Posted in Economic

Who Are We Stealing From

Modi’s 10% reservation for the so-called economically backward FCs is the reason for this post.

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My part-time maid lives off my street. Hers is a dead-end. No thatched roof can be seen within city limits (except in north Madras extension areas that are fishing colony) but since this is a fag end of the street with no traffic, the civic authorities have spared the little murky corner. Coming from a dirt poor family, it is also true that my girl’s home stands out like a sore thumb in the otherwise crudely made out cement and concrete lower middle-class neighbourhood of hers.  Most constructions here were originally unauthorized but gradually regularized by the corporation who routinely ratify illegal tenements/housing/encroachments within city limits. Is there any other way of providing decent shelter to the poorest of poor in our metro (other than in Housing Board colonies that have sprung up for the purpose). Displacing the masses is unthinkable. One has to consider their livelihood.

Let’s call my girl ‘S.’ She  lives in a single room thatched hut – the walls are exposed brick work cemented in patches and whitewashed here and there. Her husband is a house painter. She shares the meager living space with her husband and 2 grown-up children. Her In-law occupies the adjoining room. She says there is a 4 feet verandah running in the sides where she has built a rudimentary toilet. When the Jayalalitha government installed for her a free hand pump, my maid’s water woes were temporarily solved. Now in harsher times, once again in her late thirties, she is back to running after the water tankers to fetch precious potable water for her family. Minimum of 20 times a day that is. Tanker stops at the street turning. Calculate the distance of one street, the weight of each plastic pot loaded with water, the carrying time and energy. This is going on for years sans a small break in good monsoon years. The girl suffers greatly with painful hips and excess bleeding thanks to the ordeal. The hand pump was a blessing to her. Now it is useless.

Water tanker dispensation is also not free. Is in’t strange that a valuable two rupee is levied by the tanker crew per pot (officially or unofficially) from the poorest whereas we the upper middle classes have all along sat back to enjoy the corporation water from our sumps paying a flat tax and water charge. Pittance compared to what the lowest and most unprivileged menial work labourers have to shell out for water. In fact this is a good part of their daily wages.

My girl was using wood/coal for cooking. I booked an LPG connection for her over 10 years back when she started working for me, and got her the first gas cylinder. I did not know then how much it saved her money and energy. Thankfully, she gets her subsidy credited to her account these days.

A day in my maid’s life dawns at about 4 am. She cooks and cleans for her family, packs lunch, leaves food for in-law (rich or poor it is a must in most families in India to take care of husband’s elderly parents; and parents prefer staying over at their son’s over their daughter’s). Later she comes to work for me. Returns to her home to do the dishes and wash clothes. Goes to sleep with the lights on by 10 pm. Her husband is the chief earning member. Daily he brings home 200 bucks which is big sum for them.

During monsoons (lean season), the husband whose painting job is not regular but seasonal, opts for any kind of manual work like cleaning homes, water tanks etc in the neighbourhood. It is predictable he is out of job for over a month or perhaps longer whenever the skies open up. That is when the family suffers the most.

Husband and wife are hard and sincere workers. Whether standing in queue for hours to get their rations supply from the govt PDS shops or taking care of their children and aged parents, they discharge their familial duties without a murmur. Beach and cinema happen once an year during vacations. Holiday means a 2-day bus trip to Tirupathi Balaji temple, a bi-annual pilgrimage for the family. For lower middle class India, temple towns are the Himalayan hill stations.

Even if poor my maid’s family celebrate all our festivals as it fits their capacity and are very religious. My maid fasts many more times than me, and her kind of unadulterated raw piety always impresses me. When I chant the Lalitha Sahasranama, she would adjust her work near my pooja so she hears me. She comes to work after showering, so makes fresh flowers into garlands for my Mother Goddess. She is always my temple companion. I tell her, Shakthi will be more delighted with her than me – because it is her devotion that is matchless. Mother sees what we the mortals cannot see. Mother notes what we the earthlings miss.

Even as she is steeped in such an abject poverty, my girl’s cheer and zest for life always bowls me over. There is so much to complain if she has to. But she never does that. And no gossip either. Virtues you find nowhere these days.

The family though suffers from a strange but severe stress: 

They sleep with their single tubelight on during the nights  – as otherwise they have to deal with rodent menace. Once their boy’s toe was bitten by a furry rat and he had to get a shot to overrule any viral/bacterial infection. Ever since the family do not dare switching off the light when it is bedtime.

‘How do you manage to even get a wink of sleep’ I ask my girl and she says as a matter of fact, ‘now I can’t go to sleep with lights off!’

Sleeping with the lights on…

I have no tears left in my eyes to shed for my girl. The single factor that she and family sleep with the lights on was on my conscience for days when I learned of it the first time.

Monsoon times leave her place with damp walls, wet floors, drains overflowing. I try to help by giving out blankets, food etc. Whatever we do is simply not enough I know.

My heart goes out to millions in this country who jostle up in dungeon-like quarters for shelter that they call ‘home.’ My girl is a lot luckier – she has someplace to call ‘home’ and she owns her small plot of 600 sq ft which is still a good bet in a city like Chennai. Think about the homeless.

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I ask my girl about her daughter always. I still love and long for my unborn daughter.

‘She is still bed wetting!’ said she the last time i inquired.

Her 15 year daughter, was in the habit of wetting the bed during sleep. I keep asking ‘S’ to refer to a doc but she says, she had had such an anxiety problem herself. Now combined with her menarche, the problem has worsened for her daughter. ‘Why didn’t you tell me earlier?’ I asked her totally perplexed. The girl’s bed-wetting had totally slipped my mind. I could see the agitation in my maid’s face. I gave her a bunch of blankets. ‘Throw away the soiled ones. Use fresh ones, how much ever you want, ask me’ I said.

‘Akka my hands are aching washing the sheets day in and day out!’ she said, ‘our little house stinks and everytime my daughter has to change her napkin, we all have to troop out of the hut. Even if its midnight.’

How many ever bedrooms and bathrooms and wardrobes we have, we want more. How much ever clothes and jewels we own, we want new. Is ours the latest car? Cell phone? Well now, welcome to poor and miserable India. Come meet my girl ‘S.

We all come across so many, many stories in daily life, media and internet, but nothing moves me like this girl’s. I could get her a washing machine but its not advisable given the nature of their muddy damp walls. Besides there is not a square inch to spare. As such they live like cattle in a shed. The single room-hut serves as my maid’s family’s bedroom, kitchen and living. There is a tv, a fridge, a steel bureau and a cooking counter. Too many electronics and electricals to my comfort. There is barely any moving space and they sleep in the floor in a row. Any guests may mean, the family have to squeeze them in that cramped hole they call home. They don’t even use a ceiling fan – only a pedestal is possible in the low-roof thatched space.

My heart goes out to the little girl who has blossomed into a young woman last year. Where is the privacy the teenager desperately needs in this hour. The girl is upset and crying because she knows her condition and she is ashamed about it. She has no control over her bladder having slept with the lights on since the day she was born. And now onset of the menstrual cycle complicated matters for her. She is still a child – of 15 years. 

Quarrelsome abusive grandmother , alcoholic grandfather (who recently passed away), and an impoverished neighbourhood, the little girl seems to suffer from some suppressed emotions surrounded by misery from all sides, leave alone the economic condition.

I remember my doc’s warnings to me when my son was an infant and I was a working mom. That was a long, long time back. His first advice was to strictly keep the lights switched off after 9 pm so the baby learns the difference between day and night. My son stopped bedwetting in night hours under one year. He started sleeping the whole night around the same time, not keeping awake, giving me complete rest and full night’s sleep that I badly needed in those days. Many years may have rolled since, but whatever concerns my son as a mother, I never forget. (One more reason is, the Pampers (children’s napkin) commercial I see in tv bombarding Indian homes with misinformation and harmful ideas on parenting. Unhealthy things are wrongly promoted in the name of hygiene, soaking wet in diapers for hours is advised against quickest disposal of soiled napkins. Mothers of my generation never did that.) (My diapers I used for my son were my FIL’s old cleanly washed and cut white cotton dhotis! My MIL made a fine job out of them!) (That’s a keepsake for another blog post in future!) Anyway, things like these strangely remain in your memory forever for whatever reasons…

I think perhaps the girl would be alright with time. Would outgrow the habit. My maid who endured the same problem got okay only with her marriage. She was bed-wetting until her 18th year that is. Sudden thrust into married life must have done something to her psychologically. She says with her wedding night, she lost the bothersome habit unaware. I did not tell her, the reason was perhaps marriage freed her from her miserable existence easing her anxieties and giving her a sense of security. She needed no more to toil for hours in hot sun in farm lands in her village and walk back the long distance home to slog the rest of the waking hours until she went to sleep. Urban life was easy neither but comparably less daunting.

On my advice and on doctor’s the mother tries many remedial measures with the little girl. Like not giving her liquid food from the evening hours. From rousing her from sleep to take her to toilet every 1-2 hours. Still nothing works.

I said may be her daughter’s problem is hereditary. Then I suddenly remembered and asked her ‘Did you tell the doctor about sleeping with the lights on?’ She said no, she never thought that could be a reason. I said perhaps that is the main reason. My maid is too scared and shy to approach any doctor or psychologist any longer on the issue. She feels her daughter has grown too old for that. She is concerned about what her neighbours may think,. whether it would later on affect her daughter’s married life. How much ever I try to convince her to come with me to a specialist, she refuses. She believes her daughter will be fine some day as she herself grew out of the habit over time  …

May be she is right, we must try to ignore the problem. And the girl who is self-conscious up until now about the bedwetting would get alright on her own…

The mother and the girl – and their dreams and trials and tribulations… Its a moving story. I am ashamed of my nation, my society, of the class divide, of the insecurity of the masses, of the injustice they suffer from and more than all by the way they meekly surrender without a fight. They know they have lost it. What it is to be really poor and at receiving end in India – I am seeing before my eyes every single day.

The little girl’s menstruation coupled with the bedwetting habit totally funks me. Sleeping with the lights on…

The silver lining in the cloud is that hopefully one day in the future the teen girl will become a graduate – the first woman to earn a degree in her entire clan. So its high time her medical or psychological disorder is dealt with with the seriousness it deserves. More than anything, hygiene is important. If a qualified expert says all will be well without treatment, I am willing to consider that. Or whether the girl should wait until she marries as her mother says… Is it alright to meddle in others’ life. These are the questions I ask myself now.This is why I stop right here without overstepping certain boundaries.

What are the long term effects on health of individuals who are deprived for years, fitful night sleep. Is it normal to be in light all 24 hours a day – in sunlight during the day and electric light by the night hours. What are the psychological side effects. Very disturbing to think.

