Monday, 27 July 2015

How to make and keep India clean

This article is not an advice, or opinion. Hell, it's not even a tip of how to do things...what I would call this post to be is a request for change.

As the title reads, I'm going to talk about making and keeping India clean. Why am I writing this? Let's just say that I care.

My answer makes me sound a little arrogant, doesn't it? But what can I say. I just care.

There are many things that comes to other peoples mind when we speak about our country and here are the top ten that is very common on the internet (Not by any order)

1. 2nd most populous country in the world (Fact)
2. Brainy (True)
3. Bollywood (Very True but changing)
4. Disease (Have to agree)
5. Food (True)
6. Traditional Indian women wear (The best)
7. Traffic (Synonymous with first point)
8. Cows on streets (funny but embarrassing)
9. Curry leaves and smelly (Insult)
10. Pollution (Our own fault)

I even read somewhere on the net where people have mentioned about rape, 7/11 and even used certain words to insult us which I dare not write here. They are not on the top ten but still... Most of the people who stand before a camera and speak about India will obviously speak well because they are going to appear on TV (not all of them) but the general idea that most outsiders have about our country is not so good from my personal experience and I must also mention that there are many who admire us as well. Come on folks, people living in the north India think that southerners are inferior to them and the southerners hate the northerners. Though the times are changing, the gap is still pretty wide.

Now, to get into the topic of discussion. I know that most of you out there agree that India needs to be cleaned and I mean the literal cleaning (not the political one or the corruption one). Tossing items just as we walk on the road, spitting on the road, littering and even pissing by the side of the road is a common sight which you'll be able to see all across the country and this has to change. How many times have you crossed a land filled with garbage by the side of the road and thought to yourself or said to your friends 'Why does our government do this? Can't they see that they are polluting the land and not to mention the stink. Eww' But hello. You're the one who is throwing it, remember? What else can we do with this trash? We can't store them at our backyard. Of course we can't and that is why we use a landfill but all that it has done is pollute our environment. We have started to implement methods to recycle the waste but we are yet to reach there because only recently did we become aware of it.

But who is ready to clean? It's a labour man’s job not part of the job profile of a graduate right? Well think again. If a graduate does not have self-discipline which he studies and learns for twenty years in schools and colleges, what can you expect from an illiterate?

Not only India but all major and completely developed countries had overflowing landfills when they were still immature but they acted on time. Below is a list of what the developed countries did and still do to get rid of their trash (Source: Internet)

China

In its search for a clean and sustainable way to dispose of the mounting garbage, Shanghai has a partnership with a US firm, Waste Management Inc (WMI) of Texas, the leading waste management services company in North America. WMI’s landfill gas and waste-to-energy projects get rid of 7 million tons of trash and produce energy equivalent to 14 million barrels of oil or 4 million tons of coal annually.
About 80 % of the city’s garbage ends up in landfills, so burning the trash and converting it to energy would be a significant space-saving measure. Burning waste reduces its volume by 90 % (residual ash is left). The energy produced is an economical alternative to fossil fuels and nuclear power.
Electronic Waste is a hot topic in China, and in Shanghai there are methods for recycling the e-waste. One such example is an e-waste pick-up hotline, run by New Jinhua Rubbish Recycling Center. The service includes picking up old appliances such as TVs and washing machines, as well as glass bottles and newspapers.

USA

They have a concept of Zero Waste, where they are trying to completely eradicate the landfills by recycling all the wastes and converting it into usable energy and they have a success rate of 80% in this concept. The sanitation trucks collect the garbage and instead of taking it to the landfills, the waste is taken directly to the recycling/transfer facilities surrounding the state. So, no landfills anymore.

UK

Three-hundred-eighty-five thousand tons are recycled. For example, shopping bags are recycled into garbage bags and old cardboard boxes are made into new cardboard boxes.
The remaining 146,000 tons are diverted via material recovery facilities, in-vessel composting, anaerobic digestion, mechanical biological treatment, mechanical heat treatment or energy generation from waste.
Out-of-date meat is sent to biomass-to-energy plants. An estimated 5,000 tons of meat that would otherwise go in the waste heap each year is converted into 2,500 mWh of renewable energy, according to Tesco, which says that's enough to power about 600 homes for a year.

