Was Uttarakhand tragedy men-made??

Recent tragedy because of heavy rain and flash floods in some regions of Uttarakhand has resulted in heavy loss of life, property and damage which will take years to recover. Many villages and cities were affected because of this natural calamity. No doubt the disaster was because of heavy rains and flash floods but the question is what is reason for such a heavy loss of property and life? Why they didn’t give warning to residents of those areas? Why evacuation orders were not issued (a normal protocol in almost all developed countries in case of such anticipated natural calamity)? Why proper disaster response team was not in place so that when such disaster strikes not all government machinery panic and don’t know what to do and where to start?

Entire world now is in crazy race of economical progress, everyone wants development which brings more money (and in turn supposed to bring more happiness) no matter what we want development, the race is too competitive and furious, it seems there is no time to plan any strategy they just want to run, run at any cost and win the race or at a tie but loosing is not a option. Nothing wrong in all these ambitions and aspirations (about progress and development), they are required to motivate people to do the good work, discover new inventions and in turn bring long term sustainable progress. But that’s where is the problem, very few are looking for ‘long term sustainable progress’, most of us are in race for short term gains, quicker the better, no one has time to think about impact of our actions on environment.

Because of recent economic progress in India there is huge migration of working class from villages to cities and all these people need place to stay, water to drink and also generate lot of waste, so all these things are putting enormous amount of pressure on infrastructure of these cities and some of them are crumbling under this pressure of uncontrolled immigration and poor management. In most of these cities people built homes wherever they find empty space, dry river bed, top of drainage, right on the bank of river, on hills, no place is forbidden, they manage it either legally (by paying bribe to corresponding authorities, if they are rich) or illegally (with help of some local politician who in turn gets all these votes). I myself lived in one of such illegally constructed neighborhood for most of my life, in the beginning situation is horrible, with no water connection, no latrines, electricity, etc. but slowly things improve and  they get all the required facilities (again illegally, it takes time but they manage). As these neighborhoods are illegal they don’t follow any rules or regulations which are there for any legal residential construction, if anyone take a tour of any of these neighborhoods they will understand what I am talking about. There is almost negligible or no space between two houses, people construct homes like card houses, side by side, almost resting on each other. People try to construct something on each and every available space, there is no plan for emergency exit or proper drainage, any free space is too valuable to waste. Over the time these neighborhoods grow, many people with their family settle there and call it their home and then it’s almost impossible for any government or authority to remove them from that place. Even government legalizes many of these settlements because there is no other option for them (our house was legalized after two or three decades). Everything goes fine as long as nothing abnormal happens like what happened in Mumbai (in 2005) or in Uttarakhand (2013) or some earthquake, and then hell breaks loose, people don’t know what to do, where to go, how to escape…because there is no escape path, there is no emergency exit, even many times its difficult to send any help to these places.

Whenever I visit my old home, I often wonder if some natural calamity strikes this place (I really wish it won’t) then how are these people going to save themselves, the lanes are so narrow, buildings are so close to each other that some of them don’t even get sunlight even during bright sunny day, even ambulance can’t reach many houses, they are only accessible either by walk or by two wheelers and thousands of people live there, I can’t even imagine the situation in case on any natural disaster. My neighborhood is just one among thousands of other situated in many other cities, they grow every day. These things multiply destructive ability of any disaster (fire, flood or earth quake). This is ugly side of unplanned development, everyone wants to move in some big city, they are willing to live anywhere but they want to live there, some how modern development story in India doesn’t include villages, they feel left out, people are moving out from villages in search of better life, everything happens in cities so if people want to be a part of this great success story then it’s better to be in city, this is the message everyone is receiving. We need to change this, at least in India we can not afford to have such non sustainable growth (because of our huge population and very limited natural resources including land).

I hope people demand better infrastructure and fight for it (both in cities and villages), and once they get it try really hard to maintain it, I hope they follow the rules and don’t play with their own life, I know it’s easy to say this than to follow but all these disasters should force all of us to think. It is not logical or even practical to follow single model of growth for entire country, India is such a diverse (geographically, socially and economically) country so we need to have some model which takes into account everything (not only middle class, skilled workers or educated class), there are many intelligent and experienced people who can come up with such model and I hope they come up with something which suits our diverse country and its people. I am sure with proper planning and implementation of good and practical ideas we can avoid man made disasters and also deal with natural calamities in much better way, so that next time when something like this happens at least we are better prepared. I know we can not control nature’s behavior but we can definitely control our actions and make sure that we don’t make situation more complicated and worse.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.





