Monthly Archives: March 2009

‘जोह्ड’ वाले राजेंद्र सिंहजी यांचे ‘गंगाजलच्या’ वार्षीक कार्यक्रमात व्याख्यान !

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“मिठी नदी सुध्दा गंगेसारखीच सुंदर होती. प्रत्येक नदीचं आपलं वेगळं सौंदर्य असतं. गंगा, यमुना असो की अन्य कोणतीही नदी, जैविक कचरा पचवण्याची तिची स्वतःची एक ताकद होती. आता माणसाने रसायन आणि धातूंच प्रदुषण केल्याने नदीची ताकद संपुष्टात आली आहे. पहिल्यांदा विचारांचं प्रदुषण दुर झालं पाहीजे. जाणिवपुर्वक प्रयत्न करून पाण्याला समजून त्यांचं संवर्धन केलं पाहीजे. नद्यांशी समाजमन जोडलं गेलं पाहीजे” असे उद् गार मँगसेसे पुरस्कार विजेते जलतज्ञ डॉ. रजेंद्र सिंह यानी काढले. ‘ गंगाजल फौंडेशन’ च्या राष्ट्रीय परितोषक वितरण समरंभात ते बोलत होते. १४४ नद्यांच्या खोर्‍यात प्रवास करून त्यांचा अभ्यास करताना आलेल्या अनुभवांचं कथन करत त्यांनी अनेक समस्यांवर प्रकाश टाकला.

गंगाजल फौंडेशनचं चित्र प्रदर्शन पाहून आपण मंत्रमुग्ध झालो अशी प्रतिक्रीया देताना उत्तरेकडून पुर्वेकडे वाहणार्‍या गंगेची काळजी पश्चिमेकडचं गंगाजल फौडेशन आणि विजय मुडशिंगीकर घेतात म्हणजे गंगा जीवनधारा आहे आणि ती संपुर्ण देशाला एका सुत्रात बांधते याचं प्रतिक आहे असं ते पुढे म्हणाले. या प्रसंगी श्री. अभिजीत घोरपडे यांना गंगाजल फौंडेशनचा ‘ नदी मित्र ” पुरस्कार देण्यात आला आणि ‘गंगाजल’ या वार्षिक पर्यावरण विशेषांकाचे प्रकाशन करण्यात आले.

-नरेद्र प्रभू

What a nice function it was at Rachana Sansad, Prabhadevi on the evening of 29th March!! We had Water man of India Dr. Rajendra Singh as Chief Guest. We had welknown writer, reporter Abhijit Ghorpade as Special Guest. We facilitated him by the title “Nadi Mitra” (Friend of Rivers). Then we had almost all the winners present with the judges of the compitition. And all this was accomanpanied by a nice audience of nature lovers spread across the city. All in all, we had a program we were dreaming of since last 6 months.

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गंगाजल नेचर फाऊंडेशनचा ‘नदी मित्र’ पुरस्कार !

mmmनद्यांन मातांची उपमा दिली जात असली तरीही आज नद्यांची अवस्था भयावह आहे.गंगेसारख्या पवित्र मान्ल्या गेलेल्या नदीची अवस्था पहावत नाही. गंगानदीच्या प्रदूषणा बाबत विविध उपक्रमाद्वारे गंगाजल नेचर फाऊंडेशन जनसामान्यांचे प्रबोधन करीत आहे. जागतिक ‘नदी वर्ष २००८’ च्या औचित्याने घेतलेल्या दुस-या राष्ट्रीय   छायाचित्र व महितीपट स्पर्धेला देशातील अनेक राज्यांतून प्रतिसाद मिळाला.  या स्पर्धेतील पहील्या क्रमांकाचे पारितोषिक गुजरातच्या घनश्याम कहार यांना मिळाले. या स्पर्धेचा पारितोषिक वितरण सोहळा रविवार दिनांक २९ मार्च रोजी रचना संसद सभाग्रहात दुपरी ३ ते ६ दरम्यान होणार आहे. या कार्यक्रमाचे प्रमुख पाहुणे म्हणुन मँगसेसे पुरस्कारप्राप्त डाँ. राजेद्रं सिंह हे येणार आहेत.याच कार्यक्रमात, माहाराष्ट्रतील नद्यांच्या प्रदुषणा बाबत ‘लोकसत्ताच्या’ माध्यमाने आपल्या लेखनीद्वारे सर्वसामान्यांनसह प्रशासनला ही दखल घ्यवयास भाग पाडलेले अभिजित घोरपडे यानां त्यांच्या ‘मरणासन्न’ नद्यां उपक्र्मा बध्द्ल गंगाजल नेचर फाऊंडेशन, ‘नदी मित्र’ पुरस्काराने सन्मानित करणार आहे.

चला ‘गंगाजल’ जाणून घेऊया ! We invite you all nature lovers, environmentalists and alert citizens for grand prize distribution ceremony Of 2nd National Documentary and Photography Thematic Competition 2008, occasion of “World River Year 2008” Gangajal Nature Foundation, Mumbai at Rachana Sansad, Prabhadevi, Mumbai on 29th March 2009 by 3PM.

