Saturday, December 27, 2014

Remembering Tsunami ‘26th December 2004’

It seems like distant past now, we were in Vishakhapatnam living in a multi-story, my daughter was barely two year old. It was morning time and suddenly without warning the building started shaking violently. Deep into the windy winters in the coastal region, the azure water of sea churned menacingly as the Earth shook beneath our feet. People ran out of buildings and were alarmed by the violence of the earthquake. Always while visiting the beach I would observe how the colour of sea would turn dark as the tides changed and each time I would wonder how vulnerable the people living on the coasts were. On 26th December 2004, I realized my apprehensions were not misplaced. Who would have imagined that gigantic waves 115 feet high would turn the coastal region across 14 countries, battered by brutal Tsunami, into grieving grounds as the disaster left 220,000 humans dead in its wake. For months the sea water carried the stench of the dead bodies and the pain washed over the land. After a few days while visiting the market I watched a mentally unstable women grieving, I stopped to listen to her and she whispered to me, “I can hear them all night, they are everywhere and they are grieving.” I asked her who she was talking about. She confided, “These spirits, they are all around wailing all night, washed ashore by the troubled waters.” I could never forget the pain that was almost palpable all around those days. Those who face the brutal force of nature were unprepared as the sea advanced inland wiping away buildings, drowning thousands, with churning waters that carried debris that destroyed everything in its path. This was something that generations of people living across the coasts had never seen, there was no History of this scale of devastation, needless to say there was no preparedness, nor a way to escape the inevitable death and destruction. Andaman and Nicobar, which lay near the epicenter bore the brunt as land disappeared under the sea water. As an earthquake is unpredictable, the Tsunami waves that inundated the islands caught the population there unaware, there was no time to save the possessions and within a few hours everything that people owned, their life’s savings, their homes, their identity, everything were gone. There was no hope and there were no directions that could help them regain some semblance of life. An experienced Doctor narrated his experience about the state of absolute chaos, the team was dispatched by the Government of India to extend medical help to those in need and as the aftershocks shook the land beneath the feet, the Doctors observed that there was no potable water available, due to the decaying carcasses and salt water that had rushed inland the water sources were contaminated, all around the people with broken limbs and shattered raw emotions demanded attention. There was need everywhere but there were no means to reach, assure and heal people in need. The very magnitude of the earthquake measuring 9.3 was unheard of, as was the scale of devastation it caused, these were humans that had lost loved ones and all that they had built their lives around, were they supposed to look for their family, seek their lost homes, seek identity or to struggle for survival? Many states in India were ravaged by these killer waves, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Pondicherry, Andam and Nicobar islands. Later, while working with an American Professor I came across one of his papers where he talks about a man who had learned about early warning in his village and had the presence of mind to warn his village about a possible Tsunami as the massive earthquake had struck Aceh in Indonesia, which was opposite to his village, Nallavadu in Tamil Nadu. He called his sister warning about a possible Tsunami asking her to warn the villagers about the possibility of flooding. Th is early warning by Vijaykumar Gunasekaran saved lives, there was not a single death in their village and in surrounding areas where they could spread this warning. The livestock was saved, the villagers could also save their boats and thus their livelihood. Much later while I was involved in some livelihood projects that were implemented in the regions affected by disaster in Andhra Pradesh, I realized the power of preparedness, of being aware that at any moment without prior warning a disaster can strike. Also about the aftermath where in absence of support, without livelihood how lives can drift towards destitution. Small steps that I read about, the ice buckets for keeping fish fresh for longer period, the platforms to dry fish hygienically made a difference. I am sure these activities brings the communities closer and instills confidence in difficult times. As the World mourns the death and devastation caused by Tsunami ten years ago, it is time to reflect on how humanity has enabled the vulnerable communities in being prepared for natural and manmade disasters. It is time to take stock as we pray for the souls of those who lost their lives in this unprecedented disaster and to use ICT and other means to empower all the people who are at risk both physically and psychologically.

