Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Organic, Hybrid or GMO.... Its so confusing

These days while doing grocery, we have started to look for seedless fruits. The seeds are a nuisance inside the mouth and particularly so as one can no longer consider spitting those out in our urban spaces. I am carrying a guilt because of this disturbing trend of laziness. Deep inside I know that seedless variety of fruits being against the rule of nature cannot be healthy.

I knew that these are hybrid fruits but not genetically modified and recently carried out a bit of research to understand this better.  I learnt that new varieties are created when compatible plants are crossbred. Sometimes this happens in nature due to cross pollination and sometimes it is made to happen on plantation. Grapefruits for example is a hybrid of a pomelo and a sweet orange which were crossbred on plantations in the 18th century. Oranana along with the above image however, is purely my imagination.

In addition to natural and hybrid food, we also have Genetically modified or transgenic food and crops. These food are produce of genetically modified organisms and known as GMO. The majority of GMO are engineered in the laboratory for herbicide tolerance through introduction of toxic chemicals into their genes with the intention to kill weeds or pests.

We would be naive to think that the chemicals that are engineered to kill pests and weeds will not harm mankind. The environment is not safe either as the environmentalists are concerned that GM foods can disrupt the entire food chain.

The creation of hybrid fruits and vegetables create a larger variety, while GMO produce does not add to the available range. The hybrid foods are known to have the following shortcomings as compared to the natural ones.

  • They have a higher sugar and starch contents which are not completely absorbed or used by our pancreas and liver.
  • The have a mineral imbalance which may lead to mineral balance in our body after consumption over an extended period of time.
  • These plants absorb excessive minerals from the soil, making it unsuitable for cultivation.

I also do not want to strangle the efforts of science and engineering as GMO does have some definite advantages if those could be made safe for human consumption. It could help meet our growing demands for food by arresting the loss from weeds, pests and crop diseases. And also save the cost incurred by farmers towards pesticides and herbicides. Bio scientists could also come up with different varieties that would resist drought or frost and save people from starvation.

…  till such time it will be prudent to  start our own organic farms with strategic ties with partners for successful barter trades.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Magical Reality ... Real but inside a dream

Dreams are illusion and could also be described as magical realism for good reasons. Although science would love to explain dreams through “alpha beta and gamma” stages of our sleep. I look forward to blog on that aspect at another time but now it’s time for surreal dreams.
Like magical realism, in this dream we find distant past present in every moment while the future had already happened. Here the protagonist is part of a dream which might be scary but without a doubt magical.
While inside the airport facility in a foreign country, he unintentionally loitered on to the tarmac. He had been following someone who was getting into an aircraft, a smaller one. The realization suddenly struck that this he is in a place that is normally out of bounds and must be illegal. He started to rush back towards the terminal building but could not find the place he exited. From the outside it is so very difficult to distinguish between doorways and glazing, most certainly done on purpose. He finally located a set of doors, but his relief was short-lived as to his dismay they led to an internal courtyard with high walls. It was virtually impossible to scale and moreover was partially covered on the top.
One of the doors could be opened from outside letting him re-enter the building. Otherwise he would be a sitting duck in front of a hunter or a prisoner inside a prison cell. He then discovered a series of exit ways from the building. Something quite similar to the checkout counters in a supermarket. Unfortunately they were all manned by armed personnel and there was no way he could get out of this place without verification.
Strangely, he told himself in his dream, “this seems to be serious trouble. Do I wake up and end the dream or let it continue and find out what happens at the end?” He decided to take the chances.
A nice Pakistani lady, slim and young, appeared from nowhere and bailed him out. The people manning the exit decided after a bit of persuasion to let him go. Though it was illegal to loiter around within the prohibited zone, they agreed it was a mistake and a pardonable one at that.