नदी, मग  ती जगातली कोणतीही असूद्या, तिला  अनन्यसाधारण महत्व आहे. पाण्याचा  प्रश्न अतिशय स्फोटक होऊ  पहातोय. अनादी काळापासून नद्यांच्या आश्रयाने  अनेक संकृतींचा उदय झाला आणि त्यांची भरभराटही झाली. भारतातही  नद्या आणि हिंदू संकृती  एकमेकांच्या हतात हात घालून  सहजीवन जगत आली. नद्यांचं महत्व जाणूनच ऋषी मुनींनी  त्यांना देवत्व बहाल केलं. पुजन  केलं. सहस्रावधी  वर्षं माणसाला जगवणार्‍या  या नद्या आता मात्र स्वतःच  मृत्यूपंथाला लागल्या आहेत. त्यांची  पात्रं कोरडी पडताहेत. गाळाने  भरून जाताहेत. मल-मुत्र, सांडपाणी, कारखान्यातील  रासायनीक कचरा, मेलेली  जनावरं- माणसं  यापासून विषारी खतं, धातू, सगळं  सगळं नदीलाच येऊन मिळतय. नद्यांची  पार गटारं होऊन गेलीत.

मुंबईची  मिठी नदी घ्या, एकेकाळी  गोड्यापाण्या मुळेच तीचं नाव ‘ मिठी ‘ असं  पडलं, पण  आजची तिची अवस्था फारच केविलवाणी  आहे. आणि  हे आपणा सर्वांनाच ज्ञात आहे. पण एकवेळ मिठीचं पाणी परवडलं  त्या पेक्षाही वाईट स्थिती  कानपूर येथे गंगेची आहे. गंगा थेट स्वर्गातून पृथ्वीवर  अवतरली ती भागिरथाच्या  तपश्चर्येमुळे पण तीच गंगा  आज भागिरथाला दोष देत असेल. पुन्हा  ती स्वर्गवासी होण्याच्या  मार्गावर आहे. आपण  नद्यांना असं का सडवलं ? पाण्याचा  पर्यायाने मानवाचा हा विनाश  कोण घडवून आणतय ? कोसी असो की गोदावरी या नद्या का  कोपल्या ? अवर्षणाचा चटका का बसतोय ? आणि  या पुढे काय वाढून ठेवलय ? हे सर्व जाणून घेण्यासाठी चला एकत्र येऊया आणि जाणून घेऊया जिवनाला… पाण्याला.

येत्या  २९ मार्च २००९ ( रविवार ) रोजी. स्थळ  आहे रचना संसद , प्रभादेवी, मुंबई  ४०००२५. वेळ आहे दुपारी 3 वा.

कार्यक्रमात  आहे, प्रमुख पाहुणे मँगसेसे पुरस्कार प्राप्त, जलतज्ञ डॉ. राजेंद्र  सिंहजी यांचं व्याख्यान, गंगाजल  फौंडेशनने आयोजित केलेल्या  छायाचित्रांचं प्रदर्शन, माहितीपट, आणि  बरच काही. तेव्हा मित्रहो जरूर या. जागृत  व्हा.

We invite you all nature lovers, environmentalists and alert citizens for grand prize distribution ceremony Of 2nd National Documentary and Photography Thematic Competition 2008, occasion of  “World River Year 2008” Gangajal Nature Foundation, Mumbai at Rachana Sansad, Prabhadevi, Mumbai on 29th March 2009 by 3PM.

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Introducing Schools Water Portal

India Water Portal has launched its latest offering – Schools Water Portal , an unique platform for educators, students and and school management to share learning resources on water.
The portal contains several colourful presentations , plays, debate topics, quizzes, poems and jingles all with water as the focal theme. The busy teacher could use these for enlivening the class, or ease an otherwise difficult topic. All these materials follow the set syllabus, are for free download.
Students can search for project ideas, and watch videos of student projects. The Principals corner is for proactive school management interested in conducting a water audit or implementing a rainwater harvesting system in their schools. We plan to conduct several workshops in several cities in India. For conducting workshops in your city, or finding out more, do contact the Schools Water Portal at portal@arghyam.org . Visit us at http://schools.indiawaterportal.org

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National Rural Water Supply Programme – Framework for Implementation (2008-12). New guidelines have been released by the Department of Drinking Water Supply, Ministry of Rural Development (GoI), towards ensuring drinking water security in rural areas. The document takes forward the rural water supply agenda by introducing new concepts including conjuctive use of different water sources, continuing the emphasis on water quality and envisages the creation of water security plans at a village level. More info click here. We request your comments on the document.

