Monday, March 2, 2015

Interesting links for February 2015 - #AAP related
An open letter to Ms Kiran Bedi from Shabnam Hashmi
Delhi polls 2015: Arvind Kejriwal 2.0
The AAP 'funding scam' farce - Is the media plain stupid or a sellout?
Six lessens in affordable politics: AAP victory shows how leections can be fought on a shoestring budget
Arvind Kejriwal spoofs himself. Never seen a political leader be so cool with jokes about himself.
$600-mn trail to RIL in maze of 14 accounts
Arvind Kejriwal's first words: this victory is scary…don't let it go to the head
" Finally, the BJP did get a Congress-mukt Delhi. But it also very nearly got a BJP-mukt Delhi."
"slum-dwellers, auto-drivers, industrial labourers, migrants, Dalits, Muslims and people at the very bottom of the social pyramid. He now stands for the little guy, who is thrashed by the police, driven out of his jhuggi by civic authorities, forced to pay hafta to a variety of officials and oppressed by the city's established power structure."
"On one hand where leaders like Sakshi Maharaj are insulting the position of women by ordering them to have more children, we have a politician who owes his success to his wife and family. This is a statement which asserts that the politics that we were surrounded by for so long, was too hyper and masculine for the new India"
ADR study shows no MLA with serious criminal cases elected in Delhi : making this Inda's first criminal-free assembly
EC for probe into Lok Sabha poll funding
"BJP which claimed it received Rs 363 crore in 2013-14 (up to March 31), has shown an expenditure of Rs 714 crore during parliamentary polls."
International media hails AAP triumph as a 'political earthquake',-but-AAP-grabbed-all-the-headlines-without-spending-a-dime,-Hindutva-leaders-kept-up-stream-of-heated-rhetoric
Explained: Full mandate in a half state
"through the day in the studio yesterday, I was served endless cups of tea. With every lead and result, the smile on the face of the boy who serves us tea kept getting wider. His smile said it all: he was the 'muffler man' in disguise. He may not afford an expensive suit,  but he had discovered a new identity, a badge of self-respect."
Hazare likens Modi regime to British Raj
How Kejriwal rode the anti-Modi vote
Proud about Kejriwal becoming CM, says Hazare
AAP's win is Narendra Modi's defeat, says Anna Hazare

"What sort of an ordinance is this? Snatching fertile farmlands from farmers and giving them to corporates. People have been betrayed by the actions of the BJP government. Its tall promises of 'Achche Din' have proven utterly hollow," said Mr. Hazare, flaying the Central government.
Behind the Aam Aadmi Party's spectacular win in Delhi was an organisation that had chalked out everything to the last detail - from the manifesto to the jingles, from the morning conference calls to the nukkad sabhas.
Make No Mistake. This Is Modi's Defeat
Growing discomfort among RSS ranks with Modi-Shah regime
Congratulatory Hoardings Not AAP's Politics: Kejriwal
 "PM Modi forgot he is India's prime minister and behaved like an opposition leader during the campaign,"
AAP's 700 litres of free water: How the numbers add up
Marlena said the measure will amount to a subsidy of Rs 65 crores for a quarter of the year.
Excise officials among 9 held for liquor smuggling
But, more shockingly, flagrant flouting of procedure in sending liquor stocks from distillery to retailer has come to light. It's allegedly causing an estimated loss of Rs 2,500 crore to the exchequer, officials have said.
Let whistleblower Sanjiv Chaturvedi become my Officer on Special Duty: Kejriwal to Govt
Cleaning Delhi's Air: Aam Aadmi Style
Nothing wrong in AAP's foreign funding: Centre to HC
S C Vats, who is the chairman of an institute in the Pitampura area of Northwest Delhi... In her complaint lodged at Maurya Enclave police station on January 28, the 33-year-old victim has alleged that Vats raped her on several occasions while she was working at the institute... Vats, who was in Congress for several years, joined BJP in December last year and contested the recently-concluded elections from Shakur Basti. He was defeated by AAP leader Satyendra Jain.

Expect several such skeletons to tumble out of BJP/Congress's closet in the coming days as more and more ppl pick up the courage to tell the truth. #ChangeIsInTheAir #Justice
Reply by overseas AAP volunteers to a cabinet minister's accusation made at them for participating in AAP's calling campaign.
Put your house in order, Kejriwal tells civic bodies
Relief for Capital's street vendors as Delhi government plans protected 'vending zones'
Nearly five lakh street vendors in the national Capital were relieved on Thursday, after the Delhi Government allowed them to operate till they get registered.

The Director of Local Bodies, which coordinates with the civic bodies in Delhi, has been asked to ensure no existing vendor is evicted.

It is noteworthy that a Bill regarding protection and regularisation of street vendors has already been passed by the Centre. But nearly 90 per cent of vendors in Delhi have so far not procured the licence.
As vendors note, the law has not been implemented properly and they continue to be harassed by the civic authorities and local police.
The Delhi government has started the process for fixing boundaries of unauthorized colonies to give shape to the promise of regularization. Resuming the work from where the first AAP government left off in February 2014, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia has decided to begin the process of regularization with a ground mapping survey..
 Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has put a rider for release of funds by the state to municipal corporations-draw up a financial viability plan. However, during Thursday's review meeting the three municipal commissioners told him they are already facing a funds crunch and staff hasn't been paid for months. While officials are optimistic about solutions to the prevailing problems, BJP councillors claim the issue is becoming political.
2500 e-rickshaw drivers get license to ply on Delhi's roads.

Awesome posts by Roshan Shankar, a young guy who played a big part in writing up the AAP's 2015 Delhi Manifesto:
That Was The Week That Was: Delhi Election 2015 Edition
Why AAP Opposes The Land Acquisition Ordinance: 3 part series of very detailed articles on the issue. Includes quotes made on the issue by BJP leaders in the past that reveal a shocking u-turn at present.
AAP Delhi Manifesto 2015: Water as a Right
AAP Delhi Manifesto 2015: Big Change without Big Spending- Part-2
AAP Delhi Manifesto 2015: Big Change without Big Spending
AAP Delhi Manifesto 2015: Governance of the Common Man
Article analyzing Union Budget 2015-16
An Inspiring Letter From My First Boss To Delhi
Is AAP the Uber of Politics?
Baniya's Opposition of E-Commerce: Dubious Reportage on AAP before Delhi 2015?
Delhi Dialogue: AAP's 50-point Blueprint for Delhi - Press Release
Timeline of what happened just after AK's resignation in Feb 2014, and how Central govt - both Congress and BJP, kept Delhi without a government for a whole year

Interesting links for February 2015

Huge number of AAP-related links for Feb 2015... am separating them out in a separate post.
A wonderful school / community center in Chandigarh
A summary of plans for improving bus transport in Pune through people-friendly route maps
How female foeticide in India came about, and who were the first to blow the whistle about it
Nonviolent protesters are terrorists??
llustrative of what happens when the criminals are in charge of the proceedings.
"The UN has pulled endless stunts on Syria's Ambassador, with the obvious intent of distorting reality and prolonging the proxy war on Syria.

