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Categories: - General

Not a Drop to Drink

Written by: Zarak Rais, Blog Team-TOHRI

As I sit in my room and type, the candlelight is flickering and casting hazy shadows, matching the darkness outside. Electricity was snapped a few hours back and soon after that, the inverter ran out. It has been raining incessantly in Kashmir for over a week and now,floods have returned. The desperation and tragedy of three years back can be read on the silence of our faces as we listen to the rush of water outside. Rain had made the stream next to our house faster and murkier, threatening to spill over its banks with the promise of constant rain.People living in the low-lying areas next to Jhelum have cleared up their ground floors, praying that water levels recede, and they avoid the calamity they faced not long back, when the only thing they could see over the muddy brown water was at the top of their roofs, battered and waterlogged.

Human perception is a strange thing. Only after we are done mourning the loss of our precious belongings and done accusing nature of wreaking our lives that someone will delve deeper-and see the systematic and insidious massacre of our ecosystem. It's in ruins, it's a mess. One of the immediate reasons for the easy flooding of Jhelum was the choking of its wetlands and spill channels, with illegal encroachments dotting the whole area. Layers of silt reduced its carrying capacity from 35,000 cusecs to less than 20,000. When Kashmir suffered one of its worst floods in September 2014, we longed for a reprieve from the ferocity of the Jhelum waters, everyone thought of all the things they would do to stop this from happening again. And certainly, enough time was leased, so we could desist from the vandalising. We responded with all manner of ungratefulness and apathy. The embankments in high risk regions like Pathanchowk, Athwajan and Pampore-places in south Kashmir, were still weak and breachableafter three years of calm, the de-siltation process was ignored, and Jhelum crossed the flood mark after a two-day spell. No official record exists regarding any surveys conducted to measure the level and amount of silt accumulated over the years.

All of this goes on to show us just this-what an indifferent, insensitive and destructive population we have turned into. To what extent and how long are we going to bury our heads in the sand? What level of destruction are we waiting for to shake us out of our stupor and then to keep us that way? Don't forget-tomorrow was yesterday.

Categories: - General

Tiny Straws, Huge Problem

Written by: Lipi Bag, Blog Team- TOHRI
Edited by: Vidusshi Pathak, Intern at TOHRI

It was a usual Friday evening, and like most typical college kids we headed to our usual hangout spot- McDonalds (McD). Unlike other hangout places, McD doesn't burn a hole in our pockets, thus despite being bored of the same, we always end up visiting the nearest Community Centre branch.

"One McChicken Meal, One Big Mac, Two Large Fries, and Three coke". The order was placed and like our usual routine, I was the one who had to stand in the queue at the counter. Whilst the crew member was decorating our tray with food, I noticed something very unusual. Instead of the regular plastic straws, she gave us paper straws. I was awestruck, and at the same time impressed with this new initiative. This reminded me of one fine conversation I had with my Professor at the university. "Say no to Plastic Straws", she remarked! She informed about this initiative that a NGO was taking for banning plastic straws. She explained how millions of these straws were discarded into the water bodies which in turn choked the aquatic animals. "These paper straws aren't bad at all!", one of my friends' comment pulled me back to reality.

Post this, I came home and researched a bit about straws. From what I gathered, straws first came into existence during the Sumerian times, an early Mesopotamian Civilization, who used it for drinking beer. In later periods, people changed to rye grass straws, paper straws and plastics straws. The rye grass straw couldn't survive the marketing because of its property which made it mush in liquid. For the convenience of drinking, the plastic straws came into being. Little did anybody realize, the havoc it carried with itself. The plastics straws production also leads to petroleum consumption, which is again a wastage of our national resource. Additionally, it ofcourse adds to the global pollution. McDonald's switch to paper straws was because of the European Union's take on single use of plastic. By probing a little deeper, I found websites like the last plastic straw, who are working towards eradicating plastic straws. They are promoting requests of "no straw" at bars & restaurants and sharing that commitment with others. They dwell on encouraging people's favorite restaurant or bar to only provide straws on request from the customer and to use compostable or reusable options to the plastic straw. The most important problem of using straws is it's one-time use. In addition to that, it cannot be easily recycled.

"Any 'Green Solution' is a solution", noted Adam Merran, CEO of Pack n Wood. Furthermore,Starbucks announced conversion by 2020 to no-straw lids for most cold drinks, and paper or other sustainable-material straws for frappuccinos. Given the alarming issues of Plastic decomposition, most food and beverage companies are looking for a healthy alternative in place of a plastic straws. Although the paper straws are little more expensive than the plastic ones, it's better for our very own future. Reports confirm that a single straw takes around one thousand years to decompose, which thereby impacts our environment in a grave manner. Better safe, then sorry. Isn't it? Once these giant brands are taking stepping stones towards saving our environment, perhaps it wouldn't be long when the whole world as one, supports them.

