" in my head. And then there are these people who're doing just what you wanted to do, and are living where you would have loved to live and yet, you're stuck. Stuck in a cemented mass of polluted and crowded fast lanes called a City.
You mull over things.. and a lot of question-answer sessions happen in your mind but at the end of it all, you're still at same place you were yesterday. The frustration of living in Pune is suddenly hitting me hard all over again. It's winter. It's Gharial time technically. And yet, all I'm doing is reading GCA mails, reading news articles all over the place, doing MSc applications, studying for BSc exams and the MSc entrance.. and waiting.. waiting to go back to where I rightfully belong.
Conservation. There are so many ways to do it. Non-Co-operation not being one of them. It's shocking how people don't understand the importance of co-operation between conservationists, or how people feel they are bestowed with the sole authority and right to dictate to other's how they should live their life and how they should "conserve". To each his own, mate.
Everyday it hits me.. 6 months. Ive got 6months before I go off for my Masters. Whether Bangalore or the UK, I will be gone. And then, for a scarily long time, there will be no Gharials to look for and no Chambal to walk along.. And knowing that is one HECK of an irritating realization! I refuse to sit and rot in this hopeless place where people don't even care to be honest and genuine.
I will go back to the place I want to be in, even if I have to do it alone. And yes, I will conserve my way. I have age on my side, and that works out great coz it gives me a decent amount of time to learn and figure things out on my own. I don't need narrow minded shit from anyone. I don't need fake, egoistical classmates waiting to pull each other down and use someone else's experience and contacts for one's own benefit eventually back-stabbing a clueless helper. I don't need teachers who don't know jack shit about their subject. I don't need fair-weather friends. I don't need anyone else to tell me what I am worth and what I am capable of, no matter what kind of a big shot that person may be. I don't need a past that will always haunt me. So, without any option, I shall move on, to imbibing that which was good from the past, and use it to create a better future .. a brighter future.. hopefully more so for that poor Gharial.
And yes, I am not satisfied. Because if I had been, I would never have the urge to strive for a better tomorrow. Cribbing is one thing and actually stomping on the egos of those who give a shit about you and moving on, is another. Coz some folks fail to realize, the underlying motive behind our "tribe" is not one-another's downfall. It is conservation. And how you choose to go about it, is your choice and no one else's.