Friday, January 12, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


E D I T O R I A L   P A G E


Sugar melts in PDS 
N the early decades of last century sugar mills provided the seed capital to several big business houses of today, just as jute mills did in West Bengal and the textile ones in Ahmedabad and Mumbai. Their equipment has not changed much, nor the management style.

Uttaranchal's worries
HE people of Uttaranchal are getting restive. Over two months have elapsed since the hill state was carved out of Uttar Pradesh to effectively tackle their development - related problems, but so far nothing has been done to ensure the Uttaranchalis that the state government is working on the expected lines.


by Hari Jaisingh
Managing a messy polity
Professional competence holds the key
OOD governance demands a high degree of professionalism which, alas, has been lacking in India's most critical areas of public and private functioning. 


Maruti in third gear
January 11
, 2001
Enron power cut
January 10
, 2001
With a bamboo sword
January 9
, 2001
Lower phone tariff
January 8
, 2001
Integrating IT into mainstream industry
January 7
, 2001
Flight of fancy
January 6
, 2001
Technology mission
January 5
, 2001
High voltage shock
January 4
, 2001
Vajpayee's message
January 3
, 2001
Elected coterie
January 2
, 2001
Agenda for New India
1, 2001

Scourge of transfers in Haryana
by C.D. Verma
N the New Year eve the Government of Haryana transferred a large number of IAS officers — Deputy Commissioners, Additional Deputy Commissioners and other senior officers. Verily, the last day of December is a day of rejoicing, a day to exchange greetings and ring out the old and ring in the New Year.


China’s role has not inspired confidence
by M.S.N. Menon

Pentagon thinktank has just said that if China and India joined hands, they could establish an Asian condominium. True. The inference is: they can reduce American influence in Asia. And they could even extend their global reach.


Fresh water from fog
VERY fisherman’s house in Baja on Mexico’s Californian peninsula could soon have a tap running with fog water, if Joel Hernandez Blanket (whose name ideally suits his job) has his way.




Sugar melts in PDS 

IN the early decades of last century sugar mills provided the seed capital to several big business houses of today, just as jute mills did in West Bengal and the textile ones in Ahmedabad and Mumbai. Their equipment has not changed much, nor the management style. Despite years of price control, sale through the public distribution system (PDS) and regulated release, these mills have remained afloat and mostly at the cost of the cane grower. Collectively all mills owe farmers across the country a little over Rs 190 crore for the current year alone. Past arrears are different. There is a law to treat these dues as land revenue but it never comes into force, so much for the political clout of the sugar barons. In another twist to the mired government policy, the Centre has taken out the non-poor from the PDS; from April 1 only those living below the poverty line — about 32.6 crore — can draw sugar at slightly more than the present price of Rs 13 a kilo This change is said to be part of the liberalisation process and to unleash the market force. It is only partly true. From now on the mills will retain 85 per cent of their output for “free sale” but the government will decide how much they can openly sell. The idea is to prevent a crash in price, as it happened during the Janata regime in the late seventies. Sugar, more than foodgrains, sets the market trend. Since every citizen needs the sweetener, the mills have the upper hand in fixing the price and since the government control over the volume of the commodity to reach the market is open to manipulation, profits keep rolling in. So the second set of helpless people after the growers are the consumers. The sugar “scandal” of the early nineties when the redoubtable Kalpnath Rai presided over the Food Ministry and more recently when India imported more than five lakh tonnes from Pakistan attests to the money power of a mere sweetener.

