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How secularization of society has affected environment

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By Nithin Sridhar

It is well known that ‘secularism’ has become an inseparable part of any discourse on politics in India. But, what is often not realized is how the notion of ‘secularism’- the separation of the ‘secular’ from the ‘sacred’ has completely overtaken the discourse on any issue related to Indian society.

Secularism is a western notion that historically arose in response to European problems. It is not only alien to Indian society, it is highly unsuitable as it completely ignores Indian ethos that are rooted in the notion of ‘dharma’ (duty/righteousness). Hence, the secularization of Indian life and society that has been carried out in the last many decades has resulted in disastrous consequences. One such area where secularization has distorted the issue and has caused enormous damage is ecology and environment.

Indian view of Environment

The ancient Indian scriptures held environmental conservation in high priority. The Smriti texts give elaborate instructions and methods regarding maintaining personal hygiene and environmental cleanliness. They further speak about keeping the water, land, and the fire unpolluted.

Arthashastra gives elaborate information regarding construction and maintenance of water tanks. Even before the British occupation of India, one can see a huge number of water tanks and lakes across the country. Also, the breaching of tanks was severely punished. Manu Smriti says that trees have life, and the Vrikshayurveda suggests that planting a tree is equal to having ten sons.

But, these instructions regarding environmental conservation must not be perceived in isolation. The Hindu scriptures perceived the environment as a living divine force and a mother figure who should be loved, respected, and protected. The Bhoomi Sukta that appears in the Atharva Veda extols the earth with all its ecological features as a living mother, a force that permeates all the objects in nature. The Sukta further calls the humans as the sons of the mother earth.

Therefore, the Indian conception of the environment and its conservation is deeply rooted in the understanding that the trees, the animals, the air, the water, the land and every other object in nature are permeated by divinity, and hence they are all worthy of our love, respect, and preservation.

This holistic vision of the environment that was once integral to the Indian way of life has been completely distorted and destroyed by the secularization of the Indian society in the last century.

The result of secularization

The secularization of the society has distorted the discourse on the environment in two stages. First, it separated the elements like ecology, environmental pollution, and conservation from the elements of divinity and motherhood of nature, and then, it shifted the entire focus of the discourse on the previous ‘secular’ aspect while completely isolating and ignoring the latter ‘sacred’ aspect.

It is the direct result of secularization that what was previously understood as divine manifestation is now perceived as ‘lifeless objects’ and the mother nature herself is seen only as an ‘opportunity to exploit.’ Even in the case of animals or plants, where science recognizes that they do have a life, the perception is that their life is somehow inferior to human life.

Thus, the secularization has legitimized human greed that perceives humans as conquerors born to conquer and claim ownership over the objects available in nature. This has prepared the ground for complete exploitation and the eventual destruction of  the environment.

The current debate over people’s right to eat beef is one example. Illegal and uncontrolled mining and the pollution of rivers like Ganga are other examples. The point being made here is that because the environmental objects are perceived as lifeless or inferior entities and not as manifestations of divine, humans are committing huge Himsa (violence) on the environment.

The effect of secularization is such that even the religiously devout fail to perceive the environmental in an integral holistic manner. For example, though the religious people worship River Ganga as a divine Mother who removes all sins, the very same people also through plastic, soap, and other such things into the river. Similarly, factory owner’s discharge untreated industrial wastes into Ganga water, though privately they may be great devotees.

This disconnect between the faith and the action is the direct result of secularization that has created an artificial separation in the minds of the people such that, they now do not even realize that polluting the river goes against the very essence of worship.

Now coming to the cleaning and conservation activities taking place around river Ganga, many people who are involved in this view the river only as a water resource and not as a living mother. The situation is not quite different in discourses about global warming and climate change as well.

This secular conservation discourse can at best provide a temporary solution to the environmental problems. But, it does not help in changing the attitudes and perceptions of the people that drive human activities. Human activities will continue to be driven by greed and sense of ownership, as long as the element of sacredness is not recognized and made integral to the conservation discourse.

People’s growth is important, nation’s development is also important. But, such growth and development should not only take into account the environmental aspects but should also be driven by a sense of sacredness and Dharmic righteousness. Only such a progress will be progress in a real sense. The current secularized treatment of the environment will only lead to further deterioration of the environment and eventual destruction of the entire planet.

(Photo: shipbright.wordpress.com)

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Lalu Yadav is Shamelessly Corrupt and a Fake Secular

The author Gaurav Tyagi asserts that Lalu’s party RJD, should be disbanded and a life ban should be imposed on Lalu plus his kin from pursuing political careers. Read on to know why!