Ambassador al-Ja'afari maintains that he is routinely assigned the worst translators, to convolute his message. "Every time I speak at the Security Council (SC), they choose a bad interpreter who is not able to fully interpret what I am saying," he said. On one occasion at the SC, the Syrian Ambassador said he saw a staff member signal to the interpreters to switch the adept interpreter for the inept. "I saw it with my own eyes. They changed the interpreter to a poor one."

Ambassador al-Ja'afari is one of the only-if not the only-ambassadors to the UN to repeatedly over the years have his microphone and/or video feed cut when he speaks.

Correspondent Nizar Abboud has been an invaluable source of footage of the Syrian Ambassador's speeches otherwise unavailable thanks to cut UN feeds. Abboud says the cuts are not due to "technical problems," but instead often done "by senior officials at the United Nations." Of one such incident, Abboud said: "The journalists were furious about it, they wanted to hear what the Ambassador was saying and suddenly he went off air."

Monsanto claims that biotech can feed the planet. Here's why it won't
The ground-level situation in Ukraine
Revealing some shocking facts about prisons in US.
"By the time you read this, I'll be home. Now the real work can begin-the struggle for human rights, civil liberties and prison reform. I can guarantee you that I am unbowed, unbroken, uninstitutionalized and ready to fight.",-yoga-and-homeopathy,-says-minister
While I agree with the technical point, scaling back short-term relief translates to torture.
Abandoned walmart recycled as a public library
Nijmegen Sharing City Embraces No-Money Abundance
Castro compares NATO to Nazi SS, slams US, Israel for 'creating ISIS'
Castro calls out Obama for genocide in Libya
Green roofs
Hindi article by Ravish Kumar on P Sainath's Peoples Archive of Rural India

Putin to Western elites: Play-time is over
Audio version:
The most important and mature discourse on international geopolitics that I have seen being made by a world leader.
8 Ways to Defend Against Terror Nonviolently
Online platform for discussions and consensus-based decision making
Some of the legal provisions in this treaty are a direct violation of sovereignty of countries. A company can sue a country if that country makes a law to enforce environment protection!
Scientists did a big search for the top technology to suck CO2 out of the atmosphere. The winner -- trees. Yup, trees
Gallup CEO: I May "Suddenly Disappear" For Telling Truth About Obama Unemployment Rate
This female comedian tells us why rape is a joke in India
Activist Sunitha Krishnan has defended posting of two rape videos, soon after which her car was attacked and damaged last week.
"Offenders make videos and take photos to shame victims and use these to threaten them into silence. I used the same strategy against the offenders while concealing the identity of the victim. I am hoping people will be sensitive enough to give information if they can identify the rapists,"
Krishnan is herself a gang rape survivor, having been assaulted when she was 15. Living in Bangalore then, she had started teaching children living in slums and rubbed some people the wrong away, provoking the attack on her.
Syriza's Yanis Varoufakis, tipped to be Syriza's new finance minister, tells Paul Mason what his party would do if it gets into government in Greece
What the World's Cities Would Look Like If Every Glacier Melted
> Picturesque maps created
Echoing with a concern I've been having : Sensationalizing rape incidents is contributing to more of it.
"What is this cyber cell? You form a group of police officers and name them 'cyber cell' and now they are suddenly experts," Justice Chelameswar responded.
There is a coup underway in Venezuela.
In 2012, a small-scale fisherman in Kent told the Sunday Times that the areas through which the pulse trawlers have passed are "a graveyard. What they don't catch, they annihilate. Virtually everything is dead." Another reported "You can have as many as 50 dead Dover sole in an hour and a half. We would hardly ever see a dead fish before. It is a waste of time going to that area now. It stinks of dead fish."
Love in the time of Hindutva
"I don't want people to keep me on a pedestal. I don't want to be treated like a goddess. I want to live an ordinary life, experiencing common emotions. People here, my own people, can't absorb the fact that I can also fall in love. They have put my fiancee in jail..."
Chinese leaders learn that GDP isn't everything
Shanghai's municipal government no longer uses GDP growth as a key performance indicator.
Putin Threatens to Release Satellite Evidence of 9/11 Being an Inside Job
Why U.S. Reporters Are Always Pro-War

Sibel Edmonds : "the most classified woman in U.S. history"

Sibel Edmonds is the editor of Boiling Frogs Post and founder- director of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition. She is the recipient of the 2006 PEN/Newman's Own First Amendment Award. Ms. Edmonds worked as a language specialist for the FBI where she reported serious acts of security breaches and cover-ups, and for that she was retaliated against and ultimately fired. Court proceedings were blocked by the assertion of the State Secrets Privilege, and the U.S. Congress has been gagged and prevented from taking up or even discussing her case through retroactive classification issued by the Department of Justice.

Lots of great articles on ongoing geopolitics from her Boiling Frogs Post blog.
Murdering journalists … Them and Us: The West & the Real Origin of Islamic Fundamentalism

William Blum, BFP contributing author and analyst, is an American, historian and critic of United States foreign policy. He is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military & CIA Interventions Since World War II. He has described his life's mission as: "If not ending, at least slowing down the American Empire. At least injuring the beast. It's causing so much suffering around the world." Mr. Blum can be reached through his website
The attack on a woman journalist in Assam and how the cries to safeguard media is gathering momentum
The Ganges: holy, deadly river
Pollution has turned the sacred waters into a lethal cocktail of industrial and human waste. Can the river be saved?
About the maker of the movie "MSG : Messenger of God"
My 2p : Mavericks are any day welcome over bores. Especially when all their maverick actions only increase the sum total of goodness on this planet.
The Origins of Indian Political Institutions: The Long View
#SwissLeaks: Brazenness, complicity of HSBC very disturbing says Swiss investigative journalist Francois Pilet
On what are the things that Indians should really take offense to.
While multinational nuclear suppliers, such as G.E. and Westinghouse publicly insist that their products are extraordinarily safe, they are adamant that they will not accept any liability should an accident occur at one of their reactors.
Instances since the Second World War of the United States attempting to suppress a populist or nationalist movement.
Instances of the United States overthrowing, or attempting to overthrow, a foreign government since the Second World War.,-human-rights-activists-are-prevented-from-speaking
In six states, around 5,500 hectares of land acquired for SEZs was subsequently de-notified and diverted for commercial purposes.
The Daily Telegraph's chief political commentator has resigned and launched a blistering attack on the paper's management and owners over its lack of coverage of the HSBC tax story, which he described as a "fraud on its readers".
Mortality before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: cluster sample survey
The major causes of death before the invasion were myocardial infarction,
cerebrovascular accidents, and other chronic disorders whereas after the invasion violence was the primary cause of
death. Violent deaths were widespread, reported in 15 of 33 clusters, and were mainly attributed to coalition forces.
Most individuals reportedly killed by coalition forces were women and children. The risk of death from violence in
the period after the invasion was 58 times higher (95% CI 8·1-419) than in the period before the war.
It's curious  how they're not daring to mention Ekta Parishad, even though in the video there's Ekta Parishad flags, banners all over.

