Visionaries Under 30 Knowing the Public Mind Trafficking:
Break the Chains
Auto * Focus Raghubir Singh at the Smithsonian
SPAN Want to Get Involved? Call Youthreach
By Jason Overdorf
Editor-in-Chief Trafficking in Women and Children
Break the Chains
By A. Venkata Narayana
Combating HIV/AIDS: "Shout and Shout and Shout"
Associate Editor A. Venkata Narayana
An Interview with Arvind Singhal
Copy Editor Dipesh
Knowing the Public Mind
Editorial Assistant K. Muthukumar
By Karlyn Bowman
Say Good-Bye to Plastic
By Todd Woody
Deputy Art Director
Blueprint for a Better City
By Steven Johnson
Production/Circulation Manager Rakesh Agrawal
Auto*Focus: Raghubir Singh's Way into India
Flesearch Services AIRC Documentation Services, American Information Resource Center
The Energy Web By Steve Silberman Front
Singh shot at Rameswaram, It
at Smithsonian Gallery
Solar on the Cheap
By Peter Fairley
By Alexandra Stikeman
Note: SPAN does not accept unsolicited
manuscripts and materials and does not assume responsibility for them. Query letters are accepted.
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A Keehn Eye By Shailaja Neelakantan
Writer of the Purple Prose By Jake Page
Streamlining Student Visas By Anthony Kujawa
e often shortchange young people by generalizing about them, seeing them as self-centered or irresponsible. But this issue of SPAN features "Visionaries Under 30," young men and women who belie that stereotype. They have made a difference in their communities by taking action in their own, individual ways. Similarly, the young professionals who donate time to Youthreach in New Delhi are making a difference for urban disadvantaged children here and abroad, as they link with other groups in the International Youth Foundation's global network. Jason Overdorf tells the story. For other youngsters, life is not so fortunate. Those who fall into the hands of traffickers trading in women and children endure lives of abuse, crime, and poverty. They are the most likely to contract the deadly HIV/AlDS. There is a global effort to control trafficking, because it is a serious problem everywhere. A. Venkata Narayana writes about Prajwala, an NGO in Hyderabad that is successfully fighting this battle in its own neighborhood. See "Break the Chains." On a related subject, Arvind Singhal, an American communication specialist whose focus is raising awareness about HIV/AlDS, is interviewed by Dipesh Satapathy in "Combating HIV/AlDS: 'Shout and Shout and Shout.'" We are bombarded by public opinion polls these days, informing us on subjects varying from popularity of politicians to "what's hot and what's not." How are these figures arrived at and how accurate are they? "Knowing the Public Mind," by Karlyn Bowman, examines the history of the public opinion poll, its uses and misuses, and other interesting facts about the familiar forecast technique. Energy is the focus of two, future-looking articles. "The Energy Web," by Steve Silberman, reveals the plan of some of the best minds in electricity R&D: a vast, nodal power network that will be much more efficient, eco-sensitive, economical and closer to home than any before. Experts from labs and think tanks talk about their projections. And Peter Fairley gives some good news about sun power in "Solar on the Cheap." New, ultrathin silicon films may soon replace the more expensive photovoltaic cells and make solar power, the cleanest of energy sources, much more versatile.
Plastic garbage is one of the world's ugliest pollutants. Now bioplastic packaging has been developed that may spell the end for mountains of non-biodegradable landfill. The new polymers break down easily and make great compost. Read "Say GoodBye to Plastic," by Todd Woody. Doing away with all that garbage would certainly contribute to a "Blueprint for a Better City." Steven Johnson writes about how urban planning may change in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Something else that technology is making easier is diagnosis and early warning of heart attacks or other illnesses. Alexandra Stikeman explores this fascinating new field in "Nanobiotech Makes the Diagnosis." Practical, post-9II I information is offered for Indian students interested in studying in the United States in "Streamlining Student Visas," by Anthony Kujawa. Thomas Keehn was a young man in development work and a friend of bUSinessman-philanthropist John D. Rockefeller. When Keehn came to India in the early 1950s, Rockefeller told him to find out about Indian modern art. He did: he and his wife Martha made friends with the artists and became one of the earliest collectors of works by M.P. Husain, S.H. Raza, Gaitonde and others. Shailaja Neelakantan profiles Thomas Keehn in "A Keehn Eye." Editors frown upon purple prose, but one man became a legend writing it. Zane Grey fell in love with the landscape and the history of America's West and pioneered the cowboy novel early in the 20th century. "Writer of the Purple Prose," by Jake Page, recounts how Grey's novels defined a genre, inspired Hollywood westerns for decades, and have never been out of print. The late Raghubir Singh was a master photographer, and the Arthur M. Saclder Gallery of the Smithsonian, in Washington, D.C., currently acknowledges that with "Auto * Focus: Raghubir Singh's Way into India," an exhibition of his photographs of India's classic Ambassador car. We share some of these, including a view of the actual car that is parked at the Saclder. We hope you enjoy this issue.
An emerging movement of young people that reaches across class, gender, race and religion is getting its groove. Polls show the college class of 2005 to be the most progressive in 30 years. Whether in or out of college, these young visionaries are doing things-and making a difference. The following short sketches describe just a few "under 30s" who have turned their dreams about saving the world into action. Interfaith
Eboo Patel, 26 Reading Eboo Patel's resume is dizzying, but once you get past the part about his being a Rhodes scholar, holding an Oxford Ph.D. in the sociology of religion, and enjoying a private audience with the Dalai Lama, you realize that the idea behind his Chicago-based Interfaith Youth Core (www.ifYc.org) is simple: Bring together young people of different faiths, perform joint service projects, and then reflect on this work through the lens of diverse religious traditions. In short, fuse spirituality and activism. You have only to look to Gandhi's concept of satyagraha-which borrows from Hinduism, Christian social gospel, and Jainism-to grasp that faith-based action isn't new. But, according to Patel, it's gotten a cold shoulder from many left-leaning social activists who dismiss the role of religion in social justice. Citing the likes of Catholic Worker founder Dorothy Day, spiritual explorer Ram Dass, and Muslim poet and activist Mohammed Iqbal, Patel points out that each faith tradition promotes a theology of social action. "And, if you don't want to deal with churches, mosques, and synagogues," says Patel, a devout Muslim, "you're missing mass quantities of people." -ANJULA
Michele Robbins, 26, and Ocean Robbins, 28 Santa Cruz, California
Organizing protests in his elementary school at age 7, Ocean Robbins, son of Diet for a New America author and environmental activist John Robbins, established Youth for Environmental Sanity (YES!) in 1990-at age 16. He is now co-president with his wife, Michele, who as a teen worked as a peace activist in Soviet Russia. YES! (www.yesworld.org) introduces ideas about social justice and environmental care at thousands of school assemblies, workshops, and retreats. Young people in 45 nations have been inspired to take action: They organize gang truces, lobby school cafeterias for organic foods, and set up socially responsible businesses. SuppOlted by a board of directors made up of older activists, YES! encourages young people not to abandon the ideals that too often fizzle out with age. The Robbins, parents of identical twins, have one goal: "We want to put ourselves out of business." -ABBIE JARMAN
Inner-City Youth Organizer
Luis Sanchez, 27 Los Angeles, California
Luis Sanchez was just 17 when he joined community action programs in Los Angeles. He quickly learned that he had a talent for motivating young people-and that he lived in a society that seemed more eager to lock up marginalized youth, or steer them into the military, than to educate them. "Schools are the last public space where people of different backgrounds mix," says Sanchez. Now he's been working to mobilize the schoolkids of East Los Angeles, whom he sees as a vast untapped resource for social change. Sanchez and others saw their efforts payoff in March 2000, when California students took to the streets to protest Proposition 21, a new state law that toughens the juvenile crime codes. The protest was part of a wider dissatisfaction among California students arising from the fact that new police and prison facilities get a lot more money than their rundown schools. To better prepare students to think critically about their options, Sanchez helped found Youth Organizing Communities in Los Angeles (www.schoolsnotjails.com); they offer training on such topics as "Students Not Soldiers" and "Fighting Patriarchy and Heterosexism." Currently associate director of 1nnerCity Struggle, a community organization fighting for economic justice in East Los Angeles, Sanchez also co-edited an anthology of progressi ve writings about 9/11called Another World Is Possible (Subway & Elevated Press, 2001). -ERIN
dead prez: M-l, 28, and Stic.man, 26 New York, New York
It's a rare hip-hop act these days that doesn't buy into the blingbling of commercial rap decadence, but refusal to glority consumer culture is at the very heart of dead prez's art. Forgoing paeans to luxury cars and easy women, the duo of M-l and Stic.man rap about improving yourself in songs like "Be Healthy" ("lentil soup is mental fruit") and "Discipline" ("organize your life"; "health is wealth"). They also show that they aren't afraid to get controversial and indict the white patriarchy. In songs like "We Want Freedom," they echo Black Power luminaries such as Huey P. Newton and Malcolm X, rapping that "We all want peace / But the problem is / Crackers want a bigger piece / Got it where the niggas can't get a piece." Although the group is politically radical, it follows in the footsteps of rap revolutionaries Public Enemy, maintaining a street-level accessibility that many successful artists leave behind. -ERIN ANDERSON
Dawn Peebles, 25 Chapel Hill, North Carolina
After years of renting a house together, Dawn Peebles and her five housemates realized that they'd forked over $50,000 to their landlord and had nothing much to show for it. After doing a little research, they formed the Hillsborough Road Cooperative and soon bought two houses, one of which has a large gathering space for community concerts and events. "Our approach to cooperative ownership has been to turn private property into affordable, community-controlled living space," says Peebles. While co-op residents do not accrue equity in their homes, they enjoy reasonable rent because the houses are owned by a nonprofit trust-a long-term sustainable form of affordable housing. Peebles and her housemates formed a group called Objective: Collective and now travel nationwide conducting workshops on this cooperative model of housing, which has relevance not only for young people like themselves, but also for squatters and retired folks. -JULIE MADSEN
Silicon Valley Rabble-Rouser
Raj Jayadev, 27 San Jose, California
As an $8-an-hour temp for Hewlett-Packard, Raj Jayadev saw Silicon Valley's underbelly up close. Temporary factory employees-mostly women and mostly women of colormight toil for years without benefits, sometimes under unsafe conditions. Jayadev's efforts to rally workers led to his dismissal-and to a new form of labor organizing as editor of Silicon Valley De-Bug: The Voice of the Young and Temporary (www.siliconvalleydebug.org). Raising questions about Silicon Valley's "new economy," De-Bug is a combination zine and collective of workers, writers, and artists that educates temp workers on their rights as employees. Sponsored by Pacific News Service, the publication aims to "inspire a rage to take action." -REBECCA WIENBAR
Indigenous Youth Leader
Clayton Thomas-Muller, 24 When Canadian-born Cree activist Clayton Thomas-Muller performs a ceremony, the effect is both electrifying and grounding. This accomplished drummer, singer, and traditional pipe carrier, who now lives in Oakland, has appeared at numerous international forums, hoping to inspire indigenous youth to take part in governing their communities. He has co-founded a number of organizations, including the Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Youth Alliance and the National First Nations Youth Council of Canada. Through a joint effort between Project Underground (www. moles.org) and the Indigenous Environmental Network (www.ienearth.org), Thomas-Muller now supports North American indigenous communities whose environmental and human rights are threatened by the oil industry. -REBECCA
Malika Sanders, 27 Selma, Alabama
Before she was born, Malika Sanders' hometown of Selma was a notorious place where advocates of black voting rights were beaten bloody. In Sanders' eyes, too little had changed in the intervening decades. Despite the town's shift from predominantly white to predominantly black, Mayor Joe Smitherman-who once referred to Martin Luther King, Jr. as a "coon" on national TV-was still in office, likely due to rigged balloting. As director of the 21st Century Youth Leadership Movement, which trains African American youth to be community leaders, she helped organize the "Joe Gotta Go" campaign for the 2000 mayoral elections. Mobilizing young voters with help from public service announcements by such musicians as The Outlawz and MC Lyte had the desired result: Joe's gone ...and Selma has its first black mayor. And that's not all Sanders has done. At 16, she started SMART, the Student Movement Against Racial Tracking, in Selma schools. More recently, working with the Environmental Justice Movement in Georgia, Sanders spoke out for eliminating the Confederate symbol on the state flag. -JACQUELINE
Shawna Larson, 28 Chickaloon, Alaska
"In Alaska, we're finding dioxins in fish and seeing tumors in caribou and moose. I don't think we should leave this for future generations," says Shawna Larson, a mother of two. Of Athabascan and Aleut heritage, Larson began working for Alaska Community Action on Toxics (www.akaction.net) two years ago, focusing on dioxins and other contaminants, known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs), that are slow to break down in the environment. Larson collected resolutions from 50 tribal councils in support of strengthening the Stockholm POPs agreement, a United Nations treaty written in December 2000. Larson joined others insisting that the wording include the "precautionary principle," which demands that chemical manufacturers prove their products are safe before putting them on the market. They also called for the U.S. to remember its government-to-government obligation to consult with federally recognized Indian tribes, considered sovereign nations, when negotiating international treaties. "I'm interested in sovereignty issues," says Larson, "and how to always keep our tribe in the forefront of things by pushing the government forward and holding them accountable." -ABBIE JARMAN
Bryonn Bain, 27 Brooklyn, New York
When police arrested Bryonn Bain for throwing a bottle through a window, they nabbed the wrong black man-and not just because Bain wasn't guilty. Then a Harvard Law School student, he turned the ordeal into a Village Voice article on racial profiling that garnered an unprecedented 90,000 reader responses. Bain had clearly hit a nerve. "Given the increased policing of communities of color, I believe folks found it timely that someone responded critically to the systemic way we are being incarcerated," says the son of Trinidadian immigrants. Walking While Black: The Bill of Rights for Black Men, his book based on the article, is forthcoming from HarperCollins. But Bain doesn't only critique the status quo, he works to change it. Winner ofthe 2000 Grand Slam Championship at the Nuyorican Poet's Cafe, he uses his artistic talent to advance political causes in prisons and schools through Blackout Arts Collective (www.blackoutartscollective.com). an activist and educational organization that he helped found. Last year, he became New York University's youngest adjunct professor, teaching classes on spoken word. "We have the ability to call our reality into existence," he says. "The word becomes flesh." -JACQUELINE
Rick Rowley, 27, and Jacquie Soohen, 27 New York, New York Inspired by seeing thousands of Mayan peasants demonstrating for human rights and economic justice in Mexico City, Rick Rowley and Jacquie Soohen maxed out their credit cards, bought some video equipment, and started shooting, eventually producing the documentary Zapatista (1998). In addition to helping start the Seattle Independent Media Center in 1999 and launching their own production company, Big Noise Tactical (www.bignoisetactical.com). the underground filmmakers have now made seven documentaries, including Showdown in Seattle (1999), a look at the WTO protests, and Black and Gold (1999), which follows the transformation of New York's Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation from a group of gangbangers to activists trying to stamp out police brutality. Currently, the duo is at work on a short film about Palestine and another called The Fourth World War;which makes a connection between local conflicts in spots as scattered as Argentina, South Africa, and South Korea. "We are not filmmakers looking for issues to cover," Soohen says. "We are Zapatistas using media as part of our struggle." -ANJULA RAZDAN
Jen Angel, 27, and Jason Kucsma, 28 Bowling Green, Ohio
"We are at an exciting time when participatory media projects have the potential to contend with the corporate media giants," declares Jason Kucsma, who, along with Jen Angel, founded Clamor-a magazine that celebrates do-it-yourself journalism for a growing audience of politically and socially aware youth. Now in its third year, Clamor (www.c1amormagazine.org) covers everything from anarchist libraries and art cars to prison culture, polyamory, and personal economics. Since 1999, Angel and Kucsma have also jointly organized the Underground Publishing Conference in Bowling Green, Ohio, bringing together zine editors, radical librarians, do-it-yourself video makers, and other activists who want to create "more media sources that amplify the voices of the people." -CHRIS DODGE
Third World Digital Storyteller
ThenmozhiSoundararajan,25 Berkeley, California
Madeleine Scammell, 29 Chelsea, Massachusetts
Madeleine Scammell found her life's calling in a glass of milk. While she was a student at the University of Vermont, she knew researchers there-funded by Monsanto--were taking a national lead in developing recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), which intensifies cows' milk production. Simultaneously, she learned that local dairy farmers were struggling because of low commodity prices for their milk, the result ofa glut of milk on the market. Things just didn't add up. "Since then," Scammell says, "I've been trying to span the disconnect between people's priorities and how resources are actually used and dedicated." An expert on the democratization of science, she spent five years at the Loka r nstitute (www.loka.org), a nonprofit concerned with the social, political, and environmental repercussions of research, science, and technology. Now she's at Boston University's School of Public Health coordinating researchers and community groups working to clean up toxic Superfund sites, at the same time working on a Ph.D. in environmental health sciences. -KAREN OLSON
Growing up in an Indian family of the Dalit caste, Thenmozhi Soundararajan was allowed to sit in as the men in her family talked politics. As she quietly observed these discussions, she absorbed their intense yearning for change-a passion she carried with her when she came to the United States to study at the University of California in Berkeley. As part ofa collective of women of color and their allies, she helped found the media training and resource center Third World Majority, which aims to "challenge the notion that a media organization cannot also do grassroots organizing." She believes in the power of storytelling to unify people against the abuses of global corporations. Through video workshops, Soundararajan teaches people how the give-and-take between storyteller and listener allows them to arrive at a "shared political view of the world." And through this sharing of stories, Soundararajan says, we can arrive at "a wider understanding of what we all think the world can be."