In reality the latest twist to the sugar policy proclaims the Centre’s decision to force the PDS to gradually fade away. It is only a matter of time before sugar will completely go out of the PDS system. Last year the income tax payers, about 2 million, were denied subsidised sugar. Now all those not considered poor are out, leaving only about 35 per cent of the population in the beneficiery camp. One element in the policy paper is revealing. It says there will be no precipitate fall in the open market price for two reasons. Those struck out of the PDS list will still have to buy the commodity and hence demand will not shrink and that factor alone will keep the prices buoyant. Two, the government will regulate the release like in old times to ensure that there is no glut and consequently no reduction in price. Obviously these are not deregulation steps but strengthening the regulatory process. So much for market forces. The decision has come at an importune moment. There is a mountain of stocks, entirely with the mills. The sugar year in 1999-2000 started with nearly 18 million tonnes and the output was about 18 million tonnes. In the current season the production is estimated to touch more than 18 million tonnes. This is much higher than the demand but cannot be exported for the same reason as foodgrains cannot be: the Indian price is very high. A quick overview indicates that agriculture is facing a multi-pronged crisis of higher price, slack demand and a clueless government. Ask any potato grower in this region.


Uttaranchal's worries

THE people of Uttaranchal are getting restive. Over two months have elapsed since the hill state was carved out of Uttar Pradesh to effectively tackle their development-related problems, but so far nothing has been done to ensure the Uttaranchalis that the state government is working on the expected lines. It is generally believed that the situation is not reassuring because Chief Minister Nityanand Swami lacks the requisite administrative experience. He also has failed to secure the desired support from his party's central leadership. The result is an atmosphere of despondency. Though the main opposition party, the Congress, has no formidable support base to pose a serious challenge to the BJP government, it has started working on a programme to regain the following it had over a decade ago by fishing in the troubled waters. The growing factionalism in the ruling party is indirectly helping the Congress, which seems to be confident of substantially increasing its strength of two MLAs in the 30-member Interim Assembly. Under the constitutional arrangement, Assembly elections must be held within six months after the creation of the new state, but there is no visible activity to indicate that the battle of the ballot is in the offing. Perhaps the state government believes that delayed elections may go in its favour. There is also the opposite possibility of people's disenchantment with the present government getting hightened because of their high expectations.

However, the Chief Minister is not much to blame for the ugly scenario. A product of circumstances, his position is like that of an abandoned child. Mr Swami succeeded in becoming the head of the state government because this suited his party's central leaders. Today it seems they have turned their back on him. Uttaranchal, which inherited a debt of Rs 17,000 crore from its parent state, was assured of a Rs 1,000 crore aid from the Centre, but the Planning Commission is yet to release that amount. The new state is extremely short of funds, but no one in the NDA government headed by the BJP is hearing its cries. The UP government, which too is led by Mr Swami's party, behaves like a non-BJP regime whenever the matter of transfer of assets to Uttaranchal is brought before it. An idea of Lucknow's unfriendly attitude vis-a-vis Dehra Dun can be had from the fact that the Rajnath Singh government is making all efforts to derive the maximum advantage from the undivided assets. Some time ago it asked the UP Forest Corporation to transfer Rs 210 crore to the state exchequer, not bothering about the legal aspect that such funds should not be touched before a decision is taken about Uttaranchal's share. All this shows that the BJP central leadership thinks that Uttaranchal is its pocket borough and no party can deprive it of this advantage. It needs to be reminded of the truth that voters these days mostly go by the performance of the party in power. They cannot be taken for granted.


Managing a messy polity
Professional competence holds the key
by Hari Jaisingh

GOOD governance demands a high degree of professionalism which, alas, has been lacking in India's most critical areas of public and private functioning. The country has the third largest scientific and technical manpower in the world. In the field of information technology, young Indians outshine the persons belonging to the other nationalities. In fact, they also enjoy a very high reputation in the fields of education, science, medicine, economics, social sciences, etc.

This is the bright side of India we all relish. Back home, however, we often tend to be cynical because of the poor performance in different segments of national life.

As a nation our leaders have preferred soft options instead of the obvious hard ones. And it is an accepted fact that a soft state, over a period, loses credibility in the eyes of its own people, not to speak of friends and critics abroad.

Notwithstanding the use of rhetoric, the leadership, as an agency of decision-making and decision-enforcement, has fumbled time and again, creating in the minds of people the image of a spineless body that is a prisoner of its own indecision or that of vested interests.

The quest for power, ungoverned by rules of legitimacy, has created a situation that is alarming. Parochial issues are pursued with a passion.Serious national issues are sought to be decided by mass demonstration and mob violence. Civic life is often paralysed and production is brought to a standstill on trivial pretexts.

