Uncategorized

Buy Nothing Day

Wal-Mart Worker Dies When Shoppers Break Down Doors

Black Friday took a grim turn when a New York Wal-Mart employee died after bargain hunters broke down the doors to the store, pushing him to the ground.

The 34-year-old male employee was pronounced dead an hour after shoppers breached the doors to the shopping center in Valley Stream, Long Island, about 5 a.m. Friday and knocked him down, police said.

fulltext from FOX: Wal-Mart Worker Dies When Shoppers Break Down Doors

NY Daily News: Worker dies at Long Island Wal-Mart after being trampled in Black Friday stampede

NY Times: Wal-Mart Employee Trampled to Death

Items on sale at the Wal-Mart store included a $798 Samsung 50-inch Plasma HDTV, a Bissel Compact Upright Vacuum for $28, a Samsung 10.2 megapixel digital camera for $69 and DVDs such as “The Incredible Hulk” for $9.


Nov 26, 2008:

MTV refused to air an ad for Buy Nothing Day

Action update: MTV, the channel that markets itself to hip youth, has decreed that our Buy Nothing Day public service spot “goes further than we are willing to accept on our channels”. Gangsta rap and sexualized, semi-naked school girls are okay, but apparently not a burping pig talking about consumption

Adbusters called for people to sign a letter to MTV
http://adbusters.org/metas/eco/bnd/jamMTV.php

Standard
Books

Ergonomic nonsense and health hazard: the modern American toilet

Ergonomic nonsense and health hazard: the modern American toilet

Just as an untold range of health hazards result from the rapid mass conversion to diaper-use, it appears that converting to the sitting toilet (in India called the “western toilet”) may have unforseen consequences for health and hygiene.

From Rose George: The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why it Matters

“At American Standard, the throne has been modernized by making it even higher …. even more ergonomically nonsensical than usual (squatting frees up the colon and aids defecation; sitting squeezes it shut and impedes release, leading to claims that the sitting toilet has contributed to increased rates of colon cancer, hemorrhoids, and constipation).

(page 61)

The above book also describes the persistent and yet unsuccessful efforts to introduce water into the post-toilet cleaning process in the USA. Of course in India cleaning oneself with water after using the toilet is standard and expected. Public toilets have a water supply – it may not always function, but it is expected to be there.

In Japan, China, France – the bidet is common and the Japanese have actually improved and further popularised it. But they are having a hard time selling it in America – and according to Rose George have shifted their strategy to market to the rich (Vegas Casinos, celebreties) rather than trying to reach a mass market. Even a toilet-tissue manufacturers attempt to introduce moistened toilet tissue failed even though users agreed that it cleans better. Although in US parents spend billions on wet wipes for cleaning babies bottoms, they rejected moistened toilet tissue for the non-babies.

even moisture aids elimination (as all ec-parents know!!)

so wrt cleanliness inside or out, it is unfortunate that this too was rejected. More unfortunate still is that india is aping the west and moving towards sitting toilets and toilet paper. Even a self-respecting country like France is moving away from the bidet, it seems.

More awareness of the impacts these decisions make on health and hygiene would help consumers make an informed choice. It should influence public policy as well. Currently the EPA recommends certain toilets over others.

Type of toilet impacts

1) quantity of water use
2) quantity of tissue paper use
3) ease of waste-management (some toilets separate solid / liquid, some toilets have built-in composting mechanism)
4) ease / efficiency of elimination (from the body)

therefore it impacts personal and public health, as well as environment and natural resource consumption.

Quote from toiletailments.com:
In his book, A Guide to Better Bowel Care: A Complete Program for Tissue Cleansing Through Bowel Management, chiropractic physician and nutritionist Dr Bernard Jensen identified the sitting toilet as a health threat to mankind:

“It is my sincere belief that one of the bowel’s greatest enemies in civilized society is the ergonomic nightmare known as the toilet or john.”

To quote Rose George again, from the same page (61) of her book,

“Even with all the flow dynamics and nanotechnology, the modern American toilet has actually only perfected the removal of waste from the toilet while impeding the removal of waste from the body. And the American public is happy with it.”