Kate Rhee, 29 New York, New York
Imagine a society with fewer prisons: That's the dream of activist Kate Rhee, director of the Brooklyn-based Prison Moratorium Project (www.nomoreprisons.org). A juvenile justice counselor who moved back to New York City after studying philosophy at the University of Chicago, Rhee joined the project in 1999, four years after the group was forged out of a meeting of young ex-prisoners and their allies. The youth-led project--demanding "education, not incarceration"has convinced politicians to reduce unnecessary prison expansion and sparked successful campus campaigns to get shareholders to divest stock in the controversial Corrections Corporation of America. With Raptivism Records (www.raptivism.com). the organization put out the "No More Prisons" CD, considered one of the most successful alliances between a social movement and rap artists. -CHRIS
Harmony Goldberg, 27, and Genevieve Gonzides, 23 Oakland, California
Growing up in California near the Mexican border, Genevieve Gonzales from an early age was involved with activists confronting anti-Chicano racism. Thousands of miles away, Harmony Goldberg was outspoken in her opposition to prejudice in one of the most segregated cities in the country: Buffalo, New York. Now Gonzales and Goldberg fight intolerance and bigotry through SOUL, the School of Unity and Liberation (www.youthec.org/soul), which they liken to the famed Highlander Folk School, training ground for many civil rights workers. One of four founding groups of the Youth Empowerment Center (YEC, www.youthec.org), in Oakland, SOUL aims to inspire and train a new generation of young political organizers-especially women, people of color, working-class youth, and queer youth-through classes, workshops, and summer programs. National director Goldberg co-founded SOUL with Rona Fernandez, 30, who now works with the YEc. Bay Area director Gonzales reaches out to the young people who will fill SOUL's ranks. "Genevieve has a way of connecting with young people," says Goldberg. "She can go into a high school and inspire kids who have never been exposed to these kinds of ideas." -SARA V. BUCKWITZ
The People's Organic Grocer
Malaika Edwards, 27 Looking around her neighborhood in West Oakland last fall, Malaika Edwards saw plenty of stores selling canned goods and liquor but no place to buy an organic tomato or a fresh loaf of bread. Spurred on by the throng of unemployed kids hanging out in the street, the former executive director of Youth for Environmental Sanity! helped organize the People's Grocery, a community-owned organic grocery store run exclusively by youth. Currently operating out of the back of a biodiesel truck "with a phat sound system," the market is set to open next year as a storefront. The grocery sponsors an urban garden and farm field trips to educate young people about access to "affordable, nutritious, culturally appropriate food," Edwards says. "West Oakland has very little self-sufficiency in terms of the local economy. The People's Grocery tackles issues of racism and globalization on a grassroots leve!." -ANJULA RAZDAN
Jose Cruz, 19 Edcouch, Texas
While Jose Cruz and his classmates were still in high school, they came to see their community's reliance on the Spanish language-the Edcouch-Elsa school district is 99 percent Hispanic-as something more than a deficit that makes life difficult in America. They founded the Spanish Immersion Institute (www.lIanogrande.org), where visitors from around the country live with a local host family, attend classes, and might even go to a quincenera celebration marking a young woman's 15th birthday. Run by local youth (most of the program's tutors are teenagers, while many of the students are adults), the four-week program aims to promote cross-cultural understanding. Currently a pre-med sophomore at Yale, Cruz hopes to become a doctor to serve the Rio Grande Valley. -MARlA OPITZ
Want to get invoved?
YOUTHREACH ftheir offices were more swank, the 14 attractive young women who staff Youthreach could easily be mistaken for the editorial board of a fashion magazine instead of the staff of an innovative service organization. But these women are not only young and upwardly mobile, they are also women who live their lives with a sense of purpose. That's the combination that makes Youthreach-a non-governmental organization (NGO) founded to mobilize the skills and enthusiasm of Delhi's young middle class-a winning proposition. In 1997, three young people came together with a common desire to contribute to the community. Uday Khemka, a nonresident Indian who splits time between London and New York, provided the seed funding for the project. But he needed dedicated partners to manage and build the organization. He teamed up with Nanni Singh, who had started an NGO in Chandigarh when she was just 18 years old but was then working with her husband in the export business, and Nandita Kathpalia Baig, another young woman with an entrepreneurial spirit. For inspiration, they went to the wellspring of most good ideas: they thought not only about the needs of those people they wanted to help, but about what they themselves wanted to get out of the experience. They set two goals. They wanted to create a shift in consciousness, instilling a sense of responsibility in Delhi's young, and they wanted to build a bridge that would allow other NGOs to leverage the skills of young professionals-doctors, lawyers, accountants, even CEOs. "We founded Youthreach essentially as an organization that would look at giving young people like ourselves, who had a lot to be thankful for, a chance to really address
A catalyst NGO, Youth reach connects young professionals with organizations that need their help. Cleaning up the environment, teaching disadvantaged children, helping the disabledyou name it, Youthreach has a project in mind.
the sense of disconnection and disempowerment from the larger reality that is India, the velY immediate gaps that exist at the traffic Iight between [us and] a child who comes up asking for some generosity," explains Nanni Singh, the 33-year-old director of the NGO. "Mostly, how we react to these things is a sense of apathy or disempowerment: 'Oh God, what is it that I can do? Surely it is somebody else's problem.' We wanted an organization that could create a link between this sensitivity-this wanting to do something more or wanting to know more-and organizations on the ground that were really handling these issues at the grassroots." Today, Youthreach seeks to get people directly involved with NGOs working for children and the environment. It has partnered with around 25 groups in Delhi and IO-odd organizations outside the city that are working to protect children from exploitation and provide basic services. Youthreach also works with around IS NGOs working to protect the environment. Youthreach interacts with the leadership of each of its partner organizations to ascertain their human resource needs and creates a master list of projects for prospective volunteers. The list can be daunting. Salaam Baalak Trust needs doctors and dentists to treat street children. The Association for Cricket for the Blind needs editors and copywriters for its publications. The children's rights group, Butterflies, needs a Web designer. The Hope Foundation needs gynecologists and psychologists for leprosy patients. Although Youth reach seeks to provide its partners with hard-to-find, skilled staff, not all the positions require advanced degrees. There is plenty of room for dedicated people whose hearts are in the right place to teach English or mathematics, to read stories, to play sports and organize games, or to participate
in letter-writing or poster campaigns. "We have two categories of volunteers, and we deal with each one differently," says Singh. "We have volunteers ... like bankers who don't want to bank and look at your fmancial books but who want to work directly with children, reading stories or whatever. We call them direct volunteers, persons with direct contact. Then there are volunteers who want to give inputs, professional inputs ... help an organization build the east wing of a small health center, help another organization look at using their office space more effectively. Doctors, health-care workers, etc." One volunteer who provides that professional input is Monica Kumar, one of the founders of Manas, a registered trust that provides mental health services. Already operating a clinic providing psychotherapy and special education services to individual clients and working with a dozen of Delhi's
top schools, Kumar and her associates decided after three years it was time to reach out to the community. But they didn't know how, and they were too strapped for time themselves to do the legwork necessary to find out. That's where Youthreach came in. "It was always in the back of our minds that we needed to do it," said Kumar. "Youthreach gave us that backup [of resources] without which we wouldn't have been able to do it. We would have had to make a fresh start, but there were already communities existing, where all we had to do was go and work." Manas has provided counseling services to teachers and students at three Youthreach affiliates: the Delhi chapter of the National Association for the Blind (NAB); Karm Marg, a shelter for street children; and Navjyoti, an NGO that provides education for slum children. Neha Malik, the young woman who acts
Mobile Creches runs on-site schools for the children of laborers. This class meets at the Sheikh Sarai Delhi Metro construction site. Along with education, Mobile Creches organizes infant care, food for the children and doctors' visits. It is one of the organizations assisted by Youthreach.
as the counselor, explained how the program works. "I conduct workshops with the children and with the teachers, basically talking about mental health issues: how to handle problematic behaviors of children, be that either emotional, behavioral or academic issues. We have a workshop once a month-we've had three so far. Other than that I go once a week and interact with the children over there. Basically, they have cases lined up for me, and I provide counseling." She has already seen the benefits, and, perhaps more importantly, so have the organizations she works with. "I've got a very good response from NAB. They've
At the "Compughar," children from Delhi's Lok Nayak Jaya Prakash Basti use computers to explore new worlds of possibility and creativity. The computer lab is run by Sarai, a New Media research initiative and Ankur, an NGO focused on experimental education. Young people constructively turn their often difficult life experiences into riveting narrative and art, a collection of which was published in 2002. Youthreach and International Youth Foundation seed money helped Ankur set up Compughar.
really seen a lot of improvement. In fact they kept saying they want a full-time psychologist. They keep asking me, 'Can you come twice in a week? Can you come thrice in a week?' But unfortunately because I'm also going other places, and I'm doing clinical work here, once a week is the best I can do." Youthreach has mobilized professionals from fields ranging from engineering to architecture to the arts. Dancer Ashley Lobo conducted a dance program for 50 street children, with the idea that he could not only give these kids a chance to earn a livelihood in the arts one day, but also give a serious boost to their self-esteem. David Mansfield, then food and beverage manager at the Grand Hyatt, conducted a workshop on resume-building for 12 children from the National Association for the Blind, and he held a capacity-building workshop for the staff of Deepalaya and Salaam Baalak Trust, which work with slum children and street kids, to explain what the hotel looks for in ajob applicant. For other volunteers, Youthreach has provided a route back into working world. Gitanjali Krishnan had been a professional teacher for 18 years in Mum bai, but she was a full-time homemaker when she came to Youthreach and said she wanted to volunteer three years ago. She was soon teaching class IV students at the Deepalaya Ramditti School and teaching English to students of the National Open School at the Deepalaya
a: Narayan Hospital. "The school doesn't ~ teach the regular ABCDs, it teaches chil~ dren to think for themselves," explained I OJ Shabnam Sahni Arora, who administers !z ! Youthreach's grant-making activities. For I the talented, motivated children of parents Kalkaji School. Six months later, when the who work as daily wage laborers, vegprincipal of the Ramditti School fell ill, etable sellers and housemaids, the school Krishnan took over. She never left. Today, presents a "very different avenue" from in addition to managing the day-to-day op- those available to them at government erations of the school, Krishnan handles all schools. With seed money from Youthreach the volunteers Youthreach sends to the and the International Youth Foundation, Ankur was able to set up a computer lab Deepalaya schools. A key partner in the Youthreach mission called "Compughar"--eomplete with PCs, is the U.S.-based International Youth digital cameras, and tape recorders-that Foundation (lYF), which has selected the the students use to create a monthly "wall magazine" covering their community, Delhi-based NGO to manage and administer its grants locally. Established in 1990, which they post on the walls of neighborhood buildings. Student reporters and dethe IYF operates in nearly 50 countries signers produce the entire publication, and territories and is one of the world's largest public foundations. IYF works with developing story ideas, interviewing members of their community and writing the hundreds of partner organizations like stories themselves. The idea is part of a Youthreach to strengthen and expand programs that are helping young people. Over larger agenda to create a community the last decade, IYF and its in-country part- archive, according to Ankur's program coners have helped more than 26 million peo- ordinator Prabhat K. Jha. "We want to redefine history," he said, explaining that the ple gain access to life skills, education, job lives of the people in India's slum commutraining and other opportunities. Youthreach has distributed about R.s. 3 nities are virtually undocumented. "This is not a computer center. They're using the million in IYF grants, funding the expansion of a Chandigarh-based education pro- computer as a creative tool, not to learn the skills to provide cheap labor." For the gram for slum children, a computer training center in New Delhi, a school for 150 child young people of this low-income community, this was the first time anyone encourbeggars and casual laborers in Bangalore, and a program that provides basic services aged them to be creative or to think about including education, health-care and nutri- what their lives mean. tion for 190 children in New Delhi. "Some of them are really amazing writers," said Shabnam. "[And] they've learned In one of these programs, New Delhibased NGO Ankur provides alternative ed- an incredible amount about computers." ucation for underprivileged children living Compughar also teaches students about in the slums near Lok Nayak Jaya Prakash responsibility. The students themselves se-
lect the writers they believe are capable of participating in the project, and now five students earn a small stipend in exchange for training eight others in the computer skills needed to produce the wall magazine and archive content. In 2002, the team produced a slick paperbound book about their neighborhood called Galiyon Se (By Lanes). More than a hundred pages long in English and Hindi, the book comprises samples of their writing and photography. The arresting passages written by these young writers are proof enough of the program's impact: The sound of vehicles coming and going. The sound of someone selling something. Peanuts. Buy peanuts. Hot and crisp peanuts. Almonds of the poor are peanuts. Buy! Buy! After some time I was standing outside my lane, when the earring seller came. EalTings of gold for the price of pebbles, he said. The women sUlTounded him. Arre bhaiya, show us this one. How much is it for? An elderly man is our neighbour. He is from Pakistan. His name is Mirajo. But we call him chacha ....Once the boy I was just telling you about brought some more boys with him. They had two eggs in each hand. Bhai Mirajo ...was sitting down to eat when those boys started pelting eggs at him and his house. Poor Bhai Mirajo didn't do anything. Yesterday, when he came to our house, he was weeping as he was saying, "1fT do something wrong, you can all hit me. But I haven't done anything. Why do all of you needlessly bother me?" He had tears in his eyes. Seeing him, we also wanted to howl.
Another IYF grant helped Anubhav, an organization that works to help child ragpickers make the transition from the streets to the classroom, double its staff of outreach workers. Most of the children of New Delhi's grim Mayapuri Industrial Estate supplement their families' meager incomes by collecting scrap metal. All day long, they scramble through the battered landscape of junk cars, automobile parts and garbage, using magnets to attract stray bits of scrap metal to sell. Black with soot and living on the bare edge of survival, these children have no motivation to go to school and nobody to motivate them to go to school. Anubhav therefore has to go out into the community and convince children
to come to the local education programwhich provides a recreation center, nutritious food and medical care as an incentive to encourage attendance. "It's a nonfOlTnal education system," said Shabnam. "But after they get them up to a celiain level and used to going to a center and sitting and listening to someone, they try to get them into a formal system of education in government schools." Before receiving a Youthreach-IYF grant, Anubhav had two teachers canvassing the community to draw in students, neither of whom had been paid in more than eight months. The grant allowed the organization to pay those teachers and hire two more, as well as begin a nutrition program that is a major incentive for chi Idren to turn up at the schoo!' Subhash Bose, the head of Anubhav, has also established links with local dispensaries and medical professionals to monitor the health status of the children. In 2002, Bose had more than 142 children enrolled in his informal education program, and he regularly provides food for 120 kids. For Mobile Creches, an organization that provides daycare for the children of day laborers on Delhi construction sites, a Youthreach-IYF grant made it possible to hire a full-time person to focus on building awareness about the program, which started in 1969. She has reached out to schools, targeting class XI students, as a way of forging a link between affluent communities and the workers who build their homes. Class XI students volunteer to work with the Mobile Creches program, either as daycare workers or in back-office jobs. The young volunteers inject a vital dose of enthusiasm, and the stories they take home to their parents are a ten'ific aid to the organization's fundraising efforts. Youthreach volunteers are vital to making these programs work. Jyoti Gupta, a freelance advertising designer, volunteered to design a brochure and fundraising bulletin for Mobile Creches. Tanisha Sangha, who writes profiles of inspiring women for Cosmopolitan and India Today, helped the NGO develop case studies to use in their newsletter and annual report. Montessori teachers Bhavna Ledlie and Pincha Singh conducted capacity-building workshops to train Mobile Creches teachers to introduce
primary-level English into their curriculum, and volunteers like Amrita Bhandari and Gemma Wall signed on as teachers. Likewise, Martin Auer, a German writer visiting India, taught creative writing skills to the students and teachers of Ankur. Vikrant Rathore, a disc jockey, helped Anubhav with communication projects and administrative work. Another volunteer helped the organization balance its books. This March, Youth reach confirmed a grant from the Ford Foundation that will allow it to expand its awareness-building activities. Youthreach developed a three-year expansion plan that will see the organization publish pamphlets on environmental protection, conduct an outdoor advertising campaign on hoardings at bus shelters, as well as create radio spots and shOli promotional films to be screened in Delhi's theaters along with the trailers aired before the feature films. The organization will also increase the scope of its workshops, which include films and discussion groups, ramping up to reach out to all of its NGO coordinators and to 20 corporations and their coordinators, volunteers and staff once every six months. The Ford Foundation will also help Youthreach improve its information technology package, and enhance tracking and communication with donors and volunteers. The NGO will link its Web site with partner organizations with similar mandates and increase its e-mail database. It seeks to link up with 15 patineI' sites to build an e-mail database of8,000 addresses in three years. "The Ford Foundation has really come on board with a very open mind," said Singh. "They came to us and basically told us, whatever it is that you think is important and where you'd like to put this money. It was for us to put together a proposal." We've heard of you and are interested in what you're doing, the Ford Foundation said. Why haven't you ever approached us for funding? For the five-year-old NGO devoted to building bridges, this might be the longest bridge of all. D About the Author: Jason Overdorf is a freelance writer based in New Delhi. He has written for the Far Eastern Economic Review . among other publications.
BREAK THE CHAINS The community response to trafficking has grown enormously in recent years. An NGO battles crime and social stigma as it rescues and rehabilitates victims. hen sex workers in the red light district of Mehboob-ki-Mehendi in the old city of Hyderabad were forcibly evacuated by the state government authorities in a quick swoop in 1998, the inmates landed on the streets in a state of dazed deprivation. Their belongings were burnt and they were subjected to mandatory HIV testing. They were left with no means to support themselves, no options in life. It is no wonder they wailed, "Our lives are over." To add to their misery, medical repOlts of most sex workers revealed they were HIV positive. The findings drove an alarmed state government to draft a plan of action to prevent the spread of this deadly disease. This led them, unavoidably, to address another problem, trafficking in women and children. Trafficking is a global problem and combating it is not easy. Several issues are involved: preventing trafficking in women and children, rehabilitation and reintegration of sex workers with their families and ensuring legal rights to end victimization. As there was no effective state machinery to enforce these measures, the government turned to NGOs for implementation. Free from burdensome bureaucracy, NGOs work directly with small groups of people, establish trust and develop effective means to reach those who need help. Estimates prepared by Prajwala, a Hyderabad-based NGO
founded in 1996, put the number of women sex workers in India between 2 million and 8 million. Assessing the exact number is but one of the difficulties in anti-trafficking. People engaged in the trade often do not admit it. Trafficking, while certainly a social evil, is largely an issue of organized crime in which pimps, brokers, goondas and brothel madams are stakeholders. It requires dedicated effOlt to break these trafficking rings. Despite the difficulties, there has been effective community response to trafficking in Andhra Pradesh in the recent past. One such response came from Prajwala, which strives to minimize different forms of commercial sexual exploitation in the state. With a shoe-string budget and very few volunteers on board, its goal has been social reintegration and rehabilitation of sex workers and their children. Apart from offering a clearer idea of the trafficking problem to government agencies, the Mehboob-ki-Mehendi episode brought a fresh challenge for Prajwala. "We founded this NGO with an intention to support sex workers, but our response to Mehboob-ki-Mehendi was spontaneous because it was based on real-life experience. Our response never got wrapped in the philosophy of altruism or welfare, but centered around the principle Submission, Masood Hussain, 1995, wood and mixed media, 79 X 101 X 15 em.
of community partnerships," says Sunitha Krishnan, a mental health professional and secretary ofPrajwala. "Prajwala"-which means an internal flame that cannot be extinguished-offers hope to people who feel hopelessly trapped in a life of exploitation. "We kindle a light for those deprived victims and their children by building partnerships and providing opportunities for ownership of the community," says Jose Vetticattil, founder president of Prajwala. "This is an integrated process where mothers take care of their children and help restore them to the mainstream living. In our concept of things, mother is the key." He adds: "The response was so spontaneous because mothers were made partners in the whole process." Prajwala also relies on strong community backing, Vetticattil says. Prajwala considers the sex worker a victim of societal subjugation, deprivation and compulsion. But the child is victimized because of the mother. So at one end it is important to improve the condition of the mother, giving her some other options and, on the other end deal with the child who is exposed to very adult experiences. The child is a witness to buying and selling of the human body, and is involved in illicit drug and liquor trading. These experiences shape the psychological make-up of the child. One of the real challenges before Prajwala is to deal with different kinds of psychosocial disorders in the children. For this mission against trafficking, Prajwala receives support from many agencies and organizations, including the state and central governments. "The Andhra Pradesh Government is suppOlting us morally and emotionally and the Government of India is also partially supporting our rescue and reintegration work," says Sunitha Krishnan. Doctors and lawyers volunteer for the cause. International orgaruzations such as U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) through the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) has provided grants to implement the antitrafficking program. USAID works closely with UNIFEM which reports on all activities. NGO partners interact with USAID and ensure that the overall goals of the program are maintained. The USAID-UNIFEM partnership supports networking and alliancebuilding among NGOs, community leaders and law enforcement agencies. The partnership grant supports policy planning within Indian Government agencies to implement the national plan of action. This involves capacity building of NGOs, rehabilitation of children of sex workers through education and piloting of
A Peep out of the Past, Masood Hussain, 1995, wood and mixed media, 94 x 138 x 14 em.