Sunday, November 9, 2014


Ayurveda: Ageless Remedies By Rina Tripathy May 2001 In his early years, N.K. Padmanabhan Vaidyar learnt ayurveda from ancient manuscripts handed down by the great masters. Today, at his clinic in Cochin, India, he claims to cure lethal diseases like hepatitis AyurvedaHis gentle, child-like face somehow assures one of healing and recovery. The doctor tells me the trees around the clinic bear flowers and fruits throughout the year. Strange but true. I’ve heard of the wonder drug Kamilari. ‘Can you really cure hepatitis?’ I ask. ‘Yes, all liver diseases including hepatitis can be cured,’ says N.K.P. Vaidyar, popularly called Vaidyan. ‘We have tried our herbal cures for palliative treatment of AIDS too and the results are quite satisfying.’ His son proffers a bundle of clinical reports. I am amazed to find that each progressive report records a decrease in Bilirubin count till the case of hepatitis B is rendered negative. Similarly, jaundice—with no cure in allopathy—is reportedly cured with Kamilari in a few days. How come ayurveda cures diseases that allopathy can’t? He smiles: ‘The liver is the master organ of the body. If healthy, 90 per cent of problems can be solved. Ayurveda has understood the liver, its working.’ By administering Kamilari, a balance is created in vata, pitta and kapha, stabilizing the metabolism and rejuvenating the liver. Early on, Vaidyan was spurred by the idea of doing away with surgery, which led him to discover drugs that could cure completely. Piles, prostate gland problems, tonsillitis and fistula are some of the diseases for which his ayurvedic drugs are effective. ‘Plants,’ Vaidyan says, ‘clean the environment and some—especially neem and tulsi (basil leaves)—not only benefit humans but also keep the surrounding plants healthy.’ ‘We migrated from Sri Lanka. Our ancestors were physicians of the Maharaja of Kochi. They read the scriptures and made medicines, mostly decoctions of medicinal plants, giving them to the villagers free of cost.’ He claims that all current ailments are mentioned in the scriptures with their remedies. ‘In fact, 15,000 herbs are mentioned in the scriptures of which 850 are used commonly.’ Vaidyan grows 250-350 herbs in his garden and is constantly in search of new herbs. His research has led to the discovery of herbal medicines for all types of stones, diabetes, cholesterol and even hair fall. He further claims that even AIDS patients have shown marked reduction in virulence with his treatment and some are leading healthier lives. According to Vaidyan: ‘Ayurveda restores or creates dharma while allopathy creates karma by supplying what is missing.’ He cites the example of the pancreas—its dharma is to produce insulin. If there’s a malfunction, in allopathy insulin is administered (karma), whereas ayurveda rejuvenates the pancreas (restoring its dharma of producing insulin). Vaidyan says that Ravana had discovered 4,444 diseases and an equal number of single herb cures. He wrote three important books, Kumaratanthram, Arkaprahasham and Nadipariksha. He shows me bundled scriptures in Sanskrit on palm leaves no wider than two inches and a foot and a half in length known as ‘Ollahs’. Next he shows stones that suck out snake venom. ‘These can be used to cure other diseases too,’ he says. ‘They are no ordinary stones, but medicinal concoctions, some a combination of poisons too. These have been made in this form by my ancestors.’ Vaidyan’s attention is now focused on hepatitis. WHO puts the number of the infected in India at 46.5 million (one in twenty). Two million are dying every year from hepatitis, which is many times more virulent than HIV. Moreover, the virus lies dormant for many years and carriers may unknowingly keep transferring it to others. The virus causes jaundice, followed by cirrhosis of the liver and even liver cancer. While jaundice and cirrhosis have been cured with the help of 107 herbs researched by Vaidyan, liver cancer—especially in its advanced stage—is still a challenge. Vaidyan laments that most cancer patients come to him when it is too late. With over a thousand patients under treatment and a success rate of 90 per cent, hope shines bright. The treatment is inexpensive with a package of Kamilari and Hepin that Vaidyan uses after studying the quantitative report. This is done to determine the strength of the virus and the duration of the treatment, which depends on the age and health of the patient, and costs Rs 2,000 per month. Besides, one has to follow a strict diet, avoiding jackfruit, roots like colocasia, fried fish and meat. Vaidyan points out that vaccination against hepatitis has various side effects. ‘No virus or foreign body in the world can strike the immune system if the liver is healthy,’ he emphasizes. Contact: N.K.P. Vaidyar, Post Box No 2051, Cochin 682020, India. Tel: 91-0484-317881/ 311508 (Clinic)/324015 (Res) Email:

Friday, October 3, 2014

Swatch Bharat Mission

Today I had to walk to office and reached Rajpath where our Honourable PM had delivered speech, I walked ahead towards Raisins hill but it was closed so I came back to the place where the stage was being dismantled. People were clicking pictures and a boy requested I take a picture of him and then he also offered to take pictures of me. I came back to Princess Park and near my walking place saw these pieces of glass that I dug out and put these glass pieces in a polythene lying on grass and placed these in a dustbin. My contribution today!

Sawtch Bharat Mission

oday as I was at India gate for morning walk saw this pile of garbage right where people were walking. Could not go past this ignoring the filth, mainly empty medicine bottles, how can people be so insensitive? Looked for polythene, there was none around so looked for it in garbage bin found a newspaper and a polythene, used these to collect the bottles and transport them to the bin on the side. So much of filth even nearby, identified many places were immovable bins should be placed. The video I took of the state of India Gate road and clean up.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

It is as if we can face to face with our soul and I sense through each atom of my being that the soul slips its sweet hand into mine. There is child like trust and absolute innocence. The mind that comes through as consciousness feels protective towards this complete surrender of soul. In a strange sense what comes through is when consciousness can see the soul, it becomes another kind of existence where purity of soul is there to guide at every step. Don't know if I can come across clearly but I have been sensing this in my heart so thought trying to put this in words...

