Strange Political Bedfellows!

We need strong Bharat and not political dramas!

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My resolve of not writing about political things is broken again. The happenings in Bangalore are such that many thoughts come to mind and I see that the same things get repeated again and again and again! This is irrespective of parties involved. Why people take decisions like the one taken by BJP is simply beyond my understanding. It is said that you see strange bed fellows in politics and it gets proven again.  

Years back, Quattrocchi an Italian Businessman was being haunted by Indian officials for his misdeeds in India. They went to Malaysia to arrest him. The then Indian Prime Minister Deve Gowda’s government had vigorously taken action against this Italian national. The Prime Minister had formed the government in Delhi, with support of Indian Congress, led by Sonia Gandhi! She was against this action but government rightly pursued the case (How can you arrest an Italian Friend?). Quattrocchi simply told our officials that there is no extradition treaty between India and Malaysia; our officials came back empty handed. Within a few days Sonia Gandhi, the then Goddess, “punished” Deve Gowda by withdrawing support for his government and Deve Gowda had no option but to resign. After so many years, Deve Gowda and his son are sleeping with congress again. That is politics! Everything is forgotten if there is benefit.  

Besides the political aspects of the matter, I want to take a look at human aspect too. I hardly know much about Yeddyurappa, the deposed Chief Minister. We forget that all the persons involved in the drama are human beings. What must be his condition now? He simply was a pawn in the power game that is known as politics. I would not like to be in his place. He appears like a sacrificial lamb on the altar of political games. How much time he will take to come out of this? It is very difficult to judge. The stress that he must be personally going through, various things people talk about him, various analysis that people will make, he will be declared as a dark demon. People forget that he is one of many dark demons.  

I remember an incident from my college days. I was selected for a lecturer’s post, while completing my Masters in Engineering. There was another candidate who came last in interviews. He was from reservations class. Somehow, he could never fit anywhere in the process of selection. I took the post and later left the college to join the industry, after completing my education. But the atmosphere created in the selection process, left such a bad test in my mind that it took a few years for this bitter test to go away. In spite of my selection being rightful in all respects, a bit of turmoil happened. Even while writing about this event, which happened 50 years back, I am very uncomfortable. 

Well, we say that all politicians have thick skins so they can absorb any shocks, any events good, bad or ugly. I don’t think so. A human being is a human being and any so called thick skinned person can take up only so much of muck, so much of ugly pressures, and after effects of events beyond control. I hope that, Yeddy will manage to over ride this menacing wave of events, on which he never had any control! 

Now to the event. I have seen and heard many a times that law is blind or law is an Ass. I am not an expert in law so my comments will be like a common man, you and me. Why was BJP allowed to attempt to form a government? During the day, today, we will get more clarity of the position of law in this matter. Why did BJP create the absolutely un called for event? Had they not done so, Deve Gowda and Congress could have formed a government. Obviously, the first six month to one year would have been honeymoon period for their government. Then the political subterfuge would have started. Amit Shah and company are experts in that. They could have managed the numbers to change their skin colour to saffron as per political mathematics. How the heavens would have fallen if this was done later, post honeymoon period of Deve Gowda government, I do not know.

Maybe it boils down to 2019 elections. BJP wanted to complete their boast of Congress Mukt Bharat! It is a brilliant political slogan created by someone. But it seems that BJP has become obsessed with the slogan. They want to make sure that this happens by hook or by crook. Looks like a bit arrogance has crept in somewhere. It appears that BJP has started thinking that they are the destiny, they are the Gods. To remain at top of the game, anywhere, needs a very mature and stable state of mind. It looks like people are generally accepting the measures taken by BJP, for improvement of India as a nation. But BJP should not forget that the same people who put you on pedestal one day, will simply drop you. This may not happen by way of BJP losing the elections that take place from today to the big day in 2019! But they will simply keep on giving fractured mandate. This will ensure that nobody has real the Trump card in hand, pun intended!  

