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Thursday, April 29, 2010

I love this

The LA Times Reports :

Happy Meal toys and other promotions that come with high-calorie children's meals will soon be banned in parts of Santa Clara County unless the restaurants meet nutritional guidelines approved Tuesday by the county Board of Supervisors.

"This ordinance prevents restaurants from preying on children's' love of toys" to sell high-calorie, unhealthful food, said Supervisor Ken Yeager, who sponsored the measure.

Read more here.

Sustainability Series : Choku Speaks

In response to my request for thoughts on sustainability Chockalingam Muthiah, a wise friend of mine was kind enough to provide his insights in a mail (reproduced below). Choku, as he is known is a genuine Green Karmayogi, one who put's his money where his mouth is. A Gandhian who has changed his entire life around the concept of sustainability also practices Natural Farming apart from being a successful businessman. Choku is one of the few who has walked the talk and has been living off-grid in the middle of bangalore for almost 4 years now.

Hi shiv,

There is so much in the language we use that we do not pause to know the meaning but use it because they are fashionably in vogue.

Amazing, great, fine, cool and so many more.

Sustainability is one such word.

So i am trying to find out what is sustainable.
To be able to sustain what?

"being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged " - Merriam-Websters

This is the current english meaning from the Dictionary and it was not very convincing for me.
So i went to root word:

"L. sustinere "hold up, support, endure" - Etymology, Latin.

Hold up, support or endure what?

We do even more with our lives to the extent perhaps even our creator had not envisaged at the time of Adam or Eve.

I feel the key is, we should take charge of our lives to be able to support or endure.

Even for the basic needs we depend on Electricity boards, Water supply Board, of late the cola giants for water, Corporates for food and the list ever boring.

One of our learned freedom fighters, who was also a qualified economist, observed that we fit our legs into a standard size shoe whereas our feet are supposed to be clothed by the footwear.
In my childhood we always stiched hardy shoes that were measured for my feet and the arche support etc.

We have become so mediocre that we go to malls and pride ourselves in shopping the best.

My son wants one for football, one for cricket, one for school and of course one to look cool.

Centralised supplies will corrupt us, make us mediocre, fits us in standard sizes, are inefficient because of cross subsidy, and the consumption economy it serves, is wastefull of resources.

I believe we all can sustain life on earth if we decentralise and disconnect from the grid supplies of everything.

Communal or individual arrangement for consumption will only be sustainable and give us the fitness and time to enjoy the life of being.

Less of doing translates to more of being.

We are human beings afterall!



The World has enough for everyone's needs,
but never enough for one man's greed:

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sustainable living series

The last decade has seen the word "Sustainable" attain cult status among the glitterati and hence a tremendous amount of interest among the general public. As part of the energy efficiency industry i am often asked to comment on sustainability or better still offer sustainable solutions for traditional problems using technology as the enabling vehicle.
Sadly, but for a few honourable exceptions sustainability to most people is business as usual with a technological twist that suitably lowers their consumption. This is shallow and imho not what sustainability is all about !
This series will have small opinion pieces written by guest columnists and try to look beyond the veil and unmask pseudo sustainability. I invite my fellow bloggers to send me their opinion pieces on sustainability, issues with consumption etc to help put together a collection of articles in this blog that will pique the interest of the intelligent netizen.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Counterintuitive cleanup conundrum

Slashdot is carrying a crazy story today on why less is actually more.

Scientists estimate that the US Clean Air Act has cut a major air pollutant, sulfate aerosols, by 30% to 50% since the 1980s, helping greatly reduce cases of asthma and other respiratory problems. But NPR reports that this good news may have a surprising downside: cleaner air might actually intensify global warming. One benefit of sulfates is that they've been helpfully blocking sunlight from striking the Earth for many decades, by brightening clouds and expanding their coverage. Researchers believe greenhouse gases such as CO2 have committed the Earth to an eventual warming of roughly 4 degrees Fahrenheit, a quarter of which the planet has already experienced. But thanks to cooling by aerosols starting in the 1940s, the planet has felt only a portion of that warming. And unlike CO2, which persists in the atmosphere for centuries, aerosols last in the air for a week at most, so cutting them would probably rapidly accelerate global warming.

Read More in the LA Times

Demand Side Management

The Energy Conservation Act 2001, passed by the government of India is finally getting into mainstream implementation. Looks like it takes a decade for the implications of the act to sink in and funds to get allocated for the same. The government has however woken up. It is clear (as a former top technocrat once confessed to me) that the government can never put up enough infrastructure to meet the projected demand. Forget meeting the demand, even a fraction of the demand cannot be met. The alarming growth in Consumer power demand had also put an end to the cross subsidy route that has worked well till now. Basically any serious industry comes up with captive power or tries to enter a serviced zone where adequate power and backup is available.
Hence the current focus on demand side management. As the name implies the policy planners are trying to reduce the energy consumed for a given task to reduce the demand projection for a given growth rate of GDP. This is indeed laudable as a law. Further the Act has teeth. The nodal body heading this initiative in each state has funds to offer as carrots and penalties for non-compliance to wave as a stick. They have also identified the top energy consumers by industry and are using the new Energy Auditor function to track the actual implementation on the ground.
What does this imply for Industry ?

