Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Friday, November 6, 2009

Cricket is our religion, Sachin is our God

1st Feb 1999, M A Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai
India is playing a test match against Pakistan after a long gap of 10 years. After neck to neck scores around 250 in the first three innings, Indians are chasing a target of 271with more than 90 overs to go. Half side is back in pavillion with just 82 on board.
People across the nation are yet to loose hope for the simple reason that the little master is still at the craese. As he is doin it for about a decade now, he once again stands up to expectatioms from his nation.
Nayan Mongia gives him much required help with a half century. They take the score up to 218 where Wasim Akram gets Mongia.
No need to worry though, the god is still there n the target now seems to be within reach.
The score goes up to 254 when Saqlain beats the little master. He leaves the field after scoring a blistering knock of 136.
We were witnessing the drama at one of our friend's place. I was a kid who was yet to understand indian cricket. I couldnt understand why everybody had suddenly become tensed with 17 runs with 3 wickets in hand. Probably they wanted Sachin to hit the winning runs. Crazy people.
Next three indians did not waste much time before I understood the reason behind tension. They were back in pavillion within less than 4 overs. We lost by 12 runs.

...After 10 years...

5 Nov 2009, Hyderabad
A completely different indian side, except for the little master, is playing against the Austrailians in a one dayer.
These days indians dont loose hope till the last ball. And yes people now proudly tell that we have more than match winners now.
Aussies set a mammoth total of 350. Sachin seems to be in good touch and is crusing at decent rate. Nobody is able to hold the other end though with 4 down for 166. Suresh Raina joins the little master and they take the score up to 299 at an unbelievable rate. Indians are cruising towards an amazing victory. Sachin himself fights till 322 when a slow delivery beats him.
I keep telling myself that 19 of 16 is very much possible though I still remember Chennai test.
Praveen Kumar takes i very close with 5 required of 3.
Next ball sums up the whole story. Praveen drives it towards long off n is stretching for second, but an excellent flat throw from the deep right at the stumps makes him fall short by few inches.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Wanna demand somethin in democracy?

Aug 08: Anandvadi a village of about 90 families located on banks of Manjra river, just 22 kms from Latur, hometown of then CM Vilasrao Deshmukh. Construction of Dongargaon dam is in progress downstream Manjra. It will be ready for next monsoon and 650 hactare land will go under water. Government has fixed the rate of the land at Rs. 1.19 lakh per ha. People are furious as this is equal to their annual income.

Sept 08: People approach CM who assures that the state has lots of funds and people from his district need not worry. Relieved people come back only to find through newspapers that the rate has not been increases by a penny. People are completely on their own as no help is expected from any of the political parties. They are desperately searching for a leader who will guide them. Some computer freak gives them contact of a person called Dr. Bharat Patankar.

1 Oct 08: Kasegaon located between Karad and Kolhapur. People meet Doctorsaheb, their new hope. The question putforth is straighforward; what do you want, money or land? People are taken a back as they had never heard of land against land, which by the way is 'official' government policy. The answer was also stright... land. A gathering of all people from 28 surrounding affected villages is scheduled for 26 Oct.

02-21 Oct: Keshav Patil, Rajendra Chame, and Nagmode Guruji travel across the district to inform people about the fight they have started and to urge them to join in. In all there are 28 villages which are going to be affected by Dongargaon and Dhanegaon dams.

22 Oct 08: Residents of Anandvadi are enthralled by the devotion shown by their neighbors and the responsibility their village needs to take. Contributions are made at Rs 200-300 per acre and funds of abt 70,000 are collected, everything voluntary.

26 Oct 08: Three thousand people from 28 villages have voluntarily gathered at Anandvadi, where locals have excellent arrangements. Doctorsaheb is amazed to see what few people from Anandvadi have managed in three weeks; getting together 28 villages was a feet in itself. People unanimously decide to stop the construction until they are relocated.

20 Nov 08: 2000 people are marching towards the Dongargaon dam; the only principle they are going to follow, as told by Doctorsaheb, is no misdeeds of any kind irrespective of how the administration reacts. The engineer in charge at the site is horrified. The demand putforth to him is straight; stop the work untill then we'll be doing bhajan, kirtan, and haripath at the site! He has no choice but to agree.

