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WHAT IT TAKES TO CLEAN THE GANGES
@ Jul 24, 2016
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 http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/07/25/what-it-takes-to-clean-the-ganges

LETTER FROM INDIA JULY 25, 2016 ISSUE

More than a billion gallons of waste enter the river every day. Can India’s controversial Prime Minister save it?

By George Black

 331-Clean Ganges.jpg

More than a billion gallons of raw sewage and industrial effluent enter the river every day. The Hindu-nationalist government’s restoration initiative plays directly into India’s charged religious and caste politics.

PHOTOGRAPH BY SIMON NORFOLK / INSTITUTE FOR THE NEW YORKER

The Ganges River begins in the Himalayas, roughly three hundred miles north of Delhi and five miles south of India’s border with Tibet, where it emerges from an ice cave called Gaumukh (the Cow’s Mouth) and is known as the Bhagirathi. Eleven miles downstream, gray-blue with glacial silt, it reaches the small temple town of Gangotri. Pilgrims cluster on the rocky riverbank. Some swallow mouthfuls of the icy water, which they call amrit—nectar. Women in bright saris wade out into the water, filling small plastic flasks to take home. Indians living abroad can buy a bottle of it on Amazon or on eBay for $9.99.

To hundreds of millions of Hindus, in India and around the world, the Ganges is not just a river but also a goddess, Ganga, who was brought down to Earth from her home in the Milky Way by Lord Shiva, flowing through his dreadlocks to break the force of her fall. The sixteenth-century Mogul emperor Akbar called it “the water of immortality,” and insisted on serving it at court. In 1615, Nicholas Withington, one of the earliest English travellers in India, wrote that water from the Ganges “will never stinke, though kepte never so longe, neyther will anye wormes or vermine breede therein.” The myth persists that the river has a self-purifying quality—sometimes ascribed to sulfur springs, or to high levels of natural radioactivity in the Himalayan headwaters, or to the presence of bacteriophages, viruses that can destroy bacteria.

Below Gangotri, the river’s path is one of increasing degradation. Its banks are disfigured by small hydropower stations, some half built, and by diversion tunnels, blasted out of solid rock, that leave miles of the riverbed dry. The towering hydroelectric dam at Tehri, which began operating in 2006, releases a flood or a dribble or nothing at all, depending on the vagaries of the season and the fluctuating demands of the power grid. The first significant human pollution begins at Uttarkashi, seventy miles or so from the source of the river. Like most Indian municipalities, Uttarkashi—a grimy cement-and-cinder-block town of eighteen thousand—has no proper means of disposing of garbage. Instead, the waste is taken to an open dump site, where, after a heavy rain, it washes into the river.

A hundred and twenty miles to the south, at the ancient pilgrimage city of Haridwar, the Ganges enters the plains. This is the starting point for hundreds of miles of irrigation canals built by the British, beginning in the eighteen-forties, after a major famine. What’s left of the river is ill-equipped to cope with the pollution and inefficient use of water for irrigation farther downstream. Below its confluence with the Yamuna River, which is nearly devoid of life after passing through Delhi, the Ganges picks up the effluent from sugar refineries, distilleries, pulp and paper mills, and tanneries, as well as the contaminated agricultural runoff from the great Gangetic Plain, the rice bowl of North India, on which half a billion people depend for their survival.

By the time the river reaches the Bay of Bengal, more than fifteen hundred miles from its source, it has passed through Allahabad, Varanasi, Patna, Kolkata, a hundred smaller towns and cities, and thousands of riverside villages—all lacking sanitation. The Ganges absorbs more than a billion gallons of waste each day, three-quarters of it raw sewage and domestic waste and the rest industrial effluent, and is one of the ten most polluted rivers in the world.

Indian governments have been trying to clean up the Ganges for thirty years. Official estimates of the amount spent on this effort vary widely, from six hundred million dollars to as much as three billion dollars; every attempt has been undone by corruption and apathy. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, elected in May of 2014, is the latest to try. Modi and his Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, or B.J.P., campaigned on promises of transforming India into a prosperous, vibrant modern society, a nation of bullet trains, solar farms, “smart cities,” and transparent government. Central to Modi’s vision is the Clean India Mission—Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. He insists that rapid economic development and raising millions of people out of poverty need not come at the cost of dead rivers and polluted air. So far, however, the most striking feature of his energy policy has been the rapid acceleration of coal mining and of coal-fired power plants. In many cities, the air quality is hazardous, causing half a million premature deaths each year.