community-based actions to combat trafficking. Apart from Prajwala, USAID provides help to 30 more organizations who are working in the area of anti-trafficking in India. In Andhra Pradesh, it supports another NGO, Sthree, which builds shelters for victims of trafficking. Sthree also runs rehabilitation programs for skills enhancement and income generation. The big task before Prajwala is educating and caring for the children. Most of them are orphaned and suffering from HIV/AIDS infection. In one of the homes, located in the narrow bylanes of old Hyderabad, about 50 children-ranging from age
three to 12-lead a normal life. The children welcome Sunitha Krishnan in a joyful chorus when she enters the Prajwala home on her routine daily visit. She looks after the needs of the children, from books to snacks to spOlis goods. She patiently talks to kids, listens to their complaints, shares their joys and sorrows, and deftly soothes with comforting words. The full-time staff of the home-two teachers, a cook and an administrator, all rescued and rehabilitated sex workers-monitor the educational and maintenance needs of the children. The home also helps older children attend school. There was a phase when Prajwala had to lobby for admission for its children. Today the older kids have gained the confidence to fight their own battle for admission to schools and colleges. Most victims of trafficking come from socially, educationally and economically disadvantaged families. So it is important to educate them, giving them tools today which will make them economically independent tomorrow. "Educational training offers another important option for the children which makes them economically independent," says Vetticattil. To prevent second generation trafficking in children, Prajwala has involved the very people in the trade, like pimps and goondas, even though they continue with their criminal activities. Due to the efforts ofPrajwala, some people in the trade have now become the most active proponents against child trafficking. "We had no other option in life, but if you help in creating a new future for our children, we are with you in your movement," says Bina, a former sex worker. This major shift in the mindset among the people in the trade is important to effectively free their children from prostitution and petty crime. Prajwala experimented with micro-enterprises which help empower sex workers economically. Efforts to get corporate suppOli are also under way. Last year, in collaboration with the state government and Amul, a renowned brand in milk products, Prajwala rehabilitated five victims by offering them Amul retail outlets within the Andhra Pradesh state secretariat premises. The government ananged outlets free of cost which were fully furnished by Amul with deep-refrigeration facilities. "Radha," one of the beneficiaries, is the proud owner of one such outlet. She is happily making approximately Rs. 7,000 a month and employs two more rehabilitated sex workers as helpers. The sordid life story of 23-year-old Radha exemplifies the stories of thousands of other victims. Poverty made Radha an easy prey. She is from the drought-prone Kurnool district, where employment opportunities are minimal. After completing her schooling she had no means to support her college studies, so she looked for a job. She approached a manpower agent who promised her a job in Hyderabad at Rs. 2,200 per month. She didn't realize that the agent had other plans. After keeping her in the job, the agent sold her to a trafficker who forced her into prostitution. Her resistance was short-lived. She says she was coerced and tortured in the brothel. Women are routinely trafficked after being duped with the lure of job or marriage. In other cases, the poverty of uneducated women is so extreme that they have no recourse but prostitution. They have no job skills.
Programs which empower women make them economically independent. Credit schemes and income-generating activities of Prajwala have enabled a large number of former sex workers to start small legitimate businesses through easy credit made available to them. Reintegrated sex workers were allotted free flats. Prajwala's integrated approach provides opportunities for many former sex workers to be economically self-sufficient. Prajwala provides medical care and support to HIV positive victims of trafficking. It ensures free treatment, drugs and medicines to women and children in the program. It has plans to start homes for the terminally ill AIDS victims. Periodically, Prajwala offers counseling services to women and children to help overcome the mental trauma of their often violent experiences. Changing the mindset of law-enforcement authorities, educational institutions and people at large is an area where organizations
An integrated approach, in which mother is the key, helps take care of the victimized children. like Prajwala hope to make an impact. Earlier, sex workers were treated as criminals. With a shift in the attitude of police, now sex workers are seen as disadvantaged human beings who became victims oftrafficking due to lack of choices. The shift in attitude is also visible in schools and colleges. "There was a time when all doors were closed for us. Many educational institutions refused admission to our children just because they came from this background. But today there is a definite shift. Premier institutions today admit our children, offer scholarships and extend possible assistance," says Vetticattil. Prajwala is a co-manager of the govemmentjuvenile and special homes and homes for mv positive children. It is also a nodal agency for anti-trafficking activities and HlV counseling for the government of Andhra Pradesh. In their book, The Shattered Innocence, Jose Vetticattil and Sunitha Krishnan chronicled the trafficking of girls, boys and women from Andhra Pradesh to other states in India. Their recommendations for prevention, rescue, restoration and social reintegration of victims influenced the draft policy of the state government. The book received immense response from other NGOs nationwide. Prajwala is pioneering the largest issue-based network in the state where more than 35 NGOs are working together to stop trafficking. The issue of trafficking is a complex one which must be addressed with a multipronged approach. NGOs like Prajwala have responded well, but a lot more needs to be done. Vetticattil and Krishnan recommend vigorous, coordinated programs involving the government, NGOs and communities to prevent trafficking, and rescue and rehabilitate its victims. They conclude: "What is required today is a movement that will break the chains of the organized criminal networks forever." 0
"Shout and Shout and Shout" An Interview with Arvind Singhal
Arvind Singhal, presidential research scholar and professor in the School of Interpersonal Communication, College of Communication, Ohio University, came to India to launch a book, Combating AIDS: Communication Strategies in Action, which he co-authored with Everett M. Rogers. The book is a useful, detailed resource for NGOs and news media. Singhal has served as consultant to the World Bank, UNICEF, UNDP, UNAIDS, FAO, and USAID and his research has been supported by the Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control among others. He spoke to Dipesh Satapathy about AIDS communication issues. Excerpts from the interview:
SPAN: What have been the mistakes in communicating about HIVIAIDS worldwide? Arvind Singhal: I think the biggest mistake is that we have not shouted enough about the issue of AIDS. I use the term "shout" in the context of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's statement on AIDS: "When a lion comes to the village, you don't make a small alarm. You make a very loud one. When I knew of AIDS, I said we must shout and shout and shout and shout." The noise level in general has been very low, because it deals with issues that politicians are very wary of talking about, and the media is very uncomfortable discussing with. We do not discuss sex on page one, and clearly the public is quite uncomfortable with it. Typically when there is an epidemic, one should acknowledge it at the soonest. And then you mobilize political and community action and resources to take care of the issue. Nip it in the bud if you can. Given the
HIV /AIDS transmlSSlOn patterns, you have rather a small window of opportunity to do so. Once it gets out into the general public, it becomes very difficult to control. The mistakes have been: not acknowledging that there is a problem, not doing that early enough, denying it, being silent about it, thinking that it will go away, lack of mobilization through political unity, media and resources. What are the key changes in information dissemination about HIVIAIDS? In the first 10 years of the AIDS epidemic, the communication strategies designed saw a lot of fear being instilled: "Don't do this because this will happen" or giving messages which were very blame-oriented, which said "Do not hang around with those with alternative sexual lifestyles. These are people to be feared, shunned and ostracized." In the last 10 years the discourse has been more compassionate. In some places it still continues to be blame-oriented, moralistic, very
preachy and didactic. The communication discourse has to be engaging, involving and enlightening. The metaphor now is "show, do not tell." In the past there was a lot of telling and finger-pointing. The first 10 years were more focused on prevention. Now the focus is on prevention as well as care and treatment. What are the key differences in the communication strategies applied to developed and developing countries? The difference in the communication strategies should be a function of the differences in culture. The cultural difference is not just between developed and developing countries, there are differences within a country itself. Each communication strategy ideally should resonate with its own sociocultural milieu. A strategy that's developed in the United States to be implemented among the gay population in San Francisco would clearly be completely inappropriate while talking to housewives in Chennai. The cultural differences in rela-
tion to social norms, prevailing practices, local policies, availability of health care, and other local factors should help guide the communication strategy. How do you target different groups like commercial sex workers and truckers? The message has to be the same and there should be some unity in purpose. We have different groups, for example, highrisk groups like truckers, intravenous drug users and migrant workers. They live in different places and have different lifestyles. There are different power dynamics. For example, a commercial sex worker is very vulnerable because she has no bargaining power either with the male client or with the brothel madam or mafia or the local police. What are the specific communication tools required to tarnish the stigma attached to HIVIAIDS patients? Stigma is one of the hardest things to overcome. I remember a conversation with a Buddhist monk in Thailand, where AIDS is more openly acknowledged. Even there the monk said that confronting the stigma is like hammering a big rock. A lot of people have to hammer for a very long time before the rock turns to dust. You attach a label of immorality, and it becomes a very complex issue to break down. What can be done? In some ways-this is rather very unfortunate-as the reach of the epidemic goes up in a country and more and more people are infected, as you and I get to see people whom we know getting HIY positive, the stigma will gradually come down. This is the natural course of reducing stigma. Self-disclosure is a very hard thing to do. As more people disclose that they are illV positive, then they are raising awareness. The perception of the people changes gradually and has a lot to do with the way we amplify the shout among the media and policy makers. In Thailand, Minister for Tourism, Public Information and Mass Communication Mechai Viravaidya appeared on national TV and took a sip of Coca-Cola from the same glass as a illV positive child. That small act had a tremendously de-stigmatizing influence on the Thais.
What are the various ways to measure the degree of effectiveness of HIVIAIDS NODs? We know how inefficient, sometimes, government procedures are. They have a large-scale bureaucracy. AIDS NGOs should be close to the ground, genuine, driven by people with good intentions and sound technical capacity. Often AIDS NGOs that have done well are started by individuals who are directly affected. They have a very important role to play. In many ways NGOs represent people power and also the peoples' machinery to implement a problematic strategy. It only happens when the NGO is genuine. In the Indian context, AIDS has spawned an industry of NGOs because there is a lot of money and any NGO which claims itself to be associated with AIDS can cash in on the resources, a lot of which is unutilized, underutilized and also misutilized. This gives a bad name to those who are doing good work. There has to be some measuring process of accountability, transparency associated with the monitoring and evaluation of how funds are spent and the outcome. There are various criteria to measure the effectiveness of an GO, like resource utilization and its impact in terms of empowering commercial sex workers. Do you think direct involvement of politicians and celebrities in promoting HIVIAIDS awareness helps? I cannot overemphasize this enough, it is absolutely critical. It has not happened in India. We do not have a Rock Hudson or Magic Johnson. It is not to say that there are not celebrities in India who are affected by HIY/AIDS. Imagine what would happen if Sachin Tendulkar took up this cause. Not just once, but doing it repeatedly. He is apparently well-to-do and has tremendous mass appeal and sense of integrity in the game and otherwise. I am not saying that it is incumbent upon Sachin to do it, as he should feel free to live his life the way he wants but it would be wonderful ifhe does that. What are the India-specific problems of AIDS communication?
Lack of noise, politically, in the media and in the public discourse. Noise is there, but there is no coherence and the level is not high. There is not enough mobilization. It will happen because now things are out of hand. The reason why it has begun to happen now as opposed to 10 or 15 years ago, is because now we are seeing "Oh, some people are dying, indeed." So we are beginning to shed some of our moralistic notions. The gender norms are a hindrance. For instance, women do not have any leverage to tell their partners to use a condom. The challenge really lies in taking up these issues as they exist and turn them around in ways that they become useful for your communication strategy. Another big issue is that there is no public face and it is absolutely critical. It is not just the responsibility of National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) to do it. It is our responsibility too, we have to talk to our neighbors and children about this. Shouting has to be done by the electronic media in an engaging, involving and enlightening manner-find engaging formats like talk shows and soap operas. A TY serial, Jasoos Vijay, on Doordarshan, squarely deals with the issues of HIY wherein the detective solves some cases related to HIY/AIDS. It is hosted by Om Puri. It gets thousands of letters every week. We need more of that. Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, I know, is a very popular TY serial. Just imagine the impact if one of the characters, as the drama unfolds, becomes HIV positive-it does not mean that the story line has to exclusively deal with her-and as they confront issues like disclosure, marriage and bearing children, you can wrestle with so many different issues. We need more films like Philadelphia, which makes money at the box office, which gets Tom Hanks the Best Actor Award, and which depicts the issue ofHIY/AIDS. I am not recommending that each and every film that comes out of Hollywood deals with this, but we need more. We underestimate the importance of making movies that have a meaning. The education component doesn't drag the entertainment component down in a film but it enhances it. D
eral funding, and touted the findings in newspaper advertisements shOltly before the President spoke. The National Council of Catholic Bishops, an organization opposed to stem-cell research, released survey findings that showed how the wording of questions on stem-cell research can affect a poll's results. So much polling activity on a single issue isn't unusual anymore, and it clearly indicated how powerful a force polls have become today. Fourteen national pollsters release data publicly on a regular basis, as do scores of others at the state and local level. Many of these organizations also poll for private clients, though much of that work never becomes public; market research on new products and consumer preferences (conducted privately for the most part) dwarfs the public side of the business. In the political life of the nation, campaign and public pollsters, particularly those associated with media organizations, have enormous influence, and they are the focus ofthis essay. The Roper Center, at the University of Connecticut, collects and archives polling data for most of the national survey organizations that release their data publicly. The Roper archive, the oldest and largest devoted to public opinion data, contains about 9,000 questions from the 1960s-and more than 150,000 questions fi'om the] 990s. Nine organizations regularly contributed to the Roper archive in the 1960s. Today, 104 do. Materials from Gallup and Harris, two of the most familiar names in the survey business, represented slightly more than 75 percent of the Roper Center's holdings in the 1960s; in the 1990s, they accounted for less than 25 percent. There were 16 questions asked about Medicare in 1965, the year that legislation became Jaw, and more than ] ,400 questions about the Clinton health care plan in 1994, the year that proposed legislation died. From 1961 to 1974, pollsters asked some 1,400 questions about Vietnam; in the eight months fi'om August 1990 to March 1991, they asked 800 questions about the Persian Gulf War. A combined total of 400 questions were asked about the 10 first ladies from Eleanor Roosevelt through Barbara Bush; twice that many questions were asked about First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton alone. The polling business has grown dramatically outside the
Do public opinion polls truly reflect what is in people's minds? How have they evolved over time? What are their limitations? tnheir 1940 book The Pulse of Democracy, George Gallup and Saul Rae defended a new instrument, the public opinion poll, but they cautioned as well that polling, an indusuy then just out of its "swaddling clothes," would need to be evaluated afresh in the future. The infant industry, long since matured, is full of life today. Polls are a commonplace of American life, conducted almost nonstop on almost every conceivable subject. But some of the same questions Gallup and Rae asked about polling six decades ago are still being asked: Is public opinion unreliable as a guide in politics? Are samples truly representative? What are polling's implications for the processes of democracy? And along with the old questions, there are significant new ones, too: Is the proliferation of polls, for example, seriously devaluing the polling enterprise? The amount of polling on a subject much in the news of late may suggest an affirmative answer to that last question. In July 2001, the Gallup Organization asked Americans for their views on embryonic stem-cell research, a matter that has vexed scholars, biologists, and theologians. From August 3 to August 5, Gallup polled Americans again. On August 9, immediately after President George W. Bush announced his decision to provide limited federal funding for the research, the survey organization was in the field once more with an instant poll to gauge reaction. From August 10 to August 12, Gallup interviewers polled yet again. Gallup wasn't the only polling organization to explore Americans' view on this complex issue. Ten other pollsters, working with news organizations or academic institutions, conducted polls, too. Hoping to influence the debate and the President's decision, advocacy groups commissioned polls of their own. The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International, a supporter of stem-cell research, reported that a solid majority of Americans were in favor of fed-
United States as well. Five firms polled for major British newspapers and television stations in the last days of the British election campaign in June 2001. About a dozen different news organizations, including three from the United States, conducted polls during the 2000 Mexican presidential campaign. The presence of independent pollsters surveying voters on election day in Mexico, and the expeditious broadcast of their findings, reinforced the belief that the election, which was won by the challenger, Vicente Fox, was fair. The New Yorker recently chronicled the work of a political pollster in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. In the past three Mongolian national elections, the pollster "predicted the winner within fewer than 2.8 percentage points." The article described how one of the pollster's young associates traveled by motorbike, in a remote province with no roads, to speak to prospective Mongolian voters. When he handed out his questionnaires, the nomads began weeping because, as the young man said, "for the first time they feel that somebody cares about what they think." olls in the United States have achieved a degree of prominence in public life that was inconceivable when George Gallup, Archibald Crossley, and Elmo Roper started using scientific sampling techniques almost seven decades ago to gauge Americans' opinions. Some of the most familiar polling questions today ("What is the most important problem facing the United States?"; "Do you approve or disapprove of how the President is handling his job?"; "In politics, do you consider yourself a Democrat or a Republican?") were asked for the first time by those pollstersthe founding fathers-in the 1930s. All three measured Franklin Roosevelt's popularity and predicted his victory in 1936. Roosevelt himself became an enthusiast for polls after they predicted his win, and he enlisted Hadley Cantril of Princeton University to measure opinion about issues that concerned him, particularly views about the war in Europe. Cantril used Gallup's facilities at first, but he later set up an independent operation that provided secret poll reports to the White House. Harry Truman, not surprisingly, became skeptical about polls after their famously incorrect prediction that Thomas E. Dewey would defeat him in 1948. Most observers date the modern era of political polling to Louis Harris's work for John F. Kennedy in 1960. Since then, pollsters working privately for political candidates have become so influential that viliually no candidate runs for major office without hiring one. Private polling is used in almost every aspect of political campaigns today-from strategic planning to message development to fund-raising-and at every stage of campaigns. And the activity doesn't stop when the campaigning is over. In a post-election memo to Jimmy Carter in 1976, Patrick Caddell, the Presidentelect's pollster, argued that politics and governing could not be separated. Thus was launched "the permanent campaign," with its armies of pollsters and political consultants. Once in office, presidents continue to poll privately, and they collect data from the public pollsters as well. During the Kennedy, Johnson, and
George Gallup, an early advocate of public opinion polls. His Gallup Organization developed a survey instrument that was influential in the late 20th century.
