Page 1

Hope for the Disabled liT Connections


SPAN

Life After the Tsunami By A. Venkata Narayana

Young American Volunteer By Lauren Elyse Prince

Publisher

Teamwork Is Key to Disaster Response

Michael H. Anderson

An interview with J. Radhakrishnan

Editor-in-Chief

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center

Carina R. Sanders

By Cheryl Pellerin

Editor Laurinda Keys Long

Fleeing Hurricane Rita

Associate Editor

by Sheetal Nasta

A. Venkara Narayana

Redefining What's Possible

Urdu Editor

By Laurinda Keys Long

AnjumNaim

Copy Editor Deepanjali Kakati

Art Director Hemant Bhamagar

Deputy Art Directors Sharad Sovani Khurshid Anwar Abbasi

Production/Circulation Manager Rakesh Agrawal

Printing Assistant Alok Kaushik

Business Manager R. Narayan

Research Services AIRC Documentation Services, American Information Resource Center Bureau of International Information Programs of the State Department

Blind Opera

Seeing the World in Their Own Way By Ranjita Biswas

Iqbal Negates Handicap Stereotypes By Teresa Tharakan

i5

Victories by and for the Disabled By Susan Greenwald

i ~

Califomia Doctor with a Mission! By Liseue B. Poole

0

On the Lighter Side Magnificent Magnifications

Front cover: Fishermen at Nagapaninam venture into the sea for their day's catch. With massive efforts made by local, national and international voluntary and government organizations to rehabilitate and rebuild, life is returning to normal in most parts of the Tamil Nadu coast. See story pages 3 to 10. Photograph by Hemant Bhatnagar.

By Laura Helmuth

IITs:The American Connection By Dipesh Satapathy

Technology Without Borders By Ashish Kumar Sen

Cleaning up the Toxic Mess By Dinesh C. Sharma

Note: SPAN does not return unsolicited manuscripts and materials but gratefully accepts query letters. Published by the Public Affairs Section, American Center, 24 Kasturba Gandhi Marg, New Delhi 110001 (phone: 23316841), on behalf of the American Embassy, New Delhi. Printed at Ajanta Ltd., 95-8 Wazirpur Offset & Packagings Industrial Area, Delhi 110052. The opinions expressed in this magazine do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Government. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without the prior permission of the Editor. For permission write to the Editor. Price of magazine, one year subscription (6 issues) Rs. 200; single copy, Rs. 50.

The Great Southwest Salt Saga By Jeff Howe

The Roots of Hatred By Sharon Begley

Tocqueville's America By Clell Bryant

Karma in America By Rajiv Soni

Murder Most Beastly By David Diamond

Visit SPAN on the Web at

http://usembassy.state.gov/posts/in1/wwwhspan .html Contact us: editorspan@state.gov For subscriptions: narayanr@state.gov For change of address: agrawalr@state.gov


A LETTER

FROM

he whole world was horrified by the loss of life and devastation caused by the earthquake and tsunami on December 26, 2004. The next reaction was, "How can we help?" That urge to act quickly to aid the suffering, to comfort the sorrowing, to help the survivors rebuild was shared by a wide range of Indians and Americans, from a thoughtful teenage girl at a Maryland high school to a tireless district collector in Nagapattinam. Both are profiled in our cover package of stories, with photographs by Hemant Bhatnagar. In "Life After the Tsunami," A. Venkata Narayana reviews the steps taken by governments, businesses, villages, volunteer organizations and individuals to minister to immediate needs while establishing education, farming, training and work programs to rehabilitate and recover. "The team approach is the right approach" in a disaster, says the Nagapattinam collector, ]. Radhakrishnan. In "Young American Volunteer," I6-yearold Lauren Elyse Prince tells how she spearheaded a school fundraising drive that provided 100,000 in tsunami recovery aid, then came to India with her classmates to personally provide "simple gestures of love." In "Fleeing Hurricane Rita," Sheetal Nasta gives an exciting, personal account of how she and thousands of others reacted to the threat of a monster storm bearing down on Houston, Texas. Her tale starts as a typical American, individualistic, me-against-theodds road journey, but ends with an affirmation that teamwork is key in a disaster. Our second package of stories revolves around another personal connection, a bond that developed between Indians who met Joyce Kane, a blind American woman, as she traveled around India with her guide dog, changing perceptions of what a disabled person can do. She evoked new attitudes, new ideas and generated discussion of some new approaches toward helping the disabled help themselves and become productive, contributing citizens, as Laurinda Keys Long details in "Redefining What's Possible." Susan Greenwald tells extraordinary stories of the courage and accomplishments of disabled athletes in "Victories by and for the Disabled," while Ranjita Biswas celebrates the achievements of members of blind actors in Calcutta's "Blind Opera: Seeing the World in Their Own Way." A new Bollywood movie reinforces that idea. The title character and hero is deaf and dumb, but that is not the most important thing we learn about him, Teresa Tharakan says in her review: "Iqbal Negates Handicap Stereotypes." "Karma in America" is Rajiv Soni's cheerful and cheering account of his adventurous first day as a U.S. immigrant, and the consequences that resulted from having a hopeful outlook and a friendly personality. In "California Doctor with a Mission," Lisette B. Poole describes the accomplishments of another immigrant from India, Dr. Anmol S. Mahal, who will soon take over the presidency of the

T

THE

PUBLISHER

California Medical Association, a group of 35,000 doctors. An10ng Dr. Mahal's top priorities are the millions of Californians who are not getting adequate health care and minorities who have unique medical needs. Our center spread, "Magnificent Magnifications," consists of photographs taken by scientists through their microscopes, presenting a surprising view into the unseen world of germs, bugs, spores and soap bubbles. Dipesh Satapathy gives an extensive overview of some of the other things scientists do when they are not creating art. "IlTs: The An1erican Connection" traces the nearly half-century of collaboration between American and Indian technology researchers, and how this has developed beyond universities into joint projects between American companies and Indian scientists. The work ranges from robots to cloud patterns to new aircraft and denture materials. For his story "Cleaning up the Toxic Mess," Dinesh C. Sharma visited the slum areas of Kanpur, where tap water comes in shades of yellow and green and where An1erican and Indian environmental organizations are trying the latest scientific methods to rid the groundwater and soil of industrial waste that causes cancer in humans. There are several options and some disagreements. Choosing the best solution to an environmental problem, while keeping in mind people's varied needs, is not always straightforward, as Jeff Howe also relates in "The Great Southwest Salt Saga." It involves the touchy issues of water sharing by farmers on opposite sides of a border, with the added complication of a unique marshland that wasn't supposed to be in the middle of a desert, or was it? In "Murder Most Beastly," David Diamond explores a different type of environmental mystery, profiling a one-of-a-kiJ.1d U.S. crime lab that uses clues found on the remains of slaughtered animals to track down smugglers. Two articles look at aspects of American society, past and present. Sharon Begley's "The Roots of Hatred" is an intriguing summary of recent research on ways people can overcome learned habits of racial discrimination and discover what they have in common. Clell Bryant's "Tocqueville's An1erica" assesses how much the people of the United States have changed, or remained the same over the past two centuries. We hope you will let us know what you think of these articles. In addition to our SPAN Interactive Quiz and Reader Survey, we've added another way for you to contact us, through an e-mail address: editorspan@state.gov. Enjoy your reading.


Children at the Industrial Training Institute campus in Nagapattinam where play equipment was provided by Chennai-based Exnora, with support from USA/D.

, Text byo:A. VENKATA NARAYANA Photographs

by HEMANT

~.. -

BHATNAGAR

'

One year after the tsunami, IRe along the Tamil Nadu coast has improved, thanks to the initiatives of local, national and' global aid org,nizations and., . government agencies. .

SPAN NOYEMBER!DECEM~ER

.

"

'"JI ~A

"2005 -3


Revathi stitches and binds books all day long in a fishing hamlet in Tamil Nadu, one of the hundreds of places rav• aged by the December 26, 2004, tsunami. She binds the books and cuts the edges with a machine that she bought for Rs. 25,000-out of the aid she received for tsunami victims-and takes orders from a government school in Akkarapettai. The Rs. 2,000 she earns every month helps Revathi educate her two children and supplements the income of her fisherman husband, especially when the catch is low or during months when fishing is banI!:ed. Like Revathi, other women are also finding ways to help their families survive after the tsunarni roared over the eastern seaboard, washing away houses, submerging farm fields and killing more than 12,000 people according to the U.N. Development Program. The women weave cane baskets, bind books, make candles and stitch clothes-skills that they were taught in a few days by some of the volunteer groups that helped rehabilitate hundreds of thousands of homeless people. Nearly a year after the tsunami struck on a Sunday morning, government agencies and

hundreds of volunteer groups are rebuilding houses and schools, cleaning up irrigation ponds, repairing fishing boats and imparting vocational training to help people go on with their lives in one of the largest relief operations in India's history. Private American citizens, corporations and the U.S. government contributed to India's response. The event, though catastrophic, forged people-to-people ties between Americans and Indians to quicken the pace of recovery.

In the coastal district of Nagapattinam, which bore the brunt of the tsunami and accounted for the largest number of Indian deaths, volunteers of Project Concern International helped rehabilitate 875 families in four villages with a grant of $440,000 given by the United States Agency for International Development, or USAID. Organizations such as CARE, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), GOAL, Food for the Hungry, the Agency for

Young American Volunteer

T

he tsunami th.at struck South Asia the day after Christmas affected all Americans temporarily; however, it changed me permanently, Like countless people allover the world, my family and I were glued to the television in the hours after we first heard of this catastrophe, The thought of hundreds of thousands of people being wiped out within minutes was impossible for me to comprehend, The name Chennai, which was frequently mentioned in news coverage, took on special meaning for my family, My mother had worked with a woman, Becky Douglas from Atlanta, Georgia, who had recently founded an orphanage in Chennai. It suddenly struck my mother that the orphanage was right in the path of the tsunami. We learned from Becky by phone that all of the children in the orphanage, which was only a few hundred meters from the beach, were safe, but that nearly all the children in a nearby orphanage had been killed, We also learned that the economy of the fishing villages along the beach had been destroyed, When we asked what would be the best way of helping these people, Becky replied that the longterm welfare of the people would depend on their ability to return to the sea and fish. How much would that cost? Becky said that $11,000 would repair or replace the boats and nets ~ of a village of 500 people. When I got home from our holiday break I spoke with our head~c: master and asked his permission to have a fundraising drive at The Bullis School [a private

6:----------------------------

\f

8

Lauren Elyse (Ellie) Prince volunteers her time and energy to the tsunami victims. Here Ellie spends time with children from the Rising Star Outreach Orphanage in Chennai.


Left: K. Revathi (right in the photograph), leader of a selfhelp group in Akkarapellai, teaches baskelWeaving. Below: Zarina (left) and Nasima stitching cushion covers at a temporwy rehabilitation shelter in Nagapallinam, where alternative livelihood skills training is carried out with USAID support.

Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED) and Chennai-based Exnora have used USAID funds to start long- and medium-term rehabilitation programs. They have built temporary shelters for the displaced families, repaired fishing boats, improved sanitation and water supply in the villages, generated jobs through cashfor-work programs and improved awareness about health and hygiene. Fishing and farming, the two main

Right: Children in a classroom at a makeshift school in Nagapallinam.

occupations in coastal area, are resuming. Meanwhile, women and the unemployed are being given new opportunities to earn. Some volunteer organizations like the CRS are working on long-term rehabilitation and improvement of people's lives. CARE, which aims at making sure no child misses out on an education, has begun enrolling children who never went to school. ACTED used a U.S. grant of $300,000 to enable 150 self-help groups to provide small loans to 2,280 families to restart businesses. The self-help movement-usually centered around women-is seen as a way of improving the economic status of the rural population. The success of the groups is often due to the money-saving habits of women, who have a reputation for creditworthiness. Nagapattinam district alone has some 6,350 self-help groups. "Banks and other fInancial institutions can help them by advancing cheap loans," says 1. Radhakrishnan, the Nagapattinam district collector.

school in a suburb of Washington, D.C.]. He gave his consent, and three days later I gave a presentation to the entire student body to kick off the campaign. On the first day of the campaign-and to our great surprise-we raised more than $4,000. By the end of the weekend we raised more than double the amount of our goal, and to date we have raised more than $100,000. One hundred percent of this money has gone directly to India. Eight of my classmates and I, along with our headmaster and several other adults, decided to spend our spring break in India, with each of us paying our own way. What we learned in India far exceeded what we had learned from raising money We spent a week in Chennai, with half of our time devoted to the orphanage and school that had first gotten our attention, and the other half split among three colonies for people afflicted with leprosy. Working in the orphanage was easy for all of us, because the children were all adorable. Leaving them after such a short stay turned out to be quite difficult, and all of us cried as we left. Our work in the leprosy colonies was much more difficult, but in the end it was probably the most valuable. None of us had ever been around a patient with the disease. At first, we were afraid even to go near the residents of the colony, much less touch them. But our fears quickly vanished as we saw how excited these people were to have outsiders come to them in a spirit of love and help. We helped them with community needs, such as planting banana trees to assist their efforts to become self-sufficient, but the best part was helping them individually. The highlight of my trip, and one of the most moving things of my life, was combing and braiding the hair of a woman who had lost both hands and both feet to leprosy. Until then, I never appreciated how much some simple gestures of love can do for someone else. 0

Immediately after the tsunami, fishermen lost not only their boats and nets but also the will to go back to the sea. The women in these fishing communities looked for new and alternative ways to generate income. But they had no other skills to fall back on. CRS quickly realized that lack of skills and work experience put women and girls at a special risk of being trafficked, burdened with debt or subjected to other kinds of exploitation. It started training programs for 100 women in five villages. A core group of 50 women were selected for financial management training in early May. Mala Nagaraj, 20, who lost her father in the tsunami, leads one self-help group that trains women in various skills. Her mother sells fish, but Mala helps supplement that by selling pickles in Nagapattinamshe learned the skill through the training program-and today earns Rs. 2,500 to Rs. 3,000 per month, depending on the orders and the season. "I was really impressed. These women have so much to do every day, looking after their homes, collecting water, going to the fields. They managed their time well enough to do all of that and something extra as well," says Mira Gratier, program coordinator of ACTED. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, who toured Nagapattinam as a U.N. special envoy to the tsunami affected countries,


The

American

RISPODSI

rdinary citizens, the government, businesses and charities in the United States responded generously to the Asian disaster, offering unprecedented support for the tsunami victims, Americans privately donated $1 billion to relief agencies within months, The U,S. government authorized $630 million to recovery and reconstruction, not including the value of humanitarian assistance from the American military Immediate relief and rehabilitation have been provided in the most affected countries, such as India, Indonesia, Sri Lankaand Thailand. President George W. Bush appointed former Presidents George HW Bush and Bill Clinton to investigate the needs and head the campaign to promote the humanitarian effort. The response from the corporate world was instant. Among the first donors were ChevronTexaco Corp, General Mills Inc., Levi Strauss & Co., Abbott Laboratories, General Electric, Proctor and Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Coca-Cola, Exxon Mobil, Citigroup, Wal-Mart, Amazon.com, Nike, American Express, PepsiCo, Cisco Systems and Federal Express. Also, several American foundations and charitable organizations, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Carnegie Foundation and the Global Business Dialogue acted quickly. American celebrities including Hollywood stars Sandra Bullock and Leonardo DiCaprio and singer Willie Nelson raised funds. Global volunteer groups' such as Catholic Relief Services, CARE, World Vision, Oxfam and Habitat for Humanity helped rebuild houses and aided the survivors through cash-for-work programs Ford India, working in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry, adopted 225 fishing families in Panaiyur Periya Kuppam village in Tamil Nadu's Kancheepuram district. The fishermen received 25 fiber boats fitted with outboard engines A day-care center and a vocational training center were opened so that women could learn new skills, The assistance from the United States and pledges of support from national and international organizations offer hope to millions of people trying to rebuild their lives. -AV.N.

O

Top: A woman cooks food at a shelter constructed by Project Concern International with USAID support in Thirumullavas in Nagapattinam district. Above and facing page: Fishermen repair their nets and collect the day's catch at Nagapattinam's busy fish market, where life is returning to normal.

praised the methods of economic rehabilitation that the Tamil Nadu government has adopted. He had a special word of praise for the collector, Radhakrishnan, who led the district administration;s rescue and relief operations. "I am very impressed

with the attitude of the district collectora young man's attitude," Clinton said. "We knew there would be much more to do than just replace the lost boats, nets and houses, so we started to work with all the villagers, especially the women," Radhakrishnan says. Now some women are beginning to plan the future-a future in which they can carry more responsibility for the income of their families and raise their social status in the process. In Devanampattinam, in Cuddalore


Team.rk Is 18111

Disaster ResPllse

J

Radhakrishnan, collector of Nagapattinam district, Tamil Nadu, is heading a massive humanitarian effort in the • aftermath of the December 2004 tsunami. The 37-yearold administrator was transferred to Nagapattinam soon after the tsunami because of his experience in managing disasters. He was one of the few officers to reach the devastated areas within hours, helping with relief materials, disposing of the dead and providing assistance to thousands of people. During a visit to Nagapattinam as a U.N. special envoy, former U.S. President Bill Clinton said he was "impressed with the attitude of the district collector," especially the innovative economic models he set up for women's self-help groups. In June, Radhakrishnan traveled to the United States. He met with the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and gave lectures in Washington, D.C., Seattle, Houston and Honolulu to discuss the finer points of disaster management. He also found time to talk with SPAN: How are the rehabili1ation programs going in your district? Nagapattinam is the worst-affected district in the tsunami tragedy. There was an extensive loss of life and property. We have adopted a threepronged approach. First, NGOs in large numbers have stepped in and [are] doing outstanding work in a very concerted and complementary way. They are working with fishermen, farmers, orphans, providing them

Above: J. Radhakrishnan, Nagapattinam collector, at his office. Right andfar right: More than 17,300 permanent houses with earthquake-proof features are being constructed at 79 locations in Nagapattinam district alone; a two-storied building has come up and is ready to be occupied.

with long-term rehabilitation programs. They are also addressing critical issues such as housing, health, sanitation and drinking water. Women, especially widows, are being trained in vocational skills so they can make a better living with their supplementary earnings. Second, the government, in cooperation with NGOs, is engaged in building infrastructure such as roads, bridges, permanent schools and houses and fish-landing centers. Because of this, the fishermen have been able to resume their work within two to three months after the tragedy. Now fishing, to a large extent, has come back to normal levels. The third, and the most important, approach is involving the community. In a rehabilitation effort of this magnitude, we cannot ignore people's views and sentiments and their roles.

