Follow up to Environmental Concerns


June 5 has come and gone. World Environment Day as rightly tweeted by Emmanuel Macron is ‘a day a year to remind us our everyday responsibility to’ safeguard our environment. The need is as he further states to “Come here with us to work together on concrete solutions for our climate, our environment.”

However, just a couple of days after World Environment Day the rapturous projections seemed to have suddenly dissipated. Is World Environment Day just a symbolic gesture for most of us? Don’t we need to stay focused on cleaning up our act?  The entire lead up to the big day should in fact keep us spurred all year round to undertake doable tasks. Environmental problems beset us all – from adverse rural backyard matters to ever-increasing urban issues – all need constant work.

Concern for environment is therefore a call for action that gets you physically out and moving to undertake planned approaches to preserve nature – all flora and fauna and to carefully manage our natural resources. This means we need to concertedly organize our actions to tackle fallouts of environmental issues that maybe inadvertently affecting us. This may be containing soil run off, rain water harvesting, use of efficient clean energy, greening our surroundings, planting trees and saving water. Like-minded groups and concerned communities should take up the cudgels to spell out the needs to make people aware of issues and how they can be handled.

This year in particular is all about connecting people to nature. This means you need to encourage more and more people to experience the outdoors. To become involved with conserving the planet hands on. Our efforts should be to show people by example how important it is to protect our Earth for the benefit of future generations. We need to keep track of what is going on around us and how we can be involved together on this global mission.

It’s a good thing that everyone today is motivated to plant trees. As important as this is it is equally essential to clean up surroundings. Environmental upgradation being the need of the hour it is going to be really important to raise the awareness on this count among the children. Knowledge of connectivity of natural world and our mutual interdependence is something we need to leave as a legacy. This is what will mold kids to take part in embracing and protecting the great outdoors.

Already majority of the rural people around the world spend every working day ‘connected to nature’ and appreciate their dependence on natural resources. They know full well how nature provides their livelihoods by replenishing water tables and renewing soil fertility. But they are really among the first ones to suffer when ecosystems get threatened by pollution, over-exploitation, and climate change.

Nature’s bounties are really quite difficult to value in monetary terms. Like clean air which is simply taken for granted until smog and pollution makes it difficult for us to breathe. Or our shrinking water levels that makes scarce potable water. But now social scientists are devising ways to measure costs of our ‘ecosystem services’. We are being made conscious of our carbon footprint.

World Environment Day should rightly help us to start monitoring our carbon footprint. The amount of greenhouse gases we emit into the atmosphere as a result of our activities. This can be screened by individuals, organizations, communities, countries at all levels to ensure checks and balances on lifestyles and operations for regulating carbon footprints. Let us then begin to keep a watch on our personal footprint to measure how large our it is and think of ways we can work to shrink this. Every day in every way!

International Day for Biological Diversity – 22 May

Glory of Allapalli

“Glory of Allapalli”, 5 hours drive from Nagpur, Notified Biodiversity Heritage Site

The UN has earmarked May 22 as International Day for Biological Diversity. For the uninitiated Biological Diversity refers to variability of living organisms of all kinds (terrestrial, marine, aquatic) in a given ecosystem. It includes all variety of life forms on earth. The term was first coined by Walter and Rosen in 1985 and encompasses different species living in a given area. Biodiversity is the foundation for a vast habitat and is critical for well-being of human beings.

 The International Day of Biodiversity was set aside to increase understanding and awareness about biodiversity issues. This year’s theme for the day is Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism. In fact the UN has declared 2011-20 as UN’s Decade on Biodiversity with the aim to serve the world in supporting and promoting the goal of significant reduction in biodiversity loss.

Biodiversity is the key that links human survival to their ecosystem, both being inextricably linked. Maintaining the natural diversity of both land and water is a complex phenomenon that has witnessed dramatic changes due to human actions. It is critical to save our unique biospheres comprising of innumerable plants, animals, and microbes.

Clearly, biodiversity affects our environmental systems supporting millions of species that survive together. Gradual loss of species is already starting to affect critical components on which we depend for our lives – breathable air, potable water, fertile soils, bountiful oceans and soil productivity. Large-scale human influences on biomes are tremendously adversely impacting us all.

