Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Making of Architect - Second Day in College

It was my second day in college. On very first day we had already realized the realities of the hostel life. Now we were expecting something good to happen in classes. For sometime, we could not locate our lecture theater and it was a pleasant discovery that there was none to be found out. As, our department was newly opened and there was no space available in existing buildings, so we were allotted old buildings which were constructed way back when engineering college started around 20 years back. And for the time being, we were asked to sit in library lawn and wait for some Prof. to come. Finally, one Prof. came and interacted with us. He told us that place for our lecture theaters and design studios was being finalized. So on that day there was casual interaction and a brief introduction about the course. Our Prof. was more than confident that we had opted for a right course.
After one hour or so we thought that we will see a new face in our class but there was none. We came to know that this Prof was the only faculty in the department of Architecture. It came as a great shock to all of us and we were looking at each others face. But even greater shocks were yet to come.
After lunch we were told to reach at newly allotted classrooms. After a great search operation we were able to locate them and it was shock of the year. All the classrooms were right in the middle of jungle with lot of wild creepers, shrubs, and bushes around. They hardly looked like classrooms. Now they were neglected, in ruins and never looked like a suitable place for human existence. By now, I was almost in tears as I was remembering my Chandigarh days and was thinking that I should not have taken admission
at all.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Making of an Architect - First Day in College

It was my first day in college. I had lot of expectations as every young person will have on his/her first college day. We had to complete lot of formalities related to college & hostel accommodation. So on very first day we were kind of running around the campus to get things done. Our batch was first in the Department of Architecture and our admissions were late by almost two months. Classes of other branches were already going on.

After spending few hours in the college, I started get little uncomfortable with the vibes around especially those coming from our batch mates of other branches. A no. of times, I noticed that many students were dressed up quite differently than the others and they were walking in a straight line with their heads down and saying good morning sir , good afternoon sir , to everyone passing nearby, as if, they don’t want to miss on even a single person. Soon I started to understand that all these students behaving so differently were freshers (Jangus, to be technically corrects – as they are called). Situation became rather difficult for me when I realized that my status was also not better than them and I will have to behave the same way in coming days and may be for many months.

Now you can very well understand my condition. So, all the nice expectations of the college life were dashed to the ground on very first day. It became much clearer when I started getting stares from all around by the evening for my seemingly normal dress and hairstyle. And as expected, a message was passed on - to behave like freshers (like fresher means dressed in white shirt hanging out, simple trouser but no jeans, with bathroom sleepers on, Zero haircut, clean shave with no moustache, walking with head down - eyes at third button, no chit-chat with girls even of your own class at least in front of seniors) otherwise, be ready to face consequences.

Meanwhile, we all classmates started to interact and intermingle though the circumstances were not favourable. All of us were worried about the same thing – what is going to happen in coming days? By evening I had realized that first few days or even months are not going to be the like I had thought. Finally, we were allotted rooms, and we were happy that we were allotted rooms in an isolated block and that too on top floor besides resident warden’s room. I heaved a sigh of relief after thinking that seniors would hardly dare to come here fearing warden presence. But it was not to be like that.

Around 7:30 p.m. in the evening there was a knock on the door. We were three people in the room Jakie, Samy and myself. Someone opened the door. There were two seniors. All three of us jumped and shouted almost simultaneously,” Good Evening, Sir” with our heads down.

There was no response. A dangerous silence was sweeping across the room. One of them asked to call all Architecture freshers. Jakie ran like as if he was running for an Olympic medal. Within no time all Jangus of Architecture were paraded in front of them. Then, the session started with slapping, kicking, and with sermons of the kind I had never heard of. I was wearing a nice night suit. One of the seniors shouted at me to take that dress off and be like a Jangu.

Finally we were given a long list of instructions and assignments to be completed by next morning. We were also asked about NIT literature. Yes you are right…..absolutely right in reading……LITERATURE. Generally all professional colleges have literature of their own which every fresher has to learn by heart and so do have NITs. Literature included NIT song, NIT anthem, and NIT Dohas etc. I am sorry, I can’t write them here for some obvious reasons but a true NITian should know all the literature by heart, for, you could be asked any time even on dinner table when it is least expected. Yes, I was asked once on dinner table and it was so embarrassing that I could hardly eat after that. So after some time seniors left our room and we headed towards dinning hall. But after having and digesting so much, dinner was just a formality and I could not remember what did I eat. After dinner we all were busy in writing assignments and copying the literature. We could go to bed sometime in the early morning hours.

…………………………......…so that was first day in college……………………..…............................

