Saturday, April 24, 2010

I am worried about a more serious problem...

After reading an article in The Hindu, a couple of days back, I feel that I should forget worrying about this:

The government will appoint some 'one-man commission' or 'three-man commission' which will 'investigate' the IPLgate scandal, which will run for 10-11 years, all the necessary payments will be done and will be forgotten.

I am not worried about this too:

Nithyananda's scandal,  the papers say that he has got signed agreements (non-disclosure agreements) from 'volunteers' for his 'tantric' experiments! The volunteers signed the papers with their eyes open.  If people still go behind these types of godmen, only GOD can help them!

This article in The Hindu, gave me more tension than the other 'important' incidents, which were covered by the news channels and print media. 

I know that we have to segregate our garbage - red basket should have plastic and non-degradable materials and green basket should contain bio-degradable materials like vegetable waste. I follow this method promptly too. Our Panchayat vehicle comes and collects these bags/baskets in our door-steps everyday.

We are living in the outskirts of Chennai (Tamilnadu) and when we built our house, 14 years back, this area was said to be the dumping yard of South Chennai.  But we were told that the government will stop dumping waste here (now, they have stopped this, too).  A number of houses were already here and my sister-in-law was living near the area for more than 5 years and they didn't find anything wrong.  After we shifted to this house, I noticed that a printing press at the parallel road to our house was regularly pouring used printing ink in the ground outside their building.  I know that the printing ink is full of lead.  I was worried and gave our well water for testing and the result was not very bad.  I tested again, a couple of years back and nothing seems to be 'very' wrong, though the water is not good for drinking.  I buy canned water for drinking and now have started using it for cooking too.  Who will educate these business people about what they are doing to our water resources?  This can be taken care of, while issuing the licence for this type of business, advising them as to how to dispose off the used ink etc.

The article I mentioned, states the hazardous effects of e-waste. 

Now, to the article:

Citizens at Risk tells a chilling story about e-waste. Made by Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, Chintan Environment and Action Group and Arjun Bhagat/IMAK, the short film details what happens when computers from “US, Malaysia” come to the bylanes of Delhi to “die”. In the middle of mountains of e-scrap, barefoot children, standing on a street of lead-coated broken glass, perform the last rites. Covered in toxic dust, they smash screens with hammers, while women tear apart electronic components, boil and wash them in acid with bare hands, for money-earning metals. Acid pools are everywhere. The commentator talks of toxic hydrogen chloride fumes.

Breaking computers is a billion dollar industry. The Printed Circuit Board has minute amounts of gold, silver, copper, palladium, aluminium and platinum. On its flip-side, e-waste contains toxic chemicals zinc, lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium, PVC and arsenic compounds. When the waste is burned, heavy metals are released. With water and acids, they seep into groundwater. The complex, informal system of recycling is peopled by rag pickers who know no techniques, have no protective gear.

The MAIT-GTZ e-Waste Assessment Study says we'll be creating 4.7 lakh tonnes of this special waste this year. Add to this 50,000 tonnes coming from abroad (“Not allowed,” says Prabhu) and those dumped in the name of charity/reuse from the West, you can visualise the e-mountains we build. What gives the issue urgency is the speed of discarding — e-gadgets get obsolete before you have completely unpacked them.  This reminded me of the movie WALL-E

Geetha Padhmanabhan, who has written this article has given some easy solutions too.  The main solution is re-cycling as far as possible.  Please read the article here.

Thank god, due to water-harvesting method, which was started by our ex-CM, Jayalalitha, has improved the water table in Tamilnadu, esp. Chennai.  Now, we have to take some steps together to stop this e-waste from contaminating our water resources.

This picture shows how we might one day struggle to get a drop of water, if we don't wake up soon.

Photos and cartoon courtesy: The Hindu

Edited to add (26.4.10):  Manju Joglekhar has sent this link, thank you, Manju.  The article in The Hindu clearly states how much importance should be given to 'Waste Management'.  The article says: 

The discovery of radioactive Cobalt 60 sources stored as scrap in New Delhi's Mayapuri locality by the Department of Atomic Energy and the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board is a clear pointer to the need for a stronger mechanism to monitor such dangerous waste. 

The system of tracking and control of possession is obviously far from foolproof, although there is a lot of apprehension that these materials could be used by extremists to make “dirty bombs” (that can scatter radioactive materials). Many so-called sealed sources containing radioactive waste are going off the map and turning up in scrap yards, “orphaned.”

