By Dr. Dinesh

If you have never bought LEDs before would recommend trialing a single bulb, or spotlight, first before buying too many. LEDs are not cheap but last a long time, so you want to be sure about fitting, shape, lumens before going all in on them. CFLs as per their life expectancy is determined by the number of times they are turned on. Each time a tiny wisp of mercury atoms are boiled off the amalgam until it is depleted and the lamp dims to a faint neon pink glow. CFLs are best installed in situations where they are left running for long periods. Constant on-offs, like toilets, or bathrooms shorten their lives. Most importantly they cannot be recycled efficiently as it has mercury which is harmful for the environment and are long term problem.

LEDs have no such problems, and are happy being pulsed hundreds of times a minute. So try swapping incandescent bulb for lower lumen LEDs and you will be astonished. Edison bulbs function by making a Tungsten filament very hot. LEDs function by driving electrons across a junction between two semiconductor materials in which electrons move at different energy levels. The biggest benefit of using LED itself has an expected life of about 50,000 hours (six years) of continuous use. So if it is used for 4-5 hours a day, it can run for 15-25 years without needing a change. LEDs are already widely used as the backlights for mobile phones, computer monitors and televisions.   LEDs, on the other hand, use a fifth of the electricity of a comparable incandescent bulb and can last between 20 and 50 times longer. LED is the latest buzzword in the lighting industry.

Technology improvements have made LEDs useful for home, office and have also made them much affordable now (still expensive as compare to CFLs or incandescent bulbs). Several manufacturers have come out with luminaires that use LED for lighting. These luminaires are available for all purposes: spot lighting, indoor lighting, outdoor lighting, street lighting, floodlights, garden lighting, general purpose lighting, etc. Good quality LED bulbs are maintenance free. They can give better output (brightness) or lumens per watt.

The light output of LEDs remains constant through its life only decreasing towards the end of their life. It is better to buy LED of a good brand or buy one that comes with a longer warranty. Phase out incandescent light bulbs for general lighting in favour of more energy-efficient lighting alternatives. Andaman & Nicobar Administration should consider providing one or two LED bulbs of 5 watt/10 watt on subsidised price to households having electric connections and also encourage consumer awareness in the media so that slowly people will realize about less power consumption and phase out incandescent bulbs as awareness is generated.

This will in turn save diesel, energy and pollution to a considerable extent, because 400 watt LED bulb which is used for 25 hrs will consume only one unit but where as 400 watt sodium vapour bulb consumes one unit  in two and a half hours. This will definitely bring down the capital investment in diesel and power generators in Andaman & Nicobar Islands and also load shedding etc to a considerable extent in the future. Street light with sodium vapour lamps should be phased out and LED bulbs should be replaced.

By Zubair Ahmed

Though the town is sleepy and obscure, politicians of Kadamtala are fully loaded and charged. Sampath Kumar Roy, the iniquitous Pradhan who was arrested in a Jarawa misadventure case is a classic example how one doesn’t want to learn a lesson from one mistake that he did.

As soon as we landed at Uttara Jetty, went inside one of that Vishwakannan type eco-friendly huts at the Jetty extended into the Bay to cool ourselves after covering the dusty, pot-holed and hot Baratang National Highway.

In no time, the Pradhan came with a guy, who later introduced himself as an Engineer from Dilli, representing some consultancy engaged in a survey for upgradation of ATR into two-lane NH Highway with two bridges. Obviously, there was an air of haughtiness written all over the face of the Pradhan, whom we very conveniently ignored.

We couldn't make out why he was there or why he brought the engineer. Anyways, after sometime we left for our destination, as there was hardly any time to waste. Meanwhile, we just forgot about the Pradhan and concentrated on our work.

In the evening, after a tiring day, when we planned to move to Rangat for stay, we had no clue that Rangat was no more a small town. Rooms were not available for less than Rs 2000/- a night. Tourism is paying, and its really cool. Finally, with the help of a great friend, checked into Ross suite in Hotel Avis. Don't ask what all that mean.

In no time, I took bath, changed into same clothes and was waiting for Denis to come out from bathroom to go and have dinner. When Denis came out of the bathroom with towel wrapped, suddenly there was a knock on the door.

