Atanu Dey On India's Development

The Amazing Oglala Aquifer

I have been neglecting this blog because I have been traveling to places exotic. Well, maybe not all that exotic since it was just Hyderabad, the capital of Andhra Pradesh. I had gone there to speak at a conference on ICT and development.

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Here is something entirely different. From The Scottish Himalayan Expedition by W.H.Murray:

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.

I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s concepts:

Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.

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Made the mistake of flying Indian Airlines. What amazes me is that in the past few years I have never been on an Indian Airlines flight that actually departed or arrived within a half hour of its scheduled time. They suck the chrome off of a bumper of a 1960s Chevy parked 40 yards away. Arrived in Hyderabad nearly two hours late after an hour-long flight. I got a bit tired of their tardiness when on the return, the flight was late again. I spoke to the cabin crew while waiting for doors to open. Have you, I asked, ever been on an IA flight that actually departed or arrived in time. They said sorry but they feel the same way and would I be kind enough to complain since they cannot do so. Now isn’t that precious.

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Back to the workshop at ICRISAT which stands for “International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-arid Tropics” and is located in Patancheru (I love that name) which is about 30 kms outside Hyderabad. India is mostly semi-arid tropics although there are small bits of India which are real tropics and other parts that are totally arid and yet other parts that can pass as Amazonian rain forests.

Talking of Amazon, I like that name as well. Actually, some of my favorite names are river names. For instance, consider the mighty Bramhaputra, the son of Bramha. There is power and majesty in that name. There is mystery and dread in the name Okavango. There is more than a hint of fear in the Zambezi. But Orinoco evokes a sense of playfulness and fun (remember Orinico Flow by Enya?) I like the name Oglala which is a huge aquifer in the United States. The Oglala is about 250,000 square kilometers in area and contains an estimated 2 billion acre-feet of water. Water is, of course, one of the most important natural resources and will define the limits to growth in the not too distant future.

Back to the “South Asia Regional Workshop on Good Practices in ICT4D: Their relevance in agricultural extension and communications.

{Digression: What is with this using numbers when they should be using letters? Is ’4′ a reasonable substitute for ‘for’? Is it laziness or is it a mix of illiteracy and innumeracy or is it cutesiness of the type that appeal to toddlers who go to “Toys-R-Us”? I am inclined to believe that it is plain old fashioned stupidity, going by the general IQ of the practitioners in the ICT for development arena.}

{I think this is continued somewhere else but I cannot figure out where right now. I will work on this one later. (Edited July 2005.)}

  • http://uspeed.blogspot.com sudeep

    Atanu, would you be able to post a link to the UN study you quoted in your last post. I remember reading a Swaminathan Aiyar article abt hunger quoting a central govt survey that didnt put the number of chronically hungry at larger than 2-3 % of the population. ofcourse, memory is a tricky thing so I may be wrong.

    I would like to know the methodology and the data sources used by the UN survey.

    200 million is a huge number, and if they are chronically hungry it implies there would be outliers who would be *dying* of starvation and even the outliers in a sample as large as 200 million will be a few hundred thousands at least. I think the UN survey is possibly wrong, if it isnt, then its the biggest story that media have missed, ever. Could you post a link to the survey in question ?

    thanks..
    Sudeep

  • http://uspeed.blogspot.com sudeep

    got it.

    http://www.iies.su.se/~svedberp/Hunger%20in%20India_TOTAL.pdf

    The sample sizes look a little small. (3000-50,000); I just find it a little difficult to believe that while incidence of poverty has declined by a massive 10 points from 1991-200x, undernourishment/hunger has increased/remained at same levels. What gives here ?

  • http://www.prashantmullick.com Prashant Mullick

    With teh risk of sounding really stupid, might I ask what ICT stands for?

    I tried to google it and only came up with some counter terrorism site, or some institute of computer technology… I’m sure that isnt what you are talking about…

    Anyone who can help me out here?

  • http://Stationhill.com Roger Lacroix

    It seems that the water level in the Oglala Aquifer is slowly dwindling.
    In most springtimes, there are large floods on the upper portions of the Mississippi/Missouri river.
    Would it be possible to channel excess springtime flood water into the Oglala Aquifer?
    This would alleviate 2 problems. Lessen flooding in one place and deposit more water in the shrinking water level of the aquifer.