Archive for the ‘Paani’ Category

Water : It’s the new Power

Watch this video , and guess what the story of Paani is ? The last statement in the video is a hint. It’s not the money – it’s the Power. That’s where we are heading – a world where Water is power – and Power corrupts. Of course.

AR Rahman and I at Ajmer Dargah Shariff of Hazrat Khwaja Muinuddin Chisti

I want to thank A R Rahman for taking me to Ajmer to visit The Dargah Sherriff of Khwaja Muinuddin Chisti. It was my first visit and going with AR Rahman made the visit even more amazing. It is very difficult and perhaps not right to write or express the feelings unless one has had time to live with them for a while.
Rahman and I were working in the music of Paani when on the way back to Mumbai I found myself sitting next to him on the flight when I had just said bye to him ! He was going to Ajmer and asked if I would come and of course I went. I saw that as a sign for the beginings of Paani.
My only regret is that I was not there for the early morning Qwaali.

Is there a Ganga in your Amreeka ?

Dear Shekhar
When I joke ( I know that I am not joking) with my 75 years old widowed mother in Rishikesh, who revers and loves Ganga more than anything, that ‘better you die soon since Ganga is going to disappear’, her ever smiling face becomes pale with gloom when she replies back, ” I am going to run and jump in the lap of my mother Ganga before it happens”. She refused to move with me to the US, despite my repeated persuasions for 20 years. ” Is there a Ganga in your Amreeka ?” Her this question would gag me to say anything further.
Ultimately being her only child, I had to move back to India five years back.
We both are born and brought up in Rishikesh and like thousand other citizens of this small town, have silently (and cowardly) seen things going from bad to worse. A bunch of ‘devotees’ which performs Ganga Aarti every evening with loudspeaker, flowers and oil lamps, remains oblivious to the horrible stench of sewage, which falls in the Holy river, not more than 200 meters down.
The least we could do is to admire your sensitivity & concern to our self propelled inevitable climatic disaster. People like me are deeply touched by the intensity of your pain and feel helpless in front of the gigantic self centered ugly greed of our callous society.

The end of a Civilization ? Will the Holy Ganga dissapear ?

Water and the nature and course of rivers have for centuries defined the rise and fall of civilizations. All over the world and all throughout history. Be it the Nile or the rivers that are nurtured and fed by the Glaciers of the Himalayas.
Which have been receding at an alarming rate. Himalayan Glaciers directly or indirectly nurture 1.3 billion people in India, China, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal through the rivers they feed. Civilizations have risen around these rivers and customs, religion and faith has been defined by their existence. What happens when these rivers disappear, as they will in the next few decades if climate change goes on as it is ? Where will we be if the Ganga disappears ?
It has happened before. The great Indus Valley civilizations like Harappa disappeared when the rivers changed course. We stand on the cusp of this disaster.
Are we going to be consigned by history as the lost civilization ? A civilization destroyed by it’s own Greed and inability to understand that natures bounty is meant to be worshipped and not abused ?

Raise your voice against Climate Change at the UN for the 22nd onwards

Do you want to send the political leaders at the UN that are dithering about making the most fundamental changes that are required to save our planet ? If you do, then write back on this blog asap and I will make sure that all the messages are sent to the UN before or during their conference on Climate Change.
Be sure that the rich and powerful will not give up their need for greed and political imperative. Be sure that the interests of short term politics will fight hard against legislation that hurts their positions of power. Also be sure that the common claim that ” Climate change is something that the original polluters of plant (read : the West) have caused and therefore must be responsible to clean up” is stupid.
Climate change will affect Asia the most. Our populations are far far larger here. We need more water from our rivers, more food from our land to sustain us. Our Glaciers are in retreat, and so will be our rivers. Our Forest cover is almost gone, as is our sustainable ground water. Uncertain monsoon patterns are/will wreak havoc with our crop growing patterns and bring down our overall growth.
Be realistic and think. We stand on the brink of social upheavals over water. This is something none of us can ignore as it will be hitting faster than most people realize.
Write, shout, make your voice heard ! Our lives depend on it.

Indian Government censors Google news on riots over water tanker in Mumbai that leave 5 dead

24th August 2010 The following item appeared on Google news and was immedietly suppressed :
” A water tanker carrying water to a building in the posh Malabar Hill in the centre of Mumbai was gheraoed (surrounded) by a mob of about 200 slum dwellers that demanded that the tanker fill their buckets before it moves on. The Driver refused and his guard threatened the mob with a pistol. The mob refused to give up and the guard fired killing three people instantly. The mob retaliated and severely beat up the driver, who died later in hospital. It is not known whether the guard was carrying a licensed firearm, but it now usual for an armed guard to accompany the water tankers that frequently are attacked by people scouring the city for water.
Apparently the residents of the building in Malabar Hill have not any water for one week now. It is known that both the Oberoi Hotel and The Taj Hotel that became a kind of ‘water Refuge’ for those that could afford it are operating far beyond their capacity, but are one of the few places that are still being supplied water”

Mumbai underworld set to take over distribution of Water ? ?

