March 07, 2007
"My parents have always been opposed to buying a TV and they were trying to explain to us the reasons why they were not falling in line with the TV-buying public.
We couldn’t understand all their arguments until they finally put it to us this way: TV is for those who will never get to experience the real thing. Do you want to actually visit, some day, all those beautiful places they show on TV, or would you rather be
happy with just seeing them on the screen? The choice simply put was: Buy a TV, or travel around instead. We chose travel. And I am proud to say that till today we have never allowed the idiot box space in our house. We have travelled instead to almost all
parts of India. I learnt snake catching in Pune, handled crocodiles in Mamallapuram, studied spiders and earthworms in Chennai and even travelled to Thailand and Malaysia in my quest to learn more about reptiles. All of which I managed to do because I never
sat in front of a TV."
Read the full article by Rahul Alvares, a young snake rescuer from Goa, who has recently won the ’Young Naturalist Award’ given from Sanctuary Magazine by clicking
March 06, 2007
IIT Mumbai, Powai, is saving electricity on a daily basis and it’s being done with a few thousand square feet of mirrors, discovers Piali Banerjee
The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) is doing it with mirrors
nowadays. There’s an initiative to save electricity on a daily basis in IIT,
Powai, and it’s simply being done with a few thousand square feet of
There are 12 faculty offices in the mechanical department of IIT where
using tube lights during the day is passé. Diffused sunlight is used
instead. (Like most offices, these too are designed in a way where
artificial light is needed all day.)
"Saving electricity is more important than producing it. That’s why we
decided to use the sunlight with the help of mirrors," says Chetan Solanki,
who hit upon the idea and set up mirrors in his own office, only to find
many of his colleagues asking for deflected sunlight in their rooms, too.
So, today he’s a busy man, organising mirrors for everyone.
"I’ve just received a fresh consignment of mirrors, so I’m ready to do up
10 more offices," he says.
So, how do the mirrors actually work? "A long panel of mirrors is fixed
above the windows of the office, facing the floor. This deflects the
sunlight from outside, onto the ceiling of the room. The ceiling being
white, and not-so-smooth, this light is dispersed to the rest of the room,"
"One more mirror is placed near the ceiling, which can actually redirect
the reflected sunlight bang on to the desk. Since this is diffused light, it
brings no heat with it."
For a 10 by 15 sq ft office, you need about 15 sq feet of mirrors, at a
cost of Rs 30 per sq ft. Since every office is fitted with two tube lights,
for a working day of eight hours, this ’mirrorwork’ saves 700 Watthours of
electricity, which works out to Rs 3 saving per day. It takes about six
months to recover the cost of the mirrors… After that, it’s a free lunch
Source: Mumbai Mirror dated 6March 2007
February 27, 2007
In February, 2007 scientists from around the world kicked off the Amphibian Ark project, a global campaign to protect the world’s vanishing amphibian species from a ravenous killer fungus, widespread habitat loss and exposure to pollution and global warming.
Project organizers are asking zoos, botanical gardens and aquariums around the world to each take in at least 500 frogs from a threatened local species to protect them from the killer fungus, chytrid.
February 25, 2007
Green Tech: Eco Software
Environmental degradtion affects everyone; is being
caused-in varying degrees- by everyone; and demands
some action from everyone. Some of these actions
could be as simple as switching off the lights when no
one is around, or aligning the text in a document before
printing for optimal usage of paper, or turning off a
computer monitor when the machine is not in use. Yet,
few care to do these in today’s high-pressure work
environment. This is where software comes to
GreenPrint: It’s a software application that sits
between a web browser and printer to make web pages
printer friendly before it gets printed. While printing a
web page, it’s not uncommon to find that a whole page
has been used just to print a single line (often the url of
the page), or patches of ink for an advertisment. The
application automatically removes the ads and aligns the
text optimally. And thus saves paper.
Surveyor:It promises to reduce a computer network’s
energy consumption by putting PVs into low - power
status when users are away or switching them off during
non-work hours. A PC consumes 588kwH of electricity
every year on average. and managing it could cut upto
200 kwH .
Such software need not necessarily reside in computers. They could be embedded into other systems too.
February 22, 2007
Selling the Tiger to Save it?
"Enforcement of wildlife laws in China is lax, one of the main reasons that smuggling is so rampant and this laxity will extend to the tiger farms rendering any system of monitoring ineffetive. In the event of the lifting of the ban on trading in tiger parts,
laundering of wild animals through legal channels will thus be the more than likely outcome."
Dr. Xu Hongfa, China Director of TRAFFIC agreed with Indian wildlife experts that farmed tigers will always be more expensive than poached ones, doing little to dampen the profitability of poaching.
What the Chinese government really needs to be focussing on is habitat conservation, Dr.u says. He blames the dramatic depletion of China’s tigers on an equally dramatic loss of habitat for the animals as a result of deforestation and expansion of large-
scale agriculture. Until some of its natural environment is brought back, no amount of breeding will save the wild tiger, he concludes.