Decidedly if our actions have influenced nature then we need to reinvent ourselves to remedy the situation. Already the planet has lost 52 per cent of its biodiversity! Seventy percent of world’s species are to be found in just 12 countries! And one of them is India. The International Day for Biological Diversity therefore serves as a global reminder to take action to avoid situations like unsustainable agriculture, desertification, land degradation, drought, impotable water, adverse health impact, unsustainable transport, climate change, food insecurity and disasters that are all fall-outs of loss of biodiversity.

India is among the first countries to be the signatory to the Biodiversity Convention. In 2003 the National Biodiversity Authority was established to implement India’s Biological Diversity Act (2002). NBA works on issues of conservation, sustainable use of biological resources and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of biological resources. State Biodiversity Boards follow guidelines relating to conservation of biodiversity. Similarly local level Biodiversity Management Committees take care in promoting conservation and documentation of biological diversity. This includes preservation of habitats, conservation of land races, food varieties and cultivars, domesticated stocks and breeds of animals, microorganisms and chronicling of knowledge relating to biological diversity.

In our vicinity, May 24 would be seeing Hazra Falls, a picturesque tourist spot in Salekasa forest range of Gondia Division, about 190 kms from Nagpur to be declared as a Biodiversity Heritage Site. Sometime back “Glory of Allapalli”, five hours drive from Nagpur, in Gadchiroli District was notified as a Biodiversity Heritage Site. It is Maharashtra’s first biodiversity heritage site. Such status strengthens biodiversity conservation in traditionally managed areas and control rapid loss of biodiversity. Biodiversity Heritage Sites are a matter of pride and inspire others to join in with conservation efforts.

Hazra Falls

Hazra Falls – Tourist Spot in Salekasa Forest Range of Gondia Division – 190 kms from Nagpur.

International Midwives’ Day 2017

Int Midwives Dy

May 5 is celebrated as International Midwives Day. The day was marked out by the International Confederation of Midwives in 1980. However it took time for the concept to take off and it was finally formally launched in 1992. Celebrated all over the world, this year’s theme is “Midwives, Mothers and Families: Partners for Life!”

As we all probably are aware a professional in midwifery is known as a midwife. Midwifery is really only what is commonly understood as obstetrics that is the health science profession that deals with pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum care including care of the new-born. Midwifery deals with continuity of care with the primary responsibility of care and well being of childbearing women.

In our country too we have always had the traditional Dai who actually took on the responsibility much like the trained midwife in assisting pregnant women with the birthing process. Aside from this they also offer due support to the women when needed. Many government and non-governmental programmes of late have focused on enhancing the role of dais to make them take on a more educated role.

The dai turned midwife has a critical task in health counseling and education of pregnant ladies. Especially in rural areas and remote locations lacking hospital facilities, the midwife may be the only recourse for families and communities for assisting with childbirth. Therefore looking into the essential role played by the midwives in India, several innovative training programmes have come up that involve antenatal education and preparation for parenthood for new mothers.

The midwives role aside from assisting expecting mothers also extends to sexual reproductive health and child care. With increased esteem and regard given to the midwives role they are now increasingly practicing in all kinds of settings besides the home. Adapting to their new found status they are playing an integral part in communities, hospitals, clinics and health units. Trained Dais with demonstrated competencies are being registered as legally licensed to practice midwifery.

Today’s midwife in India is recognized as a responsible and accountable professional who works in partnership with government or non-governmental agencies in giving necessary support and care during pregnancy, labour and postpartum period, along with providing care for the newborn infant. Such care includes preventative measures, promotion of normal birth, detection of complications in mother and child, accessing of medical care or other appropriate assistance and the carrying out of emergency measures.

HERD Foundation offers salutations to midwives on this International Midwives Day knowing full well that they play a unique role, especially in rural settings. Rural communities are grateful for their partnership in promoting health-care for mothers, infants, and families. They remain culturally sensitive to their job working with families and healthcare givers. HERD Foundation joins in to commend their essential role on this International Midwives Day!