I keep calling my maid from wherever I am as I divide my time between places. Never fail to ask her about her daughter. She is getting her regular monthly periods. But the bed-wetting continues… The mother sometimes sounds tired and hopelessly sad. The men in the family – her husband and son are suffering in a way too. The little girl’s habit has now multiplied many times over. And then there is the grandparent to consider … ‘We all are keeping awake the whole nights for 5 days now every month’ said ‘S.’ Never have i felt more sick.

How many of us even bother to spare a moment to think of the lives of our house helps or drivers or cooks. Many times I think about helping the family with their housing needs but I decide, helping with the children’s education is more important. The family as I said, is very proud even if poor. Any extra help you may want to give them, they shy away with shame cursing their own helplessness. They are the kind of rural folks who can be easily wounded. They don’t want help – beyond a certain point. I am actually happy with that. How much they value self-respect, honour and dignity even in their desolate living conditions unwilling to compromise. What a difference from our politicians. And even our FCs who want to compare themselves with this poor lot of the nation. ‘Akka when my son starts working, he will raise a loan and build us a proper home’ says my maid.

I have tried to sleep with the lights on – never succeeded.

India’s issues are very complex, complicated. Poverty and gender discrimination and illiteracy compound to our woes. Those of us who are lucky are so very insensitive to care for those on who we tread over. Our greed snatches away the poors’ just share. Every 2nd or 3rd flat or house we buy, we are pushing the unfortunate into a further cramped dark corner.  Their petty world is bleak and hopeless. The day my maid told me she washed as many soiled sheets and mats of her daughter in their dirty bathroom after the night bed-wetting by her daughter on her getting her periods, I could not sleep in my comfortable bed. I tossed and turned for hours thinking of the girl, the family sitting or lying with the lights on, and mother and daughter making numerous trips to their dingy bathroom… the whole night… If I don’t feel guilty after this, I am not human.

Modi government, please think twice before any big decision/ruling. Be it Reservation or Land Acquisition. This is my hearty, earnest request to you. We can beat the mute and the invisible black and blue and they can take it, but it breaks my heart to see this happen to them. Industrialization, urbanization is necessary, but please do it without trampling upon our poor and squashing them into pathetic pieces. There is nobody to take their sides, nobody to argue their cases, they will give up easily – but think of the spirit we crush, the hopes we dash, the lives we crumple… I am certain my government will have some humanitarian considerations… If you have to uproot anyone at all, relocate them favourably.  Ambanis can have 27 storied palatial houses. The poor of India are not clamouring after big bungalows. All they want is to be left alone and not disturbed.

Giving the FCs of India equal footing with the suppressed and downtrodden communities of the nation is the most heartless injustice one can do to them. To be clubbed with their exploiters in one economic bracket is the worst thing that can happen to the poorest of India.

I have never felt as hopeless about my nation as I do now. Social Justice died a cruel death in India yesterday right in our parliament.

Posted in Economic

Will elite schools in India now open up to Municipal school kids? Agama Temple priests one and all? Modi and Yogi answer!

“Pichai Eduthaanaam Aandi, Adhai Pidungi Thinnaanaam Perumal”

So Modi has come out with 10% reservation for economically backward FCs fine. So is it now time to throw open the doors of city’s elite bunch of schools Churchpark, Vidya Mandir, PSBB, PSSS, Shishya, Lady Andal, Chettinad Vidyashram, DAV, SBOA, Maharishi and Rajaji Vidyashram to BPL family kids by the same logic? A reservation of 10% to start with? After all in India, discrimination/disparities stem right at pre-school levels. The school you attend defines who you are and your future. The rags-to-riches stories of Abdul Kalam and Ambani are one in a million. Otherwise for average Indians, it is rat race all the way. The gulf the society creates right in our Kinder Garten stage among the future citizens of the nation is already unbridgeable and extreme that under-devepment and poverty and the resultant Reservation criteria will have to become a vicious circle, with no option. Reservation comes into play where recommendations or carefully accumulated/cultivated intelligence of generations of well bred forefathers/ancestors cannot come to the aid of certain sections of our society. Reservation is thus the lifeline to the hopeless lot of poorest of Indians.

What reservations could not provide, recommendations/references have been taking care of for the upper middle classes. Schools to autonomous/deemed universities, the better-off of India have not been left out in the cold even in the so-called suffocating climate of Reservation. My autowallah makes almost 20-30 k per month in current times. He has always been able to give his family a decent living, being their sole bread winner. One of the things that touched my heart about him was, how his children were denied good schools because of his profession and because he and his wife were illiterates. Finally, he fought with a school management and secured his kids admission. Of course, they started with a clear disadvantage. Could not keep up with peers, could not follow up with brutal academics being first generation literates in their lineage. The poor father relented, pulled them out and enrolled them with a heavy heart in corporation school where the children at last could make some real friends. Denied bank loans as he can never produce a salary certificate, my autowallah still pawns his very source of income and livelihood : his auto (the three wheeled tuk tuk) if ever he has to change it/go for a new one or has to meet up with unexpected expenses. Whereas how generous India is with Ambani family, Mallya, Adani group.

Is not reservation meant for those like my autowallah. It is easiest to find excuses like the third generation dalit IAS benefiting out of quota system, in our urge to deny social justice to those who really deserve it. My maid who works for me for last 13 years for another thing. How come these men/women are in these menial professions, I ask myself. Where in India do we have dignity of labour about anything. Why is my subzi wala a subzi wala. Why is the corporation scavenger/sweeper in my street what he/she is. Why is not a FC working this profession. Why is a chakkili a chakkili. Why is a vettiyan a vettiyan.

Every FC who is rejoicing in Modi’s (anticipated) announcement today must ask these questions to himself/herself. And by the way if you are ever to enjoy an ancestral home, estate, heirloom, all the more reason to ask yourself, who and how your ancestors blocked from his/her path to progress that you could make it big today. Well, I do not know about my compatriots, but I sure do ask myself these tough questions.

These days one sees communist-bashing happening in a large scale in India. Communists are not a mushroom that sprouted out of nowhere. They may have become unfashionable today in the world of capitalism, but thanks to them, a lot of injustice has been corrected in the past as well. Someone has to ask the questions. Someone has to advocate. The ones who dared to ask difficult questions were probably called communists. Trade unions fought for just rights. Capitalist cronies can never figure out what it means by social justice and equality.

So reservation is social evil? Then why is reservation still practised in Agama temples throughout length and breadth of India, will Modi and Yogi answer? Not even the constitutionally granted Reservation Quota system could break the jinx could it? Salvation comes in many ways. But would it ever, to someone who by virtue of his birth (alone) has in fact the cheek to imagine that ONLY he was gene-selected and pre-programmed by God to serve His purpose in His abode over others.? How about opening a Vedic school cutting across communities and training priests for Agama temples impartially.

Recommendations can make an auditor an RBI director in India, so why should such a pampered community seek reservation. Recommendation plus Reservation to the privileged class could prove to be a deadly combo – lethal blow to India’s underprivileged. Very conveniently, Recommendations do not go into records.

Jayalalitha Jayaram, when she was Tamil Nadu chief minister, mandated a penalty of Rs.20,00,000/- for government medical college students who enrolled for their PG course at state expense – in case they were to opt out of three to eight years of rural health service on completion. Not sure whether the bond system still holds good in Tamil Nadu (after the NEET introduction in post Jayalalitha period: the only way they could do it). PM Modi must similarly enforce a strict penalty of minimum Rs.30,00,000/- on FC IIT undergrads and post grads and PhD scholars who graduate at the expense of tax paying citizens, if they want to flee abroad after having received the finest education the nation has to offer. Bond for IIT grads to be made mandatory.

Reservation for FCs can be compared to something like borrowing out of the beggar’s bowl. Though, Reservation is not a concession we are offering the most downtrodden and suppressed communities of India. Reservation is the compensation that they justly deserve.

Modi has been wrong in many matters. NEET for one. NEET they said got you medical seats on merit basis. Only that private medical institutions have since upped their antics in the knowledge of pricing it right for the right candidates. True medical colleges are accessible to aspirants today more than ever but there is a collateral that has been overlooked in the process.

Medical degree is unlike the technical engineering course. Medicine necessitates practice and intuition. Rural candidates in Tamil Nadu stood a good chance to medical admissions before the enforcement of NEET. On graduation, they went back to their villages and served the purpose, filling up void in the far flung areas and rural outposts. Reservation worked well on these grounds. How many NEET medicos of present times would serve rural India on graduation, will Modi answer. How long before Ambanis and Adanis take over our scattered village, taluk and district government hospitals and turn them to corporate businesses.

Like medical schools and hospitals, government of India also had established a banking network of thousands of service branches to cater to rural population along with post offices – not with a profit motive. Serviceability was the goal. Nation building was the idea. This is how the state owned banks have functioned for a good 30-40 years since the late 60s’ when the then PM Smt Indira Gandhi nationalized them in one stroke.

MBBS doctors in pre-NEET days were accorded service-record based MD/MS seats in government hospital-colleges after a customary entrance, on serving rural health centers for a length of time. No doubt quota doctors benefited immensely out of this which they passed on to the rural pockets they serviced. Depending on the discipline the MBBS doctors worked, their super specialty area was determined . No wonder a friend was 40+ when he won his PG seat finally in Madras GH/MMC after a 15 year practice. Experience counted and made difference. Now experience has no relevance as one sees how NEET has been securing the academically brilliant but practically nil experienced medicos the coveted PG seats. The friend who turned 45 when he finally added two alphabetical letters MD besides his MBBS is an epitome of knowledge with hands-on experience, no wonder. Diagnosis was accurate without the help of machines for these doctors of old school. The man served government hospitals in rural sector as stipulated by Tamil Nadu government for nearly eight years before he quit. Today we see under 30s so easily clear NEET PG entrance and secure the super specialty seats and MD seats in the state/country. And then making their way straight to swanky five star hospitals that bill /milk us patients in lakhs. Starting pay for these new age MDs is 1.5 lac, experience zilch but for a short stint that may be with private hospitals as well. Machines think for them. Thank you a ton Prime Minister Modi, what a great service to India in deed. And what a medical fraternity you have helped create for India’s future.

You think the former prime ministers of India, the men who drafted our constitution, the men who drew up our reservation bills did not do their home work? Probably they did a far better job than you. And a fair assessment.