About Congress less said the better. It appears that they are going from bad to worse. They simply don’t want to understand that days of dynastic politics are over. Mr. Gandhi is no Indira Gandhi! He does not have charisma and the backing she had. She rose from the ashes of Emergency like a Phoenix and ruled India till she was assassinated. Rahul’s father and Indira’s son Rajeev, was a good person but was a misfit in the cauldron that is politics. Rahul appears to be a similar person and does not have towering personality like his grand-mother. BJP should allow him to taper off on his own. Karnataka episode has given Rahul’s career a bit of an oxygen!  

Is this going to continue in future? Yes, it will. Daru, Women and Power are the elixirs of the game called politics, and life in general. Modi’s and Shah’s of this world are street smart guys who know how to handle such situations. There are local variants in Bengal, UP. There are satraps like Mayawati, though currently not in power, who can control the mandate in the large state of UP. This can have effect on government formation in Delhi. What India needs on long term basis, is a stable government in Delhi, strong leader like Modi. Currently none of this appears to be seen on the horizon of any political party, other than BJP.  

But hopefully, the BJP think tank will wake up after Karnataka drubbing and take politics in the right direction! I am bothered only about my country, India; I want this to progress and governed strongly but not brutally. The world never respects weaklings. So, I hope that the better sense will prevail and such episodes will not be repeated! I also sincerely hope that system does not forget that it is formed by parts which are called humans like you and me! Please be a little soft on them!  

   

 

Smart Cities or People!

It is the people who are going to make cities Smart!

Indian government has started a mission to create large number of smart cities in India. It’s a great initiative and a forward-looking idea. Unless we plan something like this, with a strong initiative from governments, things will never work out. I look forward to see how these things work. I am writing this from the angle of devils’ advocate. Will such initiatives really work in India?

What are the major initiatives planned for smart cities? Water management, waste management, environment, planning of cities, buildings, IT and communications, Security and Safety, Smart power grids, clean energy.  This shows that none of these things were planned in a systematic manner before. Yes, there has been a terrific improvement all over India in all above mentioned areas but hopefully now it will be more systematic.

If we look at the meaning of Smart, it is defined in different ways. If it is about a person – clean, tidy, and well dressed. Or having or showing a quick-witted intelligence. SMART is a best practice framework for setting goals. A SMART goal should be specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused and time-bound. To me this last definition  fits the “Smart Cities Project” perfectly. The aims and goals have been set appropriately by using this definition. But to me a city is made up by its physical assets both new and historical, its water bodies, trees and environment. These to me are tangible things. Its culture, its people. Government agencies can plan for everything else but not for people, their way of thinking, their way of public behaviour, their way of self-discipline when in public or otherwise. These are the intangible assets of a city.

As I live in Pune, I will share whatever little I know about implementation of Smart City project in Pune. I think Pune is doing good in terms transport infrastructure. Newer, better roads and flyovers are planned to reduce congestion. A new ring road is also planned. New international airport is planned at Purandar near Pune. Pune Metro project is expected to be completed in next 3 to 4 years. Experience from all over India says that Metro projects are reasonably successful in every city in India. These projects have successfully made the change in the mindset of people who use them. People behave in disciplined manner while using Metro. Cleanliness is maintained, people don’t cross rail tracks! Why this is happening is for psychoanalysts to find. Why people’s behavior changes by just entering a different transportation system, at least I do not know.

Corporation is still struggling to implement BRTS system, it has serious deficiencies in execution though concept is good. Even after several years and a few trips to foreign jaunts by politicians to “understand” BRTS, best practices are not being implemented or thought of. What about people? The BRTS system has dedicated road lanes reserved for the buses. But Smart people, on their bikes and in their cars,  just barge into those lanes without fear. People are getting killed due to this.

Pune is lucky to have water bodies all around. Unless rains are very deficient, we never have water shortages. Are we smart enough using water correctly, the answer is no. We wash our cars using running water, when we wash clothes by hand, we keep water taps running, under the name of fresh water, we throw away drinking water stored in homes, everyday in the morning. When we water our plants in our balcony’s, we pour excess water that overflows, which in turn is dumped on cars parked under the balconies. My friend Vijay said that we are a dumb society, I slightly disagree. We are a “we care two hoots society”! We can be smart selectively. Corporation has drives, to remove illegal encroachments by hawkers. Even in the days when there were no cell phones, the corporation officers bribed by hawkers, would inform hawkers in advance of the drive and very few hawkers would be caught or evicted. They would be back at the same place next day. Aren’t we smart?