Tweet by Devinder Sharma:
'After absorbing Rs 54 lk-cr foreign/domestic capital between 1991-2013, Corporate sector has added just 2.2 million jobs'
India or US? Whose interests will the Chief Economic Advisor Subramanian serve?
In addition, 4000 one-meter square 'micro gardens' were established through the city.  These small plots are actually trays on tables: on the street, on balconies, and on rooftops.  Lest you think so small a space cannot be productive, 330 heads of lettuce or 16 kilos (35 pounds) of cabbage or 18 kilos (40 pounds) of tomatoes are all standard production rates for these microgardens. (They have more than one harvest in this climate.)
Noam Chomsky: America paved the way for ISIS
Mass killing and humanitarian disaster in NATO siege of Sirte
PC of Manish Sisodia announcing cheaper electricity and water rates
What we should be really taking offence to. #NationalSHAME

Solar energy could create 1 million jobs in India. An awesome reason to hope (and build)
An abomination called AFSPA
"Pardon Us For Our Country's Existence in the Middle of Your Military Bases" - Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov's Speech at the UN
Lavrov, on behalf of the Russian Federation implicitly warned that US/NATO is risking global war in embarking on its campaign to seize and dominate huge territories, while inexorably and ruthlessly determined to conquer and subjugate Russia, having learned nothing from the historic reality that Napolean's effort to dominate Russia led to the collapse of Napoleonic France, and Hitler's attempt to subjugate Russia led to the obliteration of his Third Reich.
Another Year, Another Coup Attempt In Venezuela: The US Failed Again
    "Nicolas Maduro announced Thursday that the government had thwarted a coup attempt which was being coordinated by Venezuela's right-wing opposition with the support of the U.S. government.

    Just the day before the revelations, opposition leaders Leopoldo Lopez, Maria Corina Machado and Antonio Ledezma released a "transition plan" which involved privatization of the country's oil, deregulation of the economy and accords with "international financial institutions" including the International Monetary Fund."
The problem isn't simply that the troika wants Greece to balance the budget; it wanted Greece to balance the budget by lowering wages and by imposing austerity on the labor force. But instead, the terms in which Varoufakis has suggested balancing the budget are to impose austerity on the financial class, on the tycoons, on the tax dodgers.

Can AAP supporters move beyond single-person politics?

Don't know how relevant this may seem, especially coming from a chronically inactive AAP supporter, but here goes:

Laying out my basic underlying assumptions:
I believe teamwork and multi-person leadership, is the real alternative to one-man-cult politics as personified by PM Modi. What will solve the nation's and indeed the world's problems is multilateralism and not unilateralism. It is about role-based leadership, with different kinds of team members stepping in, and more importantly, out, of different leadership requirements at dfferent times. The same rule that applies to this planet, also boils down to countries, movements, organizations, NGOs and even private companies, to teams that are working towards a common goal, and all the way down to the family. Everywhere I have noticed the same pattern : when leadership gets concentrated with just one person or a permanent exclusive group of people, things start to go wrong. And that is not because of any bad intentions on the person's part, mind : Even in a family running on patriarchal values, the father / grandfather isn't evil. It is the STRUCTURE of the system that centralizes leadership that makes bad things happen due to the weakening of proper checks and balances. Our problems are systemic. Replacing one bad supreme leader with a "good" supreme leader is not going to solve the problems, as several friends of mine honestly assumed it would.

Moving beyond single-person politics:
For participants in movements, this is where the difference between being a mindless fan and a mindful follower makes its mark. It requires that while trusting good leaders and working whole-heartedly under their guidance, we take care to pledge a higher degree of allegiance to the ideas and values, beyond the person. And that we prepare ourselves for the day when we will have to choose between our leaders and our core values. In 1947, if the members of the Congress party had given the ideas of Swaraj, nonviolence, self-reliance, Nai Talim etc more importance than they gave to Gandhi, then Congress would not have been taken over by corrupts.

Looking at BJP right now, one can see that there is absolutely no concrete vision amongst them of India post-Modi. It literally looks like its most ardent supporters don't think any Indian is going to live longer than their supreme leader's own lifetime. They've literally set a ticking time bomb on themselves.
Applying this to 1947, I'm sure several people in Congress also must have been in the same disposition in the days leading up to Gandhiji's demise. Gandhiji khatam to India bhi khatam must have been the prevalent attitude. Same thing got repeated with Indira Gandhi, with even more recklessness. And the rest is history.

If we look beyond India's borders, then we find similar patterns in the histories of all nations and peoples. The one-person-leadership engine has a consisten, flawless record of causing problems 100% of the time. Yet we also have good leaders in history : who led their people well, and then learned to let go when the time came, or learned to delegate to more capable people what they themselves were obviously not very good at.

So then the question comes knocking on AAP supporters : Will we do the same thing to Arvind Kejriwal as those before us have done to other leaders? Will we also destroy his core values and his vision of Swaraj by giving more importance to the person than the ideas? Will we become another sheep to a shepherd the same way BJP supporters have become? Will we repeat the same tactics that have gotten our nation into its present problems?

Or can we evolve to see leadership from a different lens altogether? We're here to change politics, not mimic its present corrupted form, right? So can we apply the same logic to leadership as well? Can we also say that we want to change the way leadership is done in this country? Can we recognize the innate power of the common (wo)man, apply that to ourselves, and increase our own sense of self-worth? Doing so will enable us to look at Kejriwal as a worthy team-mate in a common journey, a person we feel proud to work shoulder-to-shoulder with and give timely feedback to when needed rather than treating  him as an untouchable leader the way BJP loyalists are treating Modi.

What I know about Yogendra Yadav so far, tells me that he too has not missed noticing the dangers of the person-worshipping tendency among AAPians. The social media volunteers of AAP are amongst the most vulnerable here. I can see that many of them, without any bad intentions, are naively slipping into Kejriwal-worshipping mode, and not even realizing how much harm they are bringing to us all in the long run by doing so. And they are ending up conveying the same old kind of politics to the general population and the outside world.
The 5 saal Kejriwal slogan etc may have been appropriate for Delhi's State elections. It may have been good for the short term. But look at the map, look at the area occupied by that state, and please internalize that this is the limit for single-person politics. We shall go no further. Doing so will screw everything that we stand for. The BJP only went further because of unlimited black money spending obtained by compromising everything they ever stood for. Indeed, the only thing India's 2014 general elections have proven is that it costs Rs.20,000 crore to fill an Indian Parliament with criminals.

I see Arvind Kejriwal's role as working for the people of Delhi on a 5-year mandate. I accept and acknowledge the commitment he has made to the world at his swearing-in ceremony. The man means what he says. I do not want to be an idiot and keep speculating endlessly just to meet my naive zidd of seeing him gunning for PM candidature in mid-2019. I acknowledge that he will NOT be doing that and will be concentrating on his work for Delhi at that time, and I respect that.

