Receding glaciers in our high mountains


According to a report from the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), 35% of the glaciers in the Himalayan region will disappear in the next 20 years, even as temperatures across the Himalayas would rise by 2.5 degrees Celsius by 2050. In a warming region, the iceman’s invention may be a useful adaptive tool.  “Glaciers have been receding rapidly for the last four-to-five decades,” said Chewang Norphel, 74 known popularly as the ‘Ice Man’. Eighty percent of the farmers in Leh district in northern India, he said, depend on glacier-melt to irrigate agricultural land and grow vegetables, barley and wheat. In a largely Buddhist region large stupas of Ice and the diversion of water sources into shaded valleys to seed artificial glaciers, is becoming the only source of reliable water in an increasingly arid region.  Norphel has been leading these efforts with the help of the local authorities for the past decades bringing much needed relief.

The Ice Man’s methods as he detailed to world leaders at the Kyoto climate summit in 1997, may be the last saving grace, for the fading glaciers in mountain ranges across the world. From the Alps, Andes, Rockies, Caspian mountain ranges we will see devastating effects, as these are the source of major life giving rivers like the Danube, Po, Rhine and Rhone in Europe, the Colorado in the Rockies, Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra and many others in Asia. Climate change and receding glaciers continues to dry up California, European plains, the Indo Gangetic plain and other major croplands on earth and major glaciers have been on the retreat, across all the nations. Ground water levels are falling precariously, as we continue to pump out more water for irrigation and human needs from dwindling aquifers. We need the ability to use these high mountains to create the large glaciers, needed to store and release huge bodies of fresh water, and aid nature to do it, in the race against global warming.

The worries of these receding glaciers were dramatically shown by California Governor Jerry Brown this year when he stood in a barren land where glaciers had traditionally covered the land in recent memory. The Swiss and other experts have been proposing huge Dams to store the water at a great cost. China has been looking for water for its arid regions to feed its growing population. South Asia probably has the most at stake as the Monsoons have been erratic and its river flows and water reservoirs in precarious conditions with substantial hardships for its farmers. Increasing suicides from desperate farmers, are becoming a seasonal reality of life in these regions.

These methods are known to work at very low cost, and with simple engineering changes. We just have to divert existing water systems, and reduce their velocity, and divert them to shaded valleys, where the seasons and nature will do the rest. The Indian army and the government’s engineering bodies, have started work on these efforts, but much more can be done worldwide. We have to make efforts to build these natural stores of waters in the winter months, so they can be used in the spring to seed and grow crops without rains. These can also help to replenish the ground water levels before we hit disaster levels, and human existence in these areas becomes impossible. Climate change is not going away any time soon, and the sooner we take action to preserve life giving fresh water supplies, the better for us.These have lower environmental effects, than the giant Dams being proposed, and can be implemented at far lower cost of resources, with a minimal environmental footprint.

Relatively speaking


We were laughing the other day, as we read the news; as two black holes many times the size of our sun, had collided. While nothing comes out of a black hole normally, but in that collusion, they somehow lost something the size of our sun. How can you possibly lose something the size of our sun, and then try and blame it on energy and gravitational waves, which were created from your union we laughed. I can imagine my father listening to me if I came home and told him that I had just lost the family car, and try and blame it on the heat wave, in the city. His reaction would have left very possibly a much better understanding of what a real heat wave feels like, on my butt.

I guess we were also laughing as time\space had got warped by the gravitational waves, which arose from the massive collusion, and distorted our sense of reality. It had made the sponge in our brains go fuzzy and everything around us seemed hilarious, for a change. As the gravitational waves passed through earth and ourselves we rolled in laughter, as it couldn’t possibly get any funnier. How often could massive black holes combine billions of light years away, and distort our sense of reality? Jane leaned across and whispered that given the size of our universe, it probably happens all the time, causing us to burst into giggles all over again at the thought.

The fun was getting better as Google proclaimed that such an event had happened a few months ago, and we recalled that we had been giddy with excitement around that time also. I recalled that around that time old crusty Aunt Mable had gone and joined a comedy club, just when that gravitational wave was passing through her drawers. It was a seriously funny business, that Einstein had predicted the existence of these gravitational ripples through time\space, but it was up to us to find that they were, the prime cause of merriment and mirth on earth. I find more people bubbling up with jokes and laughter, every time such an event happens. My mother was amused at first seeing my sunny disposition, but when it rose in waves at the merging of every Black Hole, even she got weary of the phenomena.