For nearly a decade, photographer Jane Baldwin has been traveling to Ethiopia to document the lives of indigenous women. Her photo essay, Kara Women Speak, is featured in the current issue of the Global Oneness Project Magazine.

Baldwin co-founded the organization PhotoAlliance, is on the board of International Rivers, and manages olive oil production at her Northern California winery. Each year, Baldwin travels back to the Omo River Valley. We’re delighted to share her reflections on photographing and recording the stories of women in the Kara tribe.

Can you describe your first visit to the Omo River Valley region? 

In 2004, I joined four other women on a low-level flying expedition following the great rivers and waterways that define life in Africa. We flew over 5,900 miles in the six seat Cessna 210 airplane named Ewaso, the Maasai word for water, traveling from the Nile’s source in Ethiopia to Cape Town, South Africa. It was on this trip I first learned of Ethiopia’s Omo River Valley.

I made my first trip to the Omo in 2005, and at that time, what struck me about the cultures, people and land of the Omo River was the sense of going back in time. Time is tracked by the seasons and seasonal floods, by the moon, sun, and stars. It is not tracked with clocks and schedules, but a time much, much older.    


You’ve said you aren’t a documentary photographer. Can you share what you mean?

My projects have always started without clear goals, not by design; it’s just the way my mind works. On my first trip to the Omo, I didn’t know what I wanted to photograph. I’d go into villages and walk around telling myself that I’d figure it out, and that it was ok to not know where to begin. By the end of the trip, I felt a visceral connection to the land and people, especially the women.    
Artists define their own way of working depending on their intention and objective. National Geographic and Magnum photographers receive an assignment to document a story within a given time period. My project started without an objective or intention, and through curiosity, became an act of discovery. The curiosity of discovery led to a connection with the Kara women. 

You’ve been traveling to the Omo River Valley for eight years. How has your relationship with the women changed over time? 

My relationship with the women unfolded in a gradual way. I observed that women always seemed to linger quietly in the background and I began to seek them out. We would sit together, not needing a common language to communicate. I began to take portraits of the women and photograph them going about their daily lives. A few years later, with a Kara interpreter, I began to record their stories.

When I asked if they would be willing to talk to me about their lives and culture, and about their concerns for their future, they expressed surprise and shock and wondered why I would want to talk with them. One afternoon an elder came to camp to thank me for spending time with his wives and the other Kara women. He said my time with the women made them happy and they looked forward to telling me their stories. There is no word for ‘thank you’ in Kara and he expressed his appreciation by bringing me a gift of wild honey he’d gathered from his beehives in the forest. 

On my last trip in 2012, I asked Duka (pictured above) if she wondered why I kept returning to the Omo. She responded, “I know why, it is your work to work here. This is not your first time, this is your house, that’s why you keep coming.” The past several years I’ve heard women and elders refer to their Omo village as my second home. 

Through your interviews, do you find common concerns arising among younger women, and among elder women?

Elder women accept their role as wives and mothers and the constraints of their patriarchal culture. They understand that their culture is changing, that young women will want to do things differently. Young women have begun to protest against arranged marriages. They want to marry their boyfriends, the men they love. Girls openly complain to their families at being forced into marriage. Several years ago, to avoid an arranged marriage, a young Kara girl committed suicide by jumping into the Omo River. She was swept downriver inhabited by Nile crocodiles. Elders have now begun to reevaluate this tradition and parents are beginning to listen to their daughter’s wishes.


The photo essay begins with a young girl and shows her three years later after she’s married. We learn she’s unhappy in her marriage. Can you share more about her?

I photographed her over a five-year period and interviewed her twice. This young girl became the second wife. As the second wife, she is subservient to the first wife. The first wife has all the authority and the second wife must do everything the first wife asks of her. Her loss of freedom was an abrupt change from her free and easy life as an unmarried girl.
Before they are married, young Kara girls have boyfriends, spend time with their girlfriends, go wherever they want, and sleep wherever they choose. When a girl is about 16 years of age, her parents begin to negotiate with other Kara families to select a husband for her. The bride price is 127 goats. She has no voice and must accept the choice of her parents. 