21 Nov 08: Same story is repeated at nearby site of Dhanegaon dam.

26 Nov 08: The nation is shaken by the terrorist attacks on its financial capital.

29 Nov 08: CM Vilasrao Deshmukh visits battleground along with Ramu; within few hours the future of the state govt turns hazy.

30 Nov 08: As decided, representatives from 28 villages inform Latur police about the 'Thiyya Andolan' they'll be having from tomorrow in front of collector office, for their demand to issue official order to stop dam construction till a detail plan for their relocation is submitted. The police expecting protestors, assign a constable to handle the matter.

01 Dec 08: 5000 people are heading towards latur with enough supplies for at least a week and determination not to come back without what they are demanding for. First meeting with the collector ends on a bad note as the collector is not acknoledging the demands. Now, the protestors say, we'll only talk to CM. Collector tries to persuade them till late night, needless to say with no avail.

02 Dec 08: Local politicians are now coming to help protestors. The reaction, however, is clear: no politics here, we are here for our demands. Some try to lure people with foodstuff, probably unaware that almost every family there holds few acres of land.
At night as the state governent is about to fall, protestors agree to talk with top officials. Poor babus try every trick from playing with words to disturbing the talks by inserting few drunkards in protestors. Finally as protestors show immense patience and determination, they are left with no choice but accept demands word by word.
Official order is issued.

03 DeC 08: CM resigns.

To be continued....

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Being in an organization

Almost all of us are a part of some organization where they work for living. Now its foolish to believe that all of them work just for money. Many of us definitely expect something more than that. Inspite of knowing many happily working people, I am yet to find a person who feels that his organization fufills all of his expectations the way he wants it to and is perfect for him. I, thus, believe that all of us need to compromise in some way or the other (this is what i actually wanted to write in my earlier post about :P) and we choose the best available option to us.

What scares me at this point, however, is that our expectations change with time and slowly get aligned to what we are getting. We probably fool ourselves by believing that 'this is what i can expect at best'. This change takes place very slowly and we are probably very bad at realizing slow changes taking place. I can very well feel this happening to me when I find myself doing things I would never have done at any cost.

How long should i believe that i am at the best possible place? am i scared to come out of comfort zone? am i really weighing all good things correctly or am i taking them for granted? How much should I depend on my conscience? Am i sounding too confused? Am i really? Is it not good to be confused? Well i guess its time to stop for now...

Compromises

Life is full of choices none of which can be labelled good or bad. If one could actually classify black and white, the black ones practically cease to exist; if theres nething perfectly white, we can easily delete other ones; finally we r left with grey ones to deal with.

How should we choose from grey ones when we dont have ne scale (like the ones used in fairness cream ads :-P) and more importantly when the paths we take are going to change their shades with time?

As i am writing this, i am realizing that many a times the shades are not even on grayscale, rather the choices come with different colours alltogether.

Most of us relentlessly try to strike a balance between different colurs while also trying to be on the as brighter point as possible. We try to do so by comromising sometimes on blue n sometimes on green. I am not enjoying this never ending walk on a rope but unfortunately i am not finding any alternative choice for this.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

350

Global Warming due to increasing concentration of greenhouse gases is a serious threat to our environment.

This is a problem which demands concerted action of almost everybody on planet earth. Countries all over the world are working United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to tackle the issue. The present protocol in place for all nations is Kyoto Protocol which, in a nutshell, prescribes emission limits for each country. Kyoto Protocol, however, had only limited success in bringing up required action from all over the world. In coming December UNFCC will hold a Climate Conference in Copenhagen, Netherlands where the next protocol will be finalized.

As far as global warming is concerned, unfortunately, most of the people are still unaware of the gravity of the problem. Many of us still don't feel that it’s an issue demanding urgent action. Countries like India and China many a times do nothing but blaming developed countries.

Here is a primer for those who want to understand the graveness of the situation.
To understand global warming, one just needs to understand following two key figures and the relation between them
  1. Emission rate of CO2, generally expressed in billion tons per annum
  2. Atmospheric concentration of CO2, generally expressed in parts per million by volume (ppm)

Once CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere, the only sinks available to it are oceans and terrestrial ecosystems. A limited amount of CO2 will be absorbed there to complete the carbon cycle. The remaining CO2, however, remains in the atmosphere as an inert gas for hundreds of years. Thus if the amount emitted is greater than that absorbed, the concentration of CO2 goes up. The oceans and terrestrial ecosystems have historically slowed the rise of atmospheric CO2, absorbing more than half of the carbon that has been emitted into the atmosphere since the start of the Industrial Revolution.

