Water is a precious natural resource most of us take for granted. But not everyone is blessed enough to get water by turning on a faucet. One of the indelible images in my mind is of women carrying pots of water on their head for long distances. Ideally no one should have to go through such hardship for the sake of drinking water. Few years ago as I was thinking about this problem I had a dream. It started with water as the main area of concern and expanded to include trees and connectivity, as in connecting remote places by road. I called it the WTC (Water, Trees, Connectivity) plan.
WTC Main objectives: Provide easy access to drinking water for majority of the population, combat deforestation by planting seeds and saplings, connect towns and villages by building proper roads.
Main benefits: Clean, drinking water reduces the risk of water borne illnesses and infections and it’s a basic human need. Trees help in keeping air cleaner, reduce climate change effect in addition to providing edible parts like fruits, leaves and shoots. Also act as first line of barrier for floods. With well connected roads smaller towns and villages become more accessible cutting down on travel time.
How to implement the plan: The basic premise of the solution is nations are built by citizens and solutions are more effective when the citizens are active participants with Government just setting up the rules and providing the necessary support and oversight. Three types of projects
1) Canal building to channel water from places where it is abundant to places where it is in dearth (within a State to start with)
2) Planting seeds and sapling for trees that are tough and do not suck up too much water from the soil (would probably rule out eucalyptus and almond trees)
3) Construction of roads
How to get human and financial resources for the project? Every fit male (and female if they wish to volunteer) in the age group 21-50 could help in one of the following ways:
1) Work fulltime in any of the 3 types of project
2) If holding a fulltime job, employer provides one week / year for this volunteering effort
3) If not able to volunteer, donate one week’s pay/year up to a maximum of Rs. 10,000/person that would be tax deductible and go directly to this effort
4) Donations from non-residents and non-citizens for WTC which would be tax deductible.
The more I thought the more appealing the idea became. Some of the additional benefits I visualized were farming becoming more viable due to water availability, decongestion of cities due to employment opportunities provided by the projects, increase in sale of equipment, plants and seeds needed for the projects, increased opportunities to service those working in the projects by providing food, tea/coffee and shelter and more than anything else chance for citizens of different castes, religion, social and economic groups to interact and work together in building something with their own hands. The idea seems simple and doable. Would be worthwhile to start on a small scale in specific places to see how it works and what potential problems one could run into. Challenge would be when scaling it into a nationwide project. That would involve city planners, architects, civil contractors in addition to subject matter experts relating to areas like water conservation, channeling, forestry, accounting etc.
Not knowing how and who to present it the idea remained in the back of mind. Lethargy also meant I kept postponing putting the idea on paper. The dream lives on, hopefully gets implemented in whatever form it is that helps people. While technology has brought a positive change in many people’s lives its impact has been felt only by a small % of the population. IMHO any solution that involves and helps a big % of population and prevents people moving just for the sake of employment is a better solution.
In a nod to the city I grew up in, Bombay (or Mumbai as it is officially known now) in India, the words of the day are: Bindaas, Jhakaas!
Meaning of the words:
Bindaas: independent and carefree; admirable, cool.
Jhakaas (not to be confused with jackass 😀 ): excellent
A bit of background helps. Bombay like other great cities is a melting pot. Everything is bigger compared to the smaller towns. Business, employment opportunities, commute times, real estate price, entertainment, hustle and bustle, getting to meet folks from different backgrounds etc. People from all over the country come to the city and enrich the cultural fabric with their own language, culture and traditions. The effect of which is spawning of a culture which is a bit of everything that is also uniquely Bombayish 🙂 The city’s version of national language Hindi is also influenced by locally spoken language, Marathi, further influenced by languages spoken by people from other parts of the country. Bombayites/Mumbaikars are proud of their own lingo: Bambaiya Hindi 🙂 The original Hindi speaking people may consider calling what is spoken as Hindi a sacrilege but who cares, language is just for communication, right? 😀
Inevitably some of the Bambaiya Hindi lingo has made its way to Bollywood movies too as Bombay is home to the very popular Bollywood entertainment industry. Bindaas and jhakaas have made it to Bollywood movies too! Bindaas is generally used in a positive way to suggest something fearless yet not reckless. Jhakaas is used to convey one’s extremely positive reaction about a place, event etc.
Usage of bindaas in sentence
Person 1: क्या मैं यह करून? (Shall I do it?)
Person 2: बिंदास करो (Do it bindaas!)
Usage of Jhakaas in sentence
Person 1: फिल्म कैसे थी? (How was the movie?)
Person 2: एकदम झकास (Absolutely excellent!)
Interestingly I see bindaas has made it to Oxford English dictionary! Wouldn’t be too long before jhakaas also makes it there. Strength in numbers certainly doesn’t hurt (roughly one in seven world citizen is an Indian or of Indian origin) 😀
It’s a been a great treat past few days for viewers of the popular trivia quiz show “Jeopardy!”. In 12 wins aired so far James Holzhauer has averaged an astonishing ~ $70K/game and has broken previous single day winning total 4 times already. To put it in context the previous record for win in one game was $77K and James’ average win/game itself is close to that amount 🙂
His strategy for winning has been quite simple actually: Start with the big $ amounts at the bottom of each category, build up a huge total, hit a daily double and bet it all/bet big, respond correctly, swell the lead to such proportions that the other contestants are forever trying to play catch up or resigned to playing for the consolation prize. Typically contestants on the show, even the winningest, have tended to start cautiously at the top or middle of each category, consolidate their lead and bet safe amounts in Final Jeopardy to ensure victory. The traditional way is akin to middle distance running: Get a decent start, gradually build a lead and then have enough for a big push down the stretch. Extending the racing analogy what James has achieved in his wins so far is the equivalent of doing a Usain Bolt over a full marathon distance, then coming back and waiting at the one mile mark to shake hands with the other two competitors still trying to make it there! This strategy to win just requires a preternatural ability to buzz in early, incredible breadth of knowledge, oodles of confidence, get almost all responses right and then have the heart of a gambler to bet big and win bigger! All that’s needed is a near perfect game and ability to replicate the strategy in each game. Very simple indeed 😀 When you witness such a display of incredible brilliance on a regular basis all you can do is shake your head in disbelief, let out a loud guffaw and tip your hat 🙂 If rumors are to be believed the producers of Jeopardy! have filed for bankruptcy in the wake of James’ incredible wins 😉 😀
Surprise! Surprise! In real life James is a professional sports gambler 🙂 He attributes some of his knowledge to reading children’s books with pictures. If his offspring/s are reading the same books I want to bet big on their winning Jeopardy! in future, breaking records. And make it a true daily double please 😀 It’s possible that the strategy could backfire, maybe even spectacularly, and James could die by the proverbial sword when the reign ends. It hasn’t happened so far and it’s time to enjoy the run as long as it lasts.
I know dream of a lot of trivia buffs out there is to take on James and beat him at his own game. The Raj lives to make such dreams come true. To get a crack at it here’s the Final Jeopardy category: 9-letter plural word describing emotional reaction
The clue: In a stunning finish resulting in defeat of the defending champion the winner witnessed ——— of delight from the viewing audience!
Put your thinking caps on for the opportunity of a lifetime with the correct response 😉