The women’s jewelry is very prominent in these black and white photographs. Did you ask them about this?

Adornment is important in Omo River cultures and varies from tribe to tribe. The Kara women tell me jewelry makes them feel proud. The ‘nice jewelry’ brings them respect and recognition from others in their village, it reflects their individual artistic talents, and attracts the opposite sex. If a woman is not adorned she is seen as drab, like a widow in mourning, or an old woman, or that she is from a poor family.

Their creativity seems limitless. They incorporate found objects such as watchbands, bic pen tops, safety pins, feathers, tassels make of goat hair and roofing nails into their jewelry and leathers. The women’s shiny skin, in some of the photographs, is from clarified butter that women rub each day on their skin. They believe it makes them healthy and beautiful.


Can you share what you’ve learned about the voice of women in Kara culture? 

The cultural role of women is rigidly defined. Women are responsible for everything except tending the cattle and goats. They do all the hard work of their community without help from their husbands or male family members. They have many children and care for them, gather firewood, cook and maintain a clean house, rise before sunrise to prepare the family’s daily coffee ceremony, and make honey beer for special occasions.  Although they share some responsibilities with their husbands, who plant and guard the sorghum from baboons during the growing season, the women are responsible for the threshing and bagging of the sorghum and carrying it on their backs to the storage granaries in their village.   
As a woman ages and has many children, she gains respect. Women who are close in age form women’s groups and elect a leader. They sit together to talk and socialize and get advice from each other. If they have concerns, their elected leader, or a highly respected woman, will take their concerns to the elders. Kara culture is patriarchal, but democratic. Kara elders come to decisions through consensus and respect a strong woman’s opinions. They will invite her to come to the “Gelma,” the ceremony house, to hear her ideas, though only elders are allowed inside the “Gelma” house. This is where important Kara decisions are made. Once the elders come to a consensus, women must comply with their decision. They have no choice.
As a culture without writing, their history is transmitted through the oral tradition of storytelling. The lullabies women sing to their children is one important part of maintaining the family history. Each child hears songs unique to its family, often unique to the child and its namesake. Boys hear about the bravery of their fathers and grandfathers. The beliefs of the Kara are also told in the stories of how they moved from the mountains to the riverbank “1000 years ago” and the stories of where their ancestors spirits reside, across the river in Loculan.  All barely scratch the surface of their complex and rich history. 


You travel to the Omo region every year now. How has your work with the Kara become an integrated part of your life in California?

The people of the Omo made me acutely aware of the integral role their river and forests have on their self-sustainability. They grow all of their own food, make their own clothes from the leathers of their goats, and forage wild fruits, seeds, and edible plants from the forest. They harvest honey from their beehives and gather medicinal plants. The Omo River provides fish and abundant water for their cattle, goats, and their communities.
Our western consumer society is largely dependent on corporations to provide most of our basic needs. Planting an olive grove and producing olive oil and planting a small a garden and growing grapes for wine has given me a sense of independence. The lessons of self-sufficiency that I observed among the Omo River cultures created a heightened awareness about the importance of my own contribution to a more sustainable way of living.





You are a special gift to me
You make my life stable
Your love, make me enable
To face the challenges 
And obstacle 
Your one smile has
One thousand of silent words
For me it is like sword
Your side by side walk, make me complete
And teach me the, lesson of life at every bit
Your childish talk
Fill my life with laugh
During romance
You filled my all around with your own fragrance
The aroma of your body
Make me complete one
Your adolescent words
Makes me puzzle
I am bound to take your help, to resolve 
Never have tear in your eyes
Cause the eyes are mines
I always with you
I need you in my life
I am like half of a coin 
I need second half from you 
To complete my life?

