Posts Tagged 'Environment'

Accidental Environmentalism

Birds on Ousteri Lake

When the Government of Pondicherry takes decisive action in favor of environmental protection, one thing is for certain: there is more to the story than meets the eye.

Here is the astounding-but-true story of the designation of Ousteri Lake, Pondicherry’s largest water body, as an “Important Bird Sanctuary,” thereby providing a significant legal tool to stop the industrial development which is ravaging its watershed.

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The True Face of Heroism in India

Probir Banerjee and Amitabh Bachchan

This morning, in a Republic Day ceremony with only a smattering of the brainless pomp that usually characterizes Indian public events, Lieutenant Governor Govind Singh Gurjar honored our dear friend and colleague Probir Banerjee for his extraordinary devotion to voluntary service to the people of Pondicherry.

It is shameful that I am only now, upon the prompting of this recognition, writing about Probir. He is not only one of the extraordinary people who cause me to call Pondicherry “home” for half of each year, he is very much the ringleader of that inspiring clique.

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The People Fight Back

Rally in Support of C. Balamohan, Pondicherry

Yesterday was a good day for democracy in Pondicherry. The people took to the streets to protest a government which, time-and-again, deftly protects the private interests of its corrupt officials, disregards the public good, and holds itself to be above the law.

The issue concerns the ongoing battle over the illegal concession given to a private developer by former Chief Secretary Khairwal and Minister Valsaraj to build a huge port complex in the heart of this tiny heritage town, and the vast environmental, economic, and social devastation this development will cause.

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India: Going Nowhere Fast

Maruti Suzuki Assembly Line (courtesy of New York Times)

A story about India’s booming auto industry leads today’s New York Times business section. “Ask a billion people, and 99 percent of them are going to say they want a car,” explains Jagdish Khattar, managing director of Maruti Suzuki India, the country’s largest car manufacturer. “The problem,” he continues, “is: How many can afford it?”

And so Maruti Suzuki, and the other Indian automakers are cranking out inexpensive cars by the lakhs. Car sales within India will reach nearly two million units this year, and are estimated to climb to nearly four million by 2013.

Most tout this kind of industrial muscle and burgeoning consumer acquisitiveness as signs of a brilliantly expansive, vital economy. I see it as further evidence – as if more was needed – that India is a second-rate country with first-rate promise, limited by third-rate imagination and fourth-rate fidelity to the values and traditions of its proud past.

Put another way: India is squandering its Twenty First Century economic opportunity with its mid-Twentieth Century mindset.

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In Memoriam: Pondicherry’s Beautiful Sandy Beaches

Pondicherry Coast 2006 satellite image

Yesterday, I took a boat ride with some friends up the Pondicherry coast, and beyond into Tamil Nadu. The coastal erosion is really quite horrific. As you can perhaps make out in the 2006 satellite image, above, more than 98% of the beach to the north of the harbor has completely disappeared, replaced by rip-rap seawall. Seven kilometers of beautiful white sand are gone in Pondicherry, and the environmental disaster now stretches well into Tamil Nadu.

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Indian Railways Institute of Civil Engineers Takes Notice of “Trash on the Tracks”

Indian Railways Institute of Civil Engineers Discusses Garbage Problem

Much of what I write on this bog is frivolous — but some of it is quite serious. And sometimes — just sometimes — things reach the proper audience.

I received encouraging news today from Aaman Lamba, publisher of the wonderful forum Desicritics, that my essay on the huge garbage problem on Indian Railways was been posted on the online discussion forum of Indian Railways Institute of Civil Engineers. (I had cross-posted the piece on Desicritics, which was where it was picked up.) Who knows if this will generate any real attention, much less action. Typical of Indian engineers, there has been much buzz about triviality and process (in this case, how to resize my photos), and no substantive commentary as of yet. But the fact that someone noticed and posted the essay is a good start.

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A Lot of Environmental Thoughtlessness Can Happen over Coffee

Cafe Coffee Day - environmental thoughtlessness

One of our guilty pleasures in India is the delicious vegan shake made by Café Coffee Day – even when we are not traveling with John, who eats based on principles of compassion which rule out dairy products. Iced espresso mixed with sweetened soy cream yields an irresistibly thick, frosty, dessert-drink.

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Blasts from the Past

Man Up!
Man up you pussy!

... because the idiocy of manliness is an evergreen topic.

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Talking Turkey
how to cook a perfect turkey in half the time

... because Canada and the US will celebrate their Thanksgiving holidays and, regrettably and preventably, not 1-cook-in-10 will serve a decent turkey.

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Filial Piety Awareness Day
Kaki Tusler, Mother's Day Celebrant

... because everyday is Mother's Day.

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America Dreaming Small
American Dream

... because the American Dream seems but a distant memory, given the country's dominant ethos of small-mindedness.

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Serenity and Gratitude to Bring in the New Year
New Year's Eve at Tibetan Pavillion

... to remind us that not every mix of Tibetans and Western spiritual seekers has to be nauseating.

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Incredible Vision
Infinite Vision

... to celebrate the new edition of Infinite Vision published in India.

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Expelliarmus! Harry Potter and the Path to Gandhian Nonviolence
Expelliarmus, Potter, Gandhi, Nonviolence

... reprised because military strategy seems more cruel and less effective than ever -- and certainly there is a better way.

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India Going Nowhere Fast
Nano in Flames

... because cars are ruining Pondicherry, where I live. How badly are they fucking up your Indian town?

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Understanding the Gift Economy
Gift Economy Explained

... reprinted because more-and-more people seem want to understand the gift economy. (Yeah!)

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