She also has a chapter on Sulabh, and interesting reports from China and Japan.

* * *

(responses to comments received)

Her chapter on Sulabh is a must-read – takes reader through the painful reality of untouchability, through the experiences of manual scavengers she has met. Places the achievement of Pathak (founder of Sulabh Shauchalaya in 1970) in context of religion, history, Gandhi, Bihar, World Bank. While he is widely admired (recognized by President of India, UN, even the Pope), he himself calls his work “a drop in the ocean …. still at the beginning of the beginnings …. we are a candle in the dark.” Rose George adds, “the dark doesn’t frighten him.” Sulabh has been effective not only in constructing public latrines that work, which 10 million people use daily, but also in offering alternate employment to people who had been practicing manual scavenging for generations, and also enrolling their children in schools. They fight untouchability daily and have had some modest yet remarkable successes. They have “[made] toilet talkable” – even politicians & Chief Ministers come and inaugurate them now. They have also constructed a toilet museum to “make toilets interesting.”

Incidentally Q2P director Paromita Vohra is the only critic of Sulabh quoted in the book. Would like to see Q2P and find out more.

Trivia: India trails Pakistan, Bangladesh in sanitation
Rose George recently attended the South Asian Conference on Sanitation, known as Sacosan. Apparently it was inaugurated by the Prime Minister. The Secretary of Defence moderated one of the sessions (see http://rosegeorge.com/site/celebration/) Notes on the conference are here

re: Ergonomics – isn’t it all the more important for those who cannot access a toilet at any time of day? so that they can do the job effectively and not worry about returning. But anyway, it’s a non issue as most public toilets are of the squatting kind, afaik.

re: Vogue / Need – While some may require sitting toilets, their rising prevalence extends far beyond need based on concerns of the elderly, overweight, or special-needs. In any case, the point is not to “move” anyone towards a particular practice but only bring up issues as to the risks and benefits of each, which we rarely talk about. (Hence Rose George’s subtitle “unmentionable world of human waste ….”)

Incidentally, we can pick up a few more important dates for our list to include in the annual calendar…
Nov 19 is World Toilet Day
Oct 15 is Global Handwashing Day

Standard
Quotes

So what makes education in a democracy distinct?

So what makes education in a democracy distinct? And I would argue that what makes education in a democracy distinct is that we don’t educate for obedience and conformity; we educate for initiative and courage. We educate for imagination and hope and possibility. And we recognize that the full development of each person requires the full development of all people. Or another way of saying it is, the full development of all is the condition whereby we can educate each. And that shifting of the frame is so important. And frankly, I’m hopeful that in this period of rising expectations, of rethinking so much, that this is where we can go.

Bill Ayres, Professor of Education, speaking on Democracy Now,Friday Nov 14, 2008, to be continued on Monday Nov 17, 2008

Listen to / Read transcript of Democracy Now Interview with Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayres

Standard
Questions

anti-dowry?

In response to  Nishank Sah: ” I was just wondering if AID is currently involved in any Anti-DOWRY campaign.”

Funny, a journalist wondering the same thing called me a few days ago. She wanted to find out why the campaign was no longer active in AID.

I offered some possible explanations …. key volunteers leading the effort moving to India and not keeping up contact, decline of the yahoo group (partly due imho to cross-posting and spam) , and also major emergencies that exhausted our volunteer resources such as communal riots in Gujarat, Tsunami. Also that those who took initiative in the anti-dowry campaign were the same people who were working actively in Narmada, Bhopal, Farmers’ Crisis, and several other major issues which demanded our time and energy.

Dowry is a hard issue because it means changing something about ourselves, our attitudes, our lifestyles.
It is easier to cite the above reasons but there is also something about the rising consumerism, changing demographics of AID volunteer base, changing forms of dowry, sexism … that demands our introspection as well.

Anyway the journalist was interested in meeting a young couple in India preparing for marriage and facing and resisting family expectations regarding dowry.

