Wednesday, November 14, 2018

यादों की दौलत The Treasure of Memories

यादों की दौलत

चुराए हुए वो खुशनुमा पल किस्मत की लकीरों से
न जाने कैसे गुम हो गए दर्द के अंधेरों में
दो दिलों की धडकनों का संगीत थमा, सहमी होठों की मुस्कान
वो सपने जो संजोये थे हमने तुमने साथ साथ
क्यों बनते बनते मिट गए हमारी तकदीरों से
चुराए हुए वो खुशनुमा पल किस्मत की लकीरों से
न जाने कैसे गुम हो गए दर्द के अंधेरों में
वो हंसी की फुहार वो मदमस्त छेड़छाड़
वो बेफिक्री का आलम वो आसमानों की ललक
धुंआ बनकर बिखर गई तूफ़ान के थपेड़ो में
चुराए हुए वो खुशनुमा पल किस्मत की लकीरों से
न जाने कैसे गुम हो गए दर्द के अंधेरों में
यादों की दौलत ज़हन के तहखाने में, बेखुदी में लुटा न दूं मैखाने में
लेकिन करूँ क्या, बाँट भी नहीं सकता उसको
न फकीरों में और न ही अमीरों में
चुराए हुए वो खुशनुमा पल किस्मत की लकीरों से
न जाने कैसे गुम हो गए दर्द के अंधेरों में
वो दौर ठहाकों और मजाकों का, खूब चला दोस्तो यारों में
सीख लिया था टेढ़ीमेढ़ी पगडंडियों पर गिरना और संभालना   
फिर भी फँस गए वक्त की हेराफेरियों में
चुराए हुए वो खुशनुमा पल किस्मत की लकीरों से
न जाने कैसे गुम हो गए दर्द के अंधेरों में
वो बारिश की बूंदों को चखना, तूफानों को बाँधने का दम रखना
फिर हवा के इक झोंके ने मचाई तबाही बेहिसाब
हम देखते रह गए बंधे वक्त की जंजीरों में
चुराए हुए वो खुशनुमा पल किस्मत की लकीरों से
न जाने कैसे गुम हो गए दर्द के अंधेरों में

The Treasure of Memories

Those happy moments stolen from fateline
Don’t know how they were lost in the gloom of pain
Symphony of beats of two hearts paused, smile froze on lips
Those dreams we cherished together
Were erased from our destiny supine
Those happy moments stolen from fateline
Don’t know how they were lost in the gloom of pain
That spray of laughter and woozy teasing
That blithe flair and ardour for the skies
All scattered like smoke in a storm alpine
Those happy moments stolen from fateline
Don’t know how they were lost in the gloom of pain
The wealth of memories in mind’s cavern
I daren’t lose it in a tavern
I can’t gift it away to the rich or mystics divine
Those happy moments stolen from fateline
Don’t know how they were lost in the gloom of pain
We fell and recovered on the uneven paths
Still got tangled in the vagaries of time
The spell of laughter and humour among friends was fine
Those happy moments stolen from fateline
Don’t know how they were lost in the gloom of pain
Tasted raindrops and gabbled away, kept storms under our sway
We watched tied in the shackles of time
When a waft of breeze wrought such ruin
Those happy moments stolen from fateline
Don’t know how they were lost in the gloom of pain

Monday, June 25, 2018

Rejuvenating the Urban India

Book Review
Randeep Wadehra
Founder-Editor, Smart Scholars

Urban Renewal in India by SK Kulshreshtha
Sage Publications
Pages: xxv + 276. Price: Rs. 950/-

Urban renewal has a hoary past. During the 1870s, efforts to rejuvenate Mysore led to decongestion of its Fort area. Similarly, Calcutta, Shahjehanabad (Delhi) etc. came in for various degrees of renewal efforts. After India’s independence, there has been a phenomenal growth in the number of urban areas, with more than 7,000 cities and towns in the country today. As per the UN’s projections, India’s share in the world’s urban population will reach about 13% by 2030; this translates to 600 million Indians, or 40% of the country’s population. However, despite Chandigarh and a couple of other honourable exceptions, urban growth has been largely haphazard. Consequently, the country has witnessed a sharp rise in the number of unplanned townships and slums – Mumbai’s Dharavi is not the only such instance. According to estimates, more than 3.6 crore children (in the age group of 0 to 6 years) live in urban areas, of whom more than 80 lakhs live in slums. It has been a fact that people migrating to urban areas in search of livelihoods and a better quality of life invariably find shelter in slums.

