By Dr. Dinesh

Is your husband/wife lost in a maze of smart phones, tablets / laptops? Do you fear getting the latest apps is turning out to be your son's/daughters prime ambition in life? Technology addiction as the tendency to excessively engage in activities involving the cell phone, internet, social networking sites like Face book, What’s app etc, despite harmful consequences to one's health, mental state or social life. People can develop an addiction to these technologies irrespective of their age, but this has been a growing concern among teenagers. It manifests in the form of frequently checking the phone or accessing the internet to see if there are any messages or mails and the need to update Face book status. For many adolescents and young adults, the Internet has become a way to overcome a swathe of issues — Peer pressure, academic stress, relationship problems, boredom and loneliness. The subjects who displayed addictive behaviour were not sharing personal information but there was some risky behaviour like online relationships, extra marital affairs and a preference for online instead of face-to-face communication, The ease of technology was pushing people towards being "online" constantly instead of offline — they wouldn't spend time with parents or friends, preferring instead to always text or use the Internet to communicate constantly. One can’t advise completely stopping using tech devices, but prefers a healthy use of them instead. One cannot control cyber-sexual addiction (a part of technology addiction); so the environment is controlled and psychotherapy given if there is a psychological issue. Craving or the obsession with being online or on the cell phone to SMS, email or get on to Face book, or what’s app. When a person is unable to regulate his technology usage. The itch to be constantly connected, in terms of gaming or surfing. The shift to excessive online behaviour brings about a decline in academic standards, disinterest in outdoor games or socialising, eye strain, spondyilitis and sleep disorders. High tech-Gadgets have found their way early into a child's life and children are fed with TVs or computer tablets as distractions and it's hard to wean them off the excessive tech usage habit. A teenager who was addicted to online pornography threatened to indulge in high-risk behaviour if his parents did not restore the Internet connection they had given up to curb his tendencies. The hapless parents relented, thinking that pornography was the lesser of the two evils.

A child playing video games for 10-12 hours a day would say he was going to school and instead go to a cyber cafe, which would open as early for video game junkies, and he would return late at night, using the excuse of extra classes and study groups. Internet addiction is a top health threat to adolescents. Parents should educate children about mobile phone use and teach them to develop control from an early age. They should also emphasise finding a balance between online and offline activities.

 Road accidents for those who can’t stop texting while driving. There are reports that people have died after playing video games for days without a break, generally stemming from a blood clot associated with being sedentary, feelings of depression; physical changes to weight, headaches or carpal tunnel syndrome. Internet addiction can be a symptom of other mental illness, such as depression. An older teenager locks himself up in his room at night and spends hours chatting with friends on his smart phone. First thing he does after getting up in the morning is to go online and check messages. He becomes restless and irritated if the Wi-Fi or 3G network suddenly goes off. This is only the tip of the iceberg in a country where use of smart phones and tablets are in rise at breakneck pace. The scepticism is understandable in a world where everyone is hooked to one's gadgets for work or for socializing. Apart from TV, mobile phones, tablets & Video games, give children plenty of outdoors and adventure sports.

Here is one para from Robin Sharma’s book “who will cry when you die” which actually inspired me to write this article. “The phone is there for your convenience, not for the convenience of your callers, yet, as soon as we hear the phone ring, we run to pick up as if our lives depended on the call being answered at once, people interrupt quiet family dinners, dedicated reading times and meditation periods to answer those seemingly urgent phone calls, many of which turn out to be ones that could have been taken later. Picking up the ringing phone is just another way to put off doing something you don’t really want to do, but once you get good at letting it ring and staying focused on the activity at hand, you will wonder what the hurry to pick up the phone was all about in the first place”. “We first make our habits and then our habits make us” John Dryden observed. According to U.S News & World Report over the course of your life time, you will spend eight months opening junk mail, two years unsuccessfully returning phone calls and five years standing in line. E-mails in many ways are one of the great blessings of the modern age. It frees you up to when it suits you. “Give us the grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish one from the other”. It is hard to take a call on where necessity ends and addiction begins.