Singapore

The Republic of Singapore has strict guidelines for cleanliness and environment. No one is allowed to remove even a single plant or a tree without the government authority. Laws of cleanliness in Singapore are so strict that even spitting is considered an offense.
  
Japan

First you have to have the proper bags. Each town has local bags that are marked with the town name and what type of garbage should go inside. They are clear so that the contents can easily be seen and the labelling is colour coded. In Toyota City plastic went in a black bag, burnable went in a green bag and metal went in a blue bag for example.

Next you have to make sure that you are putting the correct thing in the correct bag. For recyclable things like paper and plastic there is a little icon printed on the item to let you know, however it was not as easy as it seems. There were a lot of unwritten rules that weren't obvious like clean paper should get recycled but if the paper was dirty it should go in the burnable bag.

With the garbage sorted you have to make sure that you put the right items out at the right time. Burnable garbage was picked up every week on Tuesday and Friday, plastic every week on Monday, metal once a month on the second Wednesday and landfill once a month on the fourth Wednesday

For items that are not picked up at the drop off spots you need to take them to recycling centres and they pay you for it.

These steps are taken by the government. What can I as a common man do? I can't run these sanitation trucks (Not to forget that even they are common people)

All that the government can do is put laws to maintain a clean society but it is we who must abide to the law at least for the sake of self-discipline and cleanliness we can do it, I would say.


Here are the answers to your question

1. A company called Tesco, volunteered to convert 100% of its waste into usable energy and they have done it. A private grocery and merchandise retailer has achieved this milestone and how many such retailers do we have in India?

2. Freiburg, Germany : It is also one of the greenest cities in the world. The city is full of trees and hills which are spread all over. Both the government of Freiburg and the people living there try to keep the city neat and clean.

3. With a highly developed educational system, people in Adelaide have more sense than any other inhabitants in the world on how to keep their city clean. There are parks after every few meters and no one is allowed to throw anything on the roads.

4. Zuric : The Swiss recycling is not only educating people on how to properly recycle their waste but also teaching them how to use these recycled products more efficiently to reduce the energy consumption in the city.

5. Calgary, Canada : people of Calgary are taught 5 basic principles to follow in order to make the environment more clean and healthy. Those 5 points are Sewage System Quality, Water Drinkability and Availability, Waste Removal and Recycling, Traffic Congestion, and Air Pollution. People living there strictly adhere to the rules and do their duty to maintain the city clean.

6. Finally, the answer that shocked me the most : Vienna, Austria : People are caring and do not litter of streets

My job profile requires me to travel to many places. I too used to litter the streets and dumb garbage outside the compound wall of my house but when I was in places outside India I instinctively restricted me from doing so because no one else does it. I did it once though (unknowingly) and a citizen of that country picked up the coke can that I tossed by the road and dropped it in the trash can. What he did afterwards changed me entirely. He just smiled at me after doing the right thing and I've never felt more ashamed in my life.

When I returned to India I found myself surrounded by trash. After starting my regular life style in my home I even threw a piece of paper on the road while walking but immediately questioned myself Why am I not dropping the trash in the proper place? Are there no trash cans on the road? of course they are there at every corner of the street . Then why did I do it? The answer was quite simple : Neglect for cleanliness. Carelessness. No one is being harmed right?

We maintain a clean surrounding when we live in any western or European country but we do not show the same behaviour in our homeland.

We have acheived this in Gujrat but it was not the work of just one man. It was collaborative effort taken by the entire state. India is a large country and nothing can be acheived here without unity.



There are a lot of initiatives taken by the younger generation of India to maintain a clean society but that is done only by a select few. That mentality must change. In times to come the illiteracy rate is going to go way down and it is up to the educated society of India to do the right thing. Change cannot come over night but initiatives can.


Change starts from within. I have changed. Can you?


Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Tips for writing a successful novel



Every writer regardless of his/her success would always want to write a book which they can call their master piece. 

Aspiring writers want their first book to be a best seller. Well established writers would want their next book to be better than the previous one. So, in a way everyone is driven by success which they all know is hard to achieve. Well of course it's damn difficult but it's not impossible.

The most common question asked by aspiring writers is, what makes a novel so special that millions of people want to read it? But let me tell you, you already know the answer to this question. The other most asked question by aspiring authors is how can I write a bestseller? Well guess what, you already know the answer to this question too. We all know it and yet we keep searching the internet for the answer to these questions and we do it because we believe that there has to be a larger than life reason for books to be successful but the mantra to it is quite simple and here I'm going to try and list out a few methods that you can implement to write a book that others might like. What else is need to be said? Others liking your book is the first step towards success and if you have achieved THAT, then all that is left for you to do is to keep improving yourself.

So, here we go.....

1. Write a book that has a strong and likable character

Why do you think a The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the two other novels that followed it sold millions of copies? It's a two word answer. Lisbeth Salander. People all around the world were craving to know more about Salander. People wanted to know about her past, her life, the reason for her being insane (as she calls herself), how she tackles with emotions, how she overcomes the odds, how she overthrows men superior to her, and the list goes on. This is exactly what you have to do in your novel. Create a character about whom people would want to know more, this generates a sense of curiosity within your reader and makes people talk about your book. Now, there you have it, people talking about your book is your first success.

A lot of examples could be stated in this regards. The next character I want to talk about is Jack Reacher. The hard hitting, witty, Ex-MP from the US-Army is someone about whom I read a lot. Jack Reacher is like the lone wolf, who just wanders and can overcome any obstacles that you throw in his way and can always right the wrongs. We enjoy his adventures in the US and he never bores us because each time he faces a new challenge which he eventually overcomes. It is something that we all want to do in our daily life. Wouldn't you want to live a care free life, in which you don't need to be answerable to anyone, or you don't have to care about money or not spend hours together in your desk punching the keys of your computer, you can just go where you want and do what you want. How would you like to spend a week of your life like Jack Reacher?

Was that understandable? If you want people to enter into the book store and ask the shopkeeper for you book by the name, then you have to create a Lisbeth Salander or a Jack Reacher or heck even a Sherlock Holmes (if you can)
2. Write a book that has a strong plot structure

Remember a book called, Shutter Island or Mystic River or And then there were none or The murder in the Orient Express? If you do remember such books, then there is no need to tell you the importance of a plot in your novel.

You can't just write a book which has loose ends or unrelated twists or scenes that just hang in there, you just can't and that is the thumb rule for writing any book. Your book must be just as complete as anything else. 
 
Agatha Christe wrote hundreds of pages and would finally answer just one question, who did it? But the way she spins the plot and misdirects the readers away from the truth is just out of this world. You would want to race through the book just to find out who did it? She made her readers go insane by making them guess who the murderer is and would finally embarrass them by proving them wrong. That was her genius.

The other example that I would like to take is The DaVinci Code, the book about Jesus being married and the fact that the descendants of Christ are still living among us, there is a secret society out there that is protecting the identity of this heir and there is another more famous society that wants to stop this bloodline of Jesus Christ from continuing. I mean, Jesus Christ, even as we think about this plot we make up our mind that we must read this book. So, you get the point right? You have to have a plot about which others want to know about. People did not read the DaVinci code because they were interested in the personal life of Rabert Langdon, like they were in Lisbeth Salander. People read the book because they want to know what Robert Langdon knows and if there is any truth to what the author is saying, did the great Leonardo DaVinci actually keep secrets within his paintings? These are the questions that made people to read the book and made it a huge success that it is today.

So, plot your novel in the best way that you can and make sure that it has something fresh in it. Not new, because that's quite difficult. Stories about each and every molecule of this solar system has been told. There's not much new left out there. So try something fresh, something that people have forgotten about but if you do find something that you believe is to be new then go for it. I would also be one of the millions of readers of your books.

3. Your writing style

This technique is quite difficult compared to the first two. Developing a captivating writing style is very very very very very hard to achieve and people who have done this are either naturally talented or they have done it because of years and years of practise.

You want examples? how about....Atonement by Ian McEwan, Goldfinch by Donna Tarrt, A tale of two cities by Charles Dickens, Resurrection by Leo Tolstoy, The Shining by Stephen King.

You would just love how these people blend their words and captivate us with their articulate intelligence. I am at a loss of words to describe the beauty of their writing. If you want a clear understanding of what I mean then try reading books by English Authors (Stephen King and Donna Tarrt are exception in my opinion)

But in a nutshell, the idea is that you must have a writing style that demands the readers’ attention.

Now don't tell me that you didn't know that these are the essential qualities for a book to be successful. Of course you knew it. You know what you like in your favourite book. All you have to do is observer and answer the question, why am I reading the book that I'm reading?

So, now for the common questions that might arise after you read this post.

1. Is it is sufficient if I have any one of the three qualities in my book?

It sure is more than enough if you have indeed done it in the right way.

2. Are there any genres of writing where all the three qualities are required?

I would say that fantasy is on such genre. Take for example the famous Harry Potter series or the Lord of the Rings series. It has the characters, the plots and the writing style.

3. What is the guarantee that I will get my book published, though I have one or two or all the three qualities required for a book to be a best seller?

The chances are quite high if you ask me. If you have a book that is going to want the reader to know more about the character or if it's going to make the reader keep turning the pages or if the reader just adores your language then the chances of a publisher rejecting your book is pretty slim.

4. I think that my book has at least one of the above qualities, does that mean that it'll be a successful novel?

No. That's the answer. No. What you think about your book doesn't count at all. It's your book. It's your brain child. So, obviously you'll be biased towards it and think that your hard work has paid off. But remember that once you have finished your book, it is after that that the real work begins. Give your book to literary agents and editors. Ask for their opinions. They are professional and they'll be able to point out the gaps in your book and help it to become a best seller.


Hope you enjoyed this post. Share it, if you've liked it and don't forget to write....don't care about anything else....Just write....Punch those God-damn keys (I stole the last line)

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Baahubali - The Begining Movie review

To show that something that does not exist, really does exists is cinema - Anonymous

Cinema is an art where we can let our imaginations run wild and director S.S.Rajamouli has done exactly that. After his previous blockbuster Eega, the director has raised his own standards with this movie and he sure hasn't let his audience down.
I'm not going to go much into the storyline but in a nutshell, it ain't something that Indian cinema hasn't already given us in terms of the plot. But just like any other movies even this one has its highs and lows. So, here we go.Spectacular visual effects embedded with good back ground score seems to be the movies greatest strength according to me. The thirty minute war sequence was worth the watch.

As far as the acting is concerned, it’s the veterans who have shown brighter compared to the younger generation of actors but that's obvious isn't it. Nonetheless, the main protagonist and the antagonist of the movie played by Prabhas and Rana respectively have done complete justice to their characters. Although, the character of Anushka is yet to make an impact in the film and she if going to be of more importance in the sequel, I think the character Avantika was created just so that the hero of the film can have a reason to climb the mountain and clash against the villain but then again this is not something new in the cinema industry.

The part where I really think that the movie has failed to captivate the audience is the narrative. The plot is not new, the storyline is pretty loose and the pace is…well what can I say, not that exact edge of the seat experience that one would have expected. Some of the visual effects may have made the audience widen their eyes but the thumb rule of any movie is that, no matter what movie you make it has to have a strong story. A plot that must move the viewers from the core.The story is too predictable and is not going to have a lasting impression on the peoples mind.

The finale of the film is also a drawback, most of the people whom I have spoken to said that they could not experience wholeness in the first part. Like it has been left unconnected in many ways and everything is just hanging there. For a movie that runs for almost a hundred and eighty minutes, the first half has no story and the second half is just a tale of two brothers.

People have praised the acting of Ramya Krishnan and the efforts put by Prabhas and Rana but feel that Sathyaraj must have had more weightage to his charater and Thamana is just there with minimum importance.

 So, a great pat on the back to the director for setting the standard in Indian cinema, a job well done by most of the actors but the story could have be crafted much better.


A score of 7/10 is what I would give for the movie.