By adopting the multi-person leadership perspective instead of the single-person leadership model, I can now liberate myself from the worries of "then who will lead in 2019" etc. Arvind Kejriwal has repeatedly said in all his interviews during the 2014 campaign that he's himself just a common man, he's not that important for the country, that the country has innumerable potential leaders, any of whom can emerge to be PM. That it is more important to vote for honest and dedicated candidates and they will decide amongst themselves who the PM will be. Using their Neanderthal-era logic, the media made fun of this. I think it will be a mark of respect, as well as intelligence, on AAP supporters' part, to acknowledge what Arvind has been trying to tell us all this time. The ideas are more important than the persons who champion them. Multiple persons can and will take the same ideas forward.

So in this context, I was least surprised by news of AK resigning from post of National Convenor of AAP. He needs to focus on his karmabhoomi. Must pass on the other baton, or he'll end up juggling the two and making a clown of himself. He chose the role which made the most of his abilities, and needs to let go of the other.
What has suprised me is the childishness with which it was dishonored and rejected.. both by the leaders and by many AAP supporters. It shows that we have a long way to go still.

When Emergency was imposed on India, this quote was doing the rounds : "Indira is India and India is Indira". Today, many people will agree that "Modi is BJP and BJP is Modi" : that is what BJP has been intentionally conveying. This kind of sentiment is popular, doesn't require much of brains, and leads to disaster : for the leader themselves, for the party, and for the country. But in AAP itself, what if we're similarly headed towards "Kejriwal is AAP and AAP is Kejriwal" ? It is clear that Arvind himself is absolutely against this, as he too knows what perils will follow.

Indeed, the 2014 general elections were a lesson that we're still not learning : When you DON'T have the nation's entire corporate-owned media as your personal propaganda machine, going into person-based politics is suicide. Despite having the best principles and solutions on board, the whole election campaign got side-tracked into person-based politics which the media could easily do selective character assassination with. Delhi elections on the other hand, were not about just "5 saal Kejriwal" even if that was the popular song and hashtag exchanged amongst the volunteers to boost their morale. I found out the hard way that it's not really a wise thing to start singing "5 saal Kejriwal" to my friends who didn't know jack about Delhi Dialogue, AAP's Manifesto for Delhi, etc. Towards the general population, it was a humble issue-based politics at play. NOT going into person worshipping mode.. to the extent that the main leader is openly saying sorry... is what made AAP win. People did not vote for AAP thinking that Kejriwal is the ultimate Messiah who will fix everything.. so it wasn't similar to 2014 general elections. They voted with a conscious decision to try this alternative out for 5 years, seeing that they have done their homework properly and are being quite humble.

Yogendra Yadav is one who embodies the multiple-leaders perspective, and is clearly worried about it getting eroded. Attacking him everytime he expresses a difference of opinion, is childish. The man has an understanding that encompasses the progress of human civilization across centuries, and he also sees things several years forward. Occasionally that may result in not being on-the-mark about immediate things, but this long-term vision definitely has an important role in any movement. Here is a video of one of his talks at Southern Collective, just before he came by Pune the last time. very aptly titled.

The Yogendra Yadav TV doesn't have time for

How many people in AAP know about the world's political history, about the origins and the mistakes in the whole nation-state idea, at this level of depth?

Maybe if we had this depth, maybe if we saw the AAP in the context of a spontaneous shift in human consciousness that is emerging everywhere across the globe right now, then we might accept what Arvind tried to tell us from the bottom of his heart on 14 Feb 2015. Maybe then we would have the inner strength and confidence to let him go so he can perform his duties unburdened. And if we also treated him as a human being and a beloved brother, and cared for him more than just his "deliverables", then we might also be more open to being grateful for all that he has done for us, and allow him to retire peacefully and attend to his family, his health and other interests as a common man, once these 5 years are over. God knows, he has earned it. Heck, the whole planet might benefit much more if political leaders retired after seving just one term.

And at the same time, what people like Yogendra Yadav have been doing since the general elections, is travelling across the country and reaching out to people's movements and social sector, or civil society as we can call it, and feeding valuable inputs into the argument for greater involvement of these grassroots groups in politics. Since AAP's inception, his view of AAP has been that it is a common platform upon which all who are doing good service for the country can come together and give people a real option in their elections. This message didn't go out so well, in large part due to the whole personality cult that got built up around Kejriwal. AAPians may not have intended it to get as out of hand as it did, but we must realize that we live in times of magnifying-glass-media, which will blow the tiniest of weakness of the good guys out of proportion while white-washing the bad guys. What volunteers didn't realize is that while their idolizing of Kejriwal resulted from a sincere appreciation of the man's work, this work wasn't well-communicated to people outside of the regular volunteer groups, but their idolizing was.

As a result, turned off by this personality cult and cut off from a lot of important details of AAP's agenda and manifesto (even today many people I meet in the social sector are completely unaware that several things they are pressing for were already included in the 2014 AAP manifesto) there was still a large part of civil society that remained "apolitical" : even though privately they voted for AAP, they didn't mention that little fact to the millions of people they collectively work with. Many are realizing now that their decision unintentionally translated into a support for the very bad things they've spent their lives struggling against. People, when confronted by AAP's promises that resonated with them, saw the stony silence of the social workers they knew as reason to doubt AAP's promises. Now, several victories for people's rights that had been won after long and bitter struggle, like rights over land, stand to be eliminated. All the hard work of thousands upon thousands of social workers is likely to be flushed down the toilet. The next general elections will see a big change in this "apolitical" stance if a proper dialogue happens. And I see leaders like Yogendra Yadav as key in bringing about this dialogue.

A lot of the people who joined AAP as volunteers have had zero or negative exposure to the social sector, and hence I see, again, some childish behaviour ("Ja, Katti!") in this quarter. The typical saas-bahu logic : "Why should we reach out to them when they didn't help us till now" is coming to play. There seems to be a refusal to reach out and involve the very people who are the key to reaching the hearts of large sections of the population. When people who have been working sincerely for the betterment of communities since decades are seen proactively and constructively engaging with AAP.. that's when the people who owe their lives to these local heroes, will take serious note. THAT is what happened in Delhi Dialogue : AAP listened to the social sector. They reached out proactively instead of saying "Oh, let them come to us". And it was this act.. of not being a stupid bitch (excuse my French) and just reaching out without any past baggage.. that got a rock-solid action plan made that couldn't be defeated by 100s of crores worth of propaganda.

The AAP must focus on delivering good governance in Delhi. And at the same time it also has an opportunity to reach out nationally and get more people to unite for issues that matter. Those who stick to the centralized leadership model, see this as a problem, as having to choose between two or more opposing things and having to sacrifice one for the other. But those who can think of leadership as a multi-person thing, for them these both are very much possible. The two "rival camps" need not be "rivals" at all. Everything can happen simultaneously, and in full collaboration with each other. It's so simple when you really think of it : "Theek hai yaar, tu woh part sambhaal, main yeh part dekhta hoon. Let's keep in touch!"

