Who will end Endosulfan?  

Posted by Praveen in , , ,

A baby with an abnormally large head, people with deformed faces and deformed limbs, kids walking in crutches, bleeding skins, braindead souls...No, these are not scenes from one of those thousands of hollywood movies depicting death and destruction. Nor are these scenes from an affected village near a nuclear plant. These are scenes that will greet you in many of the villages in Kasargod, a district in Kerala. And the culprit? Endosulfan, an aptly named insecticide which was sprayed over these villages to protect the cashew saplings planted by the plantation board. The spraying over a long period of time contaminated these villages(Muliyar,Padre,cheemeni,bovikanam etc.) to such an extent that there's none around who is not affected with one disease or the other. The variety of diseases is alarming-from simple body pain to cancer, epilepsy and cerebral palsy. Many of the new borns are mentally unstable or deformed at birth. The depth of the horror is such that women in these areas are resorting to abortions to prevent giving birth to stillborns and mentally retarted babies. Besides humans, the chemical also resulted in the death of fishes and other livestock. The poor villagers at first thought all this was caused due to the displeasure of the Gods. All this changed at the end of the 90s when a group of committed individuals like Dr.Mohana Kumar and farmer Sri Padre found out the real reason behind this, spraying of endosulfan in these areas over a period of two decades. This touching photojournalistic work by mathrubhumi photographer Madhuraj throws light on this huge tragedy.
one of the victims of endosulfan(Kasargod,Kerala)

So, reading all that, what will you naturally expect? That this insecticide is already banned in India and the ones behind this behind bars? If you think so, its time to wake up and take in the reality of the new shining capitalist India. Right now, its banned only in Kerala and Karnataka, which the state govts did in their own capacity. But, at the same time there are some high profile govt agents batting for 'endosulfan'. Union minister for agriculture Mr.Sharad Pawar makes the expected appearance at the top of that shameful list of individuals. Few months back, he had told the Parliament that several states and farmers had written to him asking him not to ban endosulfan because it will affect their livelihood. But, earlier this month an RTI application by a journalist revealed that not a single state wrote to the centre against the ban. And the 6 letters recieved by the centre were all from organisations supporting endosulfan. This single incident reveals the vested interests at play here. The surprising thing in the whole episode is that its the govt owned Hindustan insecticides limited that manufactures Endosulfan in India. And, Pawar even made a statement blaming the lack of intelligence of the farmers, who 'doesn't know how to use the insecticide'. Remember, this is an insecticide banned in over 60 countries worldwide. Another high profile supporter of endosulfan is K.V.Thomas, minister of state for agriculture, who recieved a lot of flak for his speeches citing 'lack of evidence' against endosulfan. There's a big lobby at play behind the stage, including Pesticide Manufacturers and Formulators Association of India (PMFAI) and Endosulfan Manufactures & Formulators Welfare Association (EMFWA). They've spread this opinion that banning endosulfan will is against the interests of poor farmers in India as its the cheapest insecticide available in the market. They've cleverly suppressed the fact that there are cheaper alternatives available with none of these horrible side effects.
a man with deformed limbs, thanks to endosulfan

The Stockholm convention is an international treaty that aims to eliminate persistent organic pollutants(source-wikipedia), the ones which are resistant to environmental degradation. The latest meeting of this convention took place yesterday(April 25th). There's been calls from all over to the central govt to support the banning of endosulfan at stockholm. Kerala chief minister V.S.Achuthanandan went on a fast yesterday asking for the ban. The centre made its intentions clear at the outset with various ministers voicing opinions that it won't be banned all over the country. The point they made is the 'lack of scientific evidence' to prove that its endosulfan that caused the diseases in various parts of Kerala and Karnataka. And, this is at a time when there are more than 20 studies available worldwide on the ill effects of endosulfan. Even Jairam Ramesh(known for his occasionally tough stand to suppport the enviornment) washed his hands off. And as expected, at the stockholm convention yesterday, India opposed the banning of Endosulfan as a representative of the Asia pacafic region. The draft statement is availabale here. You can see statements like "Significant adverse health and environmental effects of Endosulfan is not established", "The fact that sustainable economic and social development andreadication of poverty are the first and overriding priorities of the developing country.Parties will be taken fully into account, giving due consderation to the need for protectionof human health and the environment.” Yes, our leaders have betrayed us again. India's plan was atleast to get the ban delayed, because the next stockholm convention takes place only in 2013. Our country's conduct in the world stage is beginning to look more like that of US these days, pandering to the whims and fancies of corporations and forgetting the common man.

