Saturday, May 6, 2017

What Dehradun residents do to rank 316th in the Swachh Survekshan 2017 Rankings?

Written by A bisht

If you're not aware, then let I tell you: The Cleanliness Survey 2017 or Swachh Survekshan 2017 Rankings, are out and Uttarakhand's capital Dehradun is 316th in the list with 434 Indian cities.

If you're not aware, then let I tell you: The Cleanliness Survey 2017 or Swachh Survekshan 2017 Rankings, are out and Uttarakhand's capital Dehradun is 316th in the list with 434 Indian cities.

As many Hindi Newspapers are saying, it's not only sad but shameful as well to find Dehradun that down the rankings.

What Uttarakhand people have or haven't done to find ourselves at the bottom of the Swachh Survekshan 2017 survey or Swachh Bharat survey (which was carried out by Quality Council of India, deploying 421 assessors for on the spot assessment of 17,500 locations in 434 cities and towns).

For our information, according to the Swachch Survekshan 2017 Rankings, Indore is India’s cleanest city. Other top 10 cleanest cities of the country are Bhopal, Visakhapatnam, Surat, Mysuru, Tiruchirapally, New Delhi Municipal Council, Navi Mumbai, Vadodara and Chandigarh. The dirtiest city is Gonda, Uttar Pradesh.

Notably, we're not among the improvements. We have not significantly improved our ranking from the survey conducted in 2014 before the launch of Swachh Bharat Mission in October 2014.

So why are we so dirty even after three years (Doon-ites)?

Why are we not taking care of the criteria and weightages which were monitored during the Survey. Such as Solid waste management including door-to-door collection, processing, and disposal, ODF or open defecation free status etc. Asking this, as if the survey is believed then majority of us agree that we're not doing so. The survey has given 30 percent weightage to Citizen feedback.

So why have we not improved?

Next time lets fare better, alright?

Is it that easy? Really?

Dehradun residents have not intentionally made their city less clean.

No one wants their place of living to be dirty.

It's only that the Civic cleanliness is the primary responsibility of the Municipal bodies and Governments.

I will call this Survey a clever tactic to blame the people for lack of cleanliness in their cities.

Take for instance the solid waste management. The people can throw the waste in garbage bins (if they are there). They can even pay the municipality to collect the waste from their doorstep, but what about solid waste treatment. If the municipality has to keep the dustbins to lowest minimum, and keep them over flowing, then what is the fault of the people. Another step in waste management is its treatment. If the municipality doesn't have proper mechanism and infrastructure to treat the collected waste, then what is the fault of the people.

Don't know about you, but such surveys come and go. Simply because they are not intended to solve the basic problems.

A city's cleanliness depends on routine cleanliness, waste aggregation, waste disposal and treatment. For that one needs more salaried manpower. the city also needs adequate infrastructure to support that work force. the infrastructure in the form of dustbins, urinals, toilets, waste collection vehicles and waste treatment plants.

In the past three years (ever since the survey is being done), we've not seen much change in this regard.

To conclude, the easiest thing for any Government, is to encourage people to keep their cities clean. But practically speaking, that's just a slogan. Unlike some very enthusiastic groups and NGOs, people cannot leave their livelihoods to clean their cities. In short, if a city's cleanliness is left with its people, then most cities in India will remain dirty. We're a poor country, not everyone can afford 50 Rs. per month for solid waste management.

That's why, I don't see Dehradun as dirty as it's made to be. It's a great city and its people don't want to keep their city less clean.  

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Chanakya, Nostradamus and A House, a Vehicle and an AC to every India by 2032

Written by A bisht

Chanakya couldn't be any different from you. If said in simple words.

Much is being attributed to Chanakya or Vishnugupt these days. From my observation, I've found that anyone who wants to make any Government action palatable (make wallow the bitter Pill) ascribes the philosophy behind that Government action to some Chanakya quote. Chanakya said this, Chanakya said that and so on.

The primary reason for using Chanakya for anything political or belonging to statecraft (the skillful management of state affairs) is that Chanakya, a household name in middle class India, is the author of Arthashastra, a treatise on Statecraft in 4th century BC.

These days Chanakya is being quoted as freely as Nostradamus, a French physician, seer who lived during the first half of 16th century and published collections of prophecies that have since become widely famous. Thanks to the media, Nostradamus has become such a popular person today that anyone can get support for his argument by ascribing Nostradamus.

Nostradamus might have lived in 16th century, but some individuals are quoting him and will continue to so till eternity.

That said, the main point here is simple. Not everything which is being ascribed to Chanakya was said or written by him. Because it's not humanly possible to have a supporting view or winning argument for every issue. You have to take a stand, which means taking a stand contrary to the other viewpoints. Any person who does so loses his credibility in no time. Chanakya couldn't be any different from you. If said in simple words, Chanakya couldn't have defended a King controlled rule and the one controlled by the Ministers, at the same time. That too for the efficient governance purposes. But today, Chanakya is being quoted for substantiating two distinct Governance models -- One where the Ruler is strong; and the other where the Ministers' collective is strong. History tells that during Chandragupta's reign, the state was ruled by the Ministers. That's the king simply followed what the Ministers' collective advised him to do. This appears true the moment you ask yourself: Why you know much about Chanakya, and very little about Chandragupta?

Today, much is bring ascribed to Chanakya, Nostradamus, Vivekananda, Bhagat Singh etc. Any aware citizen must cross-check the information before blindly believing it.

You may be wondering why I chose this topic today?

The reason is:

In the past three years, we've started assuming that everything which needs to be done in this country, will be done only when we establish a direct communication with the Prime Minister or the Chief Minister. Or in simple words, establish connection with the person holding the top position.

