Monday, February 22, 2010

Drive “sam-aapt”

The school collected 1000kgs of newspapers in all! The funds generated from their sale should get one child education, clothing and food for a year - A big accomplishment for St. Anne’s considering the drive was organized only for three weeks.

I hope the students took home some lessons in teamwork, leadership and self motivation as well. We will be organizing a session on teamwork courtesy Art of Living for the students in March. Updates on that session soon!!

A big thank you for everyone who made this drive a success

Friday, January 29, 2010

Project Shiksha at St. Anne’s High School

So like I said in the previous post - The stage is set. Every student from Std. 6 to Std 9(each standard has 5 divisions-A to E) from St. Anne’s is going to participate in collecting newspapers for a cause. To make this drive a little more exciting we have organized an inter-house competition as well in the school. The houses (red, green, yellow & blue) are going to compete for precious points.Points based on who collects the maximum amount of newspapers by weight. These points would be clubbed with those earned from various inter-house competitions(sports etc) in school.
The first week’s collections would be announced tomorrow. The last date for the drive is 13th Feb 2010. We hope to collect at least 300kilos from each house over this period.

Fingers crossed!!

Mumbai school students take charge!

The stage is set – 1200 odd school students are going to help at least two children from the tribal belts in India go to school for a year. The schooling is going to be provided by the Art of Living foundation. In Art of Living’s own word –
The Art of Living Foundation aims at providing free education to rural and underprivileged populations. We provide excellent services in the field of education for children especially in remote tribal villages. The schools setup by The Art of Living Foundation, impart value-base education in a stress-free and child friendly environment. In these schools, which combine ancient wisdom and modern technology, children get the opportunity to both broaden their vision and deepen their roots, and thus develop in all facets of life. The schools emphasis is placed on a value-based holistic education which enables the complete development of a child’s fullest potential. This is done through the creation of an environment that fosters learning. This program has been fully implemented in India, and is now in the planning stage for countries in South America and Africa.
In addition to the basic academic curriculum of science, math, reading, language and arts, a program of self learning that develops life-skills and nurtures leadership is taught as a core component. Special attention is given to human values, health and hygiene. The children also learn yoga and meditation, which help them to handle their mind and emotions. Special attention is given to maintaining the local culture and heritage by cultivating interest in indigenous language, music, arts, and sports. Vocational and art classes provide older students with the practical and creative skills required to make a living and to help make their personal lives fuller.
The statistical data of tribal schools is given below:-
- Program launched in April 1999
- Designed to support the native indigenous (tribal) population and to help achieve equal opportunity for all
- Primary education provided to first generation school boys and girls
- Basic education, health and hygiene and human values taught
- Yoga, sports, music and dance integrated into the routine to keep the children rooted in their native culture
- Specially trained teachers recruited from the villages to teach
- 30 schools built in rural and tribal areas with high illiteracy levels
- 1,492 children currently being educated through the foundation's tribal schools

The children enrolled in these schools are from families who are below the poverty line. These children are actually the first generation in such families who will be attending schools. To support the educational needs of these tribal students, the youth of Mumbai have initiated Project Shiksha – let us each one, teach one.
The aim of Project Shiksha is to sponsor education of children in tribal villages. The idea is to collect old newspapers from society and sell them to generate funds. The funds raised are utilized for sponsoring the education of children in the tribal schools of The Art of Living Foundation.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Mumbai - Blanket ban on plastic bags- Article in HT

