Camel In The Tent

Namma Bengaluru’ has a tendency to become a home to anyone who finds his way to this place. This belief is probably receiving confirmation for the umpteenth time when the residents of Bangalore realise that hundreds of camels that were walked down all the way from Madhya Pradesh last summer have chosen to stay back in the city at the behest of their masters. Though animal rights activists were very concerned about the possible ill-effects of being displaced from their environment, the camels showed that they could adapt to the capital like second home!

These camels enliven the lives of the children and enterprising adults of Bangalore by their very presence. Though they have traversed through the major cities in southern India, the camel minders have realised that Bangalore has been a lucrative bet. Chandan and Sunil who accompany two of the camels are a twosome among several other youngsters who are very happy with their innovative venture. They gratefully acknowledge that coming to the IT capital has spelt a great relief in their economically strained lives. They charge anywhere between 10 to 20 rupees for a joyride of 10 minutes and have found several spots in the city hotspots for their novel business.

They have camped along the outer ring road and enter the city at various points along with their extended family and friends and hope to reap a good profit by the end of June before they migrate to another place. The men are not alone in this undertaking, their women and children have accompanied them to help them with the cooking and housekeeping.

While some camels enjoy eating the green foliage from the trees of Bangalore and accepting the bananas and watermelons offered by the eager crowds of children, some others preferred to sulk and fuss as they were unable to experience their native flavour. On the contrary the camel owners seemed to enjoy every moment in the town. When the camel owners were asked what they like best about Bangalore, they came out with the well worn out answer, the weather! Besides they appeared to be very surprised because just about everyone spoke Hindi which sounds similar to their native tongue, but it is the sound of the ringing cashbox which is the most pleasant jingle of them all.

Are we failing to read between the lines? Are camels able to adapt to Bangalore climes, because they feel more or less at home in this place which is balding on the green cover?

Green Building Practices

Green plumbing practices are being implemented as part of the overall concept of ‘green buildings’ which has been propagated by the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC).

“The IGBC criteria for green buildings have water efficiency as an integral part. Water-efficient landscaping, water-efficient air-conditioning systems, innovative waste water technologies and water use reduction by use of water-efficient fixtures are the main features of this project. Apart from the mandatory aspects, this project also pays detailed attention to other aspects of water management like storage, treatment, conveyance and distribution of water.  Apparently this exercise will consume energy. Conservation and judicious use of water should not result in thoughtless waste of energy. Hence the project also sees to it that energy is saved to a large extent and there is a reduction in the quantum of residual water to be disposed off.

The concept of green buildings should be accepted as a critical necessity rather than an option.

The Indian Plumbing Association (IPA) has been playing a very important role in sensitising the industry about green practices. Today, several renowned international plumbing product manufacturers have entered the Indian market with their international products which follow a uniform plumbing code. This measure now allows the end-users to choose from a wide variety of water conserving plumbing fixtures.

President of Indian Plumbing Association Sudhakaran Nair says that the organisation’s mission is to propagate the cause of ‘Better Plumbing for Better Living.’   Green Plumbers India (GPI) was launched on February 5, 2010 with the mission of setting the plumbing scenario of our country right. This body is working with the plumbing and mechanical industry, government departments, large construction organisations, educational institutions, developers, and builders to implement ambitious green plumbing practices. Green Plumbers India has a national training and accreditation programme that assists plumbers and professionals concerned to understand their role in environment and public health.

The organisation’s goal has been to train and deploy a green army of thousands of plumbers and professionals to promote the benefits of water conservation and the reduction of green house gas emissions. The focus of Green Plumbers India is on advising the consumer and improving plumbing and mechanical systems through the use of energy-efficient and water-saving technologies. In the long run, they hope to include plumbing systems with reference to heating, ventilation and refrigeration systems.

When one analyses the impact of the programme, one can see it touch the lives of manufacturers, wholesalers, contractors, designers and plumbers – in other words –  the entire industry.

This step will not only spell prosperity for the plumbing industry but will ensure energy, healthy and hygienic society.

