Published 15 January 2012
Canada , Environment , Friends , India , Travel & Adventure
Tags: Bappu Deshmukh, bicycle, cycle, electric bicycle, electric bike, electric cycle, Janice Valdez, Pondicherry, Rohit Chokhani, Stromer
Our friend Janice Valdez is a woman with a mission… or at least an adventure… or perhaps both. She is in the midst of a two-month tour of India to promote an extremely cool machine: the Stromer electric bicycle. Unlike the old mopeds, which used peddle energy as a way of forcibly jump-starting a motor, or electric scooters, which use no human power whatsoever, the Stromer uses an electrical drive to augment the rider’s contribution to forward motion.
Back home in Vancouver, Janice cycles everywhere and her (non-power-assisted) bike is her principle form of transportation within the city. With a strong commitment to sustainable, low-carbon-footprint living, Janice is a contributor to isCleaner.com, a web portal of news and ideas on clean energy. So she was, perhaps, a natural ambassador for this tour of India to show-off the Stromer.
Continue reading ‘Tour de Pondichéry’
Published 7 January 2011
Environment , India , Politics & Policy , Service
Tags: corruption, garbage, Kivar, Kivar Environ, Pondicherry, Puducherry, Raj Bhavan, Shuddham, solid waste management, trash, waste, waste management
Shuddham, the remarkable volunteer-run NGO doing solid waste management in the heart of Pondicherry’s French Colonial district, has ceased operations, effective 1 January 2011. After eight years of going door-to-door, teaching households and businesses the importance of segregating waste streams into compostables and recyclables at the source – and slowly building compliance to an astonishing 80% among households – Shuddham has fallen victim to the incessant corruption of local officials and the negligence and callous indifference with which the government performs its obligations to the public.
Continue reading ‘The End of an Era in Cleanliness’
Puducherry’s wonderful Lieutenant Governor, Govind Singh Gurjar, died yesterday of a heart attack. This is a tragic day. To understand just how awful — in its civic dimension, and not just on a personal level — consider how impossibly rare it is for an Indian politician to be plausibly garlanded with the epithet “wonderful”.
In a system where corruption, narcissism, laziness, ignorance, and incompetence are the sine qua non of political life, Govind Singh Gurjar was an astonishment: a politician whose greatest joy seemed to be doing well for the people in whose trust he served. He worked tirelessly to understand the nuance and complexity of the issues before him and, having decided on a course of action, would set the machinery of his administration in motion without temporizing. In the venal cesspool of Pondicherry government, the LG had but one aim: to help the Union Territory fulfill its obvious, abundant promise. Sadly, he leaves us at a time when that objective looks to be effectively, and perhaps irrevocably, snuffed by the greed and thoughtlessness of political-business-as-usual.
Continue reading ‘A Sad Day for Puducherry’
Published 13 February 2009
Bio , Environment , India , Politics & Policy
Tags: bureaucracy, evnvironment, Govind Singh Gurjar, Indian bureaucracy, Lieutentant Governor, PAN card, Pondicherry, Puducherry, taxes
I was among those invited last week to the Raj Nivas by the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry, His Excellency Govind Singh Gurjar, to discuss new initiatives for creating environmentally sustainable growth in the Pondicherry region. After the meeting, the LG greeted me warmly and teased, “So, are you an Indian citizen yet?”
“Excellency,” I smiled, “I cannot begin to imagine the bureaucracy involved with attempting to become a citizen. I cannot even manage to get a PAN card issued so that I can pay my income taxes.”
“You don’t need a PAN card!” he lightly chided me. “I will give you my PAN card and you can pay my taxes.”
Published 11 February 2009
Environment , Friends , India , Politics & Policy , Service , Travel & Adventure
Tags: bird watching, birds, corruption, development, Environment, environmental protection, ornithology, Ousteri, Ousteri Lake, Pondicherry, Puducherry, Ramsa site
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.
Continue reading ‘Accidental Environmentalism’
Published 26 January 2009
Environment , India , Service
Tags: Awards, coastal erosion, Environment, Govind SIngh Gujar, Ousteri, planning, Pondicherry, PondyCAN, Probir Banerjee, Puducherry, Republic Day, Shuddham
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.
Continue reading ‘The True Face of Heroism in India’