" The Pondicherry Multipurpose Social Service Society is offering a host of opportunities to learn computer applications which were not available to the local youth earlier. Because of the Internet facility we are connected to the rest of the world, which helps our fabric designers learn new fashion trends. "


Even today, thousands of families are settled In temporary shelters where life seems to be dismal. Whars your tlmellne to shift them to permanent houses where living conditions are expected to be better?

_

We have acquired more than 300 hectares of land and are bUilding houses for more than 2,700 families this year. These are at various stages of construction, and the project is going on at a greater pace, By the first anniversary of this tragedy we plan to shift some families to permanent houses, I am glad to note that 40 NGOs are working on the housing project in Akkarapellai, the most devastated hamlet in Nagapattinam district, where the loss of life and property was immense, With private and public partnership we plan to construct 17,361 permanent houses in 79 locations,

What were your experiences during your U.S. tour? I have learned a lot from the U,S, officials about disaster management. We exchanged notes on how to respond to a disaster: how to mobilize the necessary supplies, how to move the affected people to safer areas, how to deal with the injured, how to dispose of the dead, how to control water-borne diseases, etc I had a chance to explain our practices and share theirs in an emergency situation, U,S, officials like our team approach,

society who lost their livelihoods that they have been neglected in the rehabilitation program as compared to fishermen. How do you respond to this? What the fishermen received in the form of boats, nets and temporary shelters is visible, whereas in the case of farmers and agricultural laborers it is not. As a mailer of fact, all those affected were covered under one rehabilitation program or the other. Farmers were paid Rs, 12,000 per hectare for sand removal and the salt pan cultivators also received a good package Besides, seeds to plant kharif were supplied free of cost. Also, agricultural laborers who accepted skills training got a better means of earning a livelihood,

What are the challenges ahead and how should such tragedies be addressed In the future? If the entire local community is involved in the effort, tragedies of this kind could be tackled with tremendous success, Natural calamities of this magnitude require global support. I would like to underscore that globalization is not only for economies but for tragedies as well. Through the U,S, International City and County Managers Association's "City Link" program, we can forge partnerships and learn from each other about various approaches to mitigate the problems, Each disaster is unique and, therefore, each response is unique, I feel that the team approach is the right approach, Therefore, it should be institutionalized, 0 \~"' 1\ I' ,I ",1

district, the Pondicherry Multipurpose Social Service Society, in partnership with CRS and USAID, also trained 165 girls and 50 boys in computer skills, such as how to use Microsoft Word, Excel, Internet and other software, ACTED launched micro financing schemes, giving grants of Rs, 50,000 to some ISO groups. Each group manages a pot of funds. Then the group can make small loans to individuals, who must pay back the revolving fund within 18 months. Most members are from deprived classes and include farm hands from villages further inland who otherwise depend upon fishing. The farms were inundated by the sea and the laborers have

no work. USAID funds helped the women buy goats and cattle to earn money by selling milk to cooperatives. K. Shanthi earns Rs. 50-60 a day through selling milk. "By involving women the entire family can benefit. It's called income generation. It's a livelihood program which is linked up with milk cooperatives for marketing," says Gratier. M. Manjula, a mother of three and secretary of a self-help group that gives micro loans to its members, learned how to write accounts through the training given by a Madurai-based organization, Dhan Foundation. She is now able to supplement the income of her husband, a temple priest. "The availability of credit

in villages is almost non-existent, and for women it is impossible to raise a loan. Most of us depend on local moneylenders who charge heavy interest with unfavorable terms and conditions. However, the loans offered by self-help groups are soft and favorable. The terms are decided by us, not any external agency," she says. Loans are given for emergency medical needs, education and training. The tsunami also badly affected farmers. Large swathes of land were flooded and the sea water ruined crops or turned the soil saline. Many people were without work or money. With U.S. assistance, GOAL helped sea salt producers remove sand and clay from evaporation pans


" When the Exnora team descended on our village, people were not receptive to their concept of environment and hygiene. But after awareness creation, especially among women and children, the concept was adopted by all members of my village. There is a long-term economic benefit and a need to keep the village clean and hygienic. " -R.

Subbarayan, president of Palaiya Palaiyam

Above: R. Subbarayan of Palaiya Palaiyam (second from left) distributing red and green buckets to women for separating inorganic and organic waste as part of the USAID-funded Exnora environment management project. Left: Mira Gratier (second from left), program coordinator of ACTED, with K. Shanthi (left) and other women who received milk cows under the livelihood program sponsored by ACTED, with help from USAID.

ruined by the tsunami-restarting the niche salt business in the area. GOAL also initiated the Livelihood Restoration Support Project that provided rice seeds to farmers. In Akkarapettai, CARE helped people earn money for removing the sand that had filled ponds and plowing the land. Other work involved deepening a pond, laying channels, building steps for people to use, clearing weeds and bushes

and cleaning up water bodies and growing medicinal plants. Some 1,900 families benefited from the work. CARE has also begun work on desalinating and purifying the water in two ponds. Exnora has launched a recycling program with USAID funds. The group used its considerable expertise in waste management to compost all the waste in Nagapattinam town and a few nearby

villages, aiming to make them garbagefree. Exnora bought and distributed IS tricycles and 1,100 bins to garbage collectors to go door to door and pick up the trash. Each household is asked to separate the wet or organic waste and dump it in a green bucket. The inorganic matter, usually dry, is put in a red bucket and can be sold as scrap. R. Subbarayan, president of Palaiya Palaiyam, a 1,200-family village in Nagapattinam district, welcomed the Exnora initiative. To make the effort a success he arranged several workshops for the villagers, especially women, to educate them about both the uses and hazards of kitchen waste. Children are also taught about environmental issues. In Vedaranyam, salt water had flooded the fields and ruined them. GOAL, in partnership with HeJpAge India and the Bharathi Women Development Centre, helped desalinate the farms. The group said it helped remove sand from 122 hectares of land at a cost of Rs. 3,000 per hectare as of September. The soil was then tested for salinity at the Tamil N adu Agricultural University laboratory in Coimbatore, which gave an optimistic report to the farmers that the land is now arable, and farmers have grown rice. One such farmer is Bhagavathammal, 72, a resident of Kameshwaram village, about one kilometer from Vedaranyam. She grows the dry variety of rice as she does not have irrigation, and her crop is barely enough to sustain her. "I had lost hope after the tsunami, wondering how to make my small piece of land cultivable," she says. "With help from NGOs and support from the government, I can now think about cultivating the land this season." The natural catastrophe has strengthened the will of people and communities to organize local initiatives in the ravaged east coast. Still, at the one-year anniversary of the disaster, as many as 100,000 Indians remain displaced and living in temporary shelters. Recovery work continues. Americans and Indians are working together to keep temporary communities healthy and decent, teach people how to prepare for future hazards, and share how cities with similar experiences have coped, rebuilt and thrived again. 0


TheP

I Gcenter By CHERYL PELLERIN

Since the Indian Ocean tsunami last December, the affected countries are networking with the warning center in Hawaii.

W

hile tsunami-affected nations of the Indian Ocean region are working to create their own early warning ~ystems for a range of natural and other hazards, the U,S, PacIfic Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii is providing interim coverage for that and other regions against the threat of tsunamis, The warning center, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA's) National Weather Service, is a one-story building of painted white concrete blocks situated in Ewa Beach near Honolulu, It sits a few blocks from the Pacific Ocean, on the edge of the community's tsunami evacuation zone, a map of which is printed in every phone book, Until a few years ago, the compound was responsible for the Pacific Basin as a regional and long-distance tsunami warning center and, for Hawaii, as a local tsunami warning center, says Director Charles "Chip" McCreery, "In the aftermath of the Indian Ocean event, we're serving as an interim warning center until a system can be put in place in the region," McCreery says, "We're doing this in cooperation with the Japan Meteorological Agency, which is issuing bulletins for [tsunami-related] events in the Indian Ocean region," The center is responsible for watching a large portion of the globe, but the staff is small. It includes McCreery, an administrative assistant, three geophysicists, one oceanographer and two electronics technicians, "We always have two people on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week," McCreery says, "but we're not in the center 24 hours a day seven days a week," They live in houses on the grounds of the center and each carries two pagers, When an event occurs, it sets off the pagers of the two on-duty staff members, who go to the center to analyze the event. , "As a result of the Indian Ocean tsunami," McCreery says, "our program IS being expanded, In the future we will have people in the office ready to respond 24 hours a day, seven days a week, It will allow us to be somewhat qUicker [responding to] local events and maybe a little bit quicker on distant events," Seismic data reach the center from 180 seismic stations around the world, Most are from cooperative seismic networks like the 130-station Global Seismographic Network operated by the U,S, Geological Survey and the National Science Foundation, and various regional networks, The center's computers continually monitor the data streams for an earthquake, If they find one, they determine an initial location and sometimes a magnitude, The staff constantly collects and analyzes such seismic data to detect and characterize earthquakes, When any large earthquake is spotted, staff members begin monitoring sea level data from near the earthquake epicenter to detect and measure potential tsunami waves, "Based on all that information, including numerical forecast modeling methods that we develop and use, we have a decision-making process about whether to continue a tsunami warning, cancel it or upgrade it," McCreery says Most importantly, the center disseminates the information to those who need it. "Over the last 10 years or so, the time it takes us to get our initial

t :1i:

.~ ~ ~ 3 David Burwell, an oceanographer at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii, points to the area devastated as a result earthquake near Sumatra, Indonesia,

bulletin out has dropped from in some cases over an hour to now about 10 to 20 minutes for distant events," McCreery says, "For local events, it took us up to half an hour in 1997. We now get our initial bulletins out generally within two to four minutes for a local event." The center has been operational since 1949, originally as the Seismic Sea Wave Warning Center. "We had a very bad tsunami in Hawaii in 1946 with 159 casualties," McCreery says, "There was no warning system i~ place at that time and the event happened on April 1, April Fool's Day, and people tend to do a lot of practical jokes, So the tsunami warning in some cases was ignored because people thought it was an April Fool's joke, Because of that tragedy," he says, the United States formed the warning center. A 1960 earthquake in Chile set off a tsunami that affected most Pacific Basin countries, "We had 61 casualties in Hawaii from that event and there were nearly 200 casualties in Japan, which is completely across the Pacific, It took 22 hours to get to Japan," says McCreery, After that disaster, 10 countries formed a tsunami warning system in the Pacific and the United States volunteered the Hawaii center as an operational control point. A sister center-the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, Alaska-was established in 1969, after a 1964 tsunami from an Alaska earthquake, "That's been the pattern," he adds, "After a disaster, some incremental progress is made in mitigating tsunamis," 0 About the Author: Cheryl Pellerin is a correspondent for Washington File, a product of the Bureau of Intemationallnformation Programs, US, Department of State,

I


Monday. September 19 It is six days before Tropical Storm Rita is projected to chum into a devastating hurricane and make landfall on the Texas coast. Residents of Houston, an energy industry hub, obsessively check the National Hurricane Center Web site, tracking advisories and projections. After witnessing Hurricane Katrina ravage New Orleans, we're wondering whether to stay or leave, and when. The storm moving toward us has the potential to morph into a Category 5, 250-kilometer per hour hurricane, able to grind anything in its path. Many of my co-workers will be flying to New York or Washington, D.C., locations of the company's other offices. I opt to work from Austin, normally a three-hour drive away, where I can stay with my family. I plan to start Wednesday evening, ahead of what might be a rush. My boss reminds me to fill my car's gas tank.

Tuesday, September 20 By now, most people have a plan, even if it is boarding up the windows and hunkering down. By afternoon, Rita is a hurricane, Category 2, with sustained winds of 160 kilometers per hour. By evening, news channels are reporting that the mayor, who has already asked for voluntary evacuation, will make it mandatory in coastal areas the next day. Hardware and home improvement stores are out of batteries, flashlights and plywood for boarding up windows. Grocery stores are running out of bottled

water, even food. There are long lines for gasoline as far west as Austin. And for anyone without a booked hotel room or airline ticket for wherever they are heading, it's probably too late.

Wednesday. September 21 At the office, a morning management meeting puts the evacuation plan in motion. Rita is now a Category 5 hurricane, heading straight for us. I pack up my desk. It's by a window, 38 floors up. I'm told the windows tend to pop out in high winds and suck papers into the hazy Houston sky. At home, I make similar preparations to leave while glancing at local TV stations that seem to be on auto repeat: Storm tracker. Evacuation map. Traffic update. Repeat. They were urging evacuees to focus on getting to safety and not waste time worrying about their possessions. I think, "Does that really need to be said?" But then, my own emotional confusion and stress surprises me. Usually when I go to Austin for a weekend, I grab a few clothes and toiletries, toss them into a bag and onto the backseat of the car. This time was different. Everything in my apartment is magnified, and every item is a decision. There are possessions I couldn't possibly take, large items. There are things small enough to take, but time is a factor. In the end I take my most commonly worn clothes and shoes, laundry, laptop, my painting supplies, file box of important papers, jewelry and passport. Everything else, whatever I can lift, I place on higher ground-my bed.


I <t

Š

z ::J LL W

I Z

a? Storm

evacuees stand on the side of Highway 290, near Houston, which has become a parking lot as people attempt to flee Hurricane Rita on September 22.

indefinitely. I have not prepared for 30 hours on the road. I don't have much water or food. I also realize I don't have the car charger for the cell phone, my only resource for information besides the radio. And, the worst fear of all, I could run out of gas. Like most others, I turn off the air conditioner and roll down the windows, in spite of the suffocating heat and humidity.

3:30a.m. Hour five and I'm still less than II kilometers from where I started. The highway is transforming into an impromptu social scene. Many evacuees are traveling in caravans. As they get restless, they spill out of their cars to chat with relatives and friends or just raid the cooler in the trunk. A man at the wheel of a truck nearby pops open what looks like a can of beer. Others switch drivers or pull over onto the shoulder lane to rest. One man hangs out the door of a van and lets out a catcall in my direction. "At a time like this?"

6:30a.m.

10:34 p.m. Too late. I enter the highway and am immediately halted by car tail lights streaming into the horizon. I call my family to let them know I've left. Usually, that gives them an idea of when to expect me. Today, I say, "I have no idea when I might get there. It could take all night." My father questions my wisdom in leaving at night, a woman driving alone. But normal considerations are out the window. If I don't leave tonight, I may never get out. I may have to stay and face the storm. Tomorrow, I would find the same tail lights awaiting me, the same number of hours ahead of me-except Rita will be that much closer. Besides, I'm not alone. There are hundreds of thousands of Houstonites on the road with me, inching along at one mile per hour. I get to know the neighboring cars and there is some comfort in that familiarity.

Thursdav, September 22, 1:30 a.m. Three hours and two to three kilometers later it starts to dawn on me: 240 kilometers to Austin at an average eight kilometers per hour equals 30 hours. And no one seems to know it. There is either all-too-cheerful music or static on the radio. The news updates are still treating the situation as barely more than rushhour traffic, with frequent updates on traffic routes and speedsexcept all routes are bumper-to-bumper for 320-plus kilometers,

Eight hours later, I see landmarks that tell me I would be within 30 minutes from home if this were a normal trip, speeding past at lIO-l30 kilometers per hour. Now, at a near standstill, every building, every sign comes into sharp focus. As day breaks, I notice what people have deemed important enough to take with them. One couple had the foresight to get a U-Haul moving truck. Pick-up truck beds are piled high with everything from furniture to pet cages, expensive toys and cases of bottled water. Vans and sport utility vehicles have belongings balanced on their roofs. I get my first good glimpse into a flat, old sports car that has been in the lane next to mine all night. There is a cage hanging from the rearview mirror, with two or three birds in it. There are two small kids in the front passenger seat, and the driver, presumably the mother, is holding a baby in her lap, while driving a manual transmission. Later, the passenger door opens and a man, who apparently has been resting in the back seat, pops out to trade places with the mom. It's breakfast time. From cars with more than one passenger, people are emerging and hopping highway dividers and rails to make their way to convenience stores along the highway in search of food, water or gasoline, maybe even restrooms. If they're lucky, the stores are open. And then if they are open, they hope there is still food and water on the shelves and gas in the pumps. A radio station is reporting all these are scarce along all evacuation routes. I call a friend to tell her to leave immediately or she won't make it ahead of the storm. She's paralyzed by indecision. Houston residents are caught between subjecting themselves to endless hours on the highway or riding out the storm at home. Moreover, if they haven't already filled their car fuel tanks, they


~ ~ ~ ~ ~

However, further down the road and an hour or two later, I find an open exit. I take it, hoping to find a store or hotel. Eventually one appears. To me, an oasis. In plain sight of it, however, I still have to wait in painfully slow traffic to get to the parking lot entrance. ~ I use my air conditioner every now and then in two-minute bursts for some intermittent relief. At one point, my eyes fixate on a case of bottled water sitting against the rear window of the car in front of me. I can't take my eyes off it, when a man appears out of nowhere with a box, walking between the lanes of cars, handing out bottles of water. I don't know who he is or why he's giving away water, but, like a beggar, I ask if he can spare one.

2:00p.m.

People wait in line at a convenience store in Pasadena, Texas, buying supplies before evacuating the Houston area on September 22, prior to Hurricane Rita's arrival.

At the store, I stock up on water and snacks, charge my phone and I am back on the road. Cell phone networks are as congested as the highways, but I manage to get through to my family eventually. Fortunately, a colleague's call gets through to me and he gives me directions for an alternate route, just in time for me to actually take it. And, soon, for the first time since I left, about 15 hours later, I am actually using my accelerator.

