Reduce your Carbon Footprint with every bite!

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SHARAN India presents 2 seminars in Bangalore on 26th & 27th March 2010
Concerned about the environment but wonder how you as an individual can make a difference?
Puzzled about the complex but very real connections between environment, health and lifestyle / consumption patterns?
This a four-hour seminar designed by Dr Nandita Shah, a well-known doctor, homeopath and founder of Mumbai-based SHARAN (Sanctuary for Health and Reconnection to Animals and Nature), an organization dedicated to the protection of our planet and all its many rich and diverse living forms.
Date : Friday 26th March 2010
Time : 5 pm – 8 pm
Place : First Floor Training Room, Times Foundation, The Times of India 40/1, S&B Towers, MG Road, Bangalore 560 001
OR
Date : Saturday 27th March 2010
Time : 4 pm – 7 pm
Place : The Green Path # 32 / 2, New BEL Road, Seenappa Layout, Bangalore 560 094
Come and learn the fundamental principles of healthy eating, factors supporting good health, uncover the truth behind many myths, and clarify all your doubts.
Vegan snacks will be provided courtesy of Carnival Cakes.
No registration or fee required. Just come!
For more information, see the brochure here.
Organised by:
Sanctuary for Health and Reconnection to Animals and Nature (SHARAN)
Indian Youth Climate Network (IYCN)
Supported by:
The Green Path
Era Organic
Carnival Cakes
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Innovation At Its Best: Peepoo Bag Comes To The Rescue Of The Underpriviledged In Using Proper Sanitation

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Innovation At Its Best: Peepoo Bag Comes To The Rescue Of The Underpriviledged In Using Proper Sanitation

In response to the article “Bag and Baggage”, by Elizabeth Flock in ‘WhatIf Cloumn’ of Forbes India (Volume 2, Issue 4, February 19, 2010, pp: 20), I would like to draw further attention that its a very successful idea in a developing country like India where almost 56% of the population remains under the poverty line. Indeed with Global Climate Change on the verge of reducing fresh water resources to minimum troughout the globe, Peepoople’s credibility in launching this brave project is highly plaudible.

Elizabeth Flock’s presentation on the launch of Peepoo Sanitation bags creates a lasting impression on the reader’s mind. Indeed countries like India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and many other African nations can look forward to this newer approach of healthy sanitation, albeit social taboo permits them to do so. The idea or innovation will be possible if the developing nations look at it with a wider range of anti-scepticism and broader mind to look ahead of times.

Moreover the bag not only improves the chances of safer sanitation in scarcity of water but also is a novel technology of converting human wastes into fertillizers. Professor Eric O. Odada is right in pointing out that the Peepoo bag could hasten India towards it’s Millenium Development Goal for Hygiene. He is an honorary member of UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation. The organization is also in the middle of parley with organizations like UNICEF, Oxfam, WaterAid, and UN Refugee Agency to maximize the effect. The bag could also play a major role during emergencies like natural calamities, such as floods and earthquakes or droughts.

By
Mr. Arunava Das (M.Sc. Biochemistry),
Chemistry Teacher Expatriat
Pelkhil HS, Lungtenphu, Thimpu, Kingdom of Bhutan
Web: http://www.pelkhil.edu.bt
B – mobile: +975 171 232 90
India: +91 9748804959
Mail: arunavaempowerresearch@gmail.com

Teachings of Khentse Rinpoche at Thimphu, Bhutan on November 22, 2009

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Teachings of Khentse Rinpoche at Thimphu, Bhutan on November 22, 2009

On November 20 – 22, His Eminence Dzongsar Rinpoche, Jamyang Khentse gave teachings on “Wisdom”, the Nine’th Chapter of Mahayana Buddhist Text, Jangchug Sempai Chenjug (Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life) in English to about 400 strong Bhutanese devotees in Thimphu.

Jangchug Sempai Chenjug was originally written in Sanskrit by Gyalshey Zhiwala (Shantideva), a Buddhist monk at Nalanda University in India around 700 A.D.

Wisdom, as the Rinpoche explains, is a completely Natural Mind. The nature of wisdom is indestructible and so is emptiness. Emptiness, wisdom, nirvana, enlightment and mind are synonymous and some of the components of wisdom are generosity, patience, and honesty, he said.