A GenV Campaign – Tapping Youth Innovation! WaterAid, the leading organization for safe water and sanitation, and Ashoka GenV invite youth around the world to submit proposals for youth-led projects designed to improve the water and sanitation services of people living in poverty. The ten most innovative, effective or sustainable project ideas will receive seed grants of up to US$1,000. More info click here

Petition Against Arrest of NREGA Activists in Jharkhand! Two NREGA activists, Bhukhan Singh and Niyamat Ansari, were arrested on false charges in Manika (Latehar District, Jharkhand) on 15 February 2009, and sent to jail on 16 February. More info click here

Conference / Workshop / Trainings :
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World Water Forum : Let us know if you will be attending World Water Forum !  Gender and Water Alliance has a stall and will be part of the Women and Gender Coalition (click here). SACIWaters is holding a side event on Integrated Water Resource Management in South Asia (click here)

CSE Courses: “Urban Rainwater Harvesting” & “Agenda for Survival” CSE’s advanced course on “Urban Rainwater Harvesting” for working professionals is being conducted from March 23-27, 2009 at New Delhi. More info click here. Agenda for Survival is a summer certificate course on the policies, politics and practices of environmental management in India will be held from June 1- 30, 2009. More info click here

Conference & Call for Papers: Water Utilities and Law: Current Trends and Development. UNESCO Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science at the University of Dundee, Scotland, UK, will hold a two day Conference from September 3rd to September 4th 2009 on Water Utilities and Law. Call for papers on water utilities and law, last date – 15 April 2009. More info click here

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New Book: “Water, Ecosystems and Society – A Confluence of Disciplines” . Written by Jayanta Bandyopadhay, Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, this book is a guide to interdisciplinary knowledge on water. More info, click here

Acharya PC Ray award to Dr Baharul Majumder for work done on System of Rice Intensification More info, click here

Open Position: Programme Officer (Grants Management) under the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council. More info click here

Open Positions: Integrated Urban Water Management project of Arghyam, Karnataka Social Development and Engineering positions avaiable for IUWM project at Mulbagal, Karnataka: Click here for more

Help Stefania Balica Ph.D. student to develop flood vulnerability indices by answering a questionnaire More info click here

http://www.indiawaterportal.org/

Global Warming Even Worse Than Previously Thought ! By – Michael McCarthy

Lord Stern, the economist who produced the single most influential political document on climate change, says he underestimated the risks of global warming and the damage that could result from it.

The situation was worse than he had thought when he completed his review two-and-a-half years ago, he told a conference yesterday, but politicians do not yet grasp the scale of the dangers now becoming apparent.

“Do politicians understand just how difficult it could be, just how devastating rises of 4C, 5C or 6C could be? I think, not yet,” Lord Stern posed to the meeting of scientists in Copenhagen.

“A rise of 5C would be a temperature the world has not seen for 30 to 50 million years. We’ve been around only 100,000 years as human beings. We don’t know what that’s like.

“We haven’t seen 3C for a few million years, and we don’t know what that looks like either.”

Lord Stern said new research done in the past two or three years had made it clear there were “severe risks” if global temperature rose by the predicted 4C to 7C by 2100. Agriculture would be destroyed and life would be impossible over much of the planet, the former World Bank chief economist said.

Now a professor at the London School of Economics, Lord Stern referred to the higher temperature rises several times at the conference. The scientists are meeting in the Danish capital as a precursor to the major UN meeting in December which aims to find a successor to the Kyoto Protocol climate treaty.

Commissioned by Gordon Brown when Chancellor, and issued in October 2006, the 700-page Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change is the single most influential political document on global warming yet published. It has been closely studied by the governments of every major country.

The report said the costs of acting to counter climate change, by stabilising emissions of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, might be about 1 per cent of annual global GDP by 2050. But the cost of doing nothing was found to be far greater – risking up to 20 per cent of the world’s wealth.

Yesterday, Lord Stern revised this prediction, saying the cost of inaction would be “50 per cent or more higher” than his previous highest estimate – meaning it could cost a third of the world’s wealth.

The conference has been hearing detail on research done following the Stern review, including claims sea levels are likely to rise twice as fast as predicted in the last UN climate change report in 2007.

Lord Stern said the world’s population needed to be aware of the implications of climate change, with many areas devastated by hurricanes and others drying out.

“Much of southern Europe would look like the Sahara. Many of the major rivers of the world, serving billions of people, would dry up in the dry seasons or re-route.”

Billions of people would have to relocate as a result, he said.

“What would be the implication of that? Extended conflict, social disruption, war essentially, over much of the world, for many decades.

“This is the kind of implication that follows from temperature increases of that magnitude. I think it’s vital that people understand the magnitude of the risks, but also that they understand that [by cutting emissions] we can reduce the probability of going there very dramatically,” Lord Stern said.

Then and now: How Stern’s view changed

Temperatures

A central assumption of the 2006 Stern Report was global temperatures would rise by between 2C and 3C over the current century if nothing was done to counter global warming.

Stern also mentioned the possibility of a 4C rise.

Yesterday, Stern said 4C, 5C, 6C and even 7C degree rises were a real possibility by the end of the 21st century, taking the world into new territory – agriculture would be destroyed and life impossible in many areas.

Costs

Stern created a sliding scale in the 2006 report which measured the costs of doing nothing on climate change. At the upper limit was the chance the damage would amount to 20 per cent of global Gross Domestic Product – a fifth of the world’s wealth.

Yesterday, Stern revised his estimate saying the cost would be 50 per cent higher “or more” than the previous highest guess – risking a third of the world’s wealth or a 30 per cent plus reduction in consumption per head.