We live in a multi-player world, where the more people that get involved, the better. Our systems should be designed for human beings who move in and out of leadership roles as per situation, not full-time robots. It's time for AAP the movement to move beyond Arvind Kejriwal or any one leader. It's time for us to stop mimicking the mistakes and disasters of Congress and BJP and scores others. It's time to restore focus on the core principles, on the idea of Swaraj and honesty and non-violence and seva and all that jazz, and let a thousand leaders bloom.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Greece’s Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis : Somebody give this man a Nobel prize!

Greece's Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis : Somebody give this man a Nobel prize!


.."What's at issue really is a class war. It's not so much Germany versus Greece, as the papers say. It's really the war of the banks against labor. And it's a continuation of Thatcherism and neoliberalism.

The problem isn't simply that the troika wants Greece to balance the budget; it wanted Greece to balance the budget by lowering wages and by imposing austerity on the labor force. But instead, the terms in which Varoufakis has suggested balancing the budget are to impose austerity on the financial class, on the tycoons, on the tax dodgers. And he said, okay, instead of lowering pensions to the workers, instead of shrinking the domestic market, instead of pursuing a self-defeating austerity, we're going to raise two and a half billion from the powerful Greek tycoons. We're going to collect the back taxes that they have. We're going to crack down on illegal smuggling of oil and the other networks and on the real estate owners that have been avoiding taxes, because the Greek upper classes have become notorious for tax dodging.

Well, this has infuriated the banks, because it turns out the finance ministers of Europe are not all in favor of balancing the budget if it has to be balanced by taxing the rich, because the banks know that whatever taxes the rich are able to avoid ends up being paid to the banks. So now the gloves are off and the class war is sort of back."..

Well, all of a sudden the position of Spain, for instance, is, wait a minute, we're in power, we're a Thatcherite neoliberal party. If Greece ends up not going along with austerity and saving its workers, then Podemos Party in Greece, in Spain, is going to win the next election and we'll be out of power. We have to make sure that Varoufakis and the SYRIZA Party is a failure, so that we ourselves can tell the working class, you see what happened to Greece? It got smashed, and we're going to smash you if you try to do what they do; if you try to tax the rich, if you try to take over the banks and prevent the kleptocracy, there's going to be a disaster.

So, obviously, Greece and Portugal want to impose austerity on–Spain and Portugal want to impose austerity on Greece. And even Ireland now has chimed in and said, my God, what have we done? We have imposed austerity for a decade in order to bail out the banks. Even the IMF has criticized us for going along with Europe and bailing out the banks and imposing austerity. If SYRIZA wins in avoiding austerity in Greece, then all of our sacrifice of our population, all of the poverty that we've imposed, all of the Thatcherism that we've imposed has been needless, and we didn't have to do it.

So there's a whole demonstration effect, which is why they're treating Greece almost as a symbol for–the class war as a symbol for labor saying, wait a minute, we don't have to impose austerity, we can collect taxes from the tax dodgers.

Remember a few years ago when Europe said, Greece owes 50 billion euros in foreign debt? Well, it turned out that the central bank had given to the Greek parties a list called the Lagarde list (for Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF) of all of the tax dodgers, Greek tax dodgers who had Swiss bank accounts. Well, the Swiss bank accounts that the tax dodgers had ended up to about 50 billion euros. So Greece could pay off the debt that it's borrowed simply by moving against the tax dodgers.

Well, this has infuriated the banks, because it turns out the finance ministers of Europe are not all in favor of balancing the budget if it has to be balanced by taxing the rich, because the banks know that whatever taxes the rich are able to avoid ends up being paid to the banks. So now the gloves are off and the class war is sort of back."

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Sibel Edmonds : the most classified woman in U.S. history

Just came across an exciting source to get to know more about what's happening in the world. This in the frame of US Geopolitics, and suppressed truths about key global events. This also becomes yet another addition to my growing list of amazing women who are bringing forth a better humanity with levels of courage that breaks all records.

Sibel Edmonds : "the most classified woman in U.S. history"

Sibel Edmonds is the editor of Boiling Frogs Post and founder- director of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition. She is the recipient of the 2006 PEN/Newman's Own First Amendment Award. Ms. Edmonds worked as a language specialist for the FBI where she reported serious acts of security breaches and cover-ups, and for that she was retaliated against and ultimately fired. Court proceedings were blocked by the assertion of the State Secrets Privilege, and the U.S. Congress has been gagged and prevented from taking up or even discussing her case through retroactive classification issued by the Department of Justice.

"What I find so remarkable is Sibel's persistence in trying every avenue and possible outlet in trying to get the truth out. When going up the chain of command in the executive branch and Inspector General internal mechanisms for investigating fraud, waste, and abuse went nowhere, she sought judicial remedy by filing lawsuits only to be improperly gagged by "state secrecy privilege". Along the way she also sought congressional assistance, testified to the 9-11 Commission, and engaged with various media and other non-governmental organizations. It's somewhat ironic that Sibel herself demonstrated such enormous energy and passion throughout this decade quite the opposite of the "boiling frog" idiom she uses for her website as a warning to others. If her book can inspire readers to summon even 1/100th of the determination and resolve she has modeled, there's hope for us!" -- Coleen Rowley, Retired FBI Agent & Time Magazine Person of the Year, 2002


Came across this while reading through this article that explains how Western media is so pro-war.. a very important article in itself:
(note: this source is an independent blog, not a corporate-funded big newspaper like NYTimes or Washington Post)

And I saw this some weeks back.. a book called "Bought Journalists" published by a senior journalist, blowing the whistle on massive lying to the people that he too was a part of and now wants to expose as he's only got a few more years left to live. I'd consider this to be on par with "Confessions of an Economic Hitman" (and look up that if you haven't already!).

Excerpt: "No German mainstream journalist is allowed to report about the book. Otherwise he or she will be sacked. So we have a bestseller now that no German journalist is allowed to write or talk about. More shocking: We have respected journalists who seem to have gone deep sea diving for a long time. It's an Interesting situation. I expected and hoped that they would sue me and bring me to court. But they have no idea what to do. The respected Frankfurter Allgemeine just announced they will fire 200 employees, because they're losing subscribers very rapidly and in high numbers. But they don't sue me. They know that I have evidence on everything."

Note: Why I'm sharing this even in groups that might claim they hate seeing this and it doesn't involve India (you can always just press Delete my lord) : There is a growing chance that Indians might get led into joining this global conflict, on the wrong side, with full patriotism that too. Our large population of youth might get tossed into this as cannon fodder, and all their energies might end up being used to increase the sum total of bad things in this world. The same reckless development paradigm causing the problems in other countries, is also pushing us to inflict genocide : both direct and structural, upon our own brothers and sisters, and already we viciously attack those who dare to show us a mirror exposing this. There is a raging fire in the neighbour's house, and only an idiot with all senses blocked can continue sleeping peacefully. We have a responsibility towards our planet to keep and a role to play in this world, especially in promoting peace and nonviolence. We need to educate ourselves and own up to it, else soon our society too can unravel and fall apart the way other people's has. If we do not help others, there will be no one left to help us either.