Smart power grids, clean energy, smart planning is possible because there will not be much people interaction. Smart signals can help smoothen the traffic, provided we follow the signals. We are smart people, if we have a blocked road ahead of us, then two- wheeler users go on foot paths and rush ahead! Really smart! This morning I  saw an interesting thing. A lady was being trained on a car owned by a Motor Training School. The instructor was sitting next to her. They reached a traffic signal and the signal was Red, the lady was slowing down but the instructor told her to drive through. So much for the training schools! These schools supposedly teach people to drive the car. It was 7.30 in the morning; I waited to see how many people follow signals. 95% jumped the signals. This is smartness, why waste time in the morning when there is no traffic?

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Some good results are already seen, there are smart bill boards everywhere informing public that we are a smart city. Is it? But nobody has told me. There is a cycle sharing application where authorities have made cycles available to people. These have electronic locks. These can be used and money is paid by using an app on cell phone. Payment is done by using PayTm. In last three months, Pune has shown that 3,00,000 trips have been taken by people. The idea behind this is to encourage last mile usage of fuel less systems, like cycles. It is definitely encouraging.

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Compared to cities in India, most cities in developed world are “smart cities”. Why is this so? It is because people are sensible, they need not be smart. People are trained to follow rules and discipline right from childhood. In my previous blog, I had written about “I don’t care” attitude we have, when it comes to public behavior. We do not take cleanliness and discipline seriously. In cleanliness, Pune is much ahead of many cities in India. When we talk of clean city, it is not about roads being cleaned every day.  Dumping garbage on roads and then sweeping and putting in dumpsters is what we do today. Instead, people should put their garbage in dumpsters, directly. That is smart!

Friends, government is doing its job by creating great infrastructure by planning and proposing systematic things for smart cities, to me this is the tangible side of any city; but unless we contribute by being proactive, self-disciplined and smart, unless we ride the crest of these intangibles, our cities will never become “Smart Cities”! It is the intangibles, that are going to make Cities Smart!

I don’t care!

Inculcate discipline from childhood by your own example!

A news item in Pune’s newspaper said that a 14-year-old kid was stopped by the police as he was driving a two-wheeler on public roads. Obviously, he had no license and on top of it, when the police asked for the vehicle documents, he and his family did not have them. The number plate on the scooter was bogus. Questions arose if the vehicle was stolen? How did the family allow the kid to take the scooter on public roads? When asked, they did not have answers; the police arrested two people, the father and the uncle of the kid. The uncle supposedly owned the scooter. Was this family in some kind of funny business about stealing of vehicles?  

The sheer arrogance, impunity with which people allow kids to use motorized vehicles cannot be believed. ” My kid drives beautifully though he is only 13″, kind of stuff! This reflects poorly on the society and irrespective of income levels, family backgrounds, such incidents keep on happening. The result of such actions is that kids at an early age learn to do illegal things. They have no fear of law as they are falsely protected by the parents. Similar “training” is given to kids when their mothers take them on scooters and jump the red signal. At the young age, for kids, mother is everything. If she jumps red signal then it is their green signal! Another thing, is that it leads to is accidents. There is always a reason when society makes rules. Age allowed to drive motorized vehicles, age for getting married, age for consuming alcoholic drinks, these are all decided after observing human behavior vis a vis their age, over a period of time. Maturity required for performing these activities is lacking at younger age. This lack of maturity gives false sense of confidence to kids! In India, certain low powered scooters are allowed to be driven legally, when the child becomes 16! At the same age, in the US, they allow cars to be driven by kids but an adult with license needs to be sitting next to the kid in the car. We forget or we don’t care that these rules are made for the safety of individuals and in general safety of the people in society.  