By Michael McCarthy

http://www.countercurrents.org/mccarthy130309.htm

अशनि-संकेत!

अंतराळातील गुरुत्वाकर्षणाच्या कक्षेतून सुटलेला एक अशनी पृथ्वीच्या वातावरणाच्या कवचाला अक्षरश: स्पर्श करून तो निघून गेला.

गेल्याच आठवडय़ात पृथ्वी ग्रह एका जबरदस्त आघातातून बचावला. अंतराळातील गुरुत्वाकर्षणाच्या कक्षेतून सुटलेला एक अशनी प्रचंड वेगात पृथ्वीच्या दिशेने येत होता. जवळ आल्यानंतर मात्र पृथ्वीवर न आदळता, केवळ पृथ्वीच्या वातावरणाच्या कवचाला अक्षरश: स्पर्श करून तो निघून गेला. खूप मोठा अनर्थ टळल्याचे कळल्यानंतर पृथ्वीवासीयांनी सुटकेचा नि:श्वासही टाकला. १० मजली इमारती एवढा मोठा अशनी पृथ्वीच्या अगदी जवळून म्हणजे केवळ ७० हजार किलोमीटर्स अंतरावरून निघून गेला. तो निघून गेला. आणि त्यानंतर सामान्यांना दुसऱ्या दिवशी बातम्यांमधून कळले. पण अंतराळ संशोधकांनाही काही फार आधी त्याचा सुगावा लागला नव्हता. केवळ दोनच दिवस आधी त्याची चाहूल वैज्ञानिकांना लागली होती. आता तो पुढे कुठे चालला आहे आणि नेमका कुठून आला, त्याचा शोध घेतला जात आहे. ‘२००९ डीडी ४५’ असे नावही त्याला देण्यात आले. तो येत होता पृथ्वीच्याच दिशेने. पण पृथ्वीवर न धडकता बाजूनेच तो निघून गेला आणि मग अनेक संदर्भाना उजाळा मिळाला. अगदी अलीकडचा म्हणजे पृथ्वीवासीयांना माहीत असलेला १९०८ सालचा अशनी पृथ्वीवर धडकण्याच्या संदर्भापर्यंत सर्व संदर्भ अनेकांना आठवले. त्या अशनीने पृथ्वीच्या वातावरणात प्रवेश केल्यानंतर सैबेरियाच्या वाळवंटावर अवकाशातच त्याचा स्फोट झाला होता आणि दोन हजार चौरस किलोमीटर्सचा परिसर खाक झाला होता. कदाचित असेच काही होईल, अशी भीती संशोधकांना वाटत होती. पण तो केवळ जवळून निघून गेला. याही वेळेस संशोधकांच्या मनात खूप मोठे वादळ उठलेच होते. कारण तो पृथ्वीच्या जवळून निघून गेला तरी पृथ्वीवर त्याचे महागंभीर परिणाम होऊ शकतात, याची त्यांना पूर्ण कल्पना होती. चंद्राच्या कलांचा किंवा त्याच्या जवळ येण्याचा पृथ्वीवर परिणाम होत असतो. भरती-ओहोटी हा चंद्राचाच परिणाम आहे. तसाच परिणाम हा वेगात येणारा अशनी पृथ्वीच्या जवळ येवून बाजूने निघून गेला तरीही होईल, असे संशोधकांना वाटते आहे. त्याच्या येण्यामुळे पृथ्वीवर महाकाय लाटा निर्माण होतील, गगनचुंबी इमारती पत्त्याच्या बंगल्याप्रमाणे कोसळतील, असे सारे परिणाम अपेक्षित आहेत. त्यामुळेच काही वर्षे विविध प्रकारचे प्रकल्प अंतराळ वैज्ञानिकांनी हाती घेतले असून त्यात पृथ्वीला असलेल्या या संभाव्य धोक्यांचा विचार केला जात आहे. पृथ्वीचे रक्षण या अनाहूत संकटांपासून कसे करायचे, त्याचाच विचार या प्रकल्पांमध्ये प्राधान्यक्रमाने केला जाणार आहे. हा अशनी आता दूर निघून गेला असला तरीही तो पुन्हा पृथ्वीच्या जवळ येण्याचा धोका आहेच. कारण अंतराळ वैज्ञानिकांनी केलेल्या गणित आणि संशोधनानुसार धूमकेतू आणि त्यांच्यासदृश्य दिसणाऱ्या अनेक गोष्टी अशा प्रकारे अंतराळात फिरत असून, त्यापैकी प्रत्येकाला स्वत:ची अशी एक विशिष्ट गती आहे आणि परिभ्रमण कक्षादेखील. त्यामुळे त्या परिभ्रमण कक्षेत फिरताना हा धूमकेतू नक्कीच परत येणार, याची खात्री संशोधकांना आहे. किंबहुना म्हणूनच काही दशकांमध्ये अंतराळविज्ञानातील अभ्यासाचा केंद्रिबदू बदलत चालला आहे. या साऱ्याचा शोध वैज्ञानिकांना लागला तो, ‘मी कोण?’ आणि ‘आपण सारे आलो कुठून?’ या सनातन प्रश्नांचा वैज्ञानिक अंगाने शोध घेताना! मग सारे जण थेट जाऊन पोहोचले ते पृथ्वीच्याच नव्हे तर या अंतराळाच्या आणि आपल्या आकाशगंगेच्या निर्मितीच्या क्षणापर्यंत. ते सारे समजावून घेतले तर आज मानवाला पडलेली अनेक कोडी उलगडतील आणि मग भविष्याचा वैज्ञानिक वेध घेणेही सहज शक्य होईल, हे मानवाला लक्षात आले. १९८४ नंतर अंतराळ विज्ञानामध्ये झालेल्या अनेक प्रयोगांनंतर तर या साऱ्या अभ्यासाची दिशाच बदलली आणि आता तर केवळ आणि केवळ धूमकेतूच या अभ्यासाच्या केंद्रस्थानी आले आहेत. कारण तेच आहे, ज्यांनी या विश्वाच्या अथांग पसाऱ्यामध्ये अनेक गोष्टी घडवून आणल्या आहेत. त्यांच्याबद्दल आता पूर्ण खात्री पटली असून, त्यामुळेच सारे जग आता धूमकेतूंच्या संशोधनामागे लागले आहे. अंतराळ विज्ञानाला आधुनिक काळात सुरुवात झाली ती गॅलिलिओ गॅलिलीपासून, असे