Most of the imbalances that we see around are mainly because the Paswans, the Mamtas, the Mulayams, the Laloos, etc, play the populist card all the while and opt for soft options for their political advantages.

Indeed, governments at the Centre and in the states seem to be run like dharamshalas of the Kumbh mela. They lack seriousness and work on adhocism. There is a visible rot in the system which is neither futuristic in its thrust nor forward-looking conceptually. We cannot build a modern structure of governance on antiquated concepts and ideas.

The colonial mindset and casual attitude of the rulers have only added to the problems. They are basically statusquoists. And statusquoism may be alright if it relates to values and ethics, but not in areas which require technologies and modern techniques of work to speed up the process of development in order to widen the base of socio-economic justice.

The system is, of course, made and unmade by persons at the helm. Individuals can and do make a difference. But self-centred and short-sighted persons can hardly be expected of taking the right initiative for the good of society.

During the past four decades or so, the country has been throwing up selfish politicians and administrators who see national interests in terms of their personal gains. No wonder, instead of changing the system, the ruling clique has exploited colonial rules and regulations which were once decried by our freedom fighters.

Why this poor house-keeping? Is this because of the faulty training of those who join the IAS and allied civil services? Or, is it because they get sucked into the decadent system despite their idealism and principles and become part of the drift?

Here, I would like to quote Mr S. J. S. Chathwal, a former Chairman of the Union Public Service Commission. He says: "Most of the bureaucrats still consider themselves to be rulers and not the providers of the service to the public." He is absolutely right.

According to him, this colonial mindset must be changed through training and by examples set by peers. The purpose of training should be to impart the qualities of leadership and the spirit of service among the administrators in the making.

A debate has already begun on the basic question of whether the IAS and allied services are playing the role expected of them, or whether they should be disbanded to create a new people-friendly and development-oriented administrative order. The question needs to be debated keeping in view our national goals and targets.

The real issue here is of ensuring world-class professional management. Everything depends on how we manage our resources and utilise manpower and technology in different areas of human activity. Take the case of the Green Revolution and record harvesting of 20,000 million tonnes of foodgrains and overflowing silos with over 30 million tonnes of buffer stock. Still, over 200 million people in the country do not have two square meals a day. This is a typical case of poor management on the food front.

While problems go on multiplying, we simply fiddle with old concepts and antiquated technologies even in the areas which pose serious challenges like the depletion of nutrients and the increase in soil salinity, water scarcity and contamination of water with pesticides and chemicals, the genetic system, biodiversity and the global climatic change.

Also, it is ironic that little thought is given to people's own reservoirs of technical knowhow and accumulated wisdom. In fact, while seeking new technologies, the persons at the helm hardly try to learn from the people and the grassroots realities. They just blindly follow what World Bank experts ask them to do. Money is indeed a great silencer even in areas of great national importance!

Even on the food front, India wastes Rs 70,000 crore worth of food articles every year due to inadequate technologies. This information must be authentic since it comes from the Director of the Central Food Technological Research Institute.

Then, we have a problem of plenty, that is, disposing of the rotting food stock of 42.5 million tonnes. The other equally important issue is of stocking additional arrivals of 25 million tonnes in the Central pool this year.

The problem of food storage has been with us for decades. But vested interests are so entrenched that no serious effort is initiated to build inexpensive silos.

The latest technology is available which can take care of these problems. But who cares? We allow millions of tonnes of grains to rot and, thus, lose crores of rupees of precious national wealth. If the wastage is curbed and the conservation of food is properly done and managed, lakhs of hungry people can be easily fed.

There is no dearth of funds. The problem lies in proper application of mind and the desire to effectively tackle matters affecting the lives of the people. Take the issue of poverty which has been with us for the past 53 years. President K. R. Narayanan says that an amount of $ 60 billion over a period of 15 years is required for this purpose. Ironically, the fear of the Y2K bug last year saw the world spending anything between $ 300 billion and $ 600 billion. We can certainly banish poverty from our land provided we apply commonsense and muster the requisite will for this task.