On the flip side, there is a growing global movement for truth, peace, nonviolence and justice. People are shaking off all the old psychological boundaries that separated them all these centuries, including the separation of nationality, and uniting against tyranny as citizens of Planet Earth. Even a movement like AAP is just one part of a much wider global awakening. Cross-border collaboration of humanity is a natural and necessary thing, not a "foreign hand". It is time to embrace it, not shun it as "not applicable to India". India is not another planet floating elsewhere in the solar system; she is an integral part of planet Earth and always will be.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Cleaner Air in cities like Delhi

We should consider the fact that clean air isn't a factory produce and so we ought to treat it a bit more holistically than.. say, roads or mobile phones. One cannot get more clean air by commissioning more man-made machines.. in fact the opposite happens.
So it's necessary for us to step out of our regular industrialized, monetized, macho, merit-based paradigm and get a little more feminine, holistic when it comes to environmental factors like air. Just putting that on the table, in case underlying assumptions were ignoring it.

Here are some measures I've come across, and these would not just improve the air quality but also help stabilize Delhi's temperature (there is a reason why it's so extreme hot and extreme cold right now) and reduce the incidence of widespread flooding of roads that happen immediately after rains: Of course, these measures apply equally to Pune also, esp for people who have to pass through junctions like Swargate daily.

1. Smart Greenery:

Rooftop solar panels laane se pehle green roofs laane chahiye! Cheaper. easier to implement, abundant cheap labour availability to get it done at mass scale, and giving so much more benefits. And no need to bother watering them... simply plant and let monsoons supply the water, let it dry off in dry season.. that will in turn contribute biomass for heating / gas / feedstock.

2. Going the whole nine yards and actually putting serious taxpayer money into promoting and enabling bicycles, cycle-rickshaws, electric rickshaw. Bike-share program had been started in DU areas.. pushing that further. Govt buying cycles and distributing to all mohalla sabhas / RWAs. If they lie idle then let them.. some poor chaps will buy them second-hand, or steal them in some months time and start using them! Bringing in unions, benefits like pensions, healthcare, group insurance for cycle rickshaw drivers. Parisar, CSE and other groups' analysis of how large sections of transport budget have been dedicated to the minority car-users in the city, can contribute a good deal to these efforts by making a case that if we don't mind spending Rs.1000 cr to help car users get to work 20 mins faster, then we should honestly have no issues whatsoever with spending Rs.50 crore on 1 lakh good quality bicycles. Take a look at the budget book : you'll find Rs.50 crore spent on seriously useless things. Can simply redirect. And remember : scams and pilfering can only happen in centralized, high-value high-margin expenditures like cement roads and flyovers and computers. With bicycles, it's physically impossible for govt babus / netas to do any sizeable scam. Aur reselling agar hoti bhi hai, at least someone will use the cycles and not emit pollutants in the process! Objective achieved.

3. Innovative ways of curtailing car use. In Paris, for example, cars with odd or even numbered plates aren't being allowed to use certain areas on certain days of the week. Here in Pune we have P1-P2 system for parking.. imagine extending that to number-plates! Other than that, the ongoing Happy Streets initiative in Pune is a great way to build collective support for car-free zones.

4. Import replacement : If you don't know what this term means, better read up! It's going to be key to transitioning to sustainable urban models, and work on it can start from now itself. I would apply this first and foremost to food.

5. Urban agriculture:
Delhi having an inherently spread-out nature with mostly low-height buildings, there's huge potential for urban agriculture : both on vacant plots as well as rooftops. Food grown closer to the kitchen translates to lower diesel consumption, lower pollutant emissions. Plus, the plants absorb particulate matter. Result : a double improvement in air quality while taking care of part of food needs for many families, hence having a net effect on food prices through dampening of demand. For a place that has a persistent presence of monkeys, any urban agriculture initiative will have to be decentralized and widespread, so that loss to monkeys per plot is reduced. On the lawmaking side, lessons can be learnt from Cuba and Venezuela on how some ingenious legislation can make vacant plots of land available for farming by local residents even if they are owned by someone else, as long as citizens can prove that the plot isn't being used by the owner. The only crunch for Delhi is water supply (not for Pune, note!).. rainwater harvesting, man-made ponds/lakes and low-water-consumption edible plants will be the way to go.

6. Man-made lakes / ponds:
The most no-brainer thing that the people of the lake cities of Rajashthan know from centuries ago : Bad ecology? Too hot in summer and roads flooding in monsoons? Then dig a big hole in the ground! Analyse your city's topography, figure out the lowest lying areas. Dig them even further. Create man-made lakes, ponds, with boundaries made of the natural mud that you excavated, not of cement, mind, so that nature can get to work at the edges. Note: There has to be dignified, just relocation of the occupants of the low-lying areas (typically these are slum settlements as they're flood-prone areas) Do a Venice if nothing else possible. There is a reason why you feel the air is so nice whenever you go to a lake or river (that isn't cement-lined, mind!)

7. Absolute ban on burning of dry leaves or any trash
Stop burning eco-gold! Just dig a hole, dump them in and cover them with a plank yaar. Or any other ways to return leaves to the soil. #CommonSense

The good part about holistic solutions is that when you go to solve one problem, you end up solving 10 other problems too. Contrast that with the typical fragmented, industrial-mindset problem-solving that creates 10 other problems when solving one.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The guy who wrote AAP's Manifesto (and did a bunch of other stuff)

Shared by Roshan on FB:

He's a great writer.. You can read his blog on:
..and connect with him on:

Pasting his FB post here:
The events of the past week have been overwhelming. Pardon me for I
have just been able to compose myself to get my metaphorical pen on

If I thought my job was done with the manifesto and white papers for
the Aam Aadmi Party, I was mistaken. I had the tiresome pleasure of
managing the emergency helpline for 60 hours non-stop till 6 pm on 7th
February 2015 where we fire fought across the city in an attempt to
stop the distribution of alcohol and money; promotion of violence and
illicit means to swing votes away from us from Badarpur to Badli, from
Babarpur to Bawana. We sat in anticipation for the verdict that the
citizens of Delhi would deliver to us, which could sound the war conch
for positive politics or the death knell to the first true political

And then, the magic happened. The political party that won a clear
majority at the Center under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit
Shah had been rejected and held back by a diminutive ragtag force of
volunteers from every class, caste, religion, gender and region of the
world. And how! 67 seats in the legislative assembly out of 70! It was
an unprecedented victory, broke the record books of Indian electoral
politics and left me stunned. Even the most conservative Fermi
guesstimate would have pegged the number of hugs and screams I let out
on 10th February 2015 at a few thousand.