I once had a procedure done with a lady gynaecologist who may not have been the brightest or ultra sophisticated in the block, but she was good with her hands. Quota doctor of course. She knew what she really needed to know. Just like midwives served the purpose until very recently not only in Indian but world history. More than learned knowledge, I understood it was a knack that you had to perfect in. A surgeon’s job is essentially a butcher’s. Only that, he/she knows the names to the blood vessels and arteries. Medical acumen comes from experience, practice, not to be gleaned out of mere journals and bound volumes of books. The community doctor’s ease and expertise, I did not find even in my regular hi-fi gynaec who boasted of a hotshot career. This one was known to me and she worked for a primary health center that charged me nothing. I was treated free. Ever since I have changed my opinion on reservation category doctors who muster experience with skill. This kind of medicos work with rural poor basically. They develop excellent rapport with nursing staff and paramedics. Primany health centers run by state government in Tamil Nadu are best in the line, run and managed very efficiently. The teams see infinite number of cases anyday. NEET just managed to destroy such a beautifully orchestrated, carefully constructed and self sufficient medical system in my state. I wonder what will be the future of these government health centers in the age of NEET aspirants. Whether the BPL family women will be comfortable with the suave NEET MBBS doctors who mostly pay their way to medical colleges?

Very soon, health care in rural India – the meticulously nurtured catacomb through the length and breadth of the country – will be replaced with sophisticated corporate business-like hospitals. Modifications? Ever since the IT boom in India from the 1990s, health care is already a mega buck maker, with health insurance companies playing an ace role in the scene. NEET is good, but the side-effects of NEET will be felt by poor rural Indians in the long run.

Indian judiciary prides itself that it is unconcerned of the guilty going unpunished using loopholes in the legal net. It takes care to ensure that not a single non-guilty is served with injustice.

Reservation in India must be viewed the same way. The idea has never been to exclude the creamiest but to include those disadvantaged by design. those living in the fringes.

India’s Karma is this. I , as an individual, cannot do much about it than empathize, given my limited capacity. But it is reckless of those in power to absolutely misuse their power.

For one thing, caste based quota system was enforced because social discrimination in India has always been and still is caste based. Reservation was devised as a formulation to correct the historical injustice done to certain sections of our society. For another, it is easy to manipulate one’s economic status and cook up figures. Reservation has still not been able to stop the FCs from furthering their goals because they have already established a deeply entrenched support system that will see them to economic safety whatever the circumstances. Things are in proper place for FCs.

Reservation is like parking slots for the disabled. Those who cannot get in can drive around and park elsewhere. They can still make their way to their destination. The disabled cannot, without difficulties.

I am based in gulf where it is not uncommon to see a particular state people from India holding advantageous position. A network. Some of us have not had such a helping hand in life. More than anyone, I have more merit and moral rights to air my views on Reservation.

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PS: Having said all this, I still hope, reservation of 10% for FCs materializes, for we can shut them up once and for all with that. Today, there is a tendency in India to downplay the achievements of the backward/stagnated classes who have made good with or without the crutch called reservation, fighting a tough battle all the way. First generation literates are mocked at, berated by those who have had headstart in academics and other arenas with plenty of opportunities thrown their way. India has never had a level playing field for everyone. After this move, the FCs will have none to blame for their stale genes or mediocrity.

Posted in Economic

NAVIGATING THE NON-EXISTENT WATER BODIES OF CHENNAI

As Kerala reels under unprecedented monsoon flooding that has displaced millions wiping out their homes, with over 88 dams opened up and threatening to burst at seams, I am re-blogging here something I penned over three years back when my hometown Chennai was trounced exactly in a similar manner when we feared, the seas would actually wash out our city. Of course, with due additions and editions.

Kerala reportedly is now hundreds times as worse as Chennai/Tamil Nadu was then. That Kerala is mountainous mostly adds to its woes, triggering landslides everywhere. Whether this disaster is natural or man-made is a billion dollar question. Onto my original post now:

GOOGLE IMAGES

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NAVIGATING THE NON EXISTENT WATER BODIES OF CHENNAI

December 17, 2015

“ARJUNA PALGUNA PAARTHA KIRITI SETHUVAHANA….’

would plead my grandmother to the skies, everytime it thundered during monsoons when I was a little girl. It was a fervent appeal to the lords to spare us poor souls from worst fates. The thunder accompanied by lightening so would not strike us down.. Going to beach every other day especially in summers was routine for us back then. And my mother would whisper a silent sloka to the sea god Varuna taking a fistful of salty water to spray on our heads as we girls played with waves washing our feet. Small prayers. But they reveal to me how our parents and grandparents never took nature for granted, how they dreaded the wrath of the five elements that held the power to determine our life and death. It was a time before the landscape of Chennai was to be significantly altered by our realtors. One or two mistakes were since committed here and there perhaps but things were still under control, perfectly manageable.

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Folks back home tell me I do not know what I missed. They say I can never even imagine. Over 150 cm rainfall in 48 hours, with reservoirs filling up at lightening speed threatening to breach their bunds and canals and minor river channels criss-crossing the city overflowing into downtown and suburban neighbourhoods all alike, Chennai proved to be sheer hell and nightmarish for residents this Nov 26-27th of 2015 which marked the second and wettest spell of the current North East Monsoon season… The meteorological department did their part, no blame game here. They say, El Nino for the first time has approached the east coast of peninsular India and from hence forth, we shall remain in the eye of the storm for a long time to come….

THE LOST WORLD

Cyclonic storms are not unusual or unheard of in the city where I grew up. The one raging season in my memory was that of the year 1977. They said Madras would be swept under the sea just the way Dhanuskodi, near Rameshwaram, was in the year 1964 in south Tamil Nadu. The storm changed course in the last minute and hit Ongole, 300 km away from Madras, in the Andhra Pradesh sea coast.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dhanushkodi

The peninsula coastline resounds with tales of tragedy from Kanyakumari, the southernmost tip of the Indian continent, to as for as Odisha. Each year, a different part of the coast may bear the brunt but the story is the same.

Mahabalipuram aka Mamallapuram is a seaside resort town a mere 40 km from Chennai. The Pallava temple architecture and stone sculpture make it a tourist heaven drawing visitors from around the world. The shore temple in Mamallapuram is the 7th one erected by the Pallava king, with 6 already swallowed by the sea.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahabalipuram

The shore temple dating back to 9th-10th AD is now a world heritage site preserved with utmost care. Corroded by salty air and threatened by erosion, it will not be a surprise if the waters wash away the final surviving one against all odds. The temple escaped Tsunami in Dec 2004.

Even the famous Kapaleeshwar temple of Mylapore is said to have been taken away by the sea from its previous site and the temple with main Murthis was moved to the present complex only hundred years back.

Kaviripoompattinam aka Poompuharwas the Chola capital during 2nd century BC. It is one more Tamil township taken by the sea.

https://www.quora.com/Indian-history-What-is-the-history-behind-Poompuhar-in-Indian-history

We come to know of Poompuhar through ancient Sangam Tamil literature dating back by two millennia wherefrom the great literary work called ‘Silapathigaram’ unfolds. Poompuhar was a very busy maritime port of those times. Having read ‘Silapathigaram’ composed before the birth of Christ, as a school girl it always amazed me how very well advanced and civilized ancient Tamils were. The epic is based on a true life incident concerning the king and his ordinary subjects who are delivered a hasty and wrong justice. How the accused man’s wife proves the truth to the king in the court and absolves him off his crime is the crux of the tale. It is this kind of rich and prosperous and knowledgeable society that the ocean waters swept away even 2000 years ago.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silappatikaram

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaptiRdsOrE

Kannagi, the real life heroine of one of greatest Thamizh epics of all times has a statue standing in Marina beach, Chennai, 2000 years after she lived, and thus has become immortal in our minds. None can face up to a woman scorned!

(Dwarka, Krishna’s birthplace, has recently been unearthed from under the sea in Kutch coast.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d733X4nYHWg

If verified and proved scientifically by research, Dwarka could pre-date Indus Valley Civilization by thousands of years. It is possible that after the lost world of Dwarka, ancient Indians picked up the pieces yet again from fragments and built the Mohenjadaro and Harappa, starting all over. There are indications that river Saraswathi mentioned in ancient sanskrit texts also vanished with whatever catastrophe sunk Dwarka. Discovery of Dwarka also disproves many myths carefully constructed by western minds about the origins of Hindu religion. Dwarka is ultimate proof that Ram and Krishna are not mythological figures but most ancient Indians who lived in and graced the subcontinent whose children we all are today.)

THE TSUNAMI

The last heaviest damage from the sea was inflicted by the Tsunami that struck the southern coast in Dec 2004. Thousands perished – cricket teams of boys and coaches in the Marina beach of Madras having been whisked away in blink of an eye that fateful morning. Devastation was upto Andhra coast. But after what we saw in Indonesia’s Aceh and Thailand and Sri Lanka, the local statistics never mattered to even our Indian media. Entire fishing hamlets were swept off in Kanyakumari district.

Cuddalore is the most cursed town in Tamil Nad. There is not an year when it is not lashed by ferocious monsoons. Kadal = Sea in tamil, very apt name.

It is now once again the turn of Chennai to face the wrath of the sea gods, looks like.

In over 78 years of her life, my mother-in-law says she’s seen nothing like this. My 70 year old aunt confirms the same.

DEBATE IS ON WHETHER MUCH OF CHENNAI’S RECENT MONSOON DISASTERS COULD HAVE BEEN MAN-MADE

Heaviest downpour recorded in any single day in a century no doubt, but the city still has had a good network of waterways like canals and rivers that traditionally and historically emptied vast volumes of rain water from spilling lakes and reservoirs through time-tested routes ino the sea. In recent past, these functional water channels have been hampered and littered with rapid urbanization resulting from hectic pace of industrialization that has not only got our water and land polluted but also choked some crucial bottlenecks whose existence had worked as barrier preventing many a natural calamity from shaking the city.

We can say, a combination of all the three did us in: the heaviest rains recorded in 100 years plus overflowing rivers and canals coupled with opened up lake-reservoirs that were about to breach their banks. 

RAIN WATER HARVESTING: A TAMIL TRADITION

Ancient Tamils were good and knowledgeable about irrigation canals. Karikal Chola built the Kallanai, the world’s oldest dam across river Kaveri that stands good until today (with some minor improvisations in the British period).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kallanai_Dam

There was a scientific way our ancestors harvested the rainwaters in.

Now the lowest channels of spillage like ‘Kuttai’ no  more exist. Kuttai means a small pond. Where are ponds in the city or in surrounding 100 km radius today. When was the last time we heard of  the frog in the pond. In bygone era, rivers swelled during monsoons spilling into lakes. From lakes, the waters were fed into ‘Kanmai’ and other various lower degree holding capacity channels and finally reaching the village ‘kuttai.’ Homes had wells built in to draw waters for domestic use. It was a healthy distribution of water and it helped in preventing drought. Today we have the rainwater harvest system working in converse pattern. The quickest to overflow (if at all they exist) are the ponds or kuttais. From receiving from superior waterbodies, the lower end of irrigation/drain/water storage systems have transformed into primary flooding sources. Wells wherefrom water were drawn has been replaced by tubewells and motors to pump out the ground water.