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Jammu and Kashmir is battling one of the worst floods in decades with rivers in the region in spate due to days of incessant rain. Thousands of people are marooned in Jammu and Kashmir, devastated by its worst floods. Srinagar is submerged with people waiting for rescue on terraces and rooftops. Many people have lost contact with their families with phone lines down. Over 200 people have died and thousands are stranded across the state. There is still no connectivity between the remote parts of Jammu and Kashmir. Indian Red Cross Society action: The current flooding of the Jammu and Kashmir state, has seen extensive loss of lives and property. FMRs from the J & K state branch have actively rescued hundreds of people and have moved them to safer ground and offered first aid and psychosocial support to them. The IRCS has also set up tented colonies for the evacuees in Srinagar. The IRCS National Headquarters on its part in the initial phase has been able to mobilize relief of tents, kitchen sets,woollen blankets, tarpaulins,wind cheaters and other relief items to Srinagar and Jammu. Further, two Water Purification units capable of delivering 3000L of drinking water per hour and six units to deliver upto 700 litres per hour have been airlifted to Srinagar, along with trained personnel to set the units up. The 2 units delivering 3000 liters of water per hour are now operational.Around potable water is being distributed by Indian Red Cross Society to the flood victims.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


खिलते फूलो की वादी शायद फूल और धूप खिले है वादी में आज और तुम... बैठी हो चिनार तले एक सफ़ेद पत्थर पे ठंडी धार में पांव रखे धरा से व्योम तक हिमालय की गोद भरे . ..
When I was eighteen I had very strong views about when a person should living. I used to think that 40 is too old and one should just die before turning 40, had researched into ways of taking life and the best I found at that time was to take sedation and tie a stone on one's body and drown in a peaceful lake, am sure must have written a poem on that. My friend and mentor Namita always insisted that it is this age forties when life starts getting sorted. Really, I thank her for her encouraging words, life really becomes beautiful-touchwood- after forty. You understand things, you appreciate small joys and have a clearer perspective. After the major responsibilities of bringing up children, a woman can finally get some time to sit with herself and contemplate life and give back to the society. They say in Hindi 'umar aur akal ki mulakat nahi hoti' kind of translates to- age and wisdom never meet, guess they do meet and how, when one turns forty. रात तीन बजे उपजी कविता! बीज मैंने धरा के उदार सीने में बीजों के प्रश्न बोये कभी कुछ दिनों, कभी में महीनो में फूलों के उत्तर आये लाल , संतरी, बैगनी कोमल लहलहाती हरयाली में लिपटे नन्हे बीज रंग और सुगंध बन कर लहराए।


आहट हाथों में फूल लिए नदी बीच किसी धुली चट्टान पर मनन करुँ तुम्हारा धरा से आकाश तक, हर पल कोई रिश्ता है इस मन का और काली घटाओं का नीले विस्तार का और धरा की हरी सांस का ये सांस अब बसने लगी है उस सांस में जिसकी आहट अब रात ढले जागती है हमें रीना


Price of' 'green energy' after felling down 3 Lakh forest trees is innumerable deaths in Malin tragedy. Many more such losses can be prevented by prompt action intime. I really fear such loss of life in the congested city of Almora where the houses of concrete and brihs are built without any scientific planning. During previous monsoons also there have been cases of landslides where the mud and rocks have torn down houses, fortunately there were no casualties. During Tehri earthquake the major cause of deaths were collapsing of these brick and cement houses, since then it has be found out by research that stone and mud traditional houses suit best to the mountains, still there is no sound implementation of this finding in these disaster prone areas. Just as all causes are being discusses when this disaster has struck, the lesson learned through such loss of life should not be lost. Cutting of trees is a serious crime, each project should be evaluated and the risks should be ascertained before the go ahead.

My heart swells with pride as I hear my Prime Minister speak. I have no doubts now that he is Shri Kalki that my Guru had promised. I feel blessed to be a citizen of India, of this great spiritual land that had always been a beacon of light for human civilizations. To hear him speak on female infanticide, to see him request the Doctors to refrain from such practices and also pray to parents to allow their daughters to live and flourish brought tears to my eyes. He has touched a raw nerve when he spoke of how the women suffer and wait till it is dark to go out in the open to address nature's call. We all know the facts yet turn a blind eye to the glaring problems. And then when he points out that we could overthrow a colonial power without any help what stops us now from eradicating poverty? He has invoked the youth to take up the mantra of 'made in India' and make sure that the world comes to India and makes in India. I am grateful to the creator who gave us such a Prime Minister. I feel we all must respond to his call and put in everything in our might to create a beautiful, clean and prosperous Nation where the world visits to see and learn from our heritage and culture. Jai Hind!