The nation has surely to go through a process of rejuvenation and reconstruction speedily. However, it is necessary to remember that there is nothing like a uniform all-India strategy for development.

Problems vary from region to region and from area to area within a region, as also from district to district in a state and even from village to village in the same district.

Amidst this realistic setting, all that has to be attempted is to evolve a broad framework and approach, allowing growth to be generated from every single village and district as units. This will not only make the development process more stable but also more participative in nature. It can check corruption, make democracy more meaningful at the grassroots, loosen the stranglehold of castes and classes and release fresh forces of awareness and growth.

True, such a participative development strategy is favoured by official agencies, but it has not been given the requisite sense of direction. Even when it is attempted, it is invariably sabotaged by vested interests. That is why anti-poverty programmes have suffered.

There are deliberate built-in obstacles in the bureaucracy that make participation in development a mockery and virtually impossible from within. For, the development of human resources requires active participation of the people.

A development policy in today's competitive environment demands adherence to certain operative norms to get the desired results. Economic policies have suffered not only because of poor implementation but also because of the absence of appreciation of national goals. Bureaucrats either play safe or tend to be statusquoists. Since managerial resources are both inadequate and substandard, follow-up actions tend to be half-hearted.

What India badly needs is professional competence in economic decision-making and management. Growth, quality control and efficient working are economic issues and they have to be addressed as such.

It is no use getting tied into knots from where it might become difficult to liberate oneself. The Indian economy has to be competitive and efficient globally. Political waywardness and administrative stranglehold can hardly help the economy to take off to the desired heights. The choice before us is: now or never.Top


Scourge of transfers in Haryana
by C.D. Verma

ON the New Year eve the Government of Haryana transferred a large number of IAS officers — Deputy Commissioners, Additional Deputy Commissioners and other senior officers. Verily, the last day of December is a day of rejoicing, a day to exchange greetings and ring out the old and ring in the New Year. But the strange New Year gift in the form of transfer orders that the state government slapped on its officers undoubtedly dampened their spirits and left them heavy-hearted.

A week before that the government had reshuffled several police officers, SSPs, Addl SPs, IGPs, DIGs, DSPs, SHOs, etc. Obviously, December is no month for uprooting district and state officials from one station to another. Shifting of officers at this time of the year, or even in mid-year, without allowing them to complete a tenure of at least two years at one place, causes a lot of social and family problems. It affects the education of children, besides bringing discomfiture to the families. Getting children admitted in schools in December or in mid-year is an arduous task. Besides entailing a heavy financial burden, the admission brings a lot of inconvenience too.

The government is a trust, and the officers of the government are trustees. Both the trust and the trustees are created for the benefit of the general public. But when the “trust”, that is the government, does not let the “trustees”, that is government servants, work in peace without fear, and subjects them to frequent transfers in season and out of season, without rhyme and reason, then the government and the government servants work at cross-purposes to the detriment of the populace.

Haryana has a strange system of governance, where the “trust” does not trust the “trustees”, where the government has never had any well-defined permanent transfer policy, where ad-hocism has been the rule, and where the transfer of government servants — a ritual fastidiously adhered to by the state all the year round — has become a tedious routine and a bete noire of the government servants, be they top echelons, senior bureaucrats, middle-and-lower-rung officials, school teachers, college dons, policemen, doctors and so on. And other states are no exception. The same is the routine there too.

Such is the situation obtaining in Haryana that the government keeps its officers on tenterhooks, virtually making them play a game of musical chairs throughout the year. The case in point substantiates and adequately sums up the dismal scenario.

The situation worsens when a new government takes over the reins of the administration. It orders whole-sale transfers to replace the “trustees” of the previous government by its own trust-worthies. Things have come to such a pass that the transfer has now become a scourge and a stigma which the employees tend to manipulate by hook and by crook. This obviously has adverse ramifications for the smooth functioning of the administrative set-up.