11:00 p.m. are probably out of luck. My friend decides to stay put. I'm tempted to turn back myself. For the near half-day I've spent on the highway, it would take me less than an hour to get back home. The absurdity of the experience is heightened by the news that Rita may turn east toward Louisiana and miss us altogether. But as of now, the radio news reporters are still urging us to have patience and keep going; Houston is officially still in danger. Still, it's maddening to see cars on the opposite side of the highway, zooming toward Houston and the coast, unencumbered, while we endure the umpteenth hour on the road. Later that morning, the city announces an "unprecedented" contraflow plan, which will change the direction of the flow of traffic in those eastbound lanes to decongest westbound flow. It's the first sign of relief. Unfortunately, it takes them hours longer than anticipated to gather the manpower and other resources needed to move the concrete dividers and safely change the direction of traffic flow.

I reach the half-way point, which normally takes me about 90 minutes to reach from Houston. This too by using the oncoming, eastbound lane. But I have another 13 to 15 hours to go. My parents have driven from Austin to meet me, with gasoline and an extra driver to relieve me. Our phones haven't been connecting, but I've passed a message through a cousin that we'll meet at the McDonald's. I don't know for sure if there is one or where it would be exactly. But when I get there, I see them standing anxiously by the side of the road. My mother befriends the owner of a nearby hotel, on the basis that both are Gujarati. Their hotel is full, but they're willing to put us up. We decide to push on, with another car in tow. The two passengers, like many others stranded there, have little gas left and no food, and local stores are stripped clean. We give them half of the gasoline my father brought, and save half in case I need it.

Noon

We reach my parents' home in Austin, nearly 30 hours after I left Houston.

Nearly 15 hours later, I'm still within 50 kilometers of Houston. I've mn out of water and the snacks I had. I'm hungry, sleepy and exhausted. And now the sun is beating down on us. In fact, the radio is reporting it's the hottest day of summer, with temperatures well above 38 degrees Celsius. To conserve gas, people are now doing more than turn off their air conditioners. They are putting the cars in neutral and pushing them along, inch by inch. Many have mn out of gas or had mechanical failures. In the left-most lane nearest to the highway divider, I lean out the window to spot a water jug half-full of urine. Pit stops are hardly an option. Exits have been closed to prevent further congestion and disruptions to the flow of traffic, so it's difficult to get on or off the highway, especially since the feeder roads are also bumper-to-bumper.

Friday. September 23. 4:00 a.m.

Saturday. September 24 Rita makes landfall as a Category 3 hurricane well north and east of Houston, near the Texas-Louisiana border. However, evacuees are discouraged from returning. Gas stations are not restocked. Restaurants along the routes back to Houston are sold out and closed. And parts of Houston are without power. Many are in a msh to leave shelters and get back to survey the damage, where there is any. Some of us fear another gridlock, with everyone returning at once. The mayor specifies an evacuee return plan based on which part of Houston we live in. I work from Austin and return to Houston a week later. D


as a medical transcriber for doctors, if I had so chosen. The act gave me the right to travel where I would like to with my guide dog. It makes buildings accessible to the disabled, requires Braille signs in public places." It wasn't always that way. Disabled people in the United States together pushed for the laws that allowed them to work and live in society, rather than remaining trapped at home, dependent on others, seen as objects of charity rather than contributors. For instance, wherever Kane went in India, she was told that Seeing Eye dogs would never work here because the streets are too chaotic, with potholes, wild animals and reckless drivers. At one time "we had similar conditions in the United States," Kane answered. "But leash laws were put into place to control roving dogs and the streets were made safer, not just for the blind, but for all people." Her comments inspired many of her listeners to consider new possibilities. "She kept talking about the rights of blind people, that we could be advocates for ourselves," says Asha Bhende, a partially sighted retired science professor who heard Kane at the American Center in Mumbai. "We're always being told what we can't do. And a blind person feels this way himself or herself. It's a matter of having role models and building up confidence. I keep telling , myself I can do it." Hawking-a world famous physicist despite the motor neuron disease that inhibits his ability to walk, move or speakis a role model for many disabled, especially those in wheelchairs, says Abidi, who after his journalism career founded the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People, based in New Delhi. When Hawking was coming to India, Abidi contacted the scientist's staff and asked him to give a talk on rights of the disabled. Instead, it was suggested that Abidi arrange a tour for Hawking of New Delhi's famous t~e education, training and e~uipment pro- ÂŤJoyce Kane's Seeing Eye dog, Corey, showed sites. It quickly became apparent that none were wheelchair accessible, despite the vlded by the state and natIOnal govern- patience as students at the Helen Keller Persons with Disabilities Act of 1996 that ments that allowed Kane to remain a pro- Institute for the Deaf and Blind in Mumbai mandates non-discrimination in access to ductive citizen after she woke up blind stroked her fur. public buildings and transportation. "The from heart surgery eight years ago. Her diabetes had caused small artery disease, which left her optic media then took up the story and because it was a matter of nationblood vessels without enough oxygen during the operation, al image ... on Sunday morning, there were wooden ramps," says something her doctors could not have known. Abidi, who later won a court case to make them permanent. Subsequently, $20,000 in grants from the U.S. Ambassador's "The greatest thing I lost was not my sight, but my independence," Kane says. "Through Corey, and the rights I have under Cultural Preservation Fund and the U.S. Embassy Public Affairs the Americans with Disabilities Act, I've been able to get pieces Section helped Abidi's group conduct awareness workshops of that back. The goal in the U.S. is to get you employed, to be with government officials, historical preservationists and a taxpayer, able to help everybody else." The law "gave me the tourism industry representatives to make monuments accessible right to education. After I went blind I went back to college. I without harming them. The funds also paid for an exchange of U.S. and Indian experts and led to the Taj Mahal, Khajuraho, the received training so that I could do the work I had done before,

en British physicist Stephen Hawking was coming to India in 2001, he was told it was impossible to accommodate his wheelchair at historic monuments in New Delhi such as the Red Fort, Qutub Minar and Jantar Mantar. Yet before he left, ramps were installed to allow him, and many Indians in wheelchairs, to see the sites up close. Now, wheelchair users have access to India's most famous architectural wonders. When Javed Abidi started his journalism career, he was told the best he could hope for would be editing behind a desk. Yet the wheelchair-using reporter traveled across the country, interviewed celebrities and politicians and covered events just like other journalists. When Joyce Kane, an American blind woman, wanted to come to India, to experience the culture and people, visit her relatives and share her experience of how the blind can expand their independence, her mother told her it was impossible. Yet, traveling with her Seeing Eye dog, Corey, Kane completed a one-month tour of India. She touched Mohandas K. Gandhi's spinning wheel in Ahmedabad. She took a dance lesson, using the "touch learning" method, at the Ramana Maharishi Academy for the Blind in Bangalore. Her fingers examined Christmas decorations made by students at the National Association for the Blind in Mumbai. Kane said she experienced India by "hearing it through my ears, smelling it through my nose." Her tour was a media sensation. She traveled on Indian Airlines with her guide dog sitting quietly at her feet, though one security guard demanded to see Corey's non-existent boarding pass. She stayed in hotels and ate in restaurants with Corey at her side. Overflow crowds [3 ::;, packed auditoriums to hear about the ffi rights of the handicapped under U.S. law, ~


Joyce Kane, visiting a blind school in Mumbai, says she spends more time with her Seeing Eye dog, Corey, than with her husband. She says Corey has given back some of the independence she lost when she became blind eight years ago.

City Palace in Jaipur and the main Sarnath temple being made wheelchair accessible. The Archaeological Survey of India has since adopted a policy to make all World Heritage and national historical sites accessible to the handicapped. Abidi is dissatisfied, however, with progress on implementing other parts of India's law on disabled rights, which also calls for steps to be taken to ensure a barrier-free environment in workplaces and schools, and requires 3 percent of lower level government jobs to be reserved for the disabled. "This is not a wish list. It's an act of Parliament, yet it is treated as if it's just a policy paper," Abidi says. It took a 1997 public interest lawsuit before wheelchairs that could fit into airplane aisles, and a lift to get them up to the airline doors, were made available at New Delhi's airport. "In other places, I must endure four completely untrained people physically carrying me up the stairs to the aircraft like I'm a sack of potatoes. It's scary," says Abidi, who was only able to attend university because classmates kept carrying him up staircases so he could reach the lecture rooms. "I'm not asking for miracles overnight," he says. "But when renovation is taking place and they are putting in fancy new machines, why can't they plan a ramp?" Most New Delhi metro stations have no lifts for wheelchairs, he says, and new toilets all over the city have doors that are too narrow. "India has 70 million disabled, plus visitors," Abidi says. "Imagine the embarrassment they have to go through." "Resistance can be overcome, given the will and the support," says Dr. Rajendra Vyas, the honorary secretarygeneral of the National Association for the Blind in Mumbai. "What we need here are funds for medical care to cure and prevent blindness, such as from cataracts and avoidable diseases; education of blind children so that they have opportunities rather than their families keeping them at home, and employment is the biggest thing." Seventy percent of the blind in the United States are employed, Dr. Vyas notes, even though there are no reserved jobs, just legally guaranteed equal opportunity. "The U.S. encourages and facilitates this can-do spirit among its disabled citizens," he adds. "In India we're still talking about how to get more jobs for the blind. Education and training are the key, and we're still at the stage of putting Braille signs in buildings." In both countries there is a shortage of teachers of the blind. But the scale of the task is quite different: There are 14.5 million blind in India, and 1.3 million in the United States. Dr. Vyas notes that the choices for allocation of funds are also different. For the $30,000 the Seeing Eye organization spent to train Corey for 10

"The greatest thing I lost was not my sight, but my independence. The goal in the U.S. is to get you employed, to be a taxpayer, able to help everybody else." years of useful work, a human helper could be employed in India for the same amount of time. Still, Corey's quiet presence and demonstrated ability to guide Kane through India raised new possibilities. Many blind children, and adults, who had never touched a dog before stroked her fur. Medical students and doctors heard from Kane about other ways to make the blind independent, such as talking medicine bottles or insulin injectors that make clicking noises so a blind diabetic can mix and count her own doses. One of Kane's jobs in the United States is to work with the National Foundation of the Blind in testing new inventions such as more advanced talking computers or scanners that could photograph objects on store shelves and describe them audibly. One project, still at the experimental stage, is the dream of Dr. Marc Mauer, the foundation's president, says Kane. It is aimed at allowing a blind person to drive a car. "I hope in my lifetime, they'll be able to do that," says Kane. "With determination, you can go as far as your hopes and dreams allow you." D


inherent to any theater. "At Blind Opera we believe that the blind can see. That is, they see in their own way, if not in our way, with the help of these abilities." Gangopadhyay believes that, for the visually impaired, theater is the best medium for expression of their creative urges. "They respond instinctively; they cannot copy anyone else because they cannot see. Their body language tells the story and hence it is very spontaneous." The cast of Blind Opera challenges the audience too-to judge them on their

They do not feel isolated anymore because they can relate to their fellow performers. As Debashish Das, 18, a partially blind boy, says: "I had to leave my studies after the school finals. I was sitting around at home, doing nothing. Now I feel useful. I belong." It also has a therapeutic effect because their confidence grows as they are able to reach out to the sighted audiences. Marzina Khatun, mother of a young child, echoes the feelings of others when she says they build a bridge between the "seeing" world and the dar'k world of their own.

..•.•.....•_ •.. merits and not condescendingly. In the beginning there was apprehension even among the founders: were the productions going to be considered "artistic," or remain just "productions"? To their credit, the members have earned kudos from Calcutta audiences. All the members take part in the productions, no one is left out and it is very democratic. However, when they conceived the idea of such a group, the foursome did not visualize it as just a performing arts troupe. Though artistic qualities were given due importance, the focus was more on "drama therapy" through which they could communicate better with the world around them. For the members of the troupe, discovering the language of the body is in a way also a journey of the persona. Coming from diverse backgrounds but bound together by the same disability, they have found an outlet for their creativity through the plays.

Blind Opera members (from left) Samir Ghoshal, Pallav Haldar and Subhas Deyactout main characters in Rabindranath Tagore splay Raktakarabi, while other members of the troupe portray the kings security forces in the background.

They sing, they dance, and they experience joy. The joy of being able to communicate, both at the personal level and to the audience, is so great that they do not mind coming from afar to the venue in the evening, even traveling two to three hours in crowded buses and trains. Sometimes during rehearsals, they stay late. Blind Opera does not stand isolated from other disabled groups, either. Since 2000, it has been organizing Pratibondhi a Prantik Natyotsav, a theater festival of the disabled and marginal. "By the marginal," says Pramanik, "we mean those discarded or ignored by society, like street kids, children of sex workers, etc., who do not get an opportunity to perform on a common platform." One day of the festival is marked as a paan-supari utsav (betel nut festival). On this day, different groups exchange the traditional symbols offriendship, an effort

at bridge-building within the community. There is also a greater purpose behind it: to use theater to build a community and mainstream the huge number of disabled living in isolation. Together they can be a force to demand better facilities in public life. For instance, members of the group attended a December 2004 presentation at the American Center in which Elizabeth Kahn of Arts Access in Raleigh, North Carolina, demonstrated the technologies of audio description, a narrative service that attempts to describe images of theater, film, television and other art forms so that the visually impaired can enjoy them. Without such help, a blind person can experience theater only through the whispered asides of a sighted companion. Pramanik also believes that blind children should enter the mainstream from the beginning and take part in as many physical activities as possible. "Often, parents hide away a child with a disability or don't give as much attention. If you suddenly want a grown-up boy to play football, for example, he cannot because by that time his body is too sedentary and he cannot respond." Blind Opera members organize drama therapy workshops and teach in the blind schools in West Bengal, linking isolated groups or individuals. The Government of India's education department supports this project. The second generation of directors is coming up, Gangopadhyay says proudly. Lead actor Subhas Dey, who is blind, has directed. Aleek Dristi (Divine Vision). His next production is Waiting for Godot. "Together they will carry forward the movement, and we, the initiators, will be in the background," Gangopadhyay says. The big dream of the group is to establish a Natya Vidyalay, a drama school following the ideal of Tagore's Santiniketan, offering a platform for creative expression of the disabled and marginal-all those who ar'e economically and socially forced to stay in the periphery. Like Chumki Pal, they all dream in color. D About the Author: Ranjita Biswas is a Calcutta-based freelancer who also translates literature and writes fiction.


Negates Handicap Ste 8111I qbal, a small-budget movie starring an unknown theater actor, has overturned accepted Bollywood film industry logic to create a buzz among critics and the public. Iqbal has no dancing, little glamor, no top stars, and, horror of horrors, no romance! Much interest was generated when artist M.P. Husain sold four paintings inspired by the movie, and cricket icon Kapil Dev made a cameo appearance in the film. Iqbal is a pleasant and well-etched story about a village boy who dreams of becoming a national-level cricket star and overcomes great odds to achieve it. The key twist in Iqbal is the handling of the hero as an ambitious teenager, who just happens to be deaf and mute. This treatment is in contrast to Black, which deals in sympathetic detail with the struggles of a deaf and blind girl to overcome her handicap. Iqbal director Nagesh Kukunoor says his aim was to make the audience forget within five minutes that the hero is handicapped. And he succeeds. The fact that the lead character, played by Shreyas Talpade, cannot hear or speak fades into irrelevance as the young dreamer faces his father's objections, lack of money, rivalry and mockery, his own uncontrolled anger, politicking in the selection process, and a drunken and initially unreliable coach. This sensitivity negates the stereotyped role of the handicapped as one incapable of contributing to mainstream life. The father's occasional comments on Iqbal's "restrictions," are contrasted with his mother's pride and faith in him, as well as his kid sister's practical support and her services as a sign language translator.