So now we gather together alone, Jane and me, and laugh till our sides’ ache, every time this event unfolds. We have to be careful not to be caught out in public, and have designated safe areas, where we can meet and enjoy the thrills in private. When I returned home the other day, my mother told me to go wash my hands before dinner, and to be sure to wipe that silly grin off my face, while I was in the bathroom for good measure. It is becoming extremely dangerous, as Jane says she can predict these events, but then sometimes she is off by a few billion light years, and we end up laughing at the wrong time. We are still amateurs and Jane is getting too serious for my liking, and keeps threatening to go to MIT to get her PHD, in predictive laughter waves.

I just wish her well and laugh again, as how many Black holes can it take, to swallow our galaxy and end this whole charade. Jane looks at me as if I am crazy, and wonders how I can possibly be so stupid, and not know, and smiles her superior smile. It is easy she says as it all depends on Einstein’s formula and it is only relative. That reminds me of my relative, the erstwhile crusty Aunt Mable, who has become a riot on the talk shows now, and I roar in appreciation. After all it is not every day that black holes collide to send this gravitational wave, which make us woozy. Jane it always depends on our relatives, I say in agreement, and we both hoot in laughter.

Floating consciousness


Standing at the water’s edge I saw the strange calm, and wondered how in our violent universe; the winds could be so still, and the surface of our lake so wave less. It seemed so solid, and the reflection of the clouds above and the cliff face across the water so clear, as if it was a photograph. To all appearances the scenery was a reflection, of nature’s beauty and wonder and a strange joy engulfed me. I felt that I could reach out and touch it and it would be like a wall, and maybe I could even walk across it and reach the other side. My soul seemed to merge into the waters and become one with its peace, or maybe it is because I am at peace, that I have allowed the lake to become still, like my thoughtless mind. I stand at the edge with no past and no future, and just am this moment, and the lake and I are one. This reality is ours together and the only truth, and all else is just a figment of our imagination.

Do you often come to the edge, and are you so agitated with your worries and your hopes and dreams, and entangled in your thoughts, that you do not see this world’s truth. Are you lost in the shadows of your mind and see only that which you wish to shape, into your own reality, and feel threatened by all, which you cannot shape. Is your imagination so warped by your thoughts and desires, that all you see is what you want to see, and how you wish your world to be, that you forget to see what is out there, in front of you?  Do not worry as I was like you too, always busy and always becoming, and never pausing, but striving for all that was mine, or would be mine. I was out to shape this universe to my will, and my life force was strong, and nobody would stop me from reaching my goal, just like you.

I throw a pebble and watch the ripples grow, and it is as if the aura of my consciousness is spreading all around me, mirroring the ever expanding ripples. I am of this universe and life is consciousness and who can put limits on consciousness? I am not bound by my sense organs or my mind, as my consciousness is so ancient, that it reaches beyond time itself. Space time does not confine consciousness, as it flows and ebbs in eons of time, and galaxies of space. Thought itself is useless, as it is not the mind that defines me, but my life force, and that is more than this life itself. How can you trap this consciousness in a body, and expect the senses or the mind to even try tocomprehend, its existence. The only thing inside us is what we cannot hear or feel, we can feel an ant walk on our skin but not the blood flowing in our veins.

Human history like the story of evolution is violent and the survival of the fittest, not of the strongest, but those most adaptable to change. These killings, genocides, wars, rapes, murders and crimes have been there from our beginning, and will continue till our end. We cannot deny our animal nature, nor our existence as social tribal beings, who belong to clans and have belief systems, which have developed over centuries. Our religions, customs, music, culture, language, food define us, and we are uncomfortable outside our immediate fellow creatures. We fight wars to preserve our way of life, and minor belief differences can expand, to pitch Protestants against Catholics, Muslims against Jews, Hindus against Buddhists and so on. The barbarity we dish out to fellow humans, is unrivalled in the animal kingdom, where we kill for pleasure or revenge, and not for food.