The word “transfer” is derived from the Latin word “transferre”, which is a synthesis of “trans” and “ferre”. “Trans” means “across” or beyond so as to change, and “ferre” means to “carry” (or to ferry). So denotatively, “transferre” means to carry (a person) across or beyond to change him. However, connotatively, it would imply that the frequent transfers of government servants ultimately bring about a sea change in their character, nature and idiosyncrasies. The more a government servant is transferred, the more alienated he becomes, and eventually harbours antipathy and disaffection against the government. At last his will to work wears out.

In order to overcome his alienation he willy-nilly adopts political godfathers. The moment his political godfather goes out of power, he faces humiliation and denigration and is incarcerated in an unimportant assignment, to be rehabilitated only when his political master comes back to power. But one who is resourceful and discerning enough to buy a plum post at a premium, changes to a different code of morality where honesty and virtue are pernicious. Who is responsible for the social malaise, and the administrative infirmity. Obviously, the system.

There is no gainsaying the fact that notwithstanding mass transfers ordered by the Ministers in their respective departments in May-June every year, the threat of transfers hangs like the sword of Damocles over the heads of the officers constantly. In order to ward off the threat of transfers, they servilely fawn on the powers that be, losing their authority and esteem in the process.

In fact, the transfer policy in Haryana got a serious set back for the first time in 1982 when the then Chief Minister put his trusted men in plum posts. For five years such officers ruled the roost. When the Janata government came to power in 1987, it followed the precedent set by the previous government, and brought a new set of chosen bureaucrats who enjoyed the benefits of lucrative posting. When in 1991 the Congress came to power, it rehabilitated its own trusted officers. And so did the successive governments of Mr Bansi Lal and now of Mr Om Prakash Chautala.

The fact remains that the Haryana Government has no well-defined permanent transfer policy. It has been following a time-serving ad hoc policy which never allowed the majority of government officers to complete a normal tenure of at least two years at one place. Officers should be transferred on merit. The policy of transferring officers on extraneous considerations breeds corruption and favouritism, and must be abandoned.

— The writer teaches English at Hans Raj College (University of Delhi), Delhi.


China’s role has not inspired confidence
by M.S.N. Menon

A Pentagon thinktank has just said that if China and India joined hands, they could establish an Asian condominium. True. The inference is: they can reduce American influence in Asia. And they could even extend their global reach.

The if’s and but’s of history are truly amazing. Lenin had said something similar: that if Russia, China and India were united, they could alter the course of human history.

But they failed to unite even when they were in a position to do so. Why? Because Moscow and Beijing were keener to compete for influence in the Third World. And they thought that India was a stooge of imperialism. We know today how stupid they were on every count.

But the world expected great things from China. It is a major country. It is a country of a great and ancient civilisation. Virtue was once its aim of life. Naturally, much was expected of it. But China belied those hopes. No good is expected from it today.

Historians, as usual, will continue to debate who were at fault. But that is their way. We know for a fact that if Communist China was able to survive the American onslaught, it was because of Soviet support and assistance. And if the Soviet Union perished in the conflict between the two systems — capitalism and communism — it was largely because of Chinese betrayal. And if India refused to throw its weight on the side of socialism, it was because of the Chinese aggression of 1962, which produced a violent reaction against both China and communism in India.

China had always been an enigma. The world knows so little of it. Hence the false images. Hence the false expectations. There was an impression that the Chinese are a peaceful people. China encouraged this impression for obvious reasons. It must thank the Jesuit Fathers for this. They spread this view. It gave rise to the concept of “reve Chinois” (Chinese dream). It had a powerful impact on the thinkers of Europe, who held forth the virtue of the Chinese social system as a model for Europe.

The reality was different. China was never free from warlordism. Famine was endemic. Inequality was rampant. If there was Confucius with his moral doctrines, there was also Shang Yang, the 4th century BC philosopher and statesman, who preached militarism. He advocated any and every means in the struggle for power at home and abroad. Shang Yang believed that men were born evil and that wars were inevitable. He advocated a military state. Mao was a keen disciple of Shang Yang.

