Monday, December 11, 2017

Some recent activities

I have interacted a little with various NGOs during the last couple of days at * మానవతా మిత్రమండలి - 5 వ సమావేశం B. C. T. / Bhagavathula chharitable Trust - ( యలమంచిలి దగ్గరే వున్న వెంకటాపురం గ్రామం ). This is in Visakhapatnam district. The activists from here, Vijayanagaram and Srikakulam districts; there are also some from Vijawada and Ongole. The impression I get is that these organisations, some old and some new, are in the process of developing self sustainable communities of various sizes based on cooperating groups of people. The first requirement seems food security. Then various other activities like providing employment within or near the community, communal activities like music, dances. The basic aim seems to be to develop self sustainable communities with outsiders playing some role with funds, stimulating activities both cultural and economic emphasising on cooperation. There seems to be emphasis on ’proper’ education from preprimary stage. They also try to use children to influence parents and community in activities like farming, group dynamics, stopping open defecation, drinking etc. For some reason, these seem more prevalent in this area, perhaps due to large number of tribals. With emergence of new groups, lot of them apolitical and prepared to work with government and other aid agencies, during the last few years gives some hope. But I am a new observer and have not really understood the range and scope of these activities.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Steven Mithen reviews ‘Against the grain’ by James Scott

interesting review Why did we start farming?
His account of the deep past doesn’t purport to be definitive, but it is surely more accurate than the one we’re used to, and it implicitly exposes the flaws in contemporary political ideas that ultimately rest on a narrative of human progress and on the ideal of the city/nation-state..... Why hunter-gatherers passed up their affluent lifestyle in favour of far more onerous and risky existences growing a narrow range of crops and managing livestock is a fundamental question to which we have no good answer. Was it by choice, or was that first sowing of seed a trap, locking people into a seasonal cycle of planting and harvesting from which we have been unable to escape?
......
In Scott’s picture, the barbarians and the city-states were entirely dependent on each other for their existence. They rose and fell together: the Huns and the Romans; the ‘Sea People’ and the Egyptians. And for the vast part of recorded history the majority of people lived in the barbarian world. Scott’s view is that the barbarian Golden Age ended as recently as four hundred years ago, when the power of the state finally became overwhelming, partly due to the invention of durable gunpowder. Which is, of course, a means to make fire sparked by flint – a return to the ‘moment’ 400,000 years earlier which marked the beginning not of the steady rise of civilisation, but rather the muddled and messy affair that is the human past.“

Thursday, November 23, 2017

A marriage organised by APMAS

From November 20: APMAS (Andhra Pradesh Mahilabhyudaya Samiti)organised the marriage. The family are quarry workers from Tamilnadu. The girl’s family spends some time in Tamilnadu, particularly the girl’s mother. The girl has a degree B.C.A and the boy has middle school education. They married in a temple without informing the parents and came to live with the boy. When she was around eight months pregnant, the parents offered to take the girl home from delivery and aborted the baby. They tried to marry the girl off. The girl escaped again and APMAS organised the marriage today. Meanwhile the mother registered a kidnap case against the boy and there is pressure from the police in her village to come back. It is not clear what will happen if they go back. The boy is from Kondtruthur and the girl from Dindivanam which are 120 kilometres apart. The case is now with Dindivanam police. I think that it is still a complaint and not registered yet. The fear is that if they do not go back soon, it may be registered. Meanwhile, the police here are trying to call her mother’s brother to warn him but so far, he refused to come. 
Update: It seems to be reaching a happy conclusion with the help of DSP who seems to have taken the police officer who was giving trouble to task. The name of the pair Sathiyavelu and Sandhiya, may be approximate. I attended the marriage and am looking forward to their arrival here.

Aarogyasri

I was talking to a friend in Hyderabad who is currently undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatments for cancer. She was very upbeat comparing the corresponding costs in US and here. According to a knowledgeable relative of hers, there is hardly any difference in the treatments and it costs less than one tenth in India. When she goes for treatment in Hyderabad, she gets to interact with other patients and she is very pleased that person with monthly salary of 11,000 rupees is essentially getting free treatment under Aarogyasri scheme. I do not know how it works in other states.
Here is the Wikipedia article Aarogyasri

A dedicated lady

Aruna Tella has several formal and informal positions related to women’s welfare, short stay home and long ago women’s self help groups before they became organised. More than a few thousandwomen passed through these organisations, perhaps in the range of 3-5 thousand, including those who found housing through the organisations. I found a lady who comes to clean one of our places and inquired about her. It seems that she was a married woman with two children. At some stage, her husband got in to drinking habits and to cover his expenses introduced her to a friend of his. The affair continued and the new couple had even a sort of marriage in a temple. But the affair started drying up , and with his source of money gone her husband started abusing her. She finally gave up on her marriage and came to live opposite to the house of the person who she considered her new husband. But he too refused to marry her and started abusing her. After a while, her parents took the children away and she lives in one of the homes still obsessed with the new husband though both the men married again. She still celebrates her second husband’s birthdays and such occasions and in spite of treatment her obsession has not completely gone. She seems very dedicated in her service to other abused women and continues her work with them.