So I stand on the edge marveling at this peace of life, that I have brought around myself. Having been reborn it is now my time to attain the highest enlightenment as per our beliefs. We do not shy away from identifying with this universe or Brahman and we do not fear the unknown as death has no meaning to the consciousness. Consciousness is and it will be, so I still the lake again, and bid it to reflect the universe, just like me. There is no duality here and what others see as a solid body, I see as the cosmic dust, which has come together from all around the universe, and will go back into it when I am done with this body. I am a mere wave at the quantum level and all this permanence is just an illusion. I float across the lake, and it welcomes me in its warm embrace, and we are one. I am thoughtless, yet I am life itself.

Union less wonders


Perhaps none of the wealth generators in India’s growth story, are more important that the multitude of its IT companies, and the millions that they have enriched. Of all the success stories from Silicon Valley in the West to the Financial Industry in NYC, none stand out more with the great services, which these companies provide on a daily basis. In the highly competitive, dynamic, cutting edge, technically challenging work of running and delivering complex information technology solutions for its clients, these companies have stood out in their professionalism. They have grappled with some of the most challenging projects and delivered year after year and decade after decade, building on a flat world of communications and transparency.

Filling just the skill gap from retiring baby boomers, and the whole mainframe and Y2K deliverables, are now history, as these companies move into the new world of digitization, cloud computing, big data analytics and many other emerging new technologies. The reliance on their services is increasing and for the near term there are few alternatives even while the world and environment that they work in, is rapidly evolving and changing. It is a constant struggle to reskill their workforce, as new new things appear on the horizon like the Internet of things. If every device is going to be programmable, than there will also be the need for new software and analytics, to make it run smoother. The needs keep growing and the question is can these companies have the vision to move into this brave new world, or will they become dinosaurs like the mainframes and midrange and client server applications, which ruled the roost, and now are slipping into museums and history books.

A cloud literally and physically hangs over the future of these giants, and the future is hard to predict on who will evolve and survive, and who will fall by the wayside in this cruel new world. There are so many challenges and rewards available for the winners, that for them to imagine failure is impossible. Each one has to reinvent itself in a world of cheaper and ever more efficient service needs. The days of billion dollar multiyear deals are so yesterday, and we now live on quarterly and annual contracts which continue to squeeze more and more inefficiencies out of the systems. The competition for these new contracts is worldwide and more and more transparent, as multinationals and the biggest Banks, Insurance, Healthcare, Retail, Hospitality, Logistics companies have become much smarter, in how they plan and pay for resources. The business value of information technology lies in the automation of business processes, provision of information for decision making, connecting businesses with their customers, and the provision of productivity tools to increase efficiency.

There are no 9-5 routine jobs left, or if they are, they are rapidly shrinking. Corporations are downsizing and knowledge of their systems is leaving with them, as they retire or move out of the door. The outsourcing companies that are struggling to fill the void, are themselves challenged as key technical resources are in high demand, and continuously on the move. There is more data being created and stored and analyzed today, than at any time in human history, and it is growing exponentially. Machine learning, artificial intelligence and newer ways to replace humans is the new trend as anything that can be done systematically, reduces human error.  Robots work 24\7 without breaks and flawlessly ensuring quality and predictability.India’s leading IT companies are quite on the proposal by Tamil Nadu Labur and Employment Department Principal Secretary Kumar Jayant stating that the New Democratic Labor Front – IT Employees Wing (NDLF), that workforce is free to form unions, as reported by a leading daily on Thursday. The sad part is that these bureaucrats neither understand the industry or its needs. Instead of enjoying the growth and the employment being generated, they want to impose laws enacted in 1947 in a different generation and world. This industry grew because it went out and hired and trained its labor force, with no help from the government and even built its own infrastructure and human resource management systems, with no outside help from the state. Now that they are successful the politicians and bureaucrats want their pound of flesh. It will be the biggest mistake that can ever be made, as these are not public sector banks or the railways business, where routine processing by humans is key.