Click on image to go to article

Vile Parle bans Plastic bags -Article in HT

Even as the civic body is planning to ban plastic bags, residents of Vile Parle (East) have launched a campaign to make the suburb free of plastic carry bags.
More than 35 resident associations and community groups in Vile Parle (East) have joined the initiative by civic engineer Subhash Dalvi, who has formed a core committee of vendors, shopkeepers and elected representatives.
"More than 50,000 cloth bags were distributed at a cost of Rs 5 per bag. The vendors were given options like stocking paper bags instead. They readily agreed as the cost was much lesser than that of plastic carry bags," said Dalvi. The initiative is catching on, as locals are supporting the cause.
Dalvi said the project began with creating awareness among the vegetable vendors in Vile Parle for the need of using cloth bags instead of plastic.
Fisherwomen at Vile Parle (East) have stopped using plastic bags and are wrapping fish in paper. People have also been urged to bring cloth bags from home. "We are trying to do our bit to help save the environment," said Shai Koli, a fisherwoman.
"It was a small-scale project that we tried to implement in our vicinity, but with the help of citizens and shopkeepers, it has gone to become a major social initiative," said Dalvi, who is also a resident of Vile Parle.
"We only sell things in cotton bags or paper bags. No local comes to our shop and asks for a plastic carry bag. The initiative should spread across the city," said Bakulbhai Thakkar, owner of Decent Chemist in Vile Parle.
"Since May, we have stopped giving plastic bags for takeaway items," said Jaiprakash Shetty owner of Geeta refreshments in Vile Parle.
Other suburbs like Bandra, Khar, Santacruz, Vakola, Byculla and Malad also plan to adopt the initiative. Some groups in Dadar plan to start a similar campaign in Dadar from January. "The Dadar vegetable and flower market generates a lot of plastic waste and such a campaign will help reduce it," said Rajan Taran, a Dadar resident.
Anandini Thakoor of the Hwest ward federation said: "We have begun groundwork to implement this by January 4 in our vicinity [Bandra to Santacruz]. We are also trying to convince licensed hawkers to stop using plastic carry bags."
Mayor Shraddha Jadhav, who is set to table a proposal this week to completely ban plastic bags, said that citizens' participation would help take the initiative forward.
Rajendra Bhonsale, deputy municipal commissioner (encroachments) said, "It's participation from the public that makes such ideas a success. The civic body will certainly extend all help to these groups."
At present, there is a ban on using plastic bags thinner than 50 microns.
According to statistics, Mumbai generates 8,000 metric tonnes of garbage every day of which 4 per cent consists of plastic.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Mumbai Traffic Police – Now Online!

Think of this scenario- You commute to work every day in Mumbai and cross a particular traffic signal on your way to work. You feel that the traffic light should be green a little longer. You contact the traffic police via their online portal’s complaint button at and voila- The signal is green longer.

I missed one crucial point in the above scenario. The ill-timed traffic signal wasn’t allowing enough traffic to flow across which led to longer waiting times for motorists stuck at the signal. This translates to more fuel being wasted – Despite all the advertising very few people switch off their engines at signals.
This signal wasn’t always ill-timed. The 20 seconds for which it remained green was good enough when there were no pubs, restaurants and coffee shops in the narrow lane leading up to a major road. Today it demands at least 30seconds. And the traffic police did just that after I complained through the portal.

In hindsight I feel the “chalta hai” attitude of Bombayites /Mumbaikars is what allowed this problem to persist for as long as it did. When I first noticed the problem I asked a traffic cop at the signal why he didn’t do anything about such an obvious issue. He said he didn’t have the authority and that I would need to send a letter to the Worli branch(20kms from my home) to get the timing rectified.
A fast google search solved the problem (Check the link above). Mumbai is your city as well. Do find the time to solve the minor problems in your vicinity. Cumulatively these solutions go a long way in making our city a better place.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

From gadgets to mails

Another interesting aspect is related to the carbon footprints of spam mails. A McAfee study says that the mere act of people around the world deleting spam and searching for legitimate email falsely labelled as junk creates the annual energy consumption equivalent in the US of 2.4 mn homes using electricity, with the same GHG emissions as 3.1 mn passenger cars using 2 bn gallons of gasoline.

The average greenhouse gas emission associated with one spam message is 0.3 grams of CO2, about the same as driving three feet in equivalent emissions. When multiplied by the 62 tn spam emails sent globally, that is like driving around the earth 1.6 mn times! So just think how green is your inbox.

Even the storage of emails contributes to environmental hazard, warns writer and environmental activist Sami Grover. Retained data means storage space used; storage space used means energy consumed; and this means nothing but carbon emission!

Our drawing room is also not that green either. An average television or computer running for eight hours per day generates 618 lbs of CO2 annually. And for a laptop this is 77 lbs.

Dangerously e-wasting!

The concept of long lasting is a pass for the modern-day man, who is turning away from the earthly feelings. We have no prick of conscience in changing the gadgets like soiled clothes! But again we feign ignorance about one thing our contribution to e-waste. The problem of e-waste management warrants greater attention. Unlike the organic waste, e-waste doesn’t decompose and the hazards thereof are beyond our imagination.

A major concern is that developing countries are falling victims of this e-waste threat. According to the UN Environment Program (UNEP), up to 50 mn tonnes of waste from discarded electronic goods is generated annually, with the majority being shipped from the west to developing nations.