There are two kinds of truth in Buddhism, and the ultimate truth is that it does not exist on its own and that itself is emptiness. Citing an example of owning a car in a dream, he said, relative truths are all illusions and therefore life is like a dream and the dreamer does not realize that he is dreaming. Relating to the dream of a car, he said, wisdom has the capacity to understand and make sense of life. Wisdom is within ourselves but we need to recognize it. Then, how do we do so? By listening to the essential instructions of the Guru (Guru Padmasabha, the man who brought Buddhism to Bhutan) and following the vows of Bodhisattva.

On the aspect of differentiating between wisdom and intelligence, the Rinpoche uttered, intelligence is being clever, smart, alert and having the capacity to understand and memorize things easily, but wisdom has nothing to do with intelligence.

He also said that it has been seen that humans do not want sufferings, but we are actually attached to the cause of sufferings. Suffering doesn’t simply mean physical pain or misfortune, but also the suffering one has to go through to get money or buy a mobile phone. Then there is suffering to take care and protect the mobile from loss or damage.

To be happy – is not the aim of Buddhism but is the aim of mortal beings. If you are looking for happiness you are also looking for sufferings, he said. Sufferings and Happiness are inseparably intertwined.

The Rinpoche also explained, dualistic minds see impermanence as permanent. We care for our body as if it will last forever. We care for our arms with moisturizing creams, but how long will it continue? Hence, wisdom is non-dualistic mind that really sees the truth. All phenomena are like a dream and subject to change. Most of us today do not realize this and go on minting money. Life is like a dew drop on the grass, no matter how we try to fight off age. We are there to die one day and it has to be seen how we lead our life rather than how we make it comfortable. Bodhisattva sees how one makes life comfortable for others. That is when we realize we have attained nirvana. What we need to do is to realize this and be truthful, honest and kind to others, said His Eminence Dzongsar Jamyang Khentse Rinpoche.

Everything in life is determined by views. Views establish values. Bad views cause war, inflation and disharmony, while good views lead to Buddhahood. Of the nine views in Nyingma tradition, shame and fear of wrong-doings is the foundation of all Buddhist values.

The teaching of the Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life was started in 2005 on the request of Bhutanese devotees. The ten chapters of the text were completed on November 22 and I was a lucky one to listen to these enlightening lines from Mahayana Buddhist texts.

At the conclusion, the Rinpoche said his dedication was for the wellbeing of the earth, its beings and the leaders of Bhutan and the Bhutanese.

Reproduced with permission from “Kuensel Corporation, Thimphu, Bhutan”. Written by Arunava. This article has also been published in the online edition of American Chronicle and Riverside Chronicle.

Indian Green Revolution: Flattering to Deceive?

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India was once a prosperous nation, abounding in its cultural heritage and moral values. But I am more interested in the ‘prosperous’ part! Being a prosperous nation, she not only attracted traders from various parts of the world but also invaders who looted her riches. History shows that we have been plagued by invaders throughout the time. However, they were not able to loot one thing – Land. The British did exploit our natural resources, but the land remained. They couldn’t take it away. India is blessed with fertile lands capable of feeding billions. Unfortunately, at present India is facing a serious food crisis, amidst a raging debate on Genetically Modified (GM) crops. Let’s delve a little deeper and investigate.

A major part of India’s disability to feed its population stems from the mismanagement of the agricultural system during the colonial rule in the 18th century. The partition made matters worse. The areas that were well irrigated were lost during the partition. India was left with more population but more importantly less food production capacity.

After gaining Independence, the educated middle class increasingly gravitated to the idea that ‘science and technology’ alone is the answer to India’s poverty. In the 1960’s the government started importing food from the Americans under their ‘Food for Peace’ program, failing to understand the need to develop India’s ancient cultivation methods. Obviously the domestic food production was way too short to meet the demand, especially when some of the major food producing northern states were reeling under famine. The Indian government had misplaced its priorities by focusing on industrialization, rather than achieve self sufficiency in food production.

