Tag India

Use, storage, and sale

The Indian capital bans plastic bags—just like San Francisco, except the regulation seems to be a lot further-reaching (besides covering millions more residents). Evidently Rwanda, Bhutan, and Bangladesh already have similar laws.

Carry a plastic bag in Delhi and you could be imprisoned for five years. Officials in India’s capital have decided that the only way to stem the rising tide of poly­thene is to outlaw the plastic shopping bag.

According to the official note, the “use, storage and sale” of plastic bags of any kind or thickness will be banned. The new guideline means that customers, shopkeepers, hoteliers and hospital staff face a 100,000 rupee fine (£1,370) and a possible jail sentence for using non-biodegradable bags….

Civil servants said that punitive measures were needed after a law prohibiting all but the thinnest plastic bags – no thicker than 0.04mm – was ignored.

Although the government had originally concluded that plastic bags were too cheap and convenient to be disposed of, the authorities appear to have been swayed by environmentalists who pointed out that used bags were clogging drains and so providing breeding grounds for malaria and dengue fever. There is evidence that prohibition of plastic bags can work. Countries such as Rwanda, Bhutan and Bangladesh have all had bans enforced.

from “Delhi to outlaw plastic bags,” by Randeep Ramesh, guardian.co.uk, 16 January 2009

Originally published at culture-making.com.

Off H Siddiah Road, Bangalore, India

An atypically abstract selection from my new favorite photo blog. Old bricks on new? New on old? And I’m not sure what exactly what’s going on with the minimalist graffiti. The best explanation I can come up with is paint testing.


photo by SloganMurugan, from his blog Which Main? What Cross?, November 2008

Originally published at culture-making.com.

A xerox on the face of eternity

Interestingly, its that once the Taj was completed, Shah Jahan had its designer blinded so he could never again produce something so beautiful. They tell the exact same story about the designer of St. Basil’s cathedral in Moscow. That makes it doubly likely to be true, right?

from “Cloning the Taj Mahal,” NYTimes.com Ideas blog, 12 December, 2008

Architecture | Can you copyright an iconic building? That’s the issue raised by an expensively marbled clone of India’s Taj Majal built in Bangladesh by a wealthy filmmaker, who says he built it for Bangladeshis too poor to travel to see the real thing. Indian official: “You can’t just go out and copy historical monuments.” Bangladeshi: “Show me where it says that emulating a building like this can be illegal.” [Times of London]

Originally published at culture-making.com.

Rice husk power

Here’s a cool-sounding example of a company developing for-profit “meso-power” stations that take local agricultural waste and use it to generate electricity for rural villages in India.

NextBillion.net: Tell me about rice husk – what is it, how much is there, where do you find them?  What do farmers do with them now?

Chip Ransler: Rice husk is the outside of a rice kernel.  When you harvest rice, husk represents about 30 percent of the gross weight.  As a result, husks are removed and discarded before transport.  In a typical village, about 1500 tons of rice are harvested every season, yielding 500 tons of husk and 1000 tons of edible product.  The farmers either burn the husk or allow it to rot in the fields.

Rice husk is cellulosic, which means it can be heated up and released for energy – the gas released is similar to methane.  It also contains silica, which is released as a waste product when burned.

So, why is this interesting?  If you took a map of the world’s energy poor areas and compare it to a map of rice producing areas, these two maps would look nearly identical.  So we use husk to make electricity.  The gas we make out of the husk is filtered, then run through a diesel-like engine to generate power.

Like I said, farmers throw away or burn rice husk – releasing methane into the atmosphere.  This is an opportunity too.  We’re working with the Indian government on getting our Clean Development Mechanism certification to sell carbon credits associated with our plants.  And the silica – which is the other waste product – is sold to concrete manufacturers.  So we take agricultural waste and turn it into electricity, minerals and carbon credits.

from “Rice Power to the People With Husk Power Systems,” by Robert Katz, WorldChanging, 28 October 2008

Originally published at culture-making.com.

Mobile phones and the flood

An encouraging use of the world’s fastest-spreading technology, from India’s Bihar state, which has a reputation for backwardness even during non-flood times.