Half a day with Aruna Tella

Before breakfast, she started telling me about her struggles with Vantavari colony (colony of cooks) which started in 1991. when she had to sell her jewels, stay in the colony for some time when it started as a swamp. Meanwhile a couple from Tamilnadu turned up. They had an intercaste marriage (Oops. It seems they are relatives but there is a family feud) in a temple and somehow landed in Ongole. When the lady was about eight months pregnant, her parents persuaded her to come home for delivery, aborted the baby and tried to marry her off. She managed to escape. She quickly made arrangements to handle it and had to attend a meeting. Meanwhile, she told me me a bit more of the story of the colony where all of the political parties seemed to be against it at some stage or other and the help came from some benevolent officials and friendly police officers. The police still seem to bring destitute ladies automatically in one of the houses managed by her and her friends. While she was attending the meeting, I went to the Vantavari Colony and checked as much of the story as I could. The youngest of the ladies is onLy 42 now and apparently in one of the houses organised by Aruna and saw me before. The colony is next to the Bus Stand, it is a prime location and a case is still going in the High Court. There are about 150 families in the colony now from a mixture of castes. Some have sold their houses and left but about forty of the original fami.ies are still there following their original profession of cooking. Since it is located next to the Bus Stand, it is easy for people from outside villages to meet them and arrange cooking engagements.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Domestication of rice

Rice so nice it was domesticated thrice  “Rice is unique among wild plants for having been domesticated independently on three continents: Asia, Africa, and now South America, researchers have discovered. The New World variety, tamed about 4000 years ago, apparently was abandoned after Europeans arrived. But its genetic legacy could potentially help improve Oryza sativa, the Asian rice species that is now a dietary staple for half the world’s population.”

In Ongole now

I continue to be impressed by the splendid work that Aruna Tella has been doing for the past thirty five years. Eventhough one of my aims is to learn about education, I hope to gather some information of her work over the years. At the moment she is busy with several projects, one of which is running a short stay home for women. Some of them have stayed long, she adopted two of them. One of them is married and another soon. Some of these daughters will probably carry on her work. She runs the only such home in Ongole area ( among several other projects). I hope to collect some stories of her work and write about them off and on. The government only the bare minimum needs of the people in these houses. She provides good food borrowing money and lost a lot of her property by paying interest on these loans. The government grants come after years. Anyway, off and on I will post stories about this lady who is very little known outside Ongole area. She is the main reason for my coming here.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Leaving for Ongole.

After a week in Bengaluru and Hyderabad, leaving for Ongole tonight. The only vague aim is to visit a few schools and villages and learn how things are if possible. The plan is to spend about three months there if health permits.

A nice article on Shyama

From wire.in Shyama, the Impish Girl in the Dungarees, Is No More The article has links to some of her popular songs.

Friday, November 10, 2017

The trouble with scientists

The trouble with scientists by Philip Ball
Razib Khan write “.... have come to the conclusion most people are decent, but they’re also craven and intellectually unserious outside of their domain specificity when they are intellectual. Many of our institutions are quite corrupt, and those which are supposedly the torchbearers of the Enlightenment, such as science, are filled with people who are also blind to their own biases or dominated by those who will plainly lie to advance their professional prospects or retain esteem from colleagues.” In
The rising waters of human tribal nature 

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Going on a trip to India

tomorrow

Paradise papers

If you think the Paradise and Panama papers are bad, wait until you hear about Delaware from qz.com. Yves Smith quote from the above:
In fact, the US is one of the largest recipients of illicit financial flows from developing countries—money often smuggled out by corrupt politicians, drug dealers, or everyday criminals…
Just as small countries tend to breed the political culture that allows corporate secrecy, sparsely populated US states have competed in a race to the bottom to attract corporate investment through lax disclosure requirements. The tiny state of Delaware, called an “on-shore tax haven” by critics, garners more than a quarter of its public revenue—just over a $1 billion—from its business registry.
This probably factors into the World Bank’s assessment of the US as one of the worst offenders (pdf) when it comes to corporate secrecy. In fact, a 2012 academic study reports that it is easier to form a shell company(pdf) in the US than it is in Panama—or indeed, anywhere else but Kenya. At the top of their list? Delaware and Nevada.”
What the Paradise Papers Tell Us About Global Business and Political Elites  from Naked Capitalism

Two on neoliberalism