Two months after Modi was elected, he announced his most ambitious cleanup initiative: Namami Gange, or Obeisance to the Ganges. As evidence of his capability, Modi points to the western state of Gujarat, where he served as Chief Minister from 2001 to 2014, presiding over impressive economic growth. The Sabarmati River, which flows through Ahmedabad, the largest city in Gujarat, was given an elegant tree-shaded esplanade, where residents now walk their dogs and take the evening air; still, it remains one of the most polluted rivers in India.

Modi is better known for his long association with the radical fringe of Hindu nationalism than for good-government initiatives. Born into a low-caste family (his father sold tea at a railway station), he was just eight years old when he began attending meetings of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the mass organization that is the most aggressive face of Hindu-nationalist ideology. In his twenties, he became a leader of the R.S.S.’s student affiliate, and soon after he befriended another leading activist, Amit Shah, who became his most trusted aide in Gujarat.

In 1990, Modi, already recognized as a future leader of the B.J.P., was one of the main organizers of a protest pilgrimage from Gujarat to the town of Ayodhya, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. According to legend, Ayodhya was the home of the god Rama, and the protesters demanded that a Hindu temple be erected on a site occupied by a sixteenth-century mosque. In 1992, Hindu mobs converged on Ayodhya. They tore down the mosque, prompting nationwide riots, in which two thousand people died. Ten years later, when Modi was Chief Minister of Gujarat, Hindu pilgrims made another visit to Ayodhya. As they were returning, Muslim mobs set their train on fire and fifty-nine people were burned alive. In reprisal, more than a thousand Muslims were killed, while the police stood by. Modi was widely accused of indifference, even of complicity, and, although he was later exonerated by the Supreme Court, he was denied a U.S. visa for a decade.

In 2014, Modi won a landslide election victory. Voters were tired of corruption, and Modi, a charismatic orator and an astute user of social media, promised to eradicate it. The business community clamored for deregulation. Young Indians were desperate for jobs. The Nehru-Gandhi dynasty had exhausted its political appeal, and its choice for prime minister, Rahul Gandhi, the grandson of Indira, was a feeble campaigner, no match for Modi’s dynamism.

For the most part, Modi did not need to appeal to Hindu-nationalist passions. But his promise to clean up the Ganges plays directly into India’s charged religious and caste politics. Two problems are paramount. One is pollution from the tannery industry, which is centered in Kanpur, roughly midway along the river, and is almost entirely Muslim-owned. The other is sewage from Varanasi, two hundred miles downstream—an ancient city, considered the spiritual center of Hinduism, where the river is effectively an open sewer. Both cities are in the state of Uttar Pradesh, which has a population of two hundred and fifteen million and is central to Indian electoral politics. It is also notorious for extreme poverty, rampant corruption, rigid caste divisions, and communal violence, in which most of the victims are Muslims. At least half the mass killings recorded in India in the past quarter century have occurred in Uttar Pradesh.

In 2014, when Modi’s ministers began to discuss the Namami Gange project, the details were vague and contradictory. Naturally, the sewers of Varanasi and the tanneries of Kanpur would receive special attention. The Ganges would become a “hub of spiritual tourism,” but there was also talk of building dams every sixty miles along the busiest stretch of the river, to facilitate the transport of heavy goods. Four battalions of soldiers would be organized into the Ganga Eco-Task Force. Local communities would join the effort.

Modi has spoken of being inspired by the transformations of the Chicago River and of the Thames, but they are barely a tenth the length of the Ganges. Restoring the Rhine, which is half the length, took almost three decades and cost forty-five billion dollars. The budget for Namami Gange is about three billion dollars over five years.

Modi announced the effort in Varanasi. Like the Ganges, Varanasi (formerly Benares) is said to be immune to degradation, although this is hard to reconcile with the physical reality of the place. The city’s labyrinthine alleys are crowded with beggars, widows, and ragged ascetics, corpse bearers and the terminally ill, cows, dogs, monkeys, and motorbikes. A mixture of ornate temples and smoke-shrouded cremation grounds, Varanasi swarms with foreigners drawn by the promise of seeing India at its most exotic—dreadlocked hippies, Israeli kids just released from military service, Japanese tour groups in white surgical masks, stolid American retirees. When I visited, last October, the garbage and the post-monsoon silt lay thick on the ghats, the four-mile stretch of steps and platforms where thousands of pilgrims come each day to take their “holy dip.” The low water at the river’s edge was a clotted soup of dead flowers, plastic bags, feces, and human ashes.

Cylindrical towers, one emblazoned with an image of Shiva, stood at intervals along the riverfront—sewage-pumping stations that are designed to protect the most sensitive expanse of the bathing ghats, from Assi Ghat, in the south, to Raj Ghat, in the north. R. K. Dwivedi, a stout, sixty-four-year-old man who was in charge of the treatment plants, told me that the pumping stations, which were built in the nineteen-seventies, had recently been upgraded. But less than a third of the sewage that is generated by the 1.5 million people of Varanasi is treated; the rest goes directly into the river.