Categories: - General

The Plastic "Story"

Written by: Lipi Bag, Blog Team – TOHRI
Edited by: Vidusshi Pathak- Intern at TOHRI

"Plastic, one of the most harmful substances which degrade our environment day by day, is on its way to destroy the world. According to The World Economic Forum's research on plastic pollution around the world, it is noted that oceans will have more plastics than fish by 2050, if plastic pollution continues to rise. India adds to plastic waste that is dumped into the world's oceans every year byapproximately 60%, which is alarming. The complex polymers of plastic gives it a shelf life of around 500 years, thereby making its decomposition nearly impossible. To curb the ever growing menace, the National Green Tribunal in Delhi NCR introduced a ban on disposable plastic like cutlery, bags and other plastic items. But is it helpful?
Despite the ban, there are several places where big polythene bags are being sold (See here). Apart from this, the use of several plastic bottle for drinking water is not being controlled at all, for plastic in all forms are dangerous. Be it humans or animals or fishes, every species is affected by these toxic plastics; specially, marine animals such as fish, seals, sea turtles etc. See here.

In the past few years, 'The Mountains are calling', has now rephrased into 'The Mountains are calling for help'. It has been established that the excessive use of plastic by tourists and travellers is causing a great environmental catastrophe in the hill-stations. The mindless use of plastic continues to inundate regions like Leh, and is being dumped at Bomb Guard indiscriminately, making residents worry. Increasing rubbish is ruining Ladakh's immaculate landscape. According to Mr. Alex, Future Earth, a staggering amount of 30,000 plastic water bottles are dumped everyday in Leh. Many measures are being taken by the municipal corporations, various NGOs and governmental bodies. However, the most responsible step of protecting the environment has to be taken by the individuals either visiting or residing in these areas.

In contrast to that, Sikkim, which in 1998 became the first Indian state to ban disposable plastic bags, is also among the first to target single-use plastic bottles. In 2016, Sikkim had decided to ban the use of packaged drinking water in government offices and government events. Additionally, it banned the use of Styrofoam and thermocol disposable plates and cutlery in the entire state in a move for cutting down toxic plastic pollution and tackling its ever-increasing garbage problem.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

Instead of asking for plastic bags to vendors, we can carry our cloth or jute bags for buying grocery. As a matter of fact, this was the traditional method used in rural areas for saving a nickel. Our smallest of contribution, helps in lowering the consumption of plastic, thereby reducing production of plastic.

Additionally we must avoid using plastic bottles or cups, for they cause serious health problems. Using glass or aluminium bottles are much easier to clean than plastic, because they are less likely to develop scratches and hold on to residue and odours. Small scratches, which plastic is known for, creates minute spaces for bacteria for grow. The reusability and longevity of glass bottles are way more than the plastic ones. We can also avoid using straws for our everyday coffee break. (Look how) Various campaigns have been launched which suggest women to use cups or reusable sanitary napkins instead of disposing plastic napkins every day. New initiatives are brought in which aim at accustoming people to use cloth bags as an alternative to the plastic ones.

These baby steps are really worth the effort on an individual level for it contributes to a greater cause of saying "No to Plastic" or rather eliminating it all at once by putting in efforts and "doing more and better with less" as is the aim of SDG 12- Sustainable Consumption and Production.

Categories: - Students' Voice for Sustainability


Content, Idea and Concept by: Ashapurna Das, Blog Team-TOHRI
Edited and Re-worked by: Vidusshi Pathak, Intern-TOHRI

"Mumma will they take us just like they took papa away?",said the little brown cub, Lapa.
Lapa was a cub in the small streak of tigers that lived in the great Sundarbans in West Bengal. He, along with his mother and siblings managed to survive just as the other 279 tigers.

To his question, mother, Reva had nothing to say. She remembered the day Tulsi, her husband fought for his life and told her to run away with the cubs. Shot in the middle of their hunting, Reva dared not to let her cubs walk alone in the darkness of a moonless night. Lapa was the youngest and the most curious cub among his siblings. He was the favourite amongst all the adult tigers and everyone was quite familiar with his mischievous nature . Regardless of being warned by his mother Reva a hundred times, Lapa went on his journey of exploration without permission. Reva would get worried; she only wanted to fulfill the last wish of her husband.

Lapa like other days sneaked out of his afternoon nap for his mischievous escape. He wanted to explore the environment, hunt like the adults, roar like his dad and find food for his mother. The little cub had realised that it was time for him to grow up, but was it too soon?

After wandering for more than two hours Lapa realised that he lost his way back home. There were no sight of tigers and not a soul could be found . It was an eerily silent place in the forest. He started to panic. Lapa ran here and there but he couldn't find any other tiger or cub, neither could he trace his way back home. The real trouble started when he could hear the rustling of leaves right behind him. Scared as he was, he turned around only to see 3 men armed with guns pointing at him. He recalled his mother telling him the story of 'monsters in human flesh'. He ran away as fast as he could, directionless.. The men chased him without fail, Lapa dared not to look back and kept running. After running for almost a mile, he heard a loud noise. Someone had been shot, but who was it? From his hiding he saw a tigress bleeding, it was his mother. The three men took his mother's corpse back to their truck. Lapa was shocked and heartbroken. He had experienced his worst nightmare. Walking along the way and still not knowing where to go he soon discovered small pieces of round rocks. He remembered what his mother said to him once " If you ever get lost, round pebbles will help you find your way home. But if you ever lose me, my darling, know that I raised you to be as strong as the pebbles below your paw."