This is a chief reason for Chennai getting flooded; we could have still withstood the 150 cm rain in 2 days had we had an efficient channel of networking of rain water harvesting and storm water drain system working.

WATERS THAT FEED CHENNAI

In order to understand how the lake-reservoir-river-canal system works in the city and adjoining Thiruvallur and Kanichipuram districts, we have to first understand the complexities involved in rain water spillage and distribution in these parts.

Major feeders to Chennai Metropolitan City:

CHEMBARAMBAKKAM LAKE & RESERVOIR

POONDI LAKE AND RESERVOIR

VEERANAM LAKE 

PUZHAL LAKE AND RESERVOIR

The main lakes/reservoirs supplying water to Madras/Chennai are Chembarambakkam lake and Poondi reservoir. Adyar river has its source near the Chembarambakkam lake while Poondi reservoir spills into the Coovum river. Kosasthalaiyar or Kosasthalai river with other minor tributaries flows into Poondi lake/reservoir Buckingham Canal has its origin in Andhra Pradesh, constructed in the British era. All the 3 waterways viz., Adyar river, Coovum river and Buckingham Canal criss-cross the city to empty finally into the Bay of Bengal.

(Veeranam lake is one more vital source of water supply for Chennai which I am leaving out as it does not fall under the flooding zone of the terrain. Similarly Palar is another major but non-perennial river of Tamil Nadu which also I am skipping. I have seen it only dry but recently even Palar was seen flooding that made the locals rejoice inspite of the damage the monsoons wrecked. Kosasthalai flows through Thiruvallur district that adjoins Chennai. Puzhal in Red Hills is the fourth major water supply for the metro.)

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/palar-enters-vellore-after-a-decade/article7889911.ece

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-9VgsFlQvs  )

http://www.jollyvideo.com/1154 – this link details the various waterbodies such as lakes, rivers, reservoirs and canal systems of Madras/Chennai city. Excellent educative video.

ANCIENT HUMAN SETTLEMENTS MAINTAINED SAFE DISTANCE FROM WATERBODIES

Man has always lived away from waterbodies, making home in dry patches of land, even if it was to be by river bank or seashore. Low-lying areas were scrupulously avoided. Which is why, the oldest settlements of the city fared well and stood up to the monsoon fury while the latest developments faltered.

Noticeably in the recent drowning of certain residential neighbourhoods in the city, we can observe the following pattern: those along the Coovum were least affected while those close to Adyar river were taken by surprise. Both parts of the city regularly get an average and manageable level of waterlogging in some low-lying pockets but 10-15 feet high levels of water rise is so far unheard of.

I live in a relatively safer zone where surprisingly through all this, there was not a single drop of water stagnating. Same goes to the street I grew up in Mylapore, the oldest part of Chennai. Our 20 feet lane is normally cursed by motorists who get vexed maneuvering their latest sedans, but humble as it is the settlement could be existing for over 300 years who knows. The property has been in my mother’s side family for generations. The foundation stone for the tiled house with trees in the front yard was laid in 1947. Through all the bleak news pouring in, the one about the oldest streets in Mylapore not being water-logged came as a morale-booster.

The main streets of Royapuram near harbour similarly saw very least water related issues.

True when most of the city was inundated in unprecedented floods this Nov-Dec, there were certain parts of even Mylapore and Royapuram that went under. This is because of some new highrises in these areas in these recent years.

So it gets clear how the oldest inhabited areas of Chennai that were planned proper were least affected by the floods. Even if India (including Chennai) may have very poor capacity for sewage treatment with no capacity expansion executed in last many years, life goes on. For a 8-10 million strong city with densest population in congested localities like Mylapore and Royapuram, the grand old parts really pulled it owing to proper streamlining of drainage systems that could be as old as nearly a century.

A  SUCCOUR BY WAY OF TEMPLE TANKS

In Mylapore I remember a silk sari showroom (P Maniammal Textiles) being opened in North Mada street in a vacant corner plot, when I was in school. Even at that time the public opinion went that, the concerned square plot had been deliberately left open for generations as it was catchment area for rains in Mylapore that were routed underground to Kapaleeshwar temple tank (reasons being geological).  Given that Mylapore is an area of middle-class street/row houses, we can understand the significance behind leaving the source of the temple tank open to skies. How the property changed hands and construction was managed there remained a puzzle. There were fears that water would stagnate in the ‘Mada Veedhis.’ The sari shop closed on making loss and then a bank branch came up there.

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Connected Read:

https://vijiravindran.com/2015/12/23/temple-tanks-the-best-rainwater-harvest-systems-of-chennai/

 

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I never saw the Mylapore Kapali temple tank go dry in my younger years. But it did for the first time after the opening up of the showroom and even then locals blamed corruption behind the illegal (or otherwise) construction for what they thought until then was ‘impossible.’

Tamil Nadu is a state of ancient temples and Madras is a city of temples. There is no Hindu temple in India that does not stand beside a lake or river or man-made square tanks. In urban areas, it is mostly a constructed tank that harvests rain water as is the case with Kapali temple in Mylapore, Parthasarathy temple in Triplicane, Marudeeshwar temple in Thiruvanmyu, Kandaswamy temple in Parrys’ just to name a few of the dozens within city limits. The storage in temple tanks was actually meant for ablutions to be carried out by devotees before entering the holy places but it has now been learnt that it helps in recharging groundwater in surrounding areas. Whenever the Mylapore tank holds full capacity water, water-table in Mylapore rises nearly upto the surface. Whenever the tank runs dry, the water-table also considerably falls – sometimes to below 70-80 feet as it did in 2-3 continuous dry seasons when monsoons failed. So there seems to be a direct correlation between tank water storage and ground water content as it has been observed over years.

Although it always pleases devotees to look at lotuses and lilies in the tanks when they are brimming after a productive monsoon, we are also concerned of the imminence of weeding out the undergrowth should the tanks go dry. In Mylapore, there are actually more than 2-3 temple tanks, Kapali temple’s being the largest. The second one is Chitrakulam also close to our house, attached to Kesava Perumal temple. There is a third one within the premises of Madhava Perumal temple, a beautiful one, inaccessible to anyone from the street. This highlights the importance of water storage in our culture in past history.

Likewise every single area/neighbourhood in Chennai has atleast 2-3-4 temple tanks with good holding capacity that have been silently benefiting communities for generations. Even now if the tanks run dry, it is only because the sources to these tanks seem to have been taken over for construction-habitation. Now the tanks have solely become rain-dependent. The empty patches of land that served as catchment areas no more exist.

Penathur Subramanyam Iyer (after whom the 100 year old PS High school was named – which my father attended) seems to be the brain behind the storm water drains of the era in this part of the city. A lawyer by profession, he served as the Commissioner for Mylapore division in the Madras Corporation from 1890 to 1901.

DRY LAKE-BED TO SUBURBAN NEIGHBOURHOOD…

Nungambakkam, the heart of Madras does have a ‘Lake Area‘ by name so it is not a feat guessing how and where Nungambakkam came into existence.  Looks like entire Madras was once a city of lakes and small rivers. Unbelievable.

Thygaraya Nagar (shortly referred to as T Nagar) is also one of oldest parts of Madras but then it went under water as well in recent storms, why? All these years I had no idea T Nagar was also originally a lake area.

http://www.xsreal.com/blog/page/10/

Similarly Gandhi Nagar, Adyar and Raja Annamalai Puram which are prime residential neighbourhoods are situated perilously close to Adyar river that is on its last leg of journey in meeting with the Bay of Bengal. Near Chennai coast, Coovum river, Buckingham Canal constructed during the British period and the Adyar river form a delta. Adyar creek with its estuary sustains a very sensitive and fragile ecological system which is under dire threat with mounting scale of pollution.

http://www.tnuifsl.com/crrt/adyarcreek-2.asp

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/environment/the-good-earth/Adyar-estuary-springing-back-to-life/articleshow/49068630.cms

In late 1970s, one of my precious memories is visiting with family, the Anna Nagar Trade Fair. In those days when transport facilities were limited, going upto Anna Nagar by bus was like visiting the next town for those of us Mylaporeans. It was a month long affair that we toured in groups – adults and children together. What is unforgettable until today about Anna Nagar is, how we went boating there unbelievably in Coovum river which was deep and expansive so far as I can recollect. It was the highlight of our picnic.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooum_River

Soon Anna Nagar, one of the best planned parts of urban development of the city became another core business as well as residence center. The Anna Nagar West Extension area is as such referred to as ‘Rettai Eri’ – the twin lake. The SBOA schools sit exactly on lake-bed besides a booming middle-class colony. So one more wetland taken over for human settlement when dry spells of monsoons persisted for 2-3 years together in the past when the waterbodies ran dry.

Even in very recent years there has been the ‘Eri scheme’ in Mogappair, less than 4-6 km from Anna Nagar, touted as the next Anna Nagar. ‘Eri’ means lake which is a dead give away. To begin with, the scheme was mooted by none less than the state government as MIG and LIG housing plots.

ENCROACHMENTS IN COOVUM RIVER & ADYAR RIVER AND BUCKINGHAM CANAL

Back from my workplace in early 1990s, from the 4th floor windows of my office building, I used to look upon on buffaloes immersed in Coovum river in the Ethiraj Salai (not a strange sight in India 😀 ) In fact I wrote a blogpost once on the blissfully ignorant peaceful animal that always used to capture my imagination. All mothers in Chennai also have this habit of calling their thick-skinned sons as ‘Erumai madu’ (buffalo)! There is Coovum flowing through Mylapore as well but over years, encroachments have shrunk the breadth of the river canal. One of the sights I retain from those times upto the ’90s is that of the black beasts enjoying rain or shine neck deep in the waters – which reminds me how much navigable these waterways were once upon a time.

My mother-in-law talks of a time in her childhood when people used to take boats from Chetpet (which lake and river canal are surprisingly preserved to these days) to as far as Mylapore through Egmore. It is only in last 30-40 years that the development has been haphazard with no consideration to the damages inflicted upon ecology and surrounding environments.

This July-August as we were taking the newly laid bridge over the Coovum from Shoban Babu’s house in Nelson Manickam Road, we were exactly discussing about the unauthorized constructions flanking both sides of the waterways. My husband grew up in this area so as an outdoor lad in his younger years and now as an experienced civil and structural engineer, he has a precise idea of how much encroachment has been effected in river/canal embankments in his immediate locality as well as entire city in some 25-30 years. The Ampa Mall and PVR Cinemas had their retaining wall sinking when construction was going on – in the Nelson Manickam Road – P H Road junction. It was set right overnight. It is one more grand violation that has been since regularized by CMDA perhaps which sits right on Coovum.

