Sunday, March 29, 2009
Look at the picture, do you think that India needs a Nano or more cheaper bikes? I bet the bike can seat 5 comfortably without the air-conditioner switched on and look no one is wearing a helmet (additional cost savings). They seem to be bonding very well and that's why they are sticking together without falling off from the bike.
Do let me have your comments.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Climate change challenge will reshape the way we live
Climate change and how to respond to it are everywhere in the news at the moment. So, of course, is economic recession, just as global in scope and itself deeply worrying. But what is the relationship between them likely to turn out to be?
Every crisis, Sigmund Freud said, is potentially a stimulus to the positive side of the personality — it is an opportunity to start afresh. The point has not gone unnoticed by political leaders. Following the example of President Barack Obama in the US, many have signed up to the idea of a climate change New Deal. Investment in low-carbon technologies, the insulation of buildings and public transport, it is reasoned, can make a key contribution to getting the economy moving again.
Nick Stern, the author of the celebrated Stern Review of the economics of climate change, argues that such measures should make up at least 20 per cent of the funding provided for recovery plans. Obama’s proposals fall some way short of that. But some countries are allocating much more. South Korea, for instance, is devoting no less than two-thirds of its recovery package to such ends.
We are on the cusp of a major revolution, the coming demise of the fossil-fuel economy; now is the time to try to think through its likely implications. These range from the nitty-gritty and mundane through to the more far-reaching and speculative.
On the nitty-gritty side, a major concern has to be with jobs. A climate change New Deal, its proponents argue, will create new jobs in and of itself. I’m not so sure of this, if it means, as it has to, net jobs — that is to say, larger numbers than existed before. As more energy is produced from low-carbon sources, and energy efficiency increases, some workers in the fossil fuel-based industries, such as coal-mining, will be put out of work. Most forms of technological innovation reduce rather than increase the need for labour power.
Jobs will be created not so much through renewable technologies themselves, as through the lifestyle changes that coping with climate change and energy security will bring about. Sensibilities will change and with them tastes. The new economy that will emerge will be even more radically post-industrial than the one we have now. It will be up to entrepreneurs to spot the economic opportunities that will come about as it expands — much in the same way as ways were found to revitalise dockland areas where shipping industry has evaporated away.
Pondering what form recovery from recession should take should cause us to think
seriously about the nature of economic growth itself, at least in the rich countries. It has been known for a long while that, above a certain level of prosperity, growth does not necessarily lead to greater personal and social welfare. Now is the time to introduce more rounded measures of welfare alongside GDP and give them real political resonance. Now is the time for a sustained and positive critique of consumerism which can be made to count politically. Now is the time to work out how to ensure that recovery does not mean a reversion to the loads-of-money society.
The period of Thatcherite deregulation is over. The state is back. We will need active industrial policy and planning, in respect of economic institutions but for climate change and energy policy too. The mistakes made by previous generations of planners, however, have to be avoided. Many issues present themselves here too. Take the very example of renewable technologies. Technological breakthroughs are required if at some point fossil fuels are to become history. Yet how should governments decide which ones to back? How can they cope with the fact that the most radical technological innovations — such as the internet — are often not foreseen by anybody?
We have to find a new role for government but also for market-based mechanisms. Complex financial instruments have suddenly gone out of fashion, blamed for market collapse. Yet we will have need of them because, properly regulated, they are actually sometimes the key to long-term investment rather than a force against it.
Consider the issue of insurance against extreme weather events, such as hurricanes in the Caribbean. Such episodes will become both more frequent and more intense, since climate change up to some level will almost certainly occur. Providing insurance against damage incurred will be one main way of adapting to them — especially so far as poorer people are concerned. The private insurance industry will have to supply most of the capital, since given its many other obligations it can only be the insurer of last resort.
And then, well, there’s the grand-daddy of the whole thing, globalisation, which has proceeded apace without adequate international controls. Effective regulation of world financial markets is essential for the future. Perhaps it could help pave the way for the collaboration essential to coping with climate change — a great deal of rethinking needed here too as some 200 nations prepare for the meetings in Copenhagen in December. The financial crisis and its aftermath have given a jolt to established ways of thinking that could and should prove massively important. We’re at the end of the end of history.
