THE STORY BEHIND THE SMOG

Born and brought up in Delhi, I always took pride in how I lived in the capital of India. But, recently I saw something that seems so unreal, it is almost ridiculous. The air pollution detecting machines in Delhi have reached its highest possible reading of 999, which means that it may be even higher. It worries me that my family and friends back home have to deal with this dire situation .

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Pollution level of PM 2.5 nearest to my home (Source: AQICN)

Just to put things in perspective, this is the air pollution level in Sweden, where I reside currently.

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Pollution level in Stockholm (Source: AQICN)

The situation is getting out of hand all over Delhi. With visibility levels touching nearly zero, it does not look good for Delhi in the near future. The map of place makes one worry about the people living there, working day in and day out, taking in the toxic air without any choice. There is an utmost need to educate oneself about the issue as it directly attacks the basic right of a human being, fresh air to breathe!

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The Pollution Map of Delhi (Source: AQICN)

REASONS FOR THE POOR AIR QUALITY

Even though fireworks seem to be an easy scapegoat to blame for the increased pollution levels, the reasons seem to be more complex than just fireworks.

Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) points out high moisture as a major reason for the sudden deterioration in the air quality. The wind speed was also negligent, making the situation worse.

According to the Center for Science and Environment (CSE), the uncontrolled stubble burning (agricultural residues) in the nearby regions of Haryana and Punjab is the major cause of the current state of affairs. The NASA Firemapper shows the real picture. As seen in the figure, it shows fires for 4th and 5th November. Why wouldn’t there be subsequent smog?

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The uncontrolled stubble burning in North India on 4th and 5th November. (Source: NASA)

Adding to the sad turn of events, there is a sudden change in winds. The south easternly winds have changed to north westernly winds and will add to the already worse air quality.

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India Gate barely visible due to smog. (Source: TOI)

Apart from these factors, there are other contributors to the ever increasing pollution in Delhi. According to the Delhi Government, the major contributors to the poor air quality include MSW Burning, construction dust, vehicular emissions, soil and road dust and biomass burning.

SOLUTIONS TO THE INCREASED POLLUTION

The Environmental Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) has announced a few measures for short term relief from the problem.

  1. A four fold increase in the parking tickets.
  2. Introduction of more coaches in Delhi Metro and fares to be reduced for the next 10 days.
  3. A 50,000 Rs (750$) fine on road construction industries violating the dust pollution norms.
  4. Starting the Odd- Even rule in the light of recent events.

There is a Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) devised by the EPCA learning from the cities like Beijing and London and implementing them accordingly after an order from the Supreme Court. But the situation is still not favorable as is evident. The problem is due to the lack of strict actions implementation between the central and state government and the lack of inter state conversation. Even though, biomass burning is illegal in Delhi, the humongous burning of crop residues from nearby states always lead to smog filled days every winter.

The biomass residue can be easily used as a feedstock for producing energy. A healthy infrasturcture, proper education as well a subsidized facility will definitely deviate the farmers from burning the crops towards putting it to better use. There are various programs and fiscal assistance from the Indian Government.

The MSW open burning needs to be stopped with immediate effect. Even though new MSW incineration plants have been opening up in Delhi, there is a need of more of such installations. It is being successfully used all over the world, where countries like Sweden and Finland have been converting majority of their waste into energy, and in turn have literally been turning waste into money. This could be a great step forward in a positive direction.

The Delhi government had announced around 20+ measures around 2 years back along with the famous odd-even verdict. If implementation of all of the measures takes place, the situation could be controlled in a major way. The capital seriously needs a better vacuuming system for all the loose dust that contributes to the PM 2.5 and increased green cover for binding the soil.

Residents of Delhi need to be cautious during these days, especially older people and children. Avoid outdoors at any cost. But in case you have to go out, use a good air pollution mask before leaving the home.

In conclusion, support from the central government, dedicated participation from the state government, an active dialogue between the neighbouring states, stricter regulations and proper implementation is the need of the hour. Let Delhi breathe again!

 

 

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Sustainability साप्ताहिक

Unsustainable Sustainable. (Credits: http://www.xkcd.com)

How many of you have seen a sudden upsurge of the word “Sustainability” or “Renewable” in the recent past? This is not something that happened just out of no where but a result of years of exploitation of the natural resources for our greed without a slight consideration for our future generation. Good job hoomans.

In this day and age, anyone denying a claim made by 97% of the scientists all around the world after their years of research and hardwork, is just plain stupid.

*Pointing fingers at you, Mr. Trump*

I, for one, am a devout follower of this concept. I did my master’s in this subject and aim to spread the word as much as I can. So this is my little contribution to increase the awareness amongst people about why and how this thing called sustainability could be a good thing for us and what all small things can we do to include this in our lifestyle. So getting to the point let’s talk about what it actually means.

Sustainability is the property of all the biological systems to remain diverse and produce indefinitely. The ecosystem is meant to be a sustainable system, but in the light of recent events, like industrialization, environmental degradation and population growth, the ecosystems are no longer sustainable. The major concept on which sustainability strives is Sustainable Development, which is the development that meets the need of the present generation without compromising on the needs of future generation. And let me tell you, we have already fucked it up for our future generations.

