Wednesday, July 16, 2008

First attempt: What does Arun Deshpande do?


What is Sustainability?
If we analyse our way of living we see that we need energy for fulfilling many of our needs. Everything that we do is driven by energy. Let us look at our most basic needs.

1. Food:
Energy of the sun is used by plants and through photosynthesis it is converted to certain carbon derivatives, which we can eat. If we pluck a fruit from a tree and eat it, we get some energy. It is nothing but solar energy in another form. Energy is required for our sustenance. However we do not always pluck fruits of the tree and eat it. Sometimes, we also eat Alphonso mangoes which reach us all the way from Ratnagiri. A lot of energy is required, for preservation of these fruits, transporting them all over the world etc. Thus much more energy is expended in post production work.

Where does this energy required for processes such as transport etc. come from? Today most of this energy comes from fossil fuels i.e. petrol, diesel etc. So, today our lifestyle is completely dependent on these fossil fuels. Our entire existence is possible only because of fossil fuels.

Can we keep living he way we are today (totally dependent on fossil fuels)? The answer is a clear NO because of 2 reasons that I can think of.

a. The fossil fuels are limited: Fossil fuels are formed by the decomposition of vegetation over millions of years. That means the fossil fuels we are using today took millions of years to form. Either we wait for a million more years before the next deposit of fossil fuel is formed or we find some way in which this cycle of millions of years be reduced to a sustainable time period.

b. They are environmentally hazardous: When does something become environmentally hazardous? Firstly it is poisonous the second reason is a little involved. I will need to elaborate.

If we observe things around us, everything in nature is cyclic. Elements such as carbon, nitrogen etc. flow through a cycle. Let us take the example of carbon. Its present in the air as Carbon dioxide. Plants take in the carbon dioxide and convert it to carbohydrates. When we consume plants, we get carbohydrates which when oxidized, release energy and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide returns to the air and the cycle completes. If we break this cycle, then we will not be able to sustain.

Life depends on the flow of energy and materials. If we break this flow, life cannot sustain. Our Current life is not sustainable.

With this background, we need to ask the question, are we living a life which is sustainable? If not, then what should be done to make it sustainable.

There could be a hundred ways to make our lives sustainable. It is necessary that we start thinking in that direction. Arun Deshpande has done just that. He has also started implementing some of his ideas.

The project at Ankoli is a step towards establishing a model of life which is sustainable.

As I am wondering about sustainability and writing about a new lifestyle altogether, I feel that people who wrote the Ten Commandments or the religious books must have gone through a similar exercise. It is exactly like setting up a code of living for which I believe the religious books were written. The difference is that the codes that we are about to set will have to displace the existing lifestyle. This makes it all the more challenging. Arun kaka has taken up that challenge!!

As I understood, he is not just trying to develop a sustainable model, but also fighting against the prevailing lifestyle. The idea is of a 'Rurban Lifestyle'. The motivation is that urban and rural lifestyles, each have their own shortcomings. Let us develop a lifestyle which eliminates the shortcomings of both these and is sustainable. Just to name a few, the shortcomings of the cities are that they consume much more that they produce, they are environmentally hazardous. Simply put they are extremely unsustainable. On the other hand, the current village system has its own shortcoming, such as lack of education, social problems (caste, andhashraddha etc).

Another very interesting thing to keep a note of is that many conclusions that we will draw will be in line with Gandhi's philosophy. I have not done an in depth study of Gandhi's philosophy but the little that I know has a lot of similarity. Also what was the motivation behind Gandhi's philosophy is not know to me but our motivation is sustainability. I would like to treat this similarity as a coincidence at this point. :))

First I will write about those things which I understood well

1. Water: A very important requirement. For water Arun kaka has developed the project of Water Bank. As the name suggests it is a place where you store water. Keep all the excess water that you have. What ever water comes in the form of rain is stored in the water bank. The water bank is designed depending on the no. of people it is made for. It is lined with a plastic sheet, so that water does not percolate. (Yes it is different from Pani Adwa, Pani Jirwa). On the contrary water is pumped out from the wells and stored in the water bank. A particular chemical is put on the water which minimises the evaporation of water. This water is then used for the farming as well as domestic needs.

2. Housing: Arun Kaka has developed fantastic dome structures which can be made out of bamboo. They are also called geodesic domes. They are very strong structures and are environmentally friendly. The best part is that we can build our house on our own in one day :)))). So Housing is a solved problem.

Now some of the things that I am still unsure about.
3. Food: Hmmm.... We need to grow what we need. Or all that we need must be grown in our Panch Kroshi. This needs more elaboration. Ankoli junta, help me out with this.

4. Other Needs: This is where the real challenge is. How does one's needs such as education, health etc. get satisfied. Actually this aspect puts me to think about another very fundamental thing in today's world. That is MONEY. What I am thinking about is that if all people start living like that, what will be the source of money?? Basically what will be the medium of exchange. I am actually stuck here, because in this kind of lifestyle i don't see any occupation or dhanda which will fetch me money.I have reached a very dreamy conclusion, that the new medium of exchange will be energy.

**I really need to understand this MONEY thing.
Well this much for now. More in a few days as I myself build a little clarity. Those who visited ankoli please add to what ive written.



sanjay said...

can anyone give postal and contact details of Sh Arun Deshpande?

priyadarshan said...

Water Bank, Ankoli, Dist. SOlapur.