Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Prioritizing setting up GPS for public transit

I seriously think the GPS transmitters need to go on ST buses first.

There we have the longest wait times,

Ability to get some real full-fledged work done if we know where our bus is and how long it'll take to come,

serious consequences for missing a bus,

Not having * any * other * way * to get to the destination,

also a valid use case for chasing down and catching a missed bus.

Writing this from an st stand in a town in maharashtra, waiting at 6pm for a bus that was scheduled to arrive at 3.30 but the inquiry desk has no clue whats the holdup and how long it will take. My destination is not very popular and if the bus doesnt come or if i miss it, i might have to stay here overnight.

And leave aside gps.. there's a valid case for simply having the conductors tweet or post or sms to a common app about the comings and goings, which stop passed, telling if the bus is too crowded or so.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Fwd: [datameet] Govt. of Tamilnadu order of Content Publishing under Creative Commons

Commons approach gaining prominence and currency, totally turns on its head the concept of "this is government property"

---------- Forwarded message ----------

So the order is issued by the Secretary, Tamilnadu Government. The primary purpose of this initiative is to ensure that the - if works in tamil are published under CC by SA, aided by technology, it has the potential to reach people globally.

In essence the order says that:

1) Books & other literary works that shall be published under CC by SA
  • That have been nationalized
  • Produced by the Tamil Development Department & other Government departments, 
  • Rare books collected by the Tamil Development Department & Tamil University
  • Digital Copies of - Old Scrolls, Pictures & Stone carvings

2) Research papers and books (subject to copyright rules) of the students & teachers of the Tamil University should be published on their website

3) If any of the above have been procured by other Government departments, from Individuals or private enterprises - they too can be published after obtaining due permission from the owner.

The letter doesn't explicitly mentioned CC by SA for (2) & (3) but I think that's what was intended.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
There is an order by Govt. of Tamilnadu, approved last month to publish govt. content under creative commons, this is a big deal for govt. data too. Can someone who knows tamil translate the order and its scope?

Just because a country has problems..

Quote from the comic character Jerry, on a mockumentary "Better Life Foundation" by AIB: (told in a hilarious context of change in leadership at the NGO after a series of crises)

Just because a country has problems

You don't elect the first dictator you see, okay?
(it comes at 23 mins in..)


Monday, August 8, 2016

Charlie Chaplin's Great Dictator speech, and the story around it

Have you heard/read Charlie Chaplin's speech from 'The Great Dictator'? It's been billed as "The Greatest, Most Relevant Speech Ever" and similar.



I found some interesting information around this here:
... He chose to make The Great Dictator – a "satirical attack on fascism" and his "most overtly political film".
... Making a comedy about Hitler was seen as highly controversial, but Chaplin's financial independence allowed him to take the risk. "I was determined to go ahead," he later wrote, "for Hitler must be laughed at."

What's also interesting to read is that at the time, this amazing speech was taken rather negatively by many, and he suffered many consequences for it including later deportation from USA. He was hated for, as a comedian and an actor, having dared to so boldly express his political views and taken a stand on things. He didn't just act in this movie.. he spent two years writing the script himself.

This strikes a bell with what I see today happening when certain popular actors of our time have dared to put in considerable efforts and take a serious stand on things, like Amir Khan's call in 2014 to not vote for parties fielding criminal candidates, after a very detailed explanation for it in his SMJ episode. (See, I've already pissed some of you off by just mentioning his name! I'm sure even Chaplin must have been accused similarly back then. Come on, I dare you to watch that episode full : ).

Excerpts from Chaplin's speech:
"I'm sorry, but I don't want to be an emperor. That's not my business. I don't want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone - if possible"

"More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost...."

"Don't give yourselves to these unnatural men - machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don't hate! Only the unloved hate - the unloved and the unnatural! Soldiers! Don't fight for slavery! Fight for liberty!"

"By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power, but they lie. They do not fulfill their promise, they never will. Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people!"

Surprising how something spoken more than half a century ago is still so embarassingly relevant today!

Cartoon: What the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan seems to be ignoring

Sunday, August 7, 2016

How To Digitize static maps

Fwd: 9 August, 2.30 to 6.30 p.m., at Jantar Mantar: Solidarity Action with Irom Sharmila & Democratic Movements for Justice & Peace

I know some people who will probably get seriously pissed off by this, hence especially sharing for them! :P

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Save Sharmila

9 August 2016: A Day of Reflection

Reaffirming Solidarity -- Towards Justice, Peace, and Hope

   Today, Irom Sharmila makes a move towards freedom, by giving up her fast, which has lasted nearly 16 years. We feel deep respect for Irom Sharmila's non-violent struggle and her indomitable spirit, and support her decision to give up the fast. The struggle for peace and justice will continue.