One India reports on how mobile phones are used after the devastating floods in Bihar, India. While relief and aid have been very slow to get to Bihar, mobiles are proving to be a life saver.  According to One India, “[Mobiles] are playing the most crucial role in largescale evacuation and rescue of marooned people from far flung areas. The availability of mobile phones to all sections of people across the flooded regions and their 24 hour connectivity during the crisis period, greatly helped the rescue teams to locate the cut off villages and localities besides saving many lives even from remote areas.”

Through cell phones the marnooed people were also able to remain connected with the district officials to guide them about their need and the urgency of rescuing them.

from “Mobile Phones and the Flood in Bihar, India,” by KatrinVerclas, MobileActive.org, 10 September 2008 :: via Global Voices Online

Originally published at culture-making.com.

Ganesh CD player, Mumbai, India

What’s it called when you find something offensive on behalf of another religion (even though you realize said religion might not, if you can speak of it generally, take as much offense)? Well however misplaced my empathy may be, here you go: a CD player topped with a cyclopian plastic image of Mumbai’s favorite god of prosperity, Ganesh, which the photographer found in the city’s renowned hipster/high-fashion boutique Bombay Electric. I can’t stop thinking of the line from Gita Mehta’s wonderful book Karma Cola: Marketing the Mythic East, about how you should never trust a guru who wears running shoes.


Ganesh CD player, from a Mumbai photo gallery by Michael Rubenstein, National Geographic Traveler, October 2008 :: via Neatorama

Originally published at culture-making.com.

Chand Baori (stepwell), India, by Doron

This is a 9th-century stepwell in western India, 100 feet deep, with 3500 steps in 13 tiers. Though it would take some sort of Q-bert-style planning to actually go up and down all 3500. The multiple approaches to the water source hint at the well’s social function — lots of people can descend at once to the cool (and, perhaps in its day somewhat less greenish) waters.


“Chand Baori (stepwell), Abhaneri, Rajasthan, India,” by Doron, September 2003 :: via Dark Roasted Blend

Originally published at culture-making.com.

“Did you send the money to papa?”

Here’s a recent mobile-phone services ad from India. It’s hard to imagine a national-level ad in the States pitching this particular world-changing aspect of cell phone technology (though, of course, such tech would be of great interest — and is probably being used by — the many first-generation immigrants who aren’t yet honored by our mainstream advertisers’ full attention).

via Adoholik.com

Originally published at culture-making.com.

Train crossing, Bangalore, South India

Interesting how watching this video triggers slight and not unpleasant olfactory memories of my own times in B’lore in the late ’90s.

via Boing Boing

Originally published at culture-making.com.

Beyond Bollywood: Shillong’s love affair with western music

Many of the early missionaries to this corner of NE India were Welsh — I suspect being from a non-dominant culture of their own may have made Christianity seem more understandable than in the rest of India, where many of the missionaries were of (and often used by) the dominant English colonial culture. Of course there’s also just the excellent Welsh choral tradition which may have helped it all sound that much better too.

This annual incantation is more than one man’s act of madcap devotion. It is also a peephole into the love affair with Western music that goes on every day in this pine-wooded outpost in India’s northeast. Shillong, a British-era hill town that is now home to dozens of boarding schools and colleges, is its hub, especially when it comes to rock.

On Mr. Dylan’s birthday weekend a visitor could drive down a narrow, rain-soaked road and hear young men with guitars serenading, or stumble upon thousands gathered under a Christian revival tent, singing modern gospel in their native Khasi. On a football field, at twilight, you might be pulled into a mosh pit of teenagers dancing to a Naga tribal blues guitarist, or on a Sunday morning find schoolchildren in a chorus of 19th-century hymns in a prim Presbyterian church.

“God has given us a special gift — the gift of singing,” marveled the Rev. J. Fortis Jyrwa of the Khasi Jaintia Presbyterian Assembly here.

Many theories are offered for Shillong’s fascination with rock and the blues. Some argue that the area’s indigenous Khasi traditions are deeply rooted in song and rhyme. Some credit the 19th-century Christian missionaries who came from Britain and the United States, introduced the English language, hymns and gospel music and in turn made the heart ripe for rock. Some say the northeast, remote and in many pockets, gripped by anti-Indian separatist movements, has not been as saturated by Hindi film music as the rest of India.

from “Town in India Rocks (No Use to Wonder Why, Babe),” by Somini Sengupta, The New York Times, 23 June 2008

Originally published at culture-making.com.