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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Empower woman?Which woman do you talk about??

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A drunkard husband torturing his wife with a baby son in her lap under the sun in the mid noon. Neither the husband nor the wife appear to be in the legal age for marriage, still they have a son and the husband demands money from his wife for drinking handia so as to enjoy the crop insurance protest march organised by some political party, while the state is under the President Rule. How dare anyone talk about woman empowerment, literacy, poverty eradication, and checking atrocities on women. All are high talks and we satisfy ourselves by talking high and maintaining fake records.A shameful scene from Jharkhand.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Insurance Companies yet to light LAMPS in poor farmers’ homes in Jharkhand

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A demonstration rally with men and women carrying banners, posters and handouts marched to the Governor’s house and demanded for the implementation of their long pending  demand of insurance of their crops in the afternoon today on 28th July 2010.

Trucks, buses, cars and other vehicles carrying men and women from neighboring districts started assembling in the traditional Morabadi ground under Eucalyptus trees in front of the house of the  Ex-Chief Minister Mr. Shibu Soren since late in the morning. A number of sellers of pop-corn, pine apple slices, groundnuts etc. stalling near the main four lane road started doing good business as they often do during such hours. Not less fortunate were ladies selling handia liquor on the western margin of the Eucalyptus trees who enjoyed a good gathering of boys and adults who had come there from remote villages without any clear knowledge and concept of the work for which they had come to that place. Some well to do persons sitting inside some luxurious cars fitted with loudspeakers were commanding the crowd from time to time. Some cars and buses bearing the banner of a leading political party in the state were standing in the distant north corner of the ground seeing which any one could guess that the party had big hand in organizing the march.

The crowd comprised more than 90 percent ladies and it appeared that they did not know for what purpose they had been brought to that place. They had just to repeat or complement some slogans that were louded from the cars leading the way. The banners and handouts contained writings “Phasal Beema Shighra Lagoo  karo”(implement the crop insurance soon).Hearing the command from the foregoing cars, the crowd followed shouting the slogans. On the other end, near the Governor’s House the police commanders  were deploying the force for the treatment of the crowd marching towards them. What happened after that, let the local media report tomorrow but the crowd passed ahead leaving a number of questions behind- like what is the phasal bema that they were demanding? Why had a large number of ladies assembled for the march without knowing the purpose of the exercise they were doing? Who were the main beneficiaries of the programme? etc.Here, let me site a news report of July 8, 2010 from the Telegraph - The benefits of crop insurance policies continue to elude lakhs of farmers, even after they deposited premiums in 2009, as a result of complete insincerity on the part of the state government.

The state has failed to allocate requisite funds through agricultural insurance under the co-operative department, the nodal agency to implement the scheme aimed at benefiting farmers in distress due to erratic monsoon and meagre agricultural output.“Only about Rs five crore has been earmarked in this year’s budget. We need to arrange over Rs 130 crore more. We have initiated proceedings so that funds can be made available through a supplementary budget allocation,” said Bina Mishra, deputy secretary in the state co-operative department.Co-operative department secretary Arun Kumar Singh said he had joined the department only a few days ago and was not privy to matters related to providing crop insurance to farmers.
The state’s farmers were in dire need of insurance cover just before this year’s monsoon, especially in the wake of the absolute reduction of agricultural output caused by the erratic monsoon last year.However, the state government is yet to formally announce the crop insurance benefits for the 2009 kharif season.

This has forced the cash-strapped farmers to take loans from moneylenders at steep interest rates. Many are also opting against any crop insurance scheme of 2010 kharif season.Branch manager of Tamar Large Area Multipurpose Co-operative Society (LAMPS), Shyamal Nayak said, “In four LAMPS under Tamar block, 10,000 peasants availed of the crop insurance scheme in 2009 by paying Rs 99 against each acre of agricultural land. Farmers paid around Rs 24 lakh as premium from four LAMPS of Tamar block.”

The state’s farmers were not given insurance cover in 2007 and 2008 as well, as the authorities were satisfied with the agricultural yield. Sources said a whopping sum of over Rs 304 crore was to be distributed among the farmers to insure their crops. Of this, Rs 139 crore is to be paid by the centre, an almost equal amount by the state government and the rest by Agricultural Insurance Company of India Limited. The insurance benefits are to be paid based on the exact agricultural output.