Like Lapa, many other small cubs lost their parents in a one sided war. A war between humans and animals which started years ago as a leisure time fun-activity; hunting of animals was a hobby not many fancied, but with time it became more of a status symbol. Hunting of tigers grew substantially and things worsened before anyone could notice. We call it extinction. Tigers, considered one of the most strongest, fearless animals that were naturally a threat to all kinds of other animals were now a victim of human threat. Once a fierce dynasty was now a small clan losing its members every now and then for the evil greeds of mankind.

Categories: - Students' Voice for Sustainability

Sonnet: To Hunger, Goodbye

Written by: Lipi Bag, Blog Team- TOHRI

I saw thirty of them struggle
For grabbing those eggs
Alas! I just had three.
So, all I could do is gaze, at those faces meekly.
Running across in hunger and fatigue,
These were children of the street.

The epidemic of Malnutrition has been,
One of the major problems that the world has seen.
One meal a day is something that they cherish
Without proper food, we all know one would perish
We can go on wasting our luxury
But think for a while for those toddlers living in misery

Oh! If only we could care,
For the kids who live in fear.
Donate those leftovers to that little one,
Let’s make the world free from starvation.

Categories: - Caught by a thought

Did BCCI drop the ‘Smith’ catch in 2017? Yes, it did …

Has Steve Smith got caught one year too late due to magnanimous BCCI? Well , it seems like that.

Let’s get to the fact first. On day four of Bengaluru test in 2017, Smith, the then Australian captain, was caught on television looking towards dressing room for getting hint whether he should go for third umpire review or not after being given out by on ground umpire. However, while doing so, he got caught both by on field umpire and Indian captain Virat Kohli; and was sent back. Post match Smith admitted the gaffe but called it a brain fade. BCCI was quick to accept the Australian captain’s version and swept the controversy under carpet.

However in doing so, BCCI after initial burst of aggression against Australians subsequently completely ignored – and also ICC - the version of Indian captain about the incident; who was quite categorical post match about the issue. “I saw that happening two times when I was batting out there. I pointed it out to the umpire as well, that it’s happened twice, that I’ve seen their players looking upstairs for confirmation, and that’s why the umpire was at him. When he turned back the umpire knew exactly what was going on, because we observed that, we told match referee also, and the umpires, that they’ve been doing that for the last three days and this has to stop…” said Kohli in press conference. “… if something is going on for three days, then that's not a brain fade, as simple as that”, added Indian captain.

The moot point is Virat not only said that he himself had seen it but also mentioned that both umpires and Match Referee were aware of it; a claim that could have been easily verified by BCCI, ICC and even Cricket Australia which has been found so proactive during the recent planned ball tampering episode after losing face to the world. Even the video could have been reviewed. However no question was asked, no enquiry has been ordered and the game continued business (pun intended) as usual. Indian team swallowed complains, apparently prodded by BCCI; and so did former cricketer Sunil Gavaskar who observed immediately after the incident that he would like to see ICC’s response on the issue! The fact that BCCI runs the cricket coverage in television, where Gavaskar happened to be a star commentator, took care of his finger pointing.

What one also needs to observe is the similarity of the two scenarios and Steve Smith’s clear intention of winning at any cost! Was it just ‘win at any cost’ mentality on 22 yards or being propelled by something else beyond 22 yards , is anybody’s guess. In India, Australia, after winning the first test in 2017 series, came suddenly under pressure after generally dominating first three days in Bengaluru test and Smith knew that his dismissal was key to match , and perhaps series, fate. So came out ‘dressing room referral system’! Similarly in South Africa, Australia after winning first test lost the second one and was under pressure in third test and South Africa was threatening to take the game away. So came out the sandpaper! If a young bloke Peter Handscomb was made to tweet in India that he actually pushed Smith to look towards the dressing room as he did not know the DRS rules (laugh aloud) and Smith did as suggested (even louder laugh). Similarly another young guy, Cameron Bancroft, was made a direct scapegoat this time.

Clearly Mr. Smith, and number of his co- players and even support staffs, has been playing anything but ‘cricket’ in cricket ground for last few years;. It is difficult to believe the non involvement of dressing room in case of repeated referral brain fade; or rest eight cricketers on ground having no clue of ball being ‘prepared’ for reversing early! Well, even a boy playing school cricket will vouch for the opposite. Did ICC and Australia hatch up a plan to sacrifice three cricketers and save Australian cricket? Nobody knows. But one knows for sure that BCCI, ICC and Cricket Australia successfully played the brain fade theory in 2017, and brain washed cricket community in accepting this.

