Wednesday, 25 June, 2008

Oxymora. What ra?

While I was writing the post on 'Colourful Black Horse', I googled the word ‘oxymoron.’ Apart from Wiki, which gave me the title of this post Oxymora – rarely used plural of ‘oxymoron’ - there is this interesting site www.oxymorons.info.

So many oxymorons are listed on this site under various categories such as Newly added, Top favorites, Daily oxymoron, etc, and also under various subjects such as Arts, Business, Religion, and so on. We use many of these quite often without thinking of them as oxymorons.

Try these … Act normally, fighting for peace, final draft, vaguely aware, jumpo shrimp, …

But why are these considered oxymora – Labor Day, Life Insurance, etc. I don’t know. :-)

Monday, 16 June, 2008

Rang birange Kala Ghoda

Colourful Black Horse!
I know what you thought just now – “Moron, it’s an oxymoron.” But look …










Now whatdya say?
These are the colours of the tenth Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, Mumbai.

Check out more colours here.

Tuesday, 10 June, 2008

Black week - Protest against Kerals.com

This blog is black because I join the fellow bloggers to protest against Kerals.com's highhandedness. I support Injipennu's courageous act against them.

Sunday, 8 June, 2008

Destructive DDT

I am reading John Grisham’s ‘The Appeal.’ A chemical company dumps toxic waste into a small town’s water supply and makes the town a ‘cancer cluster.’ The locals fight a long legal battle and get a verdict against the conglomerate. The company plays many dirty games to get the verdict reversed in the appeal.

A few days back I saw this article ‘Living with DDT’ by K A Shaji on countercurrents.org. It starts with “I don’t make an omelette from local eggs as they smell of pesticide,” says carpenter TV Gireesh as he stands outside India’s only DDT-manufacturing factory.

The DDT factory by Hindustan Insecticides Ltd (HIL), manufacturing DDT and Endosulfan, is located in the industrial belt around the Eloor and Edayar villages near Aluva, Ernakulam. One of my father’s friends used to work at this factory and we once visited him. Since it was his duty hours, his son took us to the factory and we met him outside the gate. The smell of DDT was quite strong there. That was some 20 years back. I still remember the heaviness of the air.

Shaji’s article explains in detail how all kinds of life in the entire area is severely affects by the factory and its product. Well-water has become unfit for drinking, large tracts of land have turned uncultivable, many species of fish have disappeared from the waterbodies and several others are threatened or endangered, and so on. Worst of all, incidence of breast cancer and complications related to reproduction are increasing in the region. Ironically, this was revealed by a health survey conducted this year by the Kerala government.

DDT is classified as one of the most hazardous chemicals and its use is banned in India. But as per the article, HIL’s DDT production is thus fully export oriented: Its client list has eight African countries, including Namibia, Zimbabve, and Botswana.

According to an article on DDT in www.scienceclarified.com, DDT is used today in such African nations as Zimbabwe and Ethiopia to control mosquitoes and the tsetse fly. These two insects cause serious diseases, such as malaria and sleeping sickness. DDT saves lives when used on the tsetse fly in Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe. But once sprayed on the lake, DDT does not disappear very quickly. Instead, it is taken up by plants and animals that live in the lake. … Bans on the use of DDT in the United States and some other nations have given ecosystems in those countries a chance to recover. Populations of peregrine falcons, for example, have begun to stabilize and grow once again. Many other animal species are no longer at risk from DDT. Of course, poor nations continue to face a more difficult choice than does the United States, since they must balance the protection of the health of their human populations against the protection of their natural ecosystems.

In December 2000, in a convention organized by the United Nations Environment Program, 122 nations agreed to a treaty banning twelve very toxic chemicals. Included among the twelve was DDT. However, the treaty allowed the use of DDT to combat malaria until other alternatives become available. Before it can take effect, the treaty must be ratified by 50 of the nations that agreed to it in principle.

So these poor nations have no choice than to continue using DDT. And our government is cashing in on this, but at the cost of the health of its own people and environment.

Shaji’s article says that the studies conducted by various expert organizations have confirmed the hazard caused by DDT in the region. But the government has refused to shut down the factory. Instead, the factory management refutes the claim of the activists by saying that employees, who are in close contact with the chemical, are not affected. The union and the workers support management’s argument, fearing loss of job.

Read the full article here

I thought I can draw parallels between John Grisham’s The Appeal and this DDT factory issue. But there is an obvious difference. If the factory in Grisham’s novel is privately owned, our HIL’s DDT factory is owned by the government. A government ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people!’

