Archive for December, 2004

December 29, 2004

What can ONE do?

When mother nature decides to unleash a furry. Estimates of number of people dead, is just unimaginable.

A few people donate and try to buy peace for themselves. A few volunteer. I will do my part, rather I am doing some small part, to buy some peace for myself. Do write to me if you want to volunteer in your own way.

It is not easy to move on. It surely is time, we asked the goverment to setup a central disaster management organization. Not just a fund.

Updates from AID – here

Why AID?
We have two people, who did their PhDs in the US, who are in Chennai (because they wanted to be where the action was, long before the tsunami), who have worked with the locals and local groups. AID has been working in the affected regions of Tamil Nadu for more than a decade. Our Indian head office is in Chennai and we know we can do some good work. And volunteering and supporting our ground based groups is how I buy my peace.

December 18, 2004

Choosing a life!

Quiet a signature I used to have, “Happiness is a journey, not a destination”. Today I am seeking paths, road taken and not taken, which lengthen my journey. Am I chasing happiness?

I loved movies. I still love movies. But many movies just last a couple of hours. Enjoy the movie, through the movie and at the end – was not just worth it:) So I am becoming choosy about movies, probably. Though not as much as I want. WHY?

I am a social person. I need and like company. I am certainly not an extrovert – I guess it is just a perspective. But at times being lonely scares me. And I remember very very well how much I wanted to be alone when I had company!

Off late I have been blasting my blog about OneForIndia. And I have noticed the emotional roller coaster I have been on since I decided to divert my energy to that campaign. Socially I have created many more problems than I would love. yes I got burnt out – but heck I love it – I love the campaign. One For India – Making everyONE count” is just a brilliant way to include all the efforts happening for development in India. Every thought counts, every idea counts, every discussion counts! But if I do like it so much, why is it affecting my non-OFI life? I realized it is affecting, because it is just me. The kind of person I am. I guess none of you reading this have any doubt my passion for it!

So far I have sort of resisted a choice of “data items” I want to choose. I dont think I can do that unless I change myself. Certainly there are lot more things in my life, I am probably even ashamed to discuss it so openly on the net! No I am not bothered about some random person reading it – but yes I am at times a lot ashamed. And the first thing I need to do to improve myself is to get rid of the that shame. I guess I dont need to be. Mistakes are done by everyone – at least I didnt kill anyone with those mistakes. (aside: that is a dangerous statement??)

Or probably I should choose something, to keep myself “happy” even through my rough days. Well I am sure these days will end. So I did pick up some options – I am still looking at various issues. There are toooooo many issues for me to get going.

But some are the regular passionate items:
– reservations/affirmative action
– water: it is life
– gender issues

The problem is …. any of the issues are more depressing. Many of my friends wonder for something really small and inconsequential “victory” – I am out there celebrating. But hey, please join the fun, because the time to cheer and celebrate is tooooo tiny and narrow in a development scenario! And these small things have to go on to keep you going:)

So is it going to be a new year resolution that I will work on one of them at least from jan 2005. No – I just cant make promises. I am still surfing for what I can work on. But sometimes life here demands ad hocness….so I need to be flexible too:)

Continued after watching swades: Now that was hell of a movie. A little slow at times, too many issues “subtly” addressed to the attentive eye. Well most of the time, the heroine did steal the attention:) She is amazing!

Times of India carried an article and lot of other people are now carrying articles. Was the movie about this project?! It was.

And to think of going back to India – I will, I want to, still. When, how, why? Questions for a future travel to figure out. Till then – I will fight the snow! It has been horrible today – driving 40 miles to work in snow.

December 10, 2004

Baby steps, drop in the ocean, small is beautiful?

A government claimed it was 100% electrified. A hamlet in the state was dark, always. Challenging the government – they were not heard. Of course, the Govt didnt want to accept that it misled (aside: how convenient is this word when it actually means lied!) the people (read: investors, external or internal) when it claimed the state was 100% electrified.

That small hamlet, in a remote area, faced at odds against a huge dam which was to submerge them but not provide water or electricity built their own hydel power project. This is the story of Bilgaon!

After it managed coverage in various news magazines and the web – the frontline article – or the rediff article and well the MIT Global IndUS award for technology innovation – it caught the eye of one Aushtosh Gowarikar. Incidentally a movie called Swades – with this story of this small hamlet as the inspiration is being released!

I really dont know if the movie addresses any of the issues or how the script is. It is good to be noticed. I am happy, I know my ONE small monetary contribution has gone into the project. I will surely visit it on my next trip home, till then I will watch Sawdes and figure out if I can recognise the locales and the locals:)

Asking the right questions, I believe never hurts. You might end up with a better alternative, just being open – is the clue.

Bilgaon is probably a baby step, a drop in the ocean, but it surely puts the “big” vs “small” into a better limelight.

A big number of small micro hydel projects might be a solution! (self note: Spoken like a true libran:)
Interested people: Please do write to me if you want to see the cost benefit analysis of Bilgaon vs Sardar Sarovar Dam.

December 5, 2004

Fine as long as it is not ME!

Well yeah, that seems to be the attitude – even my attitude. Bhopal is no where close to where I live. If people dont food or water – doesnt matter to me. Sardar Sarovar Dam hasnt displaced me from my house – I should be fine. Why should I bother if none of these affect me negatively and I think they are doing good for my country! Then WHY should I fight?

First of all, as thinking person and seeing all the corruption around (if anyone reading this finds corruption not common in India, do write to me!) – I am scared of big projects – which demand a lot of money. And also unnecessarily move people (dams for instance). As a ‘reasonable’ guy – is it wrong to first question and understand the plans before I make up my mind? Cant I have or should I not have a second opinion? Understand and question whether is it worthwhile to push for these big budget projects like Narmada or whether what the Bhopalis have been demanding is right or wrong?

Am I so inhuman that I have lost sensitivities for the lives of these Indians? Or was I so inhuman always. Dont they deserve at least some attention – people who have lost their homes, lives, livelihoods? What would I do all this happened at my home? In fact how does that happen that these things dont happen near my home?

Skip the last question, but what will I do if it were my home?
I am from India and India is my home. And I will stand up and fight.