By : Jayanta Basu
Senior Journalist and Honorary Chief Advisor, Media and Sustainability Communication Programme, Tohri

Categories: - Students' Voice for Sustainability

Air Pollution: From Thrills to Chills

Air Pollution: From Thrills to Chills
Content by: Jagruti Panchal, Blog Team-TOHRI
Edited by: Vidusshi Pathak, Intern-TOHRI

Saanjh never had problem in breathing. Why would he? He was a healthy boy of fifteen whom even the Delhi air couldn't take a toll on. Like many, he actually prided himself in this fact. And like any other fifteen year old boy in Delhi, firecrackers on Diwali weren't just a norm but a necessity for him. That year as well, when the unpredictable month of October approached, , Saanjh and hundreds of other kids of his age weren't concerned with anything but the festival of lights. Though, not as much with the festival as with the blasting fireworks anticipated with it. Numerous stalls exclusively meant for Diwali shopping erupted spontaneously around Saanjh's residence on the street side which was a cue for his mother to start a house cleaning regime and for him to start nagging his father for crackers enough to last him until after Diwali.

Last year his father gave him an allowance of a thousand rupees, but the amount of crackers and rockets he bought didn't fulfill his satisfaction. So this time, after many tantrums were thrown by him; Saanjh was allowed a sum of three thousand rupees for purchasing as much firecrackers as he desired. He bought cartons of them.

As Diwali grew closer, his anticipation heightened, with only a partial stopper in between when an awareness session regarding the harmful effects of burning crackers took place in his class. Why were adults so obnoxious and always managed to put a damper on fun? Alas! was beyond Saanjh's imagination. He would never stop anyone from lighting crackers, he knew what joy and rush that brought and who is he to someone from that enjoyment? He would rather teach his kids from an early age the tips and tricks of burning rockets and ‘Anar' bombs. The fact that a fun activity for him was life threatening to people whose hearts and lungs aren't as blessed as his, never registered in his brain for even a moment. He came back home, changed at the speed of lightening, and went out with a matchbox and a packet of ‘fusli' bombs meant especially to be exploded while waiting for the big day.

An old man in his early eighties lived a few blocks away from Saanjh's place. He was counted amongst those anti-social, reserved people who usually didn't interact much with any neighbour. Perhaps, he preferred solidarity over gossips (as is the trend). Although, he was living in the locality for years now, no one seemed to wonder where his family was. Not one soul paid visit to him, except for some delivery boys carrying medicines. He was a mystery unsolved yet undettered. Within the boundaries of his two-room habitat lay many secrets waiting to be discovered. Saanjh, like all his other friends did not dare to cross paths with this man owing to his weird and unwelcome nature. However, he always seemed to be curious about the world beyond that door.

This year, the park in which Saanjh carried out his cracker sessions was, unfortunately, adjacent to this man's home. As soon as Saanjh started burning crackers the old man would scold him "It isn't Diwali yet and you kids are all over the place with those explosives" bringing the boy's mood to a lowly state. However, that wouldn't stop him from exploding ‘fusli' bombs and in the end the old man would wheeze and cough and leave Saanjh alone in peace by shutting himself in the house.

On the day of Diwali, everything was happening excruciatingly slow for Saanjh, be it the decorations and rituals or the mandatory meetings and greetings. All Saanjh was waiting for was a green signal from his parents so that he could rush out with his friends and celebrate Diwali with fireworks. As soon as he was given the minutest affirmative, he was in the park with his friends showing off his collection of crackers, (which was still huge even when a considerable part was exhausted before Diwali itself). He saw a glimpse of the old man at the porch of his house and with an enthusiasm (which can only be due to the festive mood), ran up to him and wished him a happy Diwali. This was his only attempt to greet the grumpy-faced old man.

The old man gave him a sad yet resigned look, and then exhaled "Nothing much happy about it, boy". Saanjh was left flustered. He behaved like a good kid and he expected some smiles in return.

But in an attempt to maintain basic etiquettes, he said, "Why not, sir? It is such a lovely day…err…night." he stammered.

The man just looked at Saanjh for what seemed like an eternity before replying in almost a whisper "I am old and I have asthma. This festival isn't happy for me, it is rather frightening."

He looked down at Saanjh again with his blank eyes, he wasn't hoping for the young boy to relate to his condition, he knew the boy was the last person who would empathize with him.

"What do you mean, uncle?" Saanjh was now regretting coming to greet this creepy man at all, wasn't it impolite to respond with anything other than "Same to you" when someone wishes you a happy something?

"You won't understand" the old man dismissed him and went inside his house.

Saanjh heard the locks being bolted and then silence. He stood there for some time, his young ego bruised. He didn't want to understand anyway, whatever the old man was going through or whatever he said, did not bother Saanjh. He was a happy, healthy kid and he decided to stay in his little bubble of ignorance, it was there where he felt the safest.

Some days later, he found out that the old man died after an asthmatic attack caused due to worsened air quality in the city. The news of the death of a person who was almost a stranger to him surprisingly left him with a guilty conscience. He was well aware of what asthma was and what problems asthmatic people faced when projected to toxic air and fumes, but since he never went through it himself, he just didn't understand. Soon he forgot about the old man altogether and the next year Diwali was the same as any other. Crackers, crackers and more crackers. Years passed and yet every Diwali that came saw Saanjh even more indulged with firecrackers. Until one day, Saanjh's bubble of ignorance popped.