Fragrance of Winters is already here, yesterday came across twinkling parijaat flowers spread across the green carpet of dew-soaked grass. I picked up many to float these in stone bowl. Flowers open up Agya chakra, my Guru Shri Nirmala Ma taught us. Perhaps this is the reason why flowers are used during prayers. Inhaling the subtle fragrance of Parijaat flowers immediately transported to my childhood when we used to collect parijaat flowres early mornings and string them on grass stems making tiny garlands for stone Gods that we enshrined in brick temples complete with a paper flag on stick and offerings of a strange but tasty 'prasad' that we kids invented- we used to mix black pepper powder into curd with tulsi leaves and sugar and very devotedly imitating the priest distribute it to all other children, who would slurp it with dignity and offer flowers to the stone deity. For long this practice went on, once a friend's father was quiet ill, this is the time we used to pray very intensely and he recovered completely. Children have pure hearts and perhaps those prayers and humble temple we created did become a medium to send an earnest prayer... To breath in the morning breeze, to see golden rays through dew soaked leaves of a tree is a blessing. Long ago when I was very in in Visakhapatnam, something in my body had almost immobilized me, I would look out of the window in vacant silent noons trying to imbibe in all that movement in Mother Nature. Gradually I gained strength and in early mornings around four when it was still dark I would slowly walk with aching limbs to a giant Peepal tree that had Banyan tree around, these trees when fgrowing together are worshiped as Shri Shiva And Shri Shakti. I would embrace this tree and weep asking the tree to give me its strength so that my body would move again, within one week I regained my strength, meditating beneath the trees connects one to the creator. Another thought...A beautiful day...hues reflect indirect light and somewhere inside there is a feeling that as they say in Hindu scriptures 'ne asti ne asti': this is not... this all that comes together as matter is an illusion. Ego subsides and then a bliss spreads all across the mind and soul as there remain no hurts, injuries but just a bliss of being that embraces the self... याद एक बरगद का पेड़ जटाओं सी जड़े हवा में फैलाए रो रहा था सड़क किनारे कुछ चिड़िया गुनगुना रही थी बिसरे गीत टहनियों पर मैं ठहरी रही छाँव तले तेरी यादों की नदी में डुबाये ठहरे मन को देर तक साँझ ढल गयी आज निकल आये तारे, बुझते जलते तेरी याद में दिया रखा है यहाँ पीपल बरगद तले, ओस की बूँद आ गिरी आँखों में सावन है और रोता रहा बरगद फिर सारी सारी रात

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


This Thursday I plan to start a book, most probably on Spirituality, has been on my mind for a while. Some research material is there rest I will have to look for... राह कहीं तो राह मिले एक बाज़ार सा बिछा है फूलों कि ओट में नश्तर छुपा है रूह छलनी है राह दिखती नहीं मिला ले खुदी में यहाँ क्या रखा है

I am Realising after we shifted to this multi story how healing the touch of Mother Nature is. Today as warm golden rays filtered through Banyan roots, I sat meditating on Mother Earth. A peacock strutted near by and tiny wild flowers blossomed near my feet. In the silence stillness of thoughts cocooned my being in soothing aura. The elements spoke to the elements, prayed the ether to bless all that constituted this flesh and blood existence and prayed to Mother Earth to absorb all the nativities in its loving patient embrace. Often I have realised that the surrender leads to a wonderful existence. Whatever that power is, creator or the omnipresent intelligence has a magical way to show us humans that it has accepted our complete surrender. Often it stuns me when I am panicking looking for an answer and suddenly the answer with absolute clarity, sometimes I find myself coming up with facts and figures that are nowhere in my brain. It seems that when there is thoughtlessness and we get absorbed into the source the answers are drawn by that intelligence and handed to us. The creator it seems is playful and there are signs that lead us to the right answers. Now, I have almost given up worrying and thinking what would follow as I have seen even the tiniest of wishes are heeded. There is a doha by Kabir " Masjid upar mullah pukare/kya Sahib tera behra hai? /Chinti ke pag nevar bandhe/ so bhi Sahib sunta hai." The mulla gives ajaan and calls to the God, even when an ant's anklet makes a tiny sound, God hears! Is your God deaf that you climb up and call so loudly? Kabir beautifully brought out the meaninglessness of hollow rituals in his dohas and when I see every wish granted in time I feel the same, chinti ke pag nebar baje so bhi malik sunta hai!Seeking Answers When understanding fails Acceptance begins Ego submerges Soul emerges To know is to be silently In awe, of creation Seeking ceases Self emerges Small questions are granted Small answers When questions cease Realization emerges...

