Archive for December, 2015

My Diary – 27th Dec 2015 at Bhubaneshwar

Sunday, December 27th, 2015

Today morning, we visited Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves. These caves originated during 200 B.C., constructed by the Kharavela Dynasty (post King Ashoka, Mauryan Empire) on the hills where Jain Monks used to live.

My Observations:
1. Udayagiri is the place where monks can live in more than 50 man-made constructed caves.

2. Hostel caves: There are single person caves, two person caves and a dormitory spread over multiple caves with an opening.

3. Teaching class rooms: There is a large elephant cave where more than 100 students can attend the lectures.

4. Library: The library section is behind the lecture hall.

5. Tutorial classes or reflection rooms: Two-storey meditation caves with front area for discussions are also present.

6. Amphitheatre: An open-air amphitheatre with seat for the King and Guru can be seen on the Udayagiri hills.

7. Khandagiri is the place where all the temple caves are present. The idols of Adinath and Mahavir of 2nd to 3rd century BC are also present. Interestingly, the importance of nine planets (which the western world discovered in the 16th century) is carved out around the Adinath idol.

8. Interesting fact -In one cave, there is an idol of Lord Ganesha carved on the right-hand side and Adinath on the left-hand side of the cave.

Khandagiri caves

Khandagiri caves

Udayagiri caves

Udayagiri caves

Khandagiri-Udaygiri site

Khandagiri-Udaygiri site

Clean water for Rural India – post from Better India

Saturday, December 26th, 2015

Meet Dr. Anil Rajvanshi, an Indian scientist who invented the path-breaking technology that can provide clean drinking water to rural India for just Rs. 1500!

Dr. Anil Rajvanshi brought back the traditional methods of filtering water in an effective and simple way to make a low-cost solar water purifier, which could be immensely helpful for rural households. Using the knowledge that water does not need to be boiled to make it germ free, and even exposure to a lower temperature for a sufficiently long time should suffice, he has created a low cost solar water purifier using cotton cloth, glass pipes and sunlight.

The water purifier is made available by Nimbkar Agricultural Research Institute (NARI), a Phaltan, Maharashtra-based NGO.
“In most other solar heaters available in the market, water only gets heated up, it is not purified. And in other systems like RO, etc, water only gets filtered but complete sterilization is still lacking. So, we came up with an idea where we can both filter the water and kill germs by heating it at a low cost using solar energy,” says Dr. Rajvanshi.

How does the technology work?

All you need is a discarded saree, a few glass pipes and sunlight. The solar water purifier (SWP) consists of four tubular solar water heaters attached to a manifold. The unclean water, which is filtered by the cotton cloth, is filled in the SWP and is later heated using solar energy to make it potable.

The unclean water is filtered through a four-layered cotton sari cloth and then heated up to 60°C for 15 min or 45°C for 3 hours so that all the Coliforms (Coliform bacteria are a commonly used bacterial indicator of sanitary quality of foods and water) are inactivated.

How is it different from other technologies?

Other technologies, like reverse osmosis (RO) and ultraviolet (UV)-based water purifiers, include filters which face clogging and necessitate their periodic replacement, and face other problems like wastage of water and unavailability of electricity in rural areas.

NARI’s SWP does not require any electricity and can be assembled easily from locally available materials.

The impact

The biggest impact of the technology is the development of a low-cost model, the know-how for which is made available for free by NARI Phaltan.

“We have not patented this technology so that the rural population can utilize it in an efficient way,” says Dr. Rajvanshi.
In addition to its low cost, the technology does not require any maintenance. It is so user-friendly and efficient that people from Nepal, during the recent earthquake, contacted NARI and asked them to install it.

In the future, NARI team wants to expand the technology and reach out to more rural households.

When diseases caused by unclean drinking water take the lives of approximately 760,000 young children throughout the world, this low-cost technology can prove to be a gamechanger.

Read more on:

filterAn Old Saree, Glass Tubes and Sun – All you need for a revolutionary Water Purifier!

An Old Saree, Glass Tubes and Sun – All you need for a revolutionary Water Purifier!

Preventive Health: Clean Water – Chennai relief

Friday, December 25th, 2015

Immediately after the floods, one RO water mobile plant arrived in Chennai from Bengaluru. This mobile RO water plant has a capacity of producing 2,000 Litres clean water per hour. The S team and Dinesh Jain’s Amritdhara team created a more comprehensive solution to the post flood water situation. Ullas Trust run by the employees of Polaris/Intellect also invested in this plant.

The new plant has started working at Shivan park, K K Nagar, Chennai. The volunteers of S team and Polaris/Intellect are distributing clean RO water in the flood-affected areas. They are carting 20-Litre cans in truck to colonies. One 20-Litre water can is able to serve 2 days needs of the family.

Water is the key source of infection. If Chennai can afford 75 to 100 such RO plants that can either distribute free water or at a very affordable cost say 7-8 rupees for a 20-litre water can, then there can be substantial reduction in infection and thus reducing health issues. Each RO water plant costs around 12-15 lakhs which can be funded by a group of people or by one plant each corporate out of their CSR budgets. With this, we can make a significant difference to Chennai’s clean water agenda.