He couldn't have asked for a better life. He had a small happy family- his wife and a daughter who was eight years old, a satisfactory job and a secured career. From a healthy boy of fifteen he became a healthy man of thirty six. He still burned crackers every Diwali and still prided in the fact that he was someone surviving in the Delhi air. The year of 2017 though, put a permanent stopper to his infatuation with crackers. His little girl had been diagnosed with chronic bronchitis after she had an uncontrollable cough and breathlessness while she was in school.

"But she is just an eight year old! How can she have chronic bronchitis? It is supposed to be a long term effect of smoking, isn't it?" Saanjh was quivering inside but had to maintain a steady foothold in front of his clearly despaired wife.

"Breathing in the air of Delhi is equivalent to smoking almost forty cigarettes a day. It is the effect of environment. I would recommend you to take your daughter to some hill station for the time being, as Diwali is approaching" the doctor said with a sympathetic voice "this year Supreme Court has banned the purchase of crackers in the city but I don't think people will stop at that. There is going to be a huge degradation in the air quality this year and it can be fatal to people with respiratory disorders, including your daughter." Hearing this was enough to make Saanjh go numb to the core.

‘CRACKERS', ‘DIWALI', ‘FATAL', ‘RESPIRATORY DISORDERS', ‘IGNORANT', every word that the doctor spoke hit him like a boomerang coming back at him that he threw a while ago and forgot about. The guilty conscience which he felt when the old man in his neighborhood died, the old man to whom he had not given a single thought in decades, multiplied ten folds and made home in his heart. How couldn't he blame himself for everything happening to his daughter? If not the whole reason, he was at least a part of it, and for that he couldn't bring to forgive himself.

Days passed and he expected that year's Diwali to be a green one. He had hope that people will follow the ban on purchasing firecrackers. With the approval of his daughter's doctor, instead of retreating to a far off hill station, he bought an air purifier for his house and sealed it shut on the day of Diwali, hoping against hope that not a single cracker would go off. Of course he was disappointed; people were still ignorant towards the environment. He shouldn't have been surprised, but he was, what gave him thrills in his childhood now sent down chills in his spine whenever his daughter coughed or choked . Ashamed, since he was once acquainted with this ignorance himself, he went up to his daughter who was clearly uncomfortable while breathing even with the air purifier beside her.
"How are you feeling?" he asked her.

"Why aren't these people stopping with fireworks already, papa?" she asked meekly, inhaling heavily. He had no answer to that, so he questioned her again "How are you feeling, my little princess?"

She exhaled "You won't understand."

All that flashed across Saanjh's mind was the image of the old man, surprisingly vivid and detailed. Somewhere or the other Saanjh always remembered him, even if only subconsciously. His eyes tore up at those words. He wanted to tell his daughter that he did understand; he was feeling helpless and desperate. Not just because his inability to do something for her or what she was going through, but because he was a part of what messed her up in the first place. He no longer prided himself for surviving the Delhi air, he would rather have his girl survive it. He no longer lived in the bubble of ignorance, and only now he understood how suffocating it was without it. He wanted to tell her that he did understand, better than he did ever before. He was going through a permanent breathlessness of his own that was his guilt.

Categories: - Students' Voice for Sustainability

Delhi and it's Water Problem

Delhi and it's Water Problem
Content by: Lipi Bag, Blog Team-TOHRI
Edited by: Vidusshi Pathak, Intern-TOHRI

Watching Vinay Shukla's the Insignificant Man, a socio political documentary on Arvind Kejriwal Arnav came across a lot of details regarding the water problems in Delhi. One of the major predicament, apart from the water crisis in Delhi is the access to clean regular water to people across the state. He could recall an article by a journalist about the Indian problem of sanitation and water supply. In the end of his analysis, the journalist proposed that all those who are to pass water and don't find a toilet around ought to book a cab and pass water on the municipality's wall. To say, that one day it's washed away in the excretory flood! "I'm about to get bald because of the water quality", Arnav thought to himself.

India's capital city is expected to deliver the best form of governance. In contrast to that, the situation is getting worse. As a research fellow for Social Work, Arnav was to make a documentary on the water conditions of Delhi. Browsing through the internet, Arnav noted as a matter of regret that the Capital city had been dependpent on its nearby towns for the supply of water because of the Yamuna being in its worst condition, and the broken pipelines that the government has sworn never to repair. Travelling via the blue line of the metro, Arnav noticed the algae floating across the river. He couldn't believe what he had been coming across as a work of research daily. He was flabbergasted to think of his health when he saw those unhygienic conditions around him. Whilst he was weaving his documentary, he gave a voice over narration to the video, "No wonder when you visit the Yamuna Bank for perhaps flaunting your photography skills, you can watch people using the same water for bathing, sanitation and food. Alarmingly, reports confirm that the water level in the Yamuna in Delhi has crossed the warning level due to discharge of water from a barrage in Haryana. As a matter of fact, untreated treated effluents are also discharged into the river through the numerous city drains. Despite the significant efforts of Yamuna Bacchao Andolan, and other important programmes, the situation isn't improving."