I can hear the giant vacuum that will suck the jobs from any State that tries to enforce this and even from countries, as this is a truly global world. These resources are increasingly more mobile, and need no office to work from. Without location constraints they are free to work anywhere, where a stable environment provided with power and connectivity. Free enterprise and ability to train and dynamically work, are the hallmarks of these companies as otherwise China’s State giants would have taken over a long time ago, just as they have done in manufacturing. India needs less labor laws, to meet tomorrow’s needs, and not enforcement of antiquated ones, from a non-industrial or non-service industry past. Hopefully saner heads will prevail and all such talk will be quickly put to rest and the union less wonders allowed to grow and succeed, in a modern world. It is a competitive world that can turn on a dime as they say, and survival is tough enough without any outside muddling. These deliveries are time critical and skilled where only the best and brightest succeed, and not a world of work stoppages or rigid laws, that bind and stagnate.

Clear the dams in our rivers and minds

Elwha river

For over a 100 years in the State of Washington, we kept two huge Dams standing on the Elwha River, and it trapped the free flow of the river; and a lot of precious trout and salmon, which may have used the waters to cohabitate, slowly came on the Federal Endangered Species list. In a strange reversal of mother nature, scientist are studying, what the demolition of large tall dams built for controlling the river, and providing ample hydroelectric power; which allowed major corporations, to come up in the State. Now the dams have been dismantled and the sediments built over a century, have been allowed to flow downriver, along with dead wood, and other natural material flows. This has reversed a dying river into a living river, as both flora and fauna, are coming back to life, from these newly released nutrients, it appears. For the thousands of acres of fresh water, and salt water mixtures, which have evolved a complex ecosystem, in the near shore flows down the plain, from the suddenly free Elwha river, flowing into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
For the first time we are seeing huge engineering constructions being dismantled to take care of our fellow living creatures. Nature has developed over billions of years and humans are in their very early years of evolution. We have a lot to learn on how to live in harmony with mother earth and to ensure we allow others to live and prosper. The waters of the Elwha River flow crystal clear and pristine once again and so many varieties of fish, crabs, vegetation, birds are growing their next generations in the fresh waters. From the high mountains of Snowfinger, the river flows into the ocean, and the whole ecosystem that the estuaries and the delta created, is alive again. A miracle of rebirth is happening right before our eyes, as nature leads the way.
This is a lesson that we must share, as when man takes one step to be more in harmony with nature, it is nature that wraps us in its embrace again; and lets us live peacefully, and prosperously. Having abundance for humans does not mean destroying other lifestyles around us, but instead we must nurture and grow them. Our growth depends on the growth of those around us, as we are all parts of the same existence. Inclusion of others is nothing new, as it goes on, with, or without our acknowledgement. We just have to remain aware, and the greatest natural rule is, that if it does not feel right in our consciousness, then it probably is not. I am not against dams and new technology and it must be harnessed, where needed. It is only that in our ambition, we do not overleap ourselves, and lay everything around us to ruin. We must balance a green path carefully for renewal energy and do what is right for our fellow creatures. Global warming and host of other measures are proving catastrophic and we must do everything in our power to move beyond them and closer to nature.
The sun, the wind, the oceans, the rivers are all there for us to harness their energy, for our own needs. This free renewable energy, is available in greater abundance than our humanity’s needs. The winds will not cease to blow, or the currents to flow, we only have to learn how to harness their strength, we live amidst a bountiful nature, and the sun will rise and set each day, and the tides will rise and fall, and she gives these all to us, to live and prosper. Nature while vengeful in evolution, can also be very magnanimous in her giving, to those who survive in life. We are born of her largess, and as such can always avail of a mother’s gift and use it for our pleasure. I only say treat this gift with respect, and let us live in harmony, and enjoy the wonder, which is our life. We must get together in harmony, and explore the meaning of our  beautiful existence, and the pure joy of life itself!