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Lalu Yadav
Does Lalu Yadav portray himself as the ‘messiah’ of Muslims by aligning with fundamentalist Muslim preachers? Wikimedia


– by Gaurav Tyagi


New Delhi, September 5, 2017 : 
26th July witnessed a big political drama in India, when Nitish Kumar, the C.M. of Bihar submitted his resignation.

The government in Bihar was a coalition of three political parties; Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), Lalu Yadav’s RJD and Congress.

Nitish was back in the C.M’s chair, the very next day due to the support extended to his party, JD (U) by BJP to form the government in Bihar.

The coalition of the aforesaid three parties thereby collapsed, which annoyed Lalu Yadav, the head of RJD a lot.

Lalu Yadav hijacked the plank of secularism to indulge in blatant corruption and promote his family in politics.

Secularism implies the principle of separating government institutions as well as politicians from religion and religious figures. In India the meaning of secularism has entirely been altered by politicians like Lalu, who openly woo Muslim fundamentalists from Mosques and waste government funds in order to appease them.

Lalu keeps on harping upon keeping Muslims safe in Bihar. Maintenance of law and order is the foremost task of any elected government, what’s the big deal in it?

ALSO READ Dynasty syndrome: Lalu chosen as RJD chief for 9th time

Lalu’s politics involves developing vote banks from his caste comprising of Yadavs and Muslims.

He portrays himself as the ‘messiah’ of Muslims by aligning with fundamentalist Muslim preachers and gangsters like Shahbuddin.

Lalu never addresses the root cause of poverty and backwardness among Indian Muslims.
It is largely due to the community shunning of mainstream educational institutes and going to worthless madrasas, (Muslim religious schools) which primarily focus on students, rote learning of the Muslim holy book; Koran.

In the absence of modern knowledge, madrasa graduates are unable to improve their material prosperity and face the challenges of contemporary society.

The Ulemas or the Islamic scholars’ regressive attitude is reflected in the following statement of Maulana Samiul Haq, of the Haqqania madrasa, a prominent Deobandi madrasa; “Young minds are not for thinking. We catch them for the madrasas when they are young, and by the time they are old enough to think, they know what to think.”

Fake seculars like Lalu would never tell Muslims to study in proper schools because an educated Muslim can easily decipher the tricks played by such politicians.
A large number of illiterate or madrasa brand Muslims suit Lalu because then by showing the fear of BJP and Hindus, these Muslims can be easily turned into vote banks for his political party.

CBI, ED and other government agencies recently conducted large number of raids on Lalu and his family. They discovered Billions amassed by this so called ‘champion of oppressed’.

Lalu accumulated large number of farm-houses, land holdings, companies etc. in the name of his family comprising of his illiterate wife and 9 children; 7 daughters and 2 sons.

Both his sons, Tejashwi Prasad Yadav and Tej Pratap Yadav, are school drop-outs. The former was the deputy CM of Bihar with various ministerial portfolios, while the latter was the Health Minister of the province in the coalition government.

Lalu Yadav
Tejashwi Prasad Yadav and Tej Pratap Yadav at a public event. Twitter

Lalu was declared guilty by the courts for his lead role in the Bihar fodder scam worth thousands of Crores. Lalu Yadav was jailed for 135 days in 1997 but he was lodged in a Bihar Military Police guest house with all comforts.

Before his incarceration, Lalu installed his uneducated wife Rabri Devi as the C.M. of Bihar. Lalu was jailed on various other occasions for his involvement in the aforementioned swindle.

Every time, Lalu was put in prison, he received 5 star hotel facilities and got bail easily. Lalu continued being the de facto C.M of Bihar by inducting his wife as the rubber- stamp C.M. of Bihar.

He was finally sentenced to a 5 year jail term in October 2013 by a special CBI court.
Instead of being in a jail, he is again out on bail, busy in enriching and establishing his progeny in politics.

A poster for Lalu Yadav’s political rally in Patna on Sunday, 27th August depicted one of Lalu’s foolish son as Lord Krishna while the other buffoon is shown as Arjun. Lalu’s daughter and Rajya Sabha M.P, Misa Bharti is depicted as the famous freedom fighter, Rani of Jhansi; Lakshmibai. Lalu and his wife Rabri are blessing their children in this poster.

What a mockery of historical and religious characters.

Lalu is saying that he and his family are being victimized. These utterances constitute ‘heights of shamelessness’.

Lalu indulged in blatant corruption and misuse of office for personal gains. On getting exposed he started parroting; this is a conspiracy of BJP and law would take its own course.

These terms in India mean that court cases would drag for 20-30 years. The politician will die but the court proceedings would still remain pending.
Classic example is Jayalalitha, the court cases against her were continuing since, 1996 but the final judgment was passed in 2017 after her death.