Today morning, I was going out for a walk. In our building parking area, a kid 12 or 13-year-old, came on a scooter with his older brother, sitting behind him. I stopped them, gave them a bit of sermon. The older brother was a sensible guy. When I threatened that, I will report this to the police, he immediately agreed that he will never allow the kid to drive the scooter again, illegally. His argument, “Oh I just allowed him to drive in the society premises”! Same thing happened years back when I lived in a large society with good roads. The kid was similar age and he was driving a car. His father was sitting next to him. I stopped the car and asked the kid to get down. His father started an argument, I removed the car key and kept it in my pocket. His father’s argument; “Oh he drives beautifully blah, blah, blah”! When I asked the father about the risks and legality he had no answer.    

Now in India, a law has been promulgated to prevent such use of vehicles. The parents of such defaulting kids cannot hide behind the argument that their kid took the vehicle without their knowledge. But let me assure you that this has been happening from the time cars came into existence. I had a friend Ashok, when we were in engineering college. We used to “steal” his father’s car late at night when everyone was asleep. We would push it to a certain distance, away from home, without starting it, for obvious reasons. Not only Ashok, but all of us had driving licenses.  

We at younger age feel that we are infallible, immortal. Today a major fatal accident happened in Pune. A 20-year-old man had a different idea in his mind. At 4 am in the morning, he took his uncles car and went for a drive on an empty carriageway. He had a brilliant idea that he should send a live video feed to Instagram. He did the set-up on his cell phone, informed his friends and started driving at a very high speed. Can you imagine where his camera was focused? It was focused on the speedometer. The only way he could have done this was by holding the camera in one hand while driving. Great recipe! Empty road, high speed, one hand away from steering wheel! Add to this the exhilaration of sending live feed on Instagram. The inevitable happened, the car crashed against a barrier, the guy died instantaneously. The car was total loss; when I saw the picture in the newspaper, even without reading the news item, I knew that there would be no survivors! 

When such inevitable is known why some elements in the society, do not follow basic discipline? We sing paeans about western society, their discipline, their cleanliness, their organized way of life. But what do we do from our side to ensure that we will follow the same in India? In every phase of life, we break rules, we break laws, we are afraid to confront our kids who want to try something illegal; we never tell our kids that this is the law of land, you are just not allowed to drive a vehicle at this age. Kids just follow what their parents do at home or in the society. I remember an incident that I had seen years back. Two families were having dinner at a restaurant, enjoying their liquor too! No harm! But one of the mothers, drank way beyond her capacity! Her husband told their ten-year-old son, “Beta, take your Mumma to the wash room!” The Mumma could not take two steps in a straight line! 15 years later the same boy who must have turned into a dashing man, must have said when totally drunk, “Mumma was always right”!  

Disciplined, clean, advanced society? Start at home, confront your kids when required, follow the same path again and again. But looks like we definitely have something in our DNA. Leading actor Priyanka Chopda, was asked in an interview recently, what she misses from India as she is in the US most of the time! Prompt came her reply, ” Oh, reaching on time on film sets in the US is a big bore, in India I could reach as late as I wanted”! It might be her sense of humour but it is a bit weird!  

Real Life PhD!

What is a PhD? WHat is the proof completing PhD?

A PhD is a degree earned by people who have studied deep and hard after their graduate study or Master’s degree in their own subject. What is a PhD? A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD, Ph.D., DPhil, or Dr. phil.; Latin Philosophiae doctor) is the highest academic degree awarded by universities in most countries. PhD’s are awarded for programs across the whole breadth of academic fields.  

My colleague for more than 20 years, Deepti, once asked me while discussing, about the importance of PhD. I told her that I am not aware as I am not one! But I have personally known some persons who have done their PhD’s in their field and have done brilliant work and contributed to the knowledge big time! Both Jaya and I have done our Master’s in our fields and felt that we understood the engineering much better during these years when did Master’s. Like anything in life, there are brilliant PhD’s, there are good PhD’s and there are run off the mill PhD’s, the last being the major volume. I have recently seen a trend, that when a person becomes well-known in his or her field, people start referring to the person as Dr.! This probably indicates the people’s perception of the knowledge acquired by that person. 

