June 24, 2007

life in general: the phone call...the emotional catharsis

Yesterday evening, I got a phone call from a long-lost loved one with whom I had a deep connection in the past but which had a led to an extremely painful separation 12 years ago. At that time, the separation, though generally amiable, was not my initiative and what made it worse for me was that there was no heart-to-heart talk during the separation process despite my actively seeking it.

But yesterday's call was a bolt from the blue for me, although a few months ago I remember I had a dream in which this loved one and me were talking to each other. So probably that dream was a premonition of what occurred yesterday.

We spoke for 90 minutes. She said since some time she had been fighting demons from that past when she left me and wanted to call me and apologise for her part in the separation. We talked and talked, and bared our hearts out to each other in those 90 minutes.

No, we are not getting back together. She is settled in life with someone else and I am happy for her (for the record, i am single). But getting her call and listening to her voice was a kind of emotional catharsis for me, and I am sure for her too because she got a huge load off her chest by saying sorry to me.

One full hour after we said goodbye once again and disconnected the call, tears flowed freely from my eyes as I marveled at the universal energy (God force) for displaying its miraculous working. Just the night before the call, I had made a rare emotional-cum-angry outburst at my spirit guide (if you believe in astral beings and that we all have spirit guides you will understand what I am referring to) for perhaps failing to understand me accurately.

And then this call came. In my outburst I did not have her in mind. But her call will now make me achieve a very important closure on those very painful days, weeks and months of 12 years ago, and lead to healing of some deep scars connected with those days.

Such is life. Such are our spirit guides. Such is our universe. Thank you, all.

June 17, 2007

life in general: (part 2) "the ripped chest" book

...excerpts from Harsh Mander's "The Ripped Chest" book's Preface continued from my March 20 '07 post:

...There is economic denial, hunger and homelessness. There is deprivation of power even over the circumstances of one's own life, let alone over governance institutions, public officials and an oppressive social order. There is discrimination and social exclusion based on gender, caste, class, ethnic community and disability, which are practised even by institutions of the state, including the judiciary. And at the same time, there is sometimes exceptional courage and human spirit to reclaim the dignity and humanity, of which the wider political economy and social arrangements combine to dispossess them.

In the...book, an attempt is made to look, as with a magnifying glass, at the content and actual working of public policy to combat economic poverty and social inequity in India....Probably the two disadvantaged social groups which have been the subject of the most intensive range of policy instruments for positive discriminations have been the dalits or ex-untouchables or Scheduled Castes (SC); and the tribal or indigenous communities, known as the Scheduled Tribes (ST). It is for this reason that these social groups have been selected for examination, rather than women or persons with disabilities, both of whom have tended to be neglected to a far greater degree by public policy in India.

Positive discrimination for what is the largest historically exploited group, namely women, has not been as centrestage in public policy in India. Policy blindness has been extreme towards persons with disabilities. I intend to return in a later work to a study of public policy in India in relation to these social groups...

..Chapter 2 examines the status of the ex-untouchable dalit community and state interventions.

The chapter concludes that despite growing social and political mobilisation and extensive state intervention, dalits continue to subsist in conditions of abject poverty and illiteracy and are victims to untouchability and atrocities in large parts of the country. The state must intervene in determined activist fashion, with a wide range of measures. These would include legal aid guarantee, reorientation of the law and order machinery, legal literacy and mass mobilisation for legal action, public sector and judicial reform. In addition, there is the imperative for systematically ensuring minimum needs in dalit settlements, general outreach of health and literacy programmes, and breaking finally, the bond between traditional 'unclean' occupations and caste.

The chapter on state policy towards the indigenous tribal people attempts to describe the grave and complex predicament of tribal communities in contemporary India, and the legislative and policy interventions that have been designed to address these problems. It traces how state ownership of forests facilitated unhindered exploitation of natural resources by the state.

... The third part of the book looks closely at official programmes that are designed to address rural and urban poverty... In India's planning process... poverty has been measured and sought to be addressed primarily in terms of economic deprivation, chiefly low levels of income and consumption. The widest battery of public policy instruments have been designed to address rural poverty which is manifested in terms of economic disadvantage and deprivation. Therefore, this once again is the subject of detailed investigation in this book. When examining public policy for rural poverty, it seemed necessary for the sake of completeness also to examine public policy for urban poverty, although our investigation reveals this to be an area of...grave neglect by policy-makers in India.