Age, culture and friendship


So ten years, a whole decade had passed since we had last met. Our Life was not meant to be together, and our friendship is just a passing shadow, not real between us. We were surprised to discover each other, after all these years, and find we had some things, still in common between us. The times we have lived in the past few years, have seen a lot of change, in how we live, but we have also made deep friendships. There are people more engaged with their smart phone, and Apple world now, that they do not communicate very well, with humans around them. Meals have become a chore, and more patrons at restaurants are dissatisfied with their servings, as they spend too much time on their communication devices; and letting the presentation wilt, and the food becomes cold and insipid.
So I did not miss you, as life had me in its grip, but now it is different. We actually look up from our iPhones and talk to each other. The meetings of eyes, the sly smiles, the hearty laugh seem so strange, as who had heard of laughter; in the time, of cell phones? We have become slaves, of our devices, and we are more taken up in their care, rather than enjoying the time of life; given to each one of us. With each passing moment we lose a little, but instead with you around; I gain a lot. We are friends after all, and friendship, has its own songs. It has its own verse, language and when appropriate; music, from a common culture. We are so much alike, that I could be looking in a mirror of minds, a common consciousness of the universe; in, and around us. We speak and see as one, and all around us is in harmony, as love flows; where friendship lays, its foundation.
So over Thirty years of my life has passed with you besides me, and everything I am now, is because of you. We have made a life out of nothing, and the credit goes; mainly to you. It is as if, our times, are meant for improving. We make everything look so easy as circumstances and fortune made its own paths, around us. We had enough, as we had each other; and the children made it easier. Life is so busy, and we are so engrossed in living it; that time just passes, as if it’s a river. You and me sat and we watched the river of life flow from its banks, and raised our kids and made our friends. All of ours, has floated down the river of time, and yet we are still stronger, than before. This is a time and a place, that we can rightfully call our own. We have arrived in our place, and we have peace, as we are who we are; and there is no duplicity here.
As we grow older, we have to learn to be more forgiving, and also kinder; to those dear ones, who are around us. The fury and anger, of getting one’s own way, is no longer as strong, as one starts to mellow down. Life is no longer a war with others, for one’s survival, but a time for relaxation, and enjoyment. Play games, read books, enjoy card games, take long walks, be closer to nature as soon nature is going to be, closer to us than. we will ever want it to be. Enjoy the time on this earth, as it is a song, which our life sings in happiness. Will we be the choir? or will our words ring out? clear and loud, for all to hear? Will they stand and cheer for the way we lived, when we are no longer here?
Life is full of surprises, but the greatest surprise I discovered, is the one, I played on myself. When I was young, I had a future; and some, rosy dreams, and the whole world was at my feet. Time passed, in dreams of tomorrow; and the brave new world, and the brotherhood of men; where everyone is successful. In an Ayn Rand way giant industries grow around us and the world progresses and everyone is rich or at least living well. What I could have been, and what I have become; is a strange difference, of my perception and your reality. Sometimes it is me, and then it is the one I am becoming, so now I know, that I just am. It has become too hard, to be trying to change, as I have already become. As thirty years together, have not changed me, so also has life not made me bitter. Even a twisted Pretzel is nothing, compared to the round about ways; that my life turned and on so many different planes, that to feel the wholeness of this moment, is very uncanny. I sit, I meditate,Being Here, I am, yet it is strange to love another, more than oneself. We are all born, and we will all feel love and spread love and joy  We should arrive bringing gifts of love and compassion, and reduce human hatred all around us, We will all pass on, leaving our shared culture, to our daughters, sons, family, friends and this universe.

Image: “Friendships in adulthood” JLS Media on flicker.

Powerful hailstorm devastates crops in central Georgia


I was reading that after floods in Tbilisi forced Zoo animals into the Streets, Georgia just can’t get a break from its natural disasters. Global warming is having a devastating effect on the country as who would have thought that a freak hailstorm, would be strong enough to deprive the citizens of foods and vegetables for the rest of the year. Hectares of crops in central Georgia have been demolished in last night’s severe thunderstorm, leaving farmers without a way to feed their families for the rest of the year.
Farmers have spent the past 12 months tending to their fruit and vegetable crops and were preparing to harvest the yield when the hailstorm struck, ruining about 80 percent of crops in several villages in Dusheti and Gori municipalities on May 29. Global warming is to blame as per some experts and it is causing strange weather patterns.