    On 9 August, 1942, Mahatma Gandhi and other leaders of the Quit India movement were arrested. The British government promulgated the Armed Forced Special Powers Ordinance on 15 August 1942, to quell the Quit India movement.

   The government of India promulgated the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), 1958; and subsequently imposed it in several parts of the country. People in Manipur, including Imas (`mothers': elderly women activists), Meira Paibis (women's groups, literally women holding `mashaals'), and many civil society groups, are struggling for AFSPA to be repealed, in the interests of peace and justice. They want good governance to be restored in the state. Experts argue that the Act perpetuates violation of fundamental democratic rights. It grants excessive powers, and impunity, to armed forces. Atrocities against ordinary citizens have been documented over the years.


     In 2012, the Extra Judicial Execution Victim Families Association (EEVFAM) filed a PIL in the Supreme Court of India, alleging 1,528 fake encounters in Manipur since the 1980s. The Court ordered investigation into six cases, all of which were proved to be fake encounters: killing of innocent persons, by armed forces or police commandos. The Court has ruled that all the remaining cases must be thoroughly probed. It has questioned impunity, ruling that armed forces cannot use excessive force even in areas that come under AFSPA.

    Humane, democratic solutions are needed to solve real problems faced by people; dialogue rather than repression. We stand in solidarity with democratic people's movements in Manipur, and elsewhere in the country -- being waged today by dalits, women, minorities, workers, people with disabilities, sexuality rights activists, and other marginalised sections. We -- ordinary people, students, teachers, feminists, activists -- care for democracy and human rights, peace and good governance, accountability and justice.  We feel that we are all responsible for helping to bring this about. We need to listen, learn, and together search for ways to move ahead, to actually resolve many very difficult situations. 

    We propose 9 August 2016, as a day of reflection: upon our own ethics and politics, upon freedom, justice, peace -- and hope. We will sit together that day, in quiet companionship. We will sit at Jantar Mantar -- from 2.30 to 6.30 p.m. Do join! We may sing some songs, read poetry, draw, sit in a circle, talk…; some may want to fast for the day, they could break their fast at 6. We would like to light candles as it gets dark. We are not planning this as a protest. Rather, a moment of quiet solidarity.

Please feel free to forward this to others who may be interesting in joining on the 9th. And, do bring along poetry, umbrella, mats, water, candle, posters, or anything else you'd like to share. This is a spontaneous action with no central organizing committee; your participation helps lend it meaning!

-          Shanti, Deepti Priya, Runu Chakraborty, Nandini Rao, Shraddha Chikerur, Uma Chakravarthy, Ravi Nitesh, Devika Mittal, Sampurna Trust, Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign, Ninglun Hanghal, Felix Padel, Malvika Gupta, Dhruva Narayan, Sunita Kumari ….

*SSSC is part of this solidarity action. 

Shanti, Deepti Priya, Runu Chakraborty, Nandini Rao, Shraddha Chikerur, Uma Chakravarthy, Ravi Nitesh, Devika Mittal, Sampurna Trust, Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign, Ninglun Hanghal, Felix Padel, Malvika Gupta, Dhruva Narayan, Sunita Kumari …. ...................................
Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign
(A joint initiative of various organizations & movements)
E-mail:savesharmila[at]        Facebook: Groups/savesharmilacampaign


The case for realistic and inclusive cost estimation for energy policy

This was an input in a discussion thread on a mailing list...

I recall reading about a financial cost analysis on various sources of electric power, from friends in Prayas Energy advocacy group. It was showing that nuclear power is more expensive than renewable. I don't recall the exact details though.

Here there is great opportunity in pursuing an honest production cost estimation by factoring in state subsidies and concessions and also costs of displacement and environmental damages as is being done in some other countries. So how about pushing that idea into the energy policy : realistic cost estimation and internalisation of heretofore externalised costs?

And then we advocate taking decision on whether to commission a new nuclear / coal plant or decentralized rooftop solar array on the basis of sound and simple numerical comparison and long term financial prudence. By taking this approach, we score many points : we avoid getting into ideology and endless debates, take the practical and economical high ground, and we can gather the ammo needed to directly and decisively attack the most core and vulnerable component of the fossil/nuclear/big-hydro and centralized production lobby: the claim that it's cheaper. If that gets overturned, they don't have much else to run to.

