People, Planet and Profits!

Think Global, Act Local August 31, 2009

Filed under: Opinions and Views — muraliduvvuri @ 6:29 pm

I came across this piece of reading in a Community Friendly Movement website.

Commercial supply chain dynamics do not by themselves address the challenges of third world employment and quality of life issues. However, it is apparent that global trade, essentially in the worldwide industries can either exploit for unilateral gain, or collaborate to “share gain” for overall development of work force.

Corporate Social Responsibility has become a major issue these days for the many major MNCs, who have been establishing in-house fund-managers and PR managers to mange their Brand Image both in the developing countries where they have their back-ends of their supply chains and also at the destination countries for their goods/services.
But then, such an arrangement which is dictated by the market forces cannot always be totally reliable. This is where the Government and the Community can get involved. Since last year a new debate had been cause for lots of firewood being burnt over various intellectuals meeting and discussing about the extent of involvement that the government should be undertaking in both the developmental activities as well as maintaing the economy from falling of a cliff. How much should a Government interfere, and at which segments of its peoples life can it interfere??
I found this in a recent Swaminomics article, “Cash transfers better than drought relief works”

I became a journalist in 1965, when two successive droughts killed thousands and forced India to beg for US food aid. India’s share of global food aid was so large then that a best-selling book claimed that India was unviable and should be left to starve, conserving food aid for viable countries.

A lot has changed since then, we’re still being affected by droughts and as has been discussed in the above-mentioned article, the major difference since then till now is that, India has far less percentage of people who are starving. This is because of schemes like NREGS which provided the people in the drought affected regions some much needed purchasing power, this in-turn decreased the sufferings from mass-starvation, though probably not mass-hunger. Maharashtra was the first state to adopt this strategy and succeed.

Government involvement in relief works has always proved very controversial, with the Prime Minister himself stating on one occasion that for every rupee that the government spends for the poor, they get the benefits of only 10 paise, the rest being eaten up by the mind-boggling numbered layers of middlemen.

Even various Non-Governmental Organizations suffer from these middlemen, probably to different extents. This has been a major reason for the success of the NREGS(National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme) where apart from implementing various developmental programmes at the rural level, the purchasing power of the poeple is being increased and the choice is being left to the beneficiaries to utilize their earnings.

The benefits can already be felt with various companies setting up shop in the semi-urban and rural areas and taking this segment of the population seriously as one of their major customer segments. Now this is Inclusive Development.

The drought that is occuring this year might setback the pace of all these processes, but how the rural customer can overcome this time can determine how fast a domestic market can be nurtured and developed in India.

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Teej Bazar August 10, 2009

Filed under: Tatsat — muraliduvvuri @ 12:53 pm
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Here is a short video (1:00 mins) on the recent event, “Teej Bazar” organized by Tatsat along with AADI.

There was a small problem with a few policemen who hassled the organizers in search of small bribes. But, it was sorted out, though they did not allow any part of the event to be organized out of the store at Hauz Khas. Guess who had the last laugh, Unfortunately!

Another event had been planned for the International Youth Day with a small street play by a group called “Khoj”. Guess who is the party-pooper again, the local police wala. Unluckily the performing group is not ready to go through the process of getting a proper police permission, probably because of the immense amount of red-tape involved. Even a garden sale of books was planned for the International Youth Day, I will keep you updated about any more such plans.

P.S. If you have read this post, I would suggest that you better comment, It helps you in going a long way in garnering good karma in your life :D. So long!

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Nano Indians? July 28, 2009

Filed under: Opinions and Views — muraliduvvuri @ 8:59 pm
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Fevicol Bus Advertisement

Fevicol Bus Advertisement

What will the next generation of the upwardly mobile upper-lower classes and the middle classes be called? The Nano Indians?

I might be outrightly naive, I might be poking my eye with my own finger, but still I am going to safely stand by my prediction. The way this Tata’s Nano story of birth is turning out to be resilient in the face of the various internal and external strife that it encountered, I am impressed, hopeful that this is going to be a new chapter in the country’s way ahead.

The economic crisis, the oscillating global prices and even Mayawati have failed to deter its path towards salvation!