Meanwhile in India there are expectations of a good monsoon after two bad years and the rains have come down to meet the forecast in the districts and towns of Kerala and Karnataka. It should steadily increase and spread north and east across the Gangetic belt to the Himalayas. It will replenish the snow and Glaciers in the Greater Himalayas which will feed the rivers into South Asia and China. Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangla Desh should all benefit from a strong monsoon. The Indo Gangetic plain will flourish with the snowmelt and its streams and rivers will fill up and start to flow. 80% of the rain and snowmelt water is lost as it flows into the Bay of Bengal, or flows into the Arabian Sea to feed the Indian Ocean. The water harvesting is extremely poor and many dams, reservoirs and lakes need to be constructed to preserve the rain water.
Channels of construction crisscrossing the land with ample hydel renewable energy from the flowing waters is possible. The great buildout of the Himalayas is about to start. The greening of the hills will bring many beneficial aspects of Green development. The cheap energy and water will be put to good use to develop new smart cities, which will flourish in this modern heartlands. Perhaps the largest source of cheap and abundant labor is tied up in the disguised employment in India’s over half a million villages. This is where India dwells and this has been the center of its culture and civilization for millenniums. This is where I believe, the change will come for a morally correct, and social uplifting wave, for the better of humanity. Solar, Wind, Hydel, coal and nuclear energy are going to bring a sea change in the development of this ancient civilization and way of life.
Hardware and Software is coming to India as more and more engineers are educated and join the workforce. Millions of jobs need to be created and the State is not ready for the next stage, as hard decisions need to be made. Political transparency, ease of doing business and enforceable laws with quick justice, is unheard of in many of these countries. India, Pakistan, Bangla Desh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar have their own political problems in embracing a Developed world. The soft state economies are not able to grab their potential, as a lot of the feudal and caste systems continue to stop progress to a more democratic and equal society. Equality and the rule of law for all citizens and the right to economic independence, is the need of the hour, and not quasi military systems. Nobody is making the hard decisions that are required for economic growth and development. A stable inflation, low interest rates, transparency in governance are all actions that they must take, to allo,w long term growth to take place. There is enough demand from the growing young populations, which any improvements in the supply side, will help make a great thrust forward.
South Asia is almost 20 years behind China in economic growth as China has made great strides since 1990. The gulf between the two regions has widened and the trade between the nations has seen very slow growth. Open borders and trade as in a Euro Nation model would make for a new trading block in the world. We have America, Europe and China as the great super powers in economic growth. South Asia and Africa are currently struggling as developing economies. The Middle East is a disaster except for Turkey and Israel. Egypt with its find of a Natural gas bonanza, may expect some energy relief in the coming decades, and will hopefully start back on a democratic growth path. India is a key with potential to grow its own economy at a fast pace, to expand trade and provide skills in the region for its neighbors in Asia, Middle East and Africa.
If the Indian sub-continent can achieve growth of 7% or even low double digits GDP growth, for the coming decades, it will be a huge change for the region’s future. You will be able to see the growth of incomes from the current $ 3 per day, to the greatest emergence of the next middle class’ in the history, of our world. Hundreds of millions will be pushed from living on barely a dollar a day to a thousand times that. The exponential growth that is possible, given the potentials of the region;  will also help Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and its neighboring Middle East to rebuild. Sub-continental skilled labor in the Middle East can help put them back into a developing economy, and growth in trade between energy surplus Arab States and India could transform the modernization of the region. The Qatari, Iraqi, Irani and the Saudis will be a welcome suppliers to Africa and South Asia’s growth, if they develop stable governments.
We are on the cusp of a 100 years of peace if the great powers can enforce a verifiable peace. There are many wars still raging across Africa and the Middle East which will be tough to stop. International cooperation and effort will be needed to restore peace and allow the refugees to return and help for them to rebuild like the Marshall plan. The great development of this millennium will only start when there is the rule of law, and human trafficking and warmongering, are no longer acceptable in modern societies. The Military\Industrial complex must be better used for human development.
Even half the billions currently spent on today’s wars when invested in human development, in the next decade will buy an expensive peace. Yet it will be a peace of honor and achievement for some of the neediest humans on our fellow Earth. There is much to look forward to, if we just implement the right steps for development and growth. Human development while not a divine right, is still glorious for us to achieve together. Let the Monsoon begin, for the young maidens on the swings, hanging from the blooming mango trees, to sway in the cool breeze; for play, undisturbed. They will sing songs of longings, that the rains fulfilled, and our earth will be at peace again!

Image By Sagredo –, CC BY-SA 3.0,