“From Assi Ghat to Raj Ghat, you will find almost nil flow coming to Ganga,” Dwivedi said. I pointed out that the Assi River, a thirty-foot-wide drainage channel that flows into the Ganges just upstream of Assi Ghat, bypasses the pumping stations and pours raw sewage into the river. Dwivedi said that there was a comprehensive plan to install a sewerage system in the newer, northern half of Varanasi. But the engineers were still struggling with the challenge of laying sewer lines under the tortuous lanes of the old city—a problem that defied the efforts of Dwivedi’s predecessors all the way back to the days of the Raj.

The first concerted attempt to clean the Ganges began in 1986, when Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi launched the initial phase of what he called the Ganga Action Plan. He made the announcement on the ghats of Varanasi and focussed on the city’s sewers and the tanneries of Kanpur. The effort was haphazard. Thirty-five sewage-treatment plants were built in the three most populous states along the river—Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and West Bengal—but their capacity was based on the population at the time, and they quickly became obsolete. Moreover, although the central government paid for the plants, municipalities were left to operate them, and often failed to pay the wages or the electricity bills to keep them running.

In 1993, under Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao, new treatment plants and other pollution-abatement projects were added on several of the river’s larger tributaries. This phase was followed by the creation, in 2009, of the National Ganga River Basin Authority, by the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. For the next two years, the cleanup was directed by Jairam Ramesh, the environment minister. Ramesh, who is now an opposition member of Parliament, is in his early sixties, with a head of thick gray hair. In many respects, he epitomizes the old Congress Party élite that Modi detests: cosmopolitan, fluent in English, Western-educated, with graduate studies at Carnegie Mellon and M.I.T.

Ramesh told me that he had taken a more comprehensive view of the problem than his predecessors. The unfinished hydropower projects I’d seen in the Himalayas were the result of a Supreme Court decision, which he had strongly supported, to halt construction in the ecologically sensitive headwaters of the river. Ramesh also ordered that the next generation of sewage-treatment plants be based on population estimates for 2025. The central government, in addition to funding plant construction, would bear seventy per cent of the operating and management costs for five years. Several new treatment plants will become operative during Modi’s term, and he will likely take credit for them. Ramesh added that the Prime Minister’s vow to “build more toilets than temples” was his own slogan in 2011. “And Modi attacked me for it,” Ramesh said. “He is shameless.”

I asked Ramesh if he saw anything in the Namami Gange plan that was new. Only one thing, he said: the addition of Hindutva, the ideology of “Hindu-ness,” which had cursed India with a poisonous history of communal strife.

As his parliamentary constituency, Modi chose Varanasi. “I feel Ma Ganga”—Mother Ganges—“has called me to Varanasi,” he said in 2014. The idea came from Amit Shah, Modi’s campaign manager in Uttar Pradesh and former aide in Gujarat. Uttar Pradesh epitomizes the impoverished heartland of Hindu nationalism, and Shah was given the job of delivering the state to the B.J.P. He is a brilliant and ruthless strategist, and it was an ugly campaign. Modi attacked Arvind Kejriwal, his opponent in Varanasi, as “an agent of Pakistan”—an incendiary charge.

Shah, who in 2013 had reiterated the call for a Rama temple to be built on the site of the demolished mosque in Ayodhya, made no effort to court Muslim voters. Instead, he concentrated on maximizing turnout among lower-caste Hindus, deploying thousands of young R.S.S. volunteers in an unprecedented door-to-door campaign. In the end, Modi took seventy-one of Uttar Pradesh’s eighty parliamentary seats, enough to give him an absolute majority in the lower house of Parliament. Shah was appointed president of the B.J.P.

After this divisive campaign, it was noteworthy that Modi chose Uma Bharti to head a newly created Ministry of Water Resources, River Development, and Ganga Rejuvenation. Bharti is often referred to as a sadhvi, the female equivalent of a sadhu, or holy man, and has been a controversial figure throughout her career. A fiery Hindu nationalist, she was a prominent leader of the militants who tore down the mosque in Ayodhya in 1992 and still faces six criminal charges in the Uttar Pradesh courts, including for rioting, unlawful assembly, and “statements intended to cause public mischief.” In a separate case, now before the Supreme Court, she is charged with criminal conspiracy. (Such prosecutions of powerful politicians almost never result in a conviction.)

