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Tawi cries for survival

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By Bhushan Parimoo

Almost more than three decades have gone by now, since the authorities were made to conceive a reliable mechanism to treat the sewerage being generated in the Jammu City. Entire sewerage is drained directly into the Tawi through 17 drains. Discrediting it one the most polluted Rivers in the State. The culprit is a stretch of 5 kms of the river. Needless to add In its entire route of 130 kms from Kaplash Peaks in, Udhampur , before entering Jammu City its water is within permissible chemical parameters. Credit goes to the Environmentalists who prevailed upon the Government to take care of the problem before it becomes too late. And apprehensions may rarely prove right; but here it was not the Crystal ball which made this prophesies true but the way deliverance apparatus function. Authorities were supposed to contain pollution, on long and short term basis, till date it remain elusive. The more Environmentalists interacted with the authorities more confusing approach of theirs is revealed. The whole exercise it appears as if the left hand does not know what right hand is doing but even fingers on one hand were behaving at cross purposes. It was a nostalgic expression from a son of the soil from seven seas away which touched the very cords of the heart to baptise the fire to raise a collective voice to save Tawi an umbilical cord. On seeing a picture moon rising far away from a river, he compared it with the rising of moon often viewed from the bank of river Tawi in mid-fifties. Behind the shore from Gandhi Memorial Science College Jammu hostel. He compared it with of those days like Juhu beach. Thus the campaign to restore Tawi was conceived and kicked off. Unrestrained release of sewage and dumping of urban waste has squeezed life out of the river .On the second Saakh Vesrejan, 2011 an unexpected flip came from Brigadier, (Rtd) Uttam Singh Chib, a veteran decorated soldier who roped in various enthusiasts. Emphasising that the lifeline has been has turned into River of Woe which needs immediate proactive action in practice. His mantra Save Tawi for future generations. He suggested in a meeting to then Commissioner JMC way back in 2014 number cost effect and immediate of measures to contain the sewerage at site. Prior to it Mtr Muthharra Dewa a scientist from State Pollution Control Board, had been State coordinator ENVIS .State Environment Report, member secretary Expert committee State Action Plan on Climate Change, Environment Committees .Wetlands. State environment Polices and Tawi Report .She suggested very feasible proposal to deal with the Sewerage and earn Green Points. Stubborn attitude negates well meaning suggestions. Environment Awareness Forum also appealed to Save Tawi, Suriyaputri, Heritage of Dogras for a lifeline as scared as Ganga free from pollution dumping sewerage channels through Greenpeace.
Authorities had divided the Jammu City into four segment designated as District A, B, C &D to deal with the Sewerage. On right bank into two A & B. Old city up to Bus stand Jammu A, beyond it B till the last limit of the Municipality. Left Bank from Bahu to Nahru market C and Gandhi Nagar and other remaining areas as D .Initially assignment was given to the Urban Environmental Engineering Department which has a mandate to undertake job of planning, designing and construction of works of sewerage and drainage in urban areas of the state .It sublet the work to Utter Pardesh National Building Corporation who left the job halfway. Later on Economic reconstruction Agency (ERA) was given assignment of Districts B,C&D. Introspection makes one to ponder that apart from talking the there is nothing tangle to write home about to bring River Tawi back to its prime glory expect long list of siphoning of Exchequers money. As of now Tawi has been rendered a River with no water. It is a common scene our elders had realised on the dawn of civilisation centuries before that free flowing River is important for the humans and environment the lifeblood on this planet, most important freshwater resource on this earth but at the same time cannot be taken guaranteed forever. Rivers form an interacted network with the vital links to land, groundwater and the atmosphere. They provide diverse benefits that are often overlooked and undervalued. Provide habitat for the thousands of diverse plants and animal species including valuable commercial fish stocks, deliver sediments to the ecosystem downstream from hundred miles away, help protect urban centres from large storms and devastating floods. And here before our very eyes the Tawi which has been known for torrential roaring is now a hissing trickle, dying, gasping for the breath and pushing at a great speed the way of the Mythical Sawarsati. Cardinal blunder authorities are in habit of repeating is that Tawi is taken in to account from Panjtrithi up to the Bhagwati Nagar a stretch of about 