Guarding Books With Technology

Thousands of books in libraries, both public and private, across the globe are under constant threat of being soiled, torn or destroyed. Radha Prathi reports on digital aids that can help to curb this menace

Some members who borrow books from a library do not intend to return them. What makes matters worse is the fact that alert librarians and security systems have not been able to curtail such crimes effectively.

Investigation into the matter revealed that ‘book-lifterss’ choose busy slots of time like breaks, or check-in/ check-out time. 3M, a company in the US, a few years ago, wondered if they could create a higher level of security for public libraries. Their research aimed at a secure system which could facilitate librarians to spend more time with the members, helping them to choose the right reference material rather than playing guard to the books.

The research team worked hard and came up with digital aids for shelf-reading, weeding and detection systems in order to provide security, reliability, and accuracy of library material.

Tattle Tape  

It is a thin transparent magnetised ribbon which is pasted on one of the pages in a book. When the borrower checks the book out of the library, the librarian will deactivate the tattle tape so that the electronic doors programmed to identify such misappropriation do not beep when the person steps out with the book.


Rewritable radio frequency identity (RFID) tags are pasted on books to record details of books, CDs and DVDs with reference to the subject, author, edition and acquisition number. This system is complemented by conversion stations which provide a quick and easy solution for converting bar-coded library material to RFID technology. RFID tags help a librarian update his log book, simplify the stock checking process and also locate books which have been misplaced or hidden intentionally.

Digital Library Assistant

The Digital Library Assistant is like a laser detector. It is operated by an inbuilt remote control system programmed in such a way that when waved over rows of books, it networks with the RFID tags and identifies books that have been displaced. The digital library helps a member to take or return a book and pay fines without manual help.

Self Check Systems

The Self Check system is a round-the-clock service. Librarians who have installed these security systems in libraries vouch for the fact that it helps them function efficiently.
While technology can only help in bringing down the crime, it is up to each individual to treat books with respect and care.

Keep The Pests Away

Gone are the days of homemade remedies. Radha Prathi says it’s the age of the pest control industry. Here’s a firm that offers pest control solutions to individual homes and apartments

There was a time when, if people found flies, mosquitoes, cockroaches, spiders, or any other pest around their homes or offices some of them shrieked while the more brave-hearted reached for a broom to beat the life out of them.

Masala vadas and spiced cheese were used as baits to trap mice and the floor was coated with bleaching powder to keep fleas away.

Homes were scrubbed cleaned and washed with lime from time to time.

These were but simple, homely methods of keeping homes pest-free. Today there are firms springing all over the globe, mostly in urban areas, to take up the onerous task of pest control.

It will not be wrong to say that pest control has the potential of turning into a huge industry in future as the population is on a steady increase in the urban world.

Housing in the form of apartments, unplanned plumbing system, open drains and sewer canals are proving to be a haven for pests which can inflict unforeseen miseries on the humankind in the form of diseases and ailments.

In such a scenario Rentokil a UK based firm since 1927 has stepped into urban India just one year ago and hope to carry out pest control, putting to use their experiences in the field that has been garnered from a thousand of their branches across the globe.

They have cleansed offices, organisations, homes, museums, libraries, hotels, public places and even trains of pests in their long years on the job. Rentokil has a clear agenda and hopes to educate the public about the harmful effects of pests on their general well-being, health and property.

Sam Easaw, MD, Rentokil India Private Ltd, hopes to bring in international standards of hygiene and sanitation to prevent the transmission and spread of infectious diseases.

Rentokil which operates from various cities in South India not only offer pest control to individual homes for a nominal fee of Rs 3,000 for a two-room apartment, they also offer a package deal for entire blocks of buildings.

The field workers from the firm visit the premises three or four times a year for this fee to keep the home pest free.

The firm deals with just about every kind of menacing pest using different methods of pest control.

They have come up with innovative methods called vector plasma fly killers, gelling, and fumigation among other things.

Shivram, a field worker, finds his job fulfilling and has learned to do his job using the test and research method and carry out his duty professionally.

He vouched for the fact that workers in the firm are encouraged to safeguard their own health by minimising any adverse impact on their operations.