He still remembered her name the next morning. She was Shazia Khan.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Vision Twenty-Fifty - Keeping dreams alive for India

We may be young as a nation as we celebrate our 70th year of independence from the imperial powers. However, this doesn’t make us a new country, one the contrary we have existed for centuries and history bears testimony to the great kings, enlightened sages and people with heart of gold. Unfortunately many among us have started to erode the core values that we practiced and treasured generation after generation.
We belong to the land where the code of conduct for the society was governed by compassion even for strangers. We said “Atithi Devo Bhava or Atithidevo Bhava”. This is a verse in Sanskrit taken from an ancient Hindu scripture (अतिथिदेवो भव), which in English translates into  “the guest being equivalent to God”.  
Today as we stand saluting our national flag, it quite apparent that noble codes of conduct of our forefather have lost in the pages of history. People have lost humanity. Every other day we learn some gore acts carried out by a common person that makes deeds by hardened criminals look like a child's play. The following 3 incidents gives an idea about the severity of the situation that Indian society faces today.
Fallen Mother
We heard about the infamous murder case of Sheena Bora by her mother Indrani Mukherjea. Sheena Bora murder case. This incident caught the entire country in utter shock as they tried to comprehend under what circumstances would a mother take the life of her own child. The child was so unfortunate that the mother could also convince other associates to help her in such a heartless act.
Citizens without Compassion
The former could be treated as a case of a heartless woman blinded by own greed, jealousy or anger. But during the first week in August '2016, our nation watched with disbelief how a poor man hit by a tempo succumbed to his injuries on the road of the capital without any help. It was not a desolate place but a busy thoroughfare and hundreds of Indians passed on foot or in their cars without casting a second glance.No one stopped to help the dying man. The only person who cared to stop did so to steal the victim's mobile phone. Heartless People
Disgraced Doctors
We could hardly believe our eyes when we saw what a daughter and grandsons were doing to this 82 years old old doctor being treated for heart ailment in a hospital in Chennai. What is more shocking is the fact that trio attempting to kill the former doctor who is their own blood relation were themselves qualified doctors. Doctors turns life takers. The hospital CCTV camera has recorded, Dr M Jayasudha, entering the room with her two sons and asking the nurses to leave them alone under some pretext. Next they produced some documents believed to be property related and force her father to sign and then forcibly obtains his thumb impression. She then unscrews the drip and tucks the disconnected line under her father's bed and leaves him bleeding.
Had it been earlier in my younger days, I would have gone gaga with a futuristic vision of our country with robots walking the street while automobiles fly past. This will pretty much happen with the technology changing by leaps and bounds. We have already seeing the early signs of such a futuristic environment with driver-less cars, humanoids, digital pets and the likes. It might also be possible to have regular visits from other habitable planets of this universe by that time.
Indifferent of what happens to our built environment in 2050, I want humanity to make a comeback in my country. We do not want to witness a single incident like such that make us shudder in pain and shame. Neither should we be sitting quiet while the fools mocks us and all that we stand for. Experience have taught that change for good doesn't happen automatically. On the contrary it demands rigorous efforts by many and lead by visionaries backed with clear road maps. This space is probably not enough for such elaboration. Therefore I would illustrate my vision 2050 through the cover image and the following bullet points which are as a matter of fact the pillars that bears the vision:
  • Human Development: Improve education; arts & science; culture & heritage
  • Social Development: Address family cohesion; freedom of religion; freedom of media
  • Government: Provide good governance inspired by the time tested scriptures & philosophy
  • Economic Development: Address poverty and distribution of wealth
  • Environmental Development: Control natural habitats & pollution; sustainable developments
It’s going to be difficult path ahead but with strong will power and collaborative effort of all Indians, I am confident we shall reach there by 2050. Finally I shall borrow the words of a great Bengali poet Satyendranath Dutta and weave my dream. Lets all of us faith in our ability to succeed and sing in a chorus of billion voices that Bharat will rise once again to the pinnacle and hold the highest position at the world stage.

'Bolo bolo bolo sobe soto bina benu robe bharat abar jagat o sobhaye sreshtha asana lobe, dharme mahan hobe karme mahan hobe, nobodinomoni udibe abar puratono e purobe '
This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

.... and let there be Hope

The media seldom portrays the positive side of our society, while in reality good things happen constantly leading to integrity, hope and trust. Through the following narratives, I have shared two of my recent encounters in Kolkata that give rise to hope.