So what can we do as people here?

The concern of the union and the workers are genuine. After all, these workers also will be mostly locals. Where will they go for their livelihood, if the factory closes down? So we can think along these lines to see if there could be an end to the issue …

  • How many workers will get affected if the factory closes down?
  • What alternative job can they do?
  • Is there a viable business idea that can be implemented in the region that will employ the factory workers as well as benefit the locality?
  • What can be done to undo the damages caused by the pollution since 1956, at least to some extent?

If the activists can take the workers into confidence by developing an alternative for their current job, I think there are chances that the pressure on the government will mount. It may also come a few steps down and maybe either close down the factory, or switch to another product and implement better effluent treatment processes.

These are my thoughts as an armchair revolutionary. :-)

However, I remember a case study on Effective Deployment of Quality Management Systems, Implementation of Orderliness and Cleanliness in Process Plants by Gujarat Alkalies and Chemicals Ltd for the ‘Best Manufacturing Practices’ award by Frost & Sullivan in 2005. It was about how the company transformed the factory premises and the region where the highly polluting factory is located into a green belt. I don’t remember the details, but it’s an example worth emulating.

Wednesday, 4 June, 2008

It’s Holi-Holi re …

Holi is one festival that can go awry. My initial memories on Holi were not so good.

Rewind to the 1990s. Holi was the only festival celebrated in my college (I think so). North Indian students celebrated it because it is their traditional festival. A few other guys joined them to tease (read touch) girl students. Crackers were burst. And as a rule, every time crackers are burst in the campus, Principal suspends the classes for that day. This part alone is fine. J

On the day of Holi, the first thing I and my friends used to do was to smear some colour on our foreheads ourselves. This was a precaution against anyone else trying to smear colours on us. It worked!

Fast-forward to 2005. When my first Holi in Mumbai approached, I heard about terrifying incidents of people getting injured with water balloons, stones, acid, etc, thrown at them in the guise Holi celebrations, that too much before the actual day. That year, on the eve of Holi, I fled the office before any celebration started. I also reached home without any colours and more importantly, unscathed. But when I entered my housing society, a water balloon whizzed past my nose before hitting the ground. I escaped, though I got a shock. Looking up to the top floors I muttered some choicest expletives and ran home. I didn’t come out until the morning after Holi.

2008. I had a narrow escape again. Another water balloon, another housing society; I was walking along the footpath, a few days before Holi. I crashed right in front, missing me by a few steps. I didn’t walk that way until a week after Holi.

Thus for me, Holi thoughts were nightmarish until I celebrated it with friends this year. We went to Navgaon near Alibag. I was smeared with colours (non-toxic ones) the moment I met my friends at the Gateway of India. And it was fun.



We had more fun at Navgaon beach. I’ve never seen a more muddy beach and sea. Still we were splashing in the water, playing ball games and finally smearing colours on each other.



At the end, one of us was given a mud therapy also.

Photo courtesy: Dnyanesh

A thorough shower, a delicious lunch, a siesta on the hammock at the farmhouse where we stayed, and a walk at twilight at the beach and along the village roads made the day.

Photo courtesy: Dnyanesh

Next day I sang, "It's Holi-Holi re ..." and went home with some really nice memories on Holi.

Still I wonder why do people hurt others even during a festival? Instead of playing with colours, why throw acid, stones, dirt, etc?

Sunday, 1 June, 2008

A little more colour …

I named the blog Coloured Canvas, but I guess it had only shades of black so far. All my posts were too serious as if they would change the world. :-)

Now I am planning to add some colours …

Is it time to consume less?

It's a year since I wrote the last post - "Work less, Earn less, Consume less". Recently when I told (half jokingly) a friend about this "less, less, less" theory, he became slightly upset and advised me, "We are in the prime of our lives. Instead of thinking about earning less, we should earn moderately and maybe give our bit to the needy." He is right. Earning less is actually relative. When I read the article on which I based the post, I think the key point that struck me was the mad rush for making money, without realising what all we missed in the meanwhile.

After writing the post, even I went on earning more. And spending more. I’ve now quit the job, not because I was earning more, but to relax and explore new things.

Thinking about the looming recession and food crisis, I feel now is the time to implement the "consume less" policy. Or at least avoid wastage. Each one of us can do our bit; it’ll make a difference, as the old adage goes – A unit saved is a unit produced.

See what fellow bloggers say about consumption and wastage.

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