Showing posts from 2021

The Perils of a Technobahn Approach to Solving Air Pollution

This technobahn is a failure (picture credit: Indian Express) What is technobahn? Bahn essentially refers to a physical track or a train in German and its sister languages. Technobahn would in literal sense mean a techno track. It is important to define this phrase because it is perhaps the best way to describe the haphazard manner in which air pollution is tackled in India at all levels.  Now, it would be easy for any reader to see this introduction and dismiss the rest of the piece, calling it a kind of hit job on those who want to solve the issue. At the outset, let me clarify that this is not about science and technology per se; rather, this is about a mindset that has come to dominate the way we deal with air pollution on a daily basis. Technobahn is a concept that I have come across in recent times, and essentially refers to the single track approach of thinking that technology can solve every problem that plagues mankind today. While technology does offer us great solutions, the

Looking Beyond - Air Pollution is a National Problem, Not Just Delhi’s

Pollution Happens Everywhere, Not Just Delhi (credit: Wikimedia commons) For the last five days, the National Capital Region (NCR) consisting of Delhi and cities in its neighboring states has dominated media space. Deliberation on pollution is a necessary and welcome change in the media, for issues like these need their magnifying glares for action. However, there has a problem created by this Delhi-obsessed discussion over air pollution. The brouhaha on Delhi’s pollution seems to create the perception that pollution is yet another problem being highlighted by Delhi centric media. This has led to the belief for many ordinary people that air pollution is a problem only in the big, rich cities but does not bother them. Nothing could be further from the truth though. We Are Getting Serious About Pollution Measurement Only Now Ours is a country that is drowning in waste and swimming in air pollution; however, this does not necessarily reflect correctly in data. Delhi is certainly well high

Thoughts on India's Caste Disapproval Obsession

An old Mexican painting about 16 castas (Wikipedia) Recently, I came across perhaps the nth thread on the issue of caste and its European origins. While I cannot disregard the seriousness and merit of the arguments often put forth, it's something that I feel rather jaded about. Allow me to elaborate on some points that would perhaps clarify my position on the same. First of all, this is a rather complicated issue because in all honesty the jati ossification can be traced back genetically. A lot of genetic studies have been done that came to this conclusion, dating it to 2,000 - 2,500 years ago. While it has its fair share of criticism DNA results can't be just wished away. Therefore to ignore this would be naiive at best. European caste system certainly is a reality, and that same understanding was perpetuated to understand India. It was not an Iberian peninsula phenomenon; rather, it was widespread across Europe. A good indicator of the same would be the long standing presence

मैं आदमी हूँ

मैं आदमी हूँ, और अक्सर मैं बदनाम ही होता जाता हूँ, हर किसी की खुशी, अपनी कुचलकर हर दिन परोसता जाता हूँ। मेरी चुप्पी में छुपी है टीस, मुस्कान से ढकता जाता हूँ, बस आदर की भूख नहीं मिटती, इसलिये बदनाम हो जाता हूँ। कहीं पिता की रात की लोरी और कहीं पति के प्रेम  सुनाता हूँ, कहीं बेटे का कर्तव्य और कहीं मित्र का भाग निभाता हूँ। मेरे अंतिम श्वास की घड़ी में बस मैं इतना ही कह पाता हूँ, बस आदर की भूख नहीं मिटती, इसलिये बदनाम हो जाता हूँ। कभी दफ्तर के तनाव से तो कभी दुःख से जूझता जाता हूँ, जीवन की आपाधापी में अक्सर पीछे रह जाता हूँ। मेरे जीवन का कोई मोल जो था, उसे गिरवी रखता जाता हूँ, बस आदर की भूख नहीं मिटती, इसलिये बदनाम हो जाता हूँ। औरों की खुशी में अपनी खुशी, बस यही बात दोहराता हूँ, अपना क्या और पराया क्या, सब कुछ ही छोड़ता जाता हूँ। बन इस समाज की धरा की ईंट, एक उज्ज्वल कल को सजाता हूँ, बस आदर की भूख नहीं मिटती, इसलिये बदनाम हो जाता हूँ। कभी सोचता हूँ के मेरे जीवन का सार था ही क्या? एक क्षण सुख की छाँव, और शेष धूप में बिताता हूँ। कोई चला जाता है अनदेखा कर, तो कोई धिक्कार जाता है, बस आदर की भ