मानले जाते. त्याने दुर्बिण तयार करून त्यामधून चंद्राबरोबरच थेट सूर्याचाही वेध घेण्याचा प्रयत्न केला. त्यानंतर अंतराळातील अनेक गोष्टी खगोल वैज्ञानिकांना खुणावू लागल्या. गॅलिलिओने दुर्बिणीतून घेतलेल्या अवकाशवेधाला चारशे वर्षे पूर्ण झाली. त्या निमित्ताने २००९ हे वर्ष जगभरात आंतरराष्ट्रीय खगोलवर्ष म्हणून साजरे होत आहे. अलीकडेच मुंबईमध्ये एक आंतरराष्ट्रीय खगोलविज्ञान परिषदही पार पडली. प्रा. जयंत नारळीकर यांच्यासमवेत जिवाच्या उत्पत्तीचा शोध घेणारा प्रयोग करणारे, प्रा. विक्रमसिंघे या परिषदेला हजर होते. या परिषदेत झालेल्या चर्चेवर नजर टाकली तरीही एक गोष्ट सहज लक्षात येते, ती म्हणजे अंतराळ वैज्ञानिकांच्या अभ्यासाचा केंद्रबिंदू आता धूमकेतूंच्या दिशेने सरकला आहे. या परिषदेमध्ये याच प्रमुख विषयावर चर्चा झाली. प्रा. विक्रमसिंघे या परिषदेचे विशेष अतिथी होते. जिवाची उत्पत्ती हा त्यांचा विषयच मुळी धूमकेतूशी संबंधित होता. जिवाची उत्पत्ती ही अंतराळात झाली असा निष्कर्ष त्यांनी त्यांच्या संशोधनानंतर मांडला होता. त्याला नंतरच्या काळात पुष्टी मिळत गेली आणि आता हा सिद्धांत जगभरात सर्वत्र प्राथमिक सिद्धांत म्हणून स्वीकारला गेला आहे. जिवाच्या उत्पत्तीला कारण ठरलेल्या गोष्टी अंतराळात कुठून आल्या, याचाही शोध घेतला गेला. त्यावेळेस सारी उत्तरे या धूमकेतूजवळच येवून थांबली. जिवाच्या उत्पत्तीसाठी आवश्यक घटक धूमकेतूमध्ये खास करून त्याच्या शेपटामध्ये असतात, असे लक्षात आले. हे धूमकेतू आणि इतर अनेक बाबी अंतराळात फिरत असताना विविध ग्रहांवर येवून आदळत असतात. त्यामुळेच अनेक विवरे तयार होतात. या आदळण्याच्या प्रक्रियेमधूनच जीव-जंतू पृथ्वीच्या वातावरणात आले असावेत, असा कयास आहे. पृथ्वी ही इतर ग्रहांपेक्षा अनेक बाबतीत वेगळी आहे. इथे वातावरणाचे संरक्षक कवच आहे. त्यामुळे अंतराळातून प्रवेश करणारी गोष्ट या वातारणात प्रवेश करताना जळून खाक होते. परंतु, एक लाखांमध्ये एक शक्यता अशीही असते की, ती बाब जळून खाक न होता जशीच्या तशी पृथ्वीवर पोहोचते. जिवाचा अंश पृथ्वीवर अशाच प्रकारे पोहोचला असावा, असे संशोधकांचे म्हणणे आहे. मात्र या संदर्भात अधिक अभ्यास करताना अनेक बाबी संशोधकांना लक्षात आल्या. पृथ्वीवर लाखो वर्षांंपूर्वी डायनोसॉर युग अस्तित्वात होते. त्यावेळेस मानवी अंश या पृथ्वीवर नव्हता. या डायनोसॉर युगाचा अस्त असाच एक अशनी येवून आदळण्याने झाला, असे मानले जाते. त्या संदर्भातील अनेक दुवे वैज्ञानिकांना सापडले असून या गृहितकाला पुष्टी मिळाली आहे. शिवाय जगातील अनेक घडामोडींमागे तेच आहेत, असे लक्षात आल्याने आता त्यांचा सखोल अभ्यास करण्यास सुरुवात झाली आहे. हा अभ्यास केवळ नासा आणि इसामध्ये नाही तर थेट भारतातही सुरू आहे. प्राचीन भारतात धूमकेतूंचा अभ्यास गणिताद्वारे करण्यात आला होता. त्याचा नव्याने खगोलविज्ञानाच्या अंगाने शोध घेतला जातोय. अनेक अशनी एरवीही पृथ्वीच्या अंतराळात प्रवेश करत असतात. त्याचा शोध जगभरात घेतला जातोय. भारतातही खगोलविज्ञान संस्थेने अशाच प्रकारची मोहीम घेतली असून अशा अशनींचे २८४ नमुने गोळा करण्यात आले आहेत. यातील बहुतांश राजस्थान आणि कच्छच्या वाळवंटामध्ये सापडले आहेत. त्याचा सखोल अभ्यास भारतात सुरू आहे. भारतीय संशोधकांनीही आपल्या दुर्बिणी धूमकेतूच्या दिशेने वळविल्या आहेत. मुंबईत पार पडलेल्या या परिषदेमध्ये तर भारतात सापडलेल्या अशनींची वर्गवारीच सादर करण्यात आली. शिवाय धूमकेतूंच्या परिभ्रमण कक्षा कशा असतात, त्या मागची गणिते आता मांडली जात आहेत. गणितामध्ये भारतीय वैज्ञानिक प्रसिद्ध असल्यानेच या प्रकल्पांमध्ये प्रामुख्याने त्यांचाच सहभाग आहे. हजारोंच्या संख्येने धूमकेतू आता संशोधकांनी शोधले असून त्यापैकी प्रत्येकाला नावही देण्यात आले आहे. प्रत्येकाचा स्वतंत्र अभ्यासही सुरू आहे. या साऱ्यांना घेवून आपली आकाशगंगा या अथांग विश्वामध्ये फिरते आहे. आपण आतापर्यंत विचार करतो आहोत तो केवळ आपल्या आकाशगंगेचा. पण आता तर खगोल वैज्ञानिकांना वेध लागले आहेत, ते पलीकडे असलेल्या आकाशगंगांमधील धूमकेतूंचे. आता त्याच्याही मागे खगोल वैज्ञानिक लागले आहेत. एकूण काय तर विश्वाच्या पसाऱ्याचा वेध घ्यायचा तर धूमकेतू अटळ आहेत!