Was wondering who might be there for us. And it was no surprise. Sampath Kumar Roy barged into the room with another airy guy, who looked like a contractor, not interested in anything Sampath wanted to say to us. Denis was shocked as he was just changing. Sampath did not care and just went and sat on the bed, where Denis was standing. Denis could not stand it. He politely asked him to go and sit on the chair.

The contractor guy seemed dry and wry, uninterested why Sampath had tagged him and gulped a bottle of water kept on the table.

"I know you people dodged me in the morning. You know, I was with an important person, engineer from Dilli, who will build the bridge for us," he started.

Politely, we apologized saying, we were quite busy with some other work.

"You did wrong by writing against me in the Jarawa episode. The Magistrate is a very tough guy asking very tough questions," he said. "Actually, I wanted to file a big case against you guys," he continued in a threatening tone.

"You people don't know anything. I know, wild boar meat goes from Kadamtala to Raj Niwas and Tribal Welfare, and you guys think you know everything," he said with a wry smile and looked at his disinterested contractor friend, who did not even acknowledge, and made a dead face.

"Fine, Its news to us. We will surely carry it and write that Sampath Kumar Roy, Pradhan Kadamatala told the newspaper that wild boar meat is sent by Tribal Welfare guys from Kadamtala to Raj Niwas and Secretariat," I told him adding that the same way one day, you got the Jarawas call an editor and break a story about the poverty and hunger they are facing.

"No, no, no.... how can you write like that, you cannot write my name," he said.

I asked him, "Why?"

"You have to enquire and investigate it," he said with some kind of authority.

"Come on, a responsible elected Pradhan of a Panchayat is giving us some very hot news, and why should we not believe him?" I asked.

He mellowed down and in a very soft tone said, “Look, I am a very honest person and I don’t mean anything, and you know, I earn my livelihood through extra work, and I don't take a cut from the Panchayat fund."

"Why don’t you cover how my Panchayat did the best during the Swachcha Bharat Campaign in Middle Andaman. You know, I myself cleaned the toilet of the school. You please cover it in your newspaper," he said with pride.

 “Sure, it needs to be covered. Please send us the details by mail,” I told him.

 “Email? From Kadamtala? He seemed perplexed.

 “Ok, Ok, I can understand. But don’t lose hope. One day the undersea cable project will reach Kadamtala too. Till, then we will wait for your fax.” I made him feel comfortable.

He just got up, shook hands with both of us and left in a hurry. Morning he came with an Engineer and evening with a  Contractor. I don’t know what that really mean.

However, we were kept wondering how he came to know that we were staying at that particular hotel, which is in a by lane with many bars with very unique names like Ok Bar and Tata Bar.

By Arnab Ray (@greatbong)

I have never had a guest blogger here at RTDM. But as of today, I am going to make an exception. I present (fanfare)—-my mother. A little context: My father, a professor at IIM Calcutta is going to retire in February. So on his last LTC, Baba and Ma went to Andaman Islands—both for some peace and quiet (they deserve it for having brought me up) as well as to visit Andaman Cellular Jail—-the place where my grandfather (my father’s father) , Jyotirmoy Ray [his picture in the Cellular Jail museum on the left] spent 4 years of his life [his sentence was for 7 years commutted to 4 as part of an amnesty program] as a political prisoner (He was part of the revolutionary movement in Bengal and transported arms to the revolutionaries). He died in 1991.This post is based on a mail my mother wrote to me after coming back from Andamans—-I have added some things to it based on phone conversations I had with her since then. In all, it’s a joint effort between mother and son—in some places the feelings are Ma’s (as conveyed through the telephone) and the words are mine and in some places both of them are Ma’s (being part of her original letter).With January 26 here, I thought of sharing it with you.

Dear Phuchiburo (that’s me) and Mago (my wife),

Our first stop of the day was the Cellular Jail. The weather in Calcutta was cold but Andaman was hot although it was also officially winter there.

There is a museum Jail1inside in the jail where the pictures of freedom fighters who were detained here are kept. We did not know that Dadu’s picture features prominently there. So when I saw Dadu’s photo on the wall with “Armed Action Case” written on the top of it and his name below, I froze– literally and emotionally. You don’t expect to see your own kin as an exhibit in a museum and that too someone who has been around you physically.