Nixon administrations, according to political scientists Lawrence R. Jacobs and Robert Y. Shapiro, "public opinion analysis became an integral pmt of the institution of the presidency," with staff members given the task of monitoring the data. Successive administrations have become "veritable warehouses for public opinion data." (The private polling that's done for Presidents and paid for by the political parties is lucrative indeed for pollstersand often helps attract new clients.) The public side of the polling business derives its great influence in part from media alliances and coverage. Since the earliest days of polling, pollsters who release data publicly have depended on news organizations to disseminate their findings. Gallup syndicated his polls in various newspapers; Crossley polled for Hearst, and Roper for Fortune. It wasn't until 1967 that a news organization-CBS News-started conducting its own polls. CBS polled alone at first, but joined forces with the New York Times in 1975. (In the 1990s, CBS News and the Times asked Americans more than 10,000 questions.) Some of the other prominent partnerships today include Gallup, CNN, and USA Today; Harris Interactive, Time, and CNN; and Opinion Dynamics and Fox News. ABC News polls both alone and with the Washington Post. A bipartisan team led by Democrat Peter D. Hart and Republican Robert Teeter polls regularly for NBC News and the Wall Street Journal. Princeton Survey Research Associates polls for Bloomberg News and, separately, for Newsweek. Zogby International, which in 2001, conducted a poll for NBC, worked with Reuters during the 2000 campaign.
Like their counterparts that poll for candidates, pollsters associated with news organizations are involved in all phases of the permanent political campaign. Pollsters inquire about how the President-elect is handling his transition, and whether the outgoing President is making a graceful exit. In the first 100 days of the Kennedy administration, Gallup asked four questions about how the new President was handling his job. Dming the same period in Jimmy Carter's presidency, four national pollsters asked 14 job approval questions. In George W. Bush's first 100 days, 14 pollsters asked 44 such questions. The total is substantially higher if one includes questions about how the President has handled specific aspects of his job, such as the economy, the environment, or foreign policy. Americans have already been asked whom they will vote for in the presidential election and senatorial contests in 2004. All this activity is a mark of how successful the pollsters have become, but it has also given rise to criticism that the sheer volume of the activity may be diminishing the value of polls. In the media/pollster paltnerships, the needs of the media often trump those of the pollsters. The press has to work quickly, whereas good polling usually takes time. The competitive news environment has pollsters vying to provide the first reaction to a breaking news story. Kathleen Frankovic, director of surveys at CBS, reports that it took Gallup two weeks to tell the country who won the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon debates. In 1992, CBS had results within 15 minutes of the second presidential debate. Technological advances have made it possible to conduct inter-
The public side of the polling business derives its great influence in part from media alliances and coverage. views and to process responses faster and more inexpensively than in the past, but the advances don't necessarily make the practice wise. Instant polls such as those conducted after President Bush's speech on stem-cell research and Connie Chung's interview with congressman Gary Condit (Democrat, California) may satisfy a journalist's requirement for speed and timeliness (and perhaps even sensationalism), but they do not always satisfy a pollster's need for adequate samples. To understand just what the public is saying often takes time, and time is a luxury media organizations don't have. The media's preoccupation with speed caught up with the pollsters in spectacular fashion last year. Although their record of prediction in the 2000 national election was one of the best ever, the exit-poll consortium (the five networks and the Associated Press pool resources and conduct ajoint poll of voters leaving selected precincts) was roundly criticized for its role in precipitous
election-night calls. CNN's internal report on the election night fiasco argued that "television news organizations staged a collective drag race ... recklessly endangering the electoral process, the political life of the nation and their own credibility." As the results of a national Los Angeles Times poll make clear, the public objects to the practice of calling elections before voting has finished. Three-quarters of those surveyed told interviewers that the networks' practice of predicting the results in some parts of the country while citizens in other parts of the country are still casting ballots "is interfering with the voting process and the practice should be stopped." (Just 22 percent said that the results constitute "breaking news" and that the networks should be allowed to continue the practice.) ecause competition in the news business is so great, polls are being conducted and reported about many matters on which opinion isn't firm--or may not exist at all. Questions about a candidate's strength or a voter's intention, asked years before an election, a1'e largely meaningless. In Gallup's first poll about the stem-cell controversy, taken in July 2001, only nine percent of those interviewed said they were following the debate about government funding "very closely," and 29 percent "somewhat closely." Sixty percent said they were following it "not too closely" or "not closely at all." Asked whether the government should fund this type of research, 57 percent of respondents said that they "didn't know enough to say." In the weeks that followed, Americans did not take a short course in molecular biology or theology. Yet many pollsters reported their views as if they had. Poll findings released by advocacy organizations--on issues from stem-cell research to missile defense-have become weapons in political battles, and the development may undermine polling generally if it causes people to believe that you can prove anything with a poll. In his book Flattering the Leviathan, political scientist Robert Weissberg levels a serious indictment at contemporary polling on policy issues. He argues that polls, as currently constructed, "measme the wishes and preferences of respondents, neither of which reflect the costs or risks associated with a policy," and he mges policy makers to ignore them. He takes two superficially popular ideas-that the government should provide money to hire more grade school teachers and that it should provide money to make day care more affordable and accessible-and subjects them to rigorous scrutiny through a poll of his own. Opinions about the ideas turn out to be far more complicated, and far more skeptical, than the initial positive responses suggested. Weissberg believes that "contemporary polls tell us about nothing worthwhile about policy choices facing the nation." In his view, polls have an impOltant place in the political life ofthe nation when they measure personal values and subjective opinions, but they subvett democracy when they pmport to provide guidance on complicated policy debates. Although the public displays no overt hostility to polls, fewer Americans are bothering to respond these days to the pollsters who phone them. Rob Daves, of the Minnesota Poll, says that
"nearly all researchers who have been in the profession longer than a decade or so agree that no matter what the measure, response rates to the telephone surveys have been declining." Harry O'Neill, a principal at Roper Starch Worldwide, calls the response-rate problem the "dirty little secret" of the business. Industry-sponsored studies from the 1980s reported refusal rates (defined as the proportion of people whom surveyors reached on the phone but who declined either to participate at all or to complete an interview) as ranging between 38 to 46 percent. Two studies done by the market research arm of Roper Starch Worldwide, in 1995 and 1997, each put the refusal rate at 58 percent. A 1997 study by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found statistically significant differences on five of 85 questions between those who participated in a five-day survey and those who responded in a more rigorous survey, conducted over eight weeks, that was designed to coax reluctant individuals into participating. Much more research needs to be done on the seriousness of the response-rate problem, but it does seem to pose a major challenge to the business and might help to usher in new ways of polling. (Internet polling, for example, could be the wave of the future-if truly representative samples can be constructed.) Polling error may derive from other sources, too, including the construction of samples, the wording of questions, the order in which questions are asked, and interviewer and data-processing mistakes. he way many polls are conducted and reported today obscures some very important findings they have to offer about public opinion. Polls taken over long periods of time, for example, reveal a profound continuity about many of the core values that define American society. Huge majorities consistently tell pollsters that they believe in God and that religion is important in their daily lives. In 1939,41 percent of those surveyed by Gallup answered "yes" when asked if they had attended church or synagogue in the past seven days. When Gallup asked the same question in 2001, an identical 41 percent answered "yes." Americans' views about the role of the United States in the world show a similar long-term stability. In 1947, 68 percent of those surveyed told National Opinion Research Center interviewers that it would be best for the future of the United States if it played an active role in world affairs, and 25 percent said that it would be best for the country if it did not. When the question was asked 50 years later, 66 percent favored an active role and 28 percent were opposed. In dozens of iterations of the question, opinion hasn't budged. Americans are cranky at times about shouldering so many burdens abroad, but they are internationalists nonetheless. There are other telling instances of stability. When Gallup asked in 1938 whether the government should be responsible for providing medical care to people unable to pay for it, 81 percent said "yes." When the question was repeated in 1991, 80 percent so responded. Polling on the minimum wage, too, shows consistent support for a wage floor beneath American workers. Many early observers of American democracy feared that public opin-
ion would be too fickle and volatile to make democracy successful. But the polling data on many issues reveal a public strong and unyielding in its convictions. Polls can also reveal how the nation has changed its mind. In 1958, only four percent of whites approved of marriage between "whites and colored people." Today, a solid majority of whites approve. In 1936, only 31 percent of respondents said they would be willing to vote for a woman for President, even if she were qualified in every respect. Today, more than 90 percent respond that they would vote for a woman. When Gallup asks people whether they would vote for a black, a Jew, or a homosexual, solid majorities answer affiJmatively. (people are evenly divided about voting for an atheist for President, a finding that under-
The way many polls are conducted and reported today obscures some very important findings they have to offer about public opinion. scores the depth of Americans' religious convictions.) In 1955, Americans were divided about which they enjoyed more-time on the job or time off the job. Today, time away from work wins hands down. The work ethic is still strong, but Americans are taking leisure more seriously than they once did. Polls show that Americans are of two minds on many matters, and that makes the findings difficult to interpret. Take the issue of abortion. When Americans are asked whether abortion is an act of murder, pluralities or majorities tell pollsters that it is. When they are asked whether the choice to have an abortion should be left to women and their doctors, large majorities answer that it should. Americans tell pollsters that they want government off the back of business-even as they also tell them that government should keep a sharp eye on business practices. The nation wants a strong and assertive military, but Americans are reluctant to send troops abroad. The "on the one hand/on the other hand" responses to many questions are a prominent feature of American public opinion, and the deep ambivalence seems unlikely to change. It's essential in a democracy to know what citizens are thinking, and polls are a valuable resource for understanding a complex, heterogeneous public. Gallup and Rae had high hopes that polls would improve the machinery of democracy. But polls can be both overused and misused. Instead of oiling the machinery of democracy, the polls now seem to be clogging it up. In an article in Wilson Quarterly in 1979, the editors wrote, "Americans today seem obsessed with their reflection in the polls." If contemporary refusal rates are a fair indication of their interest, that is no longer the case. Their former enthusiasm is now ennui. D About the Author: Karlyn Bowman is a resident fellow American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C.
Trash that melts-just could t be the biggest thing since sliced bread was wrapped in cellophane: biodegradable food packaging that's cheap enough to compete with conventional plastic. Once used, it can be thrown onto the compost heap or even eaten. This year, startup Plantic Technologies will roll out a cornstarch-based bioplastic that can be molded into everything from Twinkie wrappers to cracker trays. The technology, developed by the Australian government, could help usher in a 21 st-century green revolution. Cornfields rather than oil fields could satisfY much of the enormous demand for plastic. A huge chunk of the 24 million tons of plastic that Americans toss each year would end up in backyard composters instead of landfills. And then there's the carnage that would be avoided if the plastic polluting the world's oceans dissolved rather than killing sea turtles, fur seals, and other wildlife. The road to ecologically safe, consumer-friendly bioplastic is littered with expensive failures and technological dead ends. But those problems are now being overcome, spurred in part by stringent recycling regulations in Japan and Europe. In 100,000
German households, for instance, chemical giant BASF is testing food bags and packaging made from its Ecoflex bioplastic, which contains a biodegradable petrochemical polymer. In the U.S., Biocorp North America is producing cornstarch-based biodegradable garbage bags, cups, and cutlery. The latest breakthrough has come in Australia, where scientists have developed an even better bioplastic: It biodegrades at temperatures as low as 0.5 degrees Celsius-simply by being exposed to moisture and microorganisms in the soil. Your candy bar's bioplastic wrapper accidentally blows out ofthe carwindow as you barrel down the highway? Not a problem. With a little rain, it dissolves in an hour. In a matter of weeks, it disintegrates into carbon dioxide and water. Such technology appears to be unique, according to Steve Mojo, executive director of the Biodegradable Products Institute, a New York organization that analyzes compostable bioplastics. (It has yet to study Plantic's products.) Though Plantic closely guards the recipe for its patented polymer, it's happy to show off the result-a material with the look, feel, and flexibility of conventional plastic. It can be used
for everything from cellophane and baggies to plant pots and medical devices. The company uses standard industrial extruders to produce cornstarch-based pellets, which are blown into sheets, then cut and molded into specific products. Food-packaging material costs about the same as petroleum-based plastic, approximately 70 cents per kilogram. The tougher versions of the material can withstand moisture for four to six weeks. Biodegradability does have its drawbacks. Get caught in a rainstorm with your groceries, and your cookie package could melt. And the more water-resistant, and thus longer-lasting, bioplastic is, the more expensive it is to make. Those costs must come down for Plantic to expand beyond the food-packaging market. "Dry goods packaging for chocolates and biscuits is just the first step," says David MacInnes, CEO of the two-year-old Melbourne company. "The main drive is to improve strength and reduce costs." Another challenge will be persuading multinational corporations, particularly American ones, to forsake longtime plastic suppliers for the Aussie upstarts. Why Oz? Chalk one up for government-funded research. A federal center developed the bioplastic and transferred the patent to Plantic. A scientific consulting firm took it from there, selling investors on the idea and hiring a management team. Already, several multinational food companies, including Cadbury Schweppes' Cad bury unit, are testing Plantic's bioplastic. Small purchase orders are in place for cookie and candy trays, which represent a $290 million global market. Plantic also has developed a bioplastic version of the agricultural film used by farmers as ground sheeting to grow tomatoes and other crops. Conventional sheeting-an $845 million global market-must be dug up after harvest, and some 650,000 tons of it end up in landfills worldwide each year. But with bioplastic film, farmers just pick their peppers, and the liner disappears harmlessly into the soil. Plantic will focus first on the European and Japanese markets, counting on multinational corporations' desire to make their reputations for polluting all but disappear. 0 esearch on biodegradable polymers is hot at universities and private sector companies in the United States. The Berkeley Lab at the University of California, University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin are just three schools contributing to this research. Encarta (Microsoft) and the Dow Chemical Company are also exploring alternatives to conventional plastics. Whether these new plastics produced from such diverse sources as starch and bacteria are a viable solution to environmental pollution will be seen as the technology develops.
About the Author: Todd Woody is an editor with australia. internet. com, a business and technology portal based in Sydney.
there f are to be new rules for the new warfare, one of the first is surely this: Density kills. This realization has already triggered some calls for the end of the skyscraper and some investigation of how to build "massively redundant" ones. But the weakness that aggressors exploited on September 11 was not exclusively one of height-you can't protect cities from attack just by making buildings shOlier. Density is a problem that will grow only more explosive-or infectious, as the case may be-as the wagers of fear are doled out in 21 st-century cUlTency: chemical weapons, biological agents, or the gray-goo outbreaks of nanotechnology. The potency of most 21st-century weapons is their ability to feed off themselves exponentially: Infect 10 people in Montana with the Ebola virus and you might kill a hundred others. But infect lOin Manhattan and you could kill a million or more. Traditional bombs obviously are more effective in dense areas, but weapons that spread like epidemics prove even deadlier as the crowds increase. There is something deeply tragic in that formulation, because the creation of sustainable high-density cities stands as a watershed of technological achievement. After a series of energy-harnessing innovations in crop rotation and plow mechanisms enabled European towns to sustain larger populations in the first centuries of the past millennium, Europe experienced an almost unprecedented economic and technological reawakening. Good ideas, it turns out, are far more likely to die out in rural isolation; in busy city centers they prosper and spread. The question for tomolTow's planners will be how to preserve the virtues of density while protecting city dwellers from the nonlinear, asymmetrical threat of modern warfare, wherein one person can potentially take out an entire city.
A hundred years from now, we may look back at the World Trade Center attacks and see the origins of a new new urbanism. This doesn't mean a ubiquitous suburbia or a retreat from the sidewalk culture of city living. Economies based on ideas continue to prosper in dense environments, and, provided that celtain levels of safety and cleanliness persist, many people simply prefer living among the vitality and diversity of a metropolis. To preserve urban virtues, we could put endless amounts of time and energy into constructing new walls, both figurative and literal. Indeed, the walled, tightly packed centers of many classic European cities are a response to the dominant military technology of 500 years ago-the siege weaponry of movable cannons. We could choose to build information age equivalents: JD checkpoints at city limits; high tech cordons sanitaires that automatically quarantine neighborhoods under biological attack. Another, more promising approach would be to reject walls for a new kind of openness, borrowing from patterns of development that emerged a thousand years ago. The medieval system was one of distributed density, still visible in the hill towns of northern Italy, where a network of tightly packed, mixed-use nodes of finite size are separated by stretches of vineyards and farms. This is not the decentralized approach of edge-city sprawl: The towns in the medieval system were as full and economically diverse as today's urban cores-they simply had a limit on their overall growth, usually defined by the walls that outlined the town limits. Tomorrow's city could be built along similar lines: The density of traditional metropolitan space is distributed among nodes limited to 50,000 to 100,000 people each, separated by expanses
of low-density development like parks, sports facilities, and even vineyards. Such a model would reverse the Olmsted vision of urban greenery: Rather than carve out a park in the middle of an immense city, the new model makes space for nature on the edges. Peripheral Park, instead of Central. In medieval times, the walls protected the town population; in these future settlements, the open spaces separating the nodes will keep the city safe. Imagine a community of two million people, divided into 20 hubs. In a worst-case scenario, a terrorist with a backpack full of smallpox might do extensive damage to a single node, perhaps killing thousands-a horrible toll, but hardly the millions that could otherwise be vulnerable. An attack like those on the twin towers could still do a lot of damage, but there wouldn't be a centralized, symbolic node to target. Life in such a metropolitan complex would not feel suburban, by any means: The generative force of sidewalk culture and urban density would be preserved and perhaps even enhanced. (Car-loathing urban flaneurs would certainly celebrate a return to the medieval model.) But it would be a city designed to survive the sort of attacks that are likely to become more common, a city that learned from both the decentralized systems of the Internet age and the high-density virtues of urban life. If, on September 11, the attackers inaugurated a new era of terror, the best longterm response may well be to go medieval on them. D About the Author: Steven Johnson is a New York-based writer and the founder editor of an early Web magazine, FEED. He is the author of Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software (Scribne/; 2001).
Commuters to Washington, D.C, might envy this vintage Ambassador car's free parking space at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. It may be seen there for the duration of the Raghubir Singh exhibition.
