Needed – a paradigm shift

      India has been in the news recently for setting  ambitious goals ,some made possible with a very generous loans from the foreign Governments. While the initiatives are commendable,they have evoked mixed reactions.In this context ,the proposition presented herein needs  reflection.There is no gainsaying the fact that the need of the hour is prioritising projects of national importance.In order to correctly prioritise the same, a broad consensus approach taking all viewpoints and all stakeholders is essential.It is also important that all agreed projects are not inaugurated with a lot of fanfare and then left to languish due to financial,technical or administrative reasons.A proper and thorough feasibility report must be conducted including problems likely to be encountered in land acquisition.A 360 degree approach is needed and all enabling laws and legislation must be in place for a smooth and seamless take off of the project.Successive governments must display a high degree of commitment keeping the overall interest of the nation in view,The political parties must also give credit where it is due.All this is easily said than done.Finally it all boils down to sinking all differences and working toward a common goal of upliftment of the society and the nation at large.

       The above is only an illustration and is applicable across the board to projects.This will facilitate  a situation wherein only projects and missions which have been seriously deliberated upon and thoroughly scrutinised from all angles are given a go-ahead.An indirect spinoff would be many such projects will see the light of the day within a definite time frame.The Government could also be held accountable by an aware and enlightened electorate.The trust and credibility factor of the powers that be would also improve.This would put a stop to blame game  and improve accountability.We cannot afford to lose time  when it comes to critical projects of national importance such as building and modernising  the physical and social infrastructure.

 

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The adventurous descent

via Daily Prompt: Descend

      The word descend conjures up a mixed feeling of exhilaration and excitement.I vividly recall my trip to Gangtok in the state of Sikkim in India.Sikkim is one of the states of India,known for its natural scenic beauty and picturesque glaciers.We had planned a trip to the Nathu La pass  on the Indo-China border.After obtaining  security clearances we headed for the pass  in a jeep driven by a local experienced driver .The trip was indeed adventurous as we ascended to the pass surrounded by snow and glaciers and frozen lakes.We passed through a very undulating terrain and hair pin bends.

        After an enjoyable trip up the mountains,we started our descent towards late afternoon.While on our way back we got caught in a blizzard and the visibility became very poor.All of our team were indeed nervous and anxious as to whether we will be able to reach the base safe and sound.It was adventurous since our driver was the coolest person who kept assuring us that there was nothing to worry and that we were in safe hands.The innumerable hair-pin bends .at times blind ends and the thick blanket of snow would have deterred anyone.We all prayed for our safe descent.However despite all the gloominess our driver who was a Gorkha proved his mettle as a expert driver who could almost drive blinfolded in that route.It was as if he knew those trecherous routes like the back of his palm.It was a big relief for all of us when he brought us back safe and sound to Gangtok.We heaved a sigh of relief as we entered the town.We immensely thanked our driver friend and were full of praise for his driving skill and prowess and expressed our deep sense of satisfaction and gratitude for having made our trip memorable and adventurous.

Some pictures taken by the author at Gangtok and Nathu La Pass

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Conserving water-a precious resource

              The life sustaining fluid – water-has come to occupy centrestage in the present times.Conserving water should receive the highest priority by individuals,governments and the society at large.Increased deforestation and urbanisation have taken a heavy toll on our water resources.The rapid depletion of water table has meant an increased focus on adopting ways and means of preventing loss of water.Some of the small but important steps that we can take are detailed below:

  1. A lot of water gets wasted during brushing and shaving.Turn off tap when not actually required.
  2. Do not use dishwasher unless very much required.
  3. Practice  conserving the use of water while washing vessels as also while swapping floors.Instruct, teach and supervise  domestic helps to do the same.Turn off taps when not in active use.
  4. Teach children the importance of conserving water in day to day activities.
  5. Change the bathroom fittings such as shower heads,faucets and taps which are not water efficient.Fix leaks.
  6. Practice rain water harvesting wherever possible.
  7. Ensure that overhead tanks and sumps do not overflow .Install water level controllers to automatically stop at the desired level.
  8. Avoid  washing cars at home with hose.Use recycled water if possible.better still go to a car wash.
  9. While serving water in glasses for drinking do not pour full .Use only as much as required.
  10. In washrooms flush with less,wherever possible.
  11. If using half load of clothes in washing machine,do not use the full load option.

At a macro level ,there is a paramount need to revive the dying lakes and rejuvenate the acquifers.We also need to urgently undertake efficient rain water harvesting and conservation methods.It would not be improper to state that water conservation should become an integral part of our lifestyle.

Water and sanitation have been declared as a fundamental right according to a UN General Assembly declaration of 2010,It has acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realisation of human rights.In the Indian Constitution the right to water is not declared as a fundamental right.The right to life as per Article 21 however, is interpreted by the courts in several cases as encompassing the right to safe and potable drinking water and sanitation.