Source: The Hindu dated 21/02/07
February 20, 2007
“In India, as in China, stimulating an interest in nature is a task of the utmost and immediate importance. With both economies growing at rates of around ten percent
a year, whole ecosystems risk being destroyed. In India the most recent example is the famed bird reserve of Bharatpur. The increased demand for water in Rajasthan has lead to the diversion of the water supply from Bharatpur, the winter home of 70,000 migatory
birds, or rather what was the winter home of 70,000. Since the local river was re-channeled the birds don’t come anymore….
In Britain surveys have found that 85% of respondents have stated that they learn most about their environment from television. Patently India is not necessarily
a direct parallel, however there is no doubt that television could have a positive role to play in creating awareness among India’s 1.1 billion people. A sizeable proportion of the population do not have access to television, but hundreds of millions do. It
is vital then that a strong and vibrant natural history industry evolves to supply this huge market with home grown films to reinforce the sense of wonder and respect for nature that needs to be there, so it can be defended…..
………….In my personal view creating air time on Indian channels is vital to generate a successful Indian wildlife film industry not merely as a platform to sell to
American channels but also help preserve India’s wildlife treasures…”
Jeremy Bristow, award winning environmental film producer
February 13, 2007
When one talks about E-governance for conservation, most of us dismiss the idea as one whose time has not come.
But an article I read at the following link called
the 100 dollar un-pc
reassures me that the day is not far when we can achieve that.
The article talks about the revolutionary product Nova net tv which is a PC costing less than Rs 5000/-
Rajesh Jain, co-founder of Novatium
says that in India’s PC market there are 10 million relatively wealthy Indians at the "top of the pyramid" who buy computers just like consumers in developed countries. There are an additional 30 million urban Indians at the "middle of the pyramid" and
100 million very poor Indians at the "bottom of the pyramid." "What we are saying is how can you dramatically bring down the entry levels for computing in this country and make it accessible to the middle of the pyramid?" he says.
Novatium’s approach has been to completely redesign the computer, slashing costs while keeping the form and functions typical
of a top-end PC. Once it’s set up, it doesn’t look all that different from a conventional PC—the basic box plus a keyboard and monitor. It installs and operates as simply as a television—you plug it in and switch it on. And the money doesn’t come from government
budgets or philanthropic largesse, but from Jain’s profit-oriented business model.
The concept owner and cofounder Prof. Jhunjhunwala and researchers at IIT came up with a plan that builds on the "thin client" concept
that has been popular in the West for years, but only for business applications. It uses a cheap microprocessor and removes the hard disk, CD/DVD drive and other costly and problem-prone components, leaving the keyboard, screen and USB port. Easier to maintain
than regular PCs, sales of thin-client PCs to businesses are growing at about 20 percent a year in developed nations, even as sales of regular PCs flatten. Instead of working backward from the PC, Jhunjhunwala pioneered a new architecture from the ground up,
replacing the expensive microprocessor with the guts of a mobile phone—thus tapping a supercompetitive industry with enormous economies of scale. In 2003, Jain and Jhunjhunwala cofounded Novatium, along with Analog Devices Chairman Ray Stata, with the aim
of taking thin-client computers into the home market.
Read the full article which appeared in News Week International at
February 11, 2007
Documentary film making in India has always been a challenging task.
Commissioned projects end up in the can after being screened to a select audience.
The public do not get a chance to see them as the screening opportunities are limited.
But “Vikalp” in Mumbai and traveling film festivals of Centre for Media Studies, New Delhi, and “film vans” in Kerala and Bengal are changing all that.
If you are an independent producer who spend hard earned money in making films one finds the investment does not come back and making more films remains a dream.
But there is hope here too. Production costs and Camera costs are coming down for one. Outlets for distribution like youtube.com and google videos offer a free platform to reach your videos to a wider audience. Video CDs and DVDs
are a possible distribution method too.
Read an interesting take on the subject at the following link
Making business sense of documentary filmmaking
February 08, 2007
Trip to Dachigam National Park, Srinagar August 2006
- Susan Sharma
Just like Maharashtra has a national park right next to its capital Mumbai, Jammu and Kashmir has a national park within Srinagar, just a couple of km from the heart of Srinagar. Dachigam is famous for protecting
the last few numbers of Hangul deer in the wild. Seeing a wild hangul was on top of my list when I visited Srinagar in August 2006.
August 15, Independence Day, was just a day away. The Indian Army was out patrolling, with an armed gunman at almost every 100 meters or so. Going to Dachigam meant organizing passes and special permissions, which the owner of
the houseboat we stayed in gracefully organized. So we set off to see hangul and black bear both of which are famous residents of the Park. Just as we entered the park we saw a group of grey langurs, again endemic to this forest jumping about in the trees.
On closer look these langurs did look different from the langurs we see in Delhi; much bigger and indeed, grey. I was happy that no one including the forest guard and the army person who accompanied us objected to my using the video camera.