One does not really have to go for extensive research to know the state of our towns and cities. Polluted air and water, rain-flooded streets and traffic snarls are the salient features of almost every urban centre. Utilities and infrastructure are inadequate quantitatively as well as qualitatively. Thanks to carbon dioxide emissions, industrial effluents and firecrackers, Delhi’s pollution levels are among the highest in the world. This becomes worse during winters when the air becomes more toxic. Bengaluru’s transport system was never ideal even during its more tranquil past. Today, it has miserably failed to meet the people’s needs. Its roads are choked with almost eighty lakh motorized vehicles, a rise of more than 6500% since the 1970s! The consequences are there for all to see in the form of traffic snarls, heavy emissions of greenhouse gases and choked public utilities. Mumbai has become a symbol of inefficient urban governance and a highly irresponsible and corrupt system. Every year even moderate rains cause flooding of its roads and rail tracks. Deaths due to open manholes, potholes and low hanging wires are common. One regularly hears of dilapidated buildings collapsing and killing hundreds of residents. Kolkata is another metro where life is becoming extremely difficult, if not hazardous, for common people; the civic amenities are pathetic. Its water and electricity distribution systems are anachronistic, to put it politely. Chennai too suffers from similar drawbacks but on a smaller scale. However, its utilities are coming under increasing strain, thanks to chaotic urbanization. Over the past two years, Chennai has witnessed avoidable ‘natural disasters’ like the flooding of residential areas causing loss of life and property. Obviously, these ‘natural disasters’ are man-made and a result of corruption and bad town planning.

Clearly, there is an urgent need for planned urbanization. This urgency is not only from the point of view of meeting the challenge caused by the burgeoning figures of migration to urban areas but also because India has been striving to achieve double-digit growth, realise its ambitious target of becoming a $10 trillion economy and be counted among the world’s developed countries by 2030. For this, it is imperative to take up urban renewal with a clear vision and due sincerity.

According to expert estimates, about 900 million square metres of well-designed residential and commercial areas will have to be built over fifteen years to realise the target of urban renewal, with special emphasis on smaller towns and cities since 68% of India’s urban population lives in towns that have a population of less than 100,000.

Therefore, several flagship missions have been launched for urban renewal; for instance, Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, PM Awas Yojna and Smart Cities Mission. The government has obviously realized that, for reaping the demographic dividend, it is essential to focus on urban governance, health, nutrition, water, sanitation and education. This entails re-imagining of the basic designs of most of our cities and upgrading the basic infrastructure and services, including transport, rejuvenation of heritage buildings and sites as well as redesigning the commercial areas.

Kulshreshtha has painstakingly presented relevant statistics to underscore the state of India’s urban areas. He has also detailed the various efforts being put in by the government for rejuvenating the Urban India. It goes without saying, most of the urban renewal projects are of long gestation periods. Nonetheless, at least an earnest effort has begun.