Even if Coovum is a narrow river, it has never been this much restricted as in recent years that there is a fear that in very near future, it’s flow into the sea could see total curtailment at some traversing point. This could spell nothing short of disaster for the city. Coovum could run dry in summers but it is an important channel to empty storm waters in monsoon times, the lifeline of the city. With Buckingham canal, it forms a critical network carrying sewer (untreated or partially treated) water on release from our treatment plants.

Areas adjoining Coovum saw least damages this year because, Poondi reservoir that is channelized into Coovum river was opened well in time before the second spell of heavy rains started in November end this year. Poondi handled it better than Chemberambakkam. If Poondi had deferred opening up even by a single day, then entire Chennai city could have been swept away by now (including our area) under water.

Underscores, how vital critical thinking and effective administration must be. Lax in either resulted in Chembarambakkam fiasco.

CHEMBARAMBAKKAM LAKE, THE LIFELINE OF CHENNAI

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chembarambakkam_Lake

http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/chembarambakkam-a-lifeline-that-ravaged-chennai/article7964069.ece

Chembarambakkam lake is perennial source of water supply for Madras (and Veeranam steps in as the second source). Ever since the lake bed went dry,  it looked like a jungle had sprung to life in the midst of the lake, with trees growing furiously amid bushes in the vast expanse of the waterbody. Heavy unauthorized encroachments from all sides was hard to miss and the lake itself seemed to have shrunk in size. Clearly the lake was not weeded in time for monsoons just as no other waterbody in the city/state was either. The unpreparedness resulted in lakes and tanks filling up too soon with water overflowing into adjoining neighbourhoods.

CHANGING FACE OF CHENNAI : FROM FERTILE WET LAND TO DRY CONCRETE JUNGLE

 

Next we come to the other far end of the city, an extension of South Madras – the IT corridor OMR (Old Mahabalipuram Road) and its parallel one ECR (East Coast Road) that abuts the sea.

The satellite picture of the same area clearly indicates how the water-retaining areas and water bodies of the region were taken over by multinational IT companies over years whenever monsoons failed and the area went dry. Unauthorized dealings were also systematically regularized by government as the city became a place to reckon with in software industry. Even during normal monsoon spells, the roads here choke completely as the highway storm water drains here are a mess. The 200 ft IT highway OMR has a lower road level, a serious lapse in construction and design of the highway executed at exorbitant costs from tax payer money. Rainwater harvest/storm water draining system has not been fit into most parts of this major arterial road that leads to a super economic zone where billions of dollars are earned for the nation by the techies. The neighbourhood also has been prospering with high-end apartment complexes offering latest lifestyle comforts. But with the failure of the most basic infrastructure such as  storm water drains in the connecting nerve highway, the multinational corporations have since come face to face with the dire risk of sinking. Was risk analysis ever done before the estates were acquired for development? Did the civic authorities factor in the once existent water bodies that were plotted out and handed over in silver platter to corporate lobbies.

THE PALLIKARANAI MARSH

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pallikaranai_wetland

Siruseri where TCS has its upmarket corporate office is prime agricultural land as well. Right upto Tiruporur, this area has been rural and wet during monsoons. Even as far back as in 1997, the area was heavily inundated in moderate downpours. It was well known that the right hand side of OMR which is the rear of Velacheri/Pallikaranai constituted a low lying area. Pallikaranai Marsh lies right behind, which is a listed avian sanctuary (protected forest reserve) with a variety of winged visitors making it their nestling grounds during breeding season. The Marsh has also shrunk in size most significantly.

More shocking is how part of Pallikarania has also now been turned into dumping yard for the entire city. In pic: the vanishing Pallikaranai Marsh with the highrises in the background with the spoils of the day dumped in mountains.

SEWAGE TREATMENT

Untold damage has since been done to the city’s precious waterbodies that have been precious and natural storage points for potable water. Similarly the dry beds of seasonal lakes/tanks/ponds etc., that have been acting as absorbing sponges during flooding monsoons have been turned into concrete jungles. Where is room for flowing water to meander its way through this mess to the Bay of Bengal? The waterways have also been turned into clogged channels for untreated/semi-treated sewage which has wrecked havoc with the aquatic/marine life like fresh water fish in the canals/rivers, sludgy all the way to the sea. H2S-high toxic sewage and filth, froth as the water channels of the city rush to greet the ocean like one long line of slush and ash. How can any healthy eco system survive in such a polluted environ.

Sewage treatment plants in India including Chennai have very limited functional capacity, if at all we have any. Further more they are outdated.

Today the opposition parties of Tamil Nadu are asking for CBI enquiry into why the Chembarambakkam lake was opened up belatedly, without prior notice by midnight. This single lake thus is responsible for bringing down the major part of the city. Inefficiency of the bureaucracy coupled with ignorance is the chief reason.

If we have to start investigating matters, we have to start with Veeranam water pipeline times of Karunanidhi period, beginning with 1968 when he served as PWD minister in the state government. Since then, not much has been done for capacity expansion of sewage treatment plants or holding capacity of reservoirs.

Jayalalitha carried out some water pipe and drainage pipe replacements in key areas of the city including my street. Now that has saved us from much of water logging. I guess we benefited because we live in the heart of the city.

In her second term as CM, Jayalalitha also carried out prompt RWH – Rain Water Harvest  – that the successive Karunanidhi’s DMK government failed to keep up. When ADMK returned to power and Madam became the 3rd time CM, there was no time for her for administration (for a variety of personal reasons) and RWH has been since long forgotten. But most developers seem to be incorporating RWH in new projects, not because of any legal or corporation statute or rule book, but because they happen to think it is good and prudent to keep the water table replenished periodically with every monsoon. While weeding out of waterbodies was done systematically in previous JJ regimes during summers, nothing of the sort was carried out in the present term.

PRE-MONSOON CRITERIA: WEEDING THE UNDERGROWTH & MAINTENANCE/UP-KEEP OF WATERBODIES

Sometimes, citizens themselves take the initiative to weed out dense growth from lakes, tanks and ponds, sprucing them up for storage from an impending monsoon. NCC units for instance have been rendering such a selfless community service with young men involved in the good job for years. Chitrakulam, a small temple tank in Mylapore was thus cleared of weeds and made good by school students for a project. Similarly a few years back, my cousin and his friends weeded out the temple tank attached to Nitya Kalyana Perumal temple in ECR (30 km from city).

http://www.thehindu.com/features/magazine/a-lake-comes-to-life/article4817432.ece

When the government is dysfunctional, it is finally upto us countrymen to fend for ourselves. This is what happened in Coimbatore (refer the above link).

IN THE EYE OF THE STORM

A wild thought: is it possible to reclaim the lost waterbodies of the city ever? Soon sanity returns. Those regularized settlements like Nungambakkam, Anna Nagar and Mogappair were after all government layouts principally when the lake beds ran dry in off-seasons or harsh summers. Not saying the private promoters had no role to play. These encroachments on natural water bodies have since long been integrated into the corporation limits and constitute the heart and lung of the metropolis today. Even the highrises/tech-parks/complexes in OMR cannot be reclaimed, even if falling under various Panchayats situated in the outskirts of Chennai. But someone somewhere will come to foot atleast a part of the bill : and that someone could be our maid or driver or cook or tailor or bus conductor or factory worker or carpenter or plumber or mason who would have spent his/her entire life savings in procuring patta for that tiny square bit of land parcel he/she may fondly and proudly refer to as home, bribing officials at all levels… I am talking about the encroachments in Coovum and Adyar and Buckingham Canal banks… It is these hapless residents who will pay dearly with their lives and livelihood in case of manmade disasters, and never the upper middle class residents of Nungambakkam or T Nagar or the corporates of OMR/ECR belt.

Very shortly expect to see bulldozers smashing to smithereens whatever is left off the pathetic wash-out of the lower middle-class subsistence that will be once again be thrown out of the city, forced to start life from scratch…. Rest of us can still pick up the pieces from where we left and move on…

CHENNAI’S WATERSHED MOMENTS…

A friend in Pammal recounts the harrowing night. The locality boasts of new constructions so did not go much under the deluge. The friend’s house stood 1 meter water (only) for a single night and she and her husband were forced to flee to the top floor. She says there was running water in the street like a rivulet but they did not fear it getting in. Without power, the couple were planning to retire to their rooms for the evening. Just then their neighbours knocked alerting them to a rise in water level and seeking refuge. Their old house next door lying at a lower level already had over 4-5 feet of water and they panicked. Water was starting to enter my friend’s place. The 2 families moved furniture, locked doors and barely had time to disconnect electronics before fleeing up the stairs. Within minutes says she, the entire ground floor inside the house had about 1 meter water in which snakes came swimming.

They spent sleepless night in the open terrace at third level, abandoning even the middle floor, worried about rising water level. In mid-morning next day my friend says, flood water finally receded completely in her place. But had had done enough damage by then. She is still scouring her grand house clean. Lots of re-fixing have to be carried out which will cost the family a fortune.

It has been raining nonstop for days in the city from even before Diwali. There was a light respite in the 3rd week of November but the rains resumed with vengeance by 24th.

Chembarambakkam, the largest reservoir supplying water to the city, had not been opened up in time by officials as CM’s signature was pending as well as the Chief Secretary’s. For 2-3 days, valuable time was wasted in exchange of correspondence.  Inefficiency and indecisiveness cost the state dear. The lake had neared its full holding capacity by the first spell of monsoons itself. The delay and official apathy destroyed much of Chennai. By midnight the officials realized they could not postpone opening the floodgates – and when they did, it caught the napping citizens by surprise. Without power and with phone lines down and communication channels cut, many lost their lives as well as valuable assets.

With much of Chembarambakkam water discharged, now the retained capacity is merely 60% avers the friend who fears a water crisis in the city by next year this time, should the monsoons fail in the following season. Had the opening up been gradual and regulated, the standing capacity could have been maintained at a safe and healthy 85%. Too much of water in November and water scarcity by July, is it? What a reversal of fates.

Mismanagement of the highest levels where the government, official bureaucracy failed miserably but the good samaritans of Madras rose in a single wave giving humanitarian help.

‘No crimes reported during relief operations, but do not expect the conditions to persist’, warns the friend. ‘As reality sinks in, the state/city is left with millions on pavements without a roof over their heads and not a pair of clothes to change.’ Next few years will be very difficult for Chennaites predicts she, when crime-rates will zoom and murder for gain will become commonplace. And this is not counting the Epidemics. ‘Wait until January when the slum dweller feels the pinch, the owner of the cornershop who’s lost his stocks and customers in one go starts counting his losses and the labourer lacks his tools to go back to work. This is not about individuals, this is about a society where everyone’s livelihood has been crushed. This is not about rain or floods; this is about the morale of the city/state, this is our destiny.’