My Guru's Teachings

My daughter Jayani was about to sleep when she turned to me and asked " Mamma, you said Sada Shiva and AdiShakti created this Universe, then who created them?" That was an intelligent question and I knew it would go on and on if I replied that some intelligence created them, the next question would be-who created that intelligence? For things that the mind cannot comprehend, it is best to trust the Sad Guru, as Kabir rightly taught: " यह तन विष की बेलरी, गुरु अमृत की खान शीश दिए सतगुरु मिले तो भी सस्ता जान " My Guru, Nirmala Ma on how the creation came about: In the beginning of creation, whole creation was merged in SRI SADASHIVA, who was in YOGA NIDHRA. When SHRI SADASHIVA woke up from YOGA NIDHRA, He had a desire. This desire manifested as ADISAKTI , the source and cause of whole creation. Adishakthi on separation from the SHRI SADASHIVA transformed into TRIGUNATMIKA PRAKRTI which had three forms as MAHAKALI, MAHA SARASWATI and MAHA LAKSHMI & constituted to the TAMASIK, RAJASIK and SATWIK aspects of nature in creation. ADI SHAKTHI only further transformed into various forms of living and non living, thus creating THE CREATION. THIS FORM OF CREATION IS ALSO KNOWN AS “VIRATA”. A Human being is the micro form of VIRATA the MACRO BEING. In the creation, original Kundalini instrument: Adi Kundalini, Chakras, Nadis & related Gods and Goddess is in VIRATA. The kundalini mother in a human is a reflection of the original kundalini mother in VIRATA, All happenings and events in the creation at micro level are a reflection of the divine plan at the macro level.

I was completely overwhelmed by the beauty here, is difficult to put it down in words. I was speechless and at times I had tears in my eyes, such a blessing, such beauty created for insignificant me?In temples I stood speechless unable to ask for a wish, surrounded by towering fragrant devdars and pines beneath the stark blue sky, as the river played music on pebbles and rocks I prayed that this body, mind and soul should just be an instrument for the creator to work as he wishes. Humbled at each breath... This acient Shiva temple is situated near Mansabal lake. It is partially submerged but the caretaker said that water was drained a bit and it was cleaned, there is a shivling inside the temple and many fish swim in the clear water of this spring, which is the source of this water. Observed that a mountain faces this temple, looks more like a swayambhu, the temple faces West and has immense vibrations-cool breeze that emanates from palms and fontanel bone area in head when visiting the 'jagrut' temples or sites. When we visit such places the water element present there has special propertes and can cleanes our subtle system of chakras and nadis( 7 chakras, three nadis of Ida, Pingla and Sushumna) if we pray to the creator to cleanse the system and dip our hands/feet in water. My Guru Shri Nirmala Ma taught us Sahaj Yogis to revere all such sites. Paradise on Earth. This is Gulmarg, meadow of flowers... Paradise I breath in stark blue sky A million blossoms unfurl I walk on velvet of your heart Till rivers sing me to sleep Embracing the moonlit night I breath in the stars tonight... सोऽहं कितनी गहरी बात जायेगा ना कुछ साथ फिर भी मन के ताने देखो इच्छाओं के बाने देखो तन गल जाये मौम सा फिर भी न छोड़े साथ रोज़ रात को नींद पढ़ाये सहज मोक्ष का पाठ इच्छाओं के कीच छोड़ रहें स्वयं के साथ
विनती हे आदि शक्ति हे सदा शिव चरण कमल पर अर्पण तन मन प्राण श्वास चले, तन इत उत डोले सदा आप में रहे स्थित ध्यान