Whose interests are best served when justice isn't?
CJI TS Thakur highlights low judge-to-population ratio in India
Flagging the huge backlog of cases and abysmal judge-to-population ratio, Chief Justice of India T S Thakur has appealed to the law graduates to join the bar or the judiciary.
... The target of having no case older than five years pending was found to be "very difficult" because there are "lakhs and lakhs of cases which are today ten years old, 15 years old, and may be 20 years old", said Justice TS Thakur.

>> just FYI.. In 2014 elections, AAP's manifesto was the only one that took this up as an issue and promised immediate measures for expansion in judge population, including setting up of new institutes and increasing the seats and more training for judges... and resolution of the backlogs.

During his time in Tihar jail, Arvind Kejriwal when getting a chance to interact with media, chose to raise the issue of the 1 lakh+ undertrials languishing in India's jails who have been kept there for way longer than even the maximum punishment for which they have been accused, and who are in for simply not being able to furnish bail amounts of a few hundred or thousand rupees. Need I remind you that we spend more taxpayer money than that on keeping these people in our overcrowded and inhuman-condition prisons. Just this makes a simple financial argument for govt to fund bails for those whose time 'in' has exceeded the maximum sentence for the accusation that they've been charged with (charged with, mind, not convicted. Techically they're supposed to be innocent until proven guilty but hey ours is a democracy right?) This is happening because their cases are part of the severe national legal backlog.

The other parties have been silent.. a peculiar characteristic about the BJP manifesto was that the single answer to many of these issues, including that of corruption, was something along the lines of "the problems will all go away once there is good governance" .. which amounts to an amorphous promise sans any solid action points or guarantees, and reminds me of Obama's equally vague promise of "Change" in his 2008 campaign, which people blindly assumed to mean a whole lot of things whose opposite happened. It should be noted that the same PR company has handled critical parts of both Obama's and Modi's election campaigns.

In the last two years of BJP rule, while never sparing an opportunity to blame past Congress admins for the glaring situation of the present, we don't see any major initiatives taken or announced by the Modi govt in this sector to remedy the situation. Setting up of new law institutes and judges training would definitely have made it to the headlines.. instead what did make it is the Centre's repeated attempts to get control over appointment of SC judges and other examples of friction between executive and judiciary that's been lethal to democracy in other countries.

In fact, it's during this time that the gravest calls have been made in public by the very top rungs of the judiciary. Why did a group that typically frowns on media trials have to go public with this? This stage would have been reached only after complete frustration at the judiciary's end in getting the word across through proper admin channels to the executive (ie, the Central govt ministries in charge of this and the PMO)

This also provokes a more controversial question : Is there an agenda of both past and present Central govts to 'reign in' and control one of the most critical pillars of democracy through structural starvation? Is India's low judge-to-population ratio the output of deliberate policy by the ruling powers and not mere incompetence? Whose interests are best served when justice isn't?

Interesting links for July 2016

Interesting links for July 2016. Last week's been quite busy, apologies again for the delay in posting this! Quite a lot of things have happened this month!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

On the trumpeting of GST unity

Don't wanna upset the (ahem.. mainstream-induced) celebrative mood, but will just point out that the last times all parties showed so much unity in getting a bill / amendment etc passed were:

- When they amended the Constitution to override the Election Commission's rules and so enabled candidated with serious criminal records to stand for elections from Panchayat to MP level,

- When they gave themselves an enormous pay raise and increase in perks. (btw, this was one of the things much hated about Congress/UPA, but was carried forward and not reversed or corrected after new govt took over in 2014.. so they get credit for being against Congress but bear no responsibility to reverse its bad policies).

People need to be most watchful when all the leaders suddenly start singing the same tune. And especially so when the mainstream media joins in as cheerleader and you're also getting whatsapp messages on groups from your compulsive forwarder friends instructing you that this is very good and you should be ecstatically happy about it. 

Just having bipartisan support doesn't necessarily make something good. It increases probability of it being good, but that's not guaranteed.

Well, this brings a vice-versa message from an earlier article : When they instruct you to absolutely love something that's yet to come, is going to impact your day to day life, and is supposed to be good for you, then take it with a pinch of salt (meaning: don't take their word for it, do your own research).

Here's some articles that came up with just a primary search for "GST flaws":

Articles from around Sep 2015 criticizing aspects of GST.. I'm yet to see if any of the questioned aspects have been satisfactorily remediated by now.
Why the GST Bill may be flawed and conflicted
... The 'biggest tax reform since 1947” was launched sans public consultation'..
Flaws in India's GST defeats its purpose
GST’s seven deadly defects
Government should abandon it, work towards a unified Central levy instead.

