Friday, 29 June 2012

Online organic food from Rajasthan

I came across this website from one of the comments left on our blog, it sells organic food products online and delivers anywhere within India.  I feel the prices are on the expensive side, especially when you compare with Nilgiris organic range of products, but I have not gone through the entire range of products they sell, so if anyone has bought items from them, please give us your feedback in the comments section.

The website is very well designed, and you can feel that whomever is behind this initiative has put their heart in it.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

A yield class from Tel Aviv

drip irrigation of tomato crop
A small article in the Hindu this Sunday points to the small contingent of 2000 farmers from India that have attended the recently held 18th International Agricultural Exhibition help in Tel Aviv, Israel. Of these 2000, 600 each from Maharastra and Gujarath were sent there on government sponsored programs. A small but intrepid group of 40 farmers from Tamil Nadu attended, but they had to shell out the 1 lakh plus expenses to attend from their own pockets. The exhibition central theme was awareness of thrifty use of water resources.

The Tamil contingent let by organic farmer Mr. Thooran pointed out the importance of the lessons learnt and the need for government to support farmers whole heartedly as agriculture is the base of human development.

 The Israelis are famous for their prowess at turning desets into oasis of agriculture miracle. We should by now realise that our governement is incapable of forming comprehensive policies that provide integral support to farmers aspiring to make a difference, therefore it is important to secure, as pointed out by the author of the article, private co-operatives that create the frameworks that can enable small farmers to leverage this kind of knowledge and better market their produce.

The International Agriculture Exhibition is held every three years, lets hope that we can see more farmers from South India in 2015.

Monday, 25 June 2012

A new site for Sustainable consultancy

We have launched our main site for sustainable consultancy in India, based in Chennai.

The site is changing on a monthly basis as we keep updating it with new material, but this is a start.  We look to make a contribution to our nation.

If you are intrigued by the logo, do read our explanation.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Providing water for stray animals in Chennai

The newIE reports on a group of volunteers from the Blue Cross endeavouring to provide a bowl of water in every streets of the city this summer to quench the thirst of stray animals.  The city is very dry and hot (up to 43 deg Celcius) at midday and one can image  stray dogs and cows being in a terrible condition.  This must be welcome relief for them.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Carbon Neutral Tamil Nadu by 2020?

Abdul Kalam, our ex-President has shared his dream of a carbon neutral Tamil Nadu by 2020.  This report, courtesy  of the newIE, highlights Kalam's proposal which consist of:

1. an increase in tree plantation in the state, 
Kalam said 100 million trees will absorb two billion kg of carbon dioxide and give to Tamil Nadu 1.4 billion kg of oxygen per year.
he said every litre of fossil fuel burnt contributes 2.7 kg of carbon dioxide- equivalent emissions. 
2. a reduction in fuel consumption by better town planning and infrastructure
He said that improper planning results in intra-city micro-migration and each city even one with a population of five million should be reorganised so that it comprises a city centre containing administrative, government and large corporate offices surrounded by satellite micro-cities with less than a million people each. 
he stressed on three aspects of urban planning which include mass transit like metros between micro city zones and all major locations, medium scale transport system,   besides provision of bicycling using exclusive bicycling lane like in Netherlands.Blaming transport sector for about 13 per cent of total emissions worldwide 

I agree with him , that much fuel burning can be saved by better infrastructure in India in general. As for being a carbon neutral state, it's going to require substantial reorganisation of our energy production industry as majority of electricity today in Tamil Nadu comes from coal powered stations.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Small claims court on the net.

I came across this web site the other day., which allows two parties to enter into a legally binding contract over the internet.  Designed for small companies (usually individual consultants offering remote services) that do not have the wherewithal to remedy contract disputes with expensive lawyers fees.

Furthermore, the service is free to enter into a contract.  You only pay if you have to resolve a dispute.... and the fee is very reasonable, 150 USD per party.  The site claims it is valid in 146 countries, remains to see if they will be able to resolve a dispute in an Indian court.... good luck with that.

I spotted 2 relevant Qs in their FAQ for our readers,

Is arbitration binding, and if so, how?Yes, arbitration is binding because both parties commit to being bound by the arbitration award at least once. That is, all our users sign our arbitration agreement during case filing (i.e. after dispute arises), but smart users also put our arbitration clause in the contracts they signed (i.e. before the dispute arises).