When I read newspapers in Pune (again this activity is getting diminished due to rapid digitization.) I read the large number of list of people earning their PhD’s from Pune University! Have people become brilliant suddenly? Has research activity become major thing in Pune University? I understand that in education field, to become a professor, you must have a PhD as per norms, these days. This to me appears to be the main cause of abundance of people acquiring PhD’s. What are our education standards and research standards? What is the relevance of acquiring degrees? To me this should be done with the purpose of advancement of knowledge and doing research in own field. Later, when one gets experience, these persons should guide more people. All movement is expected to create mushrooms of islands of knowledge.  

Honestly, I don’t see this happening. In the countries like the US, PhD’s really perform the way they are expected to perform and help the society in general, and industry in particular to make rapid strides in development of products, processes, systems and concepts. They help create new things, improve existing things. Their contribution to the society is unbelievable. I am really not sure how far this is true in India. I very rarely hear of industry providing funding to premier education institutions, to develop or improve products, processes. PhD’s are awarded for work that remains more theoretical and how far the theoretical work is useful to the society, is a subject for another PhD.  

I will share a couple anecdotes. People get Fullbright scholarships do some post-doctoral work in premium universities in the world. A person went the prominent university on the west coast in US, under a world-renowned professor, who was a classmate of mine. They had met at a couple of conferences in India. After initial hiccups, things were settling down for the visitor, at least that is what my friend thought. Later on, my friend  tried to help him in various ways but end result was almost nil. My friend asked this gentleman what was his purpose of going to US on this scholarship. At least he was honest. He said, ” My son is trying for education in the US. I wanted to earn dollars for the purpose!” 

In another case I was on a committee in Pune University management school for an event. While having tea during a break, I asked one the professors, about the standard of PhD’s. He smiled wryly! I asked him the reason. He said let me share something with you. ” I was an examiner for a student’s PhD defense. When I got his thesis, I found that the synopsis and the subject content were totally different. So, I informed the concerned professor, the guide, about the error. When I went for the exam, there was no change; I had thought that it was a binding mistake. The synopsis and the subject had no correlation.” When I asked the guide, who was a “renowned” expert and guide from Pune, he simply ignored it!  

Thinking about Deepti’s question, following thoughts came to my mind. Our company has been in the software business. Out of our many clients, four were either Indian giants or global giants who used our product in India. For these projects there were stages. Simplistically, these can be requirement gathering, design and coding, implementation and running the project for years. Final phase would be enhancements and improvements. All this required huge subject knowledge in technical, business processes in auto industry, commercial as well as taxation field.

Deepti, let me assure you with my meager knowledge about PhD, that each stage in our  project was worth a thesis by itself. We have dealt with many aspects in real life, commercial technical, design, implementation strategies and brought them successfully under one umbrella, that is our organization and our team. Deepti, you as a project leader, have done at least one PhD per project if not more. What is the proof of this? Proof is in the Pudding! People have eaten the pudding. The projects have been technically and commercially successful. We have run the business all these years and people have paid us for our products. It is the real-world work, done by all of us together!

What should I call you? You have earned PhD’s given by real life! Dr. Dr. Dr Dr. Deepti? Go ahead fearlessly, with the new path that you have chosen! You have enough PhD’s in your kitty to handle all eventualities! God bless you!  

“Life”, a new take!

This is my narrow interpretation of life!

 

I saw this Marathi song today on you tube. The title of the song is  दमलेल्या बाबाची कहाणी “Damaleya Babachi Kahani”, a story of a tired father! So many thoughts came to my mind while listening to this song. The song was presented by the famous duo, Poet Sandip Khare and Singer Dr. Salil Kulkarni, presenter was Sunil Barve. At the end of the song, there were tears in my eyes and I had very heavy feelings in my heart. I thought that I am a person who can hide his emotions, men folk generally attempt that! That reminded me of the time, when I had gone to see off my daughter, after her marriage, I had the same feelings. Probably all fathers have the same feelings for their daughters, at least I hope so. By the way, this not something against the Sons! But the feelings for sons and daughters have the similar difference like the behavior of “Men who are from Mars, and Women who are from Venus”! They must be giving some different potion to drink on Venus, to make daughters think and act the way they do! 