Only in a single scene does Iqbal's handicap hit the viewer: thrown out of the cricket academy, he goes out at night to a haystack hideout. Here, surrounded by photographs of cricketers, he cries out wordlessly, locked in by his silence and unable to communicate his anguish with another living soul. However, the boy has learned the importance of perseverance for survival, in this case, the survival of his dreams. And on the road to achieving these dreams, he teaches a few practical lessons to his coach, played by Naseeruddin Shah, who despite his five senses and considerable talent had been handicapped by his inability to deal with the politics and hard knocks of the game. There are other subtle points made by the movie. Rather than being a suppressed illiterate and housebound girl destined for an early marriage, Iqbal's sister is a confident, outspoken schoolgirl, who helps her brother in his battles. The film is a successful blend of niche and mainstream cinema. Naseeruddin Shah and Girish Karnad, who plays the villainous coach at the cricket academy, skillfully make the unassuming story and its relatively unknown main actors acceptable to Bollywood viewers. Moreover, as the first release from producer Subhash

Ghai's Mukta Searchlight Films-ereated as a division of Mukta Arts to focus on small-budget and art films -the movie has the benefit of established marketing muscle. There are now plans to dub the film into regional languages. Clearly, the mix of simplicity and success for Iqbal marks a new and positive trend in largerthan-life Bollywood. D About the Author: Teresa Tharakan works as an editor and a freelance writer in Mumbai.


by and for

the

Disabled New laws and changing public attitudes have created opportunities previously unavailable for persons with disabilities to participate in recreational and competitive sports. Some disabled athletes, in fact, compete among the able-bodied at the interscholastic, international and professional levels.

ach winter, in the snow-packed mountains around northern California's Lake Tahoe, skiers and chair lifts whiz by a small wood-covered building at the base of one of the mountains. Skis are propped up against the building's exterior walls, next to empty wheelchairs that seem to be out of place until one realizes

E

that this building houses the first ski school fully accessible to persons with mental and physical disabi lities. The Tahoe Adaptive Ski School, designed and constructed by Disabled Sports USA, Far West chapter is a model for the opportunities it allows disabled skiers of all ages and abilities. According to the 2000 U.S. Census,

there are 49.7 million Americans over the age of four with a disability. That number represents 19 percent of the population, or one in five citizens. Among that 19 percent, 14.3 million Americans have a mental disability and 2.2 million say they use a wheelchair. For those wheelchair users and others with physical and mental disabilities, the Tahoe Adaptive Ski School


DisabLed Americans, Like Winter ParaLympics athLete ALLison Jones, compete in many different sports.

offers a downhill or cross-country ski experience. But sports opportumtles for the disabled extend far beyond skiing. Depending on community offerings and

the ability of each athlete, sports as diverse as hockey, horseback riding, rock climbing, scuba diving, cycling, water skiing, rugby, soccer and basketball are available to disabled athletes. Three pieces of federal legislation have opened doors in all aspects of life for people with disabilities in the United States. The Rehabilitation Act, adopted in

1973, was the first major initiative in this regard. The main purpose of the act was to prevent discrimination in employment, transportation and education programs that receive federal funding. Sports programs were not the focus of the act, but the law says that colleges and universities that receive federal funding for their physical education programs,


including intramural and interscholastic sports, must make them accessible to disabled persons. Pitcher Jim Abbott, who played baseball at the University of Michigan and moved on to the professional major leagues for 10 years, is just one example of someone who may have benefited from the Rehabilitation Act. Born without a right hand, Abbott pitched with his left hand and wore a glove over the small stump where his right hand should have been. For several years, until his retirement in 1999, Abbott made more than $2 million a year. It is quite an accomplishment for a baseball player to go directly from college baseball to the major leagues, but Abbott made the transition look easy-just as he made the quick switch of his glove from right-hand stump to left hand immediately after throwing a pitch look easy. This he did to be ready to catch a ball. The most recent pieces of federal legislation aimed at ending discrimination against persons with disabilities were enacted in 1990. The Individuals with Disabilities Educa-tion Act (IDEA) governs the edu-cation of students with disabilities in the public schools. IDEA states that physical education is a required educational service; thus the law facilitates participation of students with disabilities in public school and interscholastic sports programs. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a comprehensive law that bans discrimination against persons with disabilities, specifically in "places of exercise." The ADA goes further than the previous laws and says that school, university and community sports programs all must comply with ADA provisions. In a landmark 2001 case, professional disabled golfer Casey Martin took his case against the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) Tour all the way to the U.S. a: Supreme Court. The court ruled that ~ under provisions of the federal law, ~ PGA Tour, Inc. must permit Martin 3

use of a golf cart during tourna-ments. Martin went on to win a pro-fessional golf event in spite of a congenitally deformed and atrophied leg, the result of a degenerative circulatory disorder. Disability rights advocates say the ADA requires reasonable access to sporting facilities and events for the disabled. "People with disabilities demand choices in their lives based on the ADA and the heightening of social acceptance," said John Kemp, an attorney and disabilities advocate who was born without arms or legs. "Sports is a valued choice and disabled athletes expect to be included as much as possible." Mountaineer Mark Wellman, who lost the use of his legs in a 1982 climbing accident, ascends the sheer rockface of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, California. He climbed a 36-meter rope with a torch to light the cauldron at the Paralympics in Atlanta.

CHANGING PERCEPTIONS Seeing disabled athletes competing alongside able-bodied athletes in the same events changes the public's perception of persons with disabilities. However, despite better awareness of disabilities and the three federal laws enacted to end discrimination, not all event sponsors welcome disabled athletes with open arms. According to news accounts, the New York City Road Runners Club, hosts of the New York City Marathon, have never made it easy for people with disabilities to participate in the race. Advocates for the disabled say the welcome mat seems to get smaller each year. After years of controversy and struggles, wheelchair racers won a court decision against the marathon that required organizers to provide an early start for wheelchair racers. While the Rehabilitation Act, IDEA and ADA have made sports more accessible to disabled athletes, the International Paralympic Games offer a venue in which to showcase the talents and abilities of the world's most elite athletes with physical disabilities. The multi-sport Paralympic Games are the second largest sporting event in the world, second only to the Olympics. The first Paralympics were held in 1960 in Rome. In 1988, Seoul began the modern-day practice of the Olympic Games host nation also hosting the Paralympic Games. Today more than 4,000 athletes from 120 countries participate in the Summer Paralympics, while more than 1,100 athletes from 36 countries compete in the Winter Paralympic Games. Disability groups represented include amputees; blind or visually impaired athletes; athletes with cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries or other conditions that confine them to wheelchairs; and athletes who are affected by a range of other disabilities that do not fall into a specific category, such as multiple sclerosis or dwarfism.


The Paralympics receive much more television and general press coverage throughout Europe than they do in the United States. Paralympic athletes generally are well known in Europe. "Many people with disabilities in the U.S. do not enjoy the level of acceptance that disabled athletes in Europe do," said John Kemp, president and CEO of Half the Planet Foundation. But the U.S. Paralympic Committee aims to change that. U.S. Paralympics is a division of the U.S. Olympic Committee and was created in May 2001 to focus efforts on enhancing opportunities for persons with physical disabilities to participate in Paralympic sports. The United States hosted the most recent Winter Paralympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2002. Marla Runyan, a five-time Paralympic gold medalist, became the first legally blind runner to qualify for the U.S. Olympic team. Diagnosed with Stargardt's disease as a child, Runyan has been legally blind for more than 20 years. She ran the 1,500-meter race at the Sydney Summer Olympics in 2000 to finish eighth, while becoming the first Paralympian to compete in the Olympics. Runyan now has long distance aspirations. In the 2002 New York City Marathon, she finished fifth among the fastest runners in the world with a time of 2:27: 10. In 2003, she finished a personally disappointing 20th.

DOING WHAT IT TAKES Also finishing the 2003 New York City Marathon, just a day later than the other competitors, was 55-year-old Zoe Koplowitz, with a time of 29 hours and 45 minutes. Time is not an issue for Koplowitz, who was diagnosed with diabetes and multiple sclerosis 30 years ago. She uses two purple crutches to get through the course and stops often to rest and check her blood levels. "I think that's really the ultimate lesson; you just keep going until you get it done," she told reporters at the finish line after completing her 16th appearance in this event. "You do what it takes." There are many stories of courageous, determined, disabled athletes who won't

Wheelchair events and the Paralympics are a staple of the American sports scene these days.

let anything get in the way of their athletic pursuits. Mark Wellman, who was paralyzed in a rock climbing accident, developed a pulley rope system to enable him to climb as a paraplegic. This amazing rock climber ascended a 120foot (36-meter) rope with the Paralympic torch, to light the cauldron at the 1996 Paralympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. Creative adaptation is not just for paralyzed athletes. A device that emits guiding lights and tones enables the blind and visually impaired to compete in bowling. Constructed as a senior design project during the 2002-03 school year for physical education classes at the Indiana School for the Blind, the device is positioned above the bowling lane and features a set of nine white lights and sound sensors that serve as targets. Special Olympics is perhaps the bestknown organization for athletes with developmental disabilities. Special Olympics offers children and adults with mental retardation the opportunity to train and compete in 26 Olympic-type summer and winter sports. In Somers, New York, E.J. Greczylo, a 15-year-old eighth grader with Down's syndrome, played in his first high school football game in October 2003. Greczylo's parents credit Special Olympics with giving him the confidence

to play and compete in many sports. Fall 2003 also produced some wonderful football moments. In September, Neil Parry, a football player for San Jose State University, was playing with his team for the first time in two seasons. Parry suffered a compound fracture on October 14, 2000, in a game against the University of Texas-El Paso that resulted in his lower right leg being amputated. Three years and 25 surgeries later, Parry returned to the field with the aid of a prosthetic device, inspiring all who know him with his determination. "If you can't be motivated [by Parry], you can't be motivated," head coach Fitz Hill said. "You don't have a pulse." Not all athletes strive to compete at the intercollegiate level like Parry or for Olympic greatness like Runyan. The majority compete for exercise, for enjoyment or to achieve personal goals. But an extra measure of creativity and innovation is usually required to enable disabled athletes to play and compete. Happily, today we have hundreds, maybe thousands, of examples of individuals who. in one way or another, have contributed to making participation in Sp011Spossible for persons with disabilities. 0 About the Author: Susan Greenwald. Il'ho uses a wheelchail: began writing aboul disabled athletes after working at the J 996 Paralympics in Atlanta, Georgia.


Ca ifornla with a Mission Dr. Anmol S. Mahal, chosen to head California's largest doctors' association, will speak for 35,000 physicians, and what he wants to talk about is more equal access to health care in the most populous U.S. state.

r.Anmol S. Mahal was raised with a deep respect for culture, tradition and service-qualities that endear him to his patients, and which he brings to the chairmanship of the California Medical Association (CMA) as the state attempts to reconfigure the shape of its health care in the 21st century. With a smile and a gentle nod of his blue turban he confesses the journey from visiting medical student to the top of his profession has been very rewarding. Now he feels it is time to give back to society a measure of the generosity and acceptance it offered him. Dr. Mahal, 55, was voted president-elect of the CMA at its annual House of Delegates meeting in March. He steps up to the chairmanship of the 35,000 strong physicians' organization next year, on its 100th anniversary. The Amritsar native is the first Sikh physician to hold such a position in the United States. Critics say he has been targeting the position for a while. He agrees he has spent time on various boards and is all fired up about projects that could lead to better medical health in California, especially for the more than seven million who have no medical insurance. The leadership role he is to assume comes at a time when the two million strong Indian American community in America is flourishing and its elders are seeking to establish firm spiritual, cultural and educational foundations for their children.

D

"Some time ago, anyone with a turban walking through a public place would attract a lot of curious looks, but not anymore," Dr. Mahal said during an interview with SPAN. "Being a visible minority can work both ways. I try to use my ethnic appearance to my advantage." Artifacts in his office, notebooks on his desk, and the wallpaper in this clinic reflect Hindi calligraphy and graceful art designs carefully chosen to blend in with the western style chairs and furniture. He shares the clinic with his wife Dr. Surjit K. Mahal, a family physician. The Mahals came to the United States from India five months after they were married in 1972. Freshly graduated from New Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences, he served his internship in internal medicine and a fellowship in hepatology at the College of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. In 1977 he chose to complete a fellowship in gastroenterology at the Stanford University Medical Center in California. "Of course California's sun and the gurdwara built by the earliest Indian Sikh immigrants in the 1890s were a plus and I wanted to experience all that," he recalls. The first two years in California were hard, he says. "This is a different culture. The language is spoken differently. I did not seem to understand the local humor, the experiences and the event-based history. All these are important to relate to the patients. But once we cleared these immigrant hoops it was easy to fall in love with the


D,: Anmol S. Mahal, president-elect of the California Medical Association, with more than 35,000 physicians from all specialties, is seen at his Fremont, California, office.

lifestyle of this country!" They settled in Fremont, a city on San Francisco Bay. They have two children, Subena Mahal, 28, a family practice resident, and Vikram, 23, a college student. The most enticing aspect of life for him in the United States is a professional one. "There is a freedom in this culture, which you do not experience elsewhere. At a professional level, you can actually express yourself. The soldier can tell the general what he really thinks of his war plan. I have constantly done that, sometimes to my peril, but most of the time to my advantage. There is a certain respect from the superiors who are themselves comfortable with who they are. A few may certainly feel threatened, but to a large extent,you can have debates and diagnosis on the highest intellectual level. We grew up in a society where the authority comes from the top, and an implied code of behavior where it's not acceptable to question."

Still, it is aspects of his Indian culture that help him find favor with his patients. Older patients say they like the quiet, soft-spoken way this gastroenterologist uses when inquiring about their health and listening to the details of their ailments. Younger ones praise his business-like efficiency blended with a little bit of humor. Both say they appreciate his unassuming manner and attentiveness whether they are in his clinic, or run into him at the local mall or bookstore. Dr. Mahal is preparing to tackle three important projects: A free medical clinic at an Indian Community Center, a framework to bring medical services to the millions of uninsured Californians and setting policies to ensure access to medical care for all. He brings one of the chief tenants of Sikhism, the philosophy of equality, into playas he grapples with the issues. As the Indian community in California rapidly dwarfs other Asian ethnicities-Chinese, Filipino and Vietnamese-they are building community centers where hundreds of families come to relax and interact. There is something for everyone. Children and teenagers can take classes in Indian languages, culture, dance, arts, crafts,


music and singing. Young professionals may use exercise machines, yoga, meditation and nutrition classes while the elderly use board games, books and magazines. The center in Fremont is adding a free medical clinic spearheaded by Dr. Mahal. Volunteer physicians will run it, as part of a credentialing program and the staff will include a medical social worker who will provide information about various staterun plans. Free medication and health awareness classes will be offered, especially for hypertension, a common, yet lifethreatening condition among the elders in the community. "I am very excited about this. It is our way of giving back to our community," says Dr. Mahal. With this same attitude he seeks to expand the California Physician Corps he helped create several years ago. It is similar to medical outreach programs in countries like India and Egypt where there are large suburban populations. "In an open society you cannot assign doctors to go do it, you have to give incentives. We found the best incentive, " Dr. Mahal says. Under the program, fully-trained physicians who have finished their residencies, sign up for service in a rural area and in â&#x20AC;˘ return receive $105,000 over three years to repay medical school debts. Fiftyeight physicians are already enrolled. "We are hopeful that they will fall in love with the community and stay there Dr. Anmol S. Mahal and his wife, Dr. Surjit K. Mahal, after three years," he says. with former President Bill Clinton at their hilltop Equal medical access is not just a motto home in Mountainview, California, in 2000. for Dr. Mahal. He and other ethnic physicians are comparing notes. "Our populations have special needs so we are trying to where we need to equalize access," he explains. present ideas and come up with resolutions for the CMA He is passionate about the need to find solutions house on public health issues .... for delivering better care. "The people who cook for us, the people who clean, bathe and serve "The best example [are] the Latinos. They have astronomical incidents of diabetes-so it is in the state's medications to our parents, people who drive us best interest for the future public health to look at around, business owners, dry cleaners, subway clerks, lifestyle changes, education, preventative treatment and these are the basic bricks of our society. They are awareness, basic early diagnosis," he explains. the people who are going without health care," In addition he and other physicians are concerned Dr. Mahal says. "Generally they work at minimum about disparities in care levels. "If you get a heart attack, wage, without benefits, keeping their families together. Those are the folks we hope we can help." D the state-of-the-art care is to give clot-dissolving treatment and save the muscle from death. In the U.S. right now, 59 percent of white men, 55 percent of black About the Author: Lisette B. Poole, a freelance journalist men, 49 percent of white women and 44 percent of black based in the San Francisco Bay area, lectures at California women get that treatment. We don't know why. This is State University in Hayward.


ON THE LIGHTER SIDE

"Next question: Do you rent, own or leech off your in-laws?" Copyright

© Tribune Media Services, Inc, All rights reserved,

"We address customers' complaints immediatelywould you mind holding the line?" Copyright

© Tribune Media Services, Inc, All rights reserved,

"He's gone from the most-wanted list to someone the authorities would like to talk to, " Copyright © 2001 The New Yorker. Reprinted with pennission,

"Okay, ma'am, what part of '450 MHz processor, memory (SDRAM) 64 MB, hard drive with three internal bays, ULTRA ATAl33, Ethernet 101100 BASE-T and USB-port' didn't you understand?" Copyright © 2004 The Saturday Evening Post Company, Reprinted with pennission,


Above: In a petri dish, nerve cells can, with a little artistic license, look like this. Right: A crystallized vitamin C looks positively juicy.


Microscope jockeys from around the world enter their masterpieces in Nikon's Small World annual photomicrograph contests.


I

was t more than 300 years ago that Antoni van Leeuwenhoek gasped at the sight of what he called "little animalcules" skittering through pond water, their motion "so swift, and so various, upwards, downwards, and round about, that 'twas wonderful to see." The Dutch haberdasher had crafted some of the first microscopes, never expecting to spy bacteria, sperm cells, red blood cells and much more. Looking through his microscopes, some of which magnified the view 250 times or more, he was the first to observe barbs on a bee's stinger, mushroom-like fungi sprouting out of infected skin and bacteria that, he noted, "oft-times spun round like a top." An invisible, previously unimagined realm teeming with life appeared suddenly before his eyes, and his discoveries would forever change the way people viewed the world. Inventors since then have improved

Crystals under polarized light are afavorite subject of artistically inclined microscopists. Depending on a crystal's thickness and orientation, it can erupt in hallucinogenic stripes and whorls-or even, if you look at them just right, fish or cobwebs or butterflies.

the microscope in many ways, using purer glass and also adding mirrors and multiple lenses that boost the magnifying power of light microscopes up to about 1,500 times. (Electron microscopes, which bounce fast-moving electrons off specimens, are hundreds of times more powerful.) Two-eyed stereoscopic viewers pop microscopic beasties into three dimensions. Chemical fixatives can pin down reproducing cells in flagrante delicto. Particular angles or wavelengths of light illuminate features that are washed out by harsh, direct light, much as shadows cast by the evening sun can give a landscape photograph more depth. Fluorescent markers, which microscopists can attach to proteins within a cell, emit a technicolored glow when stimulated by the appropriate laser light; such "f1uorophores" help biologists understand the role of a marked protein in a cell's motion, reproduction or death. Lately, microscopy has been greatly enhanced by digital image processing. For microscopists as well as ordinary shutterbugs, digital photographs are quicker and cheaper to create than images made with film. They can also

be easily manipulated on the computer to accentuate or analyze telling features. Throughout its history, microscopy has served hard science: it has identified microbes responsible for diseases, revealed minerals that tell the story of a rock's geologic history or brought to light evidence used to convict criminals. But there's more to microscopy even than that, something subjective. Microscopists have always delighted in the surprising, amusing and often profoundly beautiful scenes under their lenses. For 30 years, Nikon, the camera and optical equipment company, has hosted an annual photo contest for microscopists. Many of the entries are lovely. All are utterly unfamiliar: more eerie, more puzzling and more dramatic than a Surrealist painting or the priciest Hollywood special effects. The aim, says Michael W. Davidson, a molecular biophysicist at Florida State University at Tallahassee and a contest judge, is to reward both "technical proficiency on the microscope and an eye for art." Some of the past years' winning entries in the Small World Competition appear in these pages. Enthusiasts who submit artwork to the contest come from all walks of life: Alzheimer's researchers, modern-day microbe hunters, a retired minister and basement tinkerers. A large number of entries come from graduate students or postdoctoral researchers, scientific apprentices who don't command their own laboratories yet and are known for their long, unremunerative hours in the lab. One imagines them parked at their desks late at night, staring through microscopes until the slides swirl in their eyes, then photographing these unique visions. When their photographs look just as beautiful in the light of the next day, they can take pleasure not just in their scientific 0 labor but in creating art. About the Author: Laura Helmuth is a senior editor with Smithsonian magazine.