All these times we have gone to so many museums and seen so many people’s pictures and their personal effects but I never ever felt any sort of emotional twitch anywhere in my otherwise very emotional mind because all of them were just “people”– mere statistics to me . Yes they were heroes–noble people whom I respect but who are ultimately strangers—the kind that stare back at you from history books and from the walls of museums. You stop, look at them, feel respect and then move on to the next picture.

But this was different. The man in the picture was someone I knew–in flesh and blood. I called him Baba, I touched his feet, I loved him and I got mad at him for certain things that he did or didn’t do. This was Jyotirmoy Ray, my father-in-law, revolutionary, member of a dangerous anti-British secret society and one of the prisoners of Andaman Cellular Jail.

The same man who also lovingly called me khukuma.

After my son’s marriage, I really came to know what emotional value that simple word “ma” conveys because I call my daughter in law “maago” and nobody knows better than me how much I love her. Same relationship, same love, same hate, same agreements, same disgust, same happy moments. The only difference is that I can’t talk to him now but my daughter in law can talk to me and that is a gigantic difference.

I realized that tears were now flowing down my cheeks. I felt terribly breathless — the impact of controlling my emotions in a public place. Now I know what celebrities in the public domain feel like; not that I am a celebrity but my father-in-law is. I shuddered to look at your father because I knew what was going through his mind.

If this is how I felt, then God knows how he was coping . After all he is his youngest son and the most favorite and pampered of all the three brothers. I really did not want to look at him but my impulse took over. God, he was a mess. I wanted to hold his hand but could not bring myself to because instead of being a source of strength to him, I myself would break down and make a fool of myself in a public place.

Plus he seemed to be lost in a world of his own as he looked at the picture—lost in the memories of his father and his own childhood. So intensely personal to your father was this moment of sadness, remembrance and pride that I did not want to impinge on its tear-soaked purity.

So I just pretended to look at other pictures of freedom fighters who are heroes but definitely not my kin —in order to get a grip on myself and attain the demeanor of an objective museum-visitor. Your father did the same thing for the same reason. We did not look at each other on purpose lest the emotions come flooding back again.

Anyway, we took some pictures and moved on to the next section. This is where the exhibits are. I came to learn that the British authorities made Indians torture fellow Indians. According to them if any prisoner needed any punishment, which was pretty often, then they were to be whipped by Indians—the white man did not want to get his hands dirty with the blood and the sweat. The whipping was done while the prisoner was strapped to a frame by hand and feet so that there was no running around or change of position to lighten the torture. Prisoners’ non-cooperation or hunger strike or failing to fulfill the work quota called for various degrees of punishment as Britishers consider themselves to be fair minded!

The Cellular jaijail3l was built by convicts. It had seven wings spread in the form of seven spokes of a wheel, though unequal in length. There were 696 cells specially built for solitary confinement of the prisoners. A three storied central tower was built at the centre of the convergence of the seven wings. A single guard could supervise all the seven wings from this vantage position. Another unique feature was the total absence of communication between the prisoners in the different wings, since the front of one row of cells with verandah running all along, faced the back of the other wing.

Each cell measuring 12ft by 7 ft had an iron grill door. A 3 ft by 1 ft ventilation 9 ft above provided some light and air. A verandah about 4 ft ran all along the front of the row of cells from one end to the other end of the wing. Each cell grill was well secured with sturdy iron bolt and lock which ran through a rectangular channel on the outside of the cell wall a few feet away from the entrance door. This way the prisoners could not even touch the lock for tampering. Each wing had a courtyard in front with a workshop where the prisoners toiled during the day. There was only one jail4kitchen for the prisoners of the whole jail. The prisoners ate in their cells. The food was passed through a trap door.

There was a pot (similar to the one in which they ate) which was to be used for urine and stool within the cell that were to be cleaned by the prisoners when they were let outside in the morning for toiling. They ate, slept, wept and plotted for the freedom of their land in those dingy dark rooms with the stench of excreta, blood, tears and sweat and the screams of pain emanating through the walls as their only companions.