I visited Jammu and Kashmir recently, I thought I should share my observations:Visited Kashmir, the beauty is beyond words. There are delicate flowers in every hue, the mountains are overflowing with beauty and melody. The breeze is always fragrant with the sap of deep green devdars trees. Wild birds twitter in the forests and near rivers and lakes. In the nights Sonmarg valley was like a bowl surrounded on all sides by mountains, a bright moon bathed the night in blue light, the snow clad peaks shined bright in the night just as the stars shimmered in this inky blue bowl. The night was embraced by the serene melody of flowing Lidder river. An ancient Shiva temple is situated near Mansabal lake. It is partially submerged but the caretaker said that water was drained a bit and it was cleaned, there is a shivling inside the temple and many fish swim in the clear water of this spring, which is the source of this water. Observed that a mountain faces this temple, looks more like a swayambhu, the temple faces West and has immense vibrations-cool breeze that emanates from palms and fontanel bone area in head when visiting the 'jagrut' temples or sites. When we visit such places the water element present there has special propertes and can cleanes our subtle system of chakras and nadis( 7 chakras, three nadis of Ida, Pingla and Sushumna) if we pray to the creator to cleanse the system and dip our hands/feet in water. My Guru Shri Nirmala Ma taught us Sahaj Yogis to revere all such sites. There is abundance of water in Kashmir as many rivers flow through the region, the soil is fertile. Mother Earth blossoms here. There are Chinar trees in Srinagar and Devdars and pines in higher regions of Sonmarg, Gulmarg and Pehalgaon. Jhelum flows through Srinagar, Lidder flows through Pahelgaon and Indus through Sonmarg. Truly Himalayas are the living mountains. Just as the beauty leaves on breathless as one tries to imbibe the sweetness of nature, it makes the heart swell with pride to see our army protecting the Mother Land keeping the vigil in harsh terrains. While returning read many sour views that left a little bitter taste, these things were about separatist sentiment even while dynamics of the region are a bit complex, the special priviledges extended to the state should have encouraged unwavering loyalty. The Indian citizens here do not have to pay taxes like the citizens in the rest of the country. The laws of the land are different here- no one apart from the Kashmiri people is permitted to buy land in Kashmir while the Kashmiri people can buy land any where in India. While it requires a Kashmiri partner to do business in Kashmir, I came across hundreds of small entrepreneurs running shops of woolens, hotels, handicrafts who regularly travel to Northern plains like Delhi, UP etc in the months of Winter. There is a lot of debate going on Article 370, it seems logical to carry out an audit of the benefits/drawbacks of the special privileges extended to the state under this Article. Further, massive Development grants are released annually to the state, these should have resulted in unwavering loyalty towards the Mother Land. If there is still a separatist sentiment( by pure accident I picked up two news papers - 'Kashmir Observer and Precious Kashmir 'and came across some content that is objectionable in every sense, was surprised to see such things published openly) than for sure the extra effort on the part of the Government is being taken for granted. As we moved into the Sonmarg area there were massive clouds of dust swirling about against the silent beauty of devdars, on both banks of Indus/Sindhu river massive construction was taking place. It seems new hotels are being built in this ecologically fragile area, will not be surprising if the Uttarakhand tragedy is repeated here. I also observed that at the very source of rivers, where these originate from melting glaciers, open defecation is common practice. In Sonmarg on the banks of Indus river, came across people openly defecating on the banks and down the river small children were drinking the river water. All along the banks against the breath taking beauty, the stench of human excreta was a violent assault on the senses.There were biologically non degradable waste scattered every where-lays chips wrappers, polythenes and cold drink and packed water plastic bottles. I have some pictures of tourist spots surrounded by tons of these non degradable waste, it was painful to see the contrast. The problems are simple and so are the solutions, placement of non removable metal dustbins(as lighter ones get stolen), construction of toilets at a safe distance from source of water and implementing logical and just laws applicable to the rest of the nation. What the nature has so lovingly created, we humans have damaged and polluted. So, it was a bitter sweet vacation. I have seen now how important toilet construction is and why we need to create awareness at a large scale. सोनमर्ग रात बिखरी थी धवल शिखर पर सोती पंखुरियों पर, नदी की धार पर चांदनी को अंजुली में थामा था पर्वतो ने देवदारु धुले से शांत नीली रौशनी में गहराती शांत रात, दूर किसी मंदिर की कांसे की घंटियों की आवाज़

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Deep orange sun peeps through the corner of the window, breeze warms up quickly and another scorching day begins. Yesterday, while discussing the political scenario with a very respected senior official, it was a pleasant surprise that he had wept while hearing our Prime Minister speak. He added that in Shri Narendra Modi India has landed with a 'heera' and now the law and order shall improve along with the quality of life. The discussion would have gone on but he had to prepare for a meeting. The election of General V.K. Singh from Ghaziabad is like meeting of absolute opposites, at one point in time Ghaziabad was identified on the world map as the crime hub. It was a surprise that the place was known internationally for the crime rate. Then, I experienced it personally and it is true the pinch of being on receiving end makes one realize the gravity of the situation. During broad day time when my father left home for bank to get crisp currency notes as wedding present for a relative, three thieves entered the house. My mother is a teacher so she was not at home. When my father returned he thought that perhaps mummy was already home so he began to unlatch the gate. At this the three young thieves who were well dressed rushed to the gate and threatened my father with a long knife, then pushing open the gate they ran away as my old father tried to follow them. These thieves had parked their car in a nearby lane and ran away. Then started the trauma of the FIR not being registered, futile rounds to the authorities for request to look into the security aspect. We were happy that parents were safe, money and possessions can be earned but the incident would have threatened their lives had they been inside the house as murders of senior citizens are common. The very thought brought fear into our hearts, we were happy that they were safe, but thinking deeply I question the very idea of governance. Is this what you get after working hard for Government all though your life? Teaching thousands of children, giving your sweat and blood to work and then be denied of even the basic essential things like law and order and right to complain against such brazen crimes? The place is bizarre to say the least, there is electricity for just few hours even when you are paying the bills. The sewage flows in open and once to my horror during rainy season some children were swimming in the big nalla that is adjacent to patparganj. It is farfetched in this vast state that is bigger than some of the Europe countries to even get the basic amenities. Then what chance do the poor citizens who are looted of their life savings have? Will things change? Will people come out of the slavery imposed where they meekly suffer power cuts, lack of water supply/ contaminated water supply? With a person from disciplined organization, will the law and order improve? I agree it is my concern for parents that makes me ask these questions but it is high time we ask for what is rightfully ours after paying the taxes and serving the country honestly.

