Anarcho-environmentalism allegorised

The name Anaarkali in the present context has many meanings - Anaar symbolises the anarchism of the Bhils and kali which means flower bud in Hindi stands for their traditional environmentalism. Anaar in Hindi can also mean the fruit pomegranate which is said to be a panacea for many ills as in the Hindi idiom - "Ek anar sou bimar - One pomegranate for a hundred ill people"! - which describes a situation in which there is only one remedy available for giving to a hundred ill people and so the problem is who to give it to. Thus this name indicates that anarcho-environmentalism is the only cure for the many diseases of modern development! Similarly kali can also imply a budding anarcho-environmentalist movement. Finally according to a legend that is considered to be apocryphal by historians Anarkali was the lover of Prince Salim who was later to become the Mughal emperor Jehangir. Emperor Akbar did not approve of this romance of his son and ordered Anarkali to be bricked in alive into a wall in Lahore in Pakistan but she escaped. Allegorically this means that anarcho-environmentalists can succeed in bringing about the escape of humankind from the self-destructive love of modern development that it is enamoured of at the moment and they will do this by simultaneously supporting women's struggles for their rights.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

What about Smart Villages?

There is currently considerable excitement over cities in India becoming smart but in all this euphoria as always the long suffering villages are getting short shrift. This despite the professed intention of both the Prime Minister and his Information and Technology Minister of making digital India a reality. The situation with regard to internet connectivity is generally dismal even in cities. For instance despite living in a city like Indore I do not have broadband connectivity through an Optical Fibre Cable land line. Even though initially I had access to internet broadband through a Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) landline connection it would break down so frequently that I had to discontinue the broadband and retain only the telephony option which still breaksdown frequently. I then switched to wireless broadband through a dongle and have switched three service providers which all promise 3G speeds in excess of 5 mbps but in reality serve only about 0.5 mbps with great difficulty. I had 3G on my mobile also but that too most of the time served only 2G speeds as low as .25 mbps and so I have switched to 2G. Mine is not an isolated experience but the norm as any discussion on internet speeds will have all the participants roundly cursing their respective service providers and all of them have invariably switched across the spectrum a number of times without much difference in the poor quality of service received. This is the level of chicanery being practiced by internet service providers whether in the Government or the Private sector in cities. Under the circumstances it is unlikely that our cities will ever become smart!!
However, the situation in villages is even worse. I had to shift to living in a city in 2000 because of the need for internet access and even today I cannot go back to living in a village as I would like to because of this lack of internet connectivity. Recently, a retired professor of microbiology has started staying in the residential school we run at Kakrana. He says quite rightly that in today's age schooling is incomplete without access to internet. So we started scouting around for ways of overcoming this problem. Our researches revealed that the cheapest way to do this is by the use of a technology that is called wireless hopping. Very simply it means the signal from a point where internet access is available through OFC landline is transmitted by radio frequency to another point at a distance which does not have it through antennae which have built in radio transmitters and receivers. This can be used to hop over distances as large as forty kilometers with the only proviso that there should not be physical obstacles like hillocks in the radio frequency line of sight. Even this can be overcome by providing repeaters at these points. This has been tried out all over the world and it is a very good and cheap technology but requires a little technical maintenance from time to time.
Ideally BSNL should take up this technology and spread it widely in remote rural areas to provide internet access to the whole of India much more cheaply than through OFCs. In fact in the few places that this technology is being used in India people are doing it on their own by using BSNL landline points and they have proven the technology to BSNL. Yet it is a commentary on the cussedness of the Government system in India that BSNL has not rolled out this technology widely despite it having a huge commercial potential.
We are now trying to implement this wireloss hop ourselves with the help of some people living in rural areas who have done it themselves and will probably have internet running in Kakrana soon. But the point remains that this should have been done by the Government in the same way as it should provide decent primary education and primary health care to remote rural areas. But in the same way as education and health are in the doldrums in this country so also smart villages will remain a distant dream for some time to come and the prospects of smart cities aren't too bright either!!! 


Arpitha Lekhi said...

Nice Information..
Their is high demand for smart villages in India to overcome main issues smartly, health is the big challenge which India is facing from long back, Technology in healthcare can change the scenario start-ups like are highly encouraged by the governments this will generate awareness using technology broadband Internet connections..

Sanjeev Sabharwal said...

Eye-opening article, Rahul.

Lamp post said...

rahul, did u talk to these DEF fellows who are working in Madhya Pradesh for such open mesh net.

Rahul Banerjee said...

Hi Lamps, thanks for the link. I will follow up on this with DEF. The technology is workable but as I said the problem is that BSNL does not provide good broadband connectivity at the initial point. Then there is the matter of maintaining the wireless link spread over 30 kms.