India was in touch with China, at least from the 2nd century AD. But it was all a one-way traffic: Buddhism flowed into China. Along with it went many of India’s arts and crafts. India knew little of that country. It was not Nehru’s fault that he was so naive about China. There was not even a book on the history of China in the English language even at the turn of the 20th century. If he knew China well, perhaps the course of history would have been different in Asia. Certainly India- China, relations would have been different.

But enough of if’s and but’s. Let us have some facts about China. It was said of the Chinese revolution that it was Marxist-Leninist. In fact, it was a nationalist revolution. China claimed that it was an anti-imperialist state, but it turned against the only Marxist state — the Soviet Union — and aligned itself with the imperialists. China persuaded the Third World to go Maoist, but it was crafting its policy of “one state, two systems” at that time. (In fact, it is ready to concede any number of systems.) While it was thundering against colonialism, it did not liberate Hong Kong or Macao (they were the last to be liberated). While China threatened to liberate Taiwan, it was accepting huge investments from the ruling class of this island (China even passed a law to protect Taiwanese investments). While it criticised western culture, it gave up the Mao jacket and took to western dress and is now engaged in a vast effort to learn English. All these speak of the deception China is playing on a rather gullible world.

India is still vastly ignorant on affairs Chinese. This is the real danger. We thought that China would stop nibbling at our territory. We are mistaken. It is a habit with China. About 60 per cent of Chinese territory has been added either through conquest or through nibbling.

According to reports, China continues to annex Ladakh bit by bit. For instance, a new road has been built stretching almost 5-km into Indian territory across the LAC. And the government of this country fears to tell our people what is going on for fear of unpleasing an anti-Chinese storm.

That is how it all began. We chose to be silent on Aksai Chin and on every Chinese incursion or excess for fear of offending the Chinese. With what result? China took our silence as a sign of fear and weakness.

The agreement on maintenance of peace and tranquility along the LAC signed by China and India in 1993 was the first confidence-building measure since the 1962 war. It bound the two nations to a peaceful resolution of the border issue, and required that “...the two sides shall strictly respect and observe the LAC” and “where necessary, the two sides shall jointly check and determine the segments of the LAC when they have different views as to its alignments.” Obviously, the Chinese had no intention to honour the agreement in letter and spirit. They never chose to consult India on this new road.

But Li Peng, the number two man in the Chinese hierarchy who is here on a rather long visit, talks of the need for close bilateral relations. I cannot see how this is possible. China believes in leaving disputes to time. It is a well-known tactic. This is because, it knows, time will always be on its side.

Indeed, time has been highly favourable to China. It took all the advantages from Moscow for the success of the communist revolution and then switched side. In the past three decades it had the most fruitful relations with the USA, for long its bitterest enemy. And during the Clinton Administration, it looked as if America was ready to divide the world into two spheres of influence, Asia going to China’s share. If this has not taken place, it is because America was still wanting in full trust of the communists. But attitudes can change when once the present generation of communists is no more.

It is true India’s 4000-km long border with China has been more or less tranquil. This has enabled India to divert its armed forces to domestic duties. This could have formed the basis for a new relationship. But China has been helping Pakistan to acquire nuclear bombs and missiles. But these are to be used only against India. All this in violation of international agreements. For example NPT, MTCR.

America has no intention to really restrain Beijing. The Clinton Administration has prevaricated for seven years over the supply of M-11 missiles by China to Pakistan. It is still “determining” whether such a supply has taken place or not ! We should not expect the Bush Administration to make any radical departures from the Clinton policies. Let us not forget that Bush has no mandate for major changes.

America’s capacity to restrain China is diminishing. Both Japan and Taiwan do not want to be in a position of confrontation with China. Both have vast economic interests in mainland China. In fact, one fact tells all: there are15 flights from Macao (China) to Taiwan daily !

It is clear from this brief analysis that China is no nation with principles. Its sole objective is to serve its interests. It cannot be trusted to play a positive role in Asia for the benefit of all. Our policies must be informed by this sad fact.


Fresh water from fog

EVERY fisherman’s house in Baja on Mexico’s Californian peninsula could soon have a tap running with fog water, if Joel Hernandez Blanket (whose name ideally suits his job) has his way.