PC maker, Dell, recently announced its strong stand against e-waste export. Nokia’s recycling program is also worth mentioning here.

And, interestingly, though we are all concerned about the R-word that made the world economy make a nosedive, statistics show a shade of green in the environmental front. A study from America says that ever since the global economic meltdown began, energy-related CO2 emissions in the US declined by 2.8% in 2008. The Energy Information Administration estimates this as the largest annual drop since the US government began recording the data in 1990.

So, should we say a green cheers to the economic meltdown that saves Mother Earth from the dangerous global warming?

- Dataquest

How Green is our gadge life?

A couple of days back, while attending a green initiative by the International Indian Film Academy in Gurgaon, evergreen superstar of Bollywood, Amithabh Bachchan made a startling remark, To go green you should get rid of the mobile phone that you are using!

And this statement assumes greater significance in today’s tech-driven world, where gadgets are becoming style statements; at times even becoming kind of an extension of the human body.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, a gallon (around 3.8 litres) of gasoline has 131 MJ of energy and emits 8.8 kg of CO2. Based on this, if we calculate the energy consumption in the manufacture of a mobile phone, it would come to 1,390 MJ of energy, while CO2 emissions would be 60 kg, says a blog post in Likewise, the production of a computer and monitor takes 6,400 MJ of energy, or 4.6 times that of a mobile phone.

According to another report published on, carbon emissions from personal gadgets (such as mp3 players) and electronic devices (including televisions and mobile phones) will rise drastically over the next twenty years. The report, quoting a study by Frances International Energy Association says that their energy-use would triple between now and 2030. So, you understand from where all the bullets pierce the fragile ozone layer!

The IEA pointed out that over half of the world’s population now has a mobile phone and forecast that the number of PC users will surpass 1 bn in 2009. If we fail to adopt new policies, the energy consumed by such devices will rise to 1,700 TW hours by 2030, significantly undermining efforts in reducing global emissions, it warns.

According to the IEA estimates, by 2010, there will be over 3.5 bn mobile phone subscribers, and 2 bn televisions in use around the world.

It is this awareness about environmental hazard that prompted Ericsson and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to partner in encouraging the use of climate-smart telecom solutions across industries.

According to a recent study by Gartner and WWF, the ICT(Information & Communication Technology) industry has been slow to embrace the low-carbon economy, and is missing out on opportunities. The ICT industry is responsible for approximately 2% of global CO2 emissions.

-Dataquest (Edition: June 30, 2009)

14 firms shortlisted for city makeover - TOI

MUMBAI: The dream to re-mould the city and its surroundings into a cleaner, greener and a hi-tech metropolis is firming up with the state shortlisting 14 international firms out of 39 that had expressed interest in the project.

The programme, meant for the city and its metropolitan region, involves the drawing up of an overall prespective plan, which will be worked upon for the next 30 to 40 years and will cost around Rs 6 crore. The shortlisted firms are from three continents.

"After receiving letters of interest from 39 firms, we screened and shortlisted 14 from them. Now, the steering committee, headed by MMRDA commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad, will examine these 14 firms and the bids should be in by September. We plan to appoint the consultant by the end of October,'' said UPS Madan, head of the city transformation unit of the All India Institute of Local Self Government, which is helping in the Mubai makeover plan.

The steering committee members include municipal commissioner Jairaj Phatak, the urban development secretary, chairman of Bombay First Narinder Nayyar, city planner V K Phatak, architect P K Das and former chief secretary D M Sukthankar.

Madan said the plan would have several broad parameters to be worked upon, including housing projects aimed at reducing the number of slums and developing economic centres in the metropolitan region. "The plan will also focus on transport and better use of land. A list has also been drafted for certain sectors, which need investments from financial institutions in India and abroad, to give the city a global makeover.

Narinder Nayar, chairman of Bombay First, said they would also emphasise the development of social infrastructure such as educational and health institutions to ensure a holistic makeover of the city. Several civic groups and NGOs have not been too happy about the infrastructure projects in the city, which they feel, has not given importance to social developments.

Among the consultants shortlisted are Jurong Consultants, Singapore, Lea International, Canada, Urbis, Dubai, Calthrope Associates USA, Groupe SCE,France, Gensler,USA, ILFS and Perkins Eastman, US, Arup Consultants with Domnique Perrault (France), Atonk International/Edsa, US, Buro Happold, London, Maxwan Arehelt, Rotterdam, GFB, Germany, and Consulting Engineering Services, India.