For every Kalmadi and Raja arrested, we have 100 others like them still sitting firm in the ministerial chairs. Corruption doesnt mean just big money siphoned off in big scams. It also involves cases like these where there's a clear case of vested interests at play. Only this time, the devilishness of that self interest puts the life of thousands in jeopardy. As those kids walk on crutches, as the baby with that big overgrown head cries out in pain, as the adult man comes to terms with his kiddish intelligence, the greedy ilk does a death dance over their head with their own deafness and blindness to the plight of those suffering thousands. The brashness, the deafness and the cold bloodedness point to a rot in this system, which needs some serious cleaning, morally and literally.

What more proof they need to ban this? How many more deaths do we want? How many more should be deformed?

India against corruption:The Bangalore Satyagraha  

Posted by Praveen in , ,

This post was written before the news came out about the govt agreeing to all demands of Anna Hazare and his supporters. Below is what happened on April 7th(3rd day of the fast) at Bangalore.

When Anna Hazare speaks, the country listens. His never ending struggles have given us the RTI act, caused many corrupt politicians to lose their jobs and also gave us the hope that one man can ignite a flame big enough to wake up a whole nation. With his ongoing fast against corruption and for the implemetation of the 'Jan Lok Pal bill', he has done just that, yet again. The first day's fast(on april 5th) was lost in the euphoria of India's world cup victory. But, by the second day many started asking 'who's anna hazare?'. And by the 3rd day, a large majority of Indians knew Anna and each point of the Jan Lok Pal bill. Fasts and candle light vigils are happening all over the country right now.
Few of those who are undergoing the indefinite fast

a warning to yeddy man and all the politicians in India

On the 3rd day(April 7th), me and my friend Romel decided to join the satyagrahis at Freedom park in Bangalore. The idea of fasting had never crossed my mind in my 25 years of existence, until today. Anyway, on thursday morning, instead of going to office, we headed in the opposite direction to Freedom park. We were disappointed to see just a small group of 15 people sitting there(too bad for a city of almost 1 crore population). Out of this, 6 of them were fasting non stop for the last 3 days, right from the minute Anna Hazare started. Among them were M.K.Gandhi, yoga instructor and Ashuthosh, an entrepreneur. A retired teacher tried to cheer the satyagrahis up with soulful renditions of Gandhi Bhajans. Then, slowly the crowd began to swell.

some success

wish atleast half of those came out after India's world cup victory truned up for this movement...

An autodriver(name forgotten) was there from morning till evening, sacrificing his day's earnings. If he can do it, why can't we, the salaried class? His presence and his speeches went a long way in reducing my hatred towards Bangalore's autowallahs. Indeed, there are good people everywhere(even among HRs :P ). There was a little kid too, with her colouring book, intermittently snatching the placard from her mother. M.K.Gandhi spoke about how corruption is deep rooted by citing an example of him being asked for bribe by the security at the freedom park yesterday night for letting him use the restroom. Environmentalist Yellappa Reddy spoke at length about how corrupt officials are killing our forests. Many of whom turned up talked about their personal experiences with corruption. It was evident, very few(none?) are left untouched by this evil in India. In between all this, there were some who tried to use this stage for their own personal agenda. This included a group of college kids who came with 'ABVP' banners and another group of 'kannada activists'. Thankfully, the organisers told them politely that no other agendas are allowed other than Jan Lok pal bill and anti-corruption.