The chapter on rural poverty...sets out to examine...the objectives...and impacts of major programmes undertaken by the Government...aiming at overcoming poverty, in order to assess in some depth their strengths and weaknesses. It argues taht poverty is a complex and multi-faceted condition that requires not only a much more vigorous thrust, but that it is also a concern that needs to be mainstreamed into the entire gamut of state interventions, especially in sustainable agriculture and the social sectors. It holds that the micro-credit programmes as they are presently designed are fundamentally flawed and need to be severely curtailed and refashioned. On the other hand, rural works programmes, with more effective focus on creating or augmenting livelihoods of the poor, need to be expanded greatly and to include a legally enforceable guarantee component.

In the subsequent discussion, on the state and the urban poor in Idia, it is demonstrated that for women and men, girls and boys who live in poverty in towns and cities, life is extremely hard in many ways. If they have access to shelters at all, these are illegal, insecure, cramped and utterly ramshackle. Otherwise people are compelled to live even in rain and cold under the open sky; their habitat is dehumanised, unserviced and polluted; their livelihoods casual, uncertain, underpaid and criminalised. Most of these are the direct outcomes of state policy...

(more excerpts to follow...)

June 14, 2007

life in general: its started raining here!

The first real monsoon showers arrived here in Bombay at 6 pm today. Since I was working from home I could manage to click a few photos. They follow below. After 30 minutes of good rain, it subsided for the next 45 minutes, picked up momentum again for next 1 hour and 15 minutes and just now its down to a drizzle (as I write this after having uploaded the four photos below it is 8.30 pm).

My heartiest thanks to the Rain God for bestowing precious water on our parch
ed lands. I hope we get good rains throughout this season notwithstanding problems Bombayites will have in commuting and slum-dwellers will have in the form of flooding of their homes. These problems are painful but the problem of scarce water would be much more painful if we don't get sufficient rains to fill our groundwater tables and catchment lake areas.

Here are the photos then. This and this were clicked from a room's window in my
home (I stay on the fourth floor of a seven-storeyed building) that faces South and I had pointed my phone towards South West direction. The third photo was clicked from another room's window which faces to the West and my camera points to the West directly. You may not be able to make out the falling rain very clearly due to the fading evening light but when I took the photos it was raining heavily.

June 06, 2007

life in general: remembering june 6 1944 normandy landings

It happened this day 63 years ago. It was not the sole factor that turned the tide during the German invasion-of-European-countries driven World War 2. But the Allied forces landings on the coast of Normandy in France on June 6 1994 was certainly a big contributing factor to the consequent German defeat.

This editorial piece in today's edition of an American newspaper on the Normandy landings found me nodding my head in agreement

June 02, 2007

life in general: payback time for india's chemical-based green agri-revolutionaries

Its payback time. After saturating the farming lands of Punjab and Haryana in the 1980s-90s with chemical fertilisers and pesticides to boast record harvesting of wheat, India is forced to import wheat at international prices that increase by 15-20% every year. Grudgingly policy-makers are admitting the soil has got depleted but still are choosing to stay blind to the reasons behind it.

I got an comprehensive and enlightening understanding of the issues involved in agriculture when I read an open letter written last year by an organic farmer from Gujarat, Bhaskar Save, to the M.S.Swaminathan called as the father of India's so-called 'green revolution' in agriculture.

India's current prime minister, Manmohan Singh, has been recently voicing concerns on agriculture but he is still caught in the deception that its only a matter of increasing yield from the land. It would be wise on his part to seriously take (and so should industralists like Ratan Tata who just this week expressed his misguided thoughts on rural India) what Bhaskar Save has to say in his letter. Save writes: "Trying to increse Nature's 'productivity' is...fundamental blunder...Nature, unspoiled by man, is already most generous in her yield..When a grain of rice can reproduce a thousand-fold within months where arises the need to increase its productivity?...That is provided the farmer does not pour poison and mess around...in his greed for quick profit. A child has right to its mothers milk. But if we draw on our Mother Earth's blood and flesh as well, how can we expect her continuing sustenance?...The mindset of servitude to 'commerce and industry', ignoring all else, is the root of the problem. But industry merely transforms raw materials sourced from Nature into commodities. It cannot create anew. Only Nature is truly creative and self-regenerating through synergy with the fresh daily inflow of the sun's energy."