Water as an entity

A few days ago, a river in New Zealand was granted the status of a person. Soon, Ganga and Yamuna were granted the status of people. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/21/ganges-and-yamuna-rivers-granted-same-legal-rights-as-human-beings

While it remains to be seen what this decision will mean in terms of protecting the rivers, it feels like a step in the right direction. But what I am going to say here, is completely against so called social thought.

A few days ago, while I was washing dishes and felt guilty about the running tap, I felt the water ask me what I was guilty about. What it told me was not what I was ready to hear. Since forever the relationship between water and human beings has been an existential one. Human beings simply cannot survive without water. But we have evolved in a way that rather than treating water , air and everything that we need for our survival , as a sacred and precious resource, we use everything as though it has been created just for us.

While there are fabulous people, conscious of how indebted we are to nature, working to save, protect it from destruction, there is something we have all overlooked. As I washed the dishes that day, I felt the water ask me why it was dammed. Why was it wrong for it to flow to the ocean? That it was as necessary for the birds and animals in the oceans and earth to have this fresh influx of water every year and that water belong to all and not just humans. I felt the water ask me to speak about this and write about this. I didn’t. Not till now, a year later.

I was disturbed by what I heard. For much part of my life, I have been saving water, protecting water, conserving water, talking to family and others about using less water. Use buckets, don’t shower, don’t waste water, soon we won’t have water. Everything that was used in popular environmental discourse was part of my vocabulary. Till I realized that there were things I didn’t understand. When I looked it was all scientific and confusing. But from the little I understood, it is as intricate as the connection between life and water. Increasing salinity in ocean water, global warming and meting icecaps which reduce salinity in some parts of the ocean, climate change, temperature, … there are so many facets to this. What really happens when there is an increase or decrease of fresh water into the oceans? Have you thought about that?

Humans need water to survive. But rivers and rain don’t exist solely for mankind. The creation of large dams is not just about displacing humans, it is about believing that water is just a resource for humans, and not meant for earth and all its inhabitants. We can drink water and store it but we can’t damm water, one way or the other. The issue of conserve water because we humans need it is not the right mindset.

Before someone gets this wrong, this is not about leaving taps open and letting water run. This is about looking at water pollution, this is about looking at water conservation in a way that begins to understand that every river is an entity, with her right to go where she wants and help whom she wants, without us dumping our crap on her, without us damming her. And, we shouldn’t have had to wait for courts to tell us that.

 …..
For those interested in deepening their connection to water, a simple thing would be to say the H’o’ ponopono . You simply say, ” I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. I thank you. ” Do this before you drink water. Before you bathe. While you do dishes. When you water plants.

For work on how water affects our internal energies look up Masaru Emoto’s work.

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Saving the Tiger and our forests

While surfing channels I chanced upon the documentary ‘ Tiger- the death chronicles’. It was made by Krishnendu Bose, a documentary filmmaker who along with his wofe Madhurima Sen Bose, run Earthcare films and Earthcare Productions.

The documentary highlights the problem of tiger conservation in totality. It takes us through National Parks like Sariska and Panna and Buxa, highlights the lackadaisical attitudes of states such as Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Goa who are trading their forests for so called economic development. Statistics and facts leap out at you in the documentary:

– India has lost forest cover the size of half of Himachal Pradesh in the year 2003 alone (I think this was the statistics),

– If you map the mineral rich locations in the country and overlap that with the Tiger conservation map you realise that most of the Tiger protection areas are under serious threat. Mining is one of the major issues facing tiger conservation efforts. (Actually the government is the bigger threat)

But the film also highlights the positive work being done in Corbett and in BR Hills, Karnataka.

The documentary was informative and I realised that the man-animal conflict seemed to be growing thanks to foolish government policies, rampant and careless mining activity and a general disregard for the environment.

But it was the words at the end of the documentary that stirred my heart. As he said, the Tiger does not have a vote or voice. We the people have to speak for it and have to stand up to protect it. Not just the Tiger but the entire environment.

I have since learnt that Government level action was very difficult to achieve with regards to environment protection and conservation. The industry lobby was just too strong. Environment ministry just didn’t bring in enough revenue for anyone to pay attention to it. The ministry is a place where people who are about to retire goto.

Inspired by the documentary and irritated with the state of affairs, I wrote to Krishnendu Bose. I asked him if there are any options for change; openings for people who feel strongly and wanted to do something. I told him that as a writer, apart from blogging about this, I didn’t know of any other option, I had. If one person speaks it may have no sound, but if one lakh speak, will the government listen? Does this really require a mass movement for change, I asked him

This was part of his reply, “Often people ask me what can we do? We are not powerful enough to do anything. But that is not true. As you say if all of us start talking about this issue and asking questions then it may not be easy to ignore the issue. Any issue has to become political to be recognised. And if masses raise it, this is as political as it can get!