साभार- लोकसत्ता,
संपदकीय,
कुमार केतकर

http://loksatta.com/daily/20090313/edt.htm

Holi, the Festival of Colors !

Together with Diwali, Holi (Rang Panchami) is probably the most awaited festival of the Hindu calendar. It is

Holi Revellers Playing In Delhi

Holi Revellers Playing In Delhi

celebrated over two days, beginning on phalgun purnima (the full moon), and therefore the Holi festival date in 2009 is 11th March. Children especially have fun bursting water-filled balloons, throwing colors and soaking each other with water guns days before the actual holiday.

The playing with colors, which makes the festival so popular, actually goes back to a medicinal tradition, namely using ayurvedic powders made of medicinal herbs. Throwing them at each other used to not only give the Holi festival its color but also protect from viral fever and colds during the change from winter to spring, which Holi also celebrates. The four most popular and colorful natural Holi powders are:

  • green – Neem (azadirachta indica)
  • yellow – Haldi (turmeric)
  • red – Kumkum (turmeric or saffron mixed with lemon juice)
  • orange – Bael (aegle marmelos, wood apple)

A special drink called thandai is also prepared for Holi. It is made of milk, almonds, spices and sugar and often contains bhang (the leaf and flower of the female cannabis sativa plant).

The Origins of Holi

Followers of Indian mythology will be familiar with the many gods and demons that, not unlike mythological superheroes, entertain the heavens and earth with their special powers and pranks. But unlike today’s often simplistic stories and characters, Indian mythological characters are psychologically complex and, especially at second glance, not sketched all black or white.

Holi, just like Diwali and the Tamil Thaipusam festival, celebrates the victory of good over evil. Here, the king of demons, Hiranyakashipu (or Hiranyakashap), goes against his own son, Prahlad, because of his belief in Lord Vishnu. His devotion protects Prahlad from all the tests devised by his father to kill him. Finally, Hiranyakashipu orders Prahlad to sit on a pyre with his sister Holika, who is protected by a magic shawl. Prahlad follows the order, praying to Vishnu all the while, when Holika’s shawl flies to him, letting her burn and saving Prahlad.