I know that the main reason for this is the PM himself. The Prime Minister Narendra Modi has created an atmosphere where everything good is because of him. He has a created an atmosphere where he wants people to believe him. Why believe him? Because he's saying so. There's nothing wrong in making a personal promise to the people, but what about the apparatus, rules, processes and procedures developed and evolved over all these years? He may or may not deliver on his promise of a house for all by 2022; or on a more recent promise of a house, a vehicle and an AC by 2032. But God forbid if everyone starts calling him to make those promises a reality.

But a serious problem arises when historic figures such as Chanakya, Nostradamus, Vivekananda, Bhagat Singh etc. are used to strengthen a personality cult. Take my word, a country like India needs much more than a strong PM.

That said, over the years we have seen that problems don't get solved by such diktats, promises and direct connection with the top functionaries. Not very long ago, the Chief of Army Staff told soldiers to bring their grievances directly to him. How effective is the process only time will tell. Right now, I don't think it will bring any systematic change. That's why we have the grievance resolution systems by proper channel. There may be plenty of examples. But let I conclude here.

To conclude, the countries as large as India, need a proper structure of governance. That's why we have that structure. The moment, a Prime Minister or Chief Minister tells people to bring their problems directly to him/her, he/she piles up stacks of unresolved problems. Even Chanakya saw a King not more than an instrument which a country needs, the real work of Governance took place through Ministers, Advisors!

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Saturday, April 8, 2017

Who is dictating the food items on my Food Plate? | Vegetarian Vs non-vegetarian Food debate

Written by A bisht

Is anyone dictating what we should eat? Are you thinking about going vegetarian? We can do so, but only when we have weighed all the factors involved in the decision.

Is anyone dictating what we should eat?

I think someone is.

More so after the arrivals of new Governments in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

It all started with the much marketed campaign of locking down of illegal slaughter houses in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The clampdown on illegal slaughter houses is still on. Because it's not easy to defend such "all of a sudden" actions, hence Governments try to find ways to placate the resulting anger among people. On the other hand, since it's not easy for people to make sense of such clampdowns, they try to find ways to make some sense of them.

That's why many of us remain busy filling down online surveys, reading and sharing articles such as:

What is better -- Vegetarian food or non-vegetarian food?
What religion says about -- Vegetarian food and non-vegetarian food?
Is non-vegetarian food an obstacle in spiritual progress?
What Hindu scriptures say about consuming meat?
Can I eat meat and still meditate successfully?

Although I want to have my say on all the above, let I reserve that for the latter part of the write-up.

But first, let we discuss why all this propaganda circulating about meat consumption is wrong, especially for Uttarakhand. I want to digress here to the clampdown of illegal slaughterhouses, but you can read this write-up instead (In this write-up you will get a glimpse of why such clampdowns are not good. In a nutshell, such all of a sudden clampdowns paralyze business activity. Something which is not good for any business).

Dictating what we eat is a direct onslaught on our right to decide for ourselves

The foremost reason which i think of is that it's a direct onslaught on our right to decide for ourselves.

What if tomorrow someone comes and says, eating plants is wrong as they're living creatures.

What if tomorrow someone says, only milk and non-cereal food must be consumed.

Will you start following such advice?

Obviously, any intelligent person will not blindly follow such advice. So why we. We will use our minds.

What we eat, is not limited to our survival

Food is not for survival alone.

Food is for celebration.

Food is for adding value to our lives.

On the surface, all the rhetoric around why someone must become vegetarian, sounds very benevolent and noble. But if a person starts following all the non-sense being preached around food, then forget about what else food offers beyond mere survival. Believing and following all the non-sense being preached these days under the garb of religion will mean we will not even be able to consume anything.

For instance, if living or non-living is the factor which decides what we should have on our food plates, then even plants become non-edible.

If the food we eat is decided by our conscience then forget about meat, any animal product such as milk, milk products, honey etc. go out of fringe. Why? Because milk is for the calf, honey is for the bees.

What we eat is an entirely subjective Choice

Thus instead of looking for objectivity in other person's and our own food plate, we must see our food from an entirely subjective view point.

Yes, what one must eat is an entirely subjective choice.

It's subjective because what you may be deriving from your food, will be very different from what I will derive by eating the same food. You may feel happiness, joy, festivity or anything. On the contrary, I may not feel anything special about it.

In the same line, food is subjective choice because the emotions, consciousness and conscientiousness you link to your food will be different from what the other person does. That's why we see vegans around us. Who is a Vegan? A person who does not eat or use animal products. In simple, a vegan not only stops eating meat, he/she stops consuming any product which comes from an animal. This means no milk, cheese, honey, no ice cream etc.

Hence before questioning our and other person's food habits, we must understand that food must always be viewed from a subjective view point. That's why restaurants have Menus! That's why the same food is made available in different tastes, textures and flavors!

Eat what you like, and respect what other person likes

Seeing food from living and non-living perspective is unnecessary. This is unnecessary because cruelty again differs from person to person. For some killing an animal for food stands as cruel. For others, uprooting a plant for food may invoke same degrees of emotional turmoil. For some others, sucking microorganisms during an inhale may be cruel (Jain monks cover their mouth and nose with a placard, so that they may not ingest some microorganism while breathing in).

Thus the best way to deal with food is: Following your heart and mind.

If you like to eat something, why not eat it.

A simple observation tells that there's no tangible link as to why meat cannot be consumed while pursuing one's spiritual path. Buddhist monks who spend hours practicing deep meditation have no problems with eating meat.

That said, ultimately what a person wants to eat is guided by many things. Such as region one lives in, history of food availability, history of vocations pursued by people, migrations etc. Thus it's not easy to solve the puzzle of food on our food plates. The simplest way to deal with food is to not complicate it too much. By over thinking.

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