Saturday, 28 May 2011

Destroying Mother Earth in Thanjavur

(revised once on 3-Mar-2011 and again on 28-May-2011)

I was earlier horrified at the destruction of a garden maintained by the public beside the Grand Anaicut (GA) Canal road. Yesterday, while passing by, I witnessed the most horrid result. Not only has the garden been removed, but the banks of the canal and the side of the road have been changed into the worst possible garbage dump. There is literally little to write about, these pictures are evident of what has happened.

I had earlier written a post in February of this despicable act. Here is what has unfolded.

The once Green banks of the GA Canal in Thanjavur
This was how this place once looked, beautiful, greenery carpeting the banks of the canal. It was a pleasure taking a walk beside it. The work to maintain and keep the banks clean went (without assistance, but unhindered by the local municipality) for over 20 years. Recently, not by ignorance, but by planned, calculated work, they have swindled the town and its citizens of the greenery. The green vandals (who are supposed to engineers in the interest of the public - being part of the municipality and the public works department) have systematically destroyed the greenery, dirtied a water canal, and converted it into a garbage dump. This is not the legacy we wish to leave to the children of the future. This must be stopped now. They must pay and toil for what they have foiled.
On the last day the greenery remained, 24 January 2011

Greenery systematically destroyed

Greenery is now an engineered Garbage Dump!

The Garbage legacy, left for Thanjavur, once Rice Bowl of South India
Earlier, I was misinformed to think this was a mere act of deforestation to build something constructive. Only Yesterday I found that this was a plan to convert our water resources to sewers. This is evil, the devil lives in the hearts of the greedy. They are blinded and darkened by their lust for the sparkles. All that is gold does not glitter. This greenery and the clean waters were a treasure we had, one that nature kept replenishing. Destroying it, I hope nature's retribution will be swift.

Those responsible for this heinous act must be warned. This is not merely about reversing this. INDIA NEEDS A REVOLUTION! THE TIME IS NOW!

Death of a Canal, Destruction of the Earth!
I hear plenty of comments on Fukushima and the great environmental threat it poses. Yet, we the people in Thanjavur stand by while others destroy the city before our very eyes. We do not see the true threat that comes disguised as urbanization.

The government mutes a corrupt and irresponsible press who cares not about people, but serves only sensationalists. Where is the Press? It seems Press in India is officially DEAD, India controls media far more than all the dictatorships of the entire world. "Democracy" in India is a farce. Misplaced Capitalists steal freedom and destroy this land again, and again, and again.

We are known as a tolerant nation. Tolerance of evil, Tolerance of destruction of our soil, Tolerance of wrong action - that is the true cause of all pain, turmoil and suffering. This deed shall not go unpunished. The perpetrators will fall. They will either rebuild the greenery and clean the surroundings, or unto dust and ashes will they pass.

I am most angered and consumed by my inability as a citizen to take any action. I see politicians squabbling and wasting tax-payers money. A few people of the present stand to destroy the future of mankind - they want to lead us to extinction and fade the achievements of our greatness. If the sewage flows through a river, mother earth shall turn them to blood. The quakes in Japan and Thailand should only remind us not to play foul with nature, for the power of nature that shields us and protects us can as easily leave us vanquished.

Update (28 May 2011)

The claim of the PWD, with a carefully taken photograph that avoids the bank having all the garbage and trash is on the newspaper here -

Anyone looking at the canal in summer will know that there is absolutely no flow of water - and the picture in the article from "The Hindu" is evident. I am not sure why de-silting works cannot be taken up without destroying all the ecology and turning the entire canal into a sewer.

The bigger picture is the NABARD has offered them a huge sum to put cement blocks on the canal flow - which is an ecological blunder. This will only make the canal maintenance more difficult in the future. There is also no certainty for the free flow of water here. The floor of the canal has to be specially designed to be water proof (concrete) and never impede flow of water. Looking at the pace, these machines are just waiting for the monsoon to wash them away.

Design has to be done with garbage disposal methods in place, which is not what they are doing here. Here is some information on water-proof concrete flooring on canals to avoid silt formation and therefore permit better drainage -

It is quite funny that similar concrete has been used to put up roads at several areas in Thanjavur - roads based on such concrete slabs. I have not seen such badly designed roads elsewhere.
The temporary halt of work, they say is due to the Assembly Election. That seems to be the convenient excuse for having halted all building work and should never be the case.

Friday, 20 May 2011

End(s) of the World

Time and again, people have been predicting the end of the world. This has been largely harmless as the rest of the world has chosen to ignore the claim of a minor group. I write this entry in wake of the immediate date - May 21, 2011 which has been made popular by Harold Camping, a 90-year old man who is also a Talk Radio broadcaster and President of Family Radio. According to him the end of things as they are is to come in the period between May 21, 2011 and  October 21, 2011. He had previously predicted the end of the world with the Biblical Second Coming of Christ in September, 1994.

The amount of publicity he has received is most surprising, as are the billboards that have sprung up with messages on the end-of-the-world. One would notice Investments and coordinated marketing toward this - despite knowing that there are numerous instances of the Biblical Second Coming of Christ predicted earlier (including 1999, 2000 and even much earlier in recorded history.) A good majority of the people of the world have ignored the May 21, 2011 rapture and are continuing with their plans for the rest of the year (and years to come.)

There are other theorists who pin December 21, 2012 as a date based on the reset of the Mayan Long Count Calendar and a little understood ancient Maya text which they claim is a prophecy of the end of the world.