Vishnu finally rid the world of Hiranyakashyap by finding ways to bypass the demon king’s many protections:

  • In his avatar as Narasimha, Vishnu was half-man, half-lion, therefore neither man nor animal;
  • he killed him at dusk, which is neither day or night
  • on the steps of his house (neither inside nor out),
  • on his lap (neither sky nor earth) and
  • by mauling him with his claws, which is neither through weapons (astra) nor knowledge (shastra).

image009How to Celebrate Holi

Holi is a two-day festival that starts on the full moon night (phalgun purnima) with the lighting of bonfires all over town as reminders of the burning of Holika on the pyre. The second day is called dhulheti, and children and adults alike “play Holi” in the morning by throwing colors and water at each other. After a long bath, the rest of the day is spent eating good food and sweets and spending time with family and friends.

image0022

Eco-friendly Holi

Many scientists have been

reducing the number of bonfires to decrease pollution and deforestation

reducing the number of bonfires to decrease pollution and deforestation

advocating herbal gulals (colors) like the ones produced by the National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI) for years. As Dr. P. Pushpangadan, NBRI’s director, in the March 1, 2004 Times of India article “Scientist’s warning to Holi revellers” explains: “Unlike the flashy vibrant chemical gulals available in the market, this herbal gulal does not cause any irritation, skin allergies, respiratory problems or damage to your vital organs.”

Still, especially in urban areas, the use of natural dyes or homemade colors has decreased as buying artificial colors is cheaper and less time consuming. Efforts have been made in recent years though to spend Holi in a way that is easier on the environment, including

  • reducing the number of bonfires to decrease pollution and deforestation,
  • avoiding the use of chemically produced color powders and pastes to prevent skin and eye irritation,
  • teaching children in schools how to make their own Holi colors from natural and safe ingredients like beetroot, onion peels, rose petals, spinach and turmeric.

 Holi is a festival eagerly awaited by young and old, rich and poor and is the festival where social norms are forgotten  for two days. Following these simple tips and tricks will make Holi even more enjoyable:

  • When playing Holi, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants to cover as much skin as possible,
  • oil your hair so that the color washes out more easily,
  • wear a cap or bandana if you have bleached or dyed hair – synthetic colors might react with hair dyes,
  • apply cold cream and sunscreen before playing Holi to protect the skin and moisturize it, making it easier to rinse colors off afterwards,
  • apply cream to hands and fingernails, areas where stains stay longest,
  • don’t rub stains; accept that you will be more colorful for a few days .

http://hinduism.suite101.com/article.cfm/holi_the_festival_of_colors

WWF-India Reintroduces 131 Gharials into River Ganges

Dr. Parikshit Gautam, Director, Freshwater & Wetlands, WWF India with released gharial

Dr. Parikshit Gautam, Director, Freshwater & Wetlands, WWF-India with released gharial
© WWF-India

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January 29th and February 12th can be marked on WWF-India’s calendar as historical. In a task that was no shorter than being termed as herculean, WWF-India along with the UP State Forest Department reintroduced the Gharial into River Ganga at the Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary (HWLS), U.P.

The status of the crocodilian species Gharial, Gavialis gangeticus has recently been revised by the IUCN to Critically Endangered. The surviving population is spread in less than half a dozen habitats eg-Ken, Son, Mahanadi, Chambal, Girwa and Ramganga. Estimates indicate that 1400 individuals survive in the wild. In order to address the conservation needs of this species, it is necessary to locate viable alternative habitats which supplement the extremely few habitats where the species currently occur.

The target reintroduction area was very well suited for the release. The site was selected after a survey conducted by the state forest department officials and WWF-India. The area has been inhabited by wild Gharials in fairly recent times. A female Gharial (3.63 m) inhabited this area as late as 1994. Another Gharial was rescued here in 2006-07 and released into the Ganges at a spot further up stream near Bijnor. Also, easily recognizable features of Gharial habitat like perennial stream with deep pools, undisturbed mid-river sand bars, high and steep sand banks for nesting, and multi-stream braided channels with stagnant eddy counter-currents occur in this stretch of the river. An awareness drive amongst the local communities was also conducted along the river bank to ensure community participation prior to reintroduction of these species into the Ganga.

Immediately below the Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary, the Ganges River and its environs downstream to the Ganga Irrigation Barrage at Narora have been declared as a Ramsar Site with its own conservation implications. The area is currently the focus of a dolphin conservation programme of WWF-India which will definitely benefit Gharial conservation, monitoring and protection.

In Total 131 Gharials were released in a phased manner. These gharials were breed at the Kukrail Gharial Rehabilitation Centre at Lucknow and belonged to the 2005-2006 batch. They were in the age group of 2-3.8 years In the first phase 60 Gharials were released in which there were 18 males and 42 females. They measured approximately 1.20-1.68 m in length and weighed approximately 7-12 kg.

In the second phase 71 Gharials were released of which there were 19 males and 52 females. These weighed 7-16 kg and measured approximately 1.20-1.80 m in length. Intensive post-release monitoring is underway and it has been observed that these individuals have negotiated 10 kilometer downstream and 2.5 km upstream of the release site. These release programmes will be sustained for a number of years until a resident breeding population of Gharial is established at a favourable location in the river.