Do you know anyone she could interview? She is going to India in January.

Aravinda


by Nishank Sah on Mon Nov 03, 2008 6:11 pm

Hi,

I was just wondering if AID is currently involved in any Anti-DOWRY campaign and I came across this old thread. The discussions were really insightful and still pertinent.

Currently, what is the stand of AIDers against dowry? Especially among the unmarried folks??

Some survey was proposed to be taken to know the opinion of AIDers on different aspects related to dowry and inter-caste marriages. Had we collected any facts related to it?

Though, the demand for Dowry might have subdued per se, but it has metamorphosed into another subtle forms, like giving of gifts, jeweleries, ostentatious wedding celebrations (the cost to be born by bride’s parents), etc.

Moreover, still there are many young folks, who would not ask for dowry on their own, but who won’t oppose their parents demand either, saying “I can’t say no if my parents ask the bride’s family for dowry. Maybe I won’t ask dowry for my kids’ marriages.”

One of the best solutions for curbing the effects of dowry can be as simple as, a couple spending 50-50% on wedding arrangements on their own (assuming both are working), and keeping it low scale than pressurizing the bride’s parents for arrangements.

I am not sure, as how much just signing a NO DOWRY pledge online by people would lead to its actual implementation.

Nishank Sah

Radhika Rammohan on Thu Jun 15, 2006 3:26 pm

hi Shailabh,

Actually the point I was making was re. the society, expectations and “pressure” that people put on themselves even if it is not external. The notion is well-entrenched in our society that the girl’s family should do everything possible to ensure the couple start off to a good std. of living and that the wedding itself, and all its expenses are to be met by them — even if the grooms family were to be quite progressive the bride’s fmly will go out of their way and spend on the occasion.

Most parents of girls will have something put away for these purposes and that kitty would have been growing since the girl’s childhood. You brought up a point of “what if the grooms parents are not that well-off”. If groom’s parents were to be working under the assumption that roughly 50% of their son’s wedding and marriage start-up expenses are to be met by them, perhaps they would create such kitties too… just speculating.

“display and pressure” are relative — to me a lavish wedding whose expenses are footed by the girls family, and where dispoportionate level of gifts given by one side are indications of this social conditioning. It is of course FAR preferable to the arm-twisting and conditional marriages one sees.

My thoughts are not a departure from the original dowry FAQ…. if you see the next para in the faq.

      Nevertheless if parents wish to give anything to their daughter on the occasion of her marriage, they should give it in her own name and see that she is fully aware of how to manage the assets and capable of using them according to her own wishes and needs.

Shailabh Nagar on Thu Jun 15, 2006 2:45 pm

LS Aravinda wrote:

I was trying to get at what definition of dowry would be used that people would be pledging to work against and whether that can be something as rigid

ANTI DOWRY campaign pledge and faq may be a good start.

The pledge and FAQ were quite useful and seem like a good way of conveying what is meant. In particular,

Any gift given by the bride’s family to the groom’s family as a condition of marriage, under social pressure for fulfilling customs, or for showing the bride’s family status or under fear of ill- being of the bride, is a dowry. A gift given without such display or pressure or condition is not considered a dowry.

I felt that the direction in which Radhika was going with her interpretation of a gift given willingly went against the last line….and hence the questioning…

In line at the Kurla railway station, I conversed with a gentleman who started mentioning his child’s wedding and I started mentioning the dowry free wedding campaign. He also proposed hypothetical scenarios and asked me if that was dowry or not. I simply said that as an observer I may not know but the persons giving and receiving will know what they are doing and it is up to them to think judiciously about this, if they believe in the campaign, and act accordingly.

Very well put.
Sorry for being the online equivalent of your railway gentleman and
creating a “hypothetical scenario” diversion in this thread :-)

I think Ravi and your suggestions on getting feedback from the people
who use this kind of site would be quite valuable in taking action.

–Shailabh


Vani Vemparala on Wed Jun 14, 2006 5:54 am

And what if the groom’s parent’s aren’t as well off ? Do you advocate the girls parent’s should hold back in giving so they fit this proposed definition of what is dowry and what isn’t ? This isn’t a rhetorical question but a real one.