This book presents a lucid analysis of the process and problems related to the renewal of Urban India, which should interest students, research scholars and policymakers alike.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Role of technology in mitigating the effects of climate change in India

Global warming or climate change has assumed worrying dimensions. Polar ice caps are melting, severe storms, cloudbursts and flash floods are becoming more frequent, and deaths due to extreme temperatures have become routine. It is estimated that, by 2050, temperatures will increase by 2 to 4 degrees Celsius in South India and more than 4 degrees Celsius in North India. The number of rainfall days are expected to decrease over a major part of the country. Climatologists predict an increase in the intensity and frequency of droughts, floods and cyclones. Several factors are strengthening this alarming trend. The dwindling forest cover and a phenomenal rise in the use of fossil fuels have boosted the presence of greenhouse gases. These gases trap heat within the atmosphere and damage ecosystems, raise sea levels, cause droughts and other extreme situations. Open defecation and insanitary conditions in India’s rural and urban areas, as well as burning of stubble in the farms, contribute to the greenhouse effect. Release of untreated sullage and sewage into various rivers and other water bodies make the problem worse. Consequently, the atmospheric concentration of carbon mono-oxide is around 400 ppm, the highest ever in our recorded history.

The Survey of India data shows the shrinking of large glaciers in the Himalayas. Worse, the snowfall has been erratic. In fact, there is less snowfall during the months of December and January, and more in the warmer months of February and March. This causes quicker melting of snow. The increasing occurrence of cloudbursts causes frequent flash floods that play havoc with life and property in states like Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and even in the plains. Scientific studies caution against the adverse impact of climatic changes on agriculture. The most severely affected will be Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan. Other states Like Bihar, West Bengal, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu too will suffer to varying degrees. 

Considering the enormity of the problem, the Government of India prepared a draft National Clean Air Program in 2018 for tackling pollution across the nation and improving the quality of air. This aims to mitigate the adverse impact on the people’s health and also fight the Greenhouse Effect. The government has already taken several initiatives in this regard. The National Action Plan on Climate Change, along with the State Action Plan on Climate Change, is designed to cover the entire country. The Mission has been adopting and promoting technologies that will neutralize the factors contributing to pollution and, hopefully, reverse the effects of climate changes.

To promote the use of clean energy, the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission aims at establishing India as a global leader in solar energy through a three-phase approach. By 2022, it will create a policy framework for the deployment of 20,000 megawatts of solar power by facilitating indigenous solar manufacturing capability. It will also enhance off-grid applications of solar energy to 2000 megawatts.

The National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency aims at achieving ecologically sustainable growth by developing cost-effective and energy efficient schemes. For instance, the market based ‘Perform Achieve and Trade’ or PAT procedure enables improvements in large energy-intensive industries. Another initiative, the ‘Market Transformation for Energy Efficiency’ or MTEE encourages a speedy shift to energy-efficient appliances and equipment in selected sectors through innovative and affordable measures. The Mission is estimated to have enabled fuel savings of about 23 million tons of oil-equivalent every year. The resultant annual reduction in carbon dioxide emissions is estimated to be around 98.55 million tons.

The National Mission on Sustainable Habitat promotes improvements in energy efficiency in buildings, urban planning, management of solid and liquid waste, including recycling and power generation, public transport and conservation. Consequently, the Mission examines and rectifies the designs of new and large commercial buildings to optimize their energy demand. It also helps the old and existing buildings to redesign or adopt the latest technologies to conserve energy. The Mission also aims at better urban planning to ensure energy-efficient public transport. Another priority is sewage utilization and recycling of material and urban waste and developing technologies for generating power from such waste.

The National Water Mission aims at increasing water use efficiency by 20 per cent through conservation. By focusing on vulnerable and over-exploited areas, it ensures equitable distribution of water through integrated development and management of water resources. Accordingly, it has given top priority to the management of basin-level integration of water resources. The Mission has helped develop a comprehensive water database in public domain. This facilitates assessment of the impact of climate changes on sources of water.

The main objective of the National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture is to develop a robust, ecologically sustainable agriculture system. It should be able to realize its maximum potential and ensure food security for all. For this, the Mission aims at equitable access to food resources, enhancing livelihood opportunities and contributing to economic stability at the national level. The mission also facilitates the exchange of information and knowledge on climate changes between farmers and research institutions.

The National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem has been working on evolving such management measures as to safeguard the Himalayan glaciers and mountain ecosystem. By establishing the National Centre for Himalayan Glaciology, it also attempts to address such key issues like impacts of climate changes on the Himalayan glaciers, biodiversity, wildlife conservation and livelihood of traditional societies. It has also been making full use of remote-sensing satellites and, now, drones are being inducted for better monitoring.