The objectives of the reintroduction will be achieved through people participation and regular monitoring of sections of the Ganga River and studying the response of the released Gharial in terms of ability to permanently adapt to the environment. Rescue operations for Gharial individuals will also be done, which could drift downstream of protected areas. The local communities have expressed support and solidarity for ensuring the return of the Gharial in this area. With the success of this project it is hoped that these species sees resurgence.

For more information, please contact:
Dr. Parikshit Gautam
Director, Freshwater & Wetlands,
WW- India,
E-mail: pgautam@wwfindia.net
T: +91 11 41504820

http://www.wwfindia.org/news_facts/?3060/WWF-India-Reintroduces-131-Gharials-into-River-Ganges

Our smaller future ,By- Sunita Narain

A year ago, in this very column, I discussed the myopia of budget 2008, which did not touch upon events then beginning to unfold. Since then we have seen the world collapse and, perhaps, even change forever.

First came the food crisis, early last year. As prices of daily bread soared, riots broke out and food shops ran empty. Countries realized the value of growing food locally. Then, even as food prices stabilised somewhat (it remains high), oil prices jumped so high even our normally unflappable finance minister yelped. Since then, the price has crashed and with economic slow-down promises to stay down. But the world did learn the pain of high price and shortages. Not enough, of course, for it to get serious about re-inventing energy security. But learn it did.

By September 2008, our economic czars, exhaling from oil-relief, had to hold their breath again. Starting with Lehman Brothers, the biggest of the big started crashing; every week brought a new surprise and a different downfall. For once, even the know-it-alls – the Davos glitterati – seemed uncertain of the future. They still don’t dare exhale.

The seizures did not stop there. Every day, week or month, a part of the world experienced unusual weather—hurricanes, floods, unseasonal rainfall, bitter cold or intense heat, forest fire. It is difficult to compute the effect of such events on economic activity. But the world hurt badly, and is still hurting. The growing intensity of ‘natural’ events and variable weather is a clear sign of climate change, as science also tells us. We were – are – witness to another level of global collapse.

In all, our world has changed, even if we do not accept it, or do not want to change with it. Therefore, what will make countries more resilient to face the future? The question also is whether this ‘survival’ strategy can be built to deal with fuel and food shortages and climate change. In other words, do we have a formula for the future world?

Governments, which till yesterday pushed for integration of global economies, are now realizing how vulnerable such integration makes them to external collapses. The export-oriented economies are the worst hit in this recession. Indian commentators, who loved to love China for its export-oriented strategies, are today saying India’s investment in agriculture and rural resilience may just have worked. She was more able to cope with global vagaries by building durable domestic markets. How was this done? First, the country increased the minimum support price for agriculture in the past years. That means farmers are the real heroes today. They have grown more. The country has harvested more. There is local food production, adding to local food security.

Of course, this is precisely where we must begin to unpack the ‘integration’ deal. Currently, world agricultural prices are completely skewed because of the massive subsidies the rich world provides to keep its farmers in business. In an integrated world, our farmers lose out. To import cheap food, to keep the bill on public procurement as low as possible, our government has scrimped and saved and not paid farmers the true cost of growing food. This, in turn, has destroyed local livelihoods and local economies. The turn-around, thus, will need much more un/doing; better prices for food, investment in local water sources; better seeds and, most importantly, improving productivity of small farmers in dry land areas.

The second big-ticket difference came because of the national rural employment guarantee scheme, which created jobs and so built resilience. The challenge now is to use employment creation to build rural assets, for double benefit – jobs and sustainable livelihoods. It is this ‘employment’ challenge the future world must grasp. Till now, we were tutored employment would come from the very sectors – industry and services – that, today, are collapsing like nine-pins. We never believed in land- or alternative-employment options, and so policy willfully worked to destroy existing work options.

Take the big fight of the years gone by – the entry of big retail to take over the mom-pop business of small shops, and the entry of contract – corporate farming to take over small – holder farmers. These ‘small’ people were dismissed because they were not organized, not part of established business, as we knew it. What got missed was the fact these small-holders – of shops or farms – are large employment creators. More importantly, they are more able to cope with uncertainty – their costs are lower and they adapt quickly to changes. They are more resilient. The future is here.

This investment in local infrastructure for local livelihoods is also an important part of the climate puzzle. The fact is global consumption patterns are built on the use of large amounts of cheap goods, imported over long distances. This over-consumption is good for integrated economies, and bad for the environment: it leads to massive use of natural resources, massive waste and earth-devastating pollution.

But today, when national economies are built on the wasteful consumption of some, it is difficult to de-link. Too much self-interest is built into this wasteful economy. Nevertheless, let us also be clear: We cannot consume to be rich and still think we can save tomorrow.

It is here, again, the pieces come together. The world has to re-invent economies for tomorrow, make them less economically vulnerable and more climate-secure. It is here opportunity exists: investment in the local economies of the poor. The businesses of the small, combined with green enterprises – from decentralized solar to smart-grids – will be the future of business. There is a real need to think of the ultimate small revolution. In a de-globalising world that’s integrated, yet smaller.

By- Sunita Narain

http://www.downtoearth.org.in/cover_nl.asp?mode=1