What ever the true story, let us remain concerned with the crowd only. The crowd revealed that such demonstrations are sponsored programmes these days and the participants do know the real purpose behind the scene. They are innocent, poor and illiterate and so long as they remain so, the greedy and cunning people continue to exploit their share on many fronts and sharpen their leadership. They just don’t want these people to become wise and literate. This is the real point from where all the painful conditions that are seen in the state emerge out to surface on the horizon.

Key Words: Crop Insurance, crowd, Morabadi, posters, banners, handouts, groundnut, pineapple slices, pop corn,Agricultural Insurance Company of India Limited,exact agricultural output, wise and literate.



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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Problem of Black Carbon in the atmosphere of Ranchi, the capital city of Jharkhand state of India

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Smoke and fumes emitted from brick kilns, factories, vehicles and electric generators produce greater quantities of black carbon in the atmosphere of Ranchi, the capital city of Jharkhand state. As per reports from some local researchers black carbon in the atmosphere of Ranchi has gone up to 9000 nanograms per day. The current record is reported to be 45 times greater than the standard fixed by the concerned department.

Experts in the city are of the opinion that the current rise of black carbon in the atmosphere of Ranchi is sure to cause asthma, tuberculosis and other diseases of respiratory tract in the public living at least in the urban area and may affect the community health adversely.

The black carbon measuring apparatus that has been installed in the Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra, Ranchi has recorded 9000 nanograms which is much higher than the earlier records. BIT workers support that diesel engines are the main source of emission of black carbon. However, burning of dung cakes which have been done in the city on a large scale, burning of coal mostly in slum areas of the city, and traditional practice of burning wood for cooking are other major contributors of black carbon in the area.

The ambitious mid-day meal programme is being run in most of the schools in rural and urban areas of Jharkhand as also in other states in order to attract children to schools. Unfortunately, most of these schools cook food on domestic chullhas where wood is burnt on large scales as hundreds of children are to be fed in each school. Due to short supply of LPG  and less allocation of funds for the purpose compounded with no facility for procurement of LPG on subsidized rates, schools are hard up to manage for the cooking gas for preparing mid-day meal for children. This practice is causing heavy rise in the level of black carbon in the atmosphere, but no one is ready to raise a voice about the trend. On the other hand serious indoor pollution ( both land pollution and air pollution) is caused through careless practices including burning of wood and improper management of food leftovers in schools. The smoke released from chullhas spread in the school atmosphere first before rising up in the air, and cause serious indoor pollution in schools. Here in BIT, researches on black carbon are being conducted under a two crore project sponsored by Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).

The amount of black carbon recorded on 26th of July was 202 nanograms. Experts are of the opinion that rains and wind caused a reduction in the record of black carbon on the day. When sky remains clear and the wind speed is normal, the deposition of black carbon remains higher. It has been reported  that small buses that ply in the city release 1000, diesel and petro-autos release 5000, generators release 4000 and two-wheelers emit 30,000 nanograms of black carbon per day in the area.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Burmuda grass: an alternate host of rust and smut fungi

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Durva, the Burmuda  Grass or Cynodon dactylon is an alternate host of a number of rusts and smuts. The disease is principally identified during the onset of rainy season when flowering parts of the plants show black masses. The infection by fungi causing rust and smut on Cynodon dactylon has serious impact on the growth and development of the grass itself and on the crop plants growing in the nearby fields. Secondary infections that occur due to colonization of pathogens on various parts of the plant including leaves, stems and inflorescence lead to the final decay of the plant up to summer. However, the roots of the plant and rhizomes survive inside the soil and cause the growth of new shoots in favourable moist conditions. Though the plant is seed borne as well, most of its propagation in nature occurs through rhizomes. The smut and rust diseases of the grass are mostly seed borne.

Key Words: Durva, Burmuda grass, Cynodon dactylon, smut, rust, decay, rhyzome, inflorescence, moist conditions



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Friday, July 23, 2010

India develops solar powered touchscreen laptop at less than $35

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As a part of the national initiative to take forward inclusive education the MHRD annouced today the launch of "Sakshat" a computing device capable of running on solar power at meagre $35 or approx Rs.1500.