Lalu’s son, Tejashwi Prasad, the Ex-Deputy C.M of Bihar was a member of IPL cricket team, Delhi Daredevils for 4 years from 2008-2012.

ALSO READ Lalu’s son Tej Pratap faces his first electoral test in Mahua

During these 4 years, Tejashwi didn’t play a single game for Delhi Daredevils.

Which sporting team in the world would keep such a useless player in its squad?

Delhi Daredevils is owned by GMR group. This business house must be investigated, as to what were the compelling reasons behind continuous retention of this trash cricketer, who wasn’t competent to play even a single game during 4 seasons.

What were the financial benefits given to Tejashwi? Did the GMR group receive concessions from Lalu Yadav in exchange for keeping his son in Delhi Daredevils team? These are serious issues and need further investigations.

Misa Bharti, eldest daughter of Lalu Yadav is a Rajya Sabha M.P. She topped the MBBS examination of Patna Medical College Hospital during the late 90’s.

Misa never excelled in her classes, either at school or college. At her convocation, the presenter of the degree requested her not to treat any patients ever.

Lalu through his clout in Bihar first got her admission into MBBS and then deceptively made her a topper.

Misa Bharti after topping her MBBS studies and obtaining her medical degree did not work as a Doctor even for a single day, neither did she start her own medical practice.

This is humbug Lalu Yadav, the ‘self- styled’ protector of Muslims and ‘self- declared’ skipper of the Indian opposition political parties, comprising of so called secular forces but in reality just corrupt family controlled political dynasties.

Lalu and his political clan should be imprisoned for at least a minimum period of 10 years with provisions of no bail plus hard labor in the jail.

All undeclared properties; including land parcels, bank accounts, commercial businesses, residences etc. unearthed by the authorities during raids on Lalu and his family must be confiscated by the central government.

Lalu’s party RJD, which is nothing more than a corrupt family enterprise should be disbanded and a life ban imposed on Lalu plus his kin from pursuing political careers.

An exemplary example needs to be made of this corrupt, Lalu so, as to deter other existing as well as budding ‘Lalu Prasad Yadavs’, abounding in the Indian political system from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.

 

– The author is a Master Degree holder in International Tourism & Leisure Studies from Netherlands and is based in China.

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Women of America Are Stepping Up As Nuclear Energy Advocates

Nuclear power is clean, safe and better for the environment than some alternative energy sources

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Nuclear Energy
Engineering manager Kristin Zaitz and her co-worker Heather Matteson, a reactor operator, started Mothers for Nuclear. VOA
  • The availability of cheap natural gas and greater energy efficiency has reduced demand for nuclear energy in recent years
  • Nuclear power is clean, safe and better for the environment than some alternative energy sources
  • Industry experts say that women who work in nuclear power can be powerful advocates for nuclear

San Francisco, August 26, 2017: Kristin Zaitz is confident that her nuclear power plant is safe.

Zaitz, an engineering manager, was at Diablo Canyon Power Plant during both her pregnancies and has scuba dived to inspect the plant, which hugs the California coast. Zaitz wears a pendant with a tiny bit of uranium inside, an item that tends to invite questions.

“We all have our perceptions of nuclear,” Zaitz said.

In a few years, Diablo Canyon will close, part of a trend nationwide. The availability of cheap natural gas and greater energy efficiency has reduced demand for nuclear energy in recent years. Add to that ongoing concerns about public safety, such as those raised by memories of disasters at nuclear power plants in Fukushima, Japan, Chernobyl in Ukraine (then part of the Soviet Union) and Three Mile Island in the United States.

Nuclear is ‘cleaner’ than fossil fuels

Supporters of nuclear energy say that when a reactor-based generating station closes, not enough wind and solar power is available to make up the difference. They lament that energy companies tend to turn instead to fossil fuels — coal and natural gas — which produce environmentally harmful emissions.

Zaitz and her co-worker Heather Matteson, a reactor operator, started Mothers for Nuclear, their effort to get the word out that nuclear power is clean, safe and better for the environment than some alternative energy sources.

“I went into the plant very skeptical of nuclear and being scared of it,” said Matteson. “It took me six to seven years to really feel like this is something good for the environment. I don’t want people to take six to seven years to make that decision. We don’t have that long.”

Matteson, too, wears the uranium necklace as a conversation starter. “Nuclear is fun,” she said. Is there any radiation emitted by the pendant? “There’s slightly more than from a banana,” she conceded.