Posted in Economic

JOURNALISM AND MEDIA IN INDIA, A SHAME AND FARCE

 

It was not A CROWD Scroll guys, it was a group of seven KERALA MUSLIM YOUTH who beat up and murdered tribal Madhu who stole after all their rice because he was hungry.  And he did not go to them, they came visiting his place. The murderers went on to click selfies with the victim committing the criminal offence, torturing mercilessly the mentally unstable poor man to death . Indian media along with foreign media that went screeching for months endless about beef lynching cases using the word ‘Hindu’ a million times can’t be more quieter now when it comes to mentioning the killers identity. Religious affiliation. The beef lynching cases were hardly one or two, isolated incidents, blown out of proportion by the same media not so long ago.

https://scroll.in/article/869801/it-was-a-merciless-act-says-mother-of-adivasi-youth-murdered-by-mob-in-kerala

The champions of Dalit causes who were in the forefront defending Kanhaiya Kumar of JNU (a PhD scholar in ‘very relevant’ ‘African Studies’ over 30 years of age, drawing a stipend of 25,000/- rupees per month from tax payer money, for over 5-8 years now) along with Umar Khalid (another PhD no-gooder at tax payer expense) who raised anti-national slogans, have gone eerily quiet now. The crusaders for Rohit Vemula who committed suicide, find themselves unable to print that seven muslim youth in COMMUNIST SECULAR KERALA have in fact killed in cold blood a poor SC tribal (Adivasi of scheduled tribe caste).

But this is not the first time that Indian media play mum when minority men happened to commit heinous crime against Hindus. An illegal Bangladeshi immigrant from Assam brutally raped, mutilated and murdered a 29 year old Dalit woman in Kerala only last year. The murderer’s name was shielded maximum possible extent by our media. Whenver (and as in most cases) when the minorities commit crimes in India, it is general media practice in India to omit mentioning the offenders’ faith.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/kerala-dalit-woman-s-rape-murder-convict-ameer-ul-islam-gets-death-sentence/story-2JkzDeKkVJzT9fW6fld15J.html

Leave alone the protection of identity that goes with the worst offender of Nirbhaya gangrape case in Delhi, Mohammad Afroz, who was the one to insert a foreign object (rod) into Nirbhaya – who was let off the hook because he was short of 18 years (the legal majority age) by 6 months, with the courts counting him juvenile delinquent. Activists in India were up in their arms in favour of the mastermind criminal, holding banners for his release. This criminal is now on loose and has supposedly sneaked into southern India. His identity and name were leaked by some good samaritans for public safety and security.

Very recently a Hindu youth was beheaded by a muslim family for the only reason he fell in love with their daughter.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/they-killed-my-son-in-front-of-my-eyes/article22638998.ece

If you study this Hindu newspaper/online report, you can notice, how careful they are not to mention the word ‘muslim’ anywhere when it comes to naming the criminals. As much as possible they desist from referring the killers at all. Journalistic skills. How to write on a gruesome murder yet save the skin of the assailant. It is a one-sided affair. They only stopped short of reporting that Ankit beheaded himself.

Even Pakistanis seem to have an ounce of ethics and honesty surprisingly:

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1625669/3-muslim-family-beheads-hindu-man-love-affair-india/

In contrast, how many times, the word ‘Hindu’ gets used for minor isolated crimes committed by anyone in the majority.

It is suggested to take a peek into the police records nationwide and determine (or rather establish), who are mostly India’s smugglers, drug dealers, pimps, fake note printers, terrorists, other violent offenders. Hindus, Christians commit white collar crimes, admittedly. Presently I am leaving it at that.

But here is a video proof of a Chrisitian NGO suspected of foul play in the case of unexplained death of over 1,590 destitute poor near Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu. So far, no national tv channel has evinced interest in this gruesome case where the dead were buried without civic authority’s approval in cement cellars. Speculation is that this is a racket for bone and organ harvesting.

Why are Timesnow and Republic tv news channels not investigating this (literally) grave issue.

https://swarajyamag.com/insta/gruesome-details-emerge-as-christian-ngo-is-accused-of-organ-harvesting-in-tamil-nadu

After engaging in pedophilia and relentless illegal conversions, this is the next vital news on Christian evangelists sponsored by foreign church in Indian soil, waiting desperately for CBI attention and action. 1590 deaths in record 7 years. Yet the story not picked up by the Hindu, Times of India, Indian Express or Scroll.

Where is NDTV now.

The other day there was a report in NDTV on how Kashmiri muslims were sprucing up a Shiva temple in Kashmir for Shiv Ratri. Not a single Kashmiri Hindu pundit in sight. Either butchered or banished from the valley by way of ethnic cleansing long ago. But these guys were proud, drum-beating how magnanimous really their ‘terrorist’ brethren were.  This is insane! Or is the temple becoming another Ayodhya, turned into ‘their’ place of worship really?

I am searching for a report on how ‘Agraharams’ in Tamil Nadu towns have been taken over by the minority and the Hindu names have been struck down and replaced with ‘their’ names. Even centuries old temples are not spared, converted to ‘their’ worhsip places or religious schools. This was a Whatsapp message by someone who toured Kumbakonam, Tanjore etc taking pictures. The concrete proofs were the photographs which point to a bleak future for the Hindus in very near future. Not a single Ayodhya – we have a thousand Ayodhyas in the making silently and we can do nothing about it in our own country, when we are the majority Hindu. This is secularism and democracy in India.

So this is just a brief compilation by me. Like the tip of the iceberg. India is the only country in the world where the majority Hindu continue to get persecuted, lied to by our own media owned by foreign Christian missionaries who fund them and direct them, where criminals can get away committing heinous crimes against the majority Hindu with the immunity that comes with their minority status,

OWNERSHIP OF INDIAN MEDIA BY CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES

https://indianpeoplescongress.wordpress.com/2016/05/09/indian-media-is-owned-by-foreigners-is-the-report-correct/

Here is a lengthy read (cut and paste job from Quora in bold indigo, which explains it all): please give it a patient reading, it is an eye opener like none. (Data though not updated).

1. Hindustan Times – Shobhna Bhartia, owner and editor-in-chief of Hindustan Times is a Congress MP from Rajya Sabha.

2. Vinod Sharma, HT Political Affairs editor, is essentially a Congress spokesman on all TV panel discussions, because once his boss’ term gets over, he will be looking out for her RS seat next

3.  Barkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi, famous Congress stooges (and  intermediaries for UPA allies) who were exposed in the Radiagate  scandal, and are virtual Congress spokespersons in their capacities as  electronic media personalities, are the ones who write opinion and op-ed  columns most frequently (once every week) on the editorial pages of HT.  In return, Barkha and Sanghvi are rewarded with Padma Shris and other  monetary compensation by the Nehru dynasty or Congress party.

4.  NDTV’s promoters are Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy. Radhika’s sister  Brinda Karat is a famous CPM leader (well known for anti-Baba Ramdev  views) and Brinda’s husband Prakash Karat is the CPM Politburo General  Secretary (well known for preferring Congress over BJP). And Prannoy  Roy’s first cousin is the famous far-leftist pro-Maoist-Naxalite  pro-Kashmiri-terrorists “intellectual” Arundhati Suzanna Roy.

5. NDTV’s Barkha Dutt’s reality has already been exposed by me in above section.

6.  NDTV’s Sonia Singh is the wife of Uttar Pradesh Congress MP, Union  minister and ex-princely state ruler, Mr. R. P. N. Singh, who is one of  the fastest rising stars in the Congress party. If you remember, Sonia  Singh is a very high-profile anchor on NDTV whose pro-Congress anti-BJP  bias is legendary.

7.  NDTV’s Nidhi Razdan (high-profile anchor of Left Right Centre) is the  current girlfriend of J&K CM Omar Abdullah (after Omar recently  divorced his wife of several years and mother of his two children,  Payal). Nidhi Razdan is also famous for her legendary pro-Congress and  anti-BJP bias.

8.  CNN-IBN : Rajdeep Sardesai’s wife and co-promoter of CNN-IBN, Sagarika  Ghose, who anchors Face the Nation and is famous journalist of CNN-IBN  (well, her hubby is the owner-editor-in-chief after all) are famous  Congress stooges.

9.  Sagarika’s father Bhaskar Ghose was a famous sarkari babu and was made  the chief of Prasar Bharati (Doordarshan) during Indira and Rajiv  regimes. Bhaskar Ghose was well-known for personal loyalty to the Nehru  dynasty, and now his daughter and son-in-law are rewarded with their own  channel to do Congress propaganda.

10.  In fact Sagarika’s extended family even consists of her aunts Ruma Pal  (former Supreme Court justice and a close friend of the Nehru family)  and Arundhati Ghose (former diplomat and Indian ambassador to various  countries, predictably, under Congress regimes).

11.  Let’s now come to another famous CNN-IBN media personality who also  writes columns frequently for Hindustan Times — Karan Thapar. What you  may not know is that the Nehru family itself is related, through blood  and marriages, to the high-profile Thapar family. India’s Army chief  during the 1962 debacle against China, Gen. P. N. Thapar, is  brother-in-law of Nayantara Sehgal, the daughter of Vijaylakshmi Pandit  and niece of Jawaharlal Nehru. Gen. Thapar’s son is pro-Congress  journalist Karan Thapar. Gen. Thapar’s sister is Romila Thapar, a famous  “top” typical JNU Nehruvian communist ideologue historian, who gets to  write our textbooks and pollute them with pro-Congress Marxist  propaganda.

12. The HIndu – The Worst – N. Ram, owner and editor-in-chief (till February 2012) of The Hindu, was once a vice president of the Students Federation of India. SFI is the students’ wing of the CPM.

13.  P. Sainath of the The Hindu (acclaimed journalist well known for his,  again, unsurprisingly, typical left-wing Nehruvian communism ideology),  is the nephew of Congress politician V. Shankar Giri and the grandson of  V. V. Giri, ex-President of India and famous Congress politician. Giri  was especially known to be one of the first few staunch loyalists of  Indira, and whom Indira fielded for President elections against her own  party’s Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy, and who ultimately became the cause of  the first high-profile split in the Indian National Congress into  Congress (O) and Congress (I) — almost all the pre-independence regional  stalwarts split away to join Congress (O) or form their own state  parties, and the rest including Giri (all the loyalists of the Nehru  family staying on with Indira).

14.  Or even what about little known News24 Hindi media channel? Owned by  ex-journalist and editor Rajiv Shukla, famous Congress MP in Rajya  Sabha, Union minister, industrialist, BCCI vice president and IPL chairman.