Their customers are very happy with their services. Rozario, who works with a private firm has found the suggestions and solutions of Rentokil to be very practical and user friendly.

Prabhakaran who has been the sales director with the Bangalore office for the past one year, is of the firm belief that it is the unclean ways of man which breeds pests.

He feels that it is not enough if one small area is kept clean and pest free for pests have a way of breeding and infesting areas time and again.

Hence the entire world has to keep in mind and work in synchronisation to get rid of pests.

He says that the first step towards achieving the desired goal will be to tie up with the government and launch into a structured activity.

Wamgroup, Italy, introduces Consep (Reclaiming grits and water from concrete) in the Indian market. Consep is a concrete reclaimer used in ready-mixed concrete batching plants for recycling concrete washed out from truck mixers and in pre-cast concrete batching plants for recovery of concrete from the moulds.  The reclaimer/separator, one of the most widely used of its kind, consists of a conveyor screw with a large sedimentation hopper. Excess concrete diluted with washing water is introduced into the hopper where solid particles have time to settle on the bottom of the screw conveyor trough which is connected with the sedimentation hopper. The particles are conveyed and lifted by the inclined conveyor screw towards an outlet spout located at the machine end opposite the sedimentation hopper. During the conveyance, the solid particles are washed perfectly clean from crusts. The reclaimer/separator discharges the aggregates through its outlet spout from where they drop to the ground. From here they can be collected in order to be reintroduced into the concrete manufacturing process. The remaining washing water, which by now is free from any larger solid particles, is discharged into a tank or pit for reuse.  The company also plans to launch a new manufacturing plant in Shahpur at Thane District in Maharashtra by the last quarter of 2010.

Keeping Air Pollution At Bay

Energy recovery ventilators, fitted to ACs could help keep indoor air pollution under check, notes Radha Prathi

Office spaces and homes would do well to have energy recovery ventilators and pollution meters fixed to their ACs. Photo: Modccon InteriorsMost of our cities are punctuated with yoga and pranayama schools where students are taught to breathe evenly and watch their breathing habits in order to overcome all their problems related to their health and general well-being.

Despite having learnt the art of breathing well, the urban citizen does not have a fair chance to exercise his knowledge on the subject for he lives in a positively polluted world.

The ever growing concrete buildings, traffic situations, industries and factories dotted all over the city are contributing generously to the poisonous content in the life giving air that we breathe. If at all man chooses to practice his newly learnt skill within the premises of his air conditioned home he cannot be assured of breathing pure air.

ACs, coolers do little

Today man has chosen to opt for air conditioning in his residence, office and public premises to beat the heat and lack of adequate ventilation. Though air conditioners and coolers do their job well and keep the temperatures at pleasant levels it is evident that that do little or nothing about free circulation of air. Invariably people who happen to spend most of their time in air conditioned premises breathe the stale air because circulation of fresh air is cut off almost entirely.

Research has revealed that breathing musty air can make man susceptible to a number of ailments like headaches, dizziness, eye and throat irritation, shortness of breath, nausea, drowsiness, fatigue and memory loss in the short term. Those who spend longer hours for several years in air conditioned premises can be affected by fatal diseases related to lungs and contract asthma and lung cancer. Random tests in various premises both domestic and public in the contemporary era have revealed that indoor air happens to be 40 per cent more polluted than outdoor air.

Presence of formaldehydes, radon, asbestos, volatile organic compounds, from solvents, paints, varnishes and carpets among other things contribute to the pollution which result in rampant proliferation of bacteria, viruses and fungus in the premises.

It is a matter of irony that  the man who chooses to keep outdoor pollutants like sulphur, nitrogen di oxide, carbon monoxide and high pollen counts traps himself indoors in air conditioned premises ensuring that he is insulated against outside air without realising that air inside conditioned space can be substantially more hazardous than outdoor air.

Indoor air quality vital

It is high time that man started paying attention to indoor air quality as most buildings are opting for air-conditioning due to several practical reasons.

Many buildings are spending huge sums of money in making their buildings friendly in terms of temperature, humidity and odour without paying attention to indoor air quality.

