Friday, August 19, 2005

I am in love

I haven't put up stuff since a long time, as I am a bit lazy.
But the details of the last week are, as usual, fuzzy.
But I have a special reason.
I am in love!
The only thing that I remember, other than Pooja, is the fact that on 15th august(our independence day), we had a lecture (system software) taken in the canteen(!!!).
On 17th august, I confessed to Pooja, and since then, I have been 'on cloud number nine' .
Total credit to my friend rashma, for not only introducing, but also for helping me. Thanks a lot.
It was a week ago, that I was introduced to her, and now I am in love, we are crazy about each other.
That is all I have for now,bye.
Could talk more about Pooja, but got to go, have lecture tomorrow,

Reservations in the private sector

By Sanket ‘a bit reserved’ Kambli

Asked about the opposition to reservations in private sector, Manmohan Singh said: “Nobody can avoid it as it is going to be a national policy. Nobody can prevent an idea whose time as come.”

The Congress-led UPA Government has already begun a dialogue on including reservations in the private sector for Dalits.

It is probably the first time that a Central Government has pushed forward an agenda without genuine public demand.

Even though the Government is trying to build a consensus on the issue, what is surprising is there has not been a single move by the Dalits for such reservation.

This policy was declared in Maharashtra, which is going to the election polls soon (not that soon).

But those who read the dailies know that it was in Maharashtra, that Dalits have led the longest movement of "Namantar Movement" for getting Marathwada University's name changed after Babasaheb Ambedkar.

If a Government was not able to change the name of a university after a long movement, how is it ready to give reservation to Dalits in the private sector even without any demands by them?

It seems to be more or less a political stunt by the Congress party, which has no long-term plan for the Dalits and it is a general view that it has lost its credentials among them at national level in general and in Maharashtra in particular.

Though there maybe a need for the policy of affirmative action in the private sector because of a dwindling number of Government and public sector jobs due to privatization, liberalization globalization, and disinvestment, it is believed that Dalits are not convinced that the policy will see the light of day in the near future.

Judging by the past record of the Congress Government(records sourced from other reporting agencies), it has not been able to fulfill the allotted quota of reservation (15 per cent for the Dalits under Article 335 of the Indian Constitution in the central Government and public sectors) even 57 years after the commencement of the reservation policy. Mind you, this quota has been enshrined in the Constitution. Second, the various governments took 44 years to identify other backward classes and to begin the implementation of reservation for them.

Then how can Dalits believe that the Government will implement a reservation policy that is not yet born?

That is why the whole exercise looks more like a political stunt and it seems the Congress wants to hide its own sins of not implementing the reservation in the Government and public sector and plans to shift the debate to the private sector.

If it were sincere and seriously believed that reservation is necessary for the uplift of Dalits, then it should have taken concrete steps toward filling the backlog of vacancies within the Government. What is it waiting for? The Government should immediately remove the administrative hurdles before this plan.

These politicians do not have any authentic data to build an argument on the issue of reservation in the private sector. In fact, they do not have any answers for the questions raised by the private sector players asking whether it is a step against industrialization.

Eco-friendly Ganesh Chaturthi: Dream or Reality

By Sanket ‘dreaming of reality’ kambli

Last time, devotees successfully managed to drown out the civic authorities’ plea for an eco-friendly festival. Though civic officials involved in the mammoth post-festival clean-up operation felt that the quantum of biodegradable debris collected was perceptibly more than in previous years, the non-biodegradable refuse belched back by the sea and debris strewn on the shore told a discouraging story. In Shankar Talao, a small tank in Kandivli thousands of dead fish floated to the surface after the final visarjan, leaving civic workers, to work overtime to clean the pond. One official added that devotees have increasingly been using harmful chemicals in the paints on the Ganesha idols. ‘‘These chemicals greatly deplete the oxygen level in the water, causing the fish to die,’’ he adds.

While another official, blames the increase in the number of idols being immersed. S S Shinde, who was overall in charge of the immersions last year, told Mumabi Newsline that the Nirmalay, or decorations for the idols, included plenty of metal, thermacol and plastic material, which is non-biodegradable. However, he remarks: ‘‘Going by the quantity of Nirmalay collected before the visarjan, it does seem that people have become a little environmentally aware.’’ He explains that the greater the quantum of Nirmalay collected before the visarjan means that much less debris is fed into the sea. ‘‘Though this is just a start, it indicates that people have started recognizing the need for a clean environment’’ he says. Even though some devotees appear to have heeded the eco-awareness drive, the campaign does not appear to have spread uniformly. It is not just Ganesha idols but the many mannequins that accompany him on his last journey and which keep bobbing in the water that give civic workers the runaround. Joining them are huge thermocol decorative pieces that kept floating in the sea. A rationalist body, the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti, and other voluntary agencies, have not only launched a public awareness programme among the devotees but has been making arrangement for collecting the idols for an eco- friendly disposal without hurting religious feelings. Unlike in the past when the idols were made of ordinary colors and plain clay which got dissolved in water easily without causing much pollution, nowadays they are made of plaster of paris, distemper, plastic paint, dyes, metallic powders, adhesives, varnish, fluorescent powders and oil paints. The insoluble plaster of paris chokes natural water sources, seeps into lakes and wells. These chemicals harm the eyes, the skin, respiratory systems and have been reported to cause cancer. The samiti pointed out that the pigments used for painting the idols have poisonous and carcinogenic elements like deadly potassium cyanide and oleum. They even use mercury and lead. To make an idol scintillate, a stirring monomer is used in its colors, which are carcinogenic. All these chemicals, thus, cause dangerous water and land pollution. The water-based colours like distemper have CMC (carboxy methyl cellulose) which is very harmful and glueflex, made from animal bones. To dilute nitrocollulos-based paints, the idol-makers use NC thinner which is dangerous, according to the samiti. Only natural dyes and pigments, sourced from vegetables and soils, are absolutely benign but nobody is using them. Some artists use fabric or poster colours which are comparatively better. The harmful dyes and chemicals make even clay idols dangerous for health and environment. Last year, the samiti and its collaborating associations collected over 20,000 idols in 60 villages and towns of the State and disposed them of in a befitting manner. They also collected flowers and other items used in pooja and turned them into natural fertilizer.