15.  Or even what about little known Lokmat (and IBN Lokmat) that is Marathi  newspaper (and channel) in Maharashtra? Owner and editors-in-chief are  the brothers Vijay Darda (Congress MP) and Rajendra Darda (Congress MLA  in Maharashtra, and minister in state govt).

16.  Or even the other bigger and smaller media houses, such as The Times of  India and Indian Express, where the Nehru dynasty has managed to  infiltrate its loyalists such as Dileep Padgaonkar and Shekhar Gupta,  who are essentially paid stooges of the Congress party.

17. Vinod Mehta – Outlook editor has been well known to take anti BJP stand.

The  Congress (in fact just the one single family — the Nehru dynasty) has  been in power for 56 of the last 65 years of independence. This matters a  LOT. Personal relationships have been built, blackmail-worthy secrets  have been spied, monumental wealth has been accumulated … all by the one  single Nehru dynasty (and its family-business-cum-polit ical-party aka  Congress) that helps it maintain its tight irongrip over not just the  entire Indian mainstream media, but also deep into our bureaucracy, our  governmental institutions, and even our journalism and mass media  colleges and grad schools.

We  have probably not even scratched the surface of the network of family  and personal relationships through which the Nehru dynasty has  completely dominated and controlled the entire intellectual, historian  and journalist landscape of India. And we haven’t even talked about the monumental wealth or the  blackmailing secrets. All because the one single dynasty got to rule  over India for 60 years uninterrupted. It matters a LOT.

The  typical JNU Nehruvian communist left-libbers ideologues have really  perpetrated some kind of stranglehold on India’s journalism, media and  intellectual space.

Almost  all pro-BJP (or even centre-right ideologues) journalists have been  slowly thrown out of their jobs due to pressure from the Congress and  the Nehru family.

Even  the great venerable Ramnath Goenka, frustrated and broken by repeated  I-T raids and ED investigations ultimately had to fire Arun Shourie  twice from the Indian Express, which was once the best Indian newspaper  in the 1970s and 80s. That was the team — Goenka the owner, Shourie the  editor, and S. Gurumurthy the fearless journalist, that brought  political heavyweights like Indira Gandhi down on her knees and even  took on corporate honchos like Dhirubhai Ambani. (Ramnath Goenka  inspired the Mithun Chakraborty character and S. Gurumurthy inspired the  R. Madhavan character in the Ambani biopic “Guru”.)

But  very few centre-right ideologues are left in India’s media space today,  that too in minor publications like The Pioneer. Almost all the  mainstream media houses have been thoroughly infiltrated and coerced  into towing the Congress’ line, sometimes just through ideology and  relationships, and not even money power.

The  Congress party essentially owns and controls every single mainstream  media house in India, including Hindustan Times, The Times of India,  NDTV, CNN-IBN, The Hindu, Tehelka, Outlook, etc”

Let us see the ownership of different media agencies.

NDTV: A very popular TV news media is funded by Gospels of Charity in  Spain Supports Communism. Recently it has developed a soft corner  towards Pakistan because Pakistan President has allowed only this  channel to be aired in Pakistan. Indian CEO Prannoy Roy is co-brother of Prakash Karat, General Secretary of the Communist party of India .  His wife and Brinda Karat are sisters.

India Today: Which used  to be the only national weekly which supported BJP is now bought by  NDTV!! Since then the tone has changed drastically and turned into Hindu  bashing.

CNN-IBN: This is 100 percent funded by Southern  Baptist Church with its branches in all over the world with HQ in US..  The Church annually allocates $800 million for promotion of its channel.  Its Indian head is Rajdeep Sardesai and his wife Sagarika Ghosh.

Times group list:

Times Of India, Mid-Day, Nav-Bharat Times, Stardust, Femina, Vijay Times, Vijaya Karnataka, Times Now (24- hour news channel) and many more…
Times Group is owned by Bennet & Coleman. ‘World  Christian Council’ does 80 percent of the Funding, and an Englishman and  an Italian equally share balance 20 percent. The Italian Robertio Mindo  is a close relative of Sonia Gandhi.

Star TV: It is run by an Australian, who is supported by St. Peters Pontifical Church Melbourne.

Hindustan Times: Owned by Birla Group, but hands have changed since  Shobana Bhartiya took over. Presently it is working in Collaboration  with Times Group.

The Hindu: English daily, started over 125  years has been recently taken over by Joshua Society, Berne ,  Switzerland .. N. Ram’s wife is a Swiss national.

Indian Express: Divided into two groups.
The Indian Express and new Indian Express (southern edition) ACTS  Christian Ministries have major stake in the Indian Express and latter  is still with the Indian counterpart.

Eeenadu: Still to date  controlled by an Indian named Ramoji Rao. Ramoji Rao is connected with  film industry and owns a huge studio in Andhra Pradesh.
 Andhra  Jyothi: The Muslim party of Hyderabad known as MIM along with a Congress  Minister has purchased this Telugu daily very recently.

The Statesman: It is controlled by Communist Party of India.

Kairali TV: It is controlled by Communist party of India (Marxist)

Mathrubhoomi: Leaders of Muslim League and Communist leaders have major investment.

Asian Age and Deccan Chronicle: It is owned by a Saudi Arabian Company with its chief Editor M.J. Akbar.

Gujarat riots which took place in 2002 where Hindus were burnt alive,  Rajdeep Sardesai and Bharkha Dutt working for NDTV at that time got  around 5 Million Dollars from Saudi Arabia to cover only Muslim victims,  which they did very faithfully…   Not a single Hindu family was  interviewed or shown on TV whose near and dear ones had been burnt alive  in Godra, it is reported.

Tarun Tejpal of Tehelka gets blank cheques from Arab countries to target BJP and Hindus only, it is said.

The ownership explains the control of media in India by foreigners. The result is obvious.

Latest to join the bandwagon is Kamal Hasan, actor from Tamil Nadu, plunging into politics invoking the divisive Dravidian policies, as if on cue. Will Kamal Hasan address a public meeting in the Chennai Marina and announce it clear to the world whether he is a converted Christian or not. Or if he is funded and fielded by Christian NGOs? Does he or does he not have an offshore bank account in Cayman Islands, the tax haven. Whether he is still a Hindu. Will Kamal Hasan file an affidavit of declaration to this effect in a competent court of law. This is very important if he is to contest next state assembly elections in the state. The electorate in Tamil Nadu must be informed and Kamal Hasan must not deliberately suppress facts which could have the potential to swing votes and decide the future and fate of the state.

Why I will not vote for a Christian or a Muslim: Look at the Kanchipuram videos. And at the silence of the media. The Madhu murder. Lengthening silence on perpetrators of such an inhuman crime. What will happen to us Hindus if we become the minority in the country when the Indian media can connive conveniently and comfortably with anti-national foreign christian conversion missionaries to do this injustice to us right now.

A grand design is afoot to undermine the Hindu majority in general. The picture emerging is scary. Sometime back a friend shared a video in Whatsapp, of a group of youth going about in Malapuram in Kerala, stoning Hindu homes and hailing the desert cult. Am I living in India. Are Hindus still the majority in this country. What is happening to my nation.

The democracy in India depends foremost on the demography of India. India will be a democratic, secular republic only till we are Hindu majority. When Hindu population in this nation drops to below 50%, we will be on our way already to become the next Af-Pak, the No.1 terror nation in the world. Let the Ramachandra Guhas of India who maintain a stoic silence (for a supposed historian and renowned author that he is) on conversions, the Award Wapsi gangs and Indian media ponder on that.

 

 

Posted in Economic

WTO and India: Rethinking India’s Food Security

continuing tragedy of farmer suicide in India... who is responsible?
continuing tragedy of farmer suicide in India… who is responsible?

This is a post I blogged private (original date of publishing: August 6, 2014)  but in the heat of ‘Jallikattu’ protests would like to revisit the issue: Below is a reproduction of my original blog post with little editing here and there.

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https://in.finance.yahoo.com/news/nine-reasons-why-indias-wto-081730068.html

 

‘Karuvelam’ trees also known by the name ‘Veli Kathan Mullu/Maram’ (the trees that are fences) were once the rage of rural Tamil Nad. These are easily breakable firewood found aplenty throughout the state. What we did not know of them was that, these trees were NOT native to India/Tamil Nadu. It was easy to have them in our villages for the dual purposes they served: cheap fuel and the much-needed thorn fencing they provided without requiring watering or nurturing. Veli Kathan Mullu was no fodder for cowherds/goat herds, unfit for grazing that made it farmers choice.

There is a conspiracy theory doing rounds in recent times, that in order to off-set India’s record farm productions, to make us a foodgrain importer, some vested ‘western’ interests got the species clandestinely to Indian soil. After 3-4 decades the effects – disastrous – are already showing. The water-table has since depleted to alarming levels and the rainfall to southern districts has receded to a bare minimum. Research established ‘the culprit’ behind the debacle of once-fertile agricultural farms turning into parched dry lands – the ‘Karuvelam’ trees ( botanical name ‘Prosopis juliflora’ ). There is also another theory going that Tamil Nadu’s Congress Chief Minister Kamaraj introduced the vegetation to the state in drought times to provide for cheap fuel in the countryside. Whoever is responsible, the damage is done and the effects are now devastating.

https://www.quora.com/Is-it-true-that-the-British-spread-a-weed-called-Prosopis-Juliflora-Seemai-Karuvelam-Velikathaan-in-India

Now finally efforts are on to root out the trees completely from native soil and try cash crops first to air and test the soil and bring to it a fresh lease of life.

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-tamilnadu/pilot-project-to-root-out-karuvelam-trees-in-ramnad/article5353521.ece

Please also check out this Facebook page:

சீமை கருவேலம் எதிர்ப்பு இயக்கம் / Juliflora tree abolish movement.

This page is in Tamil and the posts in the page allege that the US is indirectly engaged in biological warfare in India, no less.

Links from the page (videos are in Tamil) explain how detrimental the trees are to Tamil Nadu agricultural holdings and even to our entire eco-system. Without mincing words, the page and videos blame the western forces for the invasion of these ‘alien’ trees in our midst.

LEARN ABOUT BT COTTON AND OTHER Genetically Modified (GM) CROPS/SEEDS AND KARUVELAM TREES FROM THE FOLLOWING VIDEO AND HOW A PLANNED ORCHESTRATION OF BIOLOGICAL WARFARE AGAINST INDIA IS ON FOR DECADES CHRONICLED BY THE WESTERN FORCES. (Wish this video runs subtitles in English). 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kY607N4Ddoc (

One more on court order on rooting out of Karuvelam trees:

 

When the trees were initially planted in TN (none knows where they came from to this day), the villagers took to them eagerly given the level of our rural poverty. The ‘karuvelam’ trees saw to that the kitchen fires burned, literally, which was and has always been a major issue with rural India till this day. In ’70s or ’80s, the availability of fuel to far flung districts was scarce and the costs were steep. So the popularity of the ‘Karuvelam trees’ as fuel-efficient fencing trees in the state went unprecedented.