5-6 kms one beholds from the second Bridge. River authorities loses sight of a basic principle that a healthy river is a living river lifeline through which it passes Tawi river mandarins from its source near Kaplash Peak in the east to its confluence with Chenab downstream west near Kokerian Marh Block after traversing a total length of 177 Kms. Emerging from Kaplash Peak on way to Dudu in its distance of 45 kms a number of Glacial feed streamlets join it from right Bank such as Pharas Nal ,Marlid Nal,Surali Da Nal and Lap Nal etc. Adding further small and big streams from southern side on left bank. And takes shape of a vibrant Civilisation fed River. After Jammu city Tawi gets divided into two major Channels known as Baddi Tawi and Nikki Tawi. Between the two, an island Lakshamanpur. All those concerned with to keep it in perfect health as per laid down parameters has failed. Decision makers have failed to realise the need to protect its health. Success in protecting the condition or health of rivers depend on realistic models of the interaction of landscape, river and human action. Incalcitrant authorities ignored the recommendation of the Parliament Standing Committee on Science & Technology. Environment and headed by Ashwani Kumar, former Union Minister as its Chairman. Who conducted six days visit to all the three regions beginning 24 of May 2015 to study floods in J&K, suggest measures to prevent them. The Committee felt that action on following points needs to be taken to mitigate the environmental pollution of Jammu, Afforestation process not only to bridge the gap between the plantation and trees that are being cut but also to increase the forest areas needs to be taken up in the entire city on war-footing. Nurseries should be set up on large scale to meet the requirement of saplings. Action against encroachment of forest land should be intensified and there should be strict enforcement of laws in this regard. The concerned agencies should mobilise the resources for cleaning of river Tawi and immediate action should be taken for the removal of waste on the river bed. Solid waste management plan should be incorporated in the Master Plan to cater to increasing requirement. Master plan should have provision for green spaces and parks. Noise pollution should be tackled effectively. Environment should be introduced as a compulsory subject in schools to create awareness. Needless to add in its entire length Tawi needs care necessary measure to bring it in to health so that it is full of vibrant life and water. Authorities has not taken so far any desired holistic exercise to deal with River from River Engineering aspect in its totality from source till its end a length of 177 kms, catchment area of 2152 Sq kms, divided into 16 Micro watersheds further divided in to 245 Mini Micro watersheds. Each Mini Micro watersheds has to be taken as a basis for planning analysis and to understand behaviour of the River minutely. Authorities over the decades have not done any exercise to collect relevant data to make it basis for remedial measures. Four natural factors have to be considered for every five years period to assess the health of a River. Vegetation data included vegetation type and coverage Vegetation, rainfall, soil, and topography to investigate the effects of these four factors on runoff and soil loss at the runoff-plot scale. Unfortunately no data of each of the Mini Micro watersheds has been developed till date .There is need to develop water banks on side and at places minor minerals need to be removed as per need should be carried. Water banks serve as a good water management practice, which storage surface water in areas where water is present in large quantities and transfer it to areas where there is a scarcity for public needs during drought conditions. It has been observed sediments over the years at places has accumulated, above normal, which needs to be used to remove for free natural passage of river. Bridges abetment has to be protected zealously but there is no rational below fourth bridge removal of minor mineral shall be brought to halt. It has its own adverse effects one during flood in view of no dredging water shall ingress in the low level areas causing innumerable suffering to human crop and cattle besides precipitate erosion. Second instead of using it for local needs it get washed down in to the Chenab. Where lays the wisdom. Congenial atmosphere has to restore and created wherever necessary for the fish and other aqua life to thrive. It is necessary to adopt latest water management methods to conserve water in areas with heavy rains and use them during drought or in regions with low water levels. Authorities do take part occasionally in the weekly Sunday Sandhiya Arti programme on the left bank near Bikram Chowks, seeking the blessings of Sun God to purify it from pollution Since 2014 . Beyond it there areany hardly any tangible activities observed to restore Tawi to its pristine glory.
(The writer is a Jammu based Environmentalist)