Please recycle and reuse…

I consider myself a recycle freak, I try to recycle as much as possible, if I see something in trashcan which is recyclable I try to remove it from there and put it in recycle waste containers, it makes me really uncomfortable to watch recyclable waste dumped in normal trash. Many countries have recognized the need to recycle most of waste generated by humans, consumerism is at its peak in our society, because of easy (and cheap) availability of lot of stuff many times we use more than required and then generate lot of waste, but then don’t bother to recycle it, so we do two mistakes at the same time, we overuse the stuff (which is totally avoidable) and then don’t even efficiently recycle the stuff. In many countries, specially in developed nations like USA they have made it very easy to recycle many things but still I see that many people are not aware of these things or they don’t care and they dump may things in normal trash. I believe it’s really bad to dump things which can be easily recycled in normal trash. General tendency is that just one person doing all this (recycling, saving water and paper, etc.) will not make any major difference, I agree to this to some extend but if everyone starts thinking like this then no one will do it. Some one has to start doing this and what can’t that someone be us, actually many good things always start with one person doing it and then many times others follow.
As I said things are available so easily and cheaply now a days that it’s hard for people to think before they use them or even throw them, whether to print certain stuff or not is not a very big decision now a days, printers and papers are available everywhere (home, office, anywhere you go). Many organizations are trying to reduce use of paper by switching to e-statements and e-bills rather than traditional printed format but still there are many who prefer traditional format, there is nothing wrong in it but they all should make sure that they recycle that stuff efficiently. We teach many good things as part of our tradition and culture to our kids and I think we need to include habit of recycling and using things more efficiently (so that we generate less waste) as a part of our cultural training. Our planet and environment is everyone’s property, we all own it and use it and that’s why we all are responsible to protect it, take good care of it. There is no single owner of this planet earth that doesn’t mean no one should care for it, rather there are so many owners of this beloved planet so it should be treated with out most respect and care but that doesn’t seem to be happening. People care lot about their own religion, country, family, home but don’t care much about this planet which is actually the reason for existence of everything they care, it’s very strange but true.

If we can’t stop our self from overusing the things then at least by recycling we can reduce the impact of our consumerism on this planet and this activity can also generate lot of jobs (in recycling industry). There is no negative or side effect of this activity, this is just a simple habit we need to incorporate in our life style. Most of us are already very careful about not dumping any trash outside, we make sure that we throw it in trashcan, we try to keep our surroundings clean, we need to do exactly same thing but next time whenever we throw trash we need to make sure to throw it in “proper disposal bin”, that’s all, it’s not that difficult. Most of us are in search of many good habits to incorporate in our day to day lives and I feel habit of recycling and reusing the stuff as much as possible can be definitely be one of the good habits which can make us better person and help our planet, just think over it, one simple habit can help our planet and future generations to great extend.

Thanks for reading and please share your views about this topic. 

No caste

çreyän sva-dharmo viguëaù

para-dharmät sv-anuñöhität

sva-dharme nidhanaà çreyaù

para-dharmo bhayävahaù


One should therefore discharge his prescribed duties in full Krishna Consciousness rather than those prescribed for others. Materially, prescribed duties are duties enjoined according to one’s psychophysical condition, under the spell of the modes of material nature. Spiritual duties are as ordered by the spiritual master for the transcendental service of Krishna. But whether material or spiritual, one should stick to his prescribed duties even up to death, rather than imitate another’s prescribed duties.


Duties on the spiritual platform and duties on the material platform may be different, but the principle of following the authorized direction is always good for the performer. When one is under the spell of the modes of material nature, one should follow the prescribed rules for his particular situation and should not imitate others. For example, a brähmaëa, who is in the mode of goodness, is nonviolent, whereas a kñatriya, who is in the mode of passion, is allowed to be violent. As such, for a kñatriya it is better to be vanquished following the rules of violence than to imitate a brähmaëa who follows the principles of nonviolence.


Everyone has to cleanse his heart by a gradual process, not abruptly. However, when one transcends the modes of material nature and is fully situated in Krishna consciousness, he can perform anything and everything under the direction of a bona fide spiritual master. In that complete stage of Krishna consciousness, the kñatriya may act as a brähmaëa, or a brähmaëa may act as a kñatriya. In the transcendental stage, the distinctions of the material world do not apply.


For example, Viçvämitra was originally a kñatriya, but later on he acted as a brähmaëa, whereas Paraçuräma was a brähmaëa but later on he acted as a kñatriya. Being transcendentally situated, they could do so; but as long as one is on the material platform, he must perform his duties according to the modes of material nature. At the same time, he must have a full sense of Krishna consciousness.