Findings reveal that there has been an increase of 15 per cent in terms of asthmatic ailments which is directly related to poor indoor air quality.

Buildings situated amidst vast amounts of greenery with good ventilation systems are certainly the answer to the problem. All the same one has to taken into consideration the practical difficulties of translating such ideas into action. We must accept the fact that air conditioning systems have come to stay but we can certainly do something about stepping up the indoor air quality system.

Pollution meter

DRI-Desiccant Rotors International Pvt.Ltd. a multinational company based in India has been working on this subject for almost a decade now and they have come up with palpable solutions to overcome this problem. The company has come up with a carbon di oxide sensor a machine which helps to calibrate the carbon di oxide and other pollutant levels in any given premises.

This instrument which looks like a wireless telephone sets the stage to make suitable corrections and improvements in the indoor environment at reasonable prices.

ACs fitted with energy recovery ventilator

The designers of this ‘pollution-meter” have looked into various aspects of the new standards and the increased awareness set by eco-friendly green buildings besides taking care of older buildings which have been fit with air conditioners. The instrument also helps them to gauge the ventilation load. After the preliminary step of gauging the quality of air an Energy  Recovery Ventilator (ERV) is fit as an additional component to the existing air conditioner in order to cleanse the air by accelerating the circulation of air at a reasonable pace and price.

The ERV is a common accessory to air conditioners across the world these days. The desiccant coated energy recovery wheel, which slowly rotates between its two sections to facilitate the conditioning of indoor air supply and the distribution of outdoor air from the atmosphere to indoors, has proved to be a boon to freshening indoor air.

Fitting ERVs to air conditioners is picking up in India. It has paved way to new industry by supplementing to the air conditioning needs of the people. The constant increase in closed or sealed areas with inadequate or no ventilation of any sort has prompted the need for this new venture.

The plush office complexes, BPOs, call centers, software complexes, malls and most residences will do well to invest in this accessory at the earliest.

The capital and operating cost of ERVs is a trifle on the higher side at the moment, but there is a very good chance of the prices plummeting down as entrepreneurs see the demand for the product and work on optimising the role of ERV besides cost effectiveness giving a breather to unwholesome breathing conditions.

Finding Solutions To Plumbing Issues

Rampant urbanisation, industrialisation and short-sighted town planning have often scuttled the best-laid pipes,

writes Radha Prathi

Archaeologists who have excavated sites at Mohenjadaro and Harappa made one common observation. The ancient site, inhabited almost five millenniums ago, bore signs of functional and eco-friendly plumbing network, which spoke volumes of their advanced knowledge in the field.

There are many such examples of good plumbing in ancient India, but over a period of time the art was apparently forgotten because the people concerned lost sight of the basic principles of the art. Rampant urbanisation, industrialisation and short-sighted town planning scuttled the best laid pipes,  leaving us at large.
Today we are in a scenario where we dread the rainy season in the cities. The thought of overflowing sewage mixing with potable water and the attendant diseases that follow take toll of us year after year.

Though it is very easy to blame the government for the sorry state of affairs, it is imperative for us to remember that we too have a vital role to play in bringing about ‘the change that we want to see’.

Faulty plumbing

True, every building has a plumbing system that takes care of water and sewage lines, but many of them turn out to be faulty resulting in multifarious problems.

Experts in the field who belong to Indian Plumbing Association (IPA) feel that the root cause of the problem lies in the fact that 90% of plumbing works in the country are still carried out by the unorganised sector.

B S A Narayan, the vice president of IPA pointed out that, “A popular trend has been to treat plumbing as just another building service overlooking the fact that it has a direct impact on the health and safety of the population; not to mention the serious damages a poor installation can cause to the building structure.
Millions fall prey to epidemics and many lives are lost due to sanitation problems which can largely be rectified with increased awareness.”

It was with the intention of rectifying these and many other problems that IPA was born thirteen years ago.

The members researched the issue and have tried to work out a plausible solution to all plumbing problems in as best a manner as possible. They realised that lack of professionally trained plumbers proved to be the major drawback in the construction scene. While some plumbers had inherited the profession most were in the field by pure default.

