20,000 water conservation ponds in 125 villages over 19 years — how to make a forest

They had broken free of the vicious cycle of drought/flood—more water meant the forests were getting more dense, which in turn retained even more water.
…they have built about 20,000 chaals in about 125 villages over the past 19 years

Bharati began talking to the women who were left behind. In the first year, they built a chaal SACHCHIDANAND BHARATI Building water tanks to save the foreston a monsoonal channel that had dried up. After the next monsoon, it retained water longer, the surrounding soil remained moist, the forest looked healthier. Over the next five years, Bharati’s Doodhatoli Lok Vikas Sansthan built several chaals in Ufrainkhaal and neighbouring villages, improving their design through trial.

They had broken free of the vicious cycle of drought/flood—more water meant the forests were getting more dense, which in turn retained even more water. The big test came during the drought of 2000-01. Forest fires are a regular feature in the pine plantations that pass for government forests in the region—pine kills all undergrowth and its needles pile up into a tinderbox. The fires did not spread to the regenerated oak forests, which have soil moisture and diversity. Yet there was the fear that the fires will engulf them, so the village women who had built the chaals turned out in numbers to prevent fires in government forests. Three women died in these efforts. The fire was controlled.

Complete story at: http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/nation/how-to-make-a-forest

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Shaheed Bhagat Singh chowk

While authorities have changed the Hindu names of several places in the old quarters of Lahore over the years, the decision to rename a busy roundabout after Bhagat Singh has been hailed by some local residents as a bold move.

District administration chief Noorul Amin Mengal recently directed the City District Government of Lahore (CDGL) to make arrangements for renaming the roundabout after Bhagat Singh within a week.

Pakistani authorities have renamed a roundabout in the eastern city of Lahore after freedom fighter Bhagat Singh to acknowledge his revolutionary spirit and his role in the movement against the erstwhile British rulers of the subcontinent.

The Shadman Chowk of Lahore will now be known as Bhagat Singh Chowk, officials said.

Bhagat Singh was hanged in March 1931 in the erstwhile Lahore Jail, which stood at the spot where the roundabout was built later.

Complete story at: http://news.outlookindia.com/items.aspx?artid=776794

Related Story: http://lahorenama.wordpress.com/2011/03/22/shaheed-bhagat-singh-chowk-by-haroon-khalid/

Afghan burqa opponent wins Swedish rights prize

Afghan human rights activist, ex-minister and burka opponent Sima Samar on Thursday won the Swedish Right Livelihood Award honouring those who work to improve the lives of others.

Samar, 55, was honoured “for her longstanding and courageous dedication to human rights, especially the rights of women, in one of the most complex and dangerous regions in the world,” the jury said in a statement.

Her life

A medical doctor by training, Samar fled to Pakistan in 1984 when her husband disappeared following his arrest by Afghanistan’s communist regime.

She returned in 2001 to become her country’s first minister of women’s affairs, but had to resign after just six months after she criticised sharia law in an interview in Canada.

The complete story at: http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-in-school/afghan-burka-opponent-wins-swedish-rights-prize/article3943629.ece

A retired church priest in Kerala is giving yoga a Christian makeover

Yoga not limited to Hindus

There’s nothing wrong with the efforts of Paraykulath Ninan Paul, a retired priest, to propagate what he describes as “Christian yoga”. “Unification of all in God is the principle of yoga,” says Paul. There’s no single way of describing the essence of yoga. Or limiting it to any one religion – in this case Hinduism. The fact is that despite its Hindu roots, the practice of yoga is essentially transcendental in nature, going beyond its classical definitions and a set of physical exercises. It’s an integrated system of physical and spiritual health that can appeal across religions, attested to by its popularity across the world.

Story at: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-04-10/edit-page/31313675_1_christian-yoga-term-yoga-yogic-asanas

The “Gandhi of Water” Rajendra Singh Is Traveling the Length of the Ganges River Starting 01 Oct

“For me the Ganga is more than a river, it is the lifeblood of my country. For thousands of years she was worshipped and revered, but now she is treated as nothing more than a waste train… Millions come to worship the Ganges, to bathe in her – but their worship is a false one for it has become an empty ritual. Real worship is practiced everyday, not just for ceremonies or bathing days. Most praise the Ganga one minute and throw their waste or sewage the next. This has to stop!” ~ Rajendra Singh

Considered the Gandhi of water issues, Rajendra Singh is an activist about to begin an incredible walk in order to bring attention to India’s water problems. Starting on October 1st at the threatened Goumouk glacier in the Himalayas, the head of the Ganges River, he will travel along the river’s length to its mouth at the Bay of Bengal. Singh is embarking on this 37-day journey for a singular purpose — to illustrate how the health of our fresh water systems determines the health of human populations. He wants to save the Ganges river from pollution, misuse, damming and climate change, and thus save the 600 million people who depend on the river for their water needs. We’ve discussed the Ganges river many times, from saving its dolphins to saving the river itself from salinity and the impacts of climate change.

Complete story at: http://www.treehugger.com/clean-water/why-gandhi-of-water-rajendra-singh-is-traveling-the-length-of-the-ganges-river.html