The gadget has been developed by the elite Indian Institute of Technology and the Indian Institute of Science, as a part of the initiative to give students a better education and technical skills needed to boost India's economic growth.Morover, the device is capable of being run on solar power which is a good news for environment enthusiasts too.
The first users are expected to be university students with introduction of the Linux-based computing device targeted for next year.




Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal unveils the low cost computing-cum-access device in New Delhi 


The configuration of sakshat laptop or the computing device is as under:

  • 2 GB of Memory
  • Wi-Fi enabled
  • Fixed Ethernet capability
  • Simple version of Linux open source software
  • 2 Watts of power consumption

Sibal said the cost of the motherboard, chip, processing and other components cost a total of around 35 dollars but the government may subsidise 50 percent of the price for students.
Sibal said the government, which hopes the cost of the device can eventually fall to 10 dollars, is in discussions with global manufacturers to start mass production of the device.
India, with its 64 percent literacy rate (according to Census 2001) lags far behind many other developing nations, such as China with 94 percent, is making revolutionary efforts to improve the same.


Key Words: Sakshat, economic growth, computing device,global manufacturers

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Now it is time to count the cost of the Oil Spill - Greenpeace

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When BP's chief executive, Tony Hayward, said in May that the Gulf oil spill was a drop in the ocean – "tiny in relation to the total water volume", he was pilloried by Barack Obama and the US press, but he was technically correct.

In the 85 days of the leak, the worst oil disaster in history, nearly 184m gallons of crude oil is estimated to have gushed into the Gulf of Mexico, the ninth largest body of water in the world. That is a lot, but no more than Americans burn every five hours and 10 minutes. Indeed, in the 24 hours since BP temporarily capped the Deepwater blowout, Americans have used over 840m gallons in their cars, planes, kitchens and factories which will have soiled the air, land and sea.

The US can now look back on the Deepwater spill and count itself ecologically lucky, in many ways. It was not just a mile deep, allowing much of the oil to be diffused in the ocean, but it was 50 miles offshore in a warm sea. Many other oil spills have been far more injurious to wildlife and the marine and terrestrial environments, because oil breaks down much more slowly in cool seas. The 11m gallons spilt from the Exxon Valdez in the Alaskan waters in 1989 still threaten the whole ecosystem. That spill killed at least 36,000 sea birds. So far, Friends of the Earth US reported today, only 1,387 birds, 444 sea turtles, and 53 mammals have been found dead in the Gulf.

Nonetheless, the damage yet to be revealed will be far worse than a few dead birds and tar balls along 500 miles of coast. Dolphins, whale sharks and sea turtles numbers will almost certainly have been hit hard, and some populations may not recover for years. Fish and shrimp-breeding habitats will have been hit. Deep coral reefs, which can take centuries to grow, may also have been affected.

Furthermore, the ecological damage done in the last three months is made far more serious because it comes on top of years of man-made degradation of the Gulf environment. Many of the wetlands and estuaries that take the brunt of any oil spilt had already been seriously degraded by man's interference with river flows. These could now disappear even faster if the oil has got into the roots of the grasses.

The oil that gushed also added to natural oil and gas leaks into Gulf waters. These occur all the time from the sea bed, and the US Department of Energy estimates that there may be 5,000 active "seeps" in the northern Gulf alone. One researcher calculated in 2000 that 500,000 barrels of oil – 84m gallons – naturally gets into the Gulf each year, but is never cleaned up.

The Gulf is also heavily polluted by nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilisers and livestock waste washed down the vast Mississippi river from farms and industry. Every year, a massive oxygen-starved region known as the "dead zone" develops off the coast of Louisiana in which nothing can live. Last month, the US government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said it expected this year's "zone" to be between 6,500 and 7,800 square miles, the 10th largest ever. No one knows yet how the oil spill may affect it. Some marine scientists think the oil may make it larger, but others say it could help to limit its size – a scenario that could, absurdly, see BP claiming to be clearing up pollutionin the Gulf.

Fish will have suffered, but paradoxically the US government's decision to ban commercial fishing from 88,000 sq miles of the Gulf during the clean-up in order to safeguard human health could actually help regenerate depleted fish stocks. The Gulf is one of the most overfished seas in the world, with many species in serious decline and some fisheries near collapse.

