Spare The Tree – This Gudhi

Happy Gudhi Padwa! The new year day for many Marathi households and also the day when thousands of mango, neem trees and many other plants get ripped of their leaves and flowers for a symbolic Gudi decoration.

The leaves and flowers are supposed to make the Gudhi more appealing. but maybe it is time to consider if the leaves and flowers are better off ‘alive and well’ on the plant or ‘dead’ on the Gudhi? Maybe the tree could be your Gudhi (put a silver pot over it for a day the tree wont mind 🙂 Or even better, maybe we could welcome the new year by planting a sapling?

As students of science, shouldn’t we also be examining customs and beliefs in the light of the science of the day and with the context of the times we live in?

गुढी पाडवा आणि नवीन वर्षाच्या हार्दिक शुभेच्छा !

Wish you a Goody Gudi Padwa 🙂

Lavasa City – Scam Or Development?

I attended an event titled the “Lavasa Mahaghotala Sabha” or the “Lavasa Scam Meet” on 27 Nov 2010. This event was meant to launch a widespread protest against the Lavasa project. The speakers at the meet were prominent social activists Medha Patkar, Anna Hazare & many others linked to the protest. I have live tweeted at length at (tweets reproduced at end of article) about who said what at the meet. Thought it would make more sense to go beyond the tweets & blog my take on Lavasa.  Read more

How Trees & Birds Grabbed Prime Land In Pune City!

Green Citizens GardenNature shows the way to healing the city…

Like most Indian cities, Pune has crumbled quite rapidly over the past decade and most citizens are convinced that things can only get worse. So thought I would write about a positive development in the Deccan Gymkhana area in Pune. About a project that highlights how things can change if citizens decide to ‘be the change’ and about how citizens are enjoying the benefits of returning prime city real estate to mother nature.

Read more

Articles on Pune City, Urban Planning and Environment

Geologist Suvrat Kher has written a five part series of articles on Pune City and environment. He integrates geology and high-resolution images from Google Earth to highlight and discuss urban planning and environment issues.

  1. Idling and Pollution
  2. PMT buses and Pollution
  3. Rickshaws and Pollution
  4. Urban Forests and Clean Air
  5. Sensing Corruption Remotely

Apart from these articles there are many others that also make for good reading. Do check out

The Green Pilgrim – Combining spirituality with eco-awareness and conservation

It is possible to combine spirituality with eco-awareness and conservation.Every year lakhs of pilgrims walk for over 3 weeks to Pandharpur, driven solely by devotion and faith. A mass of humanity at one place at one time, however also offers a unique opportunity for the government as well as non-government organizations to get across social messages to the people at the grass roots, the ones who matter most for any long lasting social impact.

I was fortunate to be part of one such undertaking this year. Hariyali is an NGO that has been working actively in the field of eco-conservation for over a decade. Most of its work has been in the Thane area. However for the past 3 years it has been conducting a novel campaign of seed distribution amongst warkaris on the pilgrimage to Pandharpur.

The modus operandi of the campaign is quite simple. Mobilize school children in the city to collect seeds of various trees and to pack them into small brown paper packets, each packet carrying about a 100 seeds. Next, utilize the services of volunteers and school children in towns on the pilgrimage route, to spread awareness amongst the warkaris and to distribute the seed packets….

(Cont…Click the scanned article image on the left). Published as part of my column for the Maharashtra Herald that’s published on alternate Saturdays.

>> Click here to read all articles published in the column