And after reading all this, I can only hope, that people somehow realize the harm this festival can do to us(directly/indirectly), and how easy it is to minimize these effects by following some simple guidelines.

(Statistics sourced from news agencies)

Introducing: A river in Mumbai!

By Sanket ‘watered down’ Kambli

Post-floods many people seem to have understood the meaning and importance of mangroves. And this has put focus on a river, a river in Mumbai, have you recovered from the shock, no, this isn't a typo Error, Mumbai does have a river, it’s called Mithi River. River Mithi is a union of tail water discharges of Powai and Vihar lakes (found it in geography books!!). The river is seasonal and swells during the monsoons. The overflowing lakes also contribute to the flow which is stopped by a dam in other times. During this season the river is a favorite with the anglers who catch large fish that have escaped from the lakes. Fishing is barred there. The river is also a natural drainage channel which carries the excess waters during the monsoons. However it is filthy mainly due to the presence of slums and the discharge of industrial effluents. The river begins at Powai and meets the Arabian Sea at Mahim Creek flowing through residential and industrial complexes of Powai, Saki Naka, Kurla, Kalina, Vakola, Bandra-Kurla complex, Dharavi and Mahim over a distance of about 15 km. The river bed is narrow in the initial stretch and is about 10 meters wide but at Bandra-Kurla complex, it is much wider. The river begins at Powai and meets the Arabian Sea at Mahim Creek flowing through residential/industrial complexes of Powai, Saki Naka, Kurla, Kalina, Vakola, Bandra-Kurla complex, Dharavi and Mahim over a distance of about 15 km. The river bed is narrow initially and is about 10 meters wide but at Bandra-Kurla complex, it is much wider. The river is treated as an open drain by citizens who discharge raw sewage, industrial waste and garbage unchecked. Besides this, illegal activities of washing of oily drums, discharge of unauthorized hazardous waste are also carried out along the course of this river. Cattle sheds in some areas contribute animal waste. Barrel cleaners, scrap dealers and others dump sludge oil, effluent and garbage in the river. The organic waste, sludge and garbage dumping has reduced the carrying capacity of the river. The water with mixture of sewage and industrial waste is a threat to marine life. The river bed is full of sludge, garbage and vegetation growth like hyacinth in many parts. The Maharashtra government has decided to take remedial measures to prevent obstructions to the flow of the Mithi River -- which flows through Mumbai, official sources said on Friday. Meanwhile, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority officials said that a Mithi River Development and Conservation Authority would be set up soon to decide upon issues like removal of encroachments along the river, prohibition of dumping of toxic chemicals and wastes into it and purification of its water.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki n-attacks: A reflection

By Sanket ‘unclear about nuclear’ Kambli

August 6 and August 9 were the 60th anniversaries of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

They are the first and so far only nuclear catastrophes we have ever seen.

As with other anniversaries it is now time for reflection, in the cases of Hiroshima and Nagasaki especially.

As these two bombings and their aftermath, though with hugely devastating consequences for the entire world, seem to be fading from our collective memory, will, consciousness, and other stuff.

It is said, at first, the Americans responded to news of the bomb with a sense of relief.

This was especially true for millions of American soldiers, who knew that the alternative to a Japanese surrender was a grisly invasion of the Japanese mainland.

Just after dropping the bomb, navigator Theodore (Dutch) Van Kirk heard someone aboard the Enola Gay express, "This war is over." As Van Kirk later reflected, he silently agreed with the assessment. "You didn't see how anybody--even the most radical, militaristic, uncaring for their people--how anybody like that could stand up to something like this."

Justice and peace are intimately linked. Where there is armed conflict, injustice thrives, and injustice provides fertile ground for violence.

According to me, the purpose in dropping the bomb was three-fold.

1) Force Japan to surrender unconditionally while avoiding a prolonged invasion.

2) Obtain revenge for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the mistreatment and torture of US soldiers on Bataan.

3) Demonstrate to Russia that we had a weapon of mass destruction and were not afraid to use it.

On August 6, 1945, Colonel Paul Tibbets and his crew flew the Enola Gay, their specially modified B-29 bomber, and dropped "Little Boy" over the city of Hiroshima, Japan.

Within seconds of its detonation, the bomb had destroyed most of central Hiroshima.

A giant fireball unleashed total annihilation and consumed the city.

Buildings, bridges, and human bodies were evaporated by the force of the blast

And successive shockwaves spread throughout the region and a now-familiar mushroom cloud reached heights of over 48,000 feet over the city.

Just three days later, an even more destructive bomb was dropped over the city of Nagasaki.

“The flash of light. The flash of light was like nothing I had ever seen before. Or since.” - Survivor of Hiroshima, July 2005