1. Individual nanocrystals are too small to be seen even at this 200X magnification, but here, rather than lying in a flat film as the reserachers intended, the nanocrystals are clumped together. This derailed the study but made a striking image. 2. Hay fever sufferers can get a close-up look at their enemy-bright blue pollen spores are ready to waft away from their stigma. 3. At a more familiar scale is the pad of an adhesive bandage. 4. Sometimes modern art looks best when stood on its head, as with this image of a drip flowing through soap film.


路 II

I

~

onneCllon

n1998, Amitabha Ghosh, then director of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) at Kharagpur, wrote to Brian Halla, chairman of National Semiconductor Corp. in Santa Clara, California, inviting him to help develop a lab in India that would help designers build better computer chips. Halla agreed. His colleague, Bijoy G. Chatterjee, raised $1 million from IIT alumni in the United States and from five American corporations. National Semiconductor provided a free fabrication facility and technical support. Sun Microsystems gave powerful servers and workstations; Cadence Design Systems and Synopsys Technologies provided their full suite of computer-aided design tools; Agilent

Technologies offered modern test equipment. And the VLSI Laboratory was born. The VLSI-Very Large Scale Integration-lab helps scientists pack more and more logic into electronic devices to make them operate faster. The lab, located at IITKharagpur, in West Bengal, is the only one of its kind in India and has fabricated 30 computer chips. The lab is an example of the hundreds of collaborations that American companies have forged with the seven IITs, prompted in part by the quality of research in India. Many U.S. technology giants hold joint patents with the institutes. The thousands of IIT-trained engineers and scientists who live and work in the United States also funnel to their alma mater research contracts in such diverse fields as

disaster management and telemedicine. The IITs are among a handful of centers of higher learning in India that encourage the faculty to pursue collaborative research with governments and private corporations, as a mandate along with promoting education and training. Chatterjee says National Semiconductor is "pleased with the quality of research [at IIT-Kharagpur] and intends to continue this collaboration." The California company has steadily increased its direct research investment in the institute in semiconductor-related technologies and funds projects worth more than $300,000 a year in analog chip design and design automation. Apart from initiating research with the five supporting companies, IITKharagpur is also doing joint research


~ "'~ ~'I .w"'''' .r.o~ .~i.a~. ,~~I'a::!!1"~d '''!f..rlM',~4'H lul\l/l~\

.o;;;.-pt~,mi(:ril .:.y;:furoj~*{>f

Above left: Professor Amit Patra with students in the Very Large Scale Integration lab at llTKharagpur.

'iM{~;ri;l\is ~'~:hff

Left: Madras /IT's Devendra Jalihal in the TENET Group lab. Far left: Gayatri Vaidya, research assistant at llTBombay, scans chips on an electronic microscope.

with the Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Washington, University of Michigan and Intel. The U.S. chip maker has funded a large number of projects on circuit design, formal verification and image processing there. Synopsis, whose association with IITKharagpur started in the late 1990s, is also working with the institute to develop industry-level courseware on chip verification methodology. Every year, representatives of American corporations come to lIT campuses to sign agreements for collaborative research. One such person is Ray Stata, founder of Analog Devices. Stata flies into Chennai every four months to work with 15 computer science and electrical engineering researchers in the Telecommunications and Networks Group (TENET) at lIT-Madras who are developing technology for rural applications in poorer countries. Says Stata about the lIT team: "They are a prolific source of innovation in terms of

developing IT products for emerging markets where features and cost targets are much different and more demanding than for the developed world." The Indian faculty is also impressed with Stata. "He has been taking a lot of personal interest, putting in his personal money and has given a lot of his time, which is invaluable," says Devendra Jalihal, one of the researchers. Because of the collaboration, the group gets advance information on products, sometimes two years before they are released, and contributes in turn by identillT-Madras Director M.S. Ananth with Ambassador David C. Mulford.

fying bugs and problems. There are many intangible benefits as well, according to Jalihal. For example, Analog Devices procures some products for the group's research work much faster than they would be able to otherwise. Analog Devices has benefited as well. "We get useful feedback and suggestions on how to improve the performance of our products," says Stata. "lIT is a center of excellence for digital signal processing applications and software, which is what attracted Analog Devices to form a close working relationship." Analog also supported the development of a training center in this field for students from Indian universities. It invites its customers to attend one-week training programs at lIT-Madras. Feedback on the training material developed by the faculty has been extremely positive, says Stata. Analog is a minority stockholder in Midas Technologies, a spin-off technology company supported by the Madras group. The U.S. company is a continuing source of components and technical support for the Midas engineering team. Together with Midas, Analog developed integrated circuits, specifically for products for the successful CorDect wireless-in-Iocal-Ioop technology, which the lIT designers developed to expand the availability of telephone connections in rural areas. "I have also personally enjoyed my involvement with the start-up companies which lIT-Madras has germinated and the chance to be helpful based. on my business experience over the past 40 years. It has been a mutually beneficial relationship all around," says Stata. Major American technological giants such as Microsoft and Intel and large companies such as General Motors have several research projects going on at IITs. With Microsoft support, IIT-Guwahati has developed a new network routing procedure that can be used at construction or disaster sites, where network infrastructure needs to be set up quickly and temporarily. IIT-Kharagpur, where the company has been sponsoring a lab since 2000, has focused on building text-tospeech engines for Indian languages and English-to- Indian-language translators


Scientific Collaboration Highlights Goodyear and General Electric have sought consultancy on rubber technology from IIT-Kharagpur. G. Sunderrajan from liT-Madras has collaborated with DuPont, GE and International Specialty Products in the field of polymerization. Boston-based Alnylam Inc., working on anti-cancer drug delivery systems, has contracted out some work to Bombay liT's K.P.Kaliappan. Sharad Bharatiya from the same liT has a project from Honeywell Corporation on control of a type of microbe that makes Rifamicin-B, a cholesterol-lowering drug. Madras liT's P.C. Deshmukh works with researchers from the University of Nevada, the Argonne lab in Illinois and Georgia State University on high-energy physics.

I ombay liT's Sauvik Mahapatra I is part of a contract research project undertaken by Purdue University for Applied Materials of Silicon Valley, California, which manufactures processing tools for semiconductor manufacturing. He works with Purdue's Ashraf Alam on flash memory devices, which consist of a computer chip with a readonly memory. Pramod Mehta from Madras liT's mechanical engineering department has collaborated with Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois on engine emission issues. Madras liT's civil engineering department has a project on lightweight concrete construction with the University of Texas at Austin. J. Murali Krishnan from the same department collaborates with K.R. Rajagopal of Texas A&M University on asphalt and asphalt concrete. In a project under the Department of Science and TechnologyU.S. National Science Foundation Program for Scientists and Engineers, liT-Delhi and Pennsylvania State University are working on electrical properties of materials at high frequencies and temperatures. Bombay liT's Sun ita Sarawagi has collaborated with Boeing Corporation on data mining issues. Above: K.P. Kaliappan, a cancer drug researcher, at llTBombay. Right: llT-Bombay researcher Sharad Bharatiya with his colleagues.

36

SPAN NOVEMBERIDECEMBER

2005

~ ex: ~ I

i

Since 1999, Kanpur liT's Vinod K. Singh has been synthesizing organic compounds for the drug discovery program of Neurogen Corporation, a small U.S. pharmaceutical company based in Branford, Connecticut. IIT-Kharagpur chemical engineer Ashutosh Sharma has worked with Manoj K. Chaudhury's group at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Their research has potential applications in optoelectronics, sensors, lab-on-achip devices, micro electricalmechanical systems and microfactories. Sharma also collaborates with the University of California at Irvine. David E. Goldberg, director of the Illinois Genetic Algorithm Lab, has

worked with Madras liT on optical design of structural systems and also corresponds with Kanpur liT's Kalyanmoy Deb and Nirupam Chakraborti of IIT-Kharagpur. P. Sriram from liT-Madras works with Wichita State University on the application of composite materials to aircraft. R.I. Sujith of Madras liT's aerospace engineering department has worked with Tim Lieuwen of the Georgia Institute of Technology on sound propagation in non-uniform media. S.R. Chakravarthy, of the same department, has worked with Georgia Tech's Jerry Seitzman on solid propellants. The work has implications for rapid and inexpensive development of specific solid D rocket propellants.


and has completed projects on mobile telemedicine systems and devices to assist people with motor-neuron disorders. IITBombay is home to four Intel-sponsored labs on technology, microelectronics, enterprise and Very Large Scale Integration. Two such labs on Internet and wireless technology run at lIT-Madras. Through its Bangalore lab, General Motors Corp. works with all IITs on smart materials, occupant safety in vehicles and modeling of the human body. The symbiotic relationship between private corporations and research institutes is aptly reflected in what Paul Budnitz, president and founder of Kid Robot, once said: "I believe the future of business is collaborative technologies. Without it my kind of business would not be possible. For me it is not the future, it is the foundation of my success today." The collaboration between the United States and the IITs goes back to 1958. As an independent India struggled to rise out of poverty, its first Prime Minister, lawaharlal Nehru, believed that only science and technology could provide the answers. He proposed that five IITs be set up by 1965, in Delhi, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Bombay and Madras. He also stressed close cooperation with technologically advanced nations. Each of the institutes was to receive assistance from a particular country. Nehru's minister for science and technology, Humayun Kabir, persuaded the American Society of Engineering Education to prepare a report about launching an "MIT-style" institute in Kanpur. Subsequently, three American professors studied how Massachusetts Institute of Technology could help train the faculty. They recommended that a group of nine institutes (see box at right) help the Kanpur center, which began in 1959 with 100 students and some 20 teachers in a borrowed building of the Harcourt Butler Technological Institute. Simultaneously, the state government of Uttar Pradesh granted about 400 hectares, 15 kilometers west of Kanpur, on the Grand Trunk Road. Architect Achyut Kanvinde mirrored the environmental freedom of the countryside in his design, a core of academic buildings sur-

rounded by community centers and housing for staff and students. Meanwhile, in New Delhi, the Indian government and IIT-Kanpur worked closely with the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, and the consortium of nine universities, under the umbrella of the Kanpur Indo-American Program. The program provided for Indian engineers to undergo training in the United States, exchange of technological information and collaboration in research. Many Indian engineers spent a year or more in American universities and colleges, where some earned advanced degrees. The Ford Foundation gave $20,000 to

The First Collaborators

The consortium that aided IIT-Kanpur: California Institute of Technology Carnegie Institute of Technology Case Institute of Technology Massachusetts Institute of Technology Ohio State University Princeton University Purdue University University of California at Berkeley University of Michigan

R.I. Sujith of IIT-Madras in the aerospace research lab.

relocate 11 Indian experts from the United States to serve as faculty. Over the next few years, 98 Indian experts relocated to Kanpur, promising to remain for at least two years to build a premier institution. One of these, Dr. P.K. Kelkar, recalled, "When I came to Kanpur first to join as the director of the institute, almost everybody I met asked me .. .if I had wanted to commit professional suici.de. I did not at all worry about this because I was no longer myself but an instrument of a historical process." Under the Kanpur program, the institute received $7.5 million worth of equipment and 40,000 books, including difficult-to-obtain special reports by NASA and Bell Telephone Laboratories. Today, researchers at all seven IITstwo were added recently at Roorkee and Guwahati-collaborate with American researchers, institutions and companies. Such collaborations are formal through memoranda of understanding or are oneto-one interactions between two research groups with common interests. Most of these research projects result in joint pub-


Inlotech Collaboration rithi Ramamritham of IITBombay has worked with a scientist from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst to develop technologies that allow computers to automatically send updated information to client computers, which can ask for needed data without human intervention, such as in buying and selling. He has also worked with the University of California at Riverside on better, faster and more intelligent ways to disseminate data on the Internet and has been collaborating since 1999 with Chutney Technologies, recently acquired by Cisco, on developing better ways to create Web pages. Carnegie Mellon University, IITs and the four Indian Institutes of Management signed an agreement five years ago to ÂŤ establish a center to develop ~ courseware, a doctoral program ~ and eventually a virtual universi- ~ ty. That formed the basis for;)j the National Program on Technology-Enhanced Learning to be funded by the Ministry of Human Resource Development. Carnegie and liT-Madras jointly study the development of highly interactive online learning material in basic sciences. Kanpur liT's Debabrata Goswami collaborates with scientists at Princeton University and MIT on quantum computing,

a computer technology based on the behavior of energy and matter at the atomic and subatomic level. Goswami and IIT-Kanpur Director San jay Dhande work with Fabrication Laboratories, or Fab Labs, designing equipment that with the push of a button can create gadgets, once the design has been selected and the raw material provided Two of the seven

Above: Krithi Ramamritham collaborated 011 mbotics at the University of Massachusetts and is core supervisor of a lab doing similar research at T1TBombay, where he also works on Web technologies with Soumen Chakrabarty (below).

Fab Labs that MIT has set up around the world are in India, at Bithoor in Uttar Pradesh and Pabal in Maharashtra. Bombay liT's Sou men Chakrabarty works with the University of California Riverside School of Library Sciences on a method to trawl the Web for information that academics can use. "Think of it as my desktop research librarian who can...keep track of what new material is coming up on a topic of my interest automatically," he explains.o

lications in peer-reviewed scientific journals, whjch may be of little interest to non-scientists, but are quite crucial. Faculty and student exchanges and specialized courses are also crucial parts of the interactions. "More faculty now have come back from the United States," says Krithi Ramamritham, head of Kanwal Rekhi School of Information Technology at lIT-Bombay, "and that, in turn, leads to more American collaboration. Now the collaborative work is more for technical reasons than financial reasons." The collaborati ve research at IUs across the country ranges from crop manipulation to designing aircraft materials. One project, funded by USAID is aimed at improving public transit service in ew Delhi. The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, a non-profit body based in New York, works with Delhi IIT's Transportation Research and Injury Prevention Program on a project called the India Livable Communities Initiative. The team has been instrumental in designing new urban bus standards. Also, the Delhi government has approved construction of a 16-kj lometer special corridor from Ambedkar Nagar to Delhi Gate, as recommended by the team. "IITDelhi was working on this since 1995," says IIT's Geetam Tewari, who was involved in the project. "But USAID money helped us expand the understanding of the concept and interact with international experts." Some of the projects sound like they are straight from science fiction. Can engineers build a military aircraft that can change its shape depending on the mission? M.S. Sivakumar from Madras IIT's Smart Structures Lab has been collaborating with researchers at Texas A&M University in testing materials in computer simulations, or virtual testing. "You can also create new materials virtually which have specific properties," he says. Some of their work, funded by the U.S. Army Research Office,


Collaboration in Earth Studies he US OHice of Naval Research is funding an eight-year-old study on air-sea interaction processes over Indian seas during the southwest and northeast monsoons. The study by liT-Delhi and North Carolina State University, which ends this year, simulates tropical cyclones, such as the 1999 Orissa supercyclone, and studies data from three major ocean- and monsoon-related experiments of the past. liT's U.C. Mohanty says the scope of strong collaboration in atmospheric sciences between the two countries stems from the facts that both face tropical cyclones and monsoons aHect global climatic changes. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) signed an agreement with IIT-Kanpur in 2001 on an aerosol monitoring network. Engineers installed equipment in the central Ganges Valley that provides information about aerosol and water vapor over Kanpur and surrounding areas, says principal investigator Ramesh P.Singh The project also helps validate the data from instruments flown on NASA's Terra spacecraft. IIT-Kanpur has been collaborating for nearly 15 years with the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute in Oakland, California, to document major quakes in India. The California center gives financial and technical support to conduct field investigations and publishes reports about them. "The 2001 Bhuj earthquake investigations led to a 400page document describing the genesis and eHects of the earthquake," says liT's C.V.R. Murty. The California institute gives grants to developing countries to support local efforts, build capacity and develop leadership to mitigate the eHects of quakes. The National Institute of Technology in Jalandhar, Punjab, has one such grant. 0

involves studying materials that change shape depending on environmental conditions. Other applications are more down to earth: they involve alloys that dentists use to COlTectteeth and materials cardiologists use to design better stents to remove blocks in arteries. Scientists at lIT-Madras are engaged in basic research to see why some materials undergo extreme expansion or deformation when exposed to heat. The lO-year project is funded by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C.

E

~ ~ ~ 8 A satellite picture of the 1999 Orissa supercyclone (figure a), followed by llT-Delhi computer models showing simulations of rainfall on October 29,30 and 31, the period when the cyclone struck the coaSl. The modelsfairl." accurateLy simulated cloud clusters and predicted rainfall associaled wilh a tropicaL cyclone, says IlT-Delhi's Mohallty, who works with North Carolina State University scienlists.

u.c.