The writer is a former director of the London School of Economics.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
In an irony worthy a Greek tragedian, the first act in the drama of water crisis is going to be a global flooding. Global warming will result in a rise in sea levels as the glaciers and ice caps melt, thereby depleting the earth's crucial reservoir of clean, non-saline water
Frogs are being wedded to frogs in elaborate; ritually correct weddings in Assam in an effort to appease Varun, the rain god, because there has been no rain in Assam in the past few months and the ground water is drying up. Quillagua, a Chilean city that holds the distinction of being the driest place on this earth, is dying a parched death. Their lifeline, the river is dying. What the water companies have not taken away, far in excess of what they were supposed to take, the mining companies have polluted to unsustainable levels. In Chamoli, Uttarakhand, the smaller glaciers have disappeared and the largest one has retreated by many miles. United Nations Development reports are warning the world that 'Water Wars' are on the horizon in Africa. Australia is a decade into the worst drought it has witnessed in a century. And in the latest instalment of arguably the world's sexiest spy, James Bond, the villain is not hoarding gold or oil or even arms, the traditional choices of villains the world over, but water. And that, I suppose really tells the story as it is despite all the deniers of climate change.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the new world, a drier world. Today water is fast becoming a resource that is all set to rival oil for value. 71 per cent of earth's surface is covered with water. But of that, only 3 per cent is non saline. And that 3 per cent is distributed across the forms; glaciers, rivers, lakes and ground water. Not only is the human body composed primarily of water but water is one of the fundamental premises for life on earth across life forms, birds, bees and all things that breathe need water. Unfortunately, so do all other things such as agriculture and industry. Simply put, life is water intensive.
Possibly the biggest problem we face is one that is entirely man made: pollution of water sources. Urban centres in India and in many other countries are faced with the mammoth task of not only providing access to clean drinking water but of dealing with the waste that is generated. In our country, despite the stringent environmental laws (all of which are obviously flouted), nearly all of our river systems are heavily polluted and many, like the Yamuna, are literally dying. From industrial effluents to human waste, we dump it all in the rivers and lakes. One of the greatest developmental challenges around the world today is access to clean water for consumption. Its lack equals a whole lot of diseases. A disproportionately large number of deaths can be related to water: lack of clean drinking water and sanitation is now the single largest cause of illness worldwide. It is estimated that by 2020, more people will have died due to water borne diseases and the lack of clean water than the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Currently the planet earth is home to nearly six and a half billion people. And going by current trends, the figure will soon reach eight billion. And each human being needs a basic minimum quantity of water just to ensure survival. An increase in population equals a surge in demand for food, both livestock and agriculture are water intensive.
The water crisis, which might well become the defining parameter for future generations, has been precipitated by a host of complex, interlocking problems. It is simplistic and convenient to file the water crisis under the larger heading of Global Wa r m i n g and leave it at that. But it is at once, more complicated than that and simpler than that. Water consumption patterns that are rooted more in lifestyle choices than pragmatism, a lack of appreciation for the complex interlinking of co-dependant ecosystems as well as a callous disregard for the consequences of polluting our water sources are all contributory factors. And every time we act with a narrowness of vision we exacerbate the problem. Overdrawing of water from underground sources causes depletion to an extent that disrupts the water cycle. As the rivers and lakes begin to shrink, there is less precipitation. And that means more droughts. And that means drawing more water out of the ground with the use of technology. It is a vicious cycle the end result of which is a water crisis because essentially we are disrupting the global eco system, of which the water cycle is an integral part.
In an irony worthy a Greek tragedian, the first act in the drama of water crisis is going to be a global flooding. Global warming will result in a rise in sea levels as the glaciers and ice caps melt, thereby depleting the earth's crucial reservoir of clean, non-saline water. Once the ice melts and becomes saline, not only is the earth going to get a lot hotter because the ice caps and the glaciers act as cooling units, the rivers and streams are going to run dry. And then the groundwater becomes more precious than oil because it is then a finite commodity since the water cycle will no longer replenish the earth's water table.
Already, the process has begun but right now, at this moment we can still do something about it. An environmental awareness coupled with individual contributions today can make all the difference tomorrow. The technology to make our water consumption more efficient need not be high end. Making sure that no taps in your house drip can conserve more water than you realise. As will air drying your clothes instead of using a dryer. On a larger scale be aware of water pollution and contamination. Be vigilant, that factory discharging its effluents into the river is sucking the water out of your future. But most of all realise that water is truly the elixir of life and pretty soon it will run out.
This article is taken from Sunday Times of India Hyderabad Edition dated 22.03.09 as a tribute to World Water Day.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
I was in a discussion with my colleague and he wanted to know why GOD makes us suffer. He said that if GOD is ever loving, why then do you find people born with deformities, why can't GOD make all of equal and good. I told him that we have to reap what we sow and also the Law of Karma. So what do you think on why we suffer and why some are born with the silver spoon. Please do help me out so that I can answer him.
Monday, March 9, 2009
"If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul." --Rabbi Harold Kushner
"Much of the stress that people feel doesn't come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they've started." --David Allen
"Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful." --Herman Cain