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Climate Change and Global Food Security

Though it’s a bit serious topic but sometimes seriousness is good for you and your health, especially when your very survival is at risk due to man made causes. It becomes even more relevant ahead of Copenhagen summit starting on 7th Dec. on climate change.
We all saw the news stories that this year receding monsoon did extensive damage in southern India killing around three hundred people and destroying crops worth crores within a span of 2-3 days. Similarly, there are no. of news stories every year around the globe of devastation caused by natural calamities like earthquakes, landslides, cyclones, floods and tsunamis, which not only claim thousands of lives but pose a great question of survival to the people left behind affected.

All these things remind me the words of Barack Obama. He said, “All across the world in every kind of environment and region known to man, increasingly dangerous weather patterns and devastating storms are abruptly putting an end to the long running debate over whether or not climate change is real. Not only its real but its here and its effects are giving rise to frightening new global phenomenon: the man made natural disaster . I am sure we all will agree to that.

There are many repercussions of changing climate like global warming, extinction of flora and fauna, unpredictable rains, storms, cyclones etc. Mean global temperature has risen by 0.8 deg. C since 1850. It is projected to rise 4.4 deg C by 2100. We will have to understand that all these changes will have serious impacts on global agricultural activities and thereby food security.
World population has already reached 6.7 billion mark. Ever increasing population is putting extreme pressure on limited resources of the earth. This shear pressure coupled with changing climate is going to create unforeseen damage for global food security in coming years.

Dear friends, climate change will hit developing countries, the hardest, as they are already home to most of world’s poor and malnourished people and the irony is that they have contributed relatively very little to climate change. Let’s have a look at some of the facts -
• 900 million people are under nourished in third world countries.
• Every third child is malnourished.
• Every day 16000 children die from hunger related causes, mostly in developing countries
• Agricultural activities are no more attractive to the farmers and many people are leaving agriculture as outputs are declining due to changing climatic conditions.
• Thousands of farmers are committing suicides every month across developing countries like India.

These are the grim realities of the world we live in. Though, there are other causes also to the situations but climate change is one of them and in coming years situation will become even worse and climate change will head the list of causes.

It is surprising that no one is concerned about it (as concerned as we as a human being should be. Some efforts here and there in the name of charity are not going to change the fate of millions languishing in poor countries). Why should one be? Somebody can only be concerned when they face the realities themselves but unfortunately there are very few people from well off spheres that get to face and tend to do something about it. It’s a great shame for us as a human being that more people are dying in the west due to over eating habits than people dying from hunger related causes in the developing countries. And further, one estimate suggests that the total amount of money spent on biscuits of dogs in west in one year, can completely eradicate poverty from Africa if spent there.

Fighting poverty will become even tougher in hostile climatic conditions which are around the corner. Changes in climate have impacts on four dimensions of food security namely food availability, food accessibility, food utilization and food system stability. In the worst scenario, might is right will prevail and poor people will keep on dying in even greater numbers. Due to money power resources will be even more polarized towards rich countries because they wont compromise with there tummy sizes even in the face of human tragedy.

Now the biggest question is how to deal with it.?

In my opinion we will have to adopt integrated approach where we will have to implement long term as well as short term measures. In long term strategies we will have to focus on mitigation tactics like reducing emissions, improving technologies, meeting energy demands using renewable sources, adopting sustainable practices in every sphere of development. We will have to make sure that countries like US are made to pay for what they have done to environment and should be forced to adopt stringent emission cuts. I know it’s easy said than done. All third world countries will have to pressure industrialized nations and simply pulling out of obligations like Kyoto Protocol will not solve problem. This is a global problem and response should be a global one. Though developing countries must also conform to emission cuts but they will also have to see that there development objectives are not compromised considerably. Short term strategies should focus primarily on adaptation and strengthening resilience. These may include improving information base, crop insurance, improving productivity, using diversity for sources of income, promoting agro-diversity etc.

And for God sake, its high time to understand that these highly fascinating themes of intellectuals of the past have become reality of today. And days are not far when we will be fighting for the survival of human race. And please don’t forget that human race also includes me and you and our future generations. So its not only the duty of Govts, organizations concerned, NGOs to think about climate, environment and food security on behalf of us. We as an individual will also have to take initiative. At least we can do few things like save energy, pooling of vehicles, using public transport, walk more, walk to work, save water, arrange awareness programmes or help organizations connected with the cause by way of physical or monetary assistance, force govt. to change policies, helping govt. to stop use of plastics, stop wastage of food, adopting greener approach to all spheres of life. And we all know that every individual I make us a whole nation and world.

……………………..I strongly believe that this way we will not only combat climate change but we will combat it well and will be able to ensure that millions of more people are saved from hunger and eventual death………………………….