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Love the Country, Can’t Stand the Scene

I don’t really know why I am writing this.

I drove roughly two hours today seeking a tea stall where I can have a cup of sweet and hot tea, deshi style, to enjoy the drizzle and the much waited rains after a week of stifling heat of Kolkata April.

My city mates might be frowning by now. Driving two hours looking for a tea stall? Well, in Kolkata every block has two of them. Read more >>

Harvesting Hope

“Green water is ignored by engineers because they can’t pipe or pump it, by economists because they can’t price it, and by governments because they can’t tax it.” -David Dent, Director, Green Water Credits

Worldchanging guest writers David Zak and Chad Monfreda write in their article “If green is the new black, then water is the new oil. With climate change threatening harsher droughts and water scarcity facing nearly 60% of humanity, water is critical to any vision of sustainability.”

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The King is Dead, Long Live the Queen?

Ambika Mahapatra. Photo Courtesy Facebook/HT

A recent arrest of Ambika Mahapatra, a professor of Physical Chemistry in the Jadavpur University of Kolkata left the city agitated with protests from student and teacher communities and civil society organizations. The social media sites like Facebook buzzed with angry to humorous protests by netizens mocking and rediculing the Police and the State Administration for excessive regulation of freedom of expression and political over-lordship. Ms. Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal and her less than one year old administration came under severe criticism as well.

News here. Prof arrested, univ rises in protest against Mamata – Hindustan Times .

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Earth Day 2012 on top of the World

I grew up in this town, my poetry was born between the hill and the river, it took its voice from the rain, and like the timber, it steeped itself in the forests

Pablo Neruda

It was almost 9.30 p.m  as Jan Shatabdi Express from Delhi sluggishly rolled in alongside Dehradun. I left the comfort of the air conditioned chair-car, anticipation eating into me and was breathing the familiar Indian Rail station smell. No, I did not grow up in this town and my poetry is novice. But I am in eternal tug and pull between hill and river; I saw life in great river country of Bengal and fell in love with it. Yet Himalaya with its lofty heights and ancient stories beckoned me all my life. Presently, on this railway platform, I was going to meet a friend whom I have not seen with my eyes. It could not get any more exciting!

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Reassuring Guarantee For The People Of India

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005 ( MNREGA 2005) enacted by the Government of India in 34 Indian States and Union Territories aimed at enhancing the livelihood security of people in rural areas by guaranteeing 100 days of wage-employment annually to an adult member of a rural household to do unskilled manual work.

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Limits To Growth And Beyond – Part II

Affluence is a relative term in societal contexts because in each society standards there are rich and poor. But there are few in the world, as many from North as from South, who are rich by any standard. Similarly, despite raised standard of living, there are under-privileged people in both the developed and developing nations, people who lack jobs, health security, education, food and home. And there are a large number of people under famine, malnutrition, water and sanitation stress and vulnerable to diseases and death. When world economy collapses and industrial output plummets down the curve, it is the most vulnerable section of humanity that receives the mortal blow first. But for now, the Limits to Growth are felt by the affluent societies of the developed world more than the developing world.

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Limits To Growth And Beyond – Part 1

In my post ‘ Darker side of growth ’ in European Journalism Centre I asked a question: In a pond if lotuses grow such that every next minute they double and if this minute the pond is half full, how long will it take for the lotuses to fill the pond?

While it sounded like a quiz to some, I intended to impress my readers about the scary aspect of exponential growth in any finite system. Such growth is certainly runaway and anything designed to grow in that manner is easily unsustainable. I cannot take Kenneth Boulding lightly. Meanwhile I found a more impressive audio visual way to carry the message home.

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Climate Literacy

It was a rainy afternoon when my friend Anupama Sen and I were stuck in the small coffee-shop in south Calcutta. Anupama is my childhood friend, now a renowned physician in the city with a neat six figure private practice – I recalled her super sharp mind and fierce debating skills from the high school days. We seemed to meet each other couple of years by jolly coincidence in all unlikely places and the current being in the boring office of Motor Vehicles department where we both turned up for renewal of our driving licenses. As old friends we fell prey to the temptations of catching up with one another in a CCD shop and an unexpected November shower stranded us up.

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A Truth Of Folly

Better indeed is knowledge than mechanical practice. Better than knowledge is meditation. But better still is surrender of attachment to results, because there follows immediate peace.

Bhagavad Gita

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When Friedrich Max Muller (1823-1900), a Sanskritist at Oxford was speaking of Indians as “our elder brethren”, much to the displeasure of the colonial and missionary authorities who ruled India, he hardly knew his idea could spark off a meme that would, in a span of 100 years, challenge the Nehruvian ideal of a Secular Democracy for India. Many British administrators despised the dark-skinned natives, while Christian priests were horrified by their “idolatrous errors, senseless mummeries… and bloody barbarous sacrifices”. The popular belief of the West had been that the Colonial West represented a racial supremacy over the Indian people in the east but this belief drew strength from a much recent Christian world view and 200 year history of Industrial revolution.

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Will James Inhofe Have The Last Laugh?

So what did the world get out of COP 17 at Durban? And more specifically what did the developing countries, which are just about appearing over the horizon of the greenhouse emissions historically created by the developed and rich nations already? It will be hard not to speculate how exactly the ravages of global warming and climate change will be dealt at our own doorsteps, be it mountainous states of Himalayas or the coastal provinces of the subcontinent. Hard, because, at the end of the day nobody will be truly interested in the political byplay of words, ricocheting statistics of carbon in the air, increase in the average temperature of earth. And everybody is interested to see positive changes towards an old and wasteful business as usual scenario. Everybody wants to see the arrest of increasing livelihood stresses, growing periodicity of extreme weather, nagging poverty, lack of health, food, water and everybody looks up to the leaders to find ways and means for those. Where does COP 17 stand in light of those expectations?

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All opinions are solely those of the author. Reader's discretion necessary for using any of the contents of this website. (c) Pabitra Mukhopadhyay 2011
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