So please talk about this issue and the film. Please write about it in your blog. Reach out to as many people as possible. We are selling this DVD at our cost price @ 200Rs + postage. This is very affordable to urban middle class. We also have a Hindi version of the film. We give out a poster and a bookmark with the DVD. So get as many people to buy this film and talk about this. When the word travels, then one of us is sure to slap a PIL, someone will put a RTI , someone will write in newspaper and teachers will talk about this in their schools. Spreading the word is the only effective thing we can do in a democracy and get people’s mandate on issues.”

… And so I blogged about this. Because I have a voice and want to speak out. I hope this is the start of many more such posts on the issue of our Tiger, our forests and our environment.

And not a drop to spare

22nd March was World Water Day. And though I wanted to post on that day, I was so caught up in reading the vast amount of information available on the net, that the post never got written. Today this finally post makes it on the blog.

 

Does it really make a difference if one day of the year is designated as Water Day? Must not the thought of conserving water, avoiding waste, be a constant everyday activity? But in reality we don�t sit and think about the water we consume, bathe, wash our clothes and vessels in. But what if a day comes when the gurgle of water as it flows down the tap is only a memory?

 

I attended a conference two years ago, in which Sushma Iyengar, social activist ( Kutch Nav Nirman Abhiyan), pointed out that the wars of the future would be fought over water. It is a grim possibility. Water Wars; that is what people are talking about, studying, trying to avoid.

 

States are fighting over river waters. Fishermen aren�t allowed to fish in rivers which have been their source of livelihood for years because a company runs a hydro-electric plant downstream. Many localities in many cities do not have constant water supply. Drums, tanks abound at homes; people bicker and snigger about others who own two sintex tanks in their houses.

 

At my in-laws place in Pune, everything from big stainless steel pots, to drums to even large glasses are used to store water. My aunt in Bombay prides herself on having a bathtub in her home. Her joy is not because of her ability to soak in it for long hours but the utility it serves to hold litres of precious water. Water is rationed out to family members. �Only a mug to brush your teeth in mind you�. There is dissatisfaction all around.

 

How can a layperson learn not to waste water? How can we be more careful about not exploiting something that belongs not only to us but to all other life-forms on this earth and also to upcoming generations. It is ok to build big dams and interlink rivers as an option to harness and harvest water? Can these be avoided? Are there more ecological friendly options? Here are some websites which speak about those options:

 

Celebrating water for life: The International Decade for Action 2005-2015

http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/2005advocguide/en/index.html – An advocacy Guide

 

Rainwater Harvesting – http://www.rainwaterharvesting.org/index.htm

 

Development Alternativeshttp://www.devalt.org/water/waterinindia.htm building small checkdams instead of huge big ones.

 

Water Conservation Portal and Search engine http://www.waterconserve.info/

Electricity woes & Alternatives

Its just March and Vashi ( Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra), where my family lives, already faces upto three hours of power-cuts everyday. My friend who lives in nearby Khargar announced that power-cuts would be further increased to 6 hours, as it currently is in areas such as Dombivili. Folks who have big homes and the budgets are putting in invertors. But what about people who cannot afford them?

My grand-parents are in their 70's and 80's. Sairam, the baby of the house is one. My grandpa uses the plastic hand-fan for about hf hour at times to ensure Sairam naps undisturbed during the power cut. And my heart-aches that they suffer so. I have been ruminating about this whole thing for a week now. Today I found this article in BBC.

Do I see things getting better? Yes, but not through the big power projects. I feel strongly that alternative sources of energy and electricity are the answers to our woes to a great degree. Bio-gas may not be a viable solution for cities but are a fantastic option for small towns. The answer to cities though lies largely in solar energy. I do feel its potential is not fully explored. Recently when looking for solar fans I found scores of websites to buy products in the US. The only website I did find for India was this Solkar one. But there is no mention of where it can be bought in India. They do have an option for people in the US to buy and gift a solar table fan and light to their folks back in India. How about letting people here buy one on their own? Why aren�t more such products marketed actively in India?

Anyways here are a few interesting solar energy in India related weblinks:

Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF)
Indiasolar.com
Renewingindia.org

Extinct

" Everyday 19 species disappear from the earth"

Did you know this? I didnt. I saw it on an Ad in the Animal Planet. Wanna learn more? Go to One Earth

Here are some more facts and tips: from their website:( in not so many words)

Fact:
For each new car made, we create 27 tons of waste. Tip- buy a used car and the most fuel efficient one in that category.

Fact:
Trash is our biggest product. Packaging consumes 40% of paper used in germany and 1/3 of plastics used in the US. Tip: avoid buying packaged food.

Fact: 36% of the world's grain supply is used to feed chicken. tip: eat less meat and there can be enough

Fact: US has 5% of the world's population and uses 30% of its resources

Fact: A lawnmower can pollute more than a used car. running one for an hour procides the same emissions as driving a used car for 50 miles.

Fact: The electricity used to keep our lights burning creates 39 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year

Fact:Of the 28 commonly used pesticides, at least 23 are carciogenic . tip- think organic, buy organic.

Fact: A quarter of all oil goes to fuel passenger cars. tip: car-pool to work

Fact: Air pollution has led to a 79% increase in the number of children with asthma.

And so it goes on ….. get the picture?