Posts Tagged 'Shuddham'

The End of an Era in Cleanliness

Shuddham Door-to-Door Watse Collectors

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’

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.

Continue reading ‘The True Face of Heroism in India’

First Bank of India

Street Sweepers and Members of the First Bank of India

In India, state and local governments enjoy a time-honored system of balancing their financial books with easily available no-interest loans. Among the other favorable terms are indefinite payback periods, unlimited credit lines, and year-round availability. As you might expect, such easy credit is a godsend to financially strapped governments; and those which favor this bailout vehicle use it with annual regularity.

This arrangement is not, of course, particularly remunerative for the lender, First Bank of India. But then, First Bank of India doesn’t have the same political clout that most other financial institutions enjoy.

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Health and Freedom in a Simple Piece of Cloth

Sanitary napkins made from waste cloth by Goonj

Where most people see trash, Shuddham sees opportunity; so it was only natural that fashion designer Anjali Schiavino would turn to Shuddham with her problem. Anjali was making an exclusive line of organic cotton clothing for a European client and wondered if there was a constructive use to which the pattern trimmings could be put. Thanks to our friend Anshu Gupta, we came up with an answer which Anjali immediately proclaimed as, “super cool!”

Continue reading ‘Health and Freedom in a Simple Piece of Cloth’

Greening the Indian Economy. ZZZZzzzz.

Solid Waste Management Policy Paper, Shuddham

Last weekend, Shuddham participated in the National Workshop on Environmental Policy Integration for Greening the Indian Economy at Pondicherry University. We were asked to present a paper and give a presentation on approaches to policy development for solid waste management, based on the Shuddham experience.

Continue reading ‘Greening the Indian Economy. ZZZZzzzz.’

Cutting Grass

Puru Kothari

When he was in school, Puru Kothari’s Hindi teacher once excoriated the class for failing to study hard enough, telling them that they were “only fit for jobs like cutting grass.” More than a decade latter, Puru ran into his old teacher, who inquired about Puru’s life. “I cut grass,” said Puru with a smile.
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Garbage. Shit!

Trash in the Pondicherry Canal

Fred Hsu, who has just returned to the states from India, raises an interesting issue on his blog today, when he wonders whether India will be able to “retain its rich culture” in the face of the sea of filth that its people wade through each day. It seems to me the Indian waste problem is as much a function of culture as an enemy of it.

The sad fact is: the overwhelming (OVERWHELMING!) majority of Indians are habituated to garbage in the streets, in parks — in any place that is not their private domain. No one seems to mind walking through it, and certainly none seem to give a second thought to contibuting to it.  Littering is an activity as common and casual as drawing breath.  There is an absolute disconnect here between compulsive personal hygiene and the utter lack of public hygiene. When Deepak Chopra declaims that, despite its rich, visible, and celebrated history, “India is not a spiritual country,” I think of this discrepancy as Exhibit A.
Continue reading ‘Garbage. Shit!’


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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