Virtual International Day of the Midwife (VIDM) 2017

The Virtual International Day of the Midwife (VIDM) is an annual free 24-hour online international conference celebrating midwifery and birth-related matters on IDM.  This year sees the 9th annual conference and is organized by individuals having backgrounds in midwifery, education and online facilitation. The committee gives their time voluntarily and is proud to offer this conference entirely free of charge in order to enable midwives, and others interested in the birthing process, to network and participate in continuing professional development. Here is the link to get access to the VIDM 2017:








World Asthma Day

What do Amitabh Bachchan, David Beckham, Amy Van Dyken, Pink and Jessica Alba have in common? They are celebrities battling asthma!! Asthma, a chronic disease of the lungs causes severe breathing problems. Patients are afflicted with breathlessness, coughing, wheezing and feelings of tightness in the chest. Symptoms often vary in frequency and severity and in extreme cases airways get inflamed making it difficult to breathe.

World Asthma Day observed on the first Tuesday of May across the world is an attempt to draw attention to this debilitating disease. The day is meant to raise awareness, care and support for people affected by asthma as also to support extended family members, friends and caregivers. Whilst asthma may not be easy to cure, the symptoms of the disease can be controlled, allowing affected people to live near-normal lives.

World Asthma Day endeavors to increase awareness in the general public about the precautions to be understood in dealing with asthma. Global Initiative for Asthma or GINA as it is popularly referred to works for asthma awareness all over the world. It was in 1998 that GINA along with 35 countries initiated the first World Asthma Meeting in Barcelona, Spain. It has since carried on spreading awareness on all fronts regarding controlling the disease. The intent of world asthma day is to organize programs and events to fulfill the following objectives:

  • To improve asthma care.
  • To identify patients for accurate treatment of primary or secondary level, based on standard guidelines.
  • Maximize the number of people without asthma and minimize the number of people with asthma to get proper control.
  • Reduce death rates caused by the asthma.
  • Enroll all the asthma patients to ensure that all patients are diagnosed and getting treatment.
  • To reduce emergency department visits as also number of days spent by asthmatic patients in hospitals.

World Asthma Day highlights the need to offer positive steps in learning to cope with the disease. This basically requires preparing a personal asthma management plan with the help of doctor. Tailor-made for every patient, it covers time of medication and risk factors to be avoided. Medications are essential to relieve symptoms of asthma as well as to control inflammation and swelling of the airways.

Patients really need to educate themselves of risk factors which can bring on symptoms and make the condition worse. So they are taught to recognize when the symptoms might become worse. Patients need to be well prepared in case of an asthma attack. They must have about them a card that informs others about their condition, giving instructions as to what is to be done in case of a severe asthma attack. World Asthma Day therefore has medical organizations all across the world taking up activities that raise awareness on the issues around asthma and also offering resources for,

  • Free asthma screening clinics
  • Media advertisements – radio, TV, internet
  • Organizing lectures/talks on factors affecting asthma patients
  • Setting up asthma telephone help lines
  • Educating children about asthma

For asthma patients it is very important to keep in mind certain tips to prevent an asthmatic attack. Avoid flowers and pollen, especially at particular times in the year. Choose natural room fresheners. Avoid being around smokers since inhalation of fumes can being on an attack. Avoid having pets as they may be a source of allergens. Consult the doctor regularly even when everything is in control. Regular check-ups are essential in management of asthma. Share your doctor’s number with close friends and relatives, in case of emergency.

Asthma patients need to get regular exercise that is the best strategy to manage asthma to increase lung capacity. Deep breathing has a number of health benefits and works wonders for asthmatics. Also get nutritional supplements like Vitamin E, C, selenium, zinc, B6, B3, B12 magnesium and omega 3 fatty acids that help reduce inflammation and improve immune response. Drink enough water. Avoid stress. Always carry inhaler. Always have a spare inhaler.



Earth Day 2017 – Say NO to Plastic


Earth Day is celebrated worldwide as an annual event to focus on the need to protect our earth. The moniker Earth Day chosen in 1970 was the choice of few creative Americans rooting for environment protection in the face of rising concerns on environmental degradation. Celebrated for the first time in 1970, Earth Day is now feted in 193 countries.

The first Earth Day celebrations took place in schools, colleges, universities and concerned communities of USA with 20 million Americans out in support of environmental reform. Coordinated globally now by the Earth Day Network, events are undertaken to demonstrate support for environmental protection by countries joining in on issues of concern.