Please add your thoughts, idea and support to preventive health management solutions for the smart cities.

Amritdhara mobile RO water plant from Bengaluru

Amritdhara mobile RO water plant from Bengaluru

Calamity Cash – Well thought out traditions

Saturday, December 19th, 2015

Post from best stories of Chennai relief shared on my page.

What I meant as ATM at home is having an Hundi at home. We have a Hundi that is meant for collecting funds for our family deity at home. This will be pooled and we visit the deity at the end of the year. Besides, we encourage our kids to have a separate Hundi and then deposit in a kids savings account. All of this came in handy when the city was running out of ATM to disperse cash. When I wanted to offer food for the needy, I was literally running out of cash in my wallet. Then, these Hundis came to the rescue and we had more than sufficient to handle the relief and take care of family needs too.

The learning is having this ATM at home without any technology so that it comes to rescue.

Hundi, also known as money bank or piggy bank

Hundi, also known as money bank or piggy bank

Collective Learning and Appreciation of Human power

Sunday, December 13th, 2015

We know that a lot of relief work has been done during the last 12 days. There are so many stories at locality level, at structured distribution level and at organisation level. Please celebrate the heroes around you – whatever you have observed. Appreciate, applaud and credit them for their generosity.

Also there are so many learnings at individual family levels such as keeping minimum cash or minimum inventory of groceries, usage of torch light at the right time and at right place or landline with analogue telephone apparatus or … Please add your personal or neighborhood learnings to this message. I will compile these learnings into disaster management compendium in a public domain.

Few Comments by fellow individuals:

Naveen Kumar: I noticed some of the great heroes from the Army, few actors, youngsters from every area and many NGOs, Polaris, CTS, JITO and so many other organisations being involved and serving people. Hats off to all of them. A great helping nature and I am proud of them. This shows the unity. Unity wins here and as said, Unity in Diversity.

Giridhar Kodakalla: This is my list:
1. Let us assume your house will be burnt/submerged/collapsed in just 15 minutes, do you have most important items and memories with which you can walk away (along with your family)?

I went to Velachery and found the entire ground floor submerged in water. People have no idea on how to protect and save themselves. This mandatory suitcases will help you to evacuate quickly.

2. Always keep 2 weeks expenses money at home. Also have 1 month of groceries at home.

3. Phones will fail, networks won’t work and ATMs will be closed. We saw everything. How can we prepare ourselves in such a case of calamity? Have a disaster planning at home like candles, non-smartphones with different networks other than your smartphone, a very good WhatsApp or FB group in your colony, list of important contact numbers, planning to relocate quickly when in crisis, etc

4. Above all, have your family (especially kids of this generation) understand and appreciate what we currently experienced and let them also think about such planning when they grow up. Because experience is the best teacher.

Masthan Reddy: Our friends from Scope International helped the people in Chennai and Cuddalore. It is a great feeling to be part of it. One of my colleague did a great thing by forming a group of people in WhatsApp, enquired about all the affected places in and around Chennai and found the volunteers to help the people. He drove this operation from outside India very successfully. Thanks you each and every one of you.

Learnings – Chennai Floods shared by Prabal Basu Roy

Sunday, December 13th, 2015

Millions of personal documents of people have been lost or damaged. Important papers like Insurance Certificates and Medical Records are lost or destroyed. In panic, fleeing people have abandoned them.
Solution: Digitizing your documents.
Please scan and store the following documents for you and each family member in a Pen Drive. Whenever you add another document, please scan it too and save it in the Pen Drive. The Pen Drive can be kept inside a small Ziplock pouch. Make a few copies of the Pen Drive and keep them in very safe places, so that even if one is lost/damaged, you still have copies.

The documents list:
1. Passport, including Visa Pages
2. Insurance Certificates for Life Insurance
3. Insurance Certificates for Medical Insurance
4. Birth Certificate
5. School Certificates
6. Degree Certificates
7. Fixed Deposit Certificates
8. Important Medical Documents, including medical prescriptions for elderly family members
9. Driving License
10. Aadhar Card
11. Ration Card
12. Voter I’D
13. PAN Card
14. Previous years Income Tax returns
15. Property Papers for home, farm arc
16. Vehicle Insurance papers
17. Vehicle Registrations and Tax tokens
18. Warranty Papers for important items
19. Any other Insurance Papers like Home Insurance, Mobile Insurance arc
20. Prescription Lenses for Eyes
21. Employment Record, including Appointment Orders for previous companies, Salary Slips, Releiving Letters arc

We never know when a systematic document preservation system will suddenly be helpful. This need not be needed only during calamities, they may be needed even in normal life situations.