In the jail, work in the oil grinding mill was all the more terrible and caused several deaths. The quantity of work they were made to do was not humanly possible. Thus almost every day was a punishment day. The punishment varied from whipping to hand cuffs for a week to bar fetters to solitary confinement. With hand cuffs the prisoners had to eat and drink like an animals. Bar fetters were long iron rods joined from hand cuffs going down to the ankle cuffs. This way the prisoners could not bend any way. If they decided to lie down, they would have to throw themselves on to the ground and thus get hurt in the process. Some of them were fed boiled wild grass and their drinking water was collected rain water with worms in them.

A majority of the prisoners went through these unimaginable indignities and punishments but did not give in. Some committed suicide. Some lost their mind. For some, their body gave way but not their spirit and they went onto a more peaceful place.

Going through all these made me feel absolutely drenched out. Honestly I could hardly move. I did not ask your father about how he was feeling because I knew the answer.

Just like any Indian, I have read about freedom fighters and the freedom struggle. But I never really realized the actual depth of the zeal that drove them even though I knew that it involved my father in law. The incidents were just dates and events you had to memorize and analyze for examinations though it gave you a warm fuzzy feeling to read about the sacrifices of so many. But somehow such emotions only scratched the surface—-it made us feel “patriotic” in the way an Indian victory in a cricket match makes us feel.

However this Andaman visit and the associated experience and emotions touched a chord that ran much deeper. Is this the reason why psychologists refer to the experience of going back to your “roots” as so important a part in the process of self-realization?

If this is the reason they do, then I fully agree with them. Of course I must also add that had it not been for my own association with a freedom fighter whom I loved, I would surely not have this depth of emotion and understanding in spite of my first hand experience.

We went to the ground floor cells. Barring Savarkar’s cells, all cells were unmarked because the prisoners were quite often shifted from cell to cell. This means my father in law was anywhere and everywhere over here.

By this time my brain cells were asking me to stop due to the physical discomfort from the knee problem. (my mother has a debilitating knee condition which has severely hampered her mobility) But my heart was on autopilot—and somehow in this place the consciousness of your own physical discomfort pales in comparison to the realization of what the people here had to endure for years.

I decided to climb up the two floors above. Your father knows my knees’ endurance level so he was surprised at my decision. I told him “I want to show my respect to my father in law in my own way”.

We went two flighjail5ts up looking at those empty dingy cells as if searching for the man who directly and indirectly gave me all I have. The cells were, in a way, frightening—despite the apparent peace and tranquility that reigns today, there is still a brooding sense of pain, suffering and death that hovers over the place like a cloud—invisible yet palpable.

But no there was something else which is even more powerful—a light ethereal wondrous presence that dispels the darkness of suffering.

Hope. The hope that sustained these men (your grandfather among them) despite floggings, torture and subhuman treatment. The hope that one day things would be different, the hope that their sons and daughters would grow up in a land free from foreign oppression. And as your father stared into the dark abyss of a cell reaching out for a part of your grandfather forever lost in these walls, I could not help thinking that somehow your father’s presence here, as a free man and as a professor of a premier institute of higher education of a proud resurgent India, is a vindication of the sacrifices your grandfather and his fellow prisoners made.

It was getting late. We moved away—leaving behind the shadows of your grandfather and his fellow patriots. I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness , great pride and a deep sense of understanding of what a hero my father-in-law really is. In a way, it seemed as if I was knowing him all over again—so many years after he passed way.

As we went out of the gates, a bird, catching the last rays of the sun, spread its wings and vanished into the sky. Looking up, I silently thanked your grandfather for everything and I am sure that he heard me all right.

Do visit this place if an opportunity arises. You owe it to him.

God Bless you


By Zubair Ahmed

*[Potem'kin vil'lage: a pretentiously showy or imposing façade intended to mask or divert attention from an embarrassing or shabby fact or condition.]

Is everything fine inside the Jarawa Reserve, especially during the last two years, when major steps were taken and stringent laws enacted to contain poaching of Jarawa resources as well as keep a tab on ogling at them in the garb of visiting limestone caves?

Everybody was under the good impression that things are under control, and the syllabus is not yet out of context. However, the perception is deceptive. The constant lip-service did keep them away from the glare of media as well as the activists. Ecological and tribal concerns might have remained at the fore while discussing development, but the system never strained to do anything concrete to translate the concerns on the ground. Nevertheless, bureaucratic approach did enough irreparable damage.