BY:  Shreya Yadav/ Asiem Sanyal/ Chetana Purushotham

The dying sun cast an amber glow as we walked up Munda Pahad, a patch of littoral forest that extends from the beach upwards, at Chidiya Tapu, the southern-most tip of the Andamans. Though popular for its sunsets, we were at Chidiya Tapu for something else altogether – counting birds. The forest before us offered ideal conditions – no humans frequented the path, and it was eerily quiet, except perhaps for the slow creak of bamboo or the rustle of leaves left in the wake of some scurrying animal. As we slowly ascended, gingerly stepping over sprawling tree roots and dead leaves, we were treated to deep, resonating hums that reverberated through the forest. Looking around, we saw our first bird of the day – the Green Imperial Pigeon! With silent whoops, we made a note of the number of individuals, and proceeded onwards. Suddenly, the forest seemed to come alive. Red-whiskered Bulbuls chittered noisily at the top of fig trees, and the endemic Andaman Drongo put on elaborate airborne pirouettes for us as it snapped up flying insects. Every once in a while, the path would resolve into a clearing, from where we could see the sea glittering in metallic hues. A White-Bellied Sea Eagle soared lazily on the updrafts, and kept us company for part of the way. Pacific Swallows darted between cliffs like small fighter planes. It was a perfect evening to bird-watch, and this time the information we were collecting was going to be used for a much bigger global project: the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC).

The GBBC was first formulated in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, U.K. The main objective of the project was to create a global dataset of the distribution and abundance of birds from around the world. People anywhere (with a pair of binoculars) could participate in the 4 day count in February, which happened this year from the 13th-16th. India joined the project in 2012, and in 2014 topped the global listing of countries for the number of bird species recorded overall.

This year, the Andaman and Nicobar Environmental Team (ANET) in Wandoor, South Andamans, convened a few groups of birders to cover as much area and ecosystem-type as possible. By the end of Day 4, we had recorded 49 species of birds from roughly 4 different habitat categories. The tidal marshes at Sippighat were populated by a plethora of wetland birds, with Purple Swamphens, Lesser Whistling Ducks and Cattle Egrets ruling the roost; we ended with a tally of 20 species and a whopping 241 individuals. At the Mount Harriet National Park, the rainforest brimmed with life – we spotted Black-Naped Orioles, Vernal Hanging Parrots, a host of Glossy Swiftlets, Andaman Cuckoo-Shrikes, among others, bringing our count to 17 species and 97 individuals. Just around the ANET campus alone, as part of the Campus Bird Count (a sub-event of the GBBC), we observed 12 species in little over a 1km2 radius of littoral and mangrove habitat. It was interesting to see how the composition of birds changed with the area we were in, with some species overlapping across areas.

As we descended from Munda Pahad having spent a tremendously fulfilling evening birding, we had the fortune to spot the rare Andaman Nightjar, just as darkness claimed the skies (Our tally for the day stood at 10 species and 27 individuals at Chidiya Tapu). It was a poetic end to a perfect day.

So far, 709 species of birds have been reported from India and over a million people from the country participated in the event this year. And understandably so, because more than anything else, it is just great fun to go out, look up at the canopy or at waters fading into the distant horizon, and let them reveal themselves to you in feathers and whistles. 

By Kavita Choudhary

Looking forward to the advent of the coming year, reflecting on the year at the verge of ending did lead to the realization that the changes in these ten years have been profound; we have progressed in many ways – some happy and some not so happy. But, all concrete and accepted.

Going back in memory, led me to the end & beginning of a year about ten years back….

Calamities have a way of bringing people together in a manner no cause for celebration can. It touches upon one’s thoughts, feelings and actions so profoundly that one can never overcome it. It acquaints one with the pain and loss of a complete stranger submerging distance and anonymity. One single incident which brought me close to humanity, humbled me for life, and made me realize how blessed I was to be in a position to give, however little, was the one I never experienced personally.

On a quiet Sunday (26 December 2004), blissfully stationed somewhere on the northern tip of India with my family, gathered to enjoy the vacation, we saw the first flash on news about the earthquake in the Indian Ocean, with its epicenter off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. Not the news to focus on when one is in a celebratory mood, we decided to give the news channels a break.

Closing eyes cannot change the facts, and with morning came the news of the gravity of this calamity. The third largest earthquake ever recorded on a seismograph, followed by strong aftershocks, resulting in the Boxing Day tsunami, demanded recognition. Over 15 countries suffered the devastation, including most of the Indian coastline.

What struck me most was its imprint on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Besides impacting the lives and property of many, loss of livelihood for most, it also changed the geographical feature of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and consequently, that of India. Some islands vanished, some got reduced in size and some simply split in two. The actual consequences of this devastation probably can never be estimated and its impact can never be assuaged. The death toll and the number of people who went missing could by no means be exactly accounted. Loss was only known and felt by them who faced it. Aftershocks rocked the area, and one-fifth of the population of the Nicobar Islands was reported dead, injured or missing.

On Car Nicobar, 111 Indian Air Force personnel and their family members were washed away when the tsunami severely damaged their air base.  Of these 111 families one was known to me, and having known that one person has bound me to these islands for life.

This natural catastrophe, its expected consequences and the pace of our administrative body did sadly delay the required relief aid; only saving grace being that the damage could be contained and widespread disease and famine prevented. Also a massive joint effort got initiated soon to rebuild the coastal villages.

To my memory, Tsunami seems to be one of the first disasters which was covered and reported so extensively. It highlighted the considerable difference that media coverage can ensure. Segment of vigilant and sincere media, irrespective of its biased siblings, managed to unfold the scenes of carnage in each household across the country, making each of us live through the same loss and feel the pain of this loss. My mind still marvels at the response this traumatizing event elicited from one and all. Overnight, Andaman & Nicobar Islands was embraced and it was no longer an obscure island merely associated with Kalapaani. The disaster did multiply all existing developmental and societal issues being faced by the Islanders, but it also brought the same in front of all who had conveniently been blind to it - by choice.

The after-effects of Tsunami pushed and coerced each Indian and reflected a change that still stands true. We as a nation came to the fore as more self-reliant and independent. A large number of volunteers and companies within India came forward to assist the government in the cleanup and re-establishment process.

No one can deny that things were far from perfect; as expected, death was followed by a fair number of scavengers; many turned it into a platform for self projection; many actions were dictated by self interest; many lapses and flaps were swathed; many deserving of compassion and support were sidelined; but all the dastardly actions were more than balanced by the countless acts of genuine and selfless help. Many volunteers and group of volunteers came forward in this moment of crisis and managed to reinstitute our faith in humanity. Tsunami turned to be a stepping-stone in reflecting what we as Indians can manage for ourselves and for each other. The aftermath of Tsunami did witness unprecedented loss, but it also observed the many unknown shoulders coming forward to share the burden of this loss.

The belief that we are one; the conviction that there are many to support in the moment of need; the certainty that the pain experienced by one was felt by many; united us to a great extent. We turned to be Indians irrespective of our caste, creed, religion or region; truly united in diversity.

The Islanders’ ability to forgive, forget and accept has been exemplary. Their ability to overlook past lapses and hold close the existing governance without cynicism is laudable. Their ability to reinstate themselves within a short span of time, overcome the loss in spite of the ongoing pain is commendable. Today Andaman & Nicobar Islands has many challenges to overcome, many milestones to cover and many dreams to fulfill. But none to parallel the one they prevailed over ten years back and stepped forward in glory.

By M Vinod

I remember the days of Tsunami in 2004. Many of the mainlanders left these islands in fear and the streets were empty. We felt that the tourism sector had lost all scope in the Islands. But gradually the situation started changing and tourists finally started visiting the islands. 

It was a ray of hope for we tour operators. In fact, it was a ray of hope for our survival. But the poor infrastructure, limited places of tourist interests were a big hurdle for the industry. 

But a dawn came to us in the form of our Hon’ble Lt. Governor, Lt. Gen. (Retd) A.K. Singh. The Hon’ble Lt. Governor within no time identified the problems being faced in the tourism sector. He gave patient hearing to the grievances of the tour operators as well as the tourists. And also he ensured timely action is initiated to solve the grievances. 

Cleanliness and beautification of tourist places took place and many unemployed youth received free training in hospitality sector. It is worth mentioning that the Islanders are really overwhelmed over the developments taking place at present. 

At this juncture, while the Hon’ble Lt. Governor is taking all pains to develop the Islands, I would like to take this opportunity to suggest opening of more tourist destinations, to bring in more luxury vessels for tourists, sea planes and amusement park etc.

Hope the Islands flourishes further under the leadership of the Honb’le Lt Governor. 

The writer is the President of Association of Tour Operators, A&N Islands.

 

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.