Digitizing documents

Digitizing documents

Bhoomika Trust: Disaster Management Specialist

Saturday, December 12th, 2015

I visited the Bhoomika Trust ‘Disaster Relief Manufacturing (DRM) plant’ set up at Rama Kalyanamandapam behind Palmgrove Hotel. Originally, this trust was formed by four people in the year 2001. They joined hands with Chennai Rain Relief (CRR) to drive effective help in very systemic and systematic way. The organisations that came together were Bhoomika Trust, AID India (Chennai), Sri Arunodayam Trust, Udhavum Ullangal, Bhumi, The Banyan, CIOSA, Chennai Volunteers, Care Stream, and Arappor Iyakkam among others.

What I liked from the visit was:

Phase 1: Disaster management – Food, Water and Blankets – They set up the kitchen to cook 30,000 food packets a day on war footing from Day 1. Integrated genuine places of need and supply were organized when it needed the most.

Phase 2: Second week – Rehabilitation

Four Elements of Rehabilitation

  • Element 1: Making the house livable – providing cleaning materials like mops and bleaching powder.
  • Element 2: Ration for 15 days – very well designed packets containing 5 kg of Rice, Dal, Oil, Salt and Spices. After receiving all orders of all the rationing stuff and then the volunteers started manufacturing ’15 Days Rehab Kits’. The true Assembly line operation set up at the kalyanmandapam was converted into a Disaster Relief Manufacturing Facility.
  • Element 3: Utensil Kits – During volunteers survey, they issued utensil tokens to those houses where they lost cooking utensils, vessels, plates, glasses, etc.
  • Element 4: Stove – few houses during the disaster even lost gas stoves. They provided stoves to those houses to start their kitchen.

Few other points of ZERO WASTE RELIEF:
1. All aids based on surveys conducted to ensure ‘What is needed, Where and Whom’ in partnering with local NGOs.
2. Streamline distribution of rehab material with token system.
3. Three offices in a make shift office – Donation office, Volunteer registration office and Information Center of Factual data of relief required and delivered.
4. All relief items are procured from whole sellers at very negotiated prices adding to cost efficiency.
5. Partnering system with NGOs create phenomenal amount of Distribution Efficiency.

Till yesterday they were planning to distribute over 100,000 rehab kits with the help of volunteers and Donors.

Visit Rama Kalyanmandapam for experiential learning in disaster management.

Packing and sorting of food & rations - CRR

Packing and sorting of food & rations – CRR

My Personal Learnings from Chennai Disaster Management

Thursday, December 10th, 2015

Learning 1: Don’t just jump to help but take out time to listen and understand the contours, intensity and impact of the problem with knowledgeable people from the field.

Learning 2: To scale up the impact, principle of ‘Focus on Core competencies’ still works in disaster situation.

A. Vertical focus on one product like Food only, Water only, Medicine only, Blanket only helps in managing supply chain more efficiently.

B. Horizontal Distribution align to customer i.e., Communities in need (again the time tested management principle still works in disaster situation).

Vertical focus team can focus on three things – arranging donations, procuring the products (which are in short supply in disaster situations from all possible locations, whatever they transport) and designing the robust distribution system to horizontally focused NGOs with least disruptions (building some sense in chaos in extremely time-constraint environment).

Learning 3: Make Decisions at 10 – 50 times shorter duration that too with partial information (Time tested management principle of Taking Risk) – Disaster means timely help. Enough help is available after few days, but the speed of help is most critical. It is about implementing a project from conceptualizing within 24 hours. Decision making, even with insufficient information or ambiguous information, is critical.

Learning 4: Real-time Process Design – Effective process design increases the scale of impact multi-fold and reduces the confusion and conflicts substantially. The process needs real-time alignment to the realities on the ground.

Learning 5: Active Listening from the field and Constant communication to align the teams and expectations – During disaster, the situations change every hour and need active listening from all the possible sources. The same is true with communicating – the more the communication the better it is.

Learning 6: Filter rumours and avoid noise from ‘Half glass empty’ thinking people – it’s optimism and positivity which acts as a tonic in disaster not complaining and pessimism.

Learning 7: Power of Connecting & Networking – Usage of social media to connect and create communities around projects. During Disaster – Trust plays a most critical role in facilitating faster decisions. It’s about Networking, Networking and Networking.

My diary – Purpose of Media – Benefiting from just critiquing or source of inspiration

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

Chennai has got unprecedented rains over last 15 days. It is the highest rains in last 100 years. 35 cm rain on a single day, on already saturated surface, can create havoc anywhere in the world.

I strongly believe that right communication can inspire a nation by articulating the issues well and sharing the inspirational stories.

I watched few TV channels today, but to my surprise the role of journalism in these channels were to beat and criticize the bureaucracy and government.

Yes, there can be better sewer systems and that might have helped in reducing its impact of such a calamity. But my questions to the media are,

  • Is it a right time to raise such questions?
  • What is your role in handling such calamities?
  • Can you become a channel of publishing ‘Help needed’ on a regular basis?
  • Can you share heroic stories of volunteers tirelessly working so that it inspires other people who are watching ‘just TV’, and encourage them to move out of their comfort zones?
  • Can you share or generate ideas through dialogues for helping stranded people?
  • Can you share solutions from the library of your media, from other calamities?

I strongly believe the media can be more creative and contributory for communities and problem solving rather than blaming and passing judgments.