Once IPA laid its finger on the difficulty, they decided to take up the onus of training plumbers.

They decided to collaborate with IAPMO (International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials, USA). The firm aims at creating uniform coding in the field of plumbing all over the world. Tom Collings, senior building inspector at IAPMO feels that awareness on standard methods and practices should be followed by the Indian Plumbing Industry to overcome lapses.

Abdul Matheen, director, IAPMO, Bangalore has realised that, in a country of nearly 1.2 billion people, not more than ten or fifteen consultants and contractors have the know how and experience to handle large and sophisticated plumbing projects.

He hopes to sow seeds of change in the plumbing industry through education.

The Association has introduced courses ranging from the layman to the qualified engineer which will help them to step up their practical knowledge on the subject. As part of its activities in the subcontinent, IAPMO India also plans to propagate Uniform Plumbing Codes training sessions and seminars.

Subash Deshpande, Director-Education & Certification  hopes to take the organisation to greater levels and set a benchmark in the world of plumbing.

As a fledgling venture, IAPMO hopes to tie up with the civil, architecture and environmental department of engineering college to study Uniform Plumbing Codes as a value-added subject, complimenting their course.
To find plumbers suitable jobs they have also launched  Plumbing Education to Employment Program(PEEP).

For existing buildings

The IAPMO team hopes to find solutions to re-lay pipes in existing buildings and monuments so that they also benefit from modern technology without affecting the buildings per se. Aspects like rain-water harvesting and solar heating will be taken into consideration in their future ventures.

The enthusiastic team that met Deccan Herald are completely in agreement with Neil Armstrong who said that it is one small step for man but a giant leap for mankind, in the realms of plumbing.

The Art Of Breathing Life Into A Building

Whenever you enter a new building, whether it is a home or an office, the first thing that strikes your eyes is its ambience or sometimes, the lack of it. As the old saying goes — “Clothes maketh the man” — so also the interior decoration, which lends beauty and dignity to the interiors of a building.

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What it needs

The interiors of any place can be given a facelift if the person in charge, has a sense of aesthetics, and has enough funds to go through the gamut of changes that the decorator deems necessary for the makeover. All this sounds easier said than done. Many a time, people with a great desire to do up their home, may be lacking in one of the two requirements or may have a little of both, which may not really be adequate for translating their dreams into reality.Perhaps a short course in interior decoration, can help them transform their passion into their profession.
Gone are the days when a course in interior decoration was usually undertaken by well-to-do housewives who wanted to spend their time usefully and learn a few things about home décor in the process.

Here to stay

Then there were a few freelance interior decorators who established their practice by setting up their own office.

These were a few reasons that parents and students of the great Indian middle class, refused to look at interior decoration as a course that could bring in a steady and sustainable income. Today, the course has a definite place in the realty business. The urban scene in India has hordes of well established full-fledged realtors, who not only deal with real estate, buildings, legal nitty-gritty, but even do up the house before actually handing over the key to the buyer. In such a scenario, it is apparent that they have professional interior decorators on their payrolls, with all the attendant benefits of a private sector employee, and it is needless to mention that their hands are always full with work.

Natural affinity

Well-known organisations like Chitra Kala Parishat, only insist that their potential student should be a responsible adult with a working knowledge of English, because that happens to be the medium of instruction; some basic mathematics and lots and lots of flair for the arts. For that matter, nearly all the teachers in such institutes mentioned that only if a student has a natural liking for “beauty and harmony”, besides having a keen and observant eye, can be truly successful. Creativity and innovation are in fact, the major qualifying factors for taking up a course in interior decoration and the candidate’s dormant skills are honed during these courses.

Polishing skills

Art schools across the country have floated several hobby classes and art appreciation courses, to assist the latent sense of aesthetics in people from several walks of life. For instance, the Chitra Kala Parishath in Bangalore has a six month part-time course for interested candidates. The Ken school of art and Kala Mandir in the city, have hobby courses which help individuals polish their skills and talents.

There are full-fledged diploma courses that span one or two academic years, depending on the course content offered by several institutes. Many students pursuing their undergraduate courses, take up these courses to augment their qualification with vocational value. The fee structure of these courses appears to be very varied, depending on the course content and placement factor.