Monday, May 19, 2014

It was an amazing experience to read Ambedkar and edit these books. How he struggled against discrimination and rose up against all odds to lead the downtrodden towards light. He has authority over varied subjects like religion, law, women's rights and all the subjects that can be imagined. Babasaheb Ambedkar has already given us the solutions to all the prevailing ills. I was amazed to discover while reading his speeches that he had already written a lot on how India should be divided into smaller states for good governance and sadly the process is still continuing with so many illogical war of words. I shall write more on what I learned, for now I just can say this that instead of reinventing the wheel our politicians and masses should read Ambedkar for clarity on all issues.

I would like to share the event that triggered my interest in the Environmental studies. We were visiting Kedarnath in the year 2004 in the Uttarakhand Himalayas and as we traveled up the narrow passage crowded with humans, mules and horses, the immense beauty of the sacred shrine gradually blossomed. A stark contrast was the scattered waste, all the way though, like an eyesore. I tried to pick up as many plastic wrappers as I could. To this, my husband said that I could better help the cause by writing about the environment as this would create awareness, lack of which is the root cause of such environmental degradation. The ideas stuck with me and as we reached the shrine the stark contrast of the snow-white peaks against the reeking pool of human excreta and Caracas that lay floating in that contaminated sludge made me weep in utter helplessness. The irony is that this constant abuse of the track can be easily contained as there is just a single track and vast manpower available due to presence of Indian Army but still the problem is allowed to fester. I observed that a huge glacier had rammed into a guesthouse near the shrine, people native to the place told that this was unusual melting and path for the glacier. What else can we expect, especially when such a massive assault on the environment is taking place? I was deeply disturbed and met the advisor to Government of India at CGO complex explaining what could be done regarding the Kedarnath trek. He laughed at my idea about creating a soak pit and using the gradient of the hill to direct the waste into the soak pit. Next, when I visited G.B Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, I reluctantly broached the subject with Dr Upendra Dhar, who surprised me with a project report, which was regarding the creation of such a soak pit and was in cold storage as the government had changed on the wrong time!. Somehow this gave me a conviction that I was not too wrong about the solution for the great damage that was brought to the pristine environment of Kedarnath. Last year when the Kedarnath tragedy happened, I dug out this old mail of mine and was thinking that this should be brought to notice of people who care. Yesterday as I watched you Mr Modi, it was wonderful to hear of a Prime Minister speaking about cleanliness as Gandhi Ji first taught about hygiene wherever he went, best practices were taught in villages, that is a true teacher and a true leader who encourages change through practice, long time ago I had read that even a toilet seat used to travel with Gandhi Ji for demostrations in villages. While visiting Kedarnath and Badri Nath, there is a simple thing one can observe and that is- initially when Bhagirathi and Mandakini merge, Ganga Ji is pure and as she descends slowly it gets contaminated. There can be two approached to clean this beautiful river- one is to start where there is maximum contamination being dumped into the river and second is to start the awareness drive right from the point of descend of the river. There are products like degradable bags with urea that turn human excreta into fertilizer, which can be distributed on the shores as constructing toilets nearby will contaminate the ground water, which is a serious problem in Uttarakhand. With mobalisation of volunteers, the drainage of ‘200,000 crores would not be necessary. A lot can be learned through how Europe cleaned their polluted rivers. Thanks for taking up this issue on the first day of your public appearance after elections. गंगा गंगा, क्यों हो इतनी उत्कल छोड़ पवित्र प्रांगण इतनी विकल पोछने को दग्ध तन मन तभी कहते तुम्हे माँ देती हमें मन, प्राण, तन छोड़ सघन प्रिय वन तीव्र लांघती गिरी कानन अति विकल गंगा का मन मनुष्य दूषित करते तन फिर भी बहती सरस सरल भरती घर आँगन