When your daughter is born, you know that at some stage she is going to get married and go to her husband’s home. Though this is known, the fathers keep on hoping or maybe pretending that this is never going to happen. Slowly the marriage age is reached and “Daddy’s Love” is ready to get married. In the mind, father wants to delay this if it is possible. But at the threshold point, which is the day of marriage, the day of reckoning arises. The father’s mind is in great turmoil, though he is busy in marriage activities. But at the back of his mind, there is a big turmoil going on.  

 The father in the song, is in a somber mood and he remembers that when his daughter needed him to be available to play with her, he has been away in the office. The father says, that he wants the daughter to become young again and fight with him, playfully. He remembers the day when the child was blessed with her first tooth, he remembers how she crawled all over their home and took control of everything, including their minds. He then asks her a question, “Will you please remember me, when you get married and go? Will you shed a few tears while going away? ” The song simply overwhelms your mind! It is also beautifully rendered in a modern way!  

Such situations do arise in many facets of our lives. The situation can be with mixed feelings, when we move to another city after a long stay, or we complete our studies and move out of hostels after 5/6 years of stay with friends. It can be when you retire after a long innings. In all these scenarios, some very close relationships relationships are formed. Sometimes, them become extended families. I feel that a daughter is father’s “Life”; similarly your work, you career, is also your “Life” if you have worked at only one place in your life time. Cutting off from both “Lives” is equally painful!  

In my life, I have seen only seen one person retire, that too twice! I watched it from close as I am talking about Jaya, my wife. Years back she retired from a Government research institute. She had taken voluntary retirement, and after a small break, she had plans ready for her future. For her it was kind of transit retirement. I could see that she was both happy and sad with the retirement. Sad that so many years of association with many people was going to break, a few had become life time friends. As she had future plans, she was able manage the transition quite well. Second time when she retired, she “really retired” from work in the industry. But our granddaughter’s arrival and my health issue did not give her time to get the feel of the new phase. We kept her so busy for first 8/9 months, that she did not have time to enjoy the change or feel the vacuum, retrospect or get the feel of real retirement. When she retired, our life pattern had changed so much, that she had to really juggle & struggle her time to manage life.  

I felt that there are quite a few similarities in one’s daughter getting married and the retirement from work life. In both cases, you have spent quality time with your daughter and as well as at your work. Some people get involved a lot in their work, sometimes forgetting everything else in life. Such people, I am sure will find it tough to adjust to retired life. Maybe those are the people on whom the song is based!  

Friends, it is quite tricky to decide which is more difficult from the two inevitable things that are going to happen! Giving away your first “Life”, your daughter or the second “Life” when you retire from your career! I have already, done the tough one so probably when time comes for me to retire, I hope to handle it more deftly! How you about you folks? 

Flora and Humans in Karve Nagar!

Reminiscing old Pune via Karve Nagar!

I used to go for my morning walks at 5.30 am. Now I have kept the timing flexible and go out a little later after 6.45. Why did I change the timings? Cooler weather, though I like it, has been giving me a bit of trouble as I get some issues with my throat. Hence, I thought this could be the better timing. And Lo! I enjoy my walks at these times too! Each slot probably has its own charm and cannot be compared. The almost zero traffic, skies just starting to lose the darkness, has its own beauty. In winter, the chill, and darkness create their own zone. But then beautiful rising Sun with crisp wind also adds to charm.

Another advantage I see is that one can actually see the expressions on the faces of people walking at that time. I don’t smile at everybody on purpose but I am lucky to have a smiling demeanor, maybe! I see all the possible combinations of facial expressions in this world. I really want to catch all these expressions on the camera but it is not a practical thing to do! One couple, maybe in late fifties always has the lady giving a bit of sermon to her husband every day. They should make a pact that the sermons should stop at the gate of their home. Maybe they do not get that freedom at home or maybe fresh air induces more energy in the sermon! I see a very senior citizen with worry lines on forehead. I hope that it is his demeanor and not the real worries! Young folks of course are walking briskly but are in their own world, ear buds and all! Once I spoke to one of them while she was adjusting the ear buds. I jokingly asked her, when there are such lovely sounds of birds chirping, why the earbuds! Her expression either said, look at the stupid guy or what is he talking about!   

Karve Nagar has beautiful flowery trees and shady trees! It is the area where I currently live in Pune.