I think the issue is one of expectation. whether groom’s parents and rich or poor, they cannot have any expectations that girl’s parents should/shouldn’t do something.

let me give an example. if groom’s parents are not that well off, would they invite 1000 guests, if they were footing the bill? may be not. so why should they, if the bride’s parents are the ones who are paying for it? groom’s parents being ‘poor’ as in your example, does not entitle them to a single paisa of bride’s/bride’s parents money. Marraige is not a lottery ticket. If the starting of the life together is with these expectations (which have nothing to do with intrinsic qualities of two people, who are going to be living together), it is quite a slippery slope from there, IMO.

I think some of the posts here are talking about the expectations on the bride’s parents that have been levied for so long. if the parents of bride are ’empowered’ enough to make decisions (irrespective of societal expectations) whether they want/not want to give, those examples will automatically not fit into the campaign.

As I understand, the campaign exists because this expectation exists and reaches ugly levels quite frequently in a myriad of forms.


manoj tammiraju on Tue Jun 13, 2006 7:07 pm

As radhika was mentioning may be its the sharing of expenses that would bring down the way money is spent in marriages. well with this issue partly the fault attributes to both the sides, groom and the bride.

The major problem I feel with dowry and many other things is that many don’t see these things as issues unless some art film/documentary or an utter tragedy points it out blatently as these are so ingrained in the society making us callous to their presence and acceptance. For some even if they see it around unless it happens in their family they even don’t care. And many even if they see don’t realize the potetial impact they can make to society they live in (both positive or negative).

What do you all think about starting out with questions to our own AIDers and see in a week what all we feel about this system as such and suggestions on how to counter it. Since we (guys) in AID were complimented to be a “good boys” in conference :wink: and in AID there are girls who are saying “death to dowry”, lets see on a whole what we all feel and how much we commit to the issue. I believe the survey suggested by Brunda and Dwiji is a good start.

I feel the questions should converge in bringing up the point that what ever some of us might do as a fashion and others consider as tradition is turning out to be a compultion to many. Probably we leaving out some of this “maryada” or “shaan” or “status” things to a little extant might bring in a good change and stop this unnecessary selling and buying process.

My way of looking at it is surely not to suggest in having ideal marriages like signing registers… The dreams of grand marriages is no harm as long as we are observing the social impacts we might be causing. Leaving alone those things… enjoyammadi 8) …..

____________________________________________________________
My discussions with some really outspoken and well educated girls and guys:

1. Its ok as long as the dowry is a one time affair as its pretty common and as long as the grooms side doesn’t pester again and again, I don’t mind my father giving a dowry. (what happens if they do?? No idea)

2. I am not interested in dowry and all things mama but you know these are formalities of parents. I don’t care much about it and why should I when they are capable of giving and my parents are not forcing anything anyway.

3. When guy says it would be good to share the expenses as its not like one is giving and other is taking but two families getting together… The response was nah it would not look nice upon us, though its a good thinking.

4. If I won’t someone else will give and if I haven’t had sister I would have waited to say I would marry the guy who won’t ask for dowry. Well anyways even if some may not ask dowry they would be looking at the aspect that I am earning and my salary comes in. So who do you think is better the one who openly asks dowry or who had such a thing in mind and marries me giving a show as if he is Lord Rama.

5. Come on ra I don’t like dowry but see its a status symbol. My cousin was given a crore and me being in US my parents expect to show my worth more than that. Above all do you know they would think that I have some defect if there is no mention of dowry.