Also Read: Indian nuclear industry growing fast, says former Atomic Energy Commission chief

Women seen as powerful advocates

Industry experts say that women who work in nuclear power can be powerful advocates for nuclear. They can help change attitudes of other women who tend to be more skeptical than men about nuclear energy’s benefits.

At the recent U.S. Women in Nuclear conference in San Francisco, women working in the industry talked about how more should be done to make nuclear power’s case to the public, and how they may be the best suited to do it.

“As mothers, I think we also have an important role to play in letting the public know that we support nuclear for the future, for our children,” said Matteson. “And we don’t know other mothers supporting nuclear power in a vocal way. We thought there was a gap to fill.”

Young women say they look at careers in this industry because they are socially minded.

‘Do something good for the world’

“I went into this wanting to do something good for the world,” Lenka Kollar, business strategy director at NuScale, a firm in Oregon that designs and markets small modular reactors. “Wanting to bring power to people. There are still more than a billion people in the world who don’t have electricity.”

Critics of nuclear energy say it doesn’t matter who is promoting it.

“Using mothers’ voices to argue for a technology that is fundamentally dangerous and that has been demonstrated by disasters like Fukushima to be not safe for the communities that surround the power plants or even cities that are hundreds of miles away is disingenuous,” said Kendra Klein, a staff scientist with Friends of the Earth, an environmental group.

While the future of nuclear power in the United States may be uncertain, the women here say they have a positive story to tell. (VOA)

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Street View Car Map by Google Locates Methane Gas Leaks

Colorado State University biologist Joe Von Fisher helped enable a street view of Methane leaks in the city with the help of Google maps

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Colorado State University
Gas Leak. Wikimedia

August 04, 2017: Finding underground methane gas leaks is now as easy as finding a McDonalds, thanks to a combination of Google Street View cars, mobile methane detectors, some major computing power and a lot of ingenuity.

When a city’s underground gas lines leak, they waste fuel and release invisible plumes of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. To find and measure leaks, Colorado State University biologist Joe von Fischer decided to create “methane maps,” to make it easier for utilities to identify the biggest leaks, and repair them.

“That’s where you get the greatest bang for the buck,” he pointed out, “the greatest pollution reductions per repair.”

Knowing that Google Maps start with Google Street View cars recording everything they drive by, along with their GPS locations, von Fischer’s team thought they would just add methane detectors to a Street View car. It turned out, it was not that simple.

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“Squirrelly objects”

The world’s best methane detectors are accurate in an area the size of a teacup, but methane leaks can be wider than a street. Also, no one had ever measured the size of a methane leak from a moving car.

“If you’ve ever seen a plume of smoke, it’s sort of a lumpy, irregular object,” von Fischer said. “Methane plumes as they come out of the ground are the same, they’re lumpy squirrelly objects.”

The team had to develop a way to capture data about those plumes, one that would be accurate in the real world. They set up a test site in an abandoned airfield near campus and brought in what looked like a large scuba tank filled with methane and some air hoses. Then they released carefully measured methane through the hose as von Fischer drove a specially equipped SUV past it, again and again.

They compared readings from the methane detectors in the SUV to readings from the tank.

“We spend a lot of time driving through the plumes to sort of calibrate the way that those cars see methane plumes that form as methane’s being emitted from the ground,” von Fischer explained.

With that understanding, the methane detectors hit the road.

Also Read: This fiber material can sense odorless fuel leaks


Turning data into maps

But the results created pages of data, “more than 30 million points,” said CSU computer scientist Johnson Kathkikiaran. He knew that all those data points alone would never help people find the biggest leaks on any map. So he and his advisor, Sanmi Peracara, turned the data into pictures using tools from Google.

Their visual summaries made it easy for utility experts to analyze the methane maps, but von Fischer wanted anyone to be able to identify the worst leaks. His teammates at the Environmental Defense Fund met that challenge by incorporating the data into their online maps. Yellow dots indicate a small methane leak. Orange is a medium-sized one. Red means a big leak – as much pollution as one car driving 14,000 kilometers in a single day.

Von Fischer says that if a city focuses on these biggest leaks, repairing just 8 percent of them can reduce methane pollution by a third.

“That becomes a win-win type scenario,” he said, “because we’re not asking polluters to fix everything, but we’re looking for a reduction in overall emissions, and I think we can achieve that in a more cost effective way.”

After analyzing a methane map for the state of New Jersey, for example, the utility PSE&G has prioritized fixing its leakiest pipes there first, to speed the reduction of their overall pollution.

“To me that was a real victory, to be able to help the utility find which parts were leakiest, and to make a cost effective reduction in their overall emissions,” von Fischer said.

Von Fischer envisions, even more, innovation ahead for mapping many kinds of pollution… to clean the air and save energy. (VOA)