I had returned to New Delhi after a few years of graduate school at
Stanford to work for a political party that was at its nadir and a
leader whose life, work, integrity and strategy at being the first
true viable alternative in Indian politics was being questioned and
ridiculed. June 2014, the month that I joined AAP, was not the best
time to openly declare yourself as an Arvind Kejriwal fanboy or fight
for the Aam Aadmi Party or as it was known in AAP-bashing circles:
"The Socialist Naxalite Communist Marxist Leninist Sexist Racist Aam
Aadmi Party." And yet every bone, muscle and tendon in my body wanted
to do it. And I did.

While some courteous and kind friends and relatives applauded my
decision as fearless and respectable, I knew that a majority thought
me to fit to be checked into a mental hospital, assumed I had received
poor grades and/or had a criminal history that I wanted to hide from
the United States. I chuckled and moved on. I was ready to slum it out
for the ideals of the man I respected and fight for the moral ethos
and genuine alternative that the Aam Aadmi Party espoused even if it
meant fighting with just a few MLAs that the Modi Wave would have left
us in Delhi. I had returned to work with a handful of MLAs and now we
have a government and 67! I was simply astonished. Hyperboles also
known as Ravi Shastri similes, for the first time, weren't enough.

My personal journey within the party has made me meet some of the best
humans and selfless individuals I've met till date on whom books
should and will be written and grown my skills in media
management/briefing, policy research, manifesto writing, data
analytics, psephology, and most importantly getting a better
understanding of the problems and solutions of the city I call home.
Somehow through a series of fortunate events that included positive
politics, coherent campaigns, mindful media management and kudrati
karishmas, we ended up winning the first battle of Delhi through the
Aam Aadmi Tsunami.

And yet it hadn't sunk in. The victory was full of joy and laughter
and incredulous looks and screams and more of all of that on loop
every hour everyday. But there was some emotion that was missing.
Something that hadn't been triggered.

And then, 14th February 2015 happened. The Aam Aadmi Party government,
nah, the Aam Aadmi was sworn in to power with Arvind Kejriwal as its
Chief Minister. 100,000 people were in attendance with millions more
in their homes and in front of their TV screens. And then Arvind
Kejriwal came and said:

"Main Arvind Kejriwal Ishwar ki Shapath Leta Hoon"

And the floodgates opened. I wept profusely for the first time in
years in what can only be described as a potpourri of emotions. I was
hugged and consoled and loved by the many selfless souls I mentioned
above with jokes and by revisiting funny moments of the campaign. And
then I slipped away to the side and wept silently for some more. For
all their jokes, even my most cheerful colleagues had a tear on their
eyelids. For months, an Aam Army had fought with a singularity of
purpose and that mission had been fulfilled. Unbelievable. For a love
story that had gone astray on 14th February 2014, Delhi received its
most beautiful reunion as a Valentine's Day gift on 14th February

The impossible had happened. And there is a lot more impossible yet to
do. My childhood dream of bringing Anil Kapoor's Nayak to life from
SET Max has gotten a start. The second half i.e. Office begins
tomorrow. To those of you still reading through this stream of
consciousness, I thank you once again for entrusting the reins of
governance in Delhi to us at the Aam Aadmi Party. We are incredibly
humbled and almost scared by the immense responsibility that you have
placed on our shoulders. However, you are also our source of strength
and we are confident that, along with your continued support and
blessings, we will make Delhi the corruption-free world class city
that you will be proud of.

Godspeed You! Aam Aadmi :)

Photo: No weeping pictures here. I share a picture from a happier
moment on 10th February 2015. That moment when even CNN-IBN, Zee News,
India TV had called my boss, Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Minister of
Delhi. He hugged me and said "Ab yeh jo Manifesto mein tumney likha
hai, usey karna bhi padega"!

Why I refuse to bully MSG #MavericksRock
About the maker of the movie "MSG : The Messenger"

[note: you have to read the article linked if you want to read the
post below. Go.]

My opinion : Mavericks are any day welcome over bores. Especially when
all their maverick actions are only aimed at increasing the sum total
of goodness on this planet, and if they are doing things by example
instead of by coercion. This guy seems to be a product of radical
unschooling (and duh no, there's no standardization in radical
unschooling so check the assumption that all radically unschooled
people must be the same, yo). I'd choose him over the likes of [insert
names of several veteran Indian political leaders here] any day.

So I'll take a look at the movie some time. Anyways it cannot possibly
be worse than several bollywood/hollywood movies I've had to endure
lately. Something not made by the same profiteering production studios
might just be a little different. And no, I'm not going to joint the
army of self-appointed liberals/intellectuals/atheists that are
bullying it as if it's an insult to their liberal / intellectual /
atheist religion. Why? Because I'm not religious/dogmatic about being
a liberal / intellectual / atheist, lol!

I *love* the costumes I've seen being lampooned so far ~!~ And, I'm
somewhat the opposite of a Fashion Nazi.. people's clothes have never
really offended me. You should try that way of looking at the world
sometime.. might be a huge load off your shoulders.

In criticizing, we get into very dangerous territory when the people
who take a dismissive stand do not even see it fit to investigate what
they are dismissing, to do any verification at all like actually
talking with the people living around the issue in question. Very
often I see otherwise educated folks dismiss something absolutely
instead of being intelligent and selective in what aspects of a person
to disagree with and what to agree with. I call it "wholesale
criticism" and see that the practice goes very easily into dogma.

To certify these guys (yo it's always a team.. let's grow up and stop
fixating only on singular persons eh?) as completely worthless, would
require that you do the effort to prove that each and every assertion
that has been made is an absolute lie. And mind, exaggerations are not
lies; they are exaggerations. So if a group has done benefit for
10,000 people and then claiming it has benefited 1 lakh, then that
does not make the group a non-benefiter (they would have to benefit 0
people for that). If that is not the case, then you cannot be allowed
to do the complete-dismissal routine. You have no choice but to switch
into acknowledging-what-is-true mode and spreading whatever is good
and beneficial to everyone.

It goes into how were are violent or non-violent in our criticisms. Be
non-violent in your criticism. Be relativistic instead of absolutist.
Be aware of the bigger fish you're giving a free pass to while
grilling the little guy. Be appreciative of efforts made in a
direction, knowing how much more important they are in a world where
many social ills exist merely as result of not enough people making an
effort to solve them. Do not be judgemental about sincere efforts that
don't make it big. Please remember to not allow your criticism to
destroy the cause.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Dear Punekar, Please stop asking for more garbage bins in your locality

One fact we stumbled upon during a participatory process in the 6 administrative zones of Pimpri Chinchwad : Vast majority of people-who-own-laptops (sorry but using this demarcating factor as it is convenient) have absolutely no clue about the massive change in sanitation policies, and the shift to a more sustainable one, that is being undertaken by most countries in the world in the domain of waste management.