Ravi Kuchimanchi on Tue Jun 13, 2006 2:00 pm

hi all,

when we say no dowry we expect the couple will resist asking or taking dowry that can be initiated by their parents and others. dowry will in all likelihood be discussed by them and we hope and expect they actually succeed in haVING A dowry-free MARRIAGE.

no caste means we wont allow caste to be disclosed in matrimony announcements. again it will in all likelihood come up in discussions they have with each other and family members. i have seen several AID pairs whose parents succeeded in preventing their inter-caste marriage.

maybe on both counts — dowry and caste — we should ask people advertising to say if they have their parents consent for dowry-free and inter-caste weddings before they use our site. if they have do not have or do not want to involve their parents while placing ad. they should state how their parents are likel;y to react and how they will convince their parents.

we should request couple to give us post-wedding feedback on how they handled dowry and caste and to what extent they had to compromise.

likewise even one of them can give anonymous feedback on negative aspoects — like if parents succeeded in breaking marriage plans or if they married but dowry was actually taken. we should have a way where even we dont know who the person is who is writing to us but know its genuine as s/he used a code number that the computer assigned to him/her at time of placing ad.

these feedback should be made available sans all personal references on matrim. site.

ravi


Standard
Resources

Educational and non profit outreach in US

Educational and non profit outreach in us

Aashish (Bay Area) is taking care of sending calendars to schools in the US. Renuka, Swati and selva are taking care of sending to orgs in india.
We are actually sending to university departments and a few nonprofit organisations working in areas related to sustainable development, india, agriculture and poverty – here is the list of what we have so far – pls suggest additional names. Also if you can suggest high school teachers who would use the calendar for educational purposes we would like to send to them as well.

we have drafted this cover letter to send with it:

Dear ………..

Greetings on behalf of the Association for India’s Development. Please accept our gift of a complimentary 2009 calendar. Thousands of hours of labor of love were put into forging the partnerships with the people at the forefront of social change and sustainable development in India, and developing this publication as a tool to raise awareness on issues of food security, livelihood of farmers, sustainability of farming and vitality of Mother Earth.

As a group of volunteers, we have been alarmed by the agrarian crisis in India. As we studied the issue, we were awakened to the crisis in the United States as well. We see the links between this global crisis and many issues of human development, and through Association for India’s Development, we are joining with grasroots organizations in rural and remote areas in India to address these holistically. In solidarity with people’s movements and non-governmental organizations, AID works to address issues of poverty, injustice, environment, human rights, health, education, livelihoods and all aspects of development.

We have come across your work and would like to stay in contact with you. May we call on you for guidance when we are working on issues related to your areas of research and expertise? We would appreciate it if you could share this calendar with your colleagues or students. And please do let us know if we can ever be of help as you work on issues of rural development, sustainable agricutlure and related issues. We have 35 chapters and several hundred volunteers in the United States, working with over 100 grassroots organizations in India.

With warmest wishes for the new year,

Standard
Comment

Maternal mortality in the first world

Re: maternal mortality in the first world

New postby LS Aravinda on Sat Nov 08, 2008 7:59 am

As with so many issues, we cannot do justice to the problem as it affects people in the third or fourth worlds, if we examine the problem only there. We must also recognize how this persists in the first world, affecting the affluent as well as those less so, and particularly prevalent among the third / fourth world pockets within the first world. In part this helps us understand reasons for maternal mortality that may not have to do with money or state-of-the art facilities. What are the factors related to attitudes, inequality, that contributed to this? How can cultures moving towards affluence and superior technology take care along the way to overcome or avoid the factors that allow maternal mortality to persist in the first world?

Maternal Morality rates in the US – ranked 20th according to CDC and 41st according to UN & WHO – are believed to be under-reported (only 21 US states record on the death certificates if the deceased was recently pregnant). Currently CDC reports maternal mortality rate to be 13 / 100,000 live births, up from 12 in 2003. It is also up from 8 in 1982, and once again higher than 10 , which was the rate in 1977. [A UN / WHO report (2007) places the US maternal mortality rate at 1 / 4800 or 21 / 100,000]. Maternal mortality in the African American community in the US is double, or more – one source reported 34 / 100,000 live births. Poor pre- and post-natal care, in-hospital neglect, denied right to information for patients, and low status of women, vulnerability of pregnancy / motherhood all play a role in this.