This is dated 18 July 2016:
GST Bill has many critical flaws that must be fixed ASAP



I have a fear of not having anybody to love. Of not finding anyone, now, who would fall in love with who I am. Of loving my ugliest and wanting to be with me for the rest of my life.

Found myself relating a lot with this...
The blog post has more interesting stuff so check it out!

Monday, August 1, 2016

How would porn be interpreted by future archaeologists?

Imagine that a thousand years from now an archaeological expedition
recovers an intact 1TB solid state hard disk drive. They manage to
figure out how to read and decode the binary information encoded in
it. To their surprise, they find about 100 GBs of porn on it.

Imagine what conclusions the archaeologists might draw, declare
officially, and put into the history books (or equivalent in their
cultur) to describe today's life and times:

"This ancient civilization was highly sexually liberated.."

"Sex was not a taboo topic in day-to-day conversations back then.."

"Sex wasn't confined to monogamy relationships; in fact, it appears
that a lot of it happened between complete strangers even if they had
other official partners. The females were highly promiscuous, and
would get sexually aroused merely on receiving a look or tone of voice
from the males..."

"Women were highly respected and revered as goddesses. Entire folders
were dedicated to multimedia documentations of sex rituals performed
by them with chosen male disciples. The disciples themselves seemed
generic and interchangeable.. the documentation doesn't seem to have
recorded their names or anything unique, while that was
enthusiastically done for the godesses, even the way they spoke or
moved was given high importance. This shows that women must have
enjoyed a very high social status in this ancient culture."

"We have also recovered ancient scrolls called 'saved web pages'
revealing an ancient form of virtual gathering called a 'forum' where
followers were enthusiastically discussing these rituals down to very
minute details, and bringing together more and more of them. Frequent
documenters would rise up a social ladder on the basis of
contributions they made to the discussions, and could gain priest-like
status in the eyes of other followers..."

"Our ancestors seem to have accorded their body's genitals with a very
high status. They were very prominently shown and a variety of rituals
were performed using them.."

.. you get the drift, right?

So let's apply this scenario retrospectively.

Imagine that a thousand years ago in what is now central India, there
were a bunch of rulers or elite classes who wanted to make a lucrative
business out of people's innate sexual curiosities.

They owned a large area of land that was kept fenced off and common
persons were barred entry (much like today's swathes of private lands
owned by our elites). Away from prying eyes they commissioned several
stone exhibits and had many of their favourite porno scenes set into

The resources and funding raised for this project was similar to the
enormous amounts raised by the porn industry of our times. And it
wasn't wasted : Once the project was constructed, wealthy people from
far and wide flocked to the site and readily paid any price for
getting to tour the place.

Of course, information about this place was mostly shared
word-of-mouth among closed circles and was strictly kept off of
official records. Dignitaries going there would be officially visiting
nearby areas for other official reasons. It became a secret Disneyland
for the well-heeled sexually curious that reaped rich returns for the
local rulers and owners who commissioned the project.

If one would wonder "no way, how can the elites among the population
behave like that?"
.. Well, why don't you take a look at what the elites of our times are up to?

Related links:
Khajuraho Group of Monuments
Turin Erotic Papyrus

Note: This article is an exercise in re-imagination, not any
assertion. But hey.. what if... !!

On another note, I would personally prefer it if the archeologists would find this, and not 100 GB of maintream TV news channel broadcasts or soap operas.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Green Resources : project for a Sustainability Knowledge Base / Archive

Over the past few months i've been working on a proof-of-concept for an archival website..

To capture the wonderful stuff regarding sustainability

Being shared among networks such as this,

To properly attribute & manage the info so that:

1. It becomes accessible to a broader audience; and

2. You can find it when you need it even after months or years have gone by.

The pilot site is here:

please check it out and let me know how you feel about it.

Look at the left & right for slide-in menus.

See the About section if you're getting curious.

This site goes way beyond the confines of standard websites/blogs and pushes the limits for the features needed.

Proud to share it was all done using free and open source technology, namely wordpress enhanced with a platoon of plugins.

The site's USP is a multi-channel filter using which you can filter down to the subject, type, location, level, language etc to refine your search.

The articles can also have features like their own map location and mulitple attachments.