Once students take up the course, they are re-introduced to some basic units of art, like line drawing, sketching, collage, landscape painting, and rudiments of clay modelling in the initial stages. They are introduced to the world of colours and their psychological impact on people, architecture of historical importance, and the materials used in them, the style and the utility value of certain ideas, the influence of geographical factors on certain constructions, and so on and so forth. These days, students are also being taught the rudiments of Vaastu Shaastra and Feng Shui so that they do not appear like novices when they actually start working.

The students are taught through several lectures, demonstrations, power point presentations, videos and small trips to significant buildings in the vicinity. Once they are exposed to the vastness of the subject, they are tested and counselled on the various areas in which they could specialise. The guide helps the student to identify his or her channel of specialisation and pursue the desired direction. The second half of the course is usually a series of project works, helping the student comprehend the industry requirements. Nearly all institutes encourage students to pursue their area of interest, even if there happens to be only one learner who has chosen a certain subject.

Career prospects

As is the trend these days, there are campus interviews for interior decorators too! Many builders employ versatile interior decorators in their teams, after a test or two. Academic background is never taken into consideration as long as the candidate displays an inexhaustible spirit of creativity, comprehensive knowledge of the subject and a penchant to work in an organised manner. Working knowledge of English and a couple of Indian languages, is considered as a plus point because it will help them interact with clients from diverse linguistic backgrounds.

Besides the realty sector, successful candidates can find jobs in the field of visual art in several capacities.

Students who have distinct drawing and painting skills, can find themselves jobs in museums, art emporiums and archeological departments, for copying masterpieces, murals and illustrations of another era, which are in the process of renovation.

Now that the world has come to a general agreement that aesthetic sensitivity is the key that opens the hearts of millions of people across the globe when they come across a place, one must stop to explore one’s inclination towards the field because it is certainly not very difficult to carve a blooming career out of this quality.

Smart Investment

If you don’t want to rush into buying property, think of art as a viable option for your homes, advises Radha Prathi S

Art pieces and artefacts are being increasingly seen as excellent forms of investments in these recessionary times.

Art pieces and artefacts are being increasingly seen as excellent forms of investments in these recessionary times. File photos for representational purposes only
The great Indian middle class sometimes displays a rare wisdom for it believes in the policy of “hope for the best but prepare for the worst”. Such an attitude can play a significant role especially when the recession monster is creeping in.  If you actually give it a thought you can use the situation to the hilt.

There is really no reason to be terrified about sailing through these rough tides if one pays attention investing in the right areas. If you think that buying a piece of property is not a viable option in the present scenario buy artefacts and antique pieces of considerable value at reasonable prices today and dispose them at a later date when the market looks up. In the meanwhile you can enjoy the company of beautiful things and dapple in the best art emporiums looking for a steal!

Tasteful decoration of one’s home should be the key and keen mantra of the savvy. When financial investment is coupled with a sense of aesthetics, India is the place to be, because we have just about every kind of artefact and in all feasible materials worked on intricately by experts in the field using a know-how which has been handed down traditionally over the ages.

Just about every major city in India has an art emporium or two which runs under auspices of its state government besides, housing, handicraft and art showrooms representing other states in the country.

Karnataka hosts Cauvery emporiums in major cities which house just about every kind of artefact that represent the art profile of Karnataka and have been doing regular consistent business over the decades. Officials and salespersons in the various Cauvery emporiums opine that sales have increased in the recent past. The famous M G Road in Bangalore which is dotted with art emporiums at regular intervals has become the cynosure for many a prospective buyer.

Just about any artistic item under the sun is available in these shops for a price, hence it is advisable or the prospective buyer to do some ground work before he actually launches into a buying spree.

Check for authenticity

 He must check for the triple factor of the items that he chooses to buy- authenticity, aesthetics and uniqueness in terms of material, workmanship and rarity.

While items made of sandalwood, teak or rose wood rank superior on cannot discount the beauty or value of brassware, Bidriware, wrought-iron, porcelain, silverware, and glassware among other things.

