Saturday, May 29, 2010

Rural Tech Bio?

Love, the longing for beauty, the thirst for religion, the yearning for truth: these are all eminently human energies, and through the expression and manifestation of these energies great changes are brought about in the human environment.

(Daisaku Ikeda, contemporary thinker)

Green, lean, alive, and creating wholeness. CFLs, carbon credits, LCD monitors, timed devices. This would sum up the traditional paradigm of the man-environment matrix. Translate it to governance or a corporate-financial framework and we can still work within this paradigm. It is a very comforting one. We can, today, trade environment.

Doctus, a group of ITES/BPO units based in Hyderabad, set out in 2006 to redefine this understanding of the environment and to rethink what we can do to create the future we want . At the heart of this endeavor was the conviction that the environment, whether it be in administration of the land, education, business, or at the more simplistic level, in the fields of green and gold that embody the richness of our country, is but a reflection of our selves. Our actions create the environment we receive and are part of. In a person’s journey of morality and understanding, the simplistic self and not-self model of man and environment always evolves to a higher non-dualistic model.

After setting out with a simple agenda of imparting BPO and Medical Transcription training with the motto of "learning to get better," Doctus put its feet on the soil of Kavur, Andhra Pradesh, in 2007 and set up a 100-seater ITES/BPO unit in compliance with international norms in a location that had questionable-to-absent power and internet, a good 40 km from the nearest railhead, and with almost no supporting infrastructure to run a business out of. Two very challenging but successful years down the line, this humble beginning has to a great extent changed the life of the ordinary Tenali-Bapatla graduate to where he no longer needs to truck his bedding to the city to make the livelihood he aspires for. Doctus has taken the city ITES/BPO job and translocated it to the village (tier V), revolutionizing the entire village economy, in what we humbly call the hinterland of Kavur.

Ramakrishna Tummala, whose brainchild the Kavur Rural BPO project was, considers this a step towards building the environment. From a haunted village where empty houses gathered dust over furniture belonging to deceased elders of grown men in cities with 5 digit zip codes, Kavur today bustles with young men and women who are sometimes shunning the glamor of a city job (in the AP marriage market, you are nobody if you are an insurance claims adjudicator for the worlds largest but working over satellite lines from Kavur). An entire league of new economy ancillaries has sprung up. From 1 rupee shampoo sachets replacing 50 paisa ones (we are sorry, you no longer get them here in Kavur, you could try Vijaywada though) to typing institutes and computer training centers rattling with the sound of keyboards and change in the till, villages and towns around Kavur are creating a new and different environment.

At the end of the day, as our lives change and shine, as the tarnished bronze of our inner self is polished, the environment not only looks and gets better, it starts insisting on getting better and better. "Take this model," says Ramakrishna, "and apply it to any aspect of life, corporate governance, or any form of creation of value, or take it to the next village, and it will always result in the right course of action. One can learn from the organic life-force of nature and coexist and cooperate, or we can carry on doing what we have done so well for so long and destroy mankind. The choice,” emphasizes Ramakrishna, “lies with the individual.”

There are downsides, of course. Rentals are expected to turn four figure any time in the next few years. Women no longer depend on their father, brother, husband, son for their needs. In many an instance, the daughters of Kavur earn more than the rest of the family put together. Pollution and ecofriendly are becoming Telugu words in Tenali and Ponnur as vendors start putting out baskets to throw plastic and other waste into. A haircut costs more, and the barber's son is sending his son to learn computers and typing so that he can get a job in the village BPO. Neighboring village elders want a Kavur to happen closer to home. Yes, there are downsides.

We live in times where the words "environment" and "meltdown" have taken on a frightening synonymy. We, as a planet, clamor for the two degrees of our rightful coolness in the face of indifference and arrogance at the highest levels and of the highest order. We owe it to all the lives and efforts that have gone into creating this present, to our selves, and to our future to take steps to green minds, to green lives, to create leaders for tomorrow who will not blindly follow the destructive legacies that litter our history books, and to let our children know what a sparrow really looks like.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Storm Brewing

What do you call the tea timer chats that answer profound questions, solve dilemmas and produce serenity? 

On another note, as far as tearfree cutting of onion, I strongly favor the pulling out the enzyme filled root as far as possible.  It becomes progressively more difficult to pull the root out with smaller onions, and with larger ones, a mellow evening can really result in a lot of waste but no tears.

Here is the Wiki How for tear free cutting of onion.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Hotter than Hell

It is one of the "warmest" Mays ever recorded across the country.  I really agree, it is so warm that the TV weatherpeople have forgotten that this warm is called hot.  It is so warm that I would get a zero if I were writing an essay that were to be evaluated for expression and organization.

It was very hot in 1966 too.  I was less than a year old (there goes!!) when the Beatles claimed they were more popular than Jesus Christ, and it took the Catholic church this long to forgive them for it.  The Church (and I dont mean just the Roman Catholic church or the christian church, I mean all religious organizations) has some kind of karmic debt of apologizing for things that could have been avoided getting het up about in the first place.  Funny that if it (the fact that the beatles didnt know then that "jesus christ" throws up 34 million results on a google search today, compared to 27 million for "the beatles") was forgivable in 2008, which meant it was forgivable in 1966, wasnt it a real huge burden of resentment and hatred for the community to be carrying for these long years, passing it on from one generation to another? 
Abbey Road (Remastered)
Funny how human beings can hold on to their ego and pride, their insistence on winning and their stubbornness, even when it means the denial of the happiness that life invites us to.  The Beatles, that same year, also had to backtrack on the Yesterday and Today album cover art.  And all of this was at a time when the Beatles were on the verge of breaking up.  The Beatles, through their work and their lives, made all of us think real hard about everything, to question everything, to disagree with what was incorrect even when faced with the harshest of opposition for doing so.  We really need to compare notes about The Beatles some day.  But back to 1966 now.
Beatles Yesterday and Today Butcher Cover 18x23 Poster
It was very hot in 1966.  There was no Nobel Prize for peace awarded.  The world was in a lot of turmoil and a lot of people the world over were protesting against war and violence.  The 60s are known for the peace movement, the anti war protests, for the hippies, and of course, for Woodstock.  Billy Joel's We didnt start the fire talks about this time in a nice way.
An American Prayer

In India, Indira Gandhi came to power in January that year, setting in motion an era that was marked by immense development and global eminence for our young republic.  She was the only woman Prime Minister we have had, and her life is as tragic as it is one replete with heroic achievements.  Of course, she is (and perhaps will for ever be) better known for the dark days of the emergency, 1975 to 1977, when in her greed for power she chose to suppress the spirit of dissent among the people, and inflicted the most horrific measures to deny the democratic process.  While India emerged as a superpower and a global leader under her prime ministership, we also saw the darkest days under her rule.  One of the voices that gave a lot of us hope during those dark days was that of Jayprakash Narain, whom Sensei Ikeda met when he visited India.

It was very hot in 1966.  It touched 45.5 degrees in Hyderabad in 1966, and to date it has never gotten that hot ever.  This year, it is close to 45 days now that the temperature has stayed over (or just under) 40 degrees.  The last couple of days it has been playing with 44 degrees.  You know the rules, they haven't changed, but they are getting more important to follow with the year-on-year rise in summer temperatures. 

And in a week that was hot and depressing, what better task can we master than how to cut a pineapple.  I thought this was a good one from this master food writer, and it did inflict deep injuries to my pineapple cutting theory.

Hotter Than Hell

Read earlier posts
How to
Make Harissa
Make Sriracha
Make Marmalade


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