Researchers such as Krishnan Balasubramanian of lIT-Madras have been helping the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio, spot critical flaws in aircraft-say corrosion around the rivets of an aircraft wing-without destroying or breaking the material. The Madras researchers "have been great partners thus far in computational methods," says the lab's 1st Lt. Gary 1. Steffes. For the past two years, IIT-Roorkee has been working with five American universities in understanding reproductive

S. Narayanan, dean of academic research at fiT-Madras.

development in plants, which may allow better manipulation of crops. The study is sponsored by the U.S. National Science Foundation's Plant Genome Research Project. IIT-Roorkee also signed an agreement with the U niversity of Dallas, Texas, for academic exchange and.joint research. Such partnerships particularly give lIT researchers access to equipment that they do not have because of lack of funds, says S. Narayanan, dean of academic research at lIT-Madras. "The research programs are enhanced by such joint efforts and there is also a cultural mix," he says. Most collaborations between American research institutes and the IITs have been the result of individual contacts. But Director Ashok Misra of lIT-Bombay is aiming for more group-to-group collaborations. "I am also very emphatic on a . back-and-forth relationship where U.S. postdocs come and spend time at our institutes," Misra says. "This has started but we want it in a big way." 0


I I

Without Borders The 40,000 liT graduates in the U.S. have helped change perceptions of India as geo-economics changes our lives.

ne of the goals of the alumni of the Indian Institutes of Technology is to turn their alma mater into a household name in the United States, like Harvard, MIT and Stanford. That effort received a fIllip recently when Representative Tom Davis, a Republican from Virginia, introduced legislation in the U.S. Congress to recognize the contributions of Indian Americans to American society, including the economic innovations attributable to lIT graduates. On May 20, hundreds of lIT graduates occupied members' seats in the House of Representatives to listen to a handful of congressmen speak about U.S.-India technological cooperation. Davis, surveying the IITians, joked, "It is unlikely we have ever had this much brainpower in Congress before." Some 40,000 lIT graduates live and work in the United States today, many of them in top positions in industry and academia. "lIT alums help to promote U.s. investments in India" and Indian business in the United States, said Indian

By ASHISH KUMAR SEN

Ambassador Ronen Sen during the lIT 2005 Global Conference: Technology Without Borders, a three-day conference held in May in Bethesda, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. Last year, American companies outsourced $12 billion worth of computer programming jobs, call center work and other business process operations to India. Indian companies are becoming globalized in three areas-manufacturing, services and banking. Geo-economics and technology are making the world flat, theorizes New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. "There is no such thing as an American job," he told the conference. In the next decade, some 3.4 million American jobs could move overseas, according to Forrester Research, a technology research firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts. These developments go hand in hand with the rise of India and China, both of them hungry for new technology. Tapping the leadership qualities of the lIT alumni, Sen said, could "further strengthen the growing partnership between the world's most powerful and technologically advanced democracy and the world's largest and fastest growing democracy." Cooperation between India and the United States in the fields of information technology, defense and biotechnology is

(From left) Fonner Indian Minister Arull Shourie andformer General Electric Co. Chairman Jack Welch with the co-chairmen of the Washington, D.C. llT global conference, Rajat Gupta, a senior partner with McKinsey & Co., and Sudhakar Shenoy, chairman of Information Management Consultants.


likely to step up following the visit by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Washington in July. President George W. Bush is planning to reciprocate the visit. "Bush's visit will be a remarkable celebration, similar to [Richard] Nixon visiting China," said Ron Somers, president of the U.S.-India Business Council. Sen echoed this, saying that Bush views India not just in the narrow perspective of a sub-regional context but as an emerging global power. "In this new economy, the role for IITs will be far greater," said Harvard University President Lawrence Summers. Like his counterparts in other Ivy League universities of the northeastern United States, Summers worried about the restrictions on U.S. visas for foreign students. "We should do everything we can to open our universities to more students from the developing world. ... If they stay in the U.S., they will make a wonderful contribution to our country; if they return, it will build goodwill among nations." Arun Shourie, former minister for communications, information technology and disinvestment, said he regrets that 100,000 professionals emigrate from

States some 900. India churns out barely 50 in this field. To move the IITs toward becoming better known as research centers, President A.PJ. Abdul Kalam commissioned a study by Professor P. Rama Rao. He said IITs will have to focus on four challenges: become a world-class teaching and research institution, attract a broader student population, preserve the best values of the IIT system, and drive the Indian economy. Equally important is the role IITians can play in making borderless technology change the lives of all Indians. Ashok Arun Shourie, former minister for Jhunjhunwala, of IIT-Madras, said the communications, information technology and disinvestment, addressing the IlT 2005 Global world will not be a level playing field Conference: Technology Without Borders in until the people in rural India benefit from Washington, D.C. in May. and participate in the new advancements. "The Internet can empower rural India, India each year. On the other hand, they the key is how soon can we reach 600,000 "have changed the world's perception of villages." India," he said. One technological revolution-the The number of applications to U.S. uni- explosion in the aVailability of telephone versities from graduate students from connections from 2 million in 1981 to 100 Asia has dropped and universities in other million today-has already shown what countries have taken advantage of theSe can be done. Business leaders at the IIT conference restrictions to lure students. At the same time, U.S. businesses and said that India must develop special educational institutions have signed economic regions, and work on its labor agreements with some of the seven IITs to regulations if it hopes to take the next leap promote research and exchange of faculty forward. It must also make investors feel welcome; it has just given the green light and students. A high priority for both educators to attract more foreign investment. K. V. Kamath, chairman of ICICr and the alumni.is strengthening India's graduate education program, considered Bank, praised the positive changes. the backbone of the country's future. "We've built the foundation for opporProfessor Ashok Misra, director of IIT- tunities," he said. "Now we will build Bombay, said, "Students must be aware of the superstructure." 0 knowledge in other parts of the world and teaching standards have to be at par. That About the Author: Ashish Kumar Sen is a is a big challenge." Washington-based journalist working with China produces 2,000 doctorates in The Washington Times. He also contributes to computer science every year, the United The TrilYune and Outlook.


Blacksmith Institute and Eco Friends, an American and an Indian environmental group, work with local governments and neighborhoods to clean up groundwater poisoned by toxic industrial waste in projects that may offer solutions for other polluted places. r Chanda Devi and her family, getting clean, pure water in their house is a distant dream. The family has no access to piped water in their Nauraiakheda slum in Kanpur's Panki industrial area. They depend on water from deep underground. Two years ago, Devi got a 45-meter borehole well dug at her house and installed a motor to pump out the water. But all that the family got for its investment was an orange-yellow, sometimes greenish, cocktail of deadly chemicals. "If we bathe with this water or use it for washing utensils and clothes, we get sick," says Devi. "Rashes appear on our legs and hands. And if somebody mistakenly drinks this water, he or she will start vomiting immediately. Look at the irony. Factories across the road get clean water from the Ganges and we have to consume water polluted by them." Thirty thousand people in Nauraiakheda and several thousand more in other parts of the northern industrial city of Kanpur are victims of one of the worst cases of groundwater pollution in India. In 1997 the Central Pollution Control Board reported that groundwater in several places was contaminated with mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium, many pesticides and hexavalent chromium, whose atoms can unite with up to six other atom groups to form new substances and can cause cancer in humans. The source of all these toxins: Kanpur's numerous tanneries, which use chemicals containing chromium and other heavy metals to tan leather. The alarming level of groundwater contamination in Devi's neighborhood is a result of years of pollution by factories making basic chrome sulfate, a chemical used in tanning. They dumped their toxic sludge in the open. It leached into the ground and finally reached the groundwater, sometimes 100 meters

below. Some industries even injected untreated effluents into the ground. These units have either closed down or shifted operations elsewhere, leaving behind a toxic trail. Nauraiakheda is a classic example of this legacy of pollution. In 2003, government officials found a plume of hexavalent chromium in the water supply of Nauraiakheda, flowing from the site of a closed chemical manufacturing unit where toxic sludge had been dumped a decade ago. The concentration of the chemical was 16.3 milligrams per liter-1 ,630 times the limit set by the World Health Organization. Both the WHO and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency say that when people ingest large amounts of hexavalent chromium, the chemical can cause kidney and liver damage, while skin contact can lead to ulcers. It has also been linked to higher incidence of lung cancer. However, there is a glimmer of hope for Kanpur's pollution victims and perhaps others affected by groundwater pollution, if a project to clean up groundwater in Nauraiakheda succeeds. A consortium of Indian research institutions and the pollution board are spearheading this effort, initiated by the New Yorkbased, nonprofit Blacksmith Institute. Of the $70,000 budget for three years, Blacksmith is providing about $45,000. In 2003, Blacksmith Institute extended its new Polluted Places initiative to India under the aegis of a grant supported by the U.S. Asia Environmental Partnership, which also helped Blacksmith to identify local partners and project sites, including the hexavalent chromium site in Kanpur. The Polluted Places program is designed to locate and clean up the dirtiest and most dangerously polluted sites overlooked by the rest of the world. It defines a "polluted place" as one where pollutants sourced primarily from that point are causing substantial and preventable health problems.


Above: A handpwnp draws yellow-green water in the Shiv Nagar slum in the Panki industrial belt of Kanpur.

Blacksmith has more than 40 projects in about a dozen countries. Selections are made through a process in which communities, local government and voluntary bodies and others nominate a site for clean-up action support. The site must have substantial health problems due to pollution, lack of local clean-up efforts, community interest and capacity to make the clean-up feasible, and a reasonable hope of success. After Blacksmith experts and local coordinators evaluate the sites, the institute launches the projects with the help of local governments and volunteer groups. Blacksmith provides financial, strategic and technical support to organizations and institutions. In Kanpur, Blacksmith first started working with a local volunteer organization, Eco Friends, after its chairman, Richard Fuller, and another expelt, Peter Hosking, visited the city's polluted areas in January 2004. It identified Nauraiakheda and Jajmau for a project with Eco Friends. The idea was to create community awareness on groundwater contamination. While the problem in Nauraiakheda was a result of the direct activity of industries, the problem in Jajmau was different, although the pollution load was equally bad. Jajmau's 350 tanneries are clustered on the banks of the Ganges. In an unusual project, government agencies in the 1990s proposed that treated effluents from the tanneries could be used for farming. The tanneries were supposed to pre-treat their waste to remove chromium and other toxins and then send it to a common plant for final treatment. Finally, this water was to be mixed with treated sewage and released for irrigation through a canal. Farmers of 20 villages downstream use the iITigation water. The project flopped because industries sent nearly untreated waste to the common treatment plant, so the "treated water" for irrigation

Right: Effluents containing toxins show up as neon blue and green as they are released into an open drain from a tannery in the Nauraiakheda area of ÂŤ Kanpur. ~ Right: Supposedly treated tannery effluents produce foam as they are released through an irrigation canal in lajmau near Kanpur.

~ ~ Vi

~ 1'> ~

?o

ff.

still contained chromium, heavy metals and other contaminants, as detected in a series of studies. These chemicals have also leached into groundwater. As part of the Jajmau project, Eco Friends organized meetings and workshops in villages to educate farmers about their groundwater and its disastrous impact. The idea was to sensitize and empower local communities so that they could demand clean water. At the same time, they wrote to national, state and local government authorities. The issue was raised at review meetings of the Ganga Action Support Project and also with the Supreme Court Monjtoring Committee on Hazardous Waste. Residents of Jajmau villages signed petitions to local administrators demanding clean drinking water and action against the polluting industries. "When we started working in the two areas, we found that communities were quite ignorant about the hidden threat of groundwater contamination," says Rakesh K. JaiswaI, executive


A relatively new clean-up method being considered for the vast polluted area around Nauraiakheda, involves inserting columns or sheets of iron into the ground to first block the plume of polluted effluent, then cause the hexavalent chromium to oxidize into a less harmful form before it oozes through the barrier to reach the groundwater.

secretary of Eco Friends. "Now they are aware about the problem but feel helpless. Due to a continued supply of sewage and effluent waters to agricultural fields, people in villages around Jajmau are virtually drinking chemicals and slow poison in the form of groundwater." After working for a year with Eco Friends, Blacksmith realized that the problem in Kanpur was grave and that an action-oriented project was required to demonstrate that groundwater could be cleaned. It got in touch with the pollution board, and soon a remediation project was conceived. Meanwhile, as a follow-up to its 1997 study, the board monitored the groundwater in Nauraiakheda through a network of four test holes to spot chromium pollutants at various levels and determine its concentration and chemical state. The objective of the three-year project is to reverse chromjum pollution and prepare a model for scientific investigation and assessment of this technique for use elsewhere in India. In the first year, groundwater data was collected from 12610cations in the study area. Experts monitored the concentration of heavy metals and other pollutants and 22 pollution indicators at each location. They measured the pre-monsoon water levels at 12 places and made an inventory of how each house uses groundwater. Historical rainfall data for the area was collected from the Indian Meteorological Department and from satellite images provided by the National Remote Sensing Agency in Hyderabad. "All this will give us a validated idea of movement of underground water, pollutants and its inter-relationship with the host environment," says Rajiv Kumar Singh, a scientist at the pollution board's northern zone office in Lucknow. The study area has three zones of groundwater, the middle one being the most polluted. Using groundwater modeling software called Visual Modflow, originally developed by the U.S. Geological Survey, the polluted area has been demarcated and migration pathways of underground pollutants have been plotted. One of the collaborating institutions, the National Geophysical Research Institute at Hyderabad, is developing a mathematical model that will be able to predict direction and rate of the pollution plume, Singh says. In the second phase of the project, different options for cleaning up the underground mess are being evaluated. A conventional way to clean up contaminated soil is to excavate and treat it.

Similarly, polluted groundwater can be pumped up and treated. But in Nauraiakheda the extent of pollution is vast, and the area is inhabited by a large number of people. Yet another option is to use rainwater harvesting techniques to dilute pollutants in the groundwater. Though cost effective, this technique may take several years to produce results. Another option being considered is a relatively new method known as "permeable reactive banier." In this method, iron columns or sheet piles are placed vertically to isolate the pollution plume. When pollutants travel, they come in contact with iron and get oxidized into less hamuul forms. In Naurillakheda, if such barriers are put in place, hexavalent chrorillum would react with iron and be reduced to less harmful trivalent chromium. Bioremediation is yet another method of cleaning up underground pollution. It uses naturally occurring microorganisms with unique biological characteristics, appetites, and metabolisms for waste cleanup. "Bioremediation is one of the options we are likely to tryout. It seems most appropriate for conditions here," says Singh, from the pollution board. "This method can produce results quickly,

Naturally occurring microorganisms consume toxic waste, react with it to reduce its toxicity, or stimulate the growth of other toxin-eating microbes in the soil. This method can produce rapid improvement where people continue to live in the area and use the groundwater.

Ground surface water recycled

g Lrl

::;; ~ ~ z

ยง ~ (/)

E

44

~" SPAN NOVEMBER/DECEMBER

2005

25


given the fact that people continue to live in affected areas and use groundwater there." A sufficiently high concentration of the appropriate microbes can achieve in weeks or months what would normally take nature years to do. This can be done in two ways-either more microbes are introduced directly into the polluted area or substances are added that will stimulate rapid growth of existing microbes in the soil. In Nauraiakheda, the second option is proposed-injecting bio-stimulants that could make existing microflora create conditions under which hexavalent chromium will change its chemical state. Bioremediation has been shown to work in many sites in the United States and elsewhere, as opposed to more traditional methods such as "pump and treat," which is not sustainable, according to Rajesh Srivastava, associate professor in the civil engineering department at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur. Srivastava got his doctorate from the University of Arizona in 1992 and later worked on waste management sites in the United States. One such site at a U.S. Air Force base in Tucson involved the use of chemical agents that act on the surface to clean up soil and groundwater contaminated with trichloroethylene, a solvent used in cleaning mechanical parts of fighter jets. IIT-Kanpur is part of the research team involved in the Kanpur project. two firms for the Kanpur Blacksmith has short-listed cleanup-GZA GeoEnvironmental Inc. based in Norwood, Massachusetts, and the Japanese firm EcoCycie Corporation. It is also asking the Asian Development Bank to fund the remediation. EcoCycle has a specific bio-stimulant for sites of chromium pollution-the "electron donor compound." The compound is based on food or food-grade products and is thus free from synthetic chemicals. The company says this product can stimulate a local microbial consortium that can change hexavalent chromium to trivalent chromium, which gets precipitated. This method can produce results within weeks. "Bacteria in the soil here have become inert over the years," explains Singh. "They need to be activated. Bio-stimulants can do this job." However, other experts have sounded a note of caution. Says Banwari Lal, a scientist at the Energy and Resources Institute in New Delhi, "Such broad spectrum nutlients are not appropriate for reduction of hexavalent chromium to trivalent chromium because they stimulate oxidizing microbes along with reducing microbes. So, chromium three will be reoxidized instantly to chromium six (hexavalent)." Moreover, he says, without full knowledge of indigenous microbe populations and species it is extremely unlikely that off-theshelf products will work. Lal suggests another route for bioremediation of hexavalent chromium. He says specific nutrients should be designed after identifying indigenous microbes that could reduce the chemical. Then, select, fast-multiplying microbes may be grown in the laboratory. Such species can also suppress oxidizing microbes and other inefficient chromate reducers. If required, an immobilizing agent may be added to trivalent chromium to prevent its reoxida-

Polluted Places in India Bhopals and Chernobyls that the world has never heard of-this is how Blacksmith describes sites in its Polluted Places program. In the past two years, more than 100 sites from India have been nominated for cleanup, but only a handful have been selected for further evaluation and considered for remedial projects One such project was to clean up a polluted stretch of the Wah-Umkrah River in Shillong in northeast India. It was carried out by a local group called North East Education and Development Society (NEEDS). The second project is now going on at Kanpur. Blacksmith is also evaluating other sites for support, in Vapi, Ankleshwar, Vadodara, Nandesari (Gujarat), Ranipet, Kodaikanal, Palar (Tamil Nadu), Tangra, Howrah, Durgapur, Aruputo, Picnic Gardens (West Bengal), and sites in Delhi, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Maharashtra and Orissa. "We have an established methodology of identifying and researching toxic sites where human health and livelihood are being substantially affected by pollution," says Promila Sharma, India coordinator of the Polluted Places program. Once such a site is identified, a Blacksmith team conducts an initial assessment and, if intervention is needed, they design an action plan involving local government and community organizations that the institute will support. "We want to collaborate with local governments, research institutes, educational bodies and not just NGOs," says Sharma. The institute would like to support organizations that can carry out actual remediation work, she says tion into the hexavalent form. All this can help convert hexavalent chromium to trivalent chromium and help it stay in that state. There are other concerns as well. Any remediation method may not be sustainable if the source of pollution continues. And this is the biggest worry in Kanpur. Factories located just across the road from residential areas of Nauraiakheda continue to release hazardous effluents into open drains. Sludge is still being dumped in the open at several places, including the backyards of the factories themselves. Unless regulatory agencies and local administrations take urgent steps to stop this onslaught on the environment, the Nauraiakheda project may prove to be an exercise in futility. D About the Author: Dinesh C. Sharma is a science and environment journalist based in New Delhi. He contributes regularly to News.com (U.S.) and The Lancet (U.K.).


The Yuma Desalting Plant, the world's largest reverse-osmosis facility, with a capacity of 88 billion liters a year, hasn't operated since 1993.

