Monday, June 28, 2010

Launching SMS Based Early Warning System

My friends, I am glad to inform you that with some necessary assistance from some of my close friends, and with enormous encouragement from many, I will be launching a SMS based Early Warning System on 01 July 2010. The system is based on Microsoft .Net Framework and will work to serve the poor and vulnerable, and to inform the funding agencies and non-profit organizations with Early Warnings and Alerts in times of emergencies. The service will be provided entirely free. (I have initially spent about Rupees 40,000, and I believe the running cost will be restricted to about 20,000 rupees per year.) I hope to work on this system for the next three months, strengthen it, and then hand it over to an organization who would continue the activity on my behalf, and for the benefit of the people. By the time of launch, we will be having over 1,000 persons already registered to receive the SMS. I hope you all appreciate this! Every message comes with the sender id: AlertIND.

The next thing I want to do is to set up community managed Rain Monitoring System, with simple gadgets to measure rain.... Anyone has an idea, or a simple gadget for that? I wish to set it up across at least 400 locations in the State, and interlink them, so that every severe variation can be noted, and informed as a Warning to the people. (May be students in Seattle or Western or Cornell or in Germany should go for this challenge!)

Monuments, Cathedrals and Tombs

I have begun to wonder why most monuments are relating to death or murder, and not relating to life and peace. We have in India, Taj Mahal, the finest of monuments meant as tomb for the wife of emperor Shah Jahan. There are hundreds of them across the country and the globe that mark similar things. We have the Humayun’s tomb in Delhi, St.Thomas’ Mount in Chennai, and the tombs of several kings and queens across the country. You can also get to see the memorials built on war sites! Memory of the victor having taken lives of many. There is something different in Christian religion. We have the tombs to bury the dead. And the Cathedrals, normally the biggest ones in a diocese, and known for their grandeur and artistic worth, are the burying places of the Bishops! And in their effort to have the best of places in the cathedral, and to leave them name for posterity, some of the Bishops build grand structures, only to build them as “graveyards of bishops”. Monuments, Cathedrals and Graveyards, all three seem to have one thing in common: the dirt is buried underneath. [This is not written to hurt the sentiments of anyone, but as an expression of deep sadness because a Cathedral is being built with millions of dollars, and the poor workers are not getting paid even 30 dollars a month!]

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Anawim of Yahweh and Worship of Money

As I write this, my favorite channel CNN-IBN is having a discussion on “Business of Spirituality”. And that made me write something that I have been reflecting about for the last three years. My mind goes back to Raiganj. The teachers teaching in the schools of catholic Diocese of Raiganj are getting paid about 1200 rupees (30 dollars) a month! The domestic workers who work from morning 6.00 a.m to evening 8.00 p.m are getting paid between 30 – 35 dollars a month. And the church is building a huge Cathedral, worth over 80 million rupees. Most people have estimated that it would hit about 100 million rupees by the time it is completed.

We have spiritual pedagogues and demagogues controlling religion and the religion is getting capsulated in the arms of a few. There is a move from worshipping God of the Poor and respecting the Poor of the Lord (Anawim of Yahweh) to a vulgar worship of wealth.

I read in a poster written by the Dravida Kazhagam party in the southern temple city of Madurai about five years back in the week of celebrating the marriage of Goddess Meenakshi. It said, “We have girls who cannot afford marriage once, why do we need marriage to a goddess every year?” That is it. Why do we need huge temples for a God who lives among the poor who cannot afford brick walls that can withstand simple storms that destroyed 90,000 houses and killed 45 in just 30 minutes by throwing down their mud houses just couple of months ago? Before I moved to Kolkata I had written to the Bishop of Raiganj requesting him to increase the salary of teachers to 40 dollars a month (Rupees 1500) and the salary of domestic workers working in the children’s hostels and presbyteries to rupees 1800 (45 dollars). Well, understandably, I got no reply. Long live Mammon!