Well now into the serious matter of Tata Nano and the serious environmental implications that this might be holding for India in particular and the world, also in particular! Don’t get me wrong I believe myself to be passionate about the environmental issues, but somehow I just cannot get myself to make Nano the burning effigy for all the internal rage that I might be building due to the global warming.

See the numbers…….gosh, I couldn’t get my hands on any of the numbers!

Well leave the numbers, one thing that you will accept is going to increase the vehicle population drastically and so increase the greenhouse gases and thus further fuel global warming until the planet melts off.

But we are in India, let us start fine-tuning this doomsday prediction to make it insync with the reality that is India!

1. The lack of proper roads, and the already congested roads (thanks to all the auto bhai’s and rickshaw pullers ou there, and then there are the private bus, semi-bus, big truck plyers). Enter Nano, 100 Nanos, 1000 Nanos, 1 million Nanos……….now, don’t you see that something smells wrong here, people will get over the new car syndrome when they take the car out for every small chore! Something’s gotta give, either the roads or the Tata guys, who need to make adjustments so that the Nano can start flying and stop depending on these clogged arteries which identify themselves as roads. So the number of car users cannot keep on sweeling indefinitely, there will come a time when owning a is neither a luxury, nor a necessity, but is a headache!
2. Yes, now that we put in some reality-check as to the swelling numbers, now with the increased car numbers. This will start putting pressure on the government and the people. On the government to set up a more reliable, stable and comfortable public transport infrastructure. On the people to first start egging the government to establish this infrastructure (it might even become a big electoral issue in the coming years…..the need for infrastructure development) and then to use the public transport and seeing the car as a means for only occasional family trips or likewise!
3. But when we are making all these assumptions, we just cannot forget about the alternative fuels for whose RnD, billions of dollars, rupees, yen, pesos, euros etcetera are being poured into. We might just get that dream car for an environmentalist or not. At the very least, we might hope for cars with much improved mileage.

But for now look at the accidents that can be avoided because of the Nano. Look at the hope it feels into the lives of the people offering them safer means to travel instead of those 4-seater-2-wheeler vehicles which are plying on the road. We need someting like the Nano, if not the Nano, and for now thats all we have got!

Epilogue: Like a friend of mine likes quoting all the time, Change is constant and we all have to change, we have to change in what we expect from the government, we just can’t throttle innovation at every step but rather keep on fighting all the ill-effects that are threatening to choke our society, the country and the world!

Just pray for a stronger government which can stand tall on the promises that it makes to the people! A dialogue from Swades comes to my mind, where the farmer Haridas says to Mohan:”Sapne mat dikhaiye Mohan babu”

Well though my signing off statement is just going to be:”In a democracy, the Government can only be as good as its people!”.

Let us all strive for a better country!

Sapne Mat Dikhaiye Mohanbabu!

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Pandu, If only……… July 27, 2009

Filed under: Fiction — muraliduvvuri @ 9:10 pm
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A small boy who had no worries in his life, a small boy who kept on playing around with his old half broken cricket bat that Sanju bhaiyya had given him when he bought a new one. Anyway, this was already broken and Sanjay would never have found any use out of it. It cannot even be used as a runner’s stick as it’s size was too small and at the instant when he was about to throw it away after an evening’s game while going to his home, when pandu, thats what the small boy was called, I recall it now. When pandu saw this, he had to beg for it. Sanjay was like any other young playful adolscent who after having his share of fun with pandu, he left his broken bat with him. Anyways he didn’t care about it anymore.

Pandu would also almost always store the broken rubber balls that the other kids found no use for. They would let pandu play with them only at times when they had to make up numbers or when they needed a ball-boy. They were just young kids and pandu was even too younger to even play properly, but he always happily obliged with beaming smile that could have lit the broken down floodlights during the deccan chargers versus kolkata knightriders encounters during the first IPL! Even on the days when the boys wouldn’t have pandu to play with them, he would either watch them play getting their balls or would start playing with one of the younger children who come down to go strut around with proudly, innocently and happily with their tricycles. Pandu becomes the coach in these sessions and would bat to his hearts content, even these tiny tots loved playing with pandu. Pandu is 7 years old.