As shown in the above figure CO2 emissions have gone up five times in last six decades. And in ‘business as usual’ they will keep on increasing to reach unprecedented levels. The capacity of CO2 sinks to absorb CO2 will definitely go down or at best remain at its current level in the near future for obvious reasons. Thus atmospheric CO2 concentration will go up at increasing rates.


Now look at the above figure which shows atmospheric CO2 concentrations for last four lakh years. As expected the value has shot up since Industrial Revolution. The present level is at 385 ppm. Each ppm of CO2 corresponds to 2.1 billion tons of CO2. Thus with present emission levels at 8 billion per annum, the concentration is going up by 3.8 ppm per year.

Even with present concentration of 385 ppm, average global temperatures is rising, causing number of observable effects like melting of glaciers. So what is the safe concentration level? Till now it was widely regarded that level of 560 ppm will trigger sever climate changes. However, a recent study claims that “if humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted” we can’t have more than 350 ppm (that’s where the title come from) CO2 in the atmosphere.

Now personally I have doubts accuracy of these predictions for the simple fact that nobody has ever observed what happens under such conditions. At the same time, however, shear imbalance in generation and sinking rates of CO2 leading to monotonous rise in CO2 concentration levels, average global temperatures, and rising ocean levels is sufficient for me to believe that something is going wrong. Ecosystems generally operate in equilibrium without such monotonous changes in any of its variables. Studies cited above give much needed support for such intuitive feelings.

Unfortunately, most people around us, including our representatives and leaders, are unaware about all this. Most probably they are not aware about the gravity of the situation. Now what can one do if she fully understands the situation? I think, as a global citizen it’s our duty to convey our feelings to all those who are going to decide the action plan of entire humanity. We cannot just seat back and hope that our representatives and leaders will take appropriate action. We have to tell them that we do care about our environment and you better take our feelings in consideration.

How can we do this? That’s a question with no single answer. Here is an article by Bill McKibben in Resurgence where he explains plans of his organization, 350, to spread the message. In my opinion activities like these will be very effective in spreading the message. I would surely like to be a part of some 350 action on the United Nations Day and be a part of a global movement.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Hypocrisy of Sustainable Living

Nowadays we hear a lot about being ecofriendly, being green, being sustainable, and so on. Local newspapers, national TV channels, Hollywood movies, scientific journals, and almost every possible public institution talk about this stuff. In fact, the word sustainability has become a cliché which is rarely used with its broadest meaning. As defined by UN, “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.

It is widely accepted that our present way of living is not socially and environmentally sustainable. If anybody still does not believe this, there is a lot of scientific stuff like this which will make you reconsider your opinion.

The question which then troubles me (and I believe many more people around the world) is what should we do to advance in a sustainable way? Here I am concerned with actions at personal level and not on macro level. Every expert seems to have her opinion about this. Save electricity, save fuel, use public transport/ bicycle for commuting; everybody seems to come up with a new suggestion. But just how much is required? I can’t claim to have a green lifestyle just because I am using bicycle for commuting. It will be a step in the right direction but is it big enough to make me green? There seems to be a lack of measurement tools and benchmark for sustainable lifestyle on absolute scale.

The confusion doesn’t stop with personal life and even extends to choices I make in my professional life. Should I work on a coal based power plant which will be operating at a slightly higher efficiency than existing ones? Will it mean I am supporting coal based power generation? Is efficiency just a reason I am using to cover myself? Is it not a hypocrisy to commute to the workplace on a bicycle to work on coal fired power plant?

There are many things which nobody, no matter how strongly she wishes, can do at personal level without substantial and far-reaching changes in her lifestyle. If one decides to use only renewable energy, she will either have to spend hefty amount on an array of solar panels or stop using electricity altogether. Here is an inspiring story of one Mark Boyle who is living an oil-free life. Do we really need to change our lifestyles so significantly? I can’t argue against it but I don’t seem to have enough conviction to follow something like this either.

At this point, I think following Business As Usual scenario would simply mean contributing to the problems we are facing today. Some significant steps need to be taken in my personal and professional life. Probably Mark Boyle won’t be able to stop any of the effects of oil consumption on our planet but he can at least claim that he didn’t contribute to any of them.