Closing off nearly a third of the waters is likely to have given many species a chance to increase numbers. The oil spill will have killed some fish, but vastly more are caught by industrial fishing operations every year. Stocks of fish such as red snapper and bluefin tuna, which spawn in the Gulf, could benefit greatly.

One wild card yet to be played is a major hurricane tearing through the Gulf of Mexico, as is likely to happen before the end of the season in November. Rough seas will hamper efforts to finally seal the well and clean up the oil. The associated storm surges could also drive oil over barriers and further onto coastal land and into sensitive habitats. But the raging of a storm could also break up the oil slick, allowing the bacteria that break it down to act more rapidly.

The oil spill in numbers
$30bn cost to BP
444 sea turtles found dead
85 days that oil gushed into the Gulf.
184m estimated number of gallons of oil leaked
572 miles of shoreline currently oiled
2,700 sq miles of visible slick
83,927 sq miles closed to fishing
1.82m gallons of dispersant chemicals applied
$336m market value of the spilled oil
1,387 dead birds
(Source AP, Friends of the Earth) Reproduction from the GREENPEACE

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

China makes its presence felt in energy sector in world markets

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The state-owned China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) last month announced a new joint venture with Encana, Canada's largest producer of natural gas, to develop some of Encana's holdings in the Montney and Horn River Shales. These are two of North America's "Magnificent Seven" shale plays, containing an estimated 240 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas-enough to supply China with natural gas for almost 90 years at 2008 levels of consumption.



Of course, with natural gas consumption increasing more than 20 percent a year prior to the economic downturn, no one expects China's gas needs to remain flat - least of all the Chinese themselves. That is why the CNPC-Encana agreement joins a growing list of Chinese investments in unconventional oil and gas reserves around the world.The deal with Encana will give CNPC a chance to gain insight from an independent gas company that has some of the longest experience with applying hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling to extract gas from shale formations. In this model, one hand washes the other: major oil and gas companies gain access to the technology and expertise they need to develop unconventional gas, and smaller independent gas companies get access to the sizeable amounts of capital that many have needed in recent years. Taking the time to do initial exploration in other countries and produce gas there sustainably will require deep pockets, so the entrance of state-owned and international oil companies could soon have important effects on the global gas market.




The Chinese energy market represents a major prize for potential future exporters of unconventional oil and gas. This week, Sinopec paid Conoco Phillips $4.65 billion for a 9.03 percent interest in Syncrude, an oil sand project in Alberta, Canada. In March, Petrochina, a CNPC subsidiary, and Shell bid on Arrow Energy, a coal bed methane producer in Australia. Shell also has a major interest in a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal on Australia's coast, whose product will likely be liquefied coal bed methane almost certainly destined for Chinese markets. Although Shell's investments in LNG will be affected as the global unconventional gas supply increases, the company seems to be betting on an ever-more-voracious Chinese demand for diverse energy sources.


China itself is thought to have significant untapped unconventional gas potential. CNPC and Shell signed an agreementin March to explore jointly for gas in the country's Sichuan province, which contains a large shale gas play. The U.S.-China Shale Gas Resource Initiative, announced during President Obama's visit to China last November, will assess China's shale gas potential and promote international investment in the country's gas shales.

Anxiety surrounding China's access to energy resources has grown in tandem with its gross domestic product. Although the country's investment in wind and solar energy is rapidly overtaking international competitors, its economy will continue to rely heavily on fossil fuels due to its exploding energy demand. But China's appetite is quickly outstripping its domestic supply of coal, once considered a secure and inexhaustible, if dirty, source of energy.As a result, the world has seen China making more and more deals with energy resource suppliers beyond its borders. Recent deals have indicated that the Chinese government's resource strategy is shifting to a two-way mode: instead of passively buying commodities from Australia, the United States, and other major suppliers, the government is encouraging its industries to leverage their capital either by investing directly in foreign markets or by establishing joint-ventures with local partners. Meanwhile, China has opened its domestic resource market to foreign investors. Through collaboration with foreign companies on oil and gas projects both in China and abroad, Chinese companies hope to acquire the technological expertise that is key to unlocking these resources themselves.