AUTO*FOCUS Raghubir SinghYs ltfry into India
he world lost a marvelous creative talent when Raghubir Singh died in 1999 at the age of 57. His images ofIndia are often compared to Henri Cartier-Bresson's, but unlike Cartier-Bresson, Singh worked emphatically in color. His lyrical homage to India's bright palette and his ability to capture and elevate moments of ordinary life earned him a place in the history of visual arts. Several major American museums include his work in their permanent collections. He occasionally taught at the School of Visual Art in New York and was pat1 of the vibrant international arts scene. At the time of his death, his book, the retrospective River of Color, had just been published and an accompanying exhibition was on at the Art Institute of Chicago, the same that had opened earlier at the ~
National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi and in Mumbai. One subject that appealed to Raghubir Singh was India's "people's car," the Ambassador. A body of work on the "Amby" unpublished at the time of his death was assembled by his daughter Devika Singh and published posthumously in 2001 as A Way into India. Now the Smithsonian Museum's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery pays tribute to Raghubir Singh and the Ambassador car in "Auto*Focus: Raghubir Singh's Way into India," an exhibition that runs through August 10 at the Washington, D.C., gallery. Not only are 48 of Singh's stunning images on display, but a red Ambassador is parked in the atrium of the museum, while clips from Hindi films flicker on a video monitor. For more information about the exhibition, see the Smithsonian Web site www.asia.si.edu. D
hen Times Square flickered out below him, the pilot feared he was witnessing a terrorist attack. Beneath the suddenly dark canyons of Manhattan, subway trains lurched to a stop, stranding hundreds of thousands of rush-hour commuters. To a satellite in orbit, it must have looked like a major constellation was being snuffed out. First Toronto went black, then Rochester, Boston, and finally New York City. In just 13 minutes, one of the crowning achievements of industrial engineering-the computer-controlled power grid of the 207,200square-kilometer Canada-United States Eastern Interconnection area-was toast. For the first time in decades, night held dominion over the cities of the Northeast, which were now without traffic signals, television, airport landing lights, elevators, and refrigeration. You might say that the cascading blackout of November 9, 1965-eventually traced to a single overloaded relay in Ontario-was the dawn of the networked era. The moment the lights went out, 30 million people woke up to the fact that the apparently seam less scrim of modern Iife is stretched over an intricate and vulnerable technological infrastructure that transcends national borders. ow, 38 years later, in the halls of the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), they've been calling the energy debacle in California the perfect storm. Founded during the national period of
soul-searching that followed the failure of the grid in 1965, EPRl believes we still have not fully heard the message of that massive blackout. The underlying lesson of the current crisis, researchers at the institute believe, is that we need smarter methods of electricity generation, transmission, and deliverynot just more power. "This isn't about stringing more wires, or rallying around to make today's technology work better," says EPRI's president, Kurt Yeager. "That's trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again." The utilities' own privately funded think tank, and the sole independent research organization employed by more than 1,000 power companies, EPRI was the first industrywide R&D consortium in America. It's still one of the largest in the world, representing utilities in 40 countries. EPRI's constituency-ranging from old-guard, investor-owned monoliths like Consolidated Edison of New York to upstalis like Mirant and Dynegy-generates 90 percent of the electricity used in the United States. The Bush-Cheney administration's declarations about beefing up America's energy networks with 21 st-century technology rang familiar at EPRI, because the institute has been laying the scientific groundwork for this technology for decades. Though EPRI's oldest members stand to gain from an energy policy that favors traditional means of boosting supply (such as building more fossil-fuel plants, extracting more oil, and reviving the domestic nuclear power industry), the institute's spokespeople
ational debate over the merits of such short-term nostrums as drilling in national wilderness areas, EPRI believes, is a distraction from what's really at stake: our ability to implement a practical blueprint for a radically new conception of the energy grid. In recent years, a series of technological breakthroughsand, more important, a critical mass of scientific ideashas begun to coalesce around a new model for an energy system that would better serve the needs of the near future, while enabling power producers as well as consumers to lessen their impact on the environment in the long term. Both privately and publicly, many at the institute express concern that the policy thrust of the current administration will lock out the
yards, driveways, downscaled local power stations, and even in automobiles, while giving electricity users the option to become energy vendors. The front end of this new system will be managed by third-party "virtual utilities," which will bundle electricity, gas, Internet access, broadband entertainment, and other customized energy services. Now, the digital networks will be called upon to remake the grid in their own image. By embedding sensors, solid-state controllers, and intelligent agents throughout this new supply chain, the meter and the monthly bill will be swapped out for something more robust, adaptive, interconnected, and alive: a humming, real-time, interactive energy marketplace. EPRI's bland headquarters, just up the road from Xerox PARC in the heart of Silicon Valley, looks like an unlikely place to invent the future of energy. With 750 employees at work in a cluster of office-park bunkers, the site serves purely as a command center for nuts-and-bolts science that happens elsewhere. EPRI's founding director, Chauncey Starr, who is now 91,
most promising set of innovations to emerge in the energy community since the creation of the existing grid in the first half of the 20th century. The end result, they fear, may be to freeze us into high-emissions power pathways for decades to come. "We've seen the words that they're getting the message," Kurt Yeager says. "Now let's hear the music." In fact, at the budgetary level, the administration has been singing a much different tunesystematically slashing the programs that produced the technological developments they're now touting to sell their policy. Like the infrastructure itself, the failure of support for longrange R&D transcends national borders. Ironically, as the global economy becomes increasingly dependent on the digital networks made possible by electricity, public funding worldwide for tapping new, cleaner power sources and evolving our infrastructure is tanking. The U.S. spent one-third less on energy R&D in 1995 than it did in 1985. Germany, Italy, and the U.K. spent twothirds less. Venture capital and private investment in energy research almost never address systemwide issues. The grid itself is falling through the cracks. The smarter energy network of the future, EPRI believes, will incorporate a diversified pool of resources located closer to the consumer, pumping out low- or zero-emissions power in back-
was shrewd enough to know that the utilities-then still secure in their monopoly markets-wouldn't be patient enough to give Starr half a decade to build the equivalent of a Bell Labs for energy research. The new operation would have to run lean. His strategy for extracting the maximum value from limited resources was a sensible one. Instead of stealing talent from the utilities' own R&D shops, and sinking billions into new infrastructure, the institute would assemble small, agile, task-oriented teams from the best and brightest in academic, corporate, and government research, outsourcing the lab work to existing facilities. When a project was completed, the findings would be disseminated to the institute's membership, and the team dissolved. Over the years, EPRI and its collaborators have contributed a number of refinements to the energy mix, including more efficient photovoltaic arrays and cleaner-burning gas turbines; sensors for remotely controlling the operation of coal and nuclear plants; variable-speed wind turbines that help make the price of wind power competitive with fossil fuels; and 3-D imaging systems for uncovering hidden deposits of natural gas. The institute is widely respected as a source of impartial research data, even by many industry critics, and its reports exert influence on public policy. When three 25-year-old nuclear reactors came up for reli-
share the conviction held by many researchers in our national energy laboratories that the administration's emphasis on supplyside solutions could be disastrous, if the budgets and legislation that follow undercut the search for alternative means of producing, distributing, and using energy.
censing in 2000, EPRI filed risk-assessment reports with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the licenses were granted. The institute is pro-solar and pro-nuclear-that is, EPRI is in favor of electricity. In the tightly knit clubhouse of Big Energy before deregulation, Starr's blueprint for "virtual R&D"-available to its members for a 0.3 percent slice of their annual revenuesmade a perfect fit. (By contrast, telcos and drug manufacturers commit more than 10 percent of their budgets to R&D.) When the clubhouse doors were thrown open to competition, however, the institute got slammed hard. As the business of sell ing energy disaggregated into swarms of startups and spin-offs, EPRI's funding slumped from $600 million to $400 million. Allocations for development of renewable resources and increasing energy efficiency-two areas of R&D most essential to securing a sustainable future-took particular hits. Two years ago, Yeager decided it was time to pull some heads out of the sand. A former F -4 Phantom flier for the Air Force, red-cheeked and trim at 63, Yeager invited experts from 150 organizations to the institute to brainstorm a set of goals for the next 50 years of energy R&D. He brought together representatives from the Department of Energy, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Rand, MIT, the New York Power Authority, General Electric, AT&T, Motorola, the Nature Conservancy, Exxon, the World Bank, Royal Dutch/Shell, Oracle, Microsoft, and many other organizations. It was the first time that representatives from many of these outfits had sat down in the same room to talk about the future. The longrange prescription distilled from these sessions is EPRI's "Electricity Technology Roadmap." Meeting the energy needs of the next century, the Roadmap's creators suggest, will require a substantial overhaul in how we think about electricity. The industry's most basic assumptions will have to be put on the table, including the hub-and-spoke hierarchy of the existing grid-based on huge central power stations with long distance transmission lines radiating outward-which has been the backbone of the business since Edison's avaricious protege, Samuel Insull, became the first utility tycoon in the InOs. "In periods of profound change, the most dangerous thing is to incrementalize yourself into the future," says Yeager. "Our society is changing more broadly and more rapidly than at any time since Edison's day. The current power infrastructure is as incompatible with the future as horse trails were to automobiles." That incompatibility is already apparent in Silicon Valley, where tech giants like Oracle are underwriting the construction of their own balkanized energy network in the form of substations, diesel generators, and power-conditioning systems. For tech-sector installations where a supply of fluctuation-free electricity is critical-chip fabrication plants and server farms-the expense of building independent electricity resources is trivial compared with the cost of equipment failures
and network crashes caused by unreliable power. HewlettPackard once estimated that a IS-minute outage at one chip fab would cost the company $30 million, or half the plant's power budget for an entire year. The impending marriage of the engineering marvel of the late 19th century with one of the most resonant innovations of the late 20th-the distributed network-hasn't been named yet. In incubators of our energy future like the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Bonneville Power Administration, however, researchers are starting to describe the new system with phrases like the intelligent grid, the energy net, and the Energy Web. The message of EPRI's Roadmap is that an energy revolution of that scale is already under way. Swiss engineering giant ABB surprised the world in 1999 by announcing that it was off-loading the business of building nuclear plants to focus on renewables and distributed generation, an umbrella term for various smaller-scale methods for producing electricity closer to the consumer. Distributed generation isn't a new idea-it was Edison's first template for universal electrification, with neighborhood steam plants furnishing power and heat for 260-hectare lighting districts. Seth Dunn of the Worldwatch Institute uses a more felicitous term for distributed generation: micropower. ne of the biggest distributed-generation success stories is the deployment of wind power-now the world's fastest-growing energy source, ramping up at an average of 24 percent per year. Freestanding windmills and wind farms are sprouting up all over, particularly in Europe. Denmark draws 13 percent of its energy supply from renewable resources, and half of the wind turbines in the world are made by Danish manufacturers, such as Vestas Wind Systems and Bonus Energy, which export primarily to Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom. A wind farm under construction in Texas, using Danish turbines, will spin up enough electricity for 139,000 homes by the end of the year, while avoiding 20 million tons of carbon-dioxide emissions. EPRI was instrumental in giving a boost to the U.S. windpower market by designing turbines that issue steady streams of electricity under varying wind speeds. With a single memorandum in 1989, a project manager at the institute set in motion a five-year program that pooled the resources of two major utilities and a wind turbine manufacturer to upgrade the technology. EPRI and the Department of Energy formed advisory groups that talked up the potential of wind power in the industry, while utilities and federal and state agencies mapped out promising high-wind sites. EPRI contacted utilities in those areas, seeding the future market. By 1995, variable-speed wind turbines designed by the institute were generating 3 billion kilowatt-hours per year. Photovoltaics-which make power from sunlight-are taking off internationally as well. In 200 I, the largest solar-energy pro-
ject in the world was rolled out in the Philippines, a cooperative effort involving the Spanish government, the Philippines Department of Agrarian Reform, and BP Solar, the wing of British Petroleum that produces more than 10 percent of the photovoltaic cells used in the world. The $48 million project will bring electricity to 400,000 residents of 150 villages on the island of Mindanao, home to one-third of the nation's rural poor. The scale of the Mindanao project is extraordinary, but the potential for micropower to raise the quality of life in developing countries-without relying on huge power plants or expensive, difficult-to-obtain fossil fuels-is being demonstrated all over the globe. In many countries, where supplies of sunlight and wind are enormous and inexhaustible, the primary energy source for the poor is high-carbon biomass. These fuels-crop residues, scavenged wood and charcoal, and cattle dung-take significant tolls on the health of those who burn them, and add to the impact of first-world power profligacy in heating up the atmosphere. In India alone, indoor air pollution created by high-emission fuels causes half a million premature deaths a year. Hardest hit are women, whose responsibility it often is to provide fuel for household use. In China, nonsmoking women suffer chronic bronchitis, lung cancer, pneumonia, and heart disease at rates rivaling or exceeding those of chronic smokers. These energy cycles are vicious and all-pervading: Where men have migrated out to more-developed urban areas, women-and, increasingly, children-now must clear land and plow fields in addition to scavenging for fuel, food, and water. "What provides the energy that electricity would replace? Women," Yeager observes. In countries that already have access to electricity, micropower resoW"ces will provide ways to reduce carbon emissions, improve energy efficiency, and ease the strain on stressed grids by providing supplemental power during periods of peak use. There's another virtue in moving power sources closer to home: The thermal energy they produce can provide heat, run airconditioning systems, or be used to boil water, making steam that generates even more electricity. Like distributed generation, cogeneration is an idea that's been around a while. In the Middle Ages, excess heat from cooking fires was captured to turn roasting spits, and Edison's Pearl Street station piped steam to Drexel Morgan to warm the offices of his potential investors. Cogen was widely employed in U.S. factories, until utility tycoon Samuel Insull's economies of scale spaced the heat and lights hundreds or thousands of kilometers apart. While a conventional gas turbine squanders two-thirds of its energy input into the atmosphere, cogeneration can result in a total energy efficiency of 70 percent or higher, and cuts CO2 emissions in half. For the past six years, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has run a 21kilowatt gas turbine cogen plant on its campus, allowing the university to meet many of its electricity needs off the grid. The micropower/cogen technology with the most commercial potential-and some of the greatest environmental benefits-is the fuel cell. Employing electrochemical combustion of hydrogen with oxygen, fuel cells are powered by gas, and will eventu-
ally be run by supplying hydrogen directly, producing stable streams of current and emitting only water vapor and heat. Unlike gas turbines, they are silent and require little maintenance. When hooked up to water electrolyzers-like fuel cells run in reverse-they can also store electricity as hydrogen, for energy that can be poured back into the system during times of high demand. When photovoltaic panels and gas turbines are networked with fuel cells, their efficiency and reliability soar. In summer 2000, the U.S. Postal Service began running its mail center in Anchorage, Alaska, off the output of five 200-kilowatt cells. After a one-hour outage crashed the First ational Bank of Omaha's data network at a cost of $6 million, the bank put in stacks of fuel cells to power its computer center. uel-cell technologies, such as the proton-exchange membrane cell originally developed by General Electric for NASA, are already driving a major shift in the automotive industry. In 2000, Bill Ford, chair of the Ford Motor Company, declared: "I believe fuel cells will finally end the 100-year reign of the internal combustion engine." DaimlerChrysler, Ford, and Ballard Power Systems have already invested a billion dollars toward developing roadready cells, and General Motors, Toyota, Nissan, Honda, and Mitsubishi have thrown their own billion into the pot. All the major automakers have fuel-cell or hybrid cell/internal combustion vehicles in the pipeline, with cars from Toyota and Honda due on the street in a few years. (Both companies already have hybrid electric/gas vehicles-the Prius and the Insight-on the market.) EPRI's Brent Barker paints a scenario in which cars become the roaming palmtops of the Energy Web, plugging into the grid when they need to recharge--or selling power back, at a profit, when the grid needs it. "If you add up the horsepower of all the machines and engines in U.S. factories, businesses, farms, power plants, mines, ships, aircraft, railroads, and automobiles," Barker says, "you find that 95 percent of the power capacity in our country resides in automobiles, with only about two percent in electric power plants." With interfaces for absorbing and distributing the output ofthis new energy resource added to the grid, he suggests, you could power YoW"home or office with the gas or hydrogen fuel cells in your car, and even help out the local mall during periods of peak demand by jacking into an outlet in the parking lot. Then the bargaining would begin. Barker isn't the only one thinking along these lines. Ferdinand Panik, the head of DaimlerChrysler's fuel-cell program, is right there with him, The Economist reported in 2001. With widespread micropower generation and advanced methods for energy storage in place-such as "reversible" fuel cells, supercapacitors, and flywheels-do-it-yourself power providers will be able to aid in stabilizing the entire infrastructure from the bottom up. Call it net metering writ large. Utilities in 30 states allow customers who generate their own power to sell electricity back to the grid. In March 200 I, Senate Democrats introduced a bill that directs energy suppliers to provide net-metering capabilities to all customers with onsite generators that run on renewable sources.