 
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Theology of Presence

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Amir Suhail Wani

“O you who believe! Remember Allah With much remembrance”: Al Quran

To believe is to be in a state of presence. Presence, though not the climax, but is, one of the most cherished states and authentic manifestations of belief. To let God stay far away in the realm of abstraction and beyond-ness not only dilutes the spirit of worship, but it brings under scrutiny the very notion of belief. Religion, in its finest form, aims at invoking in man the spirit of presence, so that the believer may feel and experience the himself in presence of divine and may thus be able to envision a living and existential relationship with his creator and his object of devotion. Religion, even in its basic etymological connotation invokes the sense of “connectedness and attachment” with the object of devotion. It is in the very essence of man that he wants to be greater than what he is and when submitting before the divine, the individual, finite and subjective ego undergoes an existential, psychological and spiritual transformation of unique nature which expands its contours beyond those of physical perimeters. In any act of worship, the subject envisages the object of devotion as infinite and it not only pays homage to that infinite by bowing to it, but it very much desires to expand its own finitude under the radiance of that eternal infinite. This is what is meant by the philosophical benediction that “make me Thou, not an it”.

 

This human urge of finding means of self expansion by submitting before the divine is the greatest expression of human will and self sacrifice. But this spirit is rendered meaningless and antithetical when religion, in its state of decline, reduces to mere theology. In this reductionism, God remains no longer a living reality in the life of believer. He is rather replaced by a set of axioms and statements which fail to stimulate and satisfy the deepest spiritual yearnings of man and this deepest spiritual yearning is nothing but an aspiration to come in living contact with the divine and transcendental. Islam and for that matter most of the religions strongly condemn the deistic notions about God for it leaves absolutely no scope for religious indoctrination and creates an unimaginable void in the realm of Transcendence. It is in response to nuances like these that the notion of presence assumes multifold importance. It is not only prayer but our entire life that demands, by virtue of its spiritual dimension, that we live perpetually under the spell of divine. Thus religions teach us not merely to pray and thus make prayer a part of our life, but they come to turn our entire life into a sort of prayer. This transformation of life itself into prayer is what has best been embodied by Islamic teachings which reiterate time and again that all acts shall be done according to the law/s prescribed by God and at the beginning and end of each of our activity, the name of God shall be invoked. Not only this, the orations we recite at various instances from entering a washroom to starting our prayer are nothing but a beautiful way of making God a perpetual and living presence in our lives. None of our activities shall be divorced from Transcendent and while we are bodily constantly engaged in acts of world and matter, our heads, hearts and souls shall be perpetually turned to the divine. This act of remembering God in world of forgetting paves the way for “discovering God through material representations”. The highest form of this discovery is prayer and within prayer itself it is dua that marks the height of living relationship between God and believer. The purpose of prayer, as has been narrowly appropriated lately is not merely to make God change his mind and to bring our naive desires to fruition. Prayer is in fact the testimony of our living and real time relationship of servitude and dependency on God. Thus when God asserts “If My servants ask you regarding Me, I am indeed Near. I answer the call of those who call upon Me when they call. So let them answer My call and let them believe in believe in Me–in order that they be truly guided.”, he makes us understand in most emphatic and explicit way that he is very much existentially related to us and responds to our prayers. This response to prayer shall not be seen as the fulfilment of our prayers in material realm (which is true on its own), but it shall invoke in us the existential quest and inspire us to awaken our slumbering spiritual sensibility so that we may truly feel that God is indeed responding to us as our creator and as an object truly worthy of our devotion and worship.

This notion of presence has been subjected to double irony. The religious centric people lost sight of this appeal and dedicated their energies in confining and codifying God in their formulae of logical atomism. They rigidly tried to fix God in their self made definitions made out of untenable language as if trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. While as the role of this intellectual cum theological process can’t be belittled, but their overemphasis on making God comply to their abstractions and creating an unsurpassable chasm between the creator and creation surely set them on too rigid a path. The aftermath of this theorization of God not only created uncompromising hostility among different religions, but within the same religion it gave birth to unending clashes, unforseen intolerance and created such shameful examples that served the purpose of latter day anti religious forces. The second threat, and that is more dangerous, to this “theology of presence” has come from movements like new age spirituality, occult practices and pseudo spiritual shopping malls. Whereas traditional religion and traditional metaphysics taught us to see this world as a reflection and reverberation of transcendental realm, the new age spirituality has tragically represented the divine realm as an “extended expression” of human realm and this immanent universe. This has been sort of shifting the frame of reference and with this shifting of frames, the meaning of spirituality and metaphysics is inverted on its head. This misplaced mysticism and consumerist spirituality is far dangerous than no spirituality at all. In absence of spirituality, one may set out to discover the genuine and true spiritual traditions, but the presence of fake and pseudo spirituality creates a halo effect around man and his genuine thirst and quest is buried under the garb of this “materialistic spirituality”.