With this updated version of its "opening-up" initiative, China hopes to catch up with industrialized countries not just in terms of the scale of its overall economy but in core competitiveness as well. And with China now the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, the energy investments it makes today will have a profound influence on the Earth's future climate.



WORLDWATCH INSTITUTE

Monday, July 12, 2010

Rescue of a baby pigeon

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Image 1 : The rescued baby  pigeon

Pigeon or the rock pigeon which is biologically known as Columba livia is widespread and very common resident of India. It is also called as Rock dove or Feral Pigeon. Its size ranges from 32 to 35 cm. Its wing spawn is 66 to 75 cm and its average weight is 279 to 400 gm.


Image 2: A typical Rock pigeon

Columba livia has grayish head, green and purple band on neck and throat, light grey coloured back and belly, pale grey wings and two dark wing bars. The tail of this bird id light grey and legs are pink in colour.
Pigeons are very friendly. They easily start to believe even human beings. Most of the human beings love them too and offer them feeds in the morning. Thus a feeding post or area for pigeons is formed where hundreds of pigeons assemble every day.

Some religious people and      Hindus belonging to Marwari and Jain community have special affection for these birds. This is the reason people belonging to these communities keep pigeon feeds in store where pigeons live most of the time.

In Indian villages many pigeon lovers, most of whom remain farmers keep pitchers with holes in them on the branches of some trees so as to attract pigeons. They are of the opinion that pigeons bring peace and prosperity in a family where they live and take food.

Pigeons are very humble birds and offer due regards to the birds of other species. Owls and crows are their wicked enemies. But the greatest enemies of pigeons too are humans. Among religious and bird loving community of humans such type of human are found to live who kill and eat pigeons. Such people silently go to their nests and catch them mercilessly. After that they damage their wings and leave them on the ground in serious pains. When they get time they kill them and do what they used to.

In my opinion killing and eating pigeons is a vicious habit. There are many types of things in the world that a man can eat. Pigeons beautify our campuses; eat seeds lying scattered on the ground. Even the minutest seeds that we can not see through our simple eyes are seen by pigeons.

 Pigeons never harm any one either humans or birds. Rather they from an inseparable link in the local food chain of the ecosystem of a particular place. But, many human have never been friendly to them. Killing one, who comes to us with friendship in his eyes, is most cruel. There must be some law to punish such humans. But, though we have become more developed in terms of science and technology  and in many other terms as well; we are still most backward(please pardon me) in terms of morals and values.

 A valueless life is worth nothing. Loving and offering due regards to the existence of other creatures of God is loving and offering respect to the creator. If someone calls him religious, surely he may call like this, and tends to do such cruel acts as that of capturing a pigeon like a thief, killing it mercilessly and most cruelly and eating the same if there are plenty of eatables in the world, and even if there may be noting to eat; is unpardonable act.


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Images 1, 3, and 4 : Different poses of the rescued pigeon

Today I became successful, by the God’s grace, in the rescue of a baby pigeon from the hands of a pigeon eater and tried my best to let it go and fly in the open sky. For this, I had to wait for a long time as the baby pigeon was injured and it needed some first aid, and probably its parents had lost hope of it and had flown elsewhere and did not come to it. At last the baby pigeon collected its energy and flew up to the branch of the nearby eucalyptus tree. I took a long breath and came home with a heavy heart. After all, now I am satisfied to think that the man can never catch it again.

Key Words:  Marwari, Jain Community, value, eucalyptus,

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Risk of Air Pollution for Morning Walkers

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Days have gone when people in urban areas preferred going on jogging or for a brisk morning walk. Many researchers are of the opinion that walking in the morning especially in urban areas dominated by slums is not only unsafe, it is harmful. It is harmful especially for the patients of asthma and other bronchial or respiratory disorders.

From early morning to late night vehicles of different makes creep on city roads emitting lots of pollutants that not only contaminate the horizontal atmosphere, they gradually move upwards. The pollutants contained in the air get deposited on dust particles forming acids. As the night moves towards morning these pollutants tend to settle down and move horizontally with the blowing morning air in which we walk in the morning.