Hare Krishna

Rape is never the victim’s fault.


Recently I saw this very realistic post on my Facebook wall shared by one of my friend which conveys a very important message “Rape is never victim’s fault“. We all read many posts or articles where many people accuse victim after rape or any sexual assault, they question victim’s behavior, dressing, choice of friends and many other things which according to them encouraged other person to sexually assault the victim. Most these comments and objections try to put the entire blame of incident on shoulders of victim and draw some ridiculous conclusion that victim asked for it and some how she got what she deserved. Forget about insensitive nature of all these comments that’s not what is important here but the attempt to put all blame on victim and indirectly sympathize with perpetrator of crime bothers me a lot. 


This picture below speaks for itself, no need to explain anything, women have total right to choose what they want to wear (same choice which most cultures and societies offer to men). There is heavy commercialization of human body in advertising world but that’s true for both the genders but somehow women get criticized more for exposure compared to men, it’s very clear that people (mostly men) are not very comfortable with exposed women body and they try to put blame of their weakness on women in the name of culture, tradition or religion (they use whatever which can help them in this). They are expected to cover their body and show some decency, follow some rules which are supposed to help men to control their sexual desires, so somehow they think that responsibility of keeping man’s sexual desire under control lies on women.
The accusation that by dressing in particular way or by their behavior or choice of friends or partners in relationship they ask or invite sexual assault is totally baseless and ridiculous according to me. Nothing, absolutely nothing gives anybody license to sexually harass anyone based on their appearance or behavior or anything. By putting entire blame on victim these people make that victim feel inferior, guilty and worthless which is very dangerous and isolated victims sometimes push them to take extreme step of ending their life (suicide, and then same people blame them for being weak). Victim of any crime needs all support and help society can offer to him/her and victims of sexual harassment like rape need even more support because not only their body but also minds are hurt and it’s not easy to heal these type of injuries without support from near and dear ones. Because of social pressure and tremendous stigma attached with such crimes sometimes even near and dear ones hesitate to support victim the way they should. We need to confront this mentality with full force, these people if allow to become successful will bring back the era of human civilization where women were forced to cover themselves (not by choice but by force) and follow all rules and regulations imposed on them by male dominated society (these rules are totally one sided and gender biased), I don’t think many of us want that era back. We need to make one this clear to these people, they need to stop blaming victim, I can’t say that there are no fake rape accusations or some people don’t misuse sexual harassment laws to their advantage but these type of cases are not very common and we should not generalize things based on few isolated incidents.

Sexual harassment is very serious and complicated issue, treating it in such a casual way is not the proper way to handle it. People need to get educated about this issue, both men and women need to be educated about their rights and responsibilities, I know that we can not eradicate this problem completely but together at least we can help the victims to deal with their pain and tackle this problem more efficient and proper way.


Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic. 

What is pure unconditional love?

I cannot stop smiling inside seeing people, behaving in  different situations – different situations. My whole being has become completely sensitive to everything that goes on in the minds of people, things said in a room or thought in a room, I immediately come to know about it but outwardly I show no sign of knowing it because it might scare people. NO BODY WANTS TO SEE MIRROR.

As a spiritual person it is SO CLEAR TO ME NOW THAT EVEN WORDS HAVE NO POWER to explain it.

It might take me days and days to explain it.

The world has long ago forgotten the taste of PURE UNCONDITIONAL Love. If you are giving this pureLove they cannot take it without suspecting. Because since ages they have not experienced Purity in anything. Purity, honest intentions, sincerity, sacrifice, surrender, faith and devotion they do not know even the meanings of these words, experiencing these is far away (beyond their perception).  It is really painful when you want them to experience Pure Unconditional Love, you want to tell them what unconditional love is all about. They are not even ready to experience That Bliss.

They try hard to find out the Cause of even Pure Love.

Pure Unconditional love – which flows from only one supreme source, which is just giving, giving and giving. People are so out of tune and crippled by hypocrisy, showing off, affectation etc that they do not know how to feel pure love that is SUPREME and then they claim to be working hard to know the SUPREME.

What Irony.

This is the truth.