"You have to remember, the whole basin was submerged beneath an ocean several million years ago," says the plant's spokesperson, Jack Simes, between bites of his club sandwich at the Yuma Landing Restaurant. That ancient ocean, he explains, left the topsoil here salty and created an impermeable clay hardpan just below it. When irrigation water drains back into the Colorado, it picks up more salt from the soil-and by the time the river gets to Yuma, it's too salty to pour over anything you might want to, say, grow. "The applications for desalination in the West are huge," Simes concludes. In theory, the YDP, as it's known around Yuma, could supply enough purified water to meet nearly two-thirds of Tucson's demand, making it a deep well indeed. In fact, the $250 million facility, which features reverse-osmosis technology and a worldclass research lab, was built to help the U.S. meet its water treaty obligations to Mexico. If it ever begins full-scale operation, it would pump 88 billion liters of water into the Colorado River. But the YDP has never operated at full capacity. It ran at one-third power when it opened briefly in 1992. Eight months later it closed, never to reopen, a victim of flood damage and engineering flaws. Given the current drought, desalination is looking like the future again. Recent advances at the YDP lab, which has remained in operation, are now widely used at desal plants around the world, helping reduce, for example, the price of 1,000 liters of desalted seawater from $5.20 to 50 cents. Putting the plant back online could be a boon for the Arizona economy. "We could produce water at $768 a hectare-foot," says

Sid Wilson, general manager of the Central Arizona Project, a 537-kilometer aqueduct network that supplies water to the state. Wilson is eager to add the YDP to the equation. "I'll tell you what, Las Vegas would snap it up for that price." A high tech plant that makes clean water, and a bone-dry region that desperately needs it; these two realities alone would seem to clinch the case for desalination in Yuma. But that would make for a simple story, and out West, water follows twisting paths and obeys the law of unintended consequences. Factor in a wetland that shouldn't be wet, a fish that loves the desert, and a bird that claps instead of sings, and the prospects for the plant to reopen dim considerably. After lunch, Jack Simes and I drive to the plant, which lies a few miles west of town. We pass fields of cauliflower and broccoli. Industrial-size sprinklers blast water over these crops. It's midafternoon, so most of this water will evaporate before reaching the soil. News of the water crisis evidently travels slowly. After a few minutes we reach the plant, 19 buildings scattered over a 2S-hectare campus. Mexico is just down the road, and the Colorado River-or what's left of it at this point-trickles on the other side of a lettuce field. Proposals to build a desal plant in the Southwest go back 50 years. By the 1960s, agricultural runoff from farms in the region had made the Colorado so salty that Mexican farmers couldn't irrigate their crops. In the dry years, protests raged and famine loomed. Threatening to take their case before the World Court, Mexican politicians pressured their northern neighbor to clean up its mess. The U.S. authorized construction of the desal facility. Ground was broken in 1975, but the YDP was hobbled by budget cuts and took 17 years to complete. By the time it opened in 1992, the region was entering a period of above-normal rainfall. So when the plant was knocked out of commission by a flood in 1993, there was little incentive to restart the operation. At the same time, engineers needed to address a series of modifications and design flaws. They're still at it, says engineer Wayne Wagner, who is giving me the official tour. It covers so much ground we need the plant's Chevy Suburban to get around. A mild, avuncular chap in Dockers and a sweater, Wagner recites facts and figures about the facility as if memorized from years of repetition. Then it occurs to me that at a plant where nothing really happens, giving tours may be Wagner's primary function. Looking at some dry canals, Wagner says, "This is where the water comes out of the plant." He employs the present tense, but it appears to me that this canal hasn't seen moisture since the Miocene era. Next we visit a trio of mammoth, circular tanks. Each measures 56 meters in diameter and is nearly three stories deep. We climb some stairs to a catwalk that extends across the chasm. From here you can see the array of concrete silos, cisterns, channels and hydraulic pumps that make up the plant. Wagner points down into a vat. "See those rakes?" I nod. How could I not? They look like garden tools filched from the Jolly Green Giant. "They sweep all the impurities created by the lime into that central chamber for disposal."


Sand has blown into the dry tank and swirls listlessly around the motionless rakes. I ask him if it's frustrating working at a plant that doesn't run. Wagner looks startled for a moment. "Of course!" he says, more loudly than he means to. He glances at a plant spokesperson standing just out of earshot. "Technically, the plant is in operational readiness." Technically. But in the world of bureaucratic doublespeak, "operational readiness" bears little relation to "ready to operate." Wagner later admits it would take three years for the YDP to ramp up to 100 percent capacity. This doesn't seem to faze Wilson or the other Arizona water managers who want to see the facility resurrected. The challenge, says Wilson, "was to figure out how to run the plant more efficiently, more affordably. Well, they've done that." What he doesn't mention is that the Yuma plant did something else as well. It resurrected a little corner of the Colorado's once glorious, briny terminus, the most biologically diverse river delta on the continent. Getting to the Cienega de Santa Clara isn't easy. After crossing into Mexico just south of Yuma, I have to navigate through the border town of San Luis Rio Colorado. The town gives way to farmland, the road to a deeply rutted dirt track. Then the road vanishes entirely in the surrounding desert. I drive on, hoping for the best. As it turns out, the Cienega is hard to miss. It rises abruptly from the cactus and creosote bush of the Sonoran Desert. Step left and you're in a Roadrunner cartoon; step right and it's Jurassic Park-cattails standing like toothpicks in a box and mile after mile of knee-deep water.

It's a surreal experience to come across 52 square kilometers of Everglades smack in the middle of a Mexican desert, and it was especially shocking to Ed Glenn, a University of Arizona botanist who began visiting the canal terminus in the late 1970s. "At first all this water just formed a big, brackish lake," recalls Glenn. Then one spring day in 1989 while on a desert field trip, he "discovered" the Cienega de Santa Clara. "I pulled up, and here's this wonderful wetland," he recalls. "The cattails had come back, and the birds and the fish, and it became this incredibly unique habitat." Glenn is an unlikely explorer. Pudgy, with smudged glasses and a deliberate, slightly irritable manner, he seems like he'd be more comfortable exploring theorems than uncharted marshes. Yet since he happened on the verdant Cienega in an otherwise desiccated Colorado River Delta, he has become known as the dean of delta scientists-and the YDP's chief antagonist. The plant was built to treat more than 132 billion liters of cruddy, high-saline agricultural runoff per year. But the first step was to placate the Mexican farmers, whose crops were being poisoned by Colorado River water contaminated with runoff from Arizona farms. The fix: Keep the offending runoff out of the river, diverting it from the U.S. side through an 85-kilometer canal into the Mexican deselt. This took care of Mexico's complaints and ended up giving the country a free nature preserve in the process. Decades of "temporary" runoff have turned the Cienega de Santa Clara into a thriving 4,800-hectare marshland.


The wildlife sanctuary never would have survived if the YDP had ever enjoyed more than a brief test run. "Since the plant's not running, all that water keeps flowing into the Cienega," Glenn says. "And every year the plant doesn't run, the wetland gets bigger." After Glenn publicized his discovery, ornithologists, ichthyologists and ecologists came to study the region's burgeoning flora and fauna. "They established pretty quickly that a few endangered species were thriving in the Cienega," notes Glenn with just a hint of triumph. These include the brown pelican; the desert pupfish, remarkable for its ability to survive water temperatures up to 49 degrees Celsius; and the Yuma clapper rail, a wetland bird that looks like a chicken and whose call sounds like someone clapping. The wetland has also become a primary feeding stop [for migrating birds] along the Pacific Flyway. If the YDP is turned on, the water currently going into the Cienega will run through the plant and reemerge as desalted "product water," which will be pumped into the Colorado River.

The Yuma Desalting Plant resurrected a corner of the continent's most diverse river delta. The only liquid to reach the Cienega will be the byproduct, a "brine concentrate" consisting of less than a third of the current flow-and more than double the salt. The Cienega, says Glenn "would cease to exist, at least in its present form." In the early 1990s, Mexican politicians stepped in to make sure this didn't happen. They designated the Cienega as a wildlife preserve-a move hailed by environmentalists and recognized by the United Nations. U.S. policymakers are now outflanked. If Congress OKs restarting the plant, it will offend the environmentalist lobby on both sides of the border; if it doesn't, Arizona will have to continue to supply Mexico with the treatyguaranteed 40,000 hectare-feet of water to make up for the supply that currently runs to the Cienega. This leaves Sid Wilson, head of the Central Arizona Project, sputtering with exasperation: "The bureau created that wetland. It's not even supposed to be there." Not so, says Glenn. The Cienega, he says, is serving as a remjnder of our past. "It's really a sort of time capsule. There used to be 40,000 hectares of wetland like this." The Cienega is closer to an eighth of that size, but it offers science a rare opportunity to examine an ecosystem that already vanished once. Wilson, who argues that human necessity will always trump ecology, has earned himself a slew of enemies in the academic and environmental communities, but no one can dispute his central thesis: If the drought continues, westerners will have to get their water somewhere. On my way out of Yuma I drive through the Wellton-Mohawk

Irrigation and Drainage District, a 259-square-kilometer crescent of fecund growth carved from the surrounding desert. Moving onto back roads, I pass mile after mne of alfalfa, Bermuda grass and lettuce fields. It's a bucolic scene, except for the barren spots that mar the verdant expanses. I get out of the car to investigate. On closer examination, these patches are covered in what looks like a fine dusting of snow. I put a bit of the white powder to my mouth. It's salt, the bugbear of the southwestern farmer. Which raises this question: Why would anyone want to plant anything here? The region suffers from exceptionally poor drainage. Over time, salts collect in the soil and can quickly harm the more sensitive crops, which require extra irrigation. As a result, the drainage wreaked havoc on Mexican crops downstream before the water was diverted into the Cienega. In the 1960s, during the diplomatic impasse with Mexico over this drainage water, U.S. authorities proposed simply buying out the Wellton-Mohawk farmers. But that idea sparked so much outrage among local politicians, business leaders, and farmers that officials changed course and instead settled on the world's largest reverse-osmosis desal plant as the solution. Thirty years on, the YDP hasn't done much more than collect dust, a bad idea whose time has come and, presumably, gone. So last year, the Bureau of Reclamation investigated an alternative: leasing water from the farmers-in effect, paying them not to farm, thus saving water. Today, many farmers would be quite willing to let their fields go fallow for the right price. It turns out that water leasing is where the West is heading, whether the old guard recognizes it or not. "We're moving water from agriculture to other uses," observes Doug Kenney, a University of Colorado water policy specialist and one of the West's foremost experts on water use. "Eventually, economics and common sense will prevail. Tourism and industry bring in more money than farmjng now. In the end the water will follow the money." If it weren't for $19 billion a year in federal subsidies, U.S. agribusiness in the arid West would already have gone the way of the Pony Express [mail distribution system of the 1800s]. That aid, like the YDP itself, is increasingly indefensible. As family farmers go under, the government money flowing to large agribusiness companies could increase. Slashing it would save badly needed dollars in an age of budget deficits, and the resulting competition from abroad could benefit the developing world far more than the billions in aid the U.S. currently sends overseas. Even officials at the YDP privately recognize this logic. Still, the Bureau of Reclamation last summer suspended the waterleasing proposal. "Some of the Arizona folks had a problem with letting the fields go fallow," was all the bureau staffer with knowledge of the pilot program would tell me. Doug Kenney may be right that common sense will eventually prevail. But in western water politics, eventually is a long time away. 0


f you are mystified by the persistence of racism, even among seemingly intelligent people, Jared Diamond has a story for you. Imagine, says the University of California, Los Angeles, biologist, that you lived in the Paleolithic period when small bands of huntergatherers were roaming the world. Usually, each group kept to its own turf. But just suppose, perhaps pushed by hunger or curiosity, you crossed the invisible line marking the limits of your group's territory. "Should you happen to meet an unfamiliar person in the forest, of course you would try to kill him or else to run away," says Diamond, who conducts his fieldwork in the wilds of New Guinea. "Our modem custom of just saying hello and starting a friendly chat would be suicidal." Those early humans who acquired an unconscious, instantaneous way to recognize and classify strangers-and to treat them with great suspicion, or worse-were more likely to live and reproduce. Their children [may have] inherited this instinct, and it spread throughout early human populations. Their evolving brains learned to automatically classify people as either "one of us" or "one of them," says Diamond. Studies suggest that our brains still have this protective programminga psychological need to divide people into groups. Unfortunately, one of the most pernicious examples of this inborn trait, and certainly among the most persistent, is racism. Might we be programmed from birth to hate people with a different skin color? Scientists today are working hard to solve this mystery, and they are coming up with some startling new answers to these questions: why and whom do we hate? While our need to categorize people is inherited, it seems, we may be more innately colorblind than was previously thought. ~ That may seem like a surprising ~ finding, given the color-conscious o~ society we live in. In 21st-century ~ America, most people still view one ~ another through the prism of race. ~ Skin color often determines who's a ~

member of our religious group, our neighborhood, our office clique, our school or social club-and who isn't. The stubborn persistence of racism in modem culture has led social scientists, neurobiologists and evolutionary psychologists to take a hard look at why-with all the differences between humans we could choose to focus on-the human mind seemingly insists on classifying others primarily by race and specifically as white, black or Asian, as studies find. One of those scientists was Mahzarin Banaji, now an experimental psychologist at Harvard, who in the late 1990s, with Anthony Greenwald of the University of Washington, developed the Implicit Association Test, which attempts to lift the curtain on people's unconscious attitudes and feelings about race. The premise of the experiment is that unconscious stereotypes operate without deliberate thought but can powerfully affect behavior, preferences and judgments. The test (online at https:// implicit.harvard. edu/implicit/) measures how quickly people associate positive or negative words ("glorious," "evil," "failure," "love") with a photo of a black face or a white one. The more automatically your mind links "horrible" to a black face or "love" to a white one, the faster you press a key. If the

task requires you to quickly link "failure" to a white face and your mind rebels, your responses will be slower. In the years since Banaji and Greenwald crafted this test, the findings have held steady. About seven out of 10 white people show unconscious racial prejudice, including those who claim to be bias-free. The test has shown that many Americans-especially white and Asian-"have an automatic preference for white over black," as the scientists put it. How automatic? Even an ethnic-sounding name can elicit prejudice. "It is surprisingly easy to get people to develop a false memory that a person named Tyrone is a criminal," Banaji says. In subsequent experiments, however, Banaji found that if our tendency to group people is automatic, it's also highly emotional. Peering inside the gray matter of her subjects, Banaji discovered that when shown photos of black faces, whites who showed unconscious prejudice on the Implicit Association Test had increased activity in the amygdalae, a pair of little, almond-shaped structures deep in the brain that register fear and anger. Interestingly, the subjects didn't have this negative reaction when they viewed faces of well-liked black Americans, such as (comedian) Bill Cosby. Their brain activity was revealing the effect of cultural learning, Banaji suspects. While these negative emotional responses were deeply rooted in the brain, they may not be indelible. "It is only due to the memory of recent historical events that the groups we 'naturally' see are black and white," argues Michael Shermer, whose new book The Science of Good and Evil explores the biological and evolutionary roots of morality and ethical systems. He believes that the racism detected by Banaji's tests reflects something our minds have learned, not something our brains were hard-wired with at birth. There is no reason classification has to be Renowned boxing trainers Lou Duva (behind) and Eddie Futch embrace during a news conference at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in 1995.


Eastern Kentucky's Miranda Eckerle (left) embraces teammate Candis Cook after defeating Southeast Missouri 83-71 in the women's Ohio Valley Conference basketball championship in Nashville, Tennessee, in March 2005.

based on skin color, Shermer notes. Instead, the brain should seize on any characteristic, any marker, that could indicate a distinction between one group and another. "If everyone looked like Tiger Woods," says Shermer, "we'd simply find other ways to divide people up." Perhaps eyebrow shape would then be the dividing characteristic. It's not difficult to fmd real-life examples that support Shermer's theory. Northern Ireland's Catholics hate its Protestants, and vice versa. "Atrocities between Hutu and Tutsi in ~ Rwanda or Serbs and Albanians in ~ Kosovo didn't erupt from recognition ~ of racial differences but rather for ~ religious and political reasons. ~ In fact, people are more likely to ' automatically classify one another by sex and age than they are by race, says psychologist Robert Kurzban of the University of Pennsylvania. Humankind hasn't been out of Africa long enough, he says,

attributed a sentence to the wrong player, their incorrect choice was usually a person of the same race as the player who actually said it. It was as if they were thinking, I don't recall who said it, but it was definitely a white guy. Next, they viewed photos of the same players, but each was wearing either a gray or yellow jersey. Once again, the misattributions fell along color lines-but this time it was the color of the player's jersey, not skin. The volunteers had quickly made the mental switch to classifying people by a more logical sign of a group: the color of their uniforms. "Despite a lifetime's experience of race as a predictor of social alliance, less than four minutes of exposure to an alternate social world was enough to deflate the tendency to categorize by race," the scientists concluded. Race can quickly be overTidden as a factor if people see a more immediate basis for a coalition, such as the color of a team jersey. "The human mind is very flexible," Kurzban says. "It dynamically evaluates situations." So, while it appears that we are hardwired from birth to view the world in terms of "us" versus "them," the evidence shows that we can reprogram our brains to come up with new definitions for who we view as "us" and who we view as "them." One way to stop our brains from perceiving race as a meaningful way to categorize people is to mimic the conditions of these expeliments. Namely, to mix it up at work and play, so "my group" includes people who look different from "me." This has never been easy. But at least we can strive for a society that treats all men and women as equals, knowing there is nothing in the human psyche that makes racism inevitable. 0

Race can be Quickly overridden as f t'f I a ac or I peop e see a more immediate basis for a coalition, such as the color of a team jersey. The human mind is very flexible,

for our brains to evolve the wiring that lets us see race in a way that's as fundamental as whether someone is, say, a young girl or an old man. Thus, linking the origins of racism to early humans could be misleading. "These different groups of early humans almost never came into contact with one another, so there would be little opportunity to evolve a classification system that grouped people by race," Kurzban says. Indeed, they may never have encountered someone of a different race. "In prehistoric times, even our enemies looked like us," Kurzban says. "There was no evolutionary pressure for brains to instantly classify people into 'members of my race' and 'the enemy.' " The latest research in human genetics further weakens the case for innate racial bigotry. Standard racial categories as we define them, more geneticists are concluding, have no biological validity. Yes, there are obviously genetic differences between the smaller groupings called biological populations-say, between a member of the Yoruba tribe of Nigeria and a Lapp from northern

Scandinavia, for instance. But the genetic differences between racial groups of white, black and Asian are less than the differences within anyone of these major groups. This means that you are more genetically similar to many people outside your race than to many of those within it. Kurzban recently conducted a study that offers convincing evidence that race is not a basic classifying factor. He and colleagues at the University of California, Santa Barbara, had 200 volunteers look at 24 photos of basketball players on a computer screen. Each player pictured belonged to one of two teams that had recently brawled, Kurzban told the volunteers, and they were all wearing identical jerseys. Paired with each photo was a sentence that a particular player had uttered during the rumble. The volunteers' test: look at all 24 photos and, as each sentence was flashed on the screen again, recall who said it. When the subjects got it wrong, their mistakes were telling. When they

About the Author: Sharon Begley is the science columnist afThe Wall Street Journal.