Now, morning walkers in cities with less open and green spaces are bound to suffer as the morning air in these areas remain more contaminated than the evening air. People inhabiting slum areas start burning coal early in the morning and the whole area in the atmosphere above slums remains filled with the smoke that travels across the city through wind currents.

Most of the public schools open in the early morning. Each one of these school owns a good number of buses that ply through most of the roads of the city during early morning hours. Since roads in the early morning hours mostly remain empty these buses move through all of them it proper routes for them have not been defined by the city administration. These buses don’t care at all and move even through walking areas and create high levels of air pollution. It is very hazardous for morning walkers.

Many persons now have started evening walks. These people when enquired express their opinion that during evening hours the pollutants contained in the air remain in the trend of moving upwards till the air remains warm. But during morning they come down and move through the cold morning air close to the earth surface. Hence it is now always unsafe to walk in the morning if the morning ground is not located outside the city and there is not sufficient greenery all around.

While moving to Bhubaneswar in a train I approached the city area in the morning. My companion told me that the train was to take about thirty minutes more for reaching to the Bhubaneswar junction. It was summer of 2009 but the air outside was seen properly it use to remain during December month. I realized what I was told about the pollution of the morning air and the pain of morning walkers. Let us see some snaps.



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Chhoti Duddhi: the great medicinal herb of the wild

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Chhoti duddhi - an innocent and humble plant that grows attached to the ground is called as Euphorbia thymifolia Linn. grows in the wild with the first monsoon showers. It is a great medicinal herb.

Medicinal and Ethnoherbological Applications of Euphorbia thymifolia

1. Extract of the plant is used for the treatment of Acute bacillary dysentery, enteritis, diarrhea

2. It is used in Anaphylactic dermatitis, eczema,and  skin pruritus

3. Poultices of leaves to counteract effects of snake bites.

4. Latex used for corneal opacities.

5. Juice of powdered plants mixed with wine for venomous bites;

6. Its extract is mixed with ammonium chloride and is used for dandruff and ringworm.

7. Root decoction for amenorrhea.

8. Poultice of leaves applied to areas of dislocated bones.

9. Dried leaves are used for the treatment of asthma.

10. Fresh leaves are  used as ingredient in vegetable soup for diarrhea, bleeding hemorrhoids etc.

11. Its extract if taken internally acts as antihelmintic.

12. Its latex is used for the treatment of ringworm, dandruff, and boils

13. The extract of its roots is used for the treatment of amenorrhea

14. Its leaves, seeds and latex are used as purgative.



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Bhoomi Amla or Phyllanthus niruri- the great medicinal plant : Growing in the wild under harsh conditions

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Bhoomi Amla or Phyllanthus niruri


MEDICINAL PROPERTIES


(i)   The extract of the plant is used as  Liver tonic,
(ii) The extract of leaves is useful  in jaundice, viral hepatitis, and      alcoholic cirrhosis of liver,
(iii) The extract of the whole plant or the powdered form if taken internally is  Analgesic, antibacterial, antihepatotoxic, anti-inflammatory, laxative, stomachic, tonic, and vermifuge



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Boerhavia diffusa in the wild

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Showing the real branching pattern




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Germination and development of Tamarind

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Friday, July 9, 2010

Ten ways to use less oil

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In the wake of the ongoing catastrophe of the Gulf oil spill, lots of people have been asking us how they can reduce their oil consumption in their daily lives. Here's our top ten:

1. Carpool, cycle or use public transport to go to work.

2. Choose when possible products packaged without plastic and recycle or re-use containers.

3. Buy organic fruits and vegetables (fertilizers and pesticides are based on oil more often than not).

4. Buy beauty products (shampoo, soap, make-up) based on natural ingredients, not oil.

5. Choose when possible locally produced products (less transport involved).

6. Buy clothes made out of organic cotton or hemp - not from oil derivatives.

7. Use non-disposable items in picnics and summer festivals.

8. Quit bottled water.

9. Fly less.

10. Demand that your government encourage renewable energy instead of oil.

Greenpeace International

Key Words: catastraphe, gulf oil spill, reduce, consumption, carpool,hemp, derivatives, summer festival, picnics, bottled water, encourage, greenpeace

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Long awaited monsoon clouds on the horizon of Ranchi

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In the current era of global warming and climate change, Ranchi too is now  facing intense and prolonged heat.Bare rocks left dry and hot after most of the vegetation gone during the long summer is waiting for monsoon clouds to come and save what has remained around them. Yes, now the much awaited clouds are being visible on the horizon. Let us see what these clouds have in store for Jharkhand's environment.