In terms of content focus, my initial idea is that this should be a haystack that archives several short leads to resources, like contact details of a RWH expert in Delhi region, or growing method of a particular millet crop in Vidarbha region, or way to avoid a particular pest attacking a plant in city balconies, etc. Stuff that we usually share on our groups and mailing lists when somebody asks. I'm not looking at having full-fledged well-written articles because I already see  some sites like Vikalp Sangam, TheAlternative, Ecologise, TheBetterIndia etc doing a great job with that. Rather we should link to those articles and so help people find them. And geography wise, I'm focussing on material relevant to Indians (which may be international in origin but relevant here)

What's needed now: The Human Component

While technology is important, for something like this to succeed we need many caring hands on deck. Without that, this is just a tool without a master, and there's no way just one or two or people can keep up with the plethora of content being shared nowadays.

At the NPC (National Permaculture Convergence, Feb'16) and since, i got a strong feeling that the time has come, there are many more people coming forward wanting to do this and telling me they need something like this. So hoping to find ways to take this forward! Maybe a group out there with enough hands onboard can adopt this. Or maybe multiple groups can depute people and co-host it. Do reply back if you're interested.

And while the way forward gets charted, the site is LIVE and is open for you to contribute content! And yes, we can handle a flood of content and have ways of managing it effectively so jump right in!

There's a cool Submit an Article section where you can create an article yourself, attach a photo too, and when you submit it, it'll queue up for an editor to attribute, approve and publish. This keeps minimal load on you as a contributor... no need to login etc.

Lastly, this work is shared in the spirit of gift economy. The output is open source and free, while the inputs have been time-taking and a great learning experience for me (am open to web design projects, ahem!). If you liked this initiative and want to contribute towards it in any way, then click here: Contribute

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Happy Guru Purnima

19th July 2016: Guru Purnima is an Indian and Nepalese festival dedicated to spiritual and academic teachers. This festival is traditionally celebrated by Hindus, Jains and Buddhists, to pay their respects to their teachers and express their gratitude.

Wishing a Happy Guru Purnima to all the children who have taught me so much!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The link between our leaders' behavior and voters' preferences

Here's an interesting mail-forward from a friend of mine highlighting the day-to-day behavior of India's politicians, compared to how their counterparts in other countries behave. I then shared some insight about it, scroll to bottom to see it.

Why we are where we are and likely to remain there.... 

And even more interesting, a conversation that followed:

Me: We all know very well that there's only one party in this country that has broken this trend and even today goes around without all this stupidity.. AAP.

My Friend:
NO. Party politics needs to be kept away giving way to education; then only the Country will see the desired thorough change,

Is that really how all the other countries achieved it? Every last one of them? Did the USA and Britain and countries of Europe abandon all politics, elections etc and let a dictatorship handle things while they educated one generation? Would it be really wise to expect an idealistic "should be should be" solution with no real strategy of implementing it, and ignore the path others have followed?

As far as I know, there has been plenty of cronyism elsewhere too. At some point the electorate starting expecting better behavior and decency from their leaders and their authorities, and started voting more for those who lived up to those basic expectations. Like, for example, don't vote for a party that harbors criminals and rapists in its ranks, no matter how promising the main leader at the top looks : a very simple and basic way of drawing the line between acceptable and unacceptable.

They understood that there is a definite link between this day-to-day behavior and the actual character and overall work that the politician in question will end up doing for the country. They got the point that this basic linkage is far more reliable than the overly complicated soap-opera style speculations and calculations and isne-usne-iska-uska that we use with our typical Indian tendency to selectively over-think in political matters. They understood that a good leader is first: a decent person and second: one who keeps decent company, that these criteria aren't supposed to be overridden no matter how great the stated promises coming from the top, no matter how infinitely shrewd and wise you think that top guy is.

Today India has one of the most highly criminalized elected bodies, from Panchayat level all the way to the various State Legislative Assemblies and all the way to Central level, on this planet and in India's own history. It's not an allegation, it's a fact. Here's a tool that can help you look into this: . I see a direct link between all the pictures shared above and this one simple basic fact, and I can also recognize and empathize with the bias which makes people overlook this, coming from a desperate hope against the simple laws of reality.

PS: I'll also point out the propaganda aim I recognized in the selection of images in this collection. I've seen such collections in email forwards in past years, and this one has a slight difference: all BJP leaders have been sanitized out of it. We're supposed to infer that they don't do the exact same thing and are much better.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

What should be done to Facebook and others for violating your country's citizens' rights

Facebook CAN track you offline: Site wins Belgian privacy case over following logged out users

...The social media site has won a legal battle against the Belgian data protection authority over tracking its users while they are not logged into Facebook.
Originally, the regulator had won its case and ordered the social network to stop tracking non-members when they visited publicly available Facebook pages.
But the Brussels Appeals Court dismissed the case, on the grounds that the regulator has no jurisdiction over Facebook Inc, which has its European headquarters in Ireland.