The range of traditional and folk paintings is another world by themselves.
Traditional Thanjavur, Mysore and Madhubani paintings with traditional motifs cost a good bit more than their humbler country cousins because precious metals and gems are used in the course of painting. These paintings not only have a longer life but also have a fairly steady market value.

Appealing pieces of traditional folk paintings like the Rajasthani par , Warli , Patua Pithora, Patta Chitra or palm leaf painting from Orissa, traditional Thanjavur and Mysore paintings when displayed in turns will not only embellish your walls but will contribute indirectly to sustain the traditional arts and the artists in the process of safeguarding your investments during these difficult times.

When you nurture a social conscience along with your artistic penchant to possess all that is bright and beautiful, you can be rest assured that you will find the experience of beautifying your home very invigorating and worthwhile.

Once your collection gains momentum you will find that the rough tide has ebbed and you have spent your time and money wisely and beautifully and are all set to take the next step forward.

Overcoming The Slump

Recession – real estate slump – limping economy, can all be tacked with implementation of the right kind of action plans, feels Radha Prathi.

“The inspiration should come from responding to unfulfilled needs, requiring a willingness to view people as individuals not types — and life as it really is — not as we would like it to be. Designs are thus rooted in the variety of human experience. Only when they express heterogeneity, continuous change and dignity of the individual, can they truly express the spirit of democracy.”

                                                                                        – Donald Macdonald

The whole world is talking about recession and is frantic about doing something to retrieve itself from the brink of a financial disaster. One is led to believe that investments and acquiring property are words of blaspheme in the realty scene.

True, many people are being laid off from their jobs, and the salaries of highly paid techies are being halved and recession has set in, leaving everyone in a state of financial quandary and uncertainty.

But seasoned economists, financial and real estate Moguls assure us that these are passing clouds and the economy will bounce back in time. Though their reassurances fill one’s heart with a surge of hope, it is really very hard for the common man to understand how bits and pieces of the economic puzzle can fall into place till things are hunky dory all over again.

Sorting out problems

Man has overcome many a crisis in the past and will certainly do so in future, if he grapples the rudiments of his problems, sorts them out and work on the same, meticulously, till the economic structure straightens out in due course of time. In other words, he will prosper much more than his expectations if he learns the art of making the best out of a bad bargain.

Right time to invest

People who have put away a good amount of money for future, will do well to invest in buying land now. Land prices have never been lower in the recent past, both, in and around the city. Such being the case, it is needless to mention that land in remote villages and wastelands, is available at throwaway prices, merely if asked for it.
A sensible entrepreneur or a group of enterprising moneyed people, can pool their resources and buy non-agricultural lands in far-flung villages or remote wastelands, and consider erecting seats of industry and companies in the new venues.

Architects, builders, interior decorators, furnishers, daily labourers, electricians, plumbers and a whole lot of professionals dealing with the nitty-gritty of the building logistics, will perhaps the happiest people in the country because of this trend.

This move will not only be mobilising the capital but will be in a position to plough back money into society, by generating a demand for raw materials used in buildings and also creating job opportunities for several people among the local populace in various capacities.

Right balance

It will be easier to plan and execute a practical, eco-friendly planned township in a new area, taking into consideration the possibilities of growth in the near future. The government and NGOs’ will lose no time in putting up the infrastructure in place, to help the world achieve access to the new hub of activity by way of transport and communication. The congestion in the cities will ease out.

If this idea is put into action right away, people will be occupied and will have decent amount of economic sustainability through the blue period and even before the project comes to an end, the economy would have bounced back, lacing the society with a better shade of prosperity. More money with the people will spell more demand for goods and once the basic needs of man are fulfilled, he will look for investing in lasting items like — property, and lo and behold — the realty scene will be smiling quite like the cat that got the cream!!!

As We Sip Our Coffee

Radha Prathi charts the life and times of coffee planters in Chikmagalur district and observes that Naxalism, urbanisation and the disintegration of the joint family system have posed several obstacles in their lives.