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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Crows in traditions and mythologies

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A crow is a black bird with a strong black beak, two strong claws, and a pair of powerful eyes. It is regarded as a very special bird in India which is found all over the world with minor morphological variations. In India it is found all over the country for different reasons.


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Crows are large passerine birds that form the genus Corvus of the family Carvidae. Members of this genus can be seen in all temperate continents except South America and several offshore and oceanic islands including Hawaii.

Crows are seen round the year. They appear to have evolved in Asia from Corvid stock which has evolved in Austrelia. Linnaeus has described crows in his work Systemma Naturae published in the 18th century. The name is derived from the Latin Corvus meaning “raven”. The type species is Common Raven (Corus corax). Other names are the Carrion Crow (C. corons), the Hooked Crow (C.cornix), the Rook (C.frugilegus) and Jackdaw (C. monedula).

Fossil records show that crows were regularly hunted by human sp. Up to the Iron Age. It has been reported that a high number of species of crows have gone extinct after human colonization with special reference to Island groups such as New Zealand, Hawaii and Greenland.

Calls
Crows make wide varieties of vocalization. It is a topic of debate and study whether the crow’s system of communication constitutes a language. However, it is reported that crows respond to calls of other species. Their vocalization is complex and hence, understood very poorly. The pattern and number of numerical vocalization in crows have been reported to change in response to events in the surrounding. They can hear sound of lower frequencies than those humans can hear. They can produce soft gurgling sounds as a sort of beckoning calls or a call of affection. They can imitate sounds of other animals too. During rainy season some Indian crows have been observed to hunt frogs (Mishra, M.P. 1985) by imitating sound of a frog while sitting on demarcation lines of fields near some holes in which frogs rest in peace.

Intelligence
Crows have been observed to show remarkable levels of intelligence when in groups. Humans have long viewed the crow as an intelligent bird. The Aesop’s fable of the crow and the pitcher proves the intelligence of a crow. But here fox is shown more intelligent than the crow.

Researchers suggest that crows have the ability to recognize our individual human being from another by facial features.

Culture and Mythology
The dark plumage, unnerving calls and their tendency to eat carrion, crows often feature in European legends as portents or harbingers of doom or death. They are commonly thought to encircle above scenes of death such as battles. In mythology and folklore they tend to be symbolic of the spiritual aspect of death.

In one of his physical forms the Dharmapal or protector of Dharma Mahakala is represented by a crow in Buddhism. It is said that when the first robbers attacked the family home, the parents fled and could not get to the infant Lama in time. The next morning when they returned expecting the worst, they found their home untouched, and a pair of crows was caring for the Dalai Lama.”It is believed that crows heralded the birth of the first, seventh, eighth, twelfth and fourteenth Lamas”.

In classical mythology Ovid’s metamorphoses reveal that – when the crow told the God Appolo that his lover Coromis was cheating on him with a mortal, he became very angry and turned the feather of crows from white to black.
Hindus believe that people who died will take food and offering through a variety of crows called “Bali kaka”. Every year Hindus whose parents or relatives died will offer food to crows as well as to cows on the Shraddha day. “ A battle between crows and owls is said to have inspired the final bloody night of the Mahabharat war”.

In Chinese mythology, the world originally had ten sons as ten crows. These ten crows rose in the sky one at a time. When all the ten decided to rise at once, the effect was devastating to crops. So the Gods sent their greatest archer Houyi, who shot down nine of them and spared only one.

The Nile Virus
It has been reported that American crow is very susceptible to west Nile  Virus recenty introduced to North America. American crows have been reported to die within one week of infection by these viruses. They are so affected by the disease that that their deaths are now regarded as indicator of the worst Nile virus activity in an area.

The United States Fish and Wildlife Services has listed two crow species as endangered. These species are the Atala and the Mariana. Since 1999 about 45 percent of the crow population has reportedly been reduced in America.