Hernandez, a masters graduate in hydraulics from Mexico’s Autonomous University of Baja California, has launched a project to draw water from fog for people living in some of the most arid settlements on the peninsula.

“Fog is like a free desalination plant,” he says, “It rises as vaporised water out of the ocean, salt-free, then drifts ashore to us. All that freshwater at head level, just begging to be drunk!”

Hernandez and other scientists say fog-drinking, which local trees such as Torrey pines have long learned to do, works best for humans located on hot arid coasts beside cold-current oceans. And that means most of the American continent’s western coast from California down to Chile, as well as areas of Africa and Arabia like Somalia and Yemen.

In general, the hotter the land, the better it sucks in the fog. In Baja, the driest summer months provide the best supply of drinking fog.

But how to extract it? The answer is a fog “blanket”, remarkably simple and low-tech, says Hernandez. A blanket is usually 100 square feet, made of porous plastic mesh, strung between poles.

“You just erect them at the right altitude to catch the incoming fog,” he says. Of course the mesh needs to be fine enough to capture fog droplets so small that it takes 10 million of them to form one drop of water. You also need a drip tray below, and storage tanks capable of collecting, typically, 27 gallons per blanket of the purest drinking water every day.

Hernandez has already planned a series of fog-collecting blankets at Punta Baja, a poor coastal community of 60 people on the Baja California coast near the town of El Rosario, 250 miles (402.25 kilometres) south of San Diego. There, the fog rolls in over the headland almost year-round.

“I planned for 30 collector blankets — 3,000 square feet — to extract 3000 litres of water per day from the fog, say 800 gallons, enough for 90 people. And Punta Baja only has 60 residents. That’s over 30 litres or nearly 10 gallons each per day.” Hernandez believes the fog blankets will supply all water needs for at least half of the year. (Observer)

Cheaper is better

When it comes to food, taste is a powerful motivator. But according to researchers, money may be sweeter than candy.

Investigators found that when the price of low-fat snacks were cut in vending machines, people tended to choose a healthier snack over a relatively unhealthy one. The findings, published in the January issue of the American Journal of Public Health, journal of the American Public Health Association, suggest that reducing prices can help people to make better food choices and ultimately improve health.

“People who are concerned with promoting good nutrition at schools, worksites and other community settings need to make tasty, healthful food choices available at attractive prices,’’ according to Dr Simone A. French and colleagues at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

“Even small improved dietary choices among teens could help establish longer-term healthful dietary practices that could potentially affect lifetime health,’’ the authors add.

The investigators note that most Americans continue to exceed recommendations to consume no more than 30% of total calories from fat, raising the risk of heart disease and some forms of cancer. Convenience foods, such as those found in vending machines, may contribute to Americans’ excessive intake of fat. 
— (Reuters)




Purify your hearts, your thoughts

feelings, emotions, speech,

strengthen your noble impulses.

Then no panic can unnerve you,

nothing can shake your stability.


Purify your vision,

sweeten your speech,

sanctify your deeds.

That way lies to liberation.

— from the discourses of Sathya Sai Baba


A man who is impure within, cannot be pure without.

Likewise, one who is unrighteous in actions cannot be righteous in thoughts.

— Baba Gurbachan Singh, Precious Pearls


The attainment of purity helps you to control negative thoughts. Regular prayer to God, reading of religious books and the company of saints will immensely help you to attain purity of mind.

— Swami Chindananda, Eternal Messages


The body is an ocean of spirituality which none can fathom. Only one who dies while living can obtain pearls of super consciousness from it. Such a one, if he enters the ocean of his own body even once, can recover a treasure of super-consciousness from it. Otherwise the treasure remains completely hidden.


A person dies while living lives for ever. One who looks upon life in this world and death with the same attitude, is also free from death. This dying while living has nothing to do with being cremated or buried. It is a state or condition in which the Master bestows eternal life on his disciples.

— Huzur Maharaj Sawan Singh, Philosophy of the Masters, Series One, chapter IX

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