Still, better late than never. Last year, for the very first time, almost all the countries in the world agreed that climate change is a huge issue and needs proper attention and action and no more verbal promises. So things are changing for good. My aim is to highlight these amazing developments happening in the field of sustainable energy and inspire people to do their bit.

Enough of the lecture, let’s talk about INDIA. I am so so proud that my country is moving in the right direction. In a time where developed countries are not ready to give up fossil fuels as their primary energy source, India, a developing country is making huge strides in the area of renewable energy. Even though the country’s major energy source is Coal, it is investing ‘bigly’ in renewable energy, especially, Solar. The Indian minister of New and Renewable Energy, Mr. Piyush Goyal, is working really hard to make the goals that are set for 2022, come true. He is confident that 60-65% of energy produced in India would be green. And by the speed he is going, the goal seems achievable.

TIP OF THE WEEK: Segregate your waste people. It is a very simple thing to do, saves up a lot of time of people who collect your waste and make your environment cleaner. With new waste to energy plants coming up everywhere, it is a good idea to segregate your waste as much as possible to make it easier for authorities to create energy out of it.

The Constant Battle

If you are active on social media, you must have heard this quote someplace, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” What makes this battle really dangerous? Why does it matter so much to resolve this internal conflict?

The simplest answer being it is rendering smart human beings useless. It is the sole reason why people are not able to culminate their thoughts into actions. It leads to procrastination and laziness in some cases. In some cases, it can lead to serious mental problems, like OCD or depression. Why is it that this phenomenon is becoming so popular in today’s culture?

So, what do we know about this unknown, omnipotent battle which seems to create so much chaos in today’s world? For starters, the intensity of battle depends upon how much thought is put into it. Some people worry less about it and remain happy, and hence appear to be more carefree and casual about life. Some people over think the problems they have, going to extents and scenarios which might never even occur in their life. This often leads to deviation from the main aim and wasting time on things that doesn’t matter in the longer run.

The major problem appears to be that we, as a generation, try to get rid of our problems and blame something that has no relation to it whatsoever. We find excuses to every wrong we do. Even I am guilty of this vice. But deep down, I know that it is my own fault. To state an example, I didn’t study for an exam and I scored way less than normal. I could have easily said that paper was hard or teacher was strict but as soon as I accepted that the fault was my own, I came to peace with the result I got. I was not insecure about it anymore, I studied harder the next time and scored decent marks that made me happy. I think this is where we are lacking, where we must put in efforts. I know I am constantly doing that. I now accept my mistakes faster than ever and start working on solutions. It is true, and not at all pretentious to say, the answers to the questions you seek lie inside.

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He will look for answers everywhere except the one place he actually need to, inside.

I am no expert, neither am I a self proclaimed preacher trying to cure people’s depression. But I came across a lot of posts for suicide awareness and this is my little attempt to make sure that the people I know, the people I love and the people who are in touch with me, can always count on me and talk about their problems.

In today’s world of social media obsession, we have totally forgotten the concept of solitude and introspection. Social media has made us addicted to the feeling that you are always connected and you can never be alone, which leads to the fear of missing out or in swag language, FOMO. Nowadays, people confuse lonely with alone. Being lonely might not be a good thing, but being alone is. It is very important to spend some time with your thoughts, ponder over them and make the right decisions. I am very thankful to Scandinavian lifestyle to help me discover this side of life. Constructive solitude leads to creativity and all the answers you need. Whenever I am in a dilemma, whenever I miss my family and friends or whenever I need to make a hard decision, I just take a long walk by myself and by the time I am done, I feel much better.

Trust me, it’s time to go offline.

Khair – Ul – Manazil Mosque

Khair - Ul - Manazil Mosque

Khair – ul – Manazil, one of the most well preserved and finest mosques in Delhi, though mostly ignored. Maham Anga, the foster mother of Emperor Akbar, had it built in 1561, which was later on used as a madarsa.

Built in Mughal Architecture, Khair – ul – manazil means “the most auspicious of houses” or “the best of houses”. It is also a chronogram, so the letters of the name, when written in the Persian script, give the numerical value which is the year of its construction, 969 Hijri or 1561-62 A.D.

When I was in the complex, there was not a single person except an old Muslim guy who offers prayer, in spite of being a Sunday.
I felt dissapointed that such a great piece of architecture is being ignored by our public.

There was a hauz (tank) and a well as you enter the main courtyard which are used for ablution before the prayers. Rooms built along three walls were used for the madrasa. The mehrab (prayer wall) on the fourth faces Mecca to the west. It is decorated with stucco and glazed tiles in different colors. Next to the mosque is the grand Lal Darwaza (Red Gate) or Sher Shah Gate, which is believed to have been the southern gateway to Sher Shah’s city.

There is a story associated with this monument. It is rumored that a slave tried to kill Akbar, after his return from hunting and moving towards Nizamuddin Dargah, but the arrow hit a soldier in his entourage instead, who was hurt, albeit not gravely. Maybe Akbar’s short height came to his rescue!