But during the days when the kids went to school pandu would get bored. Sometimes, he would go the iyengar’s home on the first floor because the grandpa and granny there would watch T.V serials all during the afternoons and they would let him sit down near the verandah gate and watch them, even asking him to help out with small chores for the granny. They would give him some tidbits from the afternoon tiffins they used to have. Though grandpa was mostly grumpy, pandu used to like them very much, especially the special vada-pav that granny makes, he is very confident that he has understood and has learnt by rote, what granny calls as her secret recipe for the dish! I used to have a feeling that the Iyengar’s used to like him, though they never showed it on the outside. He used to provide them with some human contact when their son and daughter-in-law always used to return very late in the evening even though they used to be among the earliest one’s to leave for their jobs.

This did not mean that Pandu did not go to school. He used to go the government elementary school which was 2 kilometres away. I used to see him go hopping and scampering to this school with that ragged bag of his and his mother shouting behind him to complete some last minute chores. Most of the days he would have to return to complete these chores and reach the school a bit late, I supposed! His father was our apartment’s watchman, janitor, gardener, handyman an all-in-one man! Everyone used to call him out for any work of theirs.

“Apparao we need a packet of salt!”
“Apparao please get some samosas, we are expecting some guestes shortly”
“Apparao, have you watered the plants today?”
“Apparao, get us some more mil packets, we are making payasam today!”
“Apparao our food has been left-over, do you want it?”

Pandu used to return in time for lunch and never went back to the school during the afternoons, instead preferring to watch the television at the Iyengar’s place. Upon questioning him about the teacher’s wrath that might befall upon him due to his constant skipping of his classes, he used to say that most of the periods, they never had any teachers, even the teachers who would come wouldn’t care much about teaching, rather starting to chat between themselves in the corridors, they did used to take classes itseems, whenever they had a hint that a checking squad might be on its way!

But Pandu was a bright kid, which I used to notice everytime whenever I chatted him up. A kid he was, but a very bright one, though he would like to fly around like a bird in the sky without a worry in the world, he used to love his text books and would also come to my house as also go to almost all other kids houses to collect any of the old books that we would give to him. He used to like to store them and even try to read up some of them. Mostly during the night times beside the small oil-wicker lamp that he used to put up beside his rope-cot. He used to sleep beside his fast asleep mother after reading the books. Whenever I watched this spectacle from the fourth floor balcony of my house I used to get amazed at this young boy’s thirst for books. He never seemed tired! Though he did not attend school properly, I believed he did this because he never found anything worthwhile coming out of it.

But then all this is just hogwash!

Pandu was not a happy boy, he was a spirited boy! He always fought against fate to remain happy. Though what all I told about him was true, there was something else I happened to remember about him that probably the 13 year-old me always somehow blocked out.

Pandu just did not fade away from our life, he was a victim of domestic violence. His father used to always drink during the night and used to harass him and his mother during the nights. He had a unquenchable thirst for knowledge, but his father had an unquenchable thirst for tippy, for which he used to nearly use up all his monthly salary for. His wife Gangamma used to be helped by some of the flat-residents who used to give her some measly amounts to let her get through with her life and for her son’s upbringing.

I relived a scene recently in which Apparao found pandu in charge of a 50-er and he immediately slapped him hard and took it. Pandu, with tears swelling up in his eyes started asking his father, telling him that he needs to pay his fees for his examination. Apparao just gruntled back to Pandu asking him make himself invisible immediately.

What happened to them?
The flat residents have asked Apparao to go away as he and his tussles every night with his wife had become too much to bear for us. And so in an appartment meeting, it had been decided to get a new handyman(watchman) for the apartment.

I wonder what Pandu is doing now? Is the spirited soul still flickering? Has he started to fulfill the promise he was showing even as a small kid? Many questions!

If only, people can be more sensitive to what is happening in the society around them, how many more pandu’s are suffering now!
Why is domestic violence as rampant in India as it is now……?
Is it just because of the illiteracy and the lack of money and a good life for all these Apparao’s?
I don’t want to be vain and blame it on his drinking habits, I would rather blame his person and his self for what he is turning out to his family, A Monster!

If only…………

Fictious, None of the characters are real. But based upon the different experiences, events that I noticed as a kid in the 90’s in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. I just tried to wind them all up into one story

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This Feels Like a Dream…. July 22, 2009

I am just into my second post and it feels like I am already hitting my writer’s block! Or has this become a cliche to put it by every aspiring writer who has got nothing to convey but is excited to do so……!