Please read further from the article.  We should treat our electronic gadgets as God as well as Satan.  My brother-in-law always says 'vellaikkaaranai kaiyedutthu kumbidanum - yevvalavu nalla vishayangalai kandu pidichchu koduththirukkaan!' (we should do pranaam to the white man.  He has invented and given us so many good things!).  Good and bad things have come together.  It is in the way we utilise them, isn't it?

Edited to add on 27.4.10: One more news connected to this issue, is in the latest 'Outlook' Magazine.  Read here.  Worried more now.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I am a fan of Saraswati Vaidyanathan, who is a fan of Sachin Tendulkar!

Sachin Tendulkar and Saraswati Vaidyanathan - Who is the fan of whom, here?!

As soon as we cross 50 years of age, we tend to forget things or we think that it is normal to forget things. But when I read this article of 87 year old Saraswati Vaidyanathan, who is not only an ardent fan of our cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar, but keeps a pucca record of his career records in her fingertips.

Now, to the article which came in 'The Hindu' dt. 31st March '10:

As 87-year-old Saraswathi Vaidyanathan leans back on the couch, you almost expect her to pick up a pair of needles and start knitting. Instead she reaches for the television remote and surfs channels, only to stop at one telecasting cricket. There's a smile and a prayer on her lips — Sachin Tendulkar is at the crease. A Tendulkar fan and probably the senior most member of the cricketer's fan club, she says, “I have been watching Sachin play from the time he started. He was 16 then. Twenty years later, he still does everything right.”

Saraswathi may be frail now but her memory remains as fresh as ever. She effortlessly rattles off Tendulkar's records and match figures and like a fond grandmother refers to him as chota bachcha. As I quiz her about his achievement, she says, “As of now, he has 314 runs in the IPL. Mumbai Indians have played 7 matches and won 6. In ODIs he has notched up 17,594 runs and in Test matches he has scored 13,447 runs…” “Do you remember the '93 Hero Cup match against South Africa?” she asks and adds, “In the last over, they needed 6 runs to win. The situation seemed impossible. Lekin yeh bachcha took the ball from Azharuddin's hand and bowled, resulting in a run-out and conceding only 3 runs. We won,” she claps.

Her son interrupts her reciting of Tendulkar's records and says “She is very sure some day Tendulkar will meet her. Once when she was asked if she wanted to meet her grandchildren in Australia, she said, “I don't want to meet anyone, I only want to meet Sachin Tendulkar.” Saraswathi now looks coy, blushes and says, “If I ever meet him, I'll tell him to keep playing with confidence and keep entertaining us.”

The April 1 issue of The Hindu Metro Plus
broke the story of how Saraswathi, unmindful of her advancing age, had kept track of Tendulkar's glorious journey. She maintained her own statistics of the maestro, kept awake all night to follow his innings on television and prayed for him.

Sachin meets Saraswati: The air suffused with warmth, Sachin Tendulkar greeted a special admirer at a city hotel here (Chennai), on Monday (5th April, '10). The legend approached the 87 year old Saraswathi Vaidyanathan with folded hands and sought her blessings.

Her body weak, Saraswathi had difficulty walking. Yet her eyes laughed when she saw Tendulkar in flesh and blood. Not wanting the moment to fly away and turning distinctly emotional, she said, “I am lucky to meet you.” Tendulkar corrected her. “No, I am lucky to meet you,” he said.

She then gifted Tendulkar an idol of Lord Ganesh. Tendulkar touched her feet, again in all humility. Soon, he autographed her prized possession — a bat signed by several accomplished cricketers. The maestro's name had been missing from the list.

Saraswathi recalled Tendulkar's records — to the legend's great delight — and expressed her wish that he complete 100 international centuries. Tendulkar is seven short of the landmark. “I will,” replied a beaming Tendulkar.

Saraswathi's second son C.V. Venkitakrishnan said: “Whenever she has a health issue, all she needs to do is to watch Tendulkar bat. All her pain disappears. He is a tonic for her.”

After reading this article, I feel awkward to utter the words, 'marandhuttein, marandhu pochchu' (forgot, forgotten)! I thought it was natural to forget things all these days. Funny thing is, I am surrounded by younger people than me forgetting things often...this gave me one more reason to say 'I forgot'! My friend's daughter always says that 'if I analyze the reason why I forget so many things, I will know that those things are not very very important or I think that they are not important'. I feel this is correct. I have not yet started forgetting how to cook! Or prepare the sweets/savouries which we do on the festival days, which we do only once in a year, I don't seem to forget!

I really admire this lady, who is passionate about cricket, which is not a woman's normal hobby and happily enjoying the game. Maybe this is one of the reason she is so active, mentally and physically, at this age!

Photo courtesy: The Hindu

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