Earth Day 2000 was charged by the fiery spirit of the first Earth Day, gaining international grassroots momentum of Earth Day 1990. This was the first time that Earth Day used the Internet as an important tool, lending invaluable national and international support to provide worldwide focus for recycling efforts. Again Earth Day 2007 was a huge affair, the largest to date. Many thousands of people from all corners of the globe participated in activities from places like Kiev, Ukraine, Caracas, Venezuela, Tuvalu, Manila, Togo, Madrid, London and New York!

2012 Earth Day highlighted human overpopulation as the main concern. And last year Earth Day 2016 worked for the landmark Paris Agreement signed by United States, China and some 120 other countries. This year Earth Day 2017 has March for Science as its theme for Earth Day events. Earth Day Network outlines four toolkits to aid organizations wanting to hold teach-ins to celebrate the theme “Environmental and Climate Literacy” that are:

  • Earth Day Action Toolkit: Educating and Activating Communities for Change
  • Environmental Teach-in Toolkit
  • Global Day of Conversation Toolkit for Local Governments
  • MobilizeU: Campus Teach-in Toolkit

Coming to our country, India, the most formidable environmental challenge is to tackle the menace of plastic waste garbage. All kind of plastic waste gets illegally burnt at dumpsites causing air pollution and smog. The plastic that is not burnt finds its way out into the oceans. Reports state that approximately 60 percent of plastic found in the ocean originates from India!

Earth Day April 22, 2017 should be a perfect point in time for us to work through scientific ways to dispose of plastic waste in order to preserve and protect our environment. The total plastic waste collected and recycled in our country is estimated to be 9,205 tons every day and 6,137 tons remain uncollected and littered!!!

In April 2013 the Supreme Court cautioned the Central Pollution Control Board, stating “We are sitting on a plastic time bomb”. Our metros generate humongous amounts of waste and the usual practice is to dump it all outside city limits affecting the poor rural folks.

Jacques de Lannoy, a Tokyo-based photographer recently traveled to India to document the issue of plastic pollution that is so rampant.  Lannoy clicked shocking images of piles of plastic garbage swallowing our landscape, waterways and coastlines! Check this link to see it for yourself.


Schwarzman Scholarships Open for Future Leaders

Schwarzman Scholars Now Accepting Applications for Future Leaders

New York & Beijing, April 17, 2017 – Schwarzman Scholars has opened their global application for the third cohort of young leaders. The highly selective, fully-funded scholarship program is designed to ensure that the next generation of business, political, and civil society leaders can effectively serve as bridges between China and the rest of the world.

Anchored in an 11-month professional Master’s Degree in Global Affairs at Beijing’s prestigious Tsinghua University, the Schwarzman Scholars experience encompasses unparalleled opportunities inside and outside the classroom, including extensive leadership training, a network of senior mentors, practical training/internships, and travel seminars around China.

Scholars will learn about the emergence of China as an economic and political force from world‐class faculty from leading institutions and guest speakers at the state‐of‐the‐art Schwarzman College. The dynamic core curriculum offers the choice of concentrations in public policy, international studies, or business and economics.

The scholarship aims to build a professionally diverse cohort each year and welcomes undergraduates, graduates, and young professionals up to age 28 of any citizenship who are proficient in English and have obtained an undergraduate degree. A Schwarzman Scholar should demonstrate extraordinary leadership potential, the ability to anticipate paradigm changes, strong intellectual capacity, and exemplary character. Eligible applicants from any field are invited to apply.

Schwarzman Scholars is fully-funded for all participants, including travel costs and a modest personal stipend. The program is supported through a number of generous contributions to Schwarzman Scholars with a fundraising goal of $500 million. Schwarzman Scholars’ inaugural class is currently in residence at Schwarzman College and is comprised of 110 scholars from 32 countries and 75 universities. The program recently announced its second cohort to arrive on campus in August 2017. This year the program will accept 140 scholars for the Class of 2019.

The application can be found on the Schwarzman Scholars website: and will be open until 11:59PM onSeptember 28, 2017. More than 400 finalists will be invited to an in-person interview in Singapore (October 27th), London (November 1st), or New York (November 6th & 7th) and will be notified of their acceptance in mid-November 2017.

Those selected for an interview will go before panels of distinguished global figures including CEOs, former heads of state, university presidents, non-profit executives and journalists. For applicants who hold passports from Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao, regardless of where they attended university, the appropriate application can be found on the Tsinghua University website.