A huge socially important initiative is underway and offers Indian consumers an opportunity to upgrade their infrastructure to optimally use what is fast becoming a scarce resource, power. It opens up the floodgates of innovation and provides space for innovative companies to build great products and services around this demand. In a way this is a decisive move against the L1 culture that characterizes indian procurement, private or public. Specs are diluted, standards stretched in getting the cheapest product for a given job. Obviously energy efficiency is not key when lowest unit cost is the main criterion for selection. The move of the government in creating the BEE and imposing minimum standards for key products is laudable and will work wonders for raising the energy efficiency of Indian operations. Currently our energy efficiency of manufacture in most areas is probably the lowest in the world. The absence of capital for technology up-gradation is the main culprit.

This is a very interesting phase for innovative indian startup's in the energy efficiency space as the scale of the indian market allows them to become global very fast if they know their game. The beauty of local consumption driven growth is that it is relatively immune to global trends. Watch this space for action.
Get the details here. and here.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

IPL, BCCI and the real question

Anyone with a power connection in India would surely have not missed the IPL tamasha over the last week. While i like Tharoor, i cannot condone such self serving Kleptocracy.
I am sure that the average alert netizen is in possession of the major facts. How there is crony capitalism, hidden stakes, match fixing, etc in the IPL, BCCI etc. However i have but one question

1) After all this crap, why is the BCCI, which according to Wikipedia is

" The Board of Control for Cricket in India, or BCCI, is the apex governing body for cricket in India, headquartered at Mumbai. The board was formed in December 1928 as the national governing body for all cricket in India. BCCI replaced Calcutta Cricket Club. It is a society, registered under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act. The BCCI often uses government-owned stadiums across the country at a nominal annual rent. It is a private club consortium. Basically to become a member of a state-level association, you need to be introduced by another member and also pay an annual fee. The state-level clubs select their representatives (secretaries) who in turn select the BCCI officials. BCCI are not required to make their balance sheets public. In the past, tax exemptions were granted to BCCI on the grounds as promoting cricket was a charitable activity but since 3 year due to IPL that stand has come into question. [1]

As a member of the International Cricket Council (ICC), it has the authority to select players, umpires and officials to participate in international events and exercises total control over them. Without its recognition, no competitive cricket involving BCCI-contracted Indian players can be hosted within or outside the country."

Given a monopoly on cricket in India ? Why is the stewardship of a "gentelman's game" vested with such an obviously corrupt body ? I can understand what the ICC wants, beggar britons dont have much choice but to fellate choice sub-continental meat, starting with Dalmia who actually gave modi the ideas he seems to pioneer today. Why is the Republic of india that is represented by an unambiguous constitution putting up with the national team being run by a "private body, registered as a society in T.N" without anyone questioning this franchise. Why on earth would a stricken union minister want to be pres of the BCCI and the minister of agriculture ? Altruism ? Especially when his daughter and in-laws seem to have multi crore stakes in the IPL :)

Cut the bull shit .. Why is cricket the monopoly of BCCI which is not a body accountable to the CAG ? Why was the ICL hounded out ? Why cant we have 2 or 3 or 100 leagues that compete on a transparent rating system ? Why are the players quiet ? Why has no government including the current opposition never had a problem with this ? Why does an NCP minister forward stolen commercial intelligence to someone who in theory is an opponent? Well my friends the ruling classes have figured out how our constitution can be circumvented in the pursuit of power. Nothing new in this, just a stupid population that is so ready to be seduced, that its child's play for the old feudal class.
While the government of the day and their predecessors seemed to agree that competition is good for the consumer, why the consensus on keeping the de facto national game in "private and unaccountable " hands ? As they say in the past " follow the money". But with the apathy that i know exists, what the hell!!!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Compulsory voting revisited

With the media reporting the return of the Gujarat local body voting bill, it is heartening to see the constitutional checks and balances still working. This blog has pointed out in the past that such idiotic unenforcable laws that are truly anit-democratic will run into issues with constitutional propriety. here. The sangh parivar's fundamental problem stems from the fact that the founding fathers thought out the constitution rather well. My undying gratitude to the constituent assembly for their foresight and the concept of underlying "Spirit of the Consttitution". The recent very stupid anti beef consumption laws passed in the karnataka legislature is another such case in point. On one hand we see progressive legislation like the RTI getting passed and as a counterpoint the right wing rushes in crap like this. Anyway they even tried to "review" the constitution in Vajpai's period. Wake up time...