Timely intervention by private philanthropists saw successful implementation of new agricultural practices in select farming regions, in the country. The Indian government was finally goaded into bringing about “The Green Revolution”. It consisted of cultivating high yielding varieties of crops that required high use of fertilizers. However, the Indian government was hasty in adopting this technology without proper planning. Seeds of High Yielding Varieties (HYV) that were developed for a different geographical region were imported in large quantities. These varieties required very high nitrogen content in the soil to grow and the use of large amounts of fertilizers became necessary. The HYV’s lacked in-built local resistance (to flood, drought, disease, pest and frost) and hence pesticides had to be used. In order to provide for all this to the peasants, at an affordable price, the government subsidized fertilizers and to some extent the pesticides too. Taking advantage of the Indian government subsidies, number of international and local fertilizer and pesticide manufacturing companies sprung up in India.

The overuse of fertilizers eroded the natural soil fertility. Un-abated use of pesticides resulted in the pests acquiring resistance to it. The results are telling. India has the lowest yield per hectare in Asia for certain food crops. Farmers are resorting to the costlier and complex pesticides to overcome the resistance. This raises the health hazard not only to the consumers of such food crops, but also to the local fauna. The subsidies are a huge burden on the Indian financial resources and many companies are resorting to fudging records to rake in the moolah.

In the 90’s, the stage was ripe for multinational seed companies to introduce their patented, genetically altered plant varieties as the solution to India’s fast becoming nightmare. They started with cash crops, more specifically cotton. If that gets accepted and successful, it would then lay a very strong platform to introduce genetically modified food crops. However, it took quite sometime for the Bt cotton to be approved by the regulatory authority amidst a raging storm over ‘terminator’ technology. The volume and nature of protests against GM Crops sent a strong message across to the multinational companies, that getting established in the Indian market would be anything but cakewalk.

What the multinational companies failed to gauge is that there was a lot at stake. The GM crops would require no pesticides, less fertilizers (when compared to the HYV’s). Hence, the fertilizer companies and the pesticide companies would lose out as the government would no longer subsidize them. This would mean that there is no longer a level playing field. Competition would result in cut-throat pricing when compared to the luxury of fixed government subsidies. However, having the advantage of entrenching themselves in the country for decades before the arrival of the new upstarts (read multinational seed companies), the fertilizer and the pesticide lobby played dirty. On one hand, they lobbied the government to withhold granting permits to the upstarts; on the other hand they spread false rumors about the technology among the un-educated farmers. However, they did not count on nationalists, anti-globalization groups, environment protection groups and several more joining hands to protest against GM crops. It was certainly a blessing in disguise and it enabled the fertilizer and pesticide lobby to work behind the scenes. They have been quite successful as they have not been exposed yet!

The GM crops not without issues either. There is a possibility that they can transfer the foreign gene to the native flora around the fields where they are grown, a phenomenon called gene pool contamination. Can they be safely used as fodder? What are the effects of consuming the meat and other products from animals that feed on such fodder? In the case of GM food crops, what are the effects when consumed by humans, both in the short and the long term? Is it safe for multiple generations of human beings to feed on such crops? The scientific community still feels that there is a need for a more in-depth study to be conducted before the above mentioned fears can be allayed.

The GM Crops were designed for the developed countries like America where the farms are huge and mechanized. It becomes futile to expect the GM crops (those that have been introduced so far in our country) to deliver similar benefits in a country like India, where the lands are highly fragmented and would cause many people (like farm laborers who weed) to lose their livelihoods.

However, GM crops have the potential in them to do wonders for India. In fact, they have the potential to be the proponents of a second “Green Revolution” in India. India can make do with crops that survive drought and saline conditions. They can be further enhanced with vitamins, proteins and other essential nutrients which would help in combating malnourishment. Even though it is far fetched right now, Edible Vaccines makes a lot of sense in a country like India!

Sources:

Confronting Agrarian Crisis: Historical Food Insecurity, the Indian State, and the Green Revolution By Joseph A. Arena

Genetically Modified Crops: Issues For India By Dr. Suman Sahai

Intelligent Power Regulator

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Came across this nifty little device that disconnects itself from the plug point. A cell phone which is being recharged, is used here in this video as an example.

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=9392135&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=&fullscreen=1

Outlet Regulator Video from conor klein on Vimeo.

Alternatively, one can watch the video here: http://vimeo.com/9392135

For more information, please visit: http://conorklein.com/index.php?/ongoing/outlet-regulator/