How is a decision enforced?After the arbitrator has decided the case ("rendered his award"), both parties are bound to make each other whole again. Statistically, 96% of the arbitration awards are honored, meaning the losing party makes a payment or delivers goods or services to the prevailing party as ordered by the arbitrator within the set time limits (most commonly 30 days).
However, in the 4% of awards that are not honored, the prevailing party must seek to enforce the award by asking a court where the losing party has assets to turn the arbitration award into a court judgment, upon which the judge can then issue a fieri facias ("fi fa" in short), which is an order to the local sheriff to seize enough property of the losing party to make the prevailing party whole again, as well as to (typically) cover the court costs incurred by the entire process of enforcement. (This is why 96% of losing parties pay immediately: Not complying will most likely only incur more court expense for them and cause embarrassment from a forced property seizure.)
Either party may also ask a court to recognize the arbitration award to prevent the other party from filing a lawsuit for the same dispute in that jurisdiction. Please note that the court should drop the lawsuit once you as defendant show them the dispute has already been arbitrated. Recognition of an award is simply a quicker and less costly prevention strategy for when you think the opposing party is likely to file a lawsuit against all odds.

Interestingly, the .me domain is that of Montenegro.... makes for a nice catchy site address.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Indian farmers adapting to Climate change

An interesting article in the Times of India about various reports of farmers adapting to the realities of the climate vagaries in different parts of the country.
Bihar, in northern India, has seen its fare share of floods in the last decade, and as a result of fields being submerged in water, farmers have adopted to grow a plant that adapts very well to these condition, makhana or fox nut of the water lily family which produces white seeds that can be eater raw or cooked.  The makhana plant is easily recognisable by its unique leaf as show below.  Mahkana farming is a flourishing business today.  There has also been an interesting social change as a result, previously the growing of the makhana plant was only done by communities of low caste people who grew the plant in fish ponds.  The upper caste farmers deemed it below their dignity.

Bihar floods in 2007
Makhana leaf

Another story from Rajasthan where according to the TOI article ice was seen to form in the Jaisalmer report (but this is unconfirmed as I could find no other sources mentioning this story... maybe the TOI reporter has been out in the hot sun a little too long).  There desert state has been having erratic and scattered rains, a new phenomena, which has adversely affected the traditional species of herbs and grass plants.  As a result, animal husbandry has taken a toll.  However, the farmers have been switching to mixed cropping in order to compensate for their losses, and as a result, a sweet local variety of melon, the matira, rich in water content and producing delicate seeds used for making sweets has become very popular as it requires little irrigation.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Tamil Nadu farmer gunning for top job

K S Thangavel alias Govanam (apparently it translates to loin cloth in Tamil), is running for India's top job.  He has unsuccessfully attempted to be elected to a political role in the last 20 years, but this has not deterred him from trying for India's top job.  The President post is up for grabs as the member of parliament are not seeing eye to eye on any of the current names that have been forward, so some pundits reckon Gavanam has a chance.  To further his chances, Mr Thangavel has put up his own web site to promote his views and accomplishments.  Mr Thangavel has adopted the pseudonym of Gavanam as a symbol of farmer's plight which is in stark contrast to the increasingly upwardly mobile urban working class who are reaping the benefits of the country's economical success.
I have to say that having first dismissed the stories in the papers, I am now rather impressed by Mr Thangavel's effort to promote his aspirations.  Even if his chances of being selected to the post (India does not elect the president) are slim, he will have succeeded in getting plenty of attention from the media which may still serve him well in his bid for local elections.  Although I have to wonder, suppose he did get selected, would he retain loin cloth for state functions?

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Take a SmallStep for a big change today!

Project of Upasana
World Environment Day - Special Newsletter

Small Steps for a Sustainable Future

The time is now ripe for our joint action against usage of plastic carry bags. Do you know?
  • It takes a thousand years for one plastic bag to decompose
  • One billion animals die from ingesting these deadly plastic bags every year
  • Yet, world over, close to five hundred billion plastic bags are produced and consumed each year
  • Every time we use a plastic carry bag, we contribute to this problem
On this World Environment Day, each one of us should resolve to do as much as we can to avoid plastics.
  • Always carry a small foldable bag with you when you go out. You never know when you will stop to purchase a little something on the way
  • The times when you forget the foldable bag and you "get" a plastic bag, reuse the plastic bag as many times as possible
  • When the time has come to dispose the plastic bags, dispose it off in a responsible manner. Don't just "throw" it away.
  • Be an ambassador of this change.
  • Take your Small Step today. Help us save our planet from ourselves.
Here is a video that triggered the plastic ban in California.