What Arnav also came across through his endeavour was that the Cementing grounds was also a major cause for the depletion of the ground water level. Another concerning factor was that of the water supply agencies. The agencies were facing a lot of problem for the arrangement of raw water from various sources in the vicinity of Delhi. Groundwater levels were depleting fast, falling by significant numbers in some parts of Delhi. There had also been evidence of groundwater contamination and high salinity content in the same.

Through his basic idea of identification, Arnav filmed how the inadequate amount of drinking water caters to a greater dependence on private suppliers and affects the household finance. The film showcased the records of 2016, as per the Wire, of how it is noted that the city's drinking waste water management, estimated total distribution losses around 40%.

Some areas, like Khanpur locality in southeast Delhi, and Sangam Vihar in South Delhi did have protests and slogans against this lack of basic rights. Arnav's documentary with some solutions of plantation, rain water harvesting and less wastage of water, if not anything else, did impress the judges to give him to award of most original piece of work in a film festival.

But deep down in this heart he knew that the real difference would be made if only we take a majora step of water conservation like putting efforts of raising the water tables, and ceasing the industry effluent from being disposed in the rivers. On an individual level what we can really do is plant trees, stop wasting water. Looking at the Yamuna from the last metro over the blue line, Arnav realised that until these steps are taken, the promises by the government appear like a far-fetched dream as the basic amenities in most places seem to lack. In our household, for every bucket of water that we waste, there's a life that is lost.

Categories: - Students' Voice for Sustainability

Population and Sustainability

Opinion Piece by Youth on Issues of Sustainability
Concept, Idea and Content: Jagruti Panchal, Blog Team – TOHRI
Edited by: Vidusshi Pathak, Intern, TOHRI

10 billion. That is the number of people which our earth can sustain at a given time. We are already beyond 7.6 billion as per official records and these records are well below the immediate actual numbers. Our resources can only bear exploitation to a certain limit.

Population growth is a more sensitive issue than it appears to be. It is equally battered with controversies and questions of morality, ethics, and rights; as are the other integral debates in our society. It is not just limited to one community but wraps the whole world in the unfolding of the inadvertent consequences due to population explosion. The earth’s population increase has been exponential if nothing more and the measures taken for balancing the same haven’t been satisfactory.
We always fret about how there is no end to the problems the world is facing in today’s time. Global warming, every type of environmental pollution, climate change, deforestation, famine; there is so much natural imbalance due to our own actions, that the situation seems beyond our grasp now. We have tempered with Nature to such an extent that the damage is now almost irreparable. What more does one need in order to realise the gravity of the situation than the fact that over half of our forests have vanished due to human exploits? They are not ‘our’ forests to begin with; since nature has always been about co-existence.

Most of the issues pertaining today (I say most and not all out of discretion) that are affecting our society as a whole can either directly or indirectly be connected to the enormous population growth. It is estimated that by the end of this century we would be well over 11billion. That might be the time we witness the extinction of our resources as well as ourselves. But that can easily be prevented if proper measures are taken on a mutual basis from now onwards.

844 million, that is one out of every ten people, do not have access to clean water. About 800 million people (one out of every nine) do not have proper food intake. It isn’t because there is a shortage of the same, since every year 10 to 20 percent of the total crop production in India is lost in storage either due to pests or ignorant handling. The wastage is to a high extent and instead can be used for fulfilling the food requirements of the underprivileged in our country. The problem lies in the lack of planning for managing such a huge population. Our country, in fact our world, is discovering new techniques and hustling to find new ways to lessen the chaos and systematize consumerism and the intake of resources in such a way that basic benefits are achieved by one and all. But of course, it isn’t going to pay off until and unless we as a human society have a mutual responsibility towards this cause.

Population growth is far more ahead than the solutions we are bringing in to sustain the growing numbers. The need of the hour is to limit this problem from the very core itself, i.e., to encourage smaller families and the concept of adoption. So, this pertains to a perspective of- “Small is beautiful”. The larger requirement is to provide a crystal clear and deeper understanding of this perspective so as to make people realize that this situation is soon going to turn into something hard to handle. This can only be achieved in the future generations by providing them proper education regarding the topic of population growth and the ethical ways to curb it. Many in our society argue that subjecting children (and young adolescents) to this kind of information is not ethical in itself, but their argument is not based on any solid reasoning. I don’t see how informing our young successors about the legacy (or damages) we are leaving behind for them to deal with, is in any way corrupting their minds. Only when the ways they can deal with it in the future are inculcated in their minds from an early start would there be a possibility for them to shape their actions collectively for the betterment of this society.

Adoption not only helps in overcoming the population problem; it is also about taking the responsibility of a child and filling their lives with happiness. In the end there would be a lot more love in this world if children are provided with a home and a family. Many people constrain themselves from adopting because of the conservative thinking that has been imprinted in our brains long ago, but it is high time to abolish this mindset and change the world by doing our bit.