Experts who study the Mayan culture have pointed out that the time-keeping techniques of the Mayans is worthy of praise. The Mayans calculated lunar cycles with high accuracy. It is probable that they also calculated the cycles of the Planet Venus with considerable accuracy.

However, from their complex creation myths and vastly different culture (which we cannot easily relate to,) it is almost impossible to understand surviving texts of the Mayans in proper context. It is also true that large volumes of Mayan documentation in bark-paper was destroyed in a regrettable move to stop idol worship by the then conquerors of the new world. The text that has survived as testimony of the heritage of the Mayan culture and archaeology has helped in scientific efforts to understand them.

Scientifically, efforts still continue to understand the culture of the Maya, their understanding of nature and particularly their fascination with astronomy & time-keeping. Most scholars agree that their time keeping was good and far better than the rest of the world in the time they flourished, but not comparable with the understanding of time and the level of time-keeping that exists today.

There are several claims about doomsday scenarios in 2012 - which attempt to connect the year and dates to the reversal of the earth's magnetic poles [which occurs roughly over 780,000 years - possibly taking a period of 1,000 years to effect], a solar climax [which occurs roughly every 11 years], mass extinctions [which paleontologists claim - happen roughly every 26 million years] and stranger theories. It is even unclear whether the Mayans believed in prophecies literally.

There are others who attempt to connect the fictitious 2012 end-of-word scenario with Babylonian creation myth, which is far more complex and is less understood. Some profess that an  unidentified planetary object called Nibiru is headed on a near-collision or collision course with the earth. This theory is probably the most implausible.

There are earlier instances when such fictitious predictions created mass hysteria and resulted in deaths or mass suicides which were socially engineered. I recall the more recent tragedy of the cult Heaven's Gate in March, 1997 in which 39 members of the cult committed suicide during the period Comet Hale-Bopp was at its brightest. Earlier cults in the 20th century included the People's Temple and the Solar Temple.

As Michael Crichton expressed in his novel "State of Fear", fear or heightened anxiety spread across society can be a complex behavioral element used in sociopolitical control. It is easy for people to be confused, deluded or harried by convincing arguments of cataclysmic scenarios which seem scientific and plausible. If a large population is swayed by fear of possible cataclysms, it would set the stage for groups or cults or even nations to use this fear to their strategic advantage. The damage could be anything between heightened stress levels to hostile behavior to ritual suicide or even war.

It is time to see our Demon-Haunted World (as Prof. Carl Sagan elegantly wrote) in the right scientific perspective. It is far too easy to ignore mainstream science for populist pseudoscience. In known history, Humanity has been continually progressing, and always striving to improve.  Understanding possible Disaster Scenarios to plan Disaster Recovery techniques and allocate resources to handle those scenarios is a scientific pursuit. There are also strategic studies to help plan resources for the future, optimize energy usage and re-engineer our cities for better living conditions. Much of this happens in day-to-day work (like city/town planning) and is not considered strange. Science continues to help us understand the our reality in a consistent way and simultaneously explore ways to create solutions to uplift our quality of life.

If anything diverts our current consistent and clear progress as a unified civilization, the setback might cost us dearly. Most of these diversions come from socio-political behavior. It is important that we do not engage our time in efforts that would destabilize human society. War has been known to wreak havoc on progress and improvement of the quality of life in several historic instances. Irrational belief in a time of natural disaster has also caused the destruction of past civilizations.

Pursuing myths of the end of the world or reality as we know it, could land us in such a situation if enough of us are convinced. We need to continue increasing our awareness, employ scientific method and use our awareness for the betterment of all life as we know it. History shows us periods like the Middle-Ages existed during which reason was abandoned, and we had to wait for the Renaissance to regroup and continue our collective pursuit of growth. We have to learn and avoid making similar mistakes that could cost our civilization several centuries of peace and quality of life. Reacting coherently and rationally to true natural disasters would also help us fare better.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Osama Bin Laden, Terrorism, What Now?

Today, President Obama announced to the world that Osama bin Laden, founder of the Al Qaeda has been killed in an operation led by United States Armed Forces personnel at Abottabad (District) in the North-West Frontier Province in Pakistan. Before the announcement the Social Media Network was afire with speculation of the announcement. The People of the world believe that the removal of Osama bin Laden is a key victory in the war against Terrorism - which is what the United States administration from George W Bush's government has been targeting. This also comes at a time when Obama begins a crucial campaign for a second term of Presidency. As the announcement came out, news channels were keen to point out that defense forces of the USA and several other nations  will be on full alert to watch out for any backlash from the Al Qaeda.

Does the assassination of one man spell a major victory over a political ideology that has troubled several nations worldwide? The answer at this point seems to be affirmative. The elimination of the leadership of the LTTE in Sri Lanka created a sense of victory to the Sri Lankan forces and a semblance of stability in that region. Despite that, a permanent humanitarian solution for the ethnic conflict in the island nation of Sri Lanka is  yet to be found.

As President Obama reminded his audience of the resolve of his people after the infamous 9/11 attack - he definitely conveyed the opinion that elimination of one man, who masterminded several terrorist strikes that threatened civilians worldwide, an apt counter strike, akin to a victory in open war.

True change however will have to come as secular and inclusive ideology in countries where this ideology has been threatened - particularly by terrorist & extremist elements. Each country will have to respect the people of other countries in settling their own internal disputes. At this time there are several countries including Libya where their is internal turmoil threatening the stability & being of those nations. Despite what everyone may say, humanity has shown that concerns for people go beyond borders. As this influence beyond borders can only increase, people and leaders need to take great care in exerting their influence to initiate any change.

Here is another pragmatic, rather skeptic view of the claimed "triumph" -