An interesting conference in the last week of October brought me back to Delhi and also gave me some interesting insights. Entitled ‘The Evaluation Conclave 2010’, it was a mix of over two hundred development professionals from across Asia, Europe and America and working with a focus on Asia. The conference had a typical profile of international and national NGOs, international development funding agencies, researchers and consultants. Issue focus was also typical: poverty, gender and environment. Within environment, the focus remained on climate change. The event was no doubt a major event by any standards. At the event, I noticed that nobody from any nation was talking about climate change mitigation because that means having to take responsibility for past actions. Infighting on
Dola Banerjee, Bombayala Devi and Deepika Kumari who brought India the Gold in Archery at the Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi Ever since the CWG 2010, and even before that, the media, and through it all of us, are telling and sharing the scandals that revolved around the making of these Commonwealth Games. Corruption in awarding contracts and shoddy jobs done (or not done) are being highlighted and continue to be done so for the past one week. The sad stories highlight how private gains were made at a public cost, by people in the positions of power. This is a constant and recurring theme and the as has been the case before, those in positions of power refuse to take responsibility for the shoddy job, for civil contracts and all the other work that was required to make the Games a success...
..and stop the corruption, and incompetence and what not. The last of the 'Shera' is at stake. It is no longer difficult to understand why big projects like the ones meant to save the tiger don't really work effectively. I am shocked by the collapse of a foot over bridge just about a week before the Commonwealth Games. I am angry at all those who are responsible for the construction of the games infrastructure including this specific foot over bridge. What angers me even more is the explanation that ‘it was a loose screw that caused it’. I am resentful of all those people who are associated with the Games infrastructure, those who ‘made’ the money and those who ‘gave’ the money to cut corners in the quality of construction. I am resentful of all those who were not able to complete the a
The most empowering context that we as human beings have created for ourselves as a species is the possibility of language. Creation of words to fit the world that we live in gives us the power to control it and manipulate it. So, while language has a collective, a supra-organic existence, an existence outside of each one of us, it is only because we all continue to use it to describe our world, that it exists. For this is the only way we have created to understand the physical world around us. Today I went out to the garden for a walk after a long time. The overcast sky made it easier. I was very present to the environment around me and what did I notice. There were a lot of mites, fruit flies, Lady bugs, dung beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, dragon flies, black bugs bees, wasps an...
Recently I revisited Oscar Lewis’ thesis of “Culture of Poverty.” Simply stated it tells you that context determines every thing. If you wear rose coloured glasses, everything appears red and if you wear blue coloured glasses every thing appears blue. There has always been a struggle between those who came to a city and live in slums and those who live in flats. Alternate perception of the slums is a material deprivation. Economist define slums as places where the expense per capita is low. Right now I am staying in a small room of an empty flat. It has nothing. No tables, no chairs, no cupboards, no shelves, no nothing. There is one folding bed to sleep on, one air conditioner to bear the heat. And few very functional electrical appliances like a fridge, washing machine, TV and a g
Every Monday the formal shops in our locality are closed in Delhi. I love to visit the markets on that day. The small informal traders put up stalls using bamboo sticks and iron bed and wooden platforms or just on a sack on the road and trade for about four to five hours usually in the evening. It is fun to see these stalls and the merchandise that they sell. Everything is for sale from old and new clothes to furnishing to vessels and trinkets. There is even a dedicated lane for selling fruits and vegetables. I enjoy watching the stall owners and the consumers interacting with each other and among themselves. That six feet by six feet of space on the road is of vital significance for those four hours to these people. The vendors have a system in place that caters to their needs. ...
It is my friend’s birthday today. I picked up the phone and wished him. While talking on the phone, we tried to relive our past of climbing trees and eating green mangoes. Staring out of the window, there it is, a bunch of green mangoes, between the delicate white flowers of Jamun tree, and the light yellow spotted flowers of the Tamarind tree on the compound wall of our society. I have looked at them almost every day since the past one month, but have no courage to do anything to get them. We, as kids, have often climbed these trees and thrown stones so as to drop some mangoes and almost always gotten scolded by adults. As an adult, I now continue this tradition of scolding the kids for doing so! As I look out, there are a few kids from the block who have gathered around the tree w
An increasingly common sight in cities Bulldozers are furiously scrapping earth from a garden adjoining an artificial lake in Vashi Sector 10 of New Bombay. Or so a recent news item in the Times of India dated 8th April, 2010 read. We immediately reacted by saying that so much for open spaces, for playgrounds, and for children in the neighborhood. We tend to think of lakes, rivers, mountains, ridges passing through urban areas as a burden for our living environment in metropolitan cities. The only way we want these natural environments to impact us is by providing clean river fronts with cool breeze, flowing clean waters, trees for shade and flowers and fruits, with lots of birds bees and bugs, so that our aesthetic sensibilities are satisfied. We look at nature in urban environmen
In the solutions of today are problems of tomorrow. Take for example the environmental problems of today, before the mid 70’s no one really talked about them. Industrialization and mass production of goods and services was not seen as a problem but a solution to ‘human wants’, a desirable outcome. It was the seminal article of Rachel Carson that the environmental issues of industrial pollution began to be seen as an ‘problem’. But wait a minute. It is not that simplistic. We do go closer to restoring the natural cycle we have disrupted by our intervention over time as we realize it. As, after the problems came clean technology, reduce, reuse, recycle, and more and more efficient production of goods. In the 80's, there were talks of deforestation and fast growing Eucalyptus trees
Trees, pavements, markets, people...everything has been 'uprooted' or 'transplanted' for the CWG 2010 I am in this Monday market in my East Delhi neighbourhood buying vegetables and suddenly all the trader shopkeepers of informal stalls start wrapping up their goods and merchandise on display. I heard a few complains about ‘they’ could have told us earlier before we set it up today. These traders are packing up and there are a few policemen around, a Hawaldar and an Inspector with them. While walking on, I overheard a conversation, a cop apologizing to a middleman cum negotiator, "your think there is any benefit for us in having to shut down this market?’ That was the first time I came face to face with the connectedness of the cops to the local traders and how much they were equall