M.K.Gandhi, one of the 12 who are undergoing indefinite fast at freedom park....
Yellappa Reddy,famous environmentalist

an autodriver who spent the whole day at the freedom park....sacrificing his day's earnings....If he can do it, why cant the high salaried class do it!

the kid too decided to put in her might, so as to protect her futuresometimes she went back to her colouring book

By noon, the crowd swelled again, thanks to a big bunch of college students who came in their college buses. These college managements has to be appreciated for taking such thoughtful steps. The students' spirited sloganeering brought the freedom park to life. With placards in support of Anna Hazare and his movement, they strode in and filled up the park. The media was in good strength too by this time. It was a pleasure to see the empty venue getting filled up gradually. After 2, we had to leave to finish our duties at office. But we continued our fast till night, making it 24 hours. And, it was not as hard as we thought.

college students shouting slogans in support of Anna Hazare

high spirited!

future leaders..

an apt venue for the fast

romel, who accompanied me to the freedom park.

more placards

a lady speaking about her tryst with corrupt public servants

people signing up for the movement

On wednesday, when I decided to go for this, I heard so many highly negative comments from all around. I read similar comments in various online communities and in our office bulletin board. It was the same old 'Nothing's gonna change here', 'whats the use', 'This won't work' kind of comments. Thankfully only few congress,BJP symathisers and ultra pessimists share this view. They came up with all kinds of conspiracy theories like Anna Hazare is trying to gain a back door entry to government and that 'civil society' will hamper the development of this country. Either these people are utterly hopeless fools or are acting like fools even after knowing the facts. So, stamp out the negativity. Get out and support in whatever way you can. Your presence at the venues can make a lot of difference(even if its for an hour). This might or might not be a success. But the fact that atleast some of us will now think twice before paying a bribe can bring about a change. Wish atleast half of those who came out at midnight to cheer the Indian cricket team's world cup win, turns up for this.

Check the location and contact person in your city at this link- http://indiaagainstcorruption.org/citycontacts.php

The complete draft of the Jan Lok Pal bill and everything that you need to know about the issue is available in the site- http://indiaagainstcorruption.org/

It was heartening to see a big crowd of software engineers take out a protest march all over electronic city today evening.

your crusader Praveen

Diversity in Unity  

Posted by Praveen in , , ,

wish everyday we could do this...see each other as Indians rather than with the colour of religion.

It was spontaneous. People from every nook and corner of the country came out of their houses last wednesday to celebrate India's victory over Pakistan in the cricket world cup semis. In a giant show of oneness, Indians from various social stratas and belonging to different religions and castes celebrated together. They hugged each other. They danced together. No questions asked, no thoughts processed on whether they are dancing with someone from another religion or from a different social class. Chaiwala hugging bigshot bussinessman, construction workers dancing with software engineers, congressman giving high five to communist. The scenes were surreal. For once, a majority of India had matching thoughts and matching actions. Similar scenes were repeated on saturday too, after India won the world cup. For just this one day, I'll always be thankful to this game. How I wish everyday we could win a world cup!

At the same time, there's a diametrically opposite, pessimistic viewpoint which tells me that all this was just in the name of a game. We never come together in such massive strengths for anything else. If ever we do come together, we look at the colour of the feathers of the birds flying with us. Yes, we come together to celebrate religious festivals with our fellow believers, we come together for riots with our fellow fanatics, we come together to fight for our respective languages, we come together as congressmen and saffron brigades...We never come together as Indians, except for trivial things like sports. No, its not anyone's case that such coming together for sports is bad. Just that, how beautiful it would've been to see that togetherness in our everyday life. Alas, once we all walked back to our houses and wrapped up the tricolour and placed it safely in the cupboard(not to be touched until the next big match), our togetherness also seemed to dissolve. Dissolved in our myriad differences like a a single white drop in a multi coloured ocean...something that can be called unity (lost) in diversity.

When will we come together like Egypt or Tunisia and give it back to our leaders for looting and fooling us? Maybe, Anna Hazare's indefenite fast against corruption that started yesterday is a good starting point. (http://www.indiaagainstcorruption.org/). Find out the location of the fast in your city, join in for sometime and support...

Some more shots from that wild night of celebration after India's world cup win

Sachin...One billion hearts....one wish...one dream fulfilled

the joy overflows..people celebrating inside and on top of a state transport bus


the spirit..

dedicated to THE MAN! Sachin!

I can't drive anymore...I want to jump!

people greeting strangers on the streets...how cricket unites people!



your crusader Praveen