To accommodate these volleys of new transactions, however, the physical structure of the network itself will have to change. The assumption that power flows in one direction only-from the faraway coal plant to the holes in your wall-is deeply embedded in the relays of the existing network. Influxes of power from unexpected sources can even endanger utility personnel. New interfaces for integrating micropower resources into the grid must be developed by industry standards groups like the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the thicket of regulatory barriers against running micropower generators "in
from silicon storage devices designed to fire I,ooo-megawatt laser cannons. American Electric Power brought the first FACTS unified power flow controller online in Kentucky in 1998, and nine other utilities currently use it. Additional solid-state power controllers are proliferating throughout the energy network. One problem with such devices is that they're expensive. New semiconductor materials like silicon carbide, gallium nitride, and thin-film diamond should make them more affordable. If the industrialized world still consisted only of lightbulbs, simple motors, and electric toothbrushes, the existing level of
parallel" with the grid must be trimmed back. As a commodity, electricity is unique in one overwhelming sense-it's very difficult to stockpile, so supply must be orchestrated to meet demand with split-second precision. Electrons do not behave in an orderly fashion, like cars getting onto a highway, traveling to their appointed exit, and filing off. The grid is more like a system of canals. Power plants pump energy into the canals, it sluices around, and then substations draw it off and siphon it to the customer. A single power transaction sends eddies of electricity through the grid. With the deregulation of the industry enabling new power plays like the wholesale trading of bulk electricity, the number of transactions has soared more than tenfold. Trying to precisely manage activity on the grid with electromechanical relays has become the art of narrowly averting disaster. Tapping the new fleet of energy resources will require something that is already hard to come by for system operators-the ability to tell power where to go. FACTS (flexible AC transmission system), a breed of solid-state devices developed by EPRI and Westinghouse that was 20 years in the making, promises to give transmission companies and system operators the capacity to deliver measured quantities of power to specified areas of the grid. In the real-time interactive energy marketplace, technologies like FACTS will allow system operators to send power along "transactional pathways," rather than just down the paths of least resistance. Think of FACTS controllers as routers for the Energy Web. The technology grew out of research conducted for Reagan's original Star Wars program, and may turn out to be the most practical benefit to come out of the $60 billion spent on that quest. Developed by EPRI systems designer Narain Hingorani (who has since left the institute), the solid-state system was adapted
electrical service, minus rolling blackouts, might be sufficient. In utility-speak, today's grids provide "three-nines" reliability-power reliably delivered 99.9 percent of the time, which translates into hours of sags and spikes per year, distributed intermittently over periods lasting nanoseconds to minutes. But feeding three-nines power to today's warp-speed CPUs is like dumping crude oil into a Porsche. here's another thing about all that digital equipment. Microprocessors, and most other modern electric appliances, actually run on direct current, though utilities have been shipping alternating current down the pipes since Nikola Tesla demonstrated that Edison's DC couldn't be exported cheaply over long distances. A lot ofthe hardware in our hardware is there just to invert AC to DC and back again, wasting even more precious energy. Wind turbines and photovoltaics pump out DC-albeit in unpredictable quantities. Hooking renewable resources up to cutting-edge energystorage systems like Regenesys makes for green, direct-to-digital power. The Bonneville Power Administration is working on what it calls the virtual green extension cord to make renewable resources more digital-friendly at one end, more grid-friendly at the other. EPRI foresees the popularity of DC microgrids: high-nines islands (uninterrupted quantities of power at levels of reliability reaching 99.9999999) in the choppy seas of imperfect electricity. These microgrids could be one of the amenities available in "premium-power parks," along with fast Net connections and other services. Such parks already exist. UC Irvine teamed up with the Southern California Gas Company and Southern California Edison to build one, specifically as a "living laboratory" to incu-
bate technologies and business models for the next grid. EPRI sees these islands expanding to provide super-reliable, digitalready power to urban centers. New high-voltage DC applications developed by the institute are also serving to make good interfaces between grids. High-voltage DC bridges can act as filters, allowing previously incompatible systems to be linked together, and preventing power disturbances on either side from propagating to the other. In summer 2000, EPRI opened a link between grids in Texas and Mexico-a small step toward the global network of energy envisioned by Buckminster Fuller as "the final goal ofthe World Game." ow researchers like Terry Oliver, Steve Hauser, and Mike Hoffman at Bonneville National Lab (where the term Energy Web was coined) are finding ways to embed real-time information about the cost of power, and methods for automating demand-side management, throughout the energy supply chain. Imagine an air conditioner that receives constantly updated market signals about the price of electricity on the grid and knows
what the other air conditioners in the vicinity are doing. By easing down demand when energy is expensive (or when less green power is available), such devices could collaborate with all the other smart appliances in the neighborhood to lighten the loador crank up micropower reserves-when the grid is peaking out. Expand this model to include anything that uses electricity and doesn't need to be maintained at a constant demand level to get the job done-such as water heaters, fans, thermostats, and the huge banks of lights in warehouses and malls. Minor fluctuations in the operation of these systems, says Marilyn Brown of Oak Ridge National Laboratory will be undetectable to users: no cold showers. Now envision millions of cheap Band-Aid-sized sensors (such as those in development at 3M) fastened everywhere, feeding the network data about temperature, light, and moisture-a rich, finegrained datastream about the state ofthe world in any given instant. Where EPRI parts ways with its critics is partly in how to fix the bucket, and partly in what to put in it. The institute's ties to the industry put it at odds with those who believe the continued existence of huge central-generation plants is at the heart of the problem. Karl Rabago of the Rocky Mountain Institute participated in the original brainstorming sessions at EPRI. Although he believes the Roadmap is "a legitimate effort to
get ahold of the future," he says that discussions were constrained by EPRI's role as the utilities' own think tank. Rabago maintains that the Roadmap doesn't focus nearly enough on energy efficiency and demand-side management. And "imagining a future without nuclear-that wasn't even up for consideration," he says. Since its inception, EPRI has argued that nuclear power will playa central role in the energy mix of the future. Founding director Chauncey Starr, who still comes to work at the institute nearly every day, was one ofthe first architects of civilian nuclear power after World War II. In the early 1970s, EPRI was a proponent of liquid metal fast breeder reactors as potential sources of cheap, unlimited electricity. Now EPRI is focused on developing the pebble-bed modular reactor (PBMR). PBMRs are smaller than conventional reactors, and can be up and running in a couple of years. "They're walk-away safe," an institute spokesperson says breezily. "If something goes wrong, the operators can go out for coffee while they figure out what to do." Whether PBMRs prove to be "walk-away safe" or not, it will still take a significant amount of breakthrough R&D-and industry public relations-to address the perennial problem of where
to stash the reactors' spent fuel, which has a half-life as extended as any radioactive material: that is, up to 20 times longer than any man-made structure has stood on Earth. Until the new energy networks are in place, the fastest, cheapest, and cleanest way oftapping more power is all around us: increasing energy efficiency. The past 30 years have brought some of the best minds in the energy industry to an outlook surprisingly in accord with one of its outspoken critics, economist E.F. Schumacher, who declared in 1973 that the problem with the utilities was that they treat limited natural resources, like fossil fuels, as income rather than as capital. "If we recognized these resources as capital," he wrote in Small Is Beautiful, "we should be concerned with conservation; we should do everything in our power to minimize their current rate of use; we might be saying ...that the money obtained from the realization of...these irreplaceable assets ...must be placed into a special fund to be devoted exclusively to the evolution of production methods and patterns of living which do not depend on fossil fuels at all, or depend on them only to a very slight extent." D About the Author: Steve Silberman is a contributing editor with Wired magazine.
Power polymer: Plastic solar cells like the one held by Uniax's Alan Heeger could reduce the cost of solar power technology.
One of the cleanest energy sources around is getting cheaper. Thanks to new materials, solar cells could soon be ubiquitous.
screen possible: electrically conductive plastics. What he didn't hold up, though, was an application of those same new materials that could have a far greater impact. Instead of conducting electricity and emitting light, as they do in flat-panel displays, these same plastics can be made to run the reverse process, absorbing light and producing electricity. If they work, they could fulfill the dream of many energy researchers: inexpensive solar cells. Such materials could change the face of solar power because plastic is cheap, and cheap would be a rather novel and welcome way to describe solar technology. The advantages of solar power are obvious: every minute, the sun pounds the surface of the earth with more energy than the entire world consumes in a year-a potential source of virtually unlimited, clean and free electricity. But until recently the high cost of the materials used in solar cells has relegated the technology to powering satellites, high-tech backwoods cabins and communications towers beyond the reach of power lines. Solar cells made from materials like electrically conductive plastics could finally make solar power affordable for far broader uses. Moreover, says Heeger, the chemistry behind these plastics is rather simple, so they could be fairly easy-and cheap-to manufacture. Conventional solar cells cost so much because most are made from the same relatively expensive silicon semiconductors used in computer microchips. Recently, manufacturers have found ways of making solar cells using ultrathin films of silicon; consequently, solar power is getting cheaper and consumption is increasing. More than 200,000 homes in the United States now derive at least some of their power from solar cells; the technology is already paying its way in places like California, where energy is expensive and governments are willing to subsidize solar power to make it competitive with fossil fuels. But switching to thin-film silicon may not bring about the drastic cost reductions solar cells need to effectively compete with coal-, oil- and natural-gas-generated electricity across the globe. Despite nearly quadrupling in sales over the last five years, solar still accounts for only .04 percent of worldwide power generation. What is needed to accelerate the penetration of solar power is even cheaper materials. And an increasing number of companies are looking to electrically conductive plastics and other novel organic materials as the solution.
Researchers developing these new-age materials for solar cells are sensitive to failed promises about solar power and caution that organic solar cells could be a decade or more from the market. At the same time, they are clearly excited about recent advances in the materials which, if sustained, could deliver the performance and affordability that will render solar power ubiquitous. "If the performance of organic solar cells was as good as conventional ones, it would be pretty darn interesting," says Princeton University electronics expert Steven Forrest. "That could be a huge market."
Solar cells, technically referred to as photovoltaics, take advantage of the same electronic properties that make semiconductors so vital to the computer industry. When sunlight strikes the surface of a semiconductor, the photons transfer their energy to electrons in the material; in a working solar cell that energy is captured and put to use. A sheet of semiconductor material lies sandwiched between two layers of electrode material. A built-in electric field draws the excited electrons to the top electrode, which carries them out of the cell and into a circuit. The bottom electrode gathers electrons from the circuit to fill the "holes" that the excited electrons left behind. The bottom line is that the semiconductors transform sunlight into usable electricity. But most ofthe solar panels sold today employ crystals of silicon that are expensive to manufacture. Silicon crystals may justify their cost in microprocessors, but they price solar power out of a market dominated by cheap fossil fuels. "If you want to compare purely on a dollar per watt basis, solar power is three to four times more expensive right now," says Atul Arya, chief operating officer with Linthicum, Maryland-based BP Solar, a subsidiary of the large oil company and one ofthe world's top producers of silicon solar cells. Increasingly, the search for low-cost technology is leading BP Solar and other solar-cell manufacturers to abandon silicon crys-, tals altogether. In its place, these firms and half a dozen startups are developing photovoltaics employing cheap amorphous silicon, and even semiconductor alloys, that can be quickly spread into a thin film just a few thousandths of a millimeter thickabout a hundred times thinner than the silicon crystals used in
Playing the Sun A sampling of companies developing new thin-film and organic so ar cells
Amorphous silicon, cadmium telluride
Princeton, New Jersey
Amorphous silicon, copper indium gallium diselenide
Copper indium diselenide
Cambridge Display Technologies
DuPont Displays' Uniax
Santa Barbara, California
Global Photonic Energy
Ewing, New Jersey
Pigments and fullerenes
Quantum Solar Energy Linz
Polymers and fullerenes
Pigments and organic liquid crystals
Rooftop laborers: Cheap thin-jilm solar panels from Energy Photovoltaics are already generating power in California homes. Shades of solar: Photovoltaic panels on the roof of this car port absorb the rays and spare the driver a hot seat.
Basking in the sun: Zoltan Kiss of Energy Photovoltaics showcases his company s latest solar panels made of thin-film silicon solar cells.
conventional solar cells. Because these thinner solar cells require less semiconductor material and are amenable to mass production, they are significantly cheaper. And while these types of semiconductors lack the electron-shuttling efficiency of silicon crystals, they compensate by absorbing more photons than silicon crystals. Ken Zweibel, who leads thin-film development at the Golden, Colorado-based National Renewable Energy Laboratory complex where many of the technology advances are being made, predicts that thin films will deliver highly efficient solar cells at one-quarter to one-fifth the cost of today's cells. Cheap, thin films of amorphous silicon or alloy that can capture as much as 20 percent of the sun's energy (researchers can now make films in the lab with 18 percent efficiency) could make solar cells practical for homeowners, not just in sunny California, where clogged power lines deliver the country's most expensive electricity, but in Boston, Chattanooga and Tampa Bay. The low cost and inherent flexibility of these thin solar cells also means they can be easily applied as coatings on a range of materials, including glass and roofing tiles. To demonstrate this aspect of the technology, BP has installed translucent awnings
embedded with thin-film photovoltaics at 250 of its gas stations around the world, keeping customers dry while powering the pumps. "It becomes a window pane, or it could be a shading application, or it could be a skylight application. We are doing all of those," says BP's Arya. Despite such promise, however, it could take decades for thin films to transform solar power from a marginalized technology to a mainstream source of energy. Steady growth at today's impressive rates, doubling the market every three years, will only bring the industry to 10 percent of peak power generation in 2030, according to a U.S. solar-power industry road map issued last year. What is needed to accelerate the penetration of solar power is photovoltaic materials that are really cheap--cheap as plastics.
Power Pictures Carbon-based materials such as Heeger's polymers could steal markets away from conventional semiconductors because they can be applied in even thinner layers and, in theory at least, could lead to simpler and less expensive manufacturing processes. For example, they can be dissolved to produce a photovoltaic ink, which an ink-jet printer could squirt in a thin film on a variety of surfaces. The underlying technology has been around for years: researchers at Eastman Kodak created the first organic solar cells during the energy crisis of the 1970s. Kodak was already churn-
of films on a surface-the organic semiconductors, electrodes ing out vast quantities of photographic film containing light-aband protective coatings-to fashion a photodetector. And fabrisorbing organic dyes and figured it could adapt those dyes to capture energy instead of images. The project fell to Ching Tang, a cating large devices for power generation could be even simpler, since the light-absorbing films do not need to be divided into pixphysicist fresh out of graduate school. Tang struggled for four years and nearly gave up before a breakthrough in 1979, when he els. "Making large areas of a thin film from these organic semiconductors in solution is straightforward. That's why it's borrowed a set of organic pigments developed for other purposes attractive," says Heeger. by Kodak's chemists and layered them to mimic the arrangement of electron-shuttling semiconductors in conventional photoFirst-generation organic solar cells could begin to enter the voltaics. While these first organic solar cells could conveli only market in the next five to 10 years through applications like Heeger's photodetectors, or alternatively through ultra-low-marone percent of the sun's energy into electricity, they showed promise for improvement. gin products such as solar-powered musical cards and other disBut Tang kept his success quiet until 1987, because Kodak was posable electronics. Then they could tackle small electronic close to developing other commercial uses for the proprietary pigdevices, such as solar-powered calculators and toys. ments and forbade him from publishing his results. By the time he But to ready organic solar cells for the rooftop, developers must overcome the material's ultimate weakness: its fragility. did, the energy crisis had passed and Kodak was onto a seemingly more enticing opportunity: using Tang's layered structure to turn The light-sensitive organic molecules under development for use similar pigments into organic light-emitting diodes for flat-panel in photovoltaics break down when exposed to oxygen. Will they computer displays. For over a decade, Kodak and its competitors ever be ready to bake under the sun day in, day out for several nurtured this technology, which is now poised to take a piece of the decades and still generate electricity? Kodak's Tang says the $25 billion-per-year flat-panel market, while organic solar cells were forgotten. With yet another energy crisis loomWith yet another energy crisis looming, ing, however, organic solar cells are enjoying a renaissance. After two decades organic solar cells are enjoying a renaissance. stuck at Tang's one percent power output, researchers are succeeding in pushResearchers are succeeding in pushing the ing the boundaries of organic solar cells' performance, and investment in the field boundaries of organic solar cells' performance, is soaring. Recently, research groups proand investment in the field is soaring. duced solar cells that can convert two to 4.5 percent of the energy in sunlight to electricity. They are bullish about matching the power of the low-end thin-film photovoltaics in as little as question reminds him of his own early doubts about organic three years. "We're creeping up on amorphous silicon and there's light-emitting diodes. He says he wondered 15 years ago why no reason to believe that we couldn't do as well as clystalline sili- anyone would bother tlying to make a device out of this highly unstable material. Today he marvels at the colorful organic discon," says Princeton's Forrest. Uniax, a company cofounded by Alan Heeger and acquired by plays entering the market. What Tang couldn't see 15 years ago was that solar cells could DuPont three years ago, is taking a somewhat different tack, debe encapsulated with a polymer similar to Teflon that is all but imveloping solar cells using polymer blends. And rather than immepervious to the elements and provides a hennetic seal for the fragdiately adapting the polymers to make solar cells for powering ile organics. Encapsulated organic solar cells could already entire homes, Uniax is first testing the materials as photodetecprovide the several thousand hours of working life required of a tors in imaging devices like scanners and digital video cameras. Photodetectors consist of arrays of mi llions oftiny solar cells; the solar-powered calculator or digital video camera, and the materials' utility could be extended to the hundreds of thousands of workcells reconstruct images by creating electrical currents proporing hours required for providing buildings with electrical power. tional to the intensity of light shining on them. Each cell repreKodak is no longer pursuing the idea of organic solar cells, but sents one pixel of information. Heeger says Uniax has already developed polymer-based photodetectors that rival the sensitivity Tang dreams ofretuming to research that could help make them a reality. While beautiful displays may be more lucrative in the of commercial photodetectors, which employ standard semiconshort term, Tang says the challenge of replacing fossil fuels is ductors. And unlike conventional devices, plastic photodetectors more pressing. "People can do without television," says Tang, can be built to larger scales, say for flexible sensors that capture images from sheets of paper without scanning, or still larger de- "but you cannot do without energy." 0 tectors for rapid medical imaging. Manufacturing the plastic solar cells could be relatively quick About the Author: Peter Fairley is afreelance writer on environmental and technology issues based in Victoria, British Columbia. and easy. Heeger envisions using ink-jet printers to spray a series
azingat an electrical meter, Yi Cui, a graduate student in the Harvard University lab of chemist Charles Lieber, waits for evidence of a remarkable feat in simple, ultrasensitive diagnostics. His target is prostate cancer. His new tool is a microchip bearing 10 silicon wires, eachjust 10 nanometers (billionths ofameter) wide. These nanowires have been slathered with biological molecules with an affinity for PSA, a protein all too familiar to men of a certain age as the telltale sign of prostate cancer. If the experiment works according to plan, when the PSA molecules bind to the nanowires, there will be a detectable electrical signal. Cui washes a solution containing prostate cancer proteins over the chip. Immediately, the meter registers subtle changes, indicating not only that the device has detected the protein, but that it detected perhaps as few as three or four molecules, instantly and with minimal sample preparation-a previously unheard-of feat. The implications for diagnostics are enormous. A successful prostate cancer test must distinguish between normal and elevated protein levels. Ultrasensitive sensors like Lieber's could discern the slightest increase; what's more, they could do so in cheap, disposable tests that patients could use at home between visits to the doctor. "If I were at risk for a particular cancer, I wouldn't want to take a chance and wait for some cancer cells to grow wildly out of control over a year because the previous test missed it," says Lieber. Though this nanowire device is just an experimental prototype, it is at the forefront of a growing effort at labs around the world to marry nanoelectronics and biology into a new field called nanobiotechnology. This hybrid discipline is producing a variety of tools-from arrays of tiny sensors that can detect specific biological molecules to microscopic systems carved out of silicon that can read individual strands of DNA--eapable of providing a new window on biological molecules. The implications for medicine and biotechnology are myriad. Besides sniffing out the barest whiffs of disease-or perhaps detecting a single spore of anthrax-these devices could provide far faster and easier diagnosis of complex diseases. For example, they could provide early warnings about heart attacks, whose calling cards are subtle changes in the mix of dozens of proteins. Alternatively, a single microchip could provide a comprehensive diagnosis from a drop of blood. And for drug researchers,
nanobiotech gadgets could mean new tools for discovering and evaluating potential drugs more rapidly, by screening millions of different drug candidates at once. Some of these more ambitious goals will likely take years to achieve, but nanobiotech could lead to real devices that will begin replacing cumbersome lab-based procedures with cheap, accurate microchips in as little as two years. These first products-chips rigged to detect a specific disease or cluster of genetic disorders-are already being developed at nearly a dozen nanobiotech startups. Larry Bock, CEO of Palo Alto, California-based startup Nanosys, which has licensed Lieber's technology, predicts his company will market a commercial sensor within three years, first for use as a research aid to rapidly screen potential drugs, and later as a cheap, disposable at-home test for prostate cancer and perhaps other cancers. "People talk about all the wonders of nanotechnology but then say it's not going to happen for another 20 years," says Chad Mirkin, a chemist and director of the Institute for Nanotechnology at Northwestern University. "But that's absolutely incorrect for things like diagnostics. You're going to see products on the market in the next two years."
Power in Numbers Biology and electronics have long existed in separate universes. But because biological molecules, like DNA and proteins, are roughly a few nanometers in size, and because physicists and chemists are now learning how to make electronic devices on exactly that size scale, these universes are colliding. The result is a new class of devices that combine the ability of biological molecules to selectively bind with other molecules with the ability of nanoelectronics to instantly detect the slight electrical changes caused by such binding. "What's really interesting about this technology is that it allows one to take the inorganic components that normally would be nestled inside an electrical chip and combine them with biological molecules," says Paul Alivisatos, scientific cofounder of Nanosys and a chemist at the University of California, Berkeley. Indeed, nanoelectronic devices like the one built in Lieber's lab could do away with the elaborate apparatus now needed for ultrasensitive detection. "If you wanted to do single-molecule detection in a lab today, you would need a laser the length of a
MAKES THE DIAGNOSIS Want to detect a single anthrax spore? A telltale cancer protein? The convergence of nanoelectronics and biology is producing biosensors of exquisite sensitivity.
desk and a lot of sophisticated optics, chemical labels to amplifY the signal enough to be able to see it," Bock says. Shrinking down such ultrasensitive devices enough that they could be put on chips could have numerous applications in diagnostics. Stanford University chemist Hongjie Dai, for example, has built a device that can detect glucose with a single carbon nanotube, a large carbon molecule with excellent electrical properties. The glucose molecules react with molecules on the surface ofthe nanotube, creating electrical signals that correspond to glucose concentrations, he says. Though only a proof of concept today, such a device could be developed into an implantable glucose sensor for diabetics. In December 2001, Dai launched Molecular Nanosystems in Palo Alto to commercialize nanotubebased devices including biosensors. For many applications, though, what's really needed is not a lone nano detector but a dense array of them. That way, you can rapidly look for thousands, even millions, of different biological molecules in a single drop of blood or other body fluid, allowing the diagnosis of diseases that have complex molecular signatures. One such disease is rheumatoid arthritis-an autoimmune disease with many variants, each marked by subtle differences in groups of proteins. Ideally, each variant would be fought with a sl ightly different treatment; in practice, sufferers today are generally treated in the same way. But, says Dai, a nano array could serve as a highly precise and discriminating diagnostic device, providing a road map for custom treatment. These arrays of nano detectors promise advantages over existing technologies, like DNA chips, and ones under development, like protein chips. All such chips require fluorescent labeling of molecules and optical microscopes to detect the glow given off when binding occurs. What's more, roughly a thousand molecules must bind to each sensing element to create the glow. With nanoelectronics, no bulky, expensive equipment is needed, and instant detection of just a few molecules is possible.