About Schwarzman Scholars: Schwarzman Scholars was inspired by the Rhodes Scholarship, which was founded in 1902 to promote international understanding and peace, and is designed to meet the challenges of the 21st century and beyond. . Blackstone Co-Founder Stephen A. Schwarzman personally contributed $100 million to the program and is leading a fundraising campaign to raise an additional $400 million from private sources to endow the program in perpetuity. The $500 million endowment will support up to 200 Scholars annually from the U.S., China and around the world for a one-year Master’s Degree program at Tsinghua University in Beijing, one of China’s most prestigious universities and an indispensable base for the country’s scientific and technological research. Scholars chosen for this highly selective program will live in Beijing for a year of study and cultural immersion, attending lectures, traveling, and developing a better understanding of China. Admissions opened in the fall of 2015, with the first class of students taking up residence in 2016. Learn more at, on Facebook at, and on Twitter at @SchwarzmanOrg.

Beejotsav Festival 2017 – All Things Organic!


HERD Organic Farms undertook organic farming to test its viability first hand. We are keen to find out ways to improve agrarian incomes and enhance livelihood options for a waning agricultural economy. We want to see that organic farming is a sustainable and profitable occupation. We work on farmlands lying 60 km from the city, hand in hand with rural farmers of Maharashtra covering initially an experimental 42 acres of land. In time we hope to inspire neighboring farmers to join in with organic farming practices through collective action, after we have established a fair supply chain.

HERD Organic Farms hand-holds all efforts to promote organic farming and is open to the idea of supporting like minded partnerships – formal and informal. We are developing good practices in strategic traditional farming areas that can be emulated by other farmers. We are also planning to evolve into a resource organization for effective knowledge management at the organizational level. By documenting our farming practices we hope to develop resource material and also to provide consultancy services.

It is now that time of the year again when we pitch in with Beejotsav to bring together organic farmers, producers, retailers, advocates and this time round chefs and cooks too for Beejotsav 2017 as we all band together to celebrate all things organic at the annual organic farmer’s festival in Nagpur. We will be putting together a wide range of organic produce for organic lovers of the city. For the first time visitors can enjoy eating organic cooked dishes that will be show cased as healthy specialty food. The event is a partnership between keen organic enthusiasts, farmers and getting good support from organic food lovers.

The celebration which is dubbed as one of its kind in Nagpur is the biggest in Vidarbha and widely known to feature different organic products ranging from seeds, grains, vegetables, fruits, to organic fresh, cooked food items as well as plants, organic cloth and a lot more that we will have to wait to discover! Organic inputs from over 40 exhibitors will be in place by small farmers, NGO’s, village people’s organization, and supporters and advocates for organic produce. This is the fifth year in a row that Beejotsav Festival is being held in succession. It has grown in strength from past years and involved lot more people than before.

Beejotsav 2017 will have you appreciating exquisite muslin fabric which is included in the list of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. This will be another first for the festival to be introducing organic muslin that is as yet being created in mud houses without use of power of fossil fuels and maintaining the same superior quality. Each piece of Muslin is a masterpiece to behold and visitors will be delighted to see and buy it. So apart from eating healthy, visitors will also get to buy and wear healthy too! Tula India will also be exhibiting its eco-friendly apparel line in Beejotsav 2017.

Started initially with the intention of highlighting concern for traditional seed conservation methods, Beejotsav 2017 now takes on much more under its umbrella. However privatization of the seed sector and poor regulation over seed control has led to valuable seed varieties being lost to the greed of the corporate sector. This creates unrest for traditional cultivation and farming practices and so seeds remain a critical resource under threat.

Beejotsav stands by the concept of seed sovereignty and security as a prerequisite for livelihood security of marginalized farmers. Also various traditional varieties of crops like oilseeds, pulses, cash crops, fruits, vegetables are becoming extinct and inaccessible. Beejotsav works towards reversing this trend toward extinction by highlighting local crop varieties that ensure maintenance of the diversity.

Beejotsav 2017 festival will therefore begin with an invocation to traditional seeds on the first day of the organic fair! It will be a sight to behold as traditional seeds will be venerated in age old rituals. Come one – come all, to celebrate all things organic, all things sustainable and all things healthy! Come have healthy fun at this annual exhibition cum sale of wholesome, healthy and natural farm produce.