>> An example of how legal speak defies common sense.

The people that FB is tracking are in Belgium, and Belgium's data protection authority is trying to protect its own people from the violative actions of an outside company operating over the internet. If the outside company, basically a foreigner, is caught committing wrongdoing to citizens of Belgium, then it's a simple case of attack on national sovereignty and should be treated as such.

What the court has decided, means that if a NATIVE service had been caught doing it then the authorities could be free to prosecute them, but since it's a FOREIGN service doing it, it's suddenly totally OK.

Tomorrow, if a foreign based entity is caught committing crimes and doing harm to Belgian people, tomorrow if a foreigner is caught having raped a Belgian citizen, then that will be completely valid and legitimate according to the basic logic that the Bussels Appeals Court has followed in this case.

Which of course is absolute bullshit.

What is SUPPOSED to happen here is that Belgium has to issue an extradition warrant to Ireland to extradite and prosecute Facebook's executives for committing crimes on the citizens of Belgium. (It might be something that only earns a fine as per rules, but the due process is supposed to be the same.)

If Ireland is then unable to proceed as the people in question aren't really in Ireland and it's just a business address registered there to evade higher corporate taxes or obligations elsewhere, then the obvious next step is to SHUT DOWN the business by locking down that office, and confiscate whatever property, equipment and accounts are in Ireland and connected with the business till the executives responsible come down and face due process. If they want to contest the extradition warrant, let them take it up in a court in Ireland as per law. The only other alternative for the company is to forgo everything they had in Ireland and remain out as absconders. It is then up to tax authories at all other places where this business is based, to decide that if this business is no longer based in Ireland, then where is it, and which country should claim taxation and other obligations from it?

This situation brings forward the need for localizing transactions : Irrespective of where the hell the business is based, if they are violating Belgian laws (and being foreigners are hence seen as atacking the sovereignty of Belgium) then the Belgian authorities must have complete right to prosecute them in whichever way they can. And this can happen in quite some ways:

1. Put out summons for executives of Facebook to summon them to a Belgian court and failing which they are to be declared as absconders; if they ever enter Belgian territory (like, say, changing flights at Brussels) then they are to be taken into custody. (hey, this is exactly what was being done when the US set out for capturing Edward Snowden, including being willing to force any plane carrying him passing their or allies' airspace to land)

2. Summon any Belgian citizenship holding employees of Facebook or who are in a working contract with it as representatives of the company; let them off if they resign or forfeit the job contract immediately.

3. Enter the company in a national boycott list according to which all Belgian companies and citizens are forbidden from performing business transactions with it, hence economic boycott.
(Note: people using facebook don't get covered here, as they are consumers of freely provided service and not doing financial transactions with FB)

4. Use extradition treaties to summon FB representatives to Belgian court.

5. Confiscate any property owned by the company or its subsidiaries that is there or enters into Belgian territory.

6. Apply similar measures for other entities that are found to be benefiting from transacting with FB and aren't doing anything to make FB comply.

Given the present indoctrination that big internet companies like Facebook are above and beyond any country's laws, this all might seem too far-fetched to you. But try imagining what should be done if it was some other foreign based small company or individual found to be violating the legally enshrined rights of citizens of your country. If you WANT to have a law and order system, then let's treat everyone the same before the law, shall we?

Monday, July 4, 2016

Interesting Links for June 2016

Interesting Links for June 2016

When they instruct you to hate, don't.

When the mainstream media,

whom you know is criminally culpable in causing wars and financial, environmental, social and cultural plunder and in general making bad things happen,

which you know is acting against the best interests of the public and in the best interests of power elites who own the media companies or who are in the common circles with them...

When this mainstream media

Is going out of its way

to encourage and instruct you

to absolutely hate any particular public figure,

Friday, July 1, 2016

The Palikade Permaculture Project - Plantation 1st Phase

The Palikade Permaculture Project – Phase 1 plantation
In March 2016, we (Astrid Rao and Sneha Shetty) attended a Permaculture Design Course (PDC) organised by Academy for Earth Sustainability and conducted by Narsanna Koppula , where we were introduced to the intricacies of water harvesting and soil conservation (WH & SC) among many other themes of permaculture.

In WH & SC, we learnt about "vegetative consolidation" of water harvesting structures i.e. consciously designed multi-level planting of trees, shrubs and ground cover on the water harvesting structures. The purpose is to strengthen the structures, increase biomass, enhance soil health, create micro-climates and many others. The loose soil of the newly created bunds also provide a good base for new saplings to grow in.