One is that any sustainable model of handling waste must include the segregation of dry and wet waste at source. The wet being all bio-degradable waste.. all food waste. Even burnt toasts. The dry being all paper, plastic, metal, etc. Even if the paper or plastic is soggy, it is to be counted under dry waste. Advisable to first rinse and dry the plastic bag before throwing.
Any policy on waste management has to make this as the starting point. Only if the waste in an area is segregated with dry and wet collected separately, is there any hope at all of processing it sustainably. Otherwise, all mixed waste goes into somebody's back yard, into somebody's lungs or intestines or uterus.

For decades, villagers like those at Urali Devachi have suffered the injustice of having Pune's "educated" housing societies sending all their garbage to their farmlands. Believe it or not, it all started without any formal arrangement. Trucks just showed up one day, emptied their contents into community property and left. Today, with practically every family member there cursed to die a painful death from disease or cancer, with miscarriages and birth defects rampant, with foul air to breathe all day, the usual soundbites I hear from "educated" Punekars that "we are providing them with water tankers, education etc na.. why are they being so ungrateful?" is very painful. I wish those people would try going and spending just one day and one night near the landfill site. And economically : who would buy any food grown in such an area? Pune has destroyed their livelihood too. This is defined as "structural violence".

Now, after very long struggles they are being able to make a stand and refuse to take any more garbage from Pune. In the past years, everytime their struggle suffered a setback, Pune rejoiced. Our papers wrote about how Punekars can heave a sigh of relief now that the villagers' protest has dwindled down and our trucks are free to go through and dump there. I've grown up reading and hearing this all.

And I guess that leads to the issues we have about garbage in our locality. Pune at present has run out of places to throw its garbage in. In all likelihood, some beautiful forest area in our vicinity is going to be converted to a landfill soon.

The solution to Pune's garbage issues is not to resume dumping in Urali Devachi, or any other area. We are living in a part of planet Earth that is plentiful; there is a local native population living everywhere, and practically no real "wasteland" to be dumping our garbage in.

The popular mental impression that we have of Western countries and Singapore and all having public garbage bins everywhere and therefore being so clean and civilized.. is, I'm afraid, mathematically unsustainable. They export majority of their garbage to Asia, Africa and South America. India also receives a huge chunk of it. The round-planet limitations kick in: We do not have any more poor continent left to be exporting our garbage to.

Plus, our garbage is.. fortunately in a way.. mostly wet-waste. Our economy is already geared to recycle most dry waste, IF IT IS LEFT UNSPOILT BY WET WASTE.

Americans might throw away their newspapers, cardboard boxes, tin cans, shoes, lights, tires etc.. in India each of these has a value and we recycle them. Most of the garbage reaching our landfills is predominantly wet waste.. if it is not so intertwined with plastic etc, large part of it can be turned into biogas and manure.

Europeans have been proactive in bringing segregated public garbage bins to their city areas. But getting every citizen to do that is still dicy in India. Available empty area is a factor. Here we have more people living in a city than they have in one country. Their solutions aren't designed for high population density areas like those in India, or where the waste is predominantly wet.

The solution that has been adopted by our governments, which is more suited to Indian context, and which takes into account the fact that we have more (wo)manpower than money or materials, is door-to-door collection of garbage, and at-home segregation. It translates to a much higher dignity of labour for wastepickers, as they can look into your eyes and demand that you segregate your waste before giving it to them. The collection system can track exactly who is mixing their waste and can get them to change their behaviour. Rather than having to spend all day sifting through anonymous people's garbage. All of this requires that we REMOVE ALL PUBLIC GARBAGE BINS, as these promote irresponsible mixing and unaccountable generation of waste, and it all has to be trucked out to a landfill. Many citizens are still blissfully unaware that there is a national policy decision to remove these.. that today one success indicator of a municipal ward is a zero-garbage-bin status (not too hastily done of course!).

As citizens, it is not our birthright to mix waste and throw it here or there. It is not our birthright to demand that the government make our mixed waste disappear from our surroundings, only to dump it into someone else's fields. It is our duty to segregate our own waste and ensure that all our neighbours are doing the same. The idea is to pass on an India to our children that doesn't have this or that waste lying around, because it was all processed and recycled back into the circle of life.

This is difficult to get done by everyone, but it is the sustainable, cheaper, just (no more Urali Devachis!), more dignified way among the methods presently available. The garbage in your area will stay properly segregated after collection only and only when majority of the residents in your area commit to segregating wet and dry waste at home and are consistent in their action. One would think of this as a challenge... but it is actually a low-cost, decentralized, easy solution. Behaviour change doesn't require Rs.1000 crore worth of bricks and cement and expensive engineering.

One very sad thing happening right now in Pune is that there is a constant, non-stop attack on local government authorities from the "educated" classes to destroy this sustainable model and resume polluting lands of more villagers, through restoring the large garbage bin culture. And, of course, everyone wants the bin placed such that it is within walking distance from their home, but still it should not be visible from their balcony/window/gate or within smelling range. Try feeding these parameters into a supercomputer loaded with Pune's street level and residential data, and it will crash. It is possible for a few people but not everybody. City authorities have to do things for everybody, not for a few. The task at hand to cover all households with door-to-door collection is a slow and long-drawn one, and is a work in progress in Pune that has already gone a long way ahead of other cities in the country. We are even well ahead of Mumbai in this.

At a location, after removing public garbage bins, there is a flux period when the residents / workers in the area continue tossing garbage out on the road where the bin used to be (let's call it nostalgia) instead of waiting for the door-to-door collection or ghantagadi to arrive. If this is not happening, then the solution is not to re-install garbage bins.. there is a very important reason why they were removed in the first place! The solution is to campaign for more complete coverage of ghantagadi / door-to-door collection, and to make all the residents of that area to STOP tossing the garbage out.. to segregate it, collect it and wait for the waste collectors to come and take them. Flats, houses and societies are supposed to start composting bins or pits where their wet waste can decompose without being a threat to anyone. The logical aim of a sustainable waste management policy is that wet waste must not be carried by any vehicle.. it has to be composted as close to source as possible.

There is often a chicken-and-egg problem : citizens say no one comes to collect trash so they throw on the road. Wastepickers and govt officials say that majority of people are not giving them any trash when they try to collect, or are refusing to segregate their waste into wet and dry. Some communication, synchronisation between the citizens and those who serve them, must happen. But in any case, a sincere request to not bombard your local ward officer with more requests for public garbage bins.


Apologies if this offended anyone.

Nikhil VJ
Resident of Pune.
Related links:
National Mission for a Sustainable Habitat, GoI :
The Central Public Health and Environmental Engineering Organisation(CPHEEO) :
PMC contact list:
Phursungi and Uruli residents live with stink, poor health
Video: Pune Garbage Dumping Crisis: Uruli Devachi & Phursungi Residents Problems-TV9 /part1
Villagers stop trucks yet again, Pune stares at garbage problem
Villagers around Uruli Devachi shunned by family over water woes
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