    It would be pertinent to recall the words of Mr Kofi Annan the ex- UN Secretary general that  “Access to safe water is a fundamental human need and therefore a basic human right.”It is to be hoped that all countries would take appropriate steps to make this dream a possibility.

 

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Judicial overreach vs activism

     The judiciary constitutes  an important pillar of democracy apart from the legislature and the executive.In the Indian context,we have been witness to several interventions of the judiciary in matters pertaining to governance,  the rule of law as also environmental issues.Some of these interventions have nudged the executive into action.While it can be argued that judicial intervention is not necessary in a democratic set up,it has been seen that there has been  inaction and apathy in implementing executive action on the ground even on issues where the legislature has debated,discussed and passed the necessary legislation approving governmental action on these issues.It appears that without judicial interventions there would have been no action on the ground whatsoever.Under these circumstances the judiciary appears to be the only hope for the common man.

      Many bills have already received legislative approval by the parliament of the country.However the necessary executive action has been tardy and indifferent.The executive cannot be seen to trivialise important legislation by delaying tactics often on the most flimsy pretexts.

  In some cases there has been an overreach of the judiciary into what truly constitutes the domain of the executive.An alert and and agile executive sensitive to public sentiments must ensure that important pieces of legislative decision are quickly translated into executive action.There is an urgent need for judicial reforms.Some of the archaic laws need to be revisited and removed or modified in light of the contemporary realities brought about by societal transformation as also technological advances.As part of a global family our laws must keep pace with other countries of the world.While legislative and executive action are needed the real test would be to ensure effective implementation on the ground.Ultimately the law of the land should be supreme and must prevail.The debate over activism and overreach would cease to matter in an ideal scenario wherein the executive is sensitive and proactive, and good and effective governance is paramount.

                                                                                            Image courtesy https://fr.m.wikipedia.org/wiki

Kindness of strangers

         We experience several incidents in life,which leave us for the better or the worse.Some of these experiences leave an indelible mark on us.They get so deeply etched in our sub-conscious brain that it is almost difficult to entirely eliminate them.One such incident which I had experienced was the honesty and integrity of a cab driver .I had rented a cab to attend a function at my cousins house.While alighting from the cab at reaching my destination I had left my expensive cell phone in the rear  seat.I did not ever  imagine that I could have left the phone since I am very careful in ensuring that items are not lost.

      It was after a full two hours that my cousin informed me that someone wants to see me at the main gate.When i went towards the gate i could see the familiar driver who had just dropped us.With a beaming smile he returned my cell phone intact.It was only then that I realised that i had left the phone in the cab.I thanked him profusely for his kind gesture and requested him to wait in order to reward him suitably.i went inside to get some cash.When I came out,I could not find the cab driver.All my searches inside and outside proved futile.Here was a total stranger who showed integrity and honesty with no expectation of anything in return.Kudos to him and may his tribe increase!

Labels and Perceptions

Label

via Daily Prompt: Label

         Whatever label we give a person creates a public perception .You would agree that perceptions do matter.A person perceived to be efficient ,meticulous ,creative and innovative is expected to be the same.The perceptions about a person can make or mar his prospects in a job.Therefore we need to be able to create perceptions .It is quite likely that labels are not the yardstick to assess a person.However, the perception born out of a label can be one of the many considerations.Therefore perceptions arising out of a label do matter.

Decoding science-CRISPR/Cas-9 technology

The CRISPR technology has created a buzz in scientific circles largely due to its implications in the realms of medicine and biotechnology.It is economical,quick and precise when compared to other similar techniques.Simply put,it enables researchers to edit DNA sequences by adding,deleting and altering nucleotide sequences.The technology depends on the cas-9 enzyme that facilitates cutting of DNA at specific points along the genome for the introduction of defined sequences of interest.It therefore facilitates the introduction of changes in the genes in the genome of a cell.Earlier chemicals or radiation were being used to bring about changes in the genome.However these methods were not precise and did not facilitate targeting of specific locations.They were also time consuming and laborious.

           The technology has provided an effective tool to make changes in not only the somatic cells but also reproductive cells.However the use of this technology in germline cells has lot of legal implications.Unless these implications are widely discussed and a certain acceptability is found, the use of this technology will be limited.Although considerable studies have been carried out in animal cells,its use in humans or even in plant cells in future will pave the way for major breakthroughs to solve hitherto intractable problems.This is a long term vision as at present.Although other techniques for gene splicing and editing do exist,the CRISPR technique has provided a precision toll for achieving the objective of genome editing.An enzyme cas-9 is associated with this function .The cas is a group of enzymes and cas-9 plays a vital role in sniping the DNA at the correct locations within the genome ,guided and directed by CRISPR. Promising forays have been made in targeting mutations in monkeys and in preventing HIV infection in human cells.

           Apart from legal issues,there would also be ethical concerns especially when it comes to its use in medicine.All these would limit the widespread acceptability of this powerful tool.As of now the excitement surrounding the prospects and potential of this technology far outweigh the other concerns.