The National Mission for a Green India focuses on enhancing carbon sinks in forests and other ecosystems. It is involved in the protection of vulnerable species/ecosystems and communities depending on forests for their survival. It has launched schemes for increasing income from forests in the case of about thirty lakh families by expanding the tree cover and improving the quality of forest cover. This will also help in the reduction of annual carbon-dioxide emissions by 50 to 60 million tons in the year 2020.

The National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change identifies the challenges and the responses to climate change through research and technology development and ensures funding of high quality and focused research into various aspects of climate changes. The Mission has set up well-designed knowledge networks with a well-structured framework for coordination, interoperability and exchange of relevant data. It leverages the development of suitable technologies for adaptation and mitigation of climate change under various missions. The Government of India has entered into agreements with Finland, Canada, USA, France, Norway and other countries to have access to the latest in technologies and knowledge. Japan has developed state of the art technologies like for suppressing the production of dioxins released from garbage incineration. Another technology that suits Indian condition is for harnessing of biomass energy from agricultural residues.

The Government of India has been proactive in countering the harmful effects of climate changes. It has established The Indian Network for Climate Change Assessment to study the impacts of climate change at the national and regional levels. It prepares assessments of climate changes every two years and monitors their causes and implications, which helps decision making processes and enables the building of capacity towards the management of risks and opportunities related to climate change.

Indeed, the government is geared up to meet the daunting challenge of climate change.

Appeared on the AIR ESD (English) in the “INDIA ON THE MOVE” Program of 14 and 15 June 2018. Entitled, “The Role of Technology in charting India’s progress towards climate change”

Randeep Wadehra is Founder-Editor of Smart Scholars

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Two Poems for Mothers Day

I know

across your face
white streaks
among thick black hair
the red parting
into a vermilion moon
on the forehead
red bangles on wrists
henna on palms
hid the marks
of lifelong chores
cracked skin
snapped the fate line
they covered you
with a white shroud
you were dead
the red bridal dress
into orange flames
the setting sun
turned crimson
but you cannot die
I know
I was born to you


Garden’s whiff, kitchen’s waft
streams of sweat
mingled with milk
pain, exhaustion, tears
all banished
by your touch of silk

storms you faced cheerily
trifling with fate’s ire
you disdained vagaries of time

when you fell
skies convulsed earth trembled
fortress crumbled
our talisman lost forever
heads once held proudly high
defeated, must they bow
resounding laughters lost forever
mother dear, did you have to go?

Sunday, April 29, 2018

My Holy Trinity

In raging storms
I floundered
across dark chasms
The world wallowed in darkness
Where are you, do you exist?
The cry shot through my soul
sundered the skies
The storms paused
A bright scintilla broke through the dark
She descended from the skies
Her lips rich with divine nectar
a pink kiss on the luminous moon
Eyes as bright as a doe’s
She moved with royal élan
radiated a deity’s dignity
Her mind and body
Mother Nature’s bounty
I followed her from gloom to bliss
My Muse, my Fortuna, my Venus
My own Holy Trinity

Friday, April 6, 2018

The Muse: a tribute

In darkness
the soul floundered
yearned for divine bliss
Gods relented
Ordained the tryst
with its long-cherished muse
whose splendour rivets Dame Nature
Petals borrow softness
from her lips
The breeze its fragrance
from her breath
Her eyes melt away the darkness
And voice revives the dead
With its muse and mate
the soul sets off on a journey
to rejuvenation

Saturday, March 17, 2018


Leaves drift around the spot
we used to meet
laugh argue fight reconcile
no distances separated us
or so I thought
ages later
or is it days
in the stillness of autumn
blossoms turn sepia
I gather a fistful of dry leaves
and crush them
Why possess my soul
if we were to be strangers again
Why meet
only to go away 
Your smile was just a smile
for you
for me 
it was a million promises