Certain areas are just amazing with their collection of flora! With current easy availability of cameras in cell phones, I am enjoying taking photos which I am sharing with you. Around 30 years back, this area was comparatively undeveloped. The major bridge in that area, called Rajaram Pul has come into existence in last fifteen years. This bridge has changed the traffic pattern of this area from sleepy area to a bustling area. One thing for sure, during development of this area the fauna in this area was reasonably well retained, however the types have changed. This area had orchards of Guava for miles together and some Mango orchards too. These were private plantations and later on became housing colonies. But while developing the colonies, authorities as well as individuals have tried to keep the area as green as possible, it has also become colourful due to certain trees, especially Bahawas. Somehow, I have not found many of Gulmohars, though they are around. The abundance of trees is easily reflected when we come home in the evening. There is marked difference in temperature, of at least a couple of degrees Centigrade, when we take a turn towards the colonies from the main road.  This is happens as there are natural welcome arches formed on the roads, by the trees!

Coming back to humans, this area is now reminiscent of Sadashiv Peth and Narayan Peth of olden days. I understand that many people in those areas moved to Karve Nagar area when the wadas in the old Peths (Localities) got developed in to new buildings. I can see typical Maharashtrian products available in small joints in this area. For example, Thalipith, Sanja, Shira, Danyache Ladu and so on. In summer we see many vendors selling Mogra flowers and Gajare, a typical Maharashtrian love! Ladies adorn these Gajaras and will share them with other ladies when they visit them!  

This area has developed well, over a period of time but is not modern in the sense of many skyscrapers, malls. A major lane here and there bustles with Pizza Huts, Star Bucks and Pumas of this world. But preferred joints will still be Wada Pav and Pohe, Cutting chai and Bata! Preferred Ice cream will still be Local Ice cream to Baskin Robbins and the local parlors selling fresh juice. This area also has a nice set of bungalows but is has more of apartment complexes built in 80’s and 90’s. Though we see a few Mercedes’s and BMW’s, there more Nanos, Alto’s and two Wheelers which are called in local lingo, Gadi! A motorcycle or a scooter or a moped is always referred to as Gadi.

Karve Nagar area reminds me of the Old Pune of 60’s and 70’s with a slightly modern touch; so naturally it takes me back to days of my youth! Let us see if there is any other “Old Pune” coming up “New Pune”! Or maybe that phase, old Pune, may have become History and we will see only NEW, “New Pune” in future!

 

 

Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyan, a New drive in Water Management!

Jalykukt Shivar Abhiyan, my understanding of the same.

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The Maharashtra government has launched, with Pani Foundation, water conservation scheme named Jalyukt-Shivar Abhiyan to make Maharashtra a drought-free state by 2019. The program aims to make 5000 villages free of water scarcity every year. Jalyukt-Shivar Abhiyan means a journey towards village surroundings full of water! This is all done by Shramdan, self help, people of all walks of life offering free services, in most cases manual hard work. These groups have people who live in those villages. The drive has caught on very well and Hindi film hero Amir Khan has driven this movement by providing celebrity support and perseverance . He has taken along with Hindi film fraternity, Marathi film personalities like Sunil Barve and others too! I am sure this will help in sustaining the drive. Their organization provides technical support and training to people for correctly doing these things. It is because of the leadership and drive provided by personalities like Amir Khan, there has been a good progress. I am told that the government agencies are also waking up, albeit slowly, because the Chief Minister Mr. Fadnavis is also giving great push to this drive.

I am trying to understand why such tough situation has arisen. Along with increase in population, need for more crop production has also become essential. There are some crops like sugar cane which need large amount of water per acre. India’s sugar production has reached a level of 30 million tons against the requirement of 25 million tons. So, this is excess production! The rain is the only primary source of water for us in agriculture and day to day life; but nobody can be sure that the rain will definitely fall on specific days. Hence, we have gone for water irrigation in a big way, by building dams and canal system. Water available for irrigation is again dependent on rains! But irrigation can also reach limited areas. So, at some stage, this water is not going to be available for farming till the next rain cycle. India is not a country of perennial rains and we have our rains in specific months due to south west or north east monsoons. People started reaching out to third source of water, the wells and so they starting using ground water. Again, the same cycle repeats here and we are dependent on rains, when wells dry out. That is the phase where people started using bore well technology to get water from the ground. It will be good idea to know how we ground water is stored. This will really pin point real problem we are facing.