Sticky DNA But sensors with nanoscale features can only succeed if they are "sticky" enough to grab onto molecules of interest. Northwestern's Mirkin sees value in gold: specifically, nanoscale gold particles, to which he affixes multiple fragments of DNA that can latch onto DNA targets. Each gold particle becomes "like Velcro," he says. In the next 18 months, Mirkin says, he and his colleagues will build a simple, doctor's-office diagnostic device capable of instantly diagnosing diseases or predispositions to disease, depending on what DNA fragments are used on the device. "Chips will be built for panels of diseases," says Mirkin, including sexually transmitted diseases, cystic fibrosis and genetic predispositions to colon cancer and blood hypercoagulation (blood that clots excessively). Mirkin's prototype chip, under development by Northbrook, Illinois-based Nanosphere, a company he cofounded, uses DNA deposited between electrodes on a microchip to recognize targets of interest. A sample is mixed with those "Velcro" gold particles and washed over the chip. If the sample contains the targeted
DNA-say, genetic material from the syphilis bacterium-the DNA will bind to those sticky gold particles and then to the DNA fragments between the electrodes. The gold particles close the circuit and produce a detectable signal. The more electrode sensing elements per chip, the more diseases-or genetic predispositions-can be detected. Mirkin's group is adapting a process known as dip-pen nanolithography to gain the ability to literally "print" DNA molecules between electrodes just 200 nanometers apart. Mirkin hopes to pack hundreds, even thousands, of electrode sensing elements on one chip. Mirkin's technology can find specifically targeted DNA in a sample. But if you could actually grab a single piece of DNA and directly "read" its genes, you could, in theory, identifY any gene, or even complex gene patterns. Using tools adapted from semiconductor manufacture, physicist Harold Craighead of Cornell's Center for Nanobiotechnology and his former postdoc Stephen Turner built a silicon chip containing tiny channels, each 50 nanometers in width and depth. The channel is so small that a
thousands and even millions of channels and optical fibers. With such devices, Turner says, doctors could one day take a drop of blood from a patient, drop it on the microchip and rapidly scan the DNA in the sample for genetic markers of disease. The device could also help doctors choose just the right drugs for the patient.
In the marriage of nanoelectronics and biology, the most extreme vision involves affixing electronic gadgets directly to molecules. To show how this might work-and why it might be useful-a team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Media Lab, led by physicist Joseph Jacobson and biomedical engineer Shuguang Zhang, affixed gold particles, each only 1.4 nanometers in diameter, to a piece of DNA. Each gold particle served as a tiny antenna. The researchers then exposed the DNA to radio frequency magnetic fields, causing the particles to heat up, and the double-stranded DNA to break into two strands. When they removed the magnetic field, the strands came back together immediately. "Now we have a very powerful and useful tool that can control things at the molecular level," says Zhang. "So far, there are no tools that can do this. To be able to control one individual molecule in a crowd of molecules is very valuable." That value, adds postdoc Kimberly Hamad-Schifferli, arises largely from the potential ability to turn genes on and off. To do that, the MIT researchers could attach fragments of DNA to gold particles. When added to a sample of DNA, the fragments would bind to complementary gene sequences, blocking the activity of 芦 those genes and effectively turning them off. Applying a ~ magnetic field would then heat the gold particles, causing their ~ attached fragments of ON A to detach, in effect turning the genes o back on. Such a tool could give pharmaceutical researchers a way Above: DNA moves through horizontal channels in silicon; DNA to simulate the effects of potential drugs, which also turn genes sequences are detected by a laser beam (in vertical green channel). on and off. MIT recently licensed the technology to a biotech Left: Cantilevers on a microchip (top) bristle with silicon tips startup, Waltham, Massachusetts-based engeneOS. (detail, below) that print molecules on a surface. Although remote control of DNA may sound more like a parlor trick than something your doctor might use, such experisingle strand of DNA can barely squeeze through-and that's just the point. An electric field causes the normally coiled ball of ments are demonstrating that nanoelectronics can interact with biology in powerful ways. Materials like nanowires and DNA to bump into the channel, uncoil and thread its way down. nanotubes, extensively researched by physicists and chemists in Once grabbed, the DNA needs to be "read"路-to see, for examrecent years, are now in the hands of biomedical engineers like ple, if it contains a specific sequence. To make a sequence legible, MJT's Zhang-with huge implications for everything from drug researchers add fluorescent-labeled DNA probes to the sample discovery to diagnosis of diseases like prostate cancer. While it's beforehand; the probes bind to the target sequences. As each moldifficult to predict winners among these many technologies, ecule of DNA wiggles its way down the channel, an optical detector identifies the fluorescent labels passing by. "We're treating the Berkeley's Alivisatos, for one, says, "I think these things are all DNA like it's a recording medium," says Turner, who is now going to find competitive niches." Fast, cheap microelectronics revolutionized the world of compresident of Nanofluidics, a startup trying to commercialize the Cornell technology. "And just like a tape player, we're playing the puting and information technology. Whether nanoelectronics can revolutionize medicine remains uncertain. But the gap between DNA." While the Cornell researchers currently use an external optical microscope to read the "tape," they hope to build an electronics and biology is fast closing, and biomedical researchers and even physicians will soon have tools to probe life's basic moloptical reader directly onto the chip using optical fibers. Turner ecules in ways that seemed like fantasy just a few years ago. D expects to have a working device within the next few years. Because the tools for making these tiny channels rely on the same standard equipment used to fabricate silicon chips for mi- About the Author: Alexandra Stikeman is associate editor at croelectronics, Turner envisions making nanofluidic chips with Technology Review.
It was the mid-1950s when Tom Keehn brought his young family to India. His work was to promote handicrafts, but he ended up being the first significant foreign collector of Indian modern art.
AIZee 1956, n Thomas Keehn made a trip to Madras to research handicrafts for the Indian Cooperative Union (lCU). He also planned to call on a young man, Krishen Khanna, whom he had heard about from an up-and-coming artist called M.F. Husain. Khanna, who was then working at Grindlays Bank, apparently painted in his spare time. Keehn went over to his house where Khanna showed him one of his paintings called Quartet. Keehn offered to buy it, but Khanna didn't want to sell, as that would imply he was making a commitment to painting. Khanna then had no intention of leaving banking. Keehn had loved the painting and returned to Delhi disappointed. Some months later, Khanna arrived in Delhi at the Keehns' household with Quartet rolled
up under his arm, this time for sale. Keehn and Khanna started to squabble about the price, not because Khanna was bidding it up, but because he refused to say how much and told Keehn to pay him whatever he wanted to. Exasperated, Keehn gave him a signed, blank check. "In later years, Krishen told me that he had filled in Rs. 350," recalls Keehn, poised at the perch of the sofa, to indicate he hadn't finished with his story. Keehn eventually donated that painting to World Education, a not-forprofit organization that he worked for. "You know how much World Education sold that painting for?" he asks, his eyes twinkling. "$12,000 and that was over five years ago. Now, that painting is worth about $25,000," he said and chuckled. In 1956, Rs. 350 would have been about $80. Keehn was an accidental collector, but
one can safely assume that he was, if not the first, at least one of the first collectors, of modern Indian art. Chester Herwitz, Charles Saatchi and Masanori Fukuoka came later and unlike them, Keehn has some of the formative works of India's great artists in a collection that includes Khanna, Husain, V.S. Gaitonde, S.H. Raza, Ram Kumar and Jamini Roy. Keehn and his wife Martha McKee Keehn collected not just Indian paintings but lifelong Indian friends, during their stay in India from 1953 to 1961. In fact, when SPAN met Thomas Keehn in March, he was staying at the house of Gopal Jain, the son of Lakshmi Jain who was one of the first people the Keehns met when they moved to Delhi. Lakshmi Jain was then executive director of the Indian Cooperative Union. This time, Keehn was
Keehn Family portrait, MF Husain, 1960. From the collection of World Education, Inc., Boston. Some of the founders, staff and friends of the InterNational Cultural Centre in January 1961. MF Husain (waiving) and Ram Kumar (to his left) along with Allie Felder (far left) and v.p Gulati (hidden) in the top row; Tom Keehn (upper right) and Martha (in front of him); Prithwish Neogy, Mani Mann, Sam Benegal and Prem Bery complete the middle row from right to left; Rekha Menon (in sari to the front) and Lakshmi Jain (glass in hand) are on either side of the unidentified woman staff
on one of his frequent trips to India, to meet friends and to spread the word about a book titled India Ink, a collection of letters written by his late wife Martha to her family in the United States, during the eight years the Keehns lived in India. Keehn is not just an accidental art collector but also an accidental Indophile. In the late 1940s, he was what he calls a "dogooder" working for a church-related organization in Washington, D.C. That was also the time when Harry Truman was U.S. President and propounded what came to be called the Truman Doctrine, which loosely meant that the United States would participate in world affairs by helping countries with economic and military aid. Truman appointed Nelson A. Rockefeller, son of the millionaire philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr., to oversee a committee to recommend likely Asian and African recepient countries for U.S. Government aid. Keehn was interested in the committee, and when Rockefeller held the first National Conference on International Economic and Social Development in 1952, Keehn was made executive director. Then Rockefeller decided to expand his philanthropic organization, American International Association for Economic and Social Development (AlA), to Asia. He decided to appoint Keehn as its representative in India. "I was being sent here without any qualifications and I said yes without even consulting my wife. But she was the adventurous kind and said, 'Let's go' and the next thing you know, here we are with our two children," Keehn, now 88, recalls. Keehn's mandate in India was to help market Indian handicrafts and to provide supervised loans to small farmers. He developed projects in collaboration with the ICU, established in 1952, that was headed by Kamladevi Chattopadhyaya with Lakshmi Jain as its executive director. That union blossomed into the highly successful Central Cottage Industries group of emporia. "During the British rule, all the nawabs were urged to develop crafts as a means to keep them out of politics and so post-independent India had these great crafts that the government decided to encourage the marketing and sale of," Keehn says. He traveled the length and breadth of
India by train to do market surveys and discover new craftspersons. Rockefeller had also told Keehn to promote the emerging modern art movement of independent India. "Find out what is happening in the modern art and culture field. Not classical Indian art and sculpture. Many people are paying attention to that," was Nelson Rockefeller's specific
mandate. Rockefeller had a deep interest in modern art and was the main supporter of New York's Museum of Modern Art. Keehn readily admits that as far as Indian art was concerned, he had no idea where to begin. But he had made so many friends in a short time that he soon found three
key people to guide him: Prithwish Neogy, an art historian who later taught at the University of Hawaii, Som Benegal, a journalist, and Richard Bartholomew, an art critic. "Husain was one of the first artists I met. When I saw his work, it was clear this was something special. Then, he was in transition from painting billboards for films and making wooden toys for children. We had so many of his toys, many of which are unfortunately broken now," says Keehn. A painting by Husain, of the Keehns' eldest daughter Deborah on her 10th birthday, and one of the entire Keehn family, still has pride of place at the Keehns residence in Forest Hills, Queens, New York. Husain and many other artists are still friends with the Keehns who supported them long before they became popular among the glitterati. "All these artists were part of our household when we lived in India," says Keehn. In 1956, Keehn was the prime mover in organizing Delhi's first ever exhibition of Indian contemporary art, titled "Eight Painters." Years later, M.F. Husain would remark that this exhibition was as critical a moment for Indian art as the 1913 Armory exhibition had been for modern art in New York. Then in January 1959, Keehn was involved in organizing another exhibition, "Trends in Contemporary Painting from India," which opened at the Graham Gallery in New York. It included artists from the "Eight Painters" exhibit. The timing was propitious because it preceded the 1959 Sao Paulo Biennial and a considerable portion of the Graham Gallery exhibit was sent to the Biennial in Brazil. By then contemporary Indian art had started attracting some interest. In the early 1960s Chester Herwitz and his wife Davida began visiting India and by 1966 they began collecting contemporary Indian art. Over the next 30 years, the Herwitzs acquired more than 3,000 paintings and drawings from India. But the earliest works of Husain, Ram Kumar and other Indian artists were with the Keehns. By 1959, the Keehns, who were now a family of six, were aware of the growing tensions between India and the United States on political and economic issues. In 1961, they decided to return to the U.S. tak-
ing with them the memories oftheir friends, and some 35 pieces of Indian art. By then, they had become acquainted with Welthy H. Fisher, an educationist, who had been inspired by Gandhi to move to India and start "Literacy House" in Lucknow, for advancement and independence in "new India" through education. Literacy House was a small, non-formal school that would combine literacy with agricultural training. The success of Literary House made Welthy and
other literacy pioneers realize that they could replicate their Indian model worldwide. Fisher started World Education in 1951 in New York City to provide literacy training to those who needed it most throughout the world. Upon their return to New York, Tom and Martha Keehn began to work for World Education, which they did until the late 1980s. Thomas Keehn was
president of World Education from 1969 until 1981 and he's still on the board of the organization. "Over those years we used the experience of Literacy House in India to extend our programs to Nepal, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, several countries in Africa, and even in the U.S.," says Keehn. During that time they often visited India to keep up with their old friends. The last painting Keehn bought was in the 1970s. "We had so many that our house was quite full," says Keehn. But they wanted to continue with their engagement with India in some form and every now and then discussed "doing something" with the letters that Martha had written home during their years in India. She thought it could become part of a book, which she said should be called India Ink. But the book was still a concept until two events occurred. In June 1995, modern Indian paintings were included, for the first time, in a major Sotheby's art auction in New York and London. The auction included paintings from the Herwitz Charitable Trust and had works by Husain, Ram Kumar, Raza, and Jamini Roy, many of whose early paintings adorned the walls of the Keehns' Forest Hills house. These were followed by auctions at Christie's and another one by Sotheby's in 1996. The second event was tragic: Martha Keehn was diagnosed with cancer. "One of the last things my wife and I did together was to go to that first auction. When the prices for some of the Indian paintings were bid up to the tens of thousands, we were trembling. We were delighted for our artist friends and we also realized how valuable our collection, even though small, was," says Keehn. When his wife died in April 1996, a devastated Keehn came to India to reflect on his life and develop new priorities. That's when he decided to donate some of the collection to World Education. The gift to the Foundation specified that some paintings would be retained in their Boston headquarters and some could be sold and the proceeds used to support program activities in India or for publications, "both of which were special concerns for Martha." At the formal pre-
sentation of the gift to the Foundation, Keehn spoke about the "fortuitous" circumstances under which he and Martha acquired the art works in India 40 years ago, and the consternation they felt after the Sotheby's auction in New York when they discovered the value of the collection. "We were worried," Keehn said. "Would we have to get insurance?" And then he added that by accepting the gift and taking some of the artwork off his hands World Education was doing him a great favor! Keehn also exhibited the collection at a New York art gallery focusing on contem-
porary Indian art. Deepak Talwar, who now runs the New York-based Talwar Gallery for modern Indian art, describes that exhibition as, "a carefully nurtured collection of formative works from the foremost artists in the Indian contemporary art scene." Talwar suggests that it isn't luck, but a "discerning eye that consistently saw something unique and lasting in the artists whose works he [Keehn] acquired." By then, Keehn was determined to publish Martha's letters. "My wife wrote long letters from the moment we arrived in
India. She wrote on an old-fashioned typewriter with carbon paper. My children and I had a valuable legacy of hers and I was going to find a way to publish the letters," says Keehn. In 1998, Keehn and Arun Vadehra, his friend who owned an art gallery in Delhi, decided to combine Martha Keehn's letters with reproductions of the Keehns' collection of art. In March 2000, India Ink was born. This gorgeous hardbound book encases a wonderful slice of history. Martha McKee Keehn wrote vivid letters describing the Keehns' day-to-day family life, as well as their daily interaction with people from all strata of society. The tone is affectionate, the letters are informative and witty and the writing is informal yet elegant. Here she describes meeting with Monroe Wheeler, then director of exhibitions at New York's Museum of Modern Art. "Monroe is a very nice guy but I AM intimidated slightly .... He says, '(Jean) Cocteau said last week when I was lunching with him on the Riviera ... (He lost me right there. I was so busy conjuring up the picture of lunching with Cocteau on the Riviera that I never did hear what it was he said.) And he tells me ....Evelyn Waugh (is) .... Quite the nastiest man alive.' " Incidentally, it was Monroe who suggested to the Keehns that they start their international art efforts for India by identifying selected international events where modern Indian art could be included. The rest is, of course, history. Keehn, meanwhile, hasn't sold any paintings from his collection. He has mostly kept them or given them away. The one he regrets parting with the most is a 1962 V.S. Gaitonde abstract that Talwar eventually bought from a World Education auction. "I love that painting. What made me gave it away?" says Keehn, who jokes with Talwar about buying it back from him. "Gaitonde was one of the few painters of that period who did abstracts and he was stubbornly and consistently fantastic. I wish I could have it back," says Keehn. Talwar isn't selling and as Keehn says, "I probably couldn't afford to buy it now." D About the Author: Shailaja Neelakantan freelance writer based in New Delhi.
vse By JAKE
Zane Grey went West, fell in love with the desert and redefined the modern cowboy novel
The tips of the cottonwoods and the oaks waved to the east, and the rings of aspens along the terracestwinkled their myriad of bright faces in fleet and glancing gleam. A low roar rosefrom the leaves of the forest, and the spruces swished in tlze rising wind It came ingusts, with light breezesbetween.As it increasedin strength the luffs shortened in length till there was a strong and steady blow all the time, and violent puffs at intervals, and sudden whirling currents. The clouds spread over the valley, rolling swiftly and low, and twilight faded into a sweeping darkness. Then the singing of the wind in the caves drowned the swift roar of rustling leaves; then the song swelled to a mourning, moaning wail,路 then with the gathering power of the wind the wail changed to a shriek. -RIDERS
hat's what it is like all right when a storm hits the high country. This pioneer of the genre western nailed it. What's more, according to Princeton University English professor Lee Clark Mitchell, his words bear examples of alliteration, assonance, anaphora and parechesis. Those are terms from the study of rhetoric, the last of which is so arcane that it can't be found even in the Oxford English Dictionary. Zane Grey, who wrote this description in his best-known book, Riders of the Purple Sage, would likely have been pleasantly surprised that more than a half-century after his death at least one scholar is taking him seriously. During his lifetime (1872-1939), most critics panned his novels even as the public ate them up. Newspaper columnist and critic Heywood Broun said the plots of any two of Zane Grey's books could be written on the back of a postage stamp. Another critic likened the ranchmen and cowboys in Grey's Wanderer of the Wasteland to purple cows, and added that he didn't believe in them~r the book. More recently, Jane Tompkins, professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, wrote in 1992: "It's wonderful writing, but not in good taste." Indeed, Grey's books are romantic, with prose a deep shade of purple. Torrential passions sweep through them like flash floods. Some Grey novels are also among the most popular books ever written by an American, and more than 100 movies have been made ofthem, according to Grey biographer Stephen 1. May. Grey has been credited with establishing the shape of the 20thcentury western novel. Few plots can be found in the genre that he did not create or at least presage. But he didn't invent the modem western. That distinction arguably goes to Owen Wister, a sickly would-be classical musician and composer from Pennsylvania who went to Wyoming for his health and found the experience rejuvenating. He later wrote a novel called The Virginian, published in 1902, which depicted the vast, fresh landscape of the West as being morally, as well as physically, restorative. It was hugely successful.