Why am I excited??

Cadbury has started a new This feels like a dream campaign. Cadbury Dairymilk has officially become Fairtrade certified. It has already started working with various NGO’s and trusts in Ghana and also built 365 well inthe communities there. Trying to make a statement i guess.

And to top it, the Teej Bazar at Hauz Khas is about to begin in less than 24 hours! For those who still have no idea about Teej Bazar, it is being organized by Tatsat, AADI and Ujala members. AADI is an NGO working with people with disabilities around New Delhi. There will be a SHRINGAAR (which is a henna and bangles event) and also a Painting Exhibition, “Monsoon Mystique” by Sanjay Biswal. Even if you cannot make it tomorrow that is the 23rd, not to worry, this even is on for two days. If you are in facebook, here is the link to the event and this is the link to the group Tatsat. We also have a fan page here.

Isn’t it ironic that the country whose most famous icon had sung praises to the virtue of cottage industries is poised to leap into the stratosphere to find a place among the Titans. Isn’t it even more ironic that like the classic tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, our country has two Indias. One India Shining….the India that is poised at the precipice of history, to grab the pen of fate to make its own history and share it with the rest of the world, and, the other India which is still coming to terms in living with this stark adversity in the rural areas, in some corners of the country where there isn’t even electricity. Some of the parts have been unfortunately dealt by the hand of fate to be in the”epicenter” of terrorism as Mr. Chidambaram puts it. If not terrorism, there is naxalism or separatism or other kinds of desi-isms like (babudom, corruption and bribery) which have eaten into the dreams and aspirations of these people. I was going through an article from Times Of India where the person says to the journalist in question that he (read journalist) does not understand the life there (the village). How farther shall we go before we can unite again? This disparity exists even in the more developed regions of the country!

With such a scenario developing, it might actually turn out to be a blessing in disguise that the USofA sneeze has made the whole world to catch Swine Flu. The economic crisis which is decreasing the exports and foreign demand has forced the government to look into its largely untapped rural segment of the population which has also been dubbed as the Sleeping Tiger in an era of epithets where our erstwhile economy was compared to the Elephant compared to the chinese economy which was dubbed as the Dragon!.

So the world should be beware of the Tiger which is atop an Elephant! Hopefully the new Indian economy which rises by the time the crisis has been deemed over to make the new and real India to be poised not just to share a table with the titans but also to be one of them!

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Hello world! July 16, 2009

This is my first post for Tatsat. Well Hello World! Few things are better than doing what one likes to do! And probably this is how it feels when doing such things, that heady feeling of emotion, anxiousness and……and confounded speechlessness!

Now if you are an environmental person, one of the greenheads, this year should be an exciting time for you, even the economic crisis does not seem to hamper the governments which are slugging it out to arrive at an agreement that will have wide reaching and long ranging impact abour how our civilization is going to chart its growth on our planet. So Copenhagen we await!

And well even if you are not one of those damned treehugging greenheads, so what? You might still be having atleast a small bit of space in that rock called heart of yours which might think twice about the people who are being given exploited. Yes there is exploitation in India, atleast for sure in the unorganized sector where the victims are being given the short-hand probably because of their illiteracy or just probably as a result of the circumstances.

If so you should have heard about Triple Bottom Line………..

Errr whats that eh? Then Triple Bottom Line or TBL or 3BL is a ratification provided by the United Nations which measures the organizational and societal success (Source: Wikipedia): economic, ecological and social or better put as People, Planet and Profit. Corporate Social Responsibility is different again, don’t get muddled up with all these names!

You can go through the article about Tatsat by Garima Vohra from the recent 16th July edition. If you are interested in art, then do visit the Teej Bazar on 23rd and 24th July at C-50, Shop no. 3, Hauz Khas, New Delhi – 110016. There is going to be a painting exhibition, “Monsoon Mystique”, by Sanjay Biswal.

Hindustan Times Article dated 16th July

Hindustan Times Article dated 16th July

Teej Bazar by Tatsat on 23rd and 24th July

Teej Bazar by Tatsat on 23rd and 24th July

Fair Mart Exhibhition May 9-10th, 2009

Fair Mart Exhibhition May 9-10th, 2009

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