When Baba Budan brought a handful of coffee seeds to India on his way back from Mecca in 1670 AD, little did he realise that he would be altering the lifestyle of Indians, the southerners in particular, in more ways than one. The aromatic beans that were first grown in the hills of Chikmagalur district grew ever so well, almost as if it were their native land.

It appeared as if the Western Ghats were specially bestowed with varying altitudes to grow different varieties of this berry in the optimum possible manner. The umpteen brooks and rivers that gushed forth among these hills took care of the irrigation. The unerring monsoon cycle punctuated with showers of customised rainfall, traditionally known as the Revathi male in Kannada (Blossom showers) between the last week of March and mid-April helped coffee plants to blossom. While Arabica coffee preferred to grow above 3000 feet above the sea level, the Robusta variety was contented to flourish at lower levels. All the townships at the foothills of the Western Ghats flourished in the green business while Chikmagalur ruled the roost with maximum number of plantations. While the planters raked in profits that were hitherto unheard of, the local impoverished populace found employment that fetched them better wages than an agricultural labourer. Over a period of time, working in a coffee plantation became equivalent to being employees of a rural industry because they were given provident fund, retirement benefits and loan facilities.

Government organisations like Coffee Board of India and private companies vied with one another to process and market coffee both in India and abroad. In fact, India exports seventy per cent of its produce; using the rest for in-house consumption. This discrepancy in the ratio had always disturbed planters in the past; nevertheless they just allowed things to take their course because they consistently benefitted in the end.

They did benefit until a couple of years ago. When there was a crash in the international market for coffee between 1998 and 2004, the owners of coffee plantations in the state reeled under the blow. It was around the same time too that the monsoon cycle tripped.
Untimely rain (in January) let the coffee plants flower at a time when the the harvest was going on. The hillsides which were exploited to the hilt demanded more fertilisers than ever before.

The waters of the Cauvery, Hemavathi, Yakshi, Bhadra among others started running dry causing unprecedented disruption in irrigation.

Manpower in the Ghat sections decided to seek better prices for their work. Soon, labour prices went up three times over. Experienced hands migrated to greener pastures leaving plantation owners high and dry. Life has been a roller-coaster ride for planters ever since. Leading planters who do not want to be named reveal that they suspected their labourers of working hand in glove with Naxalites who had started to infest the area and posed a threat to their lives and property.

Some planters* have introduced mechanisations to supplement farmhands. While some others have ushered in labourers from Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Orissa to overcome their problems, they have realised that it will be a long time before they learned the knack of picking berries and adjust themselves to the local terrain and climate.
Most planters have educated their children who have chosen to migrate in search of greener pastures. The disintegration of the joint family system, urbanisation and increase in Naxalite attacks has created a horde of obstacles in planters’ lives. Strife and tension have become the ruling emotions in the life of a planter these days, as most of them admit.

Many of them who have been exasperated by the series of troubles that have been bogging them down have sold their plantations and moved on (see story below) while others are waiting for their lands to fetch a good price for they do not want their children to lead insecure lives in more ways than one.

All the same, the coffee business has not been affected in a big way, as the coffee bar culture has crept into the Indian scene in a big way. Leading entrepreneurs (read coffee shop chains) are packaging coffee drinking as an exalting experience, and suddenly the coffee market has gained a novel dimension.

Jagannath, a leading coffee planter of Arsikatte, who has seen many ups and downs in his rendezvous with coffee for 30 years feels that the situation can be rectified. If plantation owners take up marketing their produce by dressing it up with value-addition from farm -gates till the customer takes the first sip, the situation can still be salvaged, he says. In recent times, planters in Coorg have decided to stick to Robusta plantation because it taxes them considerably lesser in terms of labour and also allows them to grow other crops like areca and pepper simultaneously, while others have decided to go ahead with Arabica plants that demand all their attention, time and money. Some planters are trying to supplement their income by engaging tourists in an experience of home stay amidst coffee shrubs.

Planters are of the collective opinion that coffee drinking should be promoted within the country which will step up the demand so that they need not be constantly under the mercy of foreign bodies to sell their produce. They are sure that can capture the market gainfully again if their countrymen reach out for a cuppa coffee as often as they feel like it!

(* Names of planters have been withheld on request)