Small Steps is the Social Project that has been started by Upasana to empower village women while simultaneously contributing to the environment. Sustainable development comprises of Economic, Social and Enviornmental development. The Small Steps project aims to fulfil these criteria.

Know more about Small Steps Intiatives on

Why isn't everyone using an Apple computer?

Reading the flourish of articles on the miraculous success of Apple products, the i-family (iPod, iPad, iPhone,iMac and soon to be iTV) one wonders why there aren't more poeple using i-computers out there.  I myself purchased a new laptop recently and got a Dell.  I want to upgrade my phone soon, but after my recent encounter of the third kind with the iPad I am squarely in the Android camp... in fact I am now looking at ways to hack my iPad to get Android running on it.  I liberated my iPad from its golden jail (appropriately known as jailbreak in the hacking community) but I still find it too restrictive in what this wonderful hardware could potentially achieve. In fact, I want to stress before I dive in that I am a real admirer of the Apple hardware, it is its soft component I abhor.   All the iHardwares out there are simple beautifully crafted, no doubt, however, Apple's extension of its hardware philosophy to the softer edges leaves me and I believe a lot of people out there a little hungry or angry at times.

There a number of articles out there that have compared the recent upgrades in the iWorld and Android (the iPhone 4S against the Android Ice Cream Sandwich platform).  What comes out of the article is that while Apple gives you a beautiful experience, it still restricts what you can do with your device.  Keeping the access to more complex operation tightly locked down in its pursuit of simplicity.  That maybe fine for a horde of Apple fans and technology phobic people.  However, Android has taken the other approach of diversity and openness.  Indeed, there are a plethora of Android devices and manufacturers out there all vying for a share of the pie.  This had led to many different approach to the user look and feel, further allowing the user to change, modify and adapt his device to his/her habits and taste.

So, while the Apple experience is pre-set for you, Android and more generally the Linux experience out there is striving for diversity in experience.  I think it is this fundamental difference which is the reason why we will not have a world filled with Apple computers.  Android variants (a flavour of Linux for mobile devices) and the open community are still searching for the right balance, for they still need to be economically sustainable, but it is the unity in that diversity that will bring about a revolution, and I do believe that mobile world is increasingly moving towards that diversity.  For all the trumpeting of Apple legions, there are many more Android devices on the market than 'I's

Unity in diversity is the road to sustainability for it creates the ideal eco-system to promote diversity.  Unity in diversity is quite straightforward in culture (as is exemplified in India  or experimented with in the European Union), but what does it mean in the world of business and technology?  The very ingredients that allow unity in the cultural world may give us some clues.  Respect for someone's beliefs, freedom in choice, justice, and most importantly choice!  We have plenty of the last one in our cut-throat consumer society, but maybe a little more respect and freedom would not hurt.  Freedom is quite obvious, and the very lack of it is what pushed the GPL licence and open source efforts in the computer world to take off.... but what about respect, what does it mean?  I think that when Apple respects Google, and it in turns respects Microsoft, which in turns respect the open community and vice versa in the true sense of respect, then comes acceptance  which leads to more doors being open such as compatible systems that can interact with each other instead of closing the door on each other.  Can we still make money in such a world?  I think so.  Can we make rip-roaring and unsustainable profits?  No, I don't think so.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Sustainable sound?

It is interesting to note how quickly sustainable has come of age.  More and more the media is filled with reports of all sorts of sustainable efforts in all walks of life.  Here is another unexpected contribution from a French music band and a swiss engineer on a world tour to promote the message of sustainable growth and development.  Their contribution?  A sound amplifier system manufactured from sustainable materials.  Their message?  Promote the need for a sustainable world, by providing their sound system on rent basis to Indian musicians.  What's more, the system comes with its own battery source that can be charged with a solar panel, making it eco-friendly too.