Adhaar Card
We took the first opportunity to walk up to the bureau office to get our applications through unscheduled registration. We were elated by the professionalism demonstrated by the government officer on duty that day. After waiting for some months and a bit of follow-up the day arrived to get photographed and fingerprints taken. Fortunately for us, it coincided with our vacation time.
We were pleasantly surprised to discover everything well organized and there was absolute discipline … an order not too synonymous with our land with billions. Everyone came strictly by appointment. 
My daughter and I breezed through the procedure and all waz well till it was my wife’s turn. Her residence proof document had parental home address and despite all cross references in our documents they did not accept our home as her residence. While the supervisor was slightly inclined to make a concession, the person on duty insisted on adequate paperwork. But he did leave us with one solution, that too quite politely.
We were to approach the councilor of our municipal ward and request for a permanent residence certificate. Hearing that I said to myself 
… “now are into a never-ending loop”.
We hesitantly went to the councilor’s office, unsure what to expect as they did not know us personally. She was a very cordial person and though about to leave, she stepped back inside. The required certificate was issued then and there. To my apologetic “thank you”, she smilingly reassured saying it was her duty.
Completing the remaining procedure back at the bureau was easy breezy. Before leaving I thanked the person in-charge saying
“you are doing a great job and insisting on proper documents will go a long way to weed out the infiltrators.”

Mobile Recharge
One of this days we went to the Spencer supermarket in Kolkata for shopping. While making a decision on a humble mop, we got stuck between an unbranded products priced INR 149 and one of a known brand that cost 400.
A sales lady was present there from the brand explaining the advantages of the product. She highlighted this one was entirely covered with plastic not letting any direct contact of water with the metal preventing rust. She also told us that there was a 50 INR discount in the form of a mobile recharge coupon that would work with all service providers.
I said, “fair enough, decision made. But do we have to come back all the way to collect the recharge coupon or it will be available at the checkout station?”
She said, “I will give it to you now.”
Surprised I asked, “Now! What if somebody takes it and goes away without buying the product?”
She said “How much would one gain by doing that?”

I smiled and thought common people of Kolkata have so much trust and integrity...... Let there be HOPE .......

Monday, August 8, 2016

Tripura & India's Olympic dream

Gymnast Dipa Karmakar qualifies for the finals in the Olympics 2016. She has made us proud and the whole country is looking at her with hope for a medal. She is without doubt the most famous person of the small hilly Indian northeastern state called Tripura.
Here I share a few fabulous landmarks from this state which I happened to have visited during July 2016.
The ujjayanta palace, the erstwhile home of the royals and currently a museum
The South-side gate of the palace
On the way to the Neer Mahal or the water palace
The Rudra Sagar, which houses the water Neer Mahal
Ma Tripureswari one of the Hindu Mythological Pith (holy places)
Bhueswari Temple, the original home of Ma. The story of this temple is immortalized in one of Tagore's stories. The story narrates how human sacrifice was abolished by the compassion of little children. you can find more about it in one of my earlier posts here Maa-tripureswari

Saturday, August 6, 2016

A Cityscape .... a thought

Sometimes we stare at a distant skyline and wonder about life. The thought of extraterrestrial life confuses us as we are unaware of any living beings in other planets of this large Universe. As a matter of fact, no one else knows about their existence either.

First I think we are alone and then chuckle to conclude .... maybe not!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Integrity: you & me - now & then

Integrity is the essence of everything successful......
Integrity for me means adherence to strong moral and ethical principles while conducting our life whether or not other people are watching. Bucky Fuller’s (R. Buckminster) statement therefore implies that one has to carry out all life activities within ethical and moral limits to be rewarded with success. Simply put, do good and it'll turn out good!
There is no denying of the fact that integrity of character is the minimum one requires for a success story although this not always the most visible trait of successful individuals. There are unfortunately many corrupts who gatecrashed into that league but we can always argue that exception proves the rule.

People have changed over the past century and today they are not so keen to retain the moral high grounds. Historian Warren Susman has opined in his book “Culture as History: the Transformation of American Society in the Twentieth Century” that the use of the word “character” peaked in the 19th century when it remained a key word in the vocabulary of Americans and Englishmen.” It was then very important to society and was promoted as an essential component of one’s identity. Integrity no doubt tops any list for good character traits. Other desirable traits could be:
  • Self-discipline
  • Conscientiousness
  • Honesty
  • Reliability
  • Optimism
  • Compassion
  • Kindness
  • Perseverance
  • Generosity
  • Courageousness
  • Authenticity
  • Forgiveness
  • Fairness
  • Humility
  • Responsibility
  • Respectfulness
  • Loyalty