When Alexandre and his team could hoodwink the whole system and enter the Jarawa Reserve, and remain with them undetected and unnoticed for days and weeks, that too several times during last three years, isn't it time to realize that many things are not right, and it might require some kind of willpower to accept the fact and take some bold decisions, without fear or favour.

From police, intelligence, defence, coast guard, forest and tribal dept, nobody had a clue about the Organic Jarawa documentary project, until Alexandre himself revealed it. Isn't it shocking that such kind of breach could be a potent threat to the security perceptions of the territory? Lots of questions can be poised why we were in dark about the incident.

Why such intelligence and security lapse on the side of our defence and police? How porous and vulnerable is our West Coast? Why the operations went undetected by the forest department inside the Reserve? What happened to all the tall talk about the strategic importance of the Islands, when the most sensitive part of the territory, already forbidden to the citizens of the country is wide open for someone who enters unnoticed and does whatever he wants?

In the face of such blatant lapse, how can the Administration claim that the tribe is well protected from evil forces? In fact, Alexandre and his team has proved how weak, our system is. He has proved beyond doubt that the territory is not protected as claimed. Instead of looking out, its time we look inside and plug the holes.

Why is there lack of coordination between different agencies involved? When we poised this question to Prof Vishwajit Pandya, a senior Anthropologist and Hony. Director, ANTRI, he said, “When the defence forces can have a combined command, why can’t the Islands have an “Environmental Force” involving all three agencies – Tribal Welfare, Police and Forest Dept. We need to see the picture in totality and not as separate entities. I had suggested this to the Administration, but the response is not encouraging.”

Whenever a breach is brought to the notice of police or forest by AAJVS, there begins a marathon blame-game. Conflicting interests play crucial role in the outcome, and most interestingly, what the Administrator can do is just appeal them to work in unison to achieve the desired ‘unknown’ goal!

The rhetoric that the Andaman and Nicobar Administration is committed to safeguard the interests of the vulnerable Jarawa tribe is nothing but a charade, or how did four small Jarawa kids lost their lives in the last three-four months, due to negligence of the pharmacist posted with AAJVS? Very strong documentary evidence proves that expired Amoxicillin and other drugs were administered to the tribes, and there were clear carelessness in attending to post-natal care of Jarawa babies, resulting in death. Why no action was taken when the matter was brought to the knowledge of the higher ups?

It’s true that ANTRI is playing a very vital role in redefining the discourse and addressing policy issues, and implementing very unique projects in education (Project Angkatha) and clothing (Project Kangapu) that would show results in the long run. The role of AAJVS in executing the projects designed by ANTRI is also encouraging. But, on the ground, there seems to be disconnect, which is shocking.

The Jarawas could keep the whole Organic Jarawa episode a secret for such a long time literally startles. In fact, the poachers or those collaborators, who helped the film crew holds more influence or the Jarawas trust them more than the AAJVS staff is a fact, which has serious repercussions.

 “Normally Jarawas won’t say anything unless asked, and in this case when they got so much goodies from the film crew, they knew what to do,” says Prof. Pandya.

The conviction one can see on the ground does not reflect at the top echelons, which conveniently affects the whole process. Wary to take decisions, and the protracted delay inflicts the system. The suffocating check the bureaucrats force on the social workers and the experts will not help in yielding any results. Until and unless the system is liberated from the clutches of babus, whatever we get to see from inside the Reserve would be through some Alexandres, Thiery Falises or Oliver Blaises.

One needs to open eyes and do a reality check or when the bitter facts explode with full force, it would be very late.

By Saji Samuel

You stand there as a citadel

Guarding, as an alert sentinel

My harbour entrance,

You stand up to face

The rough seas of the monsoon

And the wrath of the cyclone

And say, as always,

With your chivalrous flair

Me first – then Port Blair!

I salute you O Ross!

When the Tsunami came roaring

And the waves came swirling

With destruction in the air,

You stood up

And said, as always,

Me first – then Port Blair!

I salute you O Ross!

I remember your glorious best

As Paris of the East

The memories of those years

Are still the very best ...

But you gave it up

Your glory and your fame!

To silently see me prosper

In glory and in name!

As you now say

In your generous flair

Me next- first Port Blair!!

I salute you O Ross!

I salute you O Ross!!