So the papers are full of news that the ground water table in northern India is being seriously depleted, and so it threatens destroy our agricultural output. Of course while the media may have just caught up with this story, common people have known this for 20 years now. Ever since the agricultural revolution was based on tube wells in the 1950″s, ground water is being steadily depleted.
In my youth, my Grandfather used to have a vegetable garden in Delhi, to which the water source was a hand pump. It took just one downward stroke to bring the water gushing out. My sister and I had endless joy bathing underneath the hand pump, and munching away at the vegetables in the garden. I don’t think our Grandfather liked us very much. He was constantly shooing us away from his beloved vegetables !
Over the years it was more and more difficult to suck water out of the ground however hard you tried, and today the hand pump stands alone in a dried up vegetable patch as a monument to an ancient time when water was plentiful,
None of us would have believed that water would run out on us, but it has. We have disrespected something that all cultures, in some form or the other, have worshipped. And now it is gone, and we still are too lazy, or have too much inertia to do something about it. Only when the taps run dry will we know the worth of water.
Problem is that all the media and the policy makers and most of us are basically urban dwellers, believing that somehow it is the government’s responsibility to ensure we have running water in our taps or pipes. It is, and bad water management is one of the worst crimes of successive Indian governments over the last three decades. But we too are to blame.
Do not believe that a lack of water in the agriculture sector is not affecting us in the Urban sectors. Other than the obvious conversation about food prices, some of the greatest migrations to urban cities over the last 10 years has been due to collapse of rural communities as agriculture is unsustainable due to disappearance of ground water which supports almost 60% if Indian Agricultural output.
We are growing into unsustainable overloaded Mega Cities now, where the infrastructure is collapsing and taps are running dry. How long before Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai run out of Water ? Where will the people go then ? People learn to live with no food for 3 days at a time sometimes, but no one can go through a day without water…….


India prays for rain as the water wars break out

The monsoon is late, the wells are running dry and in the teeming city of Bhopal, water supply is now a deadly issue. Gethin Chamberlain reports
Gethin Chamberlain
Sunday, 12 July 2009
A young man walks across Bhopal’s Upper Lake, which has shrunk to an 8th of its original area.
It was a little after 8pm when the water started flowing through the pipe running beneath the dirt streets of Bhopal’s Sanjay Nagar slum. After days without a drop of water, the Malviya family were the first to reach the hole they had drilled in the pipe, filling what containers they had as quickly as they could. Within minutes, three of them were dead, hacked to death by angry neighbours who accused them of stealing water.
In Bhopal, and across much of northern India, a late monsoon and the driest June for 83 years are exacerbating the effects of a widespread drought and setting neighbour against neighbour in a desperate fight for survival.
India’s vast farming economy is on the verge of crisis. The lack of rain has hit northern areas most, but even in Mumbai, which has experienced heavy rainfall and flooding, authorities were forced to cut the water supply by 30% last week as levels in the lakes serving the city ran perilously low.
Across the country, from Gujarat to Hyderabad, in Andhra Pradesh, the state that claims to be “the rice bowl of India”, special prayers have been held for more rain after cumulative monsoon season figures fell 43% below average.
On Friday, India’s agriculture minister, Sharad Pawar, said the country was facing a drought-like situation that was a “matter for concern”, with serious problems developing in states such as Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
In Bhopal, which bills itself as the City of Lakes, patience is already at breaking point. The largest lake, the 1,000-year-old, man-made Upper Lake, had reduced in size from 38 sq km to 5 sq km by the start of last week.
The population of 1.8 million has been rationed to 30 minutes of water supply every other day since October. That became one day in three as the monsoon failed to materialise. In nearby Indore the ration is half an hour’s supply every seven days.
The UN has warned for many years that water shortages will become one of the most pressing problems on the planet over the coming decades, with one report estimating that four billion people will be affected by 2050. What is happening in India, which has too many people in places where there is not enough water, is a foretaste of what is to come……


Missing the real Gandhi : from Ratna

This is from an old friend who left a high flying career in advertising to be closer to reality. There are many different opinions on my being in the Talent show, but read on to what she sys later. It’s important and from the heart :
“Watch you every week on India’s Got Talent and you are great. About time you came back to where you belong. Loved the episode where you started dancing when that horrible caricature of Amitabh was on stage sining Jumma Chumma….cracked me up. Incidentally, Colors is a great channel to be on – these guys are doing really different stuff. especially in serials. If you get a chance, please do watch Ballika Vadu…
Even more importantly, your thought about a TV channel for rural India – that is such an incredible idea, Shekhar and you more than anyone can do it …why dont you?
Some thoughts. Have lived for 9 years now in Mysore and a little closer to rural India …a land of ironies where people bathe once a week because there is no water…and the water that they drink it so bad you wouldn’t give it to your animals. People drink a little tea and eat a few handfuls of puffed rice, because that’s all the food that they can afford – other than one frugal meal a day.
You wept when you saw those handicapped kids
Malnutrition haunts and blinds 60,000 Indian kids every year when we have 2000 varieties of greens growing in our country. The irony of it is that just one bowl of greens costing less than a ruppee and a plate of dal chawal and a banana or two a day can save these children. And the greater irony is that we are the world’s largest producers of fruits, vegetables and milk.
The reason why Gandhi disconnected with the rest of the leaders just before we got our independence is because he understood more than anyone did that India is in its villages. We still don’t – so people leave lives of dignity and fresh air in the village to work as maidservants in large cities ….and the irony of it is that we still wonder why our cities are rotting sardine cans ready to burst…
We made Gandhi into the stuff of statues and Gandhi topis when he was – and is – one of the most savvy and contemporary of men, full of humour, his ear firmly to the ground, who could teach the Indian advertising industry a thing or two about brands and the power of symbols and about communication. One of the world’s best known brands is a pair of wire-rimmed spectacles, a stick and a dhoti…
But I ramble on…..i hope not too much

Paani, the movements begins

Scene from Paani :
” As the little girl running towards camera gets shot from behind, she screams her last words ” Water is our right – it is not for sale” As she falls, through the dust you barely make out the uniform of the man that shot her. He wears a blue helmet that states “UN Water Force”