There are no palatable solutions to this malice that has invaded our religious obligation of perpetual presence and taught us to be satisfied with rituals without knowing their meaning. What one can do is to read, if one can, the religious scriptures and try to get to the roots of these scriptures. Look out for commonalities among scriptures and try to make a sense out of these commonalities. Another suggestion is to read the authors like Rene Guneon, Frithjof Schoun, Martin Lings, William Chittick and others of their class. What is special about these authors is that they speak about traditional metaphysics in contemporary idiom with an insight that is both inspiring as well as awakening. Finally we must note and note it seriously that life is not a profane activity sprinkled with events of sacred prayers, rather life is sacred as a whole and the existential realisation of this axiom is fundamental postulate on which all religions stand.

(The author is a freelance columnist with bachelors in Electrical Engineering and a student of comparative studies with special interests in Iqbaliyat & mystic thought. He contributes a weekly column for this newspaper that appears every Monday. He can be reached at: amirkas2016@gmail.com)

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Kathua verdict: fact, fable and fiction

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Shabbir Aariz                                   

Finally some relief has been accorded to the family of the victim, Asifa by the trial judge Mr Tejwinder Singh by convicting and punishing the guilty. But it is too little if not too late. The investigating agency has undoubtedly done a commendable job in piecing together the evidence against the odds and succeeded in obtaining conviction for criminal conspiracy, gang rape, poisoning and murder of 8year old Asifa on 17th of January 2018 in Rasana village near Kathua in Jammu. Rape is the fourth most common crime against women in India. The National Crime Records Bureau of India suggests a reported rape rate of 2 per 100,000 people, much lower than reported rape incidence rate in the local Indian media. However, Times of India reported the data by National Crime Records Bureau unveiling that 93 women are being raped in India every day. Every year 7,200 minors are raped as the statistics suggest without unreported ones. Rape is, surprisingly a weapon of punishment in India. In 2014, in Jharkhand village elders ordered the rape of a 14year old. The husband of the woman who was assaulted sexually was told to carry out the rape. As the woman’s husband dragged the girl to a nearby forest, villagers only looked on. Earlier West Bengal village reportedly ordered the gang rape of a 20 year old woman for falling in love with a man from another community. Even in case of Kathua, two BJP ministers stood in favor of the accused. Sexual crimes being committed with impunity not even sparing foreign tourists led to issuance of rape advisories like women travelling should exercise caution when travelling in India even if they are travelling in a group, avoid hailing taxis from streets or using public transport at night. India feels like it is going through an upsurge of sexual violence against children and after several incidents including Asifa’s, received widespread media attention and triggered public protest. The Prime Minister condemned it and UN Secretary General, Antonio Guiterres said “guilty must be held responsible” describing the incident “horrific”. This led the Government of India to reform its penal code for crimes of rape and sexual assault. As such India’s cabinet approved the introduction of death penalty for those who rape children. The executive order was cleared at a special cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Modi. It allowed capital punishment for anyone convicted of raping children under the age of 12. India’s poor record of dealing with sexual violence came to fore after 2012 gang rape and murder of a student on a Delhi bus. The four men involved were sentenced to death. The Supreme Court maintained the death sentence of the convicts; Akshay Thakur, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta and Mukesh. Rejecting their appeal Justice R Banumathi said the men committed “a barbaric crime” that had “shaken society’s conscience”. It is worthwhile to mention that the death penalty to the said persons was given in the year 2013 while as the executive ordinance came in April 2018 after Asifa’s incident and of a 16year old girl in northern Uttar Pradesh by a member of BJP, Kuldeep Sengar (ironically, victim’s father was arrested and thereafter killed by the Kuldeep’s supporters.) Prior to 2012, there was no single law specifically dealing with children as victims of sexual offences. Then came Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act in 2012, India’s first comprehensive law to deal specifically with child sex abuse and surprisingly the number of reported cases of child abuse rose by nearly 45% the next year.

The new amendments enable a court to hand out a death penalty to someone convicted of raping a child under 12, even if it does not result in death. In countries like China, Egypt, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Afghanistan, rape is punishable with nothing short of death by hanging, beheading or firing squad. Despite the changes to the law and arming Indian courts, there is reluctance to carry out the death penalty. Is there anything wrong with the collective Indian psyche that deters even courts from putting curbs on sexual crimes against even minors? One feels disgusted for the punishment not being exemplary in Asifa’s case when on trial crimes like gang rape and murder were proved. The court was saddled with the law and verdicts of Supreme Court where death penalty awarded was not interfered with and also its observations emphasizing the gravity of such crime with its impact on the society. Do the laws also have a fiction value? When do we really implement them? Is something more needed to shake society’s conscience? It is more likely that the convicts in this case will go in appeal to the higher court against the judgement. The verdict of the lower court also calls for a counter appeal by the prosecution seeking enhancement of punishment to death of the convicts.