The natural resources, which aren’t just ours to soak up, should be preserved and sustainably utilized by the masses until a balanced and controlled population is acquired. Only by cutting out on our unnecessary expenditures can we actually save something for our future generations to cherish on this planet, be it the trees we are butchering so irrationally, the water reservoirs we are draining relentlessly or the very air we breathe that we have shamelessly contaminated with toxic fumes.
It is never easy to keep in mind the future consequences and lives while striving for our own selves. But drastic situations demand for drastic measures. To prevent anything as such to arise, it is necessary that we keep our actions in check because this planet isn’t ours to claim, no contradictions whatsoever. True, it is helping us grow and we are a part of it. We have to respect Mother Nature if the idea is to sustain humans further in future.

For a start, let’s try by curbing our inner fundamental hunger for everything and think about the bigger picture for once. As Mahatma Gandhi said- “There is enough on Earth for everybody's need, but not enough for everybody's greed.”

Categories: - Students' Voice for Sustainability


Concept, Idea and Content by: Ashapurna Das, Blog Team-TOHRI

Abhav bid good night to his mother.
He closed his eyes and felt much better.
The life he lived in his dream,
Landed him in a fictitious realm.
A realm where no one worried about hunger,
A realm where pain did not exist any longer.
Ration cards did not divide mankind.
Nor did the poverty line.
No more did he wore torn pre-owned clothes,
Nor did his life primarily comprised of woes.
The pre-dominance of hereditary illness did not exist,
Neither did his family slept in the horrifying mist.
A life that he would cherish,
And a health that he would nourish.
Suddenly he woke up to a dreadful noise,
Only to see his tent collapsing again out of poise.

Categories: - Students' Voice for Sustainability

The Might of the Deadly Pollution in Delhi

Content, Idea and Concept by: Lipi Bag, Blog Team-TOHRI

Edited by: Vidusshi Pathak, Intern, Blog Team-TOHRI

The gruesome shriek of the women gave me heart palpitations. I immediately stopped the video on my phone. The horrifying scenes of the cars crashing at the Yamuna Expressway on a not so wintry-morning, pained my lungs. It was the deadly fog which engulfed the whole city. In the past few months the pollution in Delhi has indeed created a ruckus in the lives of ordinary people. Perhaps, it was the first time that I wondered why I took admission in a Delhi college. I remember how one of my friends joked, “Breathing the Delhi air is like smoking ten cigarettes a day, so why not add one more to it!” To add to this, my laptop read from one of the E-newspapers, “the deadly level of carcinogenic pollutants in Delhi’s air was roughly 10 times the reading in Beijing.”

Last year when the thick envelop of pollution covered the city of Delhi, forcing the schools to shut down; we readily blamed it on the ever accused ‘Diwali crackers’. However, this year the conditions weren’t the same. The Government had put a ban on crackers, and the pollution was also caused by agri residue burning in Punjab and Haryana. Nevertheless, the persisting situation continues to gnaw at us, as we head towards this plethora of toxic air.

So what went wrong this year?

Perhaps the answer lies deep inside us. We can play the blame game on the government all our lives, but would it yield any result if we don’t work on it ourselves? Even after the ban, it was seen that people were burning crackers.

In the past, when the Delhi Government tried to implement the Odd and Even Scheme, despite the minor problems, it was really beneficial. Car pools were taken into consideration, and Delhi started understanding the gravity of the situation, as it seemed. But if we look under the layers of newspaper, we come across the irony of the fact that there were people who started cars with both even and odd numbers! How do we even escape the tragedy when we ourselves seem to be inviting them?

How will the learnings from ‘Environmental Science books’ be put to use, when we don’t practise them in our daily lives. For what’s worth, one of the small steps could be that of planting a tree every year. The increase in population, thereby increasing the construction of buildings does come across as a vital problem, but we have to fight it by educating ourselves against the growing tentacles of population. Last but not the least, we need to stop asking for excuses like ‘Please let the women drive pass through the Odd-Even scheme, just like another reservation. No! If we’re barely making it to our workplace or college (because of the poisonous air), there’s no use asking for such reservations. Stop, and think for once as a social human being, and not as individual seeker with any particular gender perspective, for that could be the beginning of the change.

Categories: - Short Stories for Sustainability

Dusk to Dawn

Concept, Idea, Content – By Debashis Chakraborty

They are barely six years old. Well, maybe seven, but that's it.

The two boys are playing. Not with toys, but with pieces of stones and woods. Actually, describing their engagement as playing in strict sense would be glorifying their action. In practice, they are trying to escape the scorching sun and the flying dust particles by pretending to be engaged with some physical actions. The neighbourhood, full of worn out people, seem to be far too obsessed with their own struggles for securing livelihood to take any notice of them.

It is just not possible to keep the pretence of playing for long. One of them looks up and says, 'hey, let's go for mountaineering.'

The other joylessly nods, more likely from the sheer lack of alternatives than from the possible excitement.

They move towards the outer gate of the rundown colony. The homes on both sides of the ally are literally made of pieces - plastic, wood, stone, metal – whatever the scavengers could get from their surroundings have been put to good, okay – manageable, use.

They arrive near the river, reduced to a canal now. Water is difficult to spot though - mud, loads of poisonous chemicals and plastics are rather visible.