Midwife Ina May Gaskin has studied maternal mortality and complications in pregnancy and birth in the US and the social and political factors that cause these to persist and, in recent years, increase. She has raised awareness through the Safe Motherhood Quilt Project.

In “Masking Maternal Mortality, “(Mothering, March-April 2008, pp64-71), Ina May Gaskin asks the crucial question – WHY are we not talking about this serious issue in the United States? Why are we not alarmed that it persists? To her questions, I would add, what can developing countries like India learn from the persistence of maternal mortality in the US, as birth practices are rapidly changing – reducing risks in some spheres, while perhaps unkowingly increasing risks in others?

She writes about shocking cases of maternal death in the US. One case is that of Army soldier Tameka McFarquar who was transferred to New York from her tour of duty in South Korea after becoming pregnant. However, 10 days after being discharged from Samaritan Hospital in New York, she was found dead in her apartment, her newborn also dead from dehydration as there was no one else to notice that the mother was unable to care for her.

Just one follow-up visit would have detected the problem that cost her her life. Tragically, her chances of survival might have been higher had she not transferred to the US. South Korea has a lower maternal mortality rate than the US.

– Aravinda

references:
In May Gaskin, “Masking Maternal Mortality,” Mothering, March-April 2008, pp 64-71.
U.S. ranks 41st in maternal mortality
Maternal Mortality Shames Superpower US
Racial And Ethnic Disparities In Maternal Mortality – American Medical Association
Pregnancy-Related Mortality Surveillance — United States, 1991-1999
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/80743.php
Pioneering midwife crusades for natural birth


[OP]

Jay Jayakumar

When the heavily pregnant woman had complications during labour, the villagers of Shattak faced a problem. The nearest hospital was 60km (37miles) away and they had no car.

“We got a ladder,” says Abdul-Majid, the head of the village’s health shura (council) recalling the incident over four years ago.

The villagers then laid the woman on the ladder and 20 men took turns to carry the make-shift stretcher along a rutted, windy track that rarely sees vehicles. The pace was agonisingly slow.

“We didn’t make it to the hospital,” says Mr Abdul-Majid. “The mother died on the way.”

……….
For almost 16 babies born, one woman will die in labour. As a country, Afghanistan is ranked second in the world for maternal mortality rates after Sierra Leone.

But health professionals in the province are optimistic that a new project is reducing the numbers of deaths.

Run by the Aga Khan Health Services, a midwife trainee programme selects bright young women from districts across the province.

The students take an 18 month course in the provincial capital, Fayzabad, before returning to their villages as trained midwives.

Standard
Letter to Editor

Interlinking Rivers / dams for Bihar?

Interlinking Rivers / dams for Bihar?

Sat Nov 01, 2008 6:57 am

River-link project assumes urgency after Kosi disaster
RC Rajamani
NEW DELHI, Oct. 29: The death and devastation caused by the floods and consequent breach of embankments, leading to deviation of the Kosi river’s course has given a keen sense of urgency to the nationwide river link project that has been in contemplation for decades. full textLetter to The Statesman:
Re: River-link project assumes urgency after Kosi disaster

Dear Editor,

We have many lessons to learn from the devastating floods on Kosi river.

We need to give higher priority and budget to desilting the river bed and maintaining existing embankments so that they serve their purpose. We should not seek to solve every problem with a new dam that would in effect alter river flows in a haphazard and shortsighted manner.

In particular we must be extremely cautious before proposing any project involving a large dam on the Kosi. This region is prone to low-intensity earthquakes. Impounding such a volume of water may affect seismicity. Furthermore, Kosi river has too big a catchment area and that will face water logging if a large dam is constructed on it. Even if a dam provides a short term solution to flooding, it may be at the risk of a different disaster – earthquake, or loss of agricutlural productivity in one of India’s most densely populated state. Interlinking rivers would only send water south to less densely populated states, and require the food cultivated there to be transported north.

Barh Mukti Abhiyan convener DK Mishra has stated that the floods of this year are due to negligence. Let us take more care of our resources rather than jumping forth into megaprojects of uncertain merit and sizable risk.

Aravinda

Standard