 

(A leading lawyer and eminent poet, author contributes a weekly column. He can be reached at:  vaklishabir@gmail.com)     

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Let’s Become Environmental Protectionists!

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Dr. Shahid Amin Trali

It’s very alarming to find the unending disturbances to our environment. Man’s foul play with the nature is not going well with the present as well as our future. The environmental problems are mounting towards a bigger trouble in future but we are yet to recover from deep hibernation/sleep mode. This menace of pollution has existed for centuries but increased at an alarming rate after industrial revolution in the 19th century. Pollution is one of the biggest global killers, affecting over 100 million people. The world’s population is ever increasing and the treasures of the resources are getting overexploited.

 

There is greater need that we must promote better and efficient use of resources. Mass production of plastics, which began just six decades ago, has accelerated very rapidly—most of it in disposable products that end up as trash. If business goes on as usual, plastic pollution will double over the next thirty years. That would mean there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Plastics have several health hazards, both for humans and animals. Not just that, it is detrimental for the environment too. We must encourage the reduction, recycling and re-use of wastes as raw material for new products. Our younger generation is highly creative and all they must be given is ample support and opportunities. We must promote ‘Jugaad’ creation, the idea of using the waste to make something novel and save resources. We need to set examples from our home places and re-use what we would easily throw away and conserve for a future.  What we cannot recycle let us try not use them. Let’s promote paper products as they break down better in the environment and don’t affect our nature as much.

Learning to be more environmentally friendly is not that difficult task than we think. We must start by living with a greater awareness of the resources that we use in our daily life.  For example we must turn off the lights as soon as we leave a room in our homes and offices or even schools and colleges.  We must be environmental friendly when it comes to building our homes and buildings. Trees are necessary for us to survive. We must plant small trees around our home, don’t cut them unless it’s necessary, work with local environmental groups to plant more trees and educate others about the beauty and benefits of trees.

Water needs to be conserved. Few ways to conserve water are – take short showers, keep the running tap close while we brush our teeth, recycle water in our home, use water saving appliances etc. More good ways to contribute will be consume less energy, buy recycled products, and create less waste and many more. We must refrain from open burning as backyard trash and leaf burning releases high levels of toxic compounds. We must use public transit as much as possible. Let us walk more and drive less to conserve fuel and prevent auto-emission. Let’s use bicycles and scooters for shorter distances to save resources.

Cleanliness leads to cleanliness. We can easily find that a dirty place adds to its dirtiness. When we come across a fresh place, we think twice before turning it bad and dirty. It is sad when we think for our clean homes and hardly care for the roads, hospitals, educational institutions, offices, markets etc. Our mindset has to undergo a big overhaul that our public property is our own property.

India is one of the three worst offending countries when it comes to environmental performance. Corporate leaders have started joining the race to save the planet. Being environment-friendly, eco-friendly, going green are huge claims referring to goods and services, laws, guidelines and policies that inflict reduced, minimal, or no harm at all, upon ecosystems or the environment. But the attempts need to be strong and concrete. Small and medium sized companies in particular generate a lot of pollution and need awareness and support policies to safeguard the environment.

Individuals, organizations and governments need to join hands to protect our environment.  Let’s educate others about the significance of living an environmentally friendly life. The more we will share an awareness of the richness of the environment, the more we can do together to protect it. Environmental love and care must receive an all time attention and priority. Let’s go beyond the model building exercises for safer environment and turn them into reality. Organizations must appreciate and reward the employees for their environmental care.

The Philippines recently has taken a unique and wonderful initiative. The island country passed a law under which every student there has to mandatorily plant ten trees in order to get their graduation degree. The law if it is implemented properly will ensure that over 175 million trees will be planted every year. The law will be applicable for college, elementary, and high school students as well. Our education system must owe greater responsibility towards environment and find some unique strategies to safeguard it. Let’s go green and pledge to protect our environment. (The author is Assistant Professor, ITM University Gwalior, Youth Ambassador, International Youth Society. He can be mailed on: dr.shahidamin15@gmail.com)

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