A few grown-ups are standing near the rickety bridge and busy quarrelling. An old man is angrily saying, 'For how many times do I need to implore you people to stop releasing the waste in the river? Let's dig a deep hole and we can put -'

One roguish looking person laughs loudly and rebuffs him, 'Hey Grandpa, spare us the lesson on this so-called MRS – morality, responsibility, sustainability. I'm tired of it. Frankly, I really do not believe that by adopting your so-called sustainable practices, we can reverse the climate scenario prevailing today.'

Others loudly cheer for him.

The two boys do not stop. It's everyday affair.

They cross the bridge and step into the ghost town. Skeletons of the big buildings are standing there and thousands of cars, air-conditioning machines and other electrical appliances are piled against them. Without electricity, they are useless now. Nobody lives there anymore. There is no e-waste processing facility either. So, rainwater carries all the harmful chemicals to the river and other water bodies.

It's scorching heat for the last seven months. But before that for more than two years, it has rained continuously, with snowfall in between. This dingy colony has lost all their solar batteries due to bad maintenance. The promised help from another community located nearby has not arrived yet.

'Which one?' asks one of them.

'Let's take this', the other suggests by pointing to a fifteen storey building.

The two boys nod to each other once and start climbing the identified building. They are repeating what they did yesterday. They'll race upto the top floor of the building by climbing the exterior. It is difficult, but not impossible. The buildings are in advance stage of decay with plasters coming off and plants are visible here and there.

With almost no economic activities, life is harsh. So every person hunts and gathers their own food, even the kids.

This is a daily routine for them. The two boys play the mountaineering game in the morning, decide the winner of the day, and then start gathering food. The winner gets the lion's share of the meagre joint collection of food. But the game brings traces of thrill in the otherwise dull life.

One boy slips at the third floor. He barely catches a branch of a thick bush. The other boy thinks for a few seconds before extending the helping hand, if he is weighing the possible benefits of saving his partner. But, finally he does so. The first boy lets out a nervous chuckle and after a minute they start climbing once again.


Nilesh logs out from the visuoscope. Watching the future in 2345 is exciting for academic interest, but is takes a toll on health. And morale as well. After watching the two kids for three days running, he feels empty, despite the bright lights and comforting atmosphere of the laboratory. Despite the air-conditioner running in cool mode, he is sweating.

When man invented time machine, i.e., visuoscope, in 2289, it was marked as the great leap for mankind. It however was deliberately not made a household devise.

The policymakers at least guessed one thing correctly – 'ignorance is bliss'.

Despite the scientific advancement, tragedy of the commons are spreading rapidly today. Sitting in his laboratory in 2292, Nilesh now knows that in a span of three decades, the Earth he knows is going to be transformed completely. Climate change effects are going to intensify and cause extreme weather fluctuations.

In essence, over the next three decades the world would reach pre industrial revolution stage once again. Knowledge and civilized manners would be lost. Wealth would turn into meaningless assets. A glass of clean water would be scarcer and costlier commodity than diamonds. 'Survival of the fittest' would rule once again.

But nobody believes this version of future! Or, they do not want to believe.

Nilesh gets up from the chair and with a heavy heart switches off the AC and lights. After descending the stairs, he reaches the parking lot. Instinctively he looks up towards the building.

All the ACs are running. The global warming is making the world a hot place to live…. So, everybody switch the AC on while at office and also drive their vehicles with the ACs on during the journey. Once at home, they switch it on again. It comforts them as individuals, but collectively the practice deteriorates the environment.On the other hand, the carbon and other harmful emissions have reached such a harmful stage that even in this afternoon, it looks like sunset time.

Well, if anybody says that they have seen sunrise, sunset or clear blue sky today, any sane listener would blast him as a damn liar. All the day, the sky sports a look of sunset.

Nilesh takes a deep breath and thinks. There are hardly any mountains or jungles left in today's world. Mankind's quest for mineral deposits have removed them from the earth's crust long back. So five decades down the line, the kids would have no option but to scale abandoned buildings and piled up vehicles and AC machines for adventure sports. No other mode of recreation would be there.

In his vision of the future, the kid that saved the other one had a choice. He could have let the other kid fall to his death and consume all the foods he was going to gather. But he preferred to save his friend. He preferred to enjoy lesser material comfort, by choosing the company of the other boy.

Nilesh understands his choices. He can drive home in the confine of his vehicle, escaping the scorching heat and surrounding pollution. Or, he can walk to his apartment, trying to enjoy the company of other people. And maybe he can try to warn them on the possible adverse effects of the life-style led climate disasters. His efforts may not change the future much. But at least he will have the consolation, 'I tried'.

After a few minutes of thought, he decides in favour of the second option. Perhaps he will not be able to influence the mind-set of too many people, but one can only hope. He moves away from his care, silently uttering, 'Rio'.

Nilesh walks towards his apartment. Joylessly. Mid-way through, while wiping perspiration from the forehead, a trace of thought comes to his mind, 'If only all the nations had understood the climate change consequences three hundred years back..'

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