In 2004, Bharti told reporters that the demolition of what she called “the disputed structure” in Ayodhya was “a victory for the Hindu society.” Later, when an official commission of inquiry accused her of inciting the mob violence, she denied calling for the demolition of the mosque but said, “I am not apologetic at all. I am willing to be hanged for my role.” (Neither Modi nor Bharti agreed to requests for an interview.)

The Hindu nationalists I spoke with in Varanasi—public officials, businessmen, priests, veteran R.S.S. activists—dismissed any criticism of Bharti or Modi. One evening, I climbed a steep flight of steps from the ghats to the tiny Atma Veereshwar Temple, where I met Ravindra Sand, a Saraswat Brahmin priest who is deeply engaged in the religious traditions of Varanasi and the river. He told me, “You can call Modi a rightist, a fundamentalist, an extremist, whatever you want.” What really mattered, he said, was the passion and faith Modi was bringing to the monumental challenges facing India. “He is honest like anything. He sleeps three hours a night. I pray to God for Modi to be the P.M. of India for the next decade, at least.”

When I mentioned the destruction of the mosque in Ayodhya and the massacre of Muslims in Gujarat, Sand looked at me as if I were missing the point. “Should I be honest?” he said. “I do not like Muslims at all.” Modi felt the same way, he added. Ayodhya was the home of Lord Rama, and the Muslims had been the initial aggressors in the Gujarat incident. “If a person can slap you once, and I reply to him with four slaps, you are going to blame me for the fighting? It is not correct. I am sorry to say, these Muslims are not at all comfortable anywhere.”

Such views are expressed openly by mainstream B.J.P. supporters in Uttar Pradesh. “Modi is a devotee—he is determined,” Ramgopal Mohley, the mayor of Varanasi, told me. Namami Gange would leave the ghats spotless; garbage would be trucked to a new waste-to-energy plant; discarded flowers from the cremation grounds would be turned into incense. Like Modi, Mohley had travelled to Japan to scout out ideas in Kyoto, which is home to seventeen unesco World Heritage Sites. Like Varanasi, he said, “Kyoto is also a city of narrow lanes and temples. Under their lanes, there are subway lines. Over the lanes, there are flyovers.” He conceded that Varanasi had more lanes and more temples—and, of course, India is not Japan.

I asked Mohley what he thought of Uma Bharti’s appointment. “Everyone loves Uma Bharti,” he said. He declined to say whether Muslims might feel differently, steering the conversation back toward Bharti’s plans for the river. “By October of 2016, you will start seeing the cleanness, up to twenty per cent. In another year, by 2017, you will start seeing the real cleaning.

“Umaji,” he added, using the Hindi honorific, “has said that if Ganga is not cleaned in three years’ time she might undertake samadhi.” Samadhi is commonly defined as a state of deep, spiritual concentration, leading to a sense of oneness with the universe. For some ascetics, my translator added, it involved climbing into a ditch and burying oneself alive.

The next state-government elections in Uttar Pradesh will take place in mid-2017. Modi’s national victory gave him control of the lower house of Parliament, but he does not control the upper house, which is largely elected by state legislatures. Uttar Pradesh is currently ruled by the Samajwadi Party, which has heavy Muslim support.

Modi and Amit Shah launched the campaign on June 13th in Allahabad, at the sacred confluence of the Ganges and the Yamuna. The preceding weeks had seen a series of violent skirmishes in the town of Kairana, in western Uttar Pradesh, which evoked unsettling memories of India’s last serious outbreak of communal violence, in 2013. Sixty-five people died on that occasion, and thousands of Muslims sought refuge in Kairana. Now the B.J.P.’s member of Parliament for Kairana claimed that hundreds of Hindus had fled, fearing for their lives. The charge was subsequently discredited, but Shah seized on it in his speech in Allahabad, warning of a mass exodus of Hindus if the Samajwadi Party retained power.

Three weeks later, on July 5th, Modi appointed three new ministers from Uttar Pradesh to his cabinet, a move generally interpreted as an appeal to caste-based voting blocs in next year’s elections. One is a Brahmin, one a member of the “other backward castes,” and the third a dalit (the term that has replaced “untouchable”).

Kanpur, with a population of more than three million, is the largest city in Uttar Pradesh and a microcosm of everything that ails urban India. The British once called it “the Manchester of the East,” for its booming textile mills, but these have gone into steady decline, replaced by tanneries, one of the most polluting industries in the world. As in Varanasi, about a fifth of Kanpur’s population is Muslim, but Muslims wield greater political influence here, because the city’s tanneries, nearly all Muslim-owned, bring in more than a billion dollars a year in export earnings.

One muggy afternoon in Kanpