Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Diwali at a Bangalore orphanage

Many orphanages and old people's homes receieve sweets, fruits and other gifts on special occasions.But not many who gift them find time to visit the institutions. Some 30 techies of HCL, Bangalore, chose to carry gifts and also spend Diwali with children at a local orphanage.Their company contributed towards purchase of tiffin boxes, bags, sheets and towels for the children.

The Visitors, many of whom came with families, had a fulfilling day; and the children,lots of fun. Bangalore Mirror wrote that when the time came for the visitors to leave,they were escorted to the gate by the grateful children, who wanted them to come again next Diwali.

This is social networking at its best. For many of these IT professionals who spent the day with the kids would want to visit the place more often, and sooner than tne next Diwali; and some may want to have the children come home to spend a weekend with them.

Founder of the institution, Dr T V Ramakrishna,is quoted in Bangalore Mirror as saying he tried and failed to mobilise retired people for charity work through such social interaction with the children. "None of them were interested, but these young men and women have shown enthusiasm ...Their gesture makes a difference ...and others should emulate them by doing their bit to society”.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Most people on our e-mail contacts list may not know one another. Connect them, and you can have a network going.An e-group brings together people with shared interests such as cooking, books,music,java,bee-keeping,dating,job hunting and umpteen other activities. Networking has its uses,for,to quote Horsesmouth.com,Someone knows what you need; someone needs what you know.

I have 90 plus LinkedIn contacts,whose contacts add up to 12,800 connections.In SiliconIndia my 60 odd friends account for over 27,000 connections. Notionally, I can
network with so many. Snag is, I don't know how to go about sending them messages, without getting deleted as spam. How many us open a message from an unknown ID or
forwarded to us by a contact.

I reach for 'delete' tab when I see a chain mail, even though many of the messages sent out are well intended; and the sender believes his mail would interest me.Far too many e-mail users do not want to have anything to do with messages received from an unfamiliar address;there is too much viral traffic.

Spamless and viral-free networking is what Oli Barrett does to promote Global Entrpreneurship Week. He has developed what he terms speednetworking, which is like speed-dating. Mr Barrett puts together in a room some 20 people of varied fields, unknown to one another,and lets them interact among themselves. He carries a whistle, which he blows every three to five minutes. At the blow of whistle each partipant finds someone else to talk with. This way,at the end of the day, each participant would have created a few contacts.

Mr Barrett believes speednetworking gets people talking ideas; it helps them find answers; and brings together people who don't know each other,and want to build
connections fast. All you need is a venue, a whistle and a gathering. When you blow the whistle, everyone finds someone to talk to. Blow the whistle every 5 minutes and everyone has to talk to someone new.

You must speednetwork with people you don't know well enough or have never met before. No sticking with the person you arrived with or your buddy! Talk about anything you like! You can speednetwork anywhere - be it at school, college, cafe, or a club.Read more...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Coastal erosion: A green wall for protection and for profit

Let us forget the communal strife in Orissa for a moment and look at a natural calamity the state faces repeatedly. Frequent tidal waves and the soil erosion caused by them endanger the lives and properties of lakhs of people along the 480km shoreline of Orissa.

IIT Chennai and some other agencies are studying this issue and have reportedly submitted some preliminary recommendations. In the meantime, the Orissa Government has approached the Central Government for financial support for a Rs.7000 crore project to save the coastal villages from the ravages of the sea. The main focus appears to be on building protective walls along the shore.

There could be a far cheaper, more effective, eco-friendly and profitable project to prevent soil erosion. My suggestion is to try planting Morinda citrifolia (Noni) along the coast. This plant, which is endemic to India, is unfortunately on the endangered list now.

How do plants prevent soil erosion? When rain water runs off to lower levels or waves recede to the sea, they carry away loosened soil with them. The stems of trees and the roots mitigate the erosive force of flowing water, thereby preventing soil being carried off. The native plants are best suited for this.

Significantly, Morinda citrifolia (Noni) is also known as Indian mulberry and Beach mulberry. It tolerates saline and secondary soil, can withstand drought conditions and grow well on sandy beaches. It can attain a height of up to 20 feet and serve the dual purpose of preventing soil erosion and acting as a windbreaker. Normally stem cutting is used for propagation. The planting distance is about 15 feet apart. Once introduced, it will start growing wild.

Photos of Morinda citrifolia growing wild

in the coastal belt of Kerala.

Copyright reserved. Click to enlarge.

The benefits of planting Morinda citrifolia are not confined to protection from coatal erosion. It is actually considered to be a wonder plant with immense medicinal values. India has known that for thousands of years. But the Western countries started taking note of this gift of nature only in the 1990s.

And, in less than two decades, the Noni (Morinda citrifolia) products, particularly the juice made from the fruit, has turned into a business that is worth billions of US dollars! By planting Noni along the coastline the country can, apart from preventing soil erosion, capture a major chunk of the fast-growing Noni market.

Additionally, greening such a large area would help in reducing the carbon levels. And, it does not take long to feel the impact. Noni starts yielding in 18 months and has a productive life span of around 40 years!

The only negative point is that during flowering time the plant emits a foul smell.

Why not give it a try, at least in small stretches?

Read more about the plant at::

Medicinal Plants: Noni (Morinda citrifolia) planting for profit?