At our 18-acre farm in Kamshet, which we call 'Palikade', we decided to start with designing the land forms for WH & SC. We have only the rains as a source of water here, so we decided to grow indigenous/ native, hardy, rain fed trees as well as quick growing leguminous shrubs that would fix nitrogen into the soil, provide us loads of biomass and create microclimate. We started growing saplings of the latter in our nursery in April. Then we made a plant palette of what would grow well in our area, choosing species that would serve many functions. It would be a tropical food forest that would provide for food, clothing, shelter and other needs of not just the human residents but all the stake holders including the birds, insects and micro organisms (in Narsanna's words). This was a great opportunity to grow native trees that have been on my wish list for years (yes, i am a serious tree lover).

We began the water harvesting structures in April - boundary trenches, contour trenches, a couple of ponds and a percolation tank at the highest point in the property with the hope that they will hold the water and let it percolate into the subsoil, thereby using the soil itself to hold water. We also intend to grow a mix of cereals, millets, pulses, oilseeds and green manure on the land meant for growing annual crops & orchards in future. This is to regenerate the soil ('make the entire land a compost pit' – Narsanna's words). In the coming months, we will continue to plant a live fence on the boundary, comprising of various plants serving multiple functions.
Permaculture has the answers people – and Narsanna Koppula (founder of Aranya Agricultural Alternatives, Hyderabad) is a leading light of our times.

In the last one week, we have planted more than 2200 saplings and cuttings (of about 90 species), sowed hundreds of seeds and will continue to populate the bunds with ground cover (grasses, climbers and shrubs) of various types that will all do their bit to contribute to the fertility of soil and up our sustainability quotient.

Wishing you a very Happy Van Mahotsav – we at Native Place and Nirvana Adventures are happy to contribute to the mammoth task that the Maharashtra govt has undertaken to plant 2 crore trees by the 1st of July 2016. We are grateful that we could source about 1,000 plants from Government nurseries (Forest Dept- Shirota, Social Forestry - Pune & PWD- Pune) at very affordable rates. Thanks a ton, guys!

Peace Bliss & Happy Landings
From Native Place and team at Nirvana Paragliding Club , Kamshet , India

See some photos from this activity on

Few pics below:

(see facebook album linked above for all pics)


Note from Nikhil:
Feeling very lucky to have gotten to do a little participation in this huge project and getting to pick the brains of the designers. I walked barefoot in beautiful natural surroundings, got totally wet and totally muddy, was all over the beautiful sticky mud and can now say I have truly experienced the magic of monsoons. 

Palikade is a work of art and some very deeply thought out planning that can serve as an example for any student of planning or engineering. So many steps taken to harvest water, to make it go exactly where it needs to, to enrich the soil to the fullest; so much care taken with each sapling, ensuring the various indigenous species are well-mixed and spaced out with the prevalent flora, fully grown tree's canopy, height, root zone, nutrients etc kept in mind, sunlight, shade, wind direction, access, slopes all taken into account. I got to see high level engineering in perfect harmony with nature here, hats off to Astrid Rao and Sneha Shetty for meticulously planning and executing this project and the sheer amount of love and fun they brought into it. Even for the planting operations for our drinking, cleaning, cooking etc we were using rainwater directly collected from the roof of the small house there!

The local farmers from the village who were working on the project were also enjoying every moment, have understood many concepts of permaculture and were actively discussing about applying some ideas on their side. They also contributed their tacit knowledge about the wild medicinal herbs in the area, local growing habits, seasonal variations etc, all of which went into informing the project design. The ladies requested for and took saplings like drumstick home to plant for their kitchen gardens. So even the strong local connect that Astrid has established with the community here since over a decade, and the informal spreading of sustainability concepts, is something very exciting and we can look forward to more wonderful things happening here in the near future.

Astrid and Sneha

Sunday, June 26, 2016

An example of structural violence: slum demolition and then vengeful pursuit by govt in Dharamshala

Forwarding an email from a friend regarding demolition of slums in Dharamshala. Pay special attention to points 4 and 5. 

It would be far more honest if the government simply lined up all the 1500 people (esp the aged, disabled, women and children) and summarily executed them. But they have outsourced that job to brutal circumstances (which will obviously claim the aged, disabled, women and children first). This is Structural violence 101 : the end result is the same but the people causing the carnage get to conveniently avoid any accountability.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

On handling paramparaa / traditions

Imagine you get a big, old box/chest that was used by your
predecessors and now it's in your possession.