Next stop was an enclosure where the forest officials had rescued a baby black bear whose mother had been killed (probably by angry villagers whose crops the bear raid often). This small fellow was trying eat rotis and drink
milk provided in a pan. I could have taken a photo but did not. Somehow the idea of photographing a deprived baby black bear in a cage right inside a national park did not appeal to me. (My camera bag refused to open for the leopards caged inside the Sanjay
Gandhi National Park, Mumbai too).
Suddenly we were told to keep away all cameras as we were entering a high security zone- permission to enter this area was difficult to obtain-Mr. Chapri our host informed us. Our group consisted of my husband, son and a French
couple. ALL OF US WERE CURIOUS-MAY BE WE ARE GOING TO SEE THE PROTECTED HANGUL FINALLY!
Our ‘Qualis’ entered a huge gate to reveal a beautifully maintained villa and park-the winter residence of the erstwhile Prime Ministers of India. We were told this was the private house to which Indira Gandhi retreated when
she wanted privacy. The outside of the building was paneled with oak tree logs. The garden had huge trees. A very peaceful place –right inside the Dachigam National Park!
What about the hanguls we asked. The forest guard replied that one has to climb up to much higher altitudes to see them and all those areas are now out of bounds thanks to militancy. He assured us that in higher altitudes there
were black bears and Himalayan Monals in plenty- but the area is infested with militants and none is allowed to go trekking.
I had seen a documentary on the demilitarized zone of South and North Korea. The film showed how the DMZ protected highly endangered deer and antelope population of those areas thanks to heavy patrolling and some awareness among
the army personnel who helped feeding these animals in periods of extreme weather conditions. May be a similar miracle is happening in Dachigam too- or is that being too optimistic?
Our forest guard companion was very happy to talk about his experiences. He was a dedicated man –dedicated to saving the black bear in particular. He passionately believed that the Dachigam forest will survive only if the bear
population is healthy and thriving. The forest belonged to them and then only to man he told us. We did see glimpses of gurgling streams inside. The air and water inside is pure and one will never get ill if you stay inside the forest, another Kashmiri who
was working with the rainbow trout project explained.
Our next stop was the rainbow trout center. Here the trout are bred scientifically and the produce sold outside at reasonable prices-one person is allowed to buy only 2 kilos in a day. The scheme is so popular, that all the produce
is sold out in a couple of hours. The trout center was well maintained. I had never seen such large trouts before. Gulmarg has a trout centre where tourists can buy coupons for fishing - again in a rationed manner- one coupon entitles you to four catches.
But the rainbow trouts there were not so big.
Suddenly we were told our time inside the Park was up. We had seen all that was allowed to be seen by tourists.
I asked for some pamphlets on the Park. Our forest guard friend gave a moth eaten book produced by Sanctuary magazine for the Department of Wildlife Protection, J&K Government. It had obviously been written at a time when the
Park had seen better days. I thanked him and as was happening all too often during our trip to Kashmir, my eyes filled up, this time for the beautiful animals in a beautiful park.
I could not but admire the pride and faith of the forest guard who reaffirmed my own faith that you can never subdue nature. In that sense our visit to Dachigam had a silver lining.
( Hangul stag by Joanna van Gruisen taken from the Sanctuary publication)
More photographs of nature/wildlife in Kashmir Female musk deer in a deer sanctuary on the way to
Aaaroo Ghorals in the sanctuary
Gulmarg slopes Lidder River which runs through Kashmir
Note: Our trip was organized by Discovery Journeys, Gurgaon. For customised and personalised trips/tours contact them at
February 07, 2007
HIGHLIGHTNING TOURISM’S ROLE IN CLIMATE RESPONSE
"There is now
unequivocal proof from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
and the Stern report that climate challenge is real and that we must
all play our part in its resolution. Tourism is an important sector
of the global economy and a vital link in human communications,
cultural interface and development. Like other key sectors, we play a
part in the problem and we have to be responsive and responsible as
temperatures, sea levels and other climactic conditions evolve. We
will work even more closely with UNEP and other sister agencies like
the International Civil Aviation Organization, as well as the private
sector, in exploring new patterns of consumption and conservation, as
well as fast track strategies for adaptation", Mr. Frangialli, UNWTO Secretary-General, said.
There will be two overriding considerations for UNWTO, the Secretary-
General added. "First, promoting responsible growth of tourism to
advance global trade, as well as strengthening the links between
people and cultures which foster mutual understanding. This will mean
innovative adaptation across the sector using all the tools and
technologies as they become available. Second, ensuring that tourism
remains a key tool to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and
helping poor nations lift themselves out of the poverty trap.
represents 40% of services exports and the world’s poorest countries
have comparative advantage in this area which must be encouraged as a
part of responsible climate change strategies."
UNWTO and UNEP have agreed to strengthen their cooperation in a
number of ways – most immediately, UNWTO will join the billion tree
planting campaign of UNEP and the environment agency will strengthen
its support for UNWTO’s Global Code of Ethics for Tourism to upbeat
the sustainability and climate response components. The organizations
will collaborate on the Tourism Climate Change Summits.
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) - BillionTree Campaign