I work with the Red Cross and this was a felicitation ceremony for those who contributed towards disaster relief during the Uttarakhand flash floods tragedy. There are 4800 First Medical Responders in Uttarakhand as a result of a pilot project taken up with Government of Uttarakhand besides the Disaster Management program run by Indian Red Cross society there trains many more to respond during the disasters. This preparedness made huge impact, here is a glimpse of what all was achieved: The Uttarakhand flash floods that devastated the region following the heavy rains on 16/17 Jun 2013 in the state of Uttarakhand affected and displaced a large number of people. The unprecedented scale of disaster in the state of Uttarakhand saw the heaviest flooding and landslides in the state over the last 80 years. The Indian Government called the disaster ‘The Himalayan Tsunami’. It was the worst disaster since the Tsunami of 2004. The disaster was a result of a possible Glacier Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) and excessive rains that triggered flash floods and landslides. The total rainfall in Uttarakhand in the period from 01 to 18 June 2013 was 385.1 mm, which was the highest in the last 80 years. The normal rainfall during this period is 71.3 mm, indicating that rainfall was 440% above the normal. Continuous rains caused water levels to rise, and swollen rivers swept away entire temple towns of Kedarnath and Rambara, villages leaving travelers, pilgrims and local people stranded. Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) had issued an early warning about unseasonal rain and snow in the upper reaches of the Himalayas, the impending floods, and the recommendation to move people to safer places. However, the vulnerable regions around the rivers had no early warning about the possibility of flash floods and infrastructure worth crores was washed away. Even a week after the disaster there were people stuck in inaccessible areas in the mountains as many of the roads had been washed away or blocked by the numerous landslides. The tough terrain added to the difficulties of the search and rescue operations. Despite the challenging conditions, more than a lakh people were evacuated in one of the largest evacuation operation by the Government. Many of these people were wounded and hungry. They had walked miles trying to find a way to civilization. There was an urgent need of food, shelter and medication. Many had lost their loved ones and needed counseling in this time of trauma and pain. The IRCS State Branch reported to the NHQ the crisis situation which had emerged in the state due to the flash floods triggered by heavy rainfall affecting 12 out of the 13 districts in Uttarakhand. The 4 districts that were worst affected were Rudraprayag, Chamoli, Uttarkashi and Pithoragarh. Notwithstanding the difficulties in accessing locations, the relief operations of IRCS were significantly scaled up and relief was provided in the districts. Notwithstanding the difficulties in accessing locations, the relief operations of IRCS was significantly scaled up and relief was provided in the districts of Uttarkashi, Rudraprayag, Chamoli, Pithoragarh and Pauri. Four National Disaster Response Team (NDRT) / National Disaster Water Response Teams (NDWTs) members had been deployed to Uttarkashi and Pithoragarh districts to carry out need assessment. In Pithoragargh, Darchula and Munsiyari Tehsils had been worst affected by the flash floods. Balwakot, Nayabasthi, Ghoti were found to be the most inaccessible villages due to damaged roads and the assessment teams were required to cover distances of 5-8 kms on foot to reach these villages for undertaking needs assessment. Further, it emerged that the local population in these areas had been living in tents. Trained Red Cross First Medical Responders (FMRs) had been working closely and assisting the local people in temporary shelters. Since the onset of the disaster, more than 200 FMRs had been providing psychosocial support, Family News Service (FNS) and tracing services to people stranded in their respective regions. In Rishikesh, IRCS Tracing Office and DM Coordinator started “MAY I HELP YOU” Centre, whereby FMR volunteers were trained in FNS to register “I AM ALIVE” messages, and tracing requests. Tracing requests were collected from the family members about the missing people for Kedarnath, Rambara, and Gourigund camps. Additionally, the teams had been working closely with the local government hospitals and police stations for collecting information on missing persons. IRCS volunteers had been able to pitch tents near Vikas Bhawan in Joshiyara in Uttarkashi district. This area was being set up as a Red Cross camp. Construction of latrines in the camp site was carried out. Additionally, electricity lighting arrangements at this camp site was done. A health camp was organized by FMRs in Maneri village, Uttarkashi district. Of the three large Water Purification Machines (NORIT) dispatched by IRCS (each having a capacity to provide about 2000 ltrs of potable water per hour), one water purification unit had been installed in Uttarkashi by 15 FMRS. Water storage tanks T11 with a storage capacity of 11,000 litres had also been installed. This facilitated distribution of purified water to the affected local population. The second NORIT Water purification unit was installed in Guptkashi on 10 Jun 13 . An additional group of 04 NDWRT personnel were deployed on 09 and 10 Jul 13, to install and operationalise the 3rd NORIT unit. In addition, two of the three manpack units (units can be carried by volunteers and can provide 80 liters of portable water per hour) were made operational in Guptakashi and Pithoragarh. Considering the massive response that was undertaken by Indian Red Cross Society, the felicitation ceremony was a fitting tribute to all those who contributed towards this human tragedy.