You open the box.

Inside the box there are several kinds of things. You enjoy your time
sifting through them, checking them out. Many interesting things. Many
of the things seem to also have a higher purpose of reminding about
what is important in life, what should be kept in mind, etc. There are
also some papers, letters in the box, written by the previous handlers
of the box, with some having explanations about some of the
constituents of the box.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Boiling down to the details

When discussing contentious topics, I've found that the best way to avoid going wrong is by avoiding taking any of the extreme positions, and boiling down to the exact components to check one by one for any real disagreement.
Example about boiling down to the details:

Friday, June 17, 2016

Call for Facilitators @DLRC - Urban Farming, English & few more

From Ajay Dalmia
Subject: Call for Facilitators @DLRC - Urban Farming, English & few more

Thanks to the Community for responding to our last call for facilitators. We have been been able to fill many positions. Following are a few that we are still actively seeking the right resource. Please respond or forward to individuals interested in the DLRC model of learning and facilitating:

Pune: Bootcamp 25-26 june, Hackathon 8-10 july on public transit and water supply

Smart City Maker's Fest 2016, Pune

Statement by Parliament of World's Religions on Orlando Massacre

Forwarded below. In case you can't see it in this email, please see it here:

My take:
What I love about this Statement is that it exposes the old tactic of responding to one form of hatred with another, while at the same time not falling for the opposite trap of appeasing or over-protecting any side. It calls for some serious accountability, self-examination and reform among the sides in whose name atrocities are being committed or perceived to be so : Something I've seen irresponsibly lacking in most secular bastions till now especially in India.

Who knows? If we didn't have so much appeasement and hypocriisy on one side then maybe it wouldn't have triggered the blanket hatred that has emerged in reaction to it on the other (keywords: "sickular" "pseudo secular" etc). Now please don't take off on a tangent; scroll down and read the mailer that I have forwarded to you also; those words are much better expressing what my own stand is while what I write is usually too open to misinterpretation by peers. <3

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Parliament of Religions

Monday, June 13, 2016

About Russia

Sharing from a newsletter, someone recently visited Russia and shared
these points about the place:

Pretty much everything was contrary to to typical Western
expectations, but contrasting in a positive way:

- The ship was relatively newly renovated, clean and well managed
- People are generally reserved and well behaved, very far from a
general Hollywood image of heavy drinking boisterous Russians. Downing
copious amounts of vodka and inevitably smashing the glasses against
the wall..)
- The quality of food was excellent. Not spectacular in a "haute
cuisine" way, but healthy home cooking with fresh and high quality
ingredients. Especially notable the aromatic taste of fresh
vegetables, salads, tomatoes and potatoes.
- Service was always attentive and friendly even though nobody
speaks more than a few words of English as a general rule.
- Cities are very clean compared to Western cities. People do not
drop rubbish everywhere. They don't seem to be munching something all
the time like you see in the West. If you inadvertently drop
something, people will discreetly alert you to pick it up. This s like
Switzerland must have been in the 60s.
- Supermarkets, even in smaller provincial cities, are full with
quality food including fresh produce of good taste and quality.
- What struck me is how well behaved and un-neurotic the children
are. Must be the healthy food and a much lower load of vaccinations
and sugar. There were lots of kids on the ship and they were busy
playing hide and seek and all kinds of games WITH EACH OTHER and not
getting on parents' nerves all the time or throwing tantrums like I
see it all the time with Western children. But also parents don't seem
to get on childrens' nerves that much.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Nonviolence royally screws materialism

At its core, non-violence is a tacit violation of the materialist paradigm.


An acceptance of supremacy of materialism leads to the 'might is right' concept : the parties that manage to acquire greatest material wealth and control over physical existence, get to decide things for others. Violence - direct or structural, is the way that supremacy is asserted and implemented. Ideas like "the meek shall inherit the earth" don't make any sense at all for a materialist worldview, because materialistically that's impossible: 'survival of the fittest' meaning most materially powerful is the rule.

So materialists do violence, or materialists accept violence. Violence is the way supremacy of the materialist paradigm is enforced. If you are a true materialist (as the mainstream academia wants everyone to be) then you have to accept that violence is what ultimately works. My ability to kill you at will confers upon me the power to control how you live and what you do (in my service) while you live, hence tipping the 'survival of the fittest' scale in my favour.

BUT... hold your horses (or lumbering biological robots as the materialist paradigm asserts)... what if the materialist worldview is not everything that is?

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