'rQR~queville's AInerica gOtthe surprise of my life when, at age 36, I walked into the United States consulate in Montreal to apply for a visa and was told I was a U.S. citizen. I was born and raised in Canada, but because my father was born in the States, I'd unknowingly been a Yank all along. Within a few weeks, I was working in New York City, where the pace was faster, the voices louder and the opportunities greater than in Canada. At first it seemed strange to be competing with my colleague in the next office, rather than being in league with him against management's follies. But soon enough I was enjoying it all, including the rivalry. Still, even after many years, I sometimes felt like a stranger in a strange land. So 1 welcomed Alexis de Tocqueville as a fellow outsider who had also set out to understand Americans. Born 200 years ago, the author of Democracy in America wound up explaining this country better than anyone before or since. He was only 25 and a sort of apprentice judge when he journeyed to America, in 1831, along with a friend, Gustave de Beaumont, a deputy public prosecutor. For nine-and-a-half months, they traveled the nation (with a brief foray into Canada), amazed, he put it in a letter home, at "the quantities of things one does manage to stuff into one's stomach here." They ventured south to New Orleans and as far north as Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Ostensibly, Tocqueville came to study American penitentiaries, which were of great interest to

I

This year marks the bicentennial of the birth of a political commentator whose piquant observations on American gumption and political hypocrisy sound remarkably contemporary.

French prison reformers, but he had in mind a larger agenda, "a great work which will make our reputation someday." He was an indefatigable reporter, asking questions of ordinary workmen, doctors, senators, professors, governors, Daniel Webster, Sam Houston, President Andrew Jackson, exPresident John Quincy Adams and Charles Carroll, the last SurVIVlllg signer of the Declaration of Independence and the richest man in America. Then Tocqueville went home and wrote Democracy in America, an instant bestseller when the first of its two volumes was published in 1835. The title has never been out of print. (He let Beaumont handle the prisons report.) Yet Tocqueville's great work is also, as a critic put it, "one of the world's least-read classics." 1 took that as something of a challenge, and set out to read every word. Tocqueville's perceptions remain breathtaking, such as his analysis of how Americans had come to dominate the transatlantic trade in a few short decades. American ships cost

almost as much to build as European ones, he noted, and American sailors earned much more than their European counterparts. What made the difference was that "the European navigator is cautious about venturing onto the high seas. He sets sail only when the weather is inviting." By contrast, the American "sets sail while the storm still rages" and "often ends in shipwreck, yet no one else plies the seas as rapidly as he does." And while a European will call at several ports on a long voyage, an American sailing from Boston to buy tea in Canton will put into port only once in a two-year voyage. "He has battled constantly with the sea, with disease, and with boredom. But upon his return, he can sell his tea for a penny a pound less than the English merchant." (This passage and others quoted from Democracy in America are from the graceful and lively translation by Arthur Goldhammer, published in 2004 by the Library of America.) The America that Tocqueville discovered was rich in contradictions. "I have often seen Americans make large and

genuine sacrifices to the public good," he observed, "and I have noted on countless occasions that when necessary they almost never fail to lend one another a helping hand." At the same time, he went on, "Americans are taught from birth that they must overcome life's woes and impediments on their own. Social authority makes them mistrustful and anxious, and they rely upon its power only when they cannot do without it." Tocqueville (as a nobleman, his last name, when used alone, was unburdened by the "de" that attaches to, say, the lower-born de Gaulle) was deeply worried about what he called the tyranny of the majority, which "in the United States enjoys immense actual power together with a power of opinion that is almost as great. And once it has made up its mind about a question, there is nothing that can stop it or even slow it long enough to hear the cries of those whom it crushes in passing. "The consequences of this state of affairs are dire and spell danger for the future." It was his best-known insight. Few nations can muster the unity of Americans in times of crisis, as was shown in the aftermath of 9/11. But Tocqueville found another side to that unity. In America, he noted, "the majority erects a formidable barrier around thought. Within the limits thus laid down, the writer is free, but woe unto him who dares to venture beyond those limits ....He must face all sorts of unpleasantness and daily persecution ....ln the end, he gives in, he bends under the


burden of such unremitting effort and retreats into silence, as if he felt remorse for having spoken the truth." (One thinks of the vitriolic attacks on the writer Susan Sontag for suggesting that the 9/11 hijackers were not cowards, and deploring the "unanimity of the sanctimonious, reality-concealing rhetoric spouted by American officials and media commentators.") Indeed, the landscape has perennially been littered with politicians who could attest to the truth of Tocqueville's insight, from Barry Goldwater in 1964 to Howard Dean in 2004. But some things do change: Tocqueville would have been amazed at the blogosphere, where absolutely nobody retreats into silence. Still, to Americans accustomed to celebrating their independence and freedom, it must come as a stinging surprise to read Tocqueville's observation that he knew "of no country where there is in general less independence of mind and true freedom of discussion than in America." Of course, in the l830s, a pro-emancipation visitor might have hesitated to express his views in the U.S. South. But there are places in the United States today where one might hesitate to voice loudly an unpopular opinion; what with today's partisan divide, red-state views are seldom heard in blue states. [This refers to the colors TV channels assign to the Republican and Democratic parties when reporting state-bystate election results.] Like Shakespeare, Tocqueville speaks anew to each geneAn artist s rendition shows Americans at President Andrew Jackson s inaugural ceremony in Washington, D.C., in 1829, just before Alexis de Tocqueville visited the country.

ration-and, as with Shakespeare, support can be found in his pages for a multitude of opinions. During the cold war, Tocqueville's perspicacity was much admired by political conservatives, who cited his ringing declaration that "the American's principal means of action is liberty; the Russian's servitude. "Their points of departure are different, their ways diverse. Yet each seems called by a secret design of Providence some day to sway the destinies of half the globe." But his observations about war would likely cause many liberals (among others) to nod in agreement: "I predict that any warrior prince who may arise in a great democratic nation will find it easier to lead the army to conquest than to make it live in

peace after victory...." A practicing Catholic, Tocqueville was struck by the religious aspect of the United States, which he judged to be far more dutiful than in France. He discussed this with members of all sects, and especially the Roman Catholic clergy, and found that "to a man they assigned primary credit for the peaceful ascendancy of religion in their country to the complete separation of church and state." Thus, he wrote, "As long as a religion rests solely on sentiments that console man in "his misery, it can win the affection of the human race." But Tocqueville also cautioned: "Religion cannot share the material might of those who govern without incurring some of the hatred they inspire."

Sometimes it seems as if Tocqueville's piquant observations on political hypocrisy were about the Washington of today. He dryly noted both the growth of government and calls for its downsizing, and bemoaned the influence of special interests. As he observed, "There are always a host of men .... [who] accept the general principle that the public authorities should not intervene in private affairs, but each of them seeks, as an exception to this rule, help in the affair that is of special concern to him and tries to interest the government in acting in that area while continuing to ask that its actions in other areas be restricted." But despite Tocqueville's awareness of flaws and paradoxes in the U.S. system, Democracy in America is optimistic, admiring, even flattering. "I saw in America more than America," he wrote. "It was the shape of Democracy itself which I saw." Of course, his critics maintain that he is wordy, repetitive and wrong on several countsfor instance, his prediction of a bloody war between blacks and whites in the South. (Though the Civil War. perhaps, came close enough to vindicating him.) But for me, seeing the United States through Tocqueville's eyes illuminated issues-the potential tyranny of the majority-that are more important today than ever. Through that tireless young Frenchman's eyes I at last understood my new homeland, and was able to take the final step toward embracing it 0 without reservation. About the Author: Clell Bryant freelances from his home in Katonah, New York.


armain

America

n a daze after the long haul, I joined the immigration line in San Francisco, patiently waiting for my turn. Each visit, over the past 12 years, had been a brand new experience in itself. I marveled at the systems that regulated entry into the United States. No doubt they had become extremely strict after 9/11, but that was to be expected. My thoughts were interrupted when I heard a loud and clear voice: "Counter number six please." A pretty but tough looking lady peered into my eyes and said: "Passport please." "You have been coming here over the last 12 years. Why have you only now applied to work in the United States?" "Because ma'am, I am 40, and do not want to miss the opportunity of working in this beautiful country ...." "That's a good enough reason," she said with a smile as she stamped my passport, wished me luck and directed me toward customs. As I wheeled my luggage toward the exit, I saw two familiar faces waving-my brother and Peter-Prakash Mirchandani, CEO of a successful consulting company in the San Francisco Bay area, the company that had invited me to the U.S. to work. He was also a common friend, known to a

"That means that you are laid off," he said quite nonchalantly, as if he were telling me about the temperature outside. "Lai off? But I haven't even started wo . b ere." What now? I thought. I was ready jobless within the half hour of stepping foot on the soil of the most illustrious nation in the world! Should I be heading straight for the departure terminal? My sense of disorientation-closing shop back in India, the speed of events over the past week, topped off with a flight of more than 22 hours-seemed to be underscored by the magnitude of what I had heard in the last few minutes and its possible implications.

Onicer lakes Remembers Officer Kenneth Lakes, still on duty at San Francisco International Airport, remembered his encounter with Rajiv Soni in an interview with SPAN, and was almost apologetic about not being able to accept a hug or a drink, "After 9/11, we're all a little paranoid I can't even let the Hispanic ladies I work with hug me and it's just part of their culture," Lakes says, "We have very strict points and security regulations about not getting personally involved with people, Our job is to provide security at the airport, to protect the borders, We also try to treat people right I enjoy helping people, A lot of people from the Middle East and Asia are unsure of how things are here after 9/11 or what's going to happen to them when they come here, We have training about this, not to discriminate because of race or national origin I enjoyed meeting Mr. Soni. He's a nice guy,"


As my brother drove us home, I wondered why Prakash had not told me just 24 hours ago. I would have deferred my coming to the U.S. and waited till the employment opportunity was totally cleared. It was not as if I had never been to the U.S. before or as if I had wanted to come at any cost and for any work. My thoughts were intelTupted when my brother said, "Hope you have kept your money carefully." Money. Money! Oh gosh! Where was my money? My $3,000. The money was in a leather pouch. But where was the pouch? It also had my passport, immigration

and check. An hour-and-a-half later, it was highly unlikely, but still worth a try. We finally located the exact spot in the sprawling lot. The cart was delicately balanced next to the railing. But no pouch. Fifteen minutes later, a family of six came along. Had they seen a pouch in the cart? A father figure came forward with his teenaged son. "Scott discovered a pouch in this cart when he was moving it so that I could park our car and on opening it he saw a lot of money in it, presumably yours. He brought it up to me and we thought it best to hand it over to the security office inside the airport."

papers, international driving license. I looked around in the car frantically for the ten-by-four-inch leather pouch-at first gloomy, then angry, tired, frustrated, helpless. Where on earth was that pouch? As if getting laid off within minutes of arrival in the U.S. was not enough, I had lost all this too, on a late Friday afternoon. We spun around at the next exit on the freeway and raced back to the airport. We two brothers started our search at the first assistance booth. The lady was helpful but several phone calls later gave up. About 90,000 passengers pass through the airpOlt every day. It was like looking for a needle in a haystack. We spent the next hour talking to officials, but it all pointed to my going to the Indian Embassy on Monday to report the lost passport. Maybe, just maybe, I had forgotten the pouch in the luggage cart after we had loaded the luggage into the car. We should go back to where the car had been parked,

How do you locate a security officer, amidst over 1,500 of them, whose name we did not know? Two hours and a myriad counters later, we were face to face with Officer Kenneth Lakes. "Yeah, I did receive a black leather pouch with travel documents, money, etc. But not knowing who it belonged to, I went through the contents. I found a used one-way Lufthansa ticket and I was going to their office to get details." I was amazed. Without thinking, I asked, "Can I hug you?" "No, you cannot," he said matter-of-factly. "Can I buy you a beer?" "No, you cannot," he said. Officer Lakes took us to his desk. I saw my black leather pouch. Everything was intact, the $3,000 too. I tried to offer a small gratuity, but he refused. "I was just doing my job." Running out of options, I finally asked, "How do I say thank you?"

"Just say it, man, just say it," he said. It then occurred to me that I should at least write a note of appreciation to Officer Lakes' supervisor, and so asked for his business card and the name of his supervisor. As we headed back home, I thought of the events in the past five hours. Was I being tested? Whatever had to go wrong with me had! That was it! From now on, it would all be well! I was going to witness the birth of a new world! Over the next few weeks, the challenge was to find ajob, rather a "pay stub." Even as a CPA interned at PricewaterhouseCoopers and highly IT proficient, I couldn't have come at a worse time, in mid-2002, when the entire Bay area was reeling under a nationwide economic recession and a spate of lay-offs. Right from arrival, I had been hanging by a thread. Despite the American job market ignoring me, daily life culture scoffing at me, and the American woman rebuffing me, I plodded on, remembering my father's mantra, "Appreciate first, Understand later." Over a year had gone by. Thanksgiving 2003 was approaching and along with it the cold months in the Bay area. I took out the single suit that I had brought, hoping to get it drycleaned. Rummaging through the pockets, I found a business card. Officer Kenneth Lakes. Geez, I thought. Over a year had passed and I hadn't written the note of appreciation to Lakes' supervisor. I tried to exonerate myself but couldn't. I put the card in my pocket. After several calls I located Officer Lakes, who had moved twice. He recognized me instantly. I took down the contact number of the Chief of U.S. Customs & Security. I was pleasantly surprised to receive a reply from the chief, saying that a note about the good deed had been put into Officer Lakes' personnel file. And Officer Lakes received a letter of appreciation from the head of the Customs and Border Protection force, Commissioner Robert C. 0 Boon~ About the Author: Rajiv Soni, a chartered accountant based in Gurgaon, near New Delhi, is a teacher, writer and consultant. His book, Armaan Inc., is being prepared for publication.


The U.S. National Fish and Wildlife Agency's forensic lab, unique in the world, analyzes more than 5,500 items a year for evidence crucial to solving crimes in global wildlife trading. eggs are packaged as caviar. With backup from the lab, agents run sting operations to catch traffickers in illegally harvested or fraudulently marketed fish eggs. In one case perpetrators were hit with a $10.4 million fine, the largest fine ever imposed in a wildlife crime case. The lab also used DNA to help make a case against a butcher shop in Illinois accused of selling tiger meat. The meat was labeled as lion, which is legal to sell in the United States (tigers are endangered, lions are not), but DNA tests revealed that it was tiger. Over the past decade there's been a boom in the import of exotic animal parts that immigrant communities in the United States traditionally use in ceremonies or for medicinal purposes. African bush meat such as monkey, eaten during rituals, fetches high prices on the black market. To help identify meat from primatesanimals known to carry HIV and other deadly microbes-lab technicians collected DNA samples from the paws of mon-

keys and apes that lived and died in zoos (above). The resulting DNA catalog provides a ready reference to help solve future cases.

Black bears have fallen prey to hunters hoping to cash in on the market for bear gallbladders, which are prized in Asia for, treating a host of ills, from liver disease to hemorrhoids. Hunters typically remove only the gallbladder and leave the rest of the bear-ample evidence for the lab to link a culprit to the crime. Often agents get a tip from informants that, for instance, a hunter has made an illegal kill in a national park. The agents locate the kill and any shell casings left behind (below, shown with a confiscated illegally imported polar bear skin), then ship any remains containing bullets to the lab, where ballistics analysis can lead to the killer. Agents working undercover to snare offenders can find themselves in dicey situations, particularly with cash stakes so high. One agent posing as a hauler of lions and tigers had to watch as his contacts shot the big cats: Unarmed himself, he could have been their next victim. But he managed to get evidence critical to breaking up the criminal ring. "We realize there are dangers in what we do," says agent Santel. "But because of the passion we have for our work, we don't think about it, we just do it." 0 About the Author: David Diamond is a regular contributor to National Geographic.


Five Indian Americans are among Technology Review's under-35 world changers for 2005. Each year, the magazine identifies young entrepreneurs, scientists, artists, technicians and academics who have put fresh ideas into practice, developing innovations that have changed the way we live, or probably will.

ANITA GOEl, 32, whose company, Nanobiosym, is developing devices that could more quickly and accurately identify disease-causing matter in blood samples.

NARASIMHI CHARI, 31, whose Tropos Networks provides low-cost, easily installed mesh networks that offer accessible communications to developing countries, such as his native India.

RAIII MANOHAR. 33, of Cornell University, who has found a way to make computer chips work faster on less power.

ADAM aSHEED,

31,

at GE Global Research, who fundamentally improved an aircraft propulsion system.

SIILADITYA SENGUPTA,

33, of Harvard Medical School, whose tiny polymer spheres within spheres may be able to deliver chemotherapy to cancer cells with fewer side effects.


SPAN: November/December 2005  

Life After The Tsunami; Hope for the Disabled; IIT Connections; Blind Opera-Seeing the World in Their Own Way; Iqbal Negates Handicap Stereo...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you