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The study of water flow in aquifers and the characterization aquifers is called hydro geology. An aquifer is an underground layer of water-bearing permeable rock, rock fractures or unconsolidated materials (gravel, sand, or silt). Groundwater can be extracted using a water well. The study of water flow in aquifers and the characterization of aquifers is called hydro geology. Related terms include aquitard, which is a bed of low permeability along an aquifer, aquiclude (or aquifuge), which is a solid, impermeable area underlying or overlying an aquifer. If the impermeable area overlies the aquifer, pressure could cause it to become a confined aquifer. So water availability really depends on unconfined acquifers. Though other areas under ground store water, this is a a very slow process and impermeability or low permeability does not allow water to reach confined acquifers quickly enough. Once we start touching these storage areas, we are in trouble.

Why have the water conditions gone from bad to worse? What does the Jalyukta Shivar Abhiyan do to change this situation? The government of Maharashtra has a law which forbids drilling of bore wells beyond 250 feet or 80 meters. Is there any cross check on this? No, the bore wells have been drilled to the depth of 250 meters, 3 times the allowed depth. How many bore wells can be drilled in an area? My friend Shende told me the other day that in Solapur district where he does farming, in an area of 4.5 to 5  sq km, there ten thousand bore wells! To me this is beyond indiscriminate, it is criminal. When he told me this number, I could not believe it so I asked him again and he said the figure is right. If you try to suck ground water from so many wells what will happen? You don’t get water even at the depths of 250 meters. Ok, our population has gone up so we need more water, crops which need a lot of water are planted in abundance, sugarcane is the prime example of that. In India, this year we have manufactured 30 million tons of sugar against our requirement of 25 million tons. International sugar prices are already low so there is a big problem! On top of that we do this indiscriminate pumping. We don’t need experts to say what will happen!

What is being done under Jalyukt Shivar Yojana? The main aim is to increase the water table levels in areas where possible. This is done by various methods. Over a period, top soil in many areas becomes impermeable. Trenches are dug, contour digging on slopes is done. This increases the ability of the soil to absorb water. All the actions that are taken are to ensure that during rainy season, the water that we get, seeps to the water table in the area where this work is done. When these actions are not taken, the top soil in that area would be like “opaque glass”. The water would not seep but would flow away to other areas, making the top soil only wet and causing erosion. When the dredging is done by various methods, the soil becomes like “transparent glass” and water seeps through easily.

I asked my friend Shende what benefit they are expecting after this year’s work. He said that last year, only 1 % of their water needs for farming were met. They expect that after this year’s monsoon, because of the work being done, the availability should go up to 25%. They expect water table to come to the level of at least 80 meters. This is quite a jump but nowhere near what they need. What should the society do in general? First and foremost is the discipline; unless we follow basic discipline of depth of bore well, water table issues will continue. Secondly, maybe people should try and cultivate products which are suitable to the water availability. When we don’t use ground water, it does not go anywhere. It remains there. But out of fear that others will use the water anyway, everybody breaks the discipline. The thought process is probably, if I do not get it then I will not let others also to get it.

Let us not forget that earth is the only natural resource that human race has. Once any resource gets depleted, it can take thousands and thousands of years to regenerate it. By pursuing this current drive relentlessly, we will probably get a method, whereby we may be in a position to get water regularly for agriculture and drinking! The nature does not have द्रौपदीची थाळी, a Marathi idiom for unlimited resources. We think it has. Civilizations in olden days have gone down the drain, no pun intended, over a period of time due to indiscriminate use of natural resources. Cape Town in South Africa will become water less in a month of two. There is a serious a discussion going on to pull some Icebergs towards Cape Town, to get fresh water. To me this is the first step towards disaster, in terms of bore well we are trying to dig to 120 meters! So let us heed to such warnings unless we want to be left water less and I don’t know what worse scenarios.  Honestly I can not imagine one!