The Karvelam trees, extremely invasive, spread faster than wildfire and soon they spread upto river basins. Not only did they, over decades, suck out the complete water table from our agricultural ‘bhoomi’, they also preyed on the very moisture content in our atmosphere. ‘Tanjore delta’ is the ‘rice bowl’ of Tamil Nadu and now what we have is, farmers selling agricultural lands to realtors because of increasingly failing crops.

The wake-up call has come a little late, still better late than never.

Any similarities we have here with BT Cotton, a GM crop we have in India today?

For a fact we know how many farmer suicides are instigated in this country by failure of crops due to unpredictable monsoons. BT-cotton takes credit for causing maximum life loss in the states of Telengana and Maharashtra as well as in rest of India, being a direct import from the west (read US).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farmers’_suicides_in_India

http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-seeds-of-suicide-how-monsanto-destroys-farming/5329947

One only needs to google to find out the scale of tragedy when it concerns farmer suicides in this poor nation of ours.

http://www.newindianexpress.com/columns/Failure-of-Monsanto-Bt-Cotton/2013/12/06/article1930013.ece

http://www.hindustantimes.com/business-news/ministry-blames-bt-cotton-for-farmer-suicides/article1-830798.aspx

While I am hardly a qualified expert to speak on the subject, from what I have read and learned (from media) over years, I can surmise these facts:

  • BT cotton is a GM crop imported from multinational corporations in the west/USA. The seeds need to be imported at high cost from America whereas the local indigenous cotton crop seeds are distributed free to Indian farmers by our government.
  • BT cotton seeds are like ‘china product.’ One-time use only. Use and throw. Cannot be harvested for re-use at a later date.
  • Most Indian farmers harvest a good portion of the seeds for future use. This is not the case with BT cotton or for that matter, with any GM crop. The farmers’ independence and security are forever compromised.
  • The patent for the BT cotton seeds and other GM crops will always be the property of these corporates and thus not only our farmers but even the Indian government could one day come to be at the mercy of the west/ In short, we could be held to ranson as a nation. Food security is one of our strongest points. And if there is going to be threat for that basic assurance to our masses, then none can save India ever.

Recall the Hollywood picture ‘10,000 BC’ here and how the picture ends: the film’s hero character D’Leh returns to his tribe with success – and with a handful of gifted grains/seeds for harvest from his friends/allies.

Highlights how harvested seeds, native to the soil, are always important to any nation. The harvested foodgrains/seeds are India’s future.

The american corporations have scrounged millions & millions of dollars out of poor, dying farmers in India  (watch the above documentary). Just like Amway did, like in rural Andhra Pradesh to cite a case.

(Amway India is another track i will take up later).

See what Monsanto has done to South America here:

http://naturalsociety.com/what-the-monsanto-law-in-south-america-has-done-to-farmers-rights/

http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-complete-history-of-monsanto-the-worlds-most-evil-corporation/5387964

This is the same Monsanto that has entered India by illegal means and is killing Indian soil with a vengeance:

http://seedfreedom.info/how-monsanto-wrote-and-broke-laws-to-enter-india/

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http://ajitvadakayil.blogspot.qa/2012/05/monsanto-and-farmer-suicides-in-india.html

 

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  • BT cotton, the GM variety yield may be good and promising in the first couple of years. Thereafter the graph drops significantly as we have seen in the states that took to BT cotton farming. Bollworm which plagues the BT cotton gets pesticide-resistant in a very short period that leads to subsequent crop failures. The fact that this observation was NEGLECTED to be mentioned by US marketing to India goes a long way to prove how aggressive our modern day invaders are. And how gullible or corrupt perhaps Indian government has been always, sadly.
  • Given the high cost of acquiring the GM seeds coupled with uncertain monsoons and inability to tackle the bollworm infestation, thousands of poor farmers have been driven to suicide in Telengana, Maharashtra and Gujarat. The other complication is, once the soil gets the BT cotton plantation, it turns averse/hostile to native cotton varieties. This is like cancer – our own genes on a mutiny against our physical body leading to our ultimate death and destruction.
  • BT cotton seeds is patented and held to ransom by US corporations – so if GM crops is what India is to go after in a large scale, we are now having a trailer of what is going to come next. The native harvested seeds will be lost forever with the ‘antibodies’ multiplying and multiplying to an extent that our own defences will be down and become the weakest – an unmitigable loss to the nation and humanity.
  • BT cotton is a small example of how the west can twirl us around their fingers. While I have never come across a direct case of BT cotton farmer, over the years I have been watching a no. of tv news reports and newspaper findings and researches that point to the scenario. I believe in them because they have no reason to lie. This is not like an isolated incident either. This is a widely spread critical issue that has drawn the national headlines for the right reasons.

This blog is in response to the one on GM BT-Cotton that I recently chanced upon. While I welcome others views, I am surprised and hurt to see how our own blood is turning against us for ‘short term gains.’ So this is how the British came to usurp entire India. They played one small ‘Rajah’ against another – his neighbour, who gave in to excessive greed and selfishness. In the end, they/we all lost and how they/we lost!

What about other GMO vegetables and fruits like tomato and brinjal. These GMO food can contain genes from pigs and cattle – which can have significant altering effects on the very metabolism of us Indians, leave alone our vegetarian/religious orientation. We know of the ‘Mad cow’ disease which is not a surprise when you go against nature feeding the cattle with GM feed that contains meat products among others. When the cows, herbivores by the law of nature, ingest something that their metabolic system can never agree with like meat and chicken formula, their genes only have to mutate awful and gory, do we have a choice.  Who says the results are not proved in the labs.  And why should not they ever be suppressed or forged by vested interests/multinational corporations. Imagine the calves being born to these GM-formula fed cows and the genetic havoc they can wreck/unleash in the process. Imagine these calves growing up into cattle, giving birth to next generation with their original genetic composition turning awry. So are they the cow or cattle we know anymore? Or are they wolves in sheep’s clothes literally. This way, the whole biological/ecological chain can be affected in a manner unthinkable – and who knows where this will lead the world to. No wonder the beef products from the cows fed on GM food lead to ‘mad cow’ disease. Okay, this is all my deduction only, hahaha.

Soya bean is another GMO product that we can all do without. Touted to be an anti-cholesterol food, local doctors contend, if consumed largely under 40 years, the soy beans can lead to infertility in men.  Not 100% everything soy is GMO but the GMO Soy beans have invaded everywhere.

So what are the long term effects of GMO foods in us humans. Already we are seeing an unprecedented spurt in the birth of autistic and spastic children in the country which we blame on use of fertilizers and pesticides. They say, GM seeds/crops have not reached India in a big way, but everytime I see a big eggplant or whatever in the markets, I have these misgivings. Because, Indian produce are by nature diminutive in size compared to the western produce. Indian vegetables and fruits come in compact sizes with a detectable and favourable taste – because I have had chance to sample them and cook then in both Malaysia and Qatar for years now. I have had a chance to compare the same vegetables that are grown in different climatic conditions, different geographic locations etc etc. While my views can be easily dismissed as ‘coming from a housewife’ I have this ‘life experience’ that not even the experts in the field may have. So over-size vegetables and fruits in Indian markets alarm me always. Some stores sell imported ones – Personally I take a great care never to buy the wax-coated rich-looking ‘Washington apples.’ Rather it is always the demure and unattractive local desi ‘Shimla’ apples for me.

So essentially this is the difference between desi and foreign.

As for long term use of pesticides and fertilizers, we all know of the Punjab and Kerala story:

http://www.cseindia.org/userfiles/endosulfan_kerala_story.pdf

‘Endosulfan‘ is now banned in India, but not before a Kerala happened.

The Punjab episode is equally heart-wrenching.

http://indiatogether.org/poison-health

For one thing, Indian farmers are poor and mostly illiterate, and it is not easy to educate them about the ill-effects of indiscriminate use of pesticides and fertilizers. But the case of GM crops like BT cotton is altogether different.

Overall, it looks like there has been some systematic, concentrated efforts to demoralize the Indian farmers that can have a direct impact in our food production and national food security.

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/indias-tough-stand-at-wto-reflects-modis-foreign-policy-goals-as-well-as-his-domestic-ones/articleshow/39132777.cms

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/foreign-trade/india-wont-back-wto-trade-protocol-unless-food-security-concerns-addressed/articleshow/39004564.cms

India is tired, fighting a lone battle – with no SAARC nation to give us support. We fought and won the ‘Basmati’ case, we are fighting for everything Indian and desi from patents for neem to turmeric (haldi) to everything while our neighbours would rather sleep over these life issues and save their energies for ‘Palestine’ that is of zero consequence to the entire Indian subcontinent. What a waste.

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/india-wins-the-basmati-patent-case-but-the-trademark-issue-remains/1/231076.html

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/battle-over-basmati-rice-renews-debate-on-indias-stand-on-intellectual-property-rights/1/231120.html

http://www.rediff.com/news/aug/23tur.htm

Remember the ‘keezhanelli  keerai’ (a type of greens) that is Ayurvedic/Siddha medicine that has traditionally been used for centuries in India for treating jaundice (hepatitis). The allopathy medicine uses the same elements in this traditional greens – so what is India’s intellectual loss already is incalculable. Daytime robbery is what is taking place in our nation right in front of our eyes and we are all helpless watchers.

http://lex123.hubpages.com/hub/Medicinal-uses-of-Kizhar-Nelli

Today poor Indians are buying patented ‘keezhanelli’ – allopathic medicine – at exorbitant costs to get treated for hepatitis.

Every nation on earth has its own interests to protect first. So if the west would want India to be accommodating to their self-interests, India in a similar fashion reserves her right to enforce her stand in WTO to ensure the food security of this 1.2 billion nation. To ward off the BT crops and seeds will be our greatest challenge in the forthcoming years/decades. It makes one wonder about small, gullible nations that must have already fallen prey to ‘powerful demands.’

 

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http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/Activists-oppose-field-trials-of-genetically-modified-crops/articleshow/36118323.cms

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PS: I am not a farmer neither do I own agricultural lands (prohibited anyway by law from owning farmlands as urban citizen of this country), nor am I a qualified expert to speak on the subject. This blog is merely a matter of interest to me, a housewife, with no background. In fact I unearthed this one from ‘Trash’ and re-did it to post it today, as the issue gathers momentum at the center. I am NOT a member of any political party or NGO.