Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Capital City

A sudden travel plan took me to Delhi and back in a day! The National Disaster Management Authority has formed a Core Committee to prepare a Guidelines on the Role of Non-Governmental Humanitarian organizations in Emergency Preparedness and Response. I am asked to be part of it. It was nice to be in Delhi, though just for a day, because I could catch up in the meeting with some of the seniors in disaster risk reduction and response programs. It was also a good opportunity to see how Delhi is developing under the leadership of that great old lady, Sheila Dixit.

I admire her for her political will, for her commitment to task, and her “say-no, hear-no” attitude towards her detractors, and setting her goals always high. In contrast to the elected government that we have in West Bengal, the problems in Delhi are a lot more complex, and difficult to control, because of the huge floating population it has. But, if we count in terms of performance, West Bengal is lagging behind. Our goals are short. Our dreams are just vanity. Our political will is anything but corrupt or inept. And our commitment to tasks is in returning hundreds of millions of rupees unutilized year after year. One good thing about this however is, it has clearly safeguarded the state from communal elements. Long live Bengal !

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Stones and Stony People

The week had some memorable moments: the arrival of a friend, Christine, a cousin of Regina Lyschik, and visit to some of the stone quarries in the farthest corners on the border of West Bengal and Jharkhand in Birbhum district of West Bengal, India. The area has hundreds of stone quarries stretching into two districts in Jharkhand and one district in West Bengal. The stone quarries are like huge open wells, running into 100 - 500 feet deep, where the black granite stones are blasted and then carried up by trucks that can go into these huge wells, and they are brought up to for breaking by hammer wielding men, and women and children carrying them into machines that break the boulders into small pieces. The visit to the places included two of my U.S. friends, students from Seattle University, Jeff and Loren joining me in the adventure. Although I have visited these places, some of the problems these people are into, came to light very strongly: a) There is obviously huge lack of access to health services, and the people certainly suffer from silicosis and tuberculosis; (b) The drop-out among children from schools to work in the quarries or to take care of the siblings so that the parents can go to work, is not as significant as one might think of. (c) The female workers are all young tribal girls; insiders say that older tribal women are not taken as they are not "sexually" attractive, and the young girls serve the sexual needs of men who control the quarries, and the thousands of truck drivers who come there, raising issues of sexual exploitation.

Someone must speak up. We shall speak up. Soon....with your help.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Pilot and the Surgeon

Weekend went off with Robert and Dan, friends of Jeff, a student who is interning with me from the Seattle University. Both Rob and Dan are friendly, out-going, serious in approach, and persons of strong character. Rob is a surgeon in Washington State, and was on a tour to India to see some of the medical practices here and to give a few lectures. My search for him in the internet showed that he is pretty famous in WA. Dan is his son, pilot by profession. As we traveled together through the length and breadth of West Bengal, I could get a lot of thing cleared on planes and how planes work. I never knew they had to work their hands and legs to turn a plane! Ha...ha...ha... We also had some good meals in the three days. A bit of site seeing, lot of talks and visits to some of the poorest villages that still need to see light of development.

Thank yo Rob and Dan for the wonderful memories you have left behind! God Bless!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Live with Liver

For those who are interested in saving their liver, there is some more health capsule....

Liver Damaging Habits:

1. Sleeping too late and waking up too late are main cause.
2. Not urinating in the morning.
3 . Too much eating.
4. Skipping breakfast.
5. Consuming too much medication.
6. Consuming too much preservatives, additives, food coloring, and
artificial sweetener.
7. Consuming unhealthy cooking oil.
As much as possible reduce cooking oil use when frying, which includes even the best cooking oils like olive oil. Do not consume fried foods when you are tired, except if the body is very fit..
8. Consuming raw (overly done) foods also add to the burden of liver.
Veggies should be eaten raw or cooked 3-5 parts. Fried veggies should be finished in one sitting, do not store.

We should prevent this without necessarily spending more. We just have to adopt a good daily lifestyle and eating habits. Maintaining good eating habits and time condition are very important for our bodies to absorb and get rid of unnecessary chemicals according to 'schedule' of our bodies.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Brain Damaging Habits

A group of friends from the U.S. sent me some information on good habits that can save your head and bad habits that can damage your brains. I thought of sharing it with you....

1. No Breakfast: People who do not take breakfast are going to have a lower blood sugar level. This leads to an insufficient supply of nutrients to the brain causing brain degeneration.

2 . Overeating: It causes hardening of the brain arteries, leading to a decrease in mental power.

3. Smoking: It causes multiple brain shrinkage and may lead to Alzheimer disease.

4.. High Sugar consumption:Too much sugar will interrupt the absorption of proteins and nutrients causing malnutrition and may interfere with brain development.

5. Air Pollution:The brain is the largest oxygen consumer in our 20 body. Inhaling polluted air decreases the supply of oxygen to the brain, bringing about a decrease in brain efficiency.

6 . Sleep Deprivation:Sleep allows our brain to rest.. Long term deprivation from sleep will accelerate the death of brain cells.

7. Head covered while sleeping:Sleeping with the head covered increases the concentration of carbon dioxide and decrease concentration of oxygen that may lead to brain damaging effects.

8. Working your brain during illness:Working hard or studying with sickness may lead to a decrease in effectiveness of the brain as well as damage the brain.

9. Lacking in stimulating thoughts:Thinking is the best way to train our brain, lacking in brain stimulation thoughts may cause brain shrinkage.

10. Talking Rarely:Intellectual conversations will promote the efficiency of the brain

And if you really think that you need to show that you have brains, start using it!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Recently newspapers are full of news about elephants invading into the commoners' land in northern districts of Jalpaiguri and Coochbehar and in Purulia and West Medinipur in southern Bengal. The shrinking of forest cover, lack of food, human settlements deep into the forests and poor being pushing to the periphery of the wild--all compounded together have left both animals and humans vulnerable to the vagaries of nature. My friends in WWF have been working in southern districts of Bengal, mainly in the Sunderbans where they are concerned about the declining number of tigers, and tiger invasion into human settlements.

I have no answers to problems like these. I am not sure if even the poor are looking for solutions. They have just no other go. They have submitted themselves to fate and poverty. Will someone speak up for them? Will it be you? Or, may be, me?