Rajasthan’s Power Crisis is Of its State Government’s Own Making - An Analysis

While India and the whole World face an Energy Crisis that doesn't seem to be diminishing anytime soon, things have gone from bad to worse in Rajasthan's Power Sector with record-high bills and unannounced power cuts throughout the State. The matter has generated considerable political heat in the state, with the Leader of Opposition in the Vidhan Sabha Gulab Chand Katariya cornering the government on the exceedingly high power bills and former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje slamming the government on the issue of power cuts, blaming it for mismanagement. Politics apart, there are several layers to the problem that need to be unraveled to truly understand the origins of the so-called Desert State's power woes that have led them into this storm. The reasons are manifold, with some being systemic while uncontrollable factors also coming into the picture now. However, as one will see, the state government has left much room for desire on the issue, and carries much of the bur

History is Not Someone’s Ancestral Property – When the left Wants Us to Believe Myths That Don’t Hold Up

  It is kind of disconcerting that we have so much brouhaha to the kind of unfounded, selective discourse being written about people and the choice of characters we have taken up, just to put across a point. Be it the whole rigmarole about Savarkar’s petition, or the hilarious outrage about Jawaharlal Nehru verging on muted hagiography, there are several problem points that keep getting parroted without substance. Controlling discourse, the once strong citadel of the select few, and glorification of those who had little to say for themselves, is intellectual dishonesty that we wish were not prevalent in the vox populi media and academia of our times, especially when information lies everywhere. However, each point that causes outrage deserves its own dismissal, which shall be presented in a rather brief manner. The ‘Mercy Petition’ of Savarkar – Different Yardsticks for Different People So much has been written about the petition about Savarkar as if it was some kind of sin. Whil

If India Wants to be Considered a Global Diplomacy Influencer, This is What It Needs to Do

The fall of Kabul in Afghanistan to the Taliban, as the supposedly democratic government of the Islamic Republic concedes defeat to the Islami Emirate, was written on the wall for a bunch of reasons. The US' constant failure at building capable military and governance institutions and constant oversight of unpopular actions to pretend 'all is well' apart, the Afghans knew what was coming, and the ones with no option but staying behind chose to side with the obvious winning force. One could see that the United States has clearly started its slide downwards, behaving much like a second grade world power after showing what could only be considered cowardice, as was seen by its rather hilarious 'warnings' to Afghanistan that veered on the border of being utterly pathetic .  The Global Diplomatic Silence on Pakistan is Frustrating Ronald Reagan meeting the Mujahideen , 1983 What is extremely frustrating however is the utter silence of the world on the issue of Pakistan&#


In the midst of a sea of the strangers He stands Alone, unmoved, silent, all alone There is none that recognizes Him, or Knows Who He is Those who do, loathe him more and more And yet, He is Real, the One that marks this land His presence the glimmer of long lost hope The flag above him, flutters silently in the breeze Giving a sense that change will resume once more It was a nightmare that happened many moons back That seems to have no end in sight to it And yet, His presence there, His presence elsewhere Makes one wonder, has the movie ended, or is there more? It was a dark, desperate moment when his dearest fled And yet, He decided to sit this one out yet again For it wasn't the first, but was hopefully the last And his dearest would return to their homes once more Many a harrowing times did He viewed from atop Many a times He had to see bodies float ashore And yet, while they damaged His Body, His Shrine They could not damage that Spirit, That Soul That Soul that resided in eve

Some Thoughts on the Peculiar Nature of Punjab’s Power Sector Problems

Akali Dal-BSP 'Pankhi' Protest Against Power Cuts in Punjab (courtesy: The Tribune ) It is election season in Punjab, and as usual, the power cuts stretching for hours in a day are becoming a source of much-heated debate among political parties. From claims of most expensive power to faulty agreements signed by previous governments and some innovative methods of protest, everything is up for grabs. However, lost in the din are several peculiarities and problems of the state’s ailing power sector that are not being resolved in the right manner. Peculiar Demand Curve Punjab has an extremely varied demand curve through the year. Power demand of the state in the summers is exactly double the winter’s power demand. As Bhupinder Singh and Malkit Singh pointed out in 2017: One of the reasons for the low utilisation of state plants is the peculiar load curve of Punjab, which varies from 5000-6000 MW in the winter to 10000-11500 MW in the summer. The state plants come into operation on