All in all, I request all the budding photographers and history enthusiasts to give this place a visit. If you ever think of going to the Purana Qila, make sure you stopover at this mosque. You will not regret it.

Inner Peace

Inner Peace

“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”
― Gautama Buddha

Are you ready to fight yourself?  Inner peace is achieved when the inner war ends. But until you deal with the ways you get knotted up inside, your life will be complicated, and inner peace will elude you.

What is inner peace? 

It is when we stop looking outside for solutions to our problems and, instead, turn our attention inward to make peace with our own self. This simple act of attention is extra ordinary. It heals, calms, and clarifies like nothing else.

We are experts at denying ourselves. Remember how you lectured your friend on how to deal with some problem but deny applying the same facts in you own life, knowing it will do you good. Another example, take up a hobby, there is for sure something you are avoiding to try just because you might fail in it. These hidden aspects grow in our ignorance and once they are in their supreme they start changing our behavior. Here is when Inner peace comes in play, once you start facing yourself, asking questions to yourself and finally finding a solution for it, there is no more conflict, no more confusion. Just PEACE.

Now, how one may achieve this?

Different people, Different opinion. For me, it is the time I spend with my camera alone, capturing the world, challenging myself to do better in every photograph. The time, I go to a temple alone and connect myself with some special force and start asking myself what I have been doing with my life lately. I do get some answers, many of them are hard to follow, but they are worth it, because in the end everything falls into right places. The time I meet my best friends after a long time and relive my old days.

Let go of all the grudges you had. Your thoughts about what happened are keeping you stuck. Release yourself by letting go of the story and feeling right into the pain. This has nothing to do with the other person, but will help you with a better life.

Any inner knot can be untangled when you pay attention to it. Start with whatever is troubling you right now, and know that every moment of awareness simplifies and have a good life.

LET IT BE.

LET IT BE.

“Beautiful things happen in your life when you distance yourself from all the negative things.”
-Anonymous

 

We all suffer from betrayal, no matter what. The truth is so hard to accept, but you have no choice.
People you once trusted, back stab you. They make you feel all the guilt, yet you accept all your mistakes and let it go. Then too, they are not happy with this. They cannot accept the fact that you are happy without them in your life.

True Friends, even if they fight, are not able to talk to you or stay in touch with you, would never ever degrade to a level to insult you.

You feel all those caring words were just hollow promises. Those helping gestures were fake. What do you do now?

Sit at home and repent?

NO.

One must always learn from their mistakes, and yes this was a mistake too.

Everyone suffers at least one bad betrayal in their lifetime. It’s what unites us. The trick is not to let it destroy your trust in others when that happens. Don’t let them take that from you.

To overcome, find refuge in old friends, because they were, are and always will be there for you.

This will take time but once you do this, you’ll be able to trust again, life will be back on track. Then have a good time with people who matter.

Let them feel there is happiness without them. There is life beyond them.

You never know when you’re about to meet someone very important. It’s not like life gives you a warning. You just look up and there they are.

It is a natural tendency of such people to be jealous of you, when you achieve something.When they see you happy, they will try to bring you down in any way possible, they can stoop pretty low, so low you can’t even imagine.

What do you do then? Stoop to their level and get yourself dirty?

Answer to this lies in three simple words, the words of wisdom : LET IT BE.

Have a good laugh when they try to insult you, it’s like monkey on roller skates, it means nothing to us but it means so much to them!

Have the time of your life with your TRUE friends, and leave everything else on God, for he is watching everything that is happening and will do the needful in the way he feels convenient.

Indian Roller : The Blue Jay.

Indian Roller : The Blue Jay.

“Outer beauty attracts, but inner beauty captivates.”
― Kate Angell

This bird is the perfect example of the above saying. People who have seen this bird will be able to relate, for those who are unacquainted, I’ll guide you through.

This bird when perched on a tree or lamp post looks pretty ordinary, with normal brown feathers. No one would even pay attention to it.

That’s where Wildlife photographers come in. Though I am no where near a professional photographer, but my ultimate goal is to be one. They keep their eyes open to the slightest of movement nearby them. Anyways, I was going past the cricket ground of my college and there I saw this bird sitting on a lamp post. I was amused to spot this bird in my campus. I took out my camera and immediately started clicking it.

I had never seen such a beautiful bird, but wait, there’s more to it, it took off and flew. And I was just standing there, jaw dropped. I had never ever in my life seen such a calm, extraordinary shade of blue. The brilliance of the color and beauty of the Indian Roller is captivating in every way.

The Indian Roller acquires its name from the striking aerobatics it displays as an act of courtship. During the course of the display the bird flies high up in the sky and descends downwards in a circular motion, flapping its winds rapidly.

For all my Hindu friends, you’ll be amazed to know this is a sacred bird and is associated with Lord Shiva.

All in all, I learned that “good things come to those who wait”.

One should never ignore anyone just because of their physical appearance, you never know what they turn out to be. Inner beauty should be given utmost importance.