OF THE PURPLE SAGE
And for much of the 20th century, no genre was more popular. Of the 300 million paperback books sold in the United States in one 12-month period in the 1950s, more than 100 million were westerns. Aficionados of shoot-'em-ups have bought more than 200 million copies of books by Grey's spiritual descendant, Louis L' Amour. Who was Zane Grey? Born Pearl Zane Gray in 1872 in Zanesville, Ohio (the town having been named for an ancestor, Ebenezer Zane), he was a small, scrappy kid who never walked away from a fight-many of them to protect his younger brother from bullies. Weaned on the stories of Daniel Defoe, James Fenimore Cooper, Robert Louis Stevenson and other romantic writers, the 15-year-old Pearl wrote a story about a boy named Jim living in a cave. Pearl's father-a humorless dentist-found it, tore it up, and thrashed the author for his foolishness. But the boy was an unreconstructed dreamer and put legs on his dreams. At the University of Pennsylvania on a baseball scholarship, Gray was one of the early pitchers to master the curveball. In one critical game, he hit a ninth-inning, gamewinning home run and reveled in the role of local hero. He followed his father into dentistry and opened a practice on the West Side of Manhattan. Night after night, he labored in his one-room apartment on short stories and articles that no one wanted. After years of rejection and discouragement, at 28, in the summer of 1900, he met the woman who would make him a success. Lina Elise Roth, 11 years his junior and known to all as Dolly, believed from the beginning that Grey (by then he had changed the spelling of his last name) was destined to be a great writer. Soon after they married in 1905, she discovered he required long periods away from her out hunting and fishing, testing himself physically in the natural world to combat his debilitating black moods. Dolly also knew her husband needed a lot of editing, a task she took on for virtually every story and book he wrote. She also managed their financial affairs and often served as his literary
agent, driving hard bargains over book and magazine contracts and, later, movie sales. At the age of 33 Grey gave up dentistry, and after he and Dolly were married, they moved to rural eastern Pennsylvania, where they bought a house at the confluence of two rivers and where Grey could fish and write. He sold a few magazine pieces and fantasized about wide open spaces. In 1907 Grey met a colorful character named Buffalo Jones at a lecture in New York. A bison hunter turned conservationist, Jones regaled his audience with tales of roping mountain lions and treeing bears. Grey's imagination lit up like a comet. Settled in Pennsylvania, with what was the last of an inheritance Dolly sent Grey off to Jones' ranch north of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. There Grey saw some of the most breathtaking, weird and lonely landscapes on the continent, and he was immediately and hopelessly infatuated. "Surely, of all the gifts that have come to me from contact with the West," he would later write, "this one of sheer love of wilderness, beauty, color, grandeur, has been the greatest, the most significant for my work." The manuscript that soon came from this trip, The Last of the Plainsmen, caused an editor at Harper and Brothers to inform the eager young writer that he saw nothing "to convince me you can write either narrative or fiction." A devastated Zane Grey reeled out into the street and had to clutch a lamppost to compose himself. "They" simply did not understand. He would persevere. He, Zane Grey, would hit another game-winning home run. And in fact he soon got The Last of the Plainsmen published by a firm specializing in books for sportsmen. Four years later, he hit a grand slam with Riders of the Purple Sage. Grey began showing the world that this often stark, unpredictable, phantasmagorical
land was something alive-a place to test a man's mettle, even to help him find redemption. On one of his trips out West, Grey visited Mormon communities north ofthe Grand Canyon in what is still one ofthe most unpopulated and remote parts of the United States. He admired the grit and resourcefulness of the inhabitants. But Grey disapproved of polygamy which, though no longer legal, was still practiced by Mormons in the remote areas he visited. Needing villains for his novel (which was set in the 1870s), Grey seized upon what he perceived as Mormon mistreatment of women. At the time, stories of women captured by Indians still stirred the popular mind. The country was also up in arms about what was seen as a widespread international white slave trade. So Grey invented a cabal of back-canyon Mormons hell-bent on enslaving young women in patriarchal marriages. Riders of the Purple Sage was published in 1912. In it, not one or two, but three females were abducted. Grey also came up with several scenes that would become standard western fare, including a heart-stopping chase over the desert on steeds of nearly mythical speed and endurance, and a mysterious stranger who arrives from nowhere to fight for right and decency. This core element of the genre western is introduced in Riders' first scene. Jane Withersteen, heiress to a huge spread in the sagebrush desert of southern Utah, despairs when one of her ranch hands is threatened by a group of men led by an elder of her church. But at that very moment, Jane wheels and sees "a horseman, silhouetted against the western sky, come riding out of the sage." He is Lassiter, a man of uncertain origins dressed in black leather and packing, as one villain observes, "two black-butted guns-low down-they're hard to see-black agin them black chaps." Lassiter's reputation runs far ahead of him in this part of the world. After some posturing and tough talk, the bad guys leave, to return another day. The lines are drawn from the outset, and the tale hurtles on, headlong as a wild cayuse. Riders of the Purple Sage was an immediate success, selling more than a million copies on its first appearance. It was followed by 10 more Zane Grey westerns in the next nine years, many of which climbed to the top of best-seller lists, a remarkable achievement. Not only was Grey a perennial best-selling novelist but, a passionate fisherman since boyhood, he wrote several nonfiction books Zane Grey (at far right with Orange Athletic Club, circa 1901) drew on his years as a baseball player to write about the sport.
about fishing that remain classics to this day. In 1918 Grey moved his family-he and Dolly had two sons and a daughter-to Los Angeles. But the change of venue had little effect on his frequent black moods. On April 26, 1919, in the midst of a marathon novel-writing siege, he noted in his journal: "I have got to make a great effort to drive away the spell of blackness or sink into it. So I will go on writing!" The following day he wrote 18 pages, "a sort oftriumph ....Work is my salvation." By 1922 when he published To the Last Man, a fictional account of an actual feud between cattlemen and sheep men in Arizona's Tonto Basin (to which he shamelessly adduced a
When Westerns Filled the Theaters More than 100 films of Zane Grey's books have flickered across the screen. The Mysterious Rider (1921) appeared in the silent era. Later, "talkies," including Rocky Mountain Mystery (1935), featured some of Hollywood's leading stars.
Romeo and Juliet plot), Grey lamented the growing desecration of his beloved West: too many people were trammeling the wilderness. Even the remote and traditional Navajo were being jolted into a world they could not understand. On a nostalgic trip to Arizona with his children in 1928, he wrote to Dolly: "I shall never come back to Arizona. The main reason is that the country has been ruined by motorists. The Navajos are doomed. The beauty and romance of their lives is dead." He took solace in fishing, which he approached with characteristic fervor. Between 1924 and 1936, in venues around the world, he caught 14 world-record specimens, including the largest blue marlin, Pacific sailfish, bluefin tuna, striped marlin and tiger shark caught on rod and reel. He was also a philanderer, taking young women with him on most trips afield, a painful reality to which Dolly evidently made a private, working accommodation. By the mid-I920s, Grey had become a major celebrity, and a self-absorbed and difficult one at that. He bought a house on Santa Catalina Island, a renowned fishing mecca, overlooking the property of none other than Tom Mix, the king (as coincidence would have it) of the movie western. The scene of many late-night parties, Mix's house was often bright with lights, including a large flashing M on the roof. Grey grew so furious with his noisy, flamboyant neighbor that he sold his house and built another farther up the hill. For years after, he ignored Mix, even though the actor
Dolly (at home on Santa Catalina Island in /936 with sons Loren and Romer and Romer s wife, Billye) believed in her man. starred in a number of movies based on Zane Grey books. By now Grey was a wealthy man. Movie sales added to his wealth, and (Tom Mix notwithstanding) he took this new medium seriously, even forming his own production company. True to his devotion to the real landscape of the West, he insisted that movies based on his books be shot on location or as close as possible. He was fond of Monument Valley, which John Ford and John Wayne would later turn into the quintessential backdrop for such western classics as Stagecoach (1939), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) and The Searchers (1956). In the early 1930s, he bought a yacht almost 60 meters long, which he elaborately refitted at staggering cost and staffed for fishing expeditions to the South Pacific. He sailed to Tahiti where, after a petty squabble, he fired his captain. Arriving later in Suva in the Fiji Islands, he got word from Dolly that the Depression and boat expenses had hit them hard. He was to return home immediately. To his companions, he called her letter the "Suva mandate" and, with world-class crankiness, accused her of being "disloyal" for bearing such ill tidings. But before Grey even returned home, Dolly had sold another one of his books. Still churning them out, often two a year, and traveling far and wide, he took to subordinating both character and setting to plot, working more and more to the formula he had invented: the passion was gone but he persevered and ultimately prospered again, spending much of what he earned on ever more elaborate fishing expeditions. By the time of his death in 1939 from a heart attack at age 67, Grey had written 89 books, one of the last a formula western set in Australia. Some were manuscripts that Dolly edited and had published after his death. Meanwhile, of course, others had been copying him. As early as 1917, a young writer, Frederick Schiller Faust, took on the name Max Brand and, from Italy, wrote a passel of westerns, including Destry Rides Again. Many by Frederick Dilley Glidden, a.k.a. Luke Short, appeared in the 1930s. (A real gunfighter named Luke Short had had his day, but Glidden appears never to have heard of him.) Though they adopted short,
punchy two-syllable names, neither author approached Zane Grey's early rhetorical wildness, color and violence. As Princeton professor Mitchell puts it, "so successful were the innovations Grey introduced ... that he all but single-handedly confirmed the shape of a powerful new narrative form." Or, as mystery writer Erle Stanley Gardner once wrote, Grey "had the knack of tying his characters into the land, and the land into the story." Today, Grey's Old West is dismissed as a place that never existed. Revisionist historians have focused on the "real" West as a place of sexism, racism, pointless violence and the willful destruction of natural resources. And yet the Old West-fiction or fact-continues to exert a powerful hold on the American psyche. Western novels keep selling. Books by Louis L' Amour (who grew up in North Dakota and actually knew a lot about horses, guns and surviving in the wilderness) still fill many a supermarket rack. There is a Louis L' Amour book club, just as there was once a Zane Grey book club. But just why do these tales still continue to entrance? Maybe it's because all of us feel a bit hemmed in by a world of increasing complexity, of too many people and too many choices. Maybe we all have to deal with too much ambiguity, too many shades of gray. On the other hand, maybe it's simpler than all that. Maybe it's just because westerns are fun. 0 About the Author: Jake Page is a former editor of Smithsonian and Natural History magazines and has written books on American Indian art, history and culture. He lives in New Mexico.
"Sorry I'm late, honey, but I've been tied-up in freeway traffic since October."
THE LIGHTER SIDE
"I'm a communications expertBut I don 1want to talk about it. "
~~'D~~O) : 0.
"No, there S nothing wrong with the food. I just needed a little attention. " © The
ew Yorker Collection Jack Ziegher 2002 trom Cartoonbank.com. All rights reserved.
© The New Yorker Collection Christopher Weyant 2002 trom Cartoonbank.com.
All rights reserved.
Streamlining Student Visas By ANTHONY KUJAWA
ile the United States seeks to better manage security challenges in a post-9/l1 world, it continues to value the presence of international students and visitors participating in international exchange programs. The American system for monitoring foreign students, the Student Exchange and Visitor Information System (SEVIS), is the latest embodiment of a program initiated in the mid-1990s. SEVIS has been described by critics as a "counter-terrorism initiative" or "foreign student surveillance system." But U.S. immigration officials say these characterizations do not accurately portray what is basically a system to enable U.S. academic institutions to maintain accurate and timely data on foreign students, exchange visitors and their dependents, and communicate this information to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and Department of State in real time. (The INS officially became the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services-BCIS-a part of the new Department of Homeland Security on March I). "The aim of SEVIS is to take an antiquated paper-driven system and replace it with a modern state-of-the-art Internetbased system," said INS spokesman Chris Bentley. SEVIS was announced in July 2001, but its new $36-million Internet-based student registration system is just coming into full operation. From February 15 this year, all higher education institutions in the United States accepting foreign students are required to use SEVIS to issue new SEVIS 1-20 forms. From this date, any student with a reportable action (e.g., change of major, change of funding source, practical training request, extension of program or needing a new visa to enter the U.S.) must also be entered in the system. By August I, 2003, information on all current and continuing international students must be entered into SEVIS. "The information that we are keeping on international
students is essentially the same as we have always kept; the difference is that the information will be transmitted electronically to a database," said Sharon Ladd, director of the International Office at Harvard University, which oversees nearly 3,500 international students and 2,500 scholars. "If SEVIS works the way it is meant to we are doing the same processes we have always done," added Ladd. "We will be issuing SEVIS visa documents with a new look, but new students won't even notice. SEVIS should not have a negative effect at all on exchanges," she said. The SEVIS system is not intended to be a barrier to educational exchange, but rather to produce efficiency in communication, officials say. Although it is too early to judge its success, SEVIS is replacing what many international student advisors describe as an inefficient paper-based system of exchanging documents. Before SEVIS, educational institutions would notifY the INS by mail when they accepted an international student. The INS would then notifY the host institution by mail when the student entered the United States, and the host institution would be required to report the student if he or she did not enroll, or otherwise became "out-of-status." SEVIS will enable the government to know if international students are abiding by the terms of the visas through which they entered the United States. All incoming international students must be registered in SEVIS by their host institution before the student can obtain an F (academic study), M (vocational study), or J (cultural exchange) type visa to enter the United States. According to the INS, SEVIS is designed to "share academic and personal data, track the status of foreign students and issue student-visa eligibility documents." With SEVIS, BCIS notifies the host institution electronically when the student enters the United States, and students are given
he international student monitoring system was conceived after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing when it was revealed that one of the bombers had entered the United States on a student Visa, but dropped out and stayed in the country on an expired student visa. Congress passed legislation in 1996 through the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRlRA) requiring the attorney general to create an electronic reporting system for
international students that could gather data on students from at least five countries by January I, 1998. As a condition of continued approval to enroll foreign students under the provisions of the act, educational institutions were required to provide the following data on F, J and M nonimmigrants: (l) identity and address; (2) the visa classification, date of issuance and any change or extension; (3) academic status (e.g., full-time enrollment); (4) any disciplinary action taken by
30 days to report to school and register. SEVIS will also be used by universities to report any change in the student's status such as a change of address, dropping below a full course load or having unauthorized employment. The system requires the same data that has always been required by law for foreign students and exchange visitors. In addition, the new system requires biographical information about accompanying spouses, which was not previously gathered. Fanta Aw, director of international student services at American University in Washington, D.C., said, "SEVIS is coming across as though it is a radically different system, but it is not. Basically what used to be collected on paper has just been transferred to an on-line system." "There is this perception that the SEVIS system will tell the government everything and anything they want to know about you, and this is not true. We [American University] will only report what is required," Aw said. American University developed an in-house Webbased system that allows students to view the information being communicated and to know when it is sent through SEVIS. Kenneth Reade, advisor to international students at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, said while the SEVIS system is not difficult to use, the real-time interactive one-dimensional nature of the system is intimidating for many advisors. "Once we push the return button, the data is documented with the government," said Reade, who explained that many international student advisors fear the unforgiving nature of the SEVIS system. "Any error, even a data entry error, could have severe consequences for the students." Kate Comiskey, an international student advisor at Portland State University in Oregon, echoed the concerns of Reade, saying that there is little room for human error and that consequences for international students could be severe, resulting in deportation. "Now more than ever a student's status is vital. They cannot risk dropping a class or let their 1-20 go over one day because then they would need to leave the country," she said. "There is no leeway for students or advi-
the school as a result of a crime committed by the student. From June of 1997 to October of 1999, INS launched its first student monitoring pilot program at 21 educational institutions, and in July 2001 INS announced SEVIS. With passage of the U.S. Patriot Act in October of 200 I following the September 11, 200 I, terrorist attacks, the U.S. Congress required the INS to extend the pilot program and make it fully -A.K. operational for all institutions.
sors with SEVIS," said Comiskey. Yet Reade stressed that "if a student is in the U.S. for the right reasons, doing what they are supposed to be doing, it [SEVIS] will not harm them." Comiskey commented that international students are nervous about the changed regulations, but that her school has arranged workshops about SEVIS and new F-1 regulations. All ofthe universities interviewed have held information sessions and created fact sheets to inform students about SEVIS and changing visa regulations. American University held a forum on SEVIS to alleviate students' fears and concerns. Aw said that once students understood what information would be communicated through SEVIS they were much less concerned. Also, her university's system allows students to view their data before it is sent, and this makes students more comfortable with SEVIS, she said. An international student advisor at North Central College in Illinois, Ichiyo Iwata, said the new system is causing some uncertainty for international student advisors as well. The new requirements call for educational institutions to notify INS within 30 days after the start of each term whether the student has enrolled and to confirm the student's full-time status. Iwata said the system does not give advisors much discretionary power in dealing with individual cases. Many advisors report that they have experienced technical problems in using the new SEVIS system. However, they also say SEVIS customer support has been helpful in answering technical questions. "Eventually once the technical issues of the system smooth out, we will have a pretty efficient system, but now SEVIS is in the guinea pig stage," added Comiskey. 0 For more information about SEVlS and BelS log on to newdelhi. usembassy.gov/wwwhnivsev. html and www.immigration.goy, respectively. About the Author: Anthony Kujawa is a staff writer a/SPAN based in Washington, D. C.
Visionaries Under 30 Knowing the Public Mind; Trafficking: Breaks the Chains; Auto Focus: Raghubir Singh at the Smithsonian; Say Good Bye to...
Published on Mar 26, 2014
Visionaries Under 30 Knowing the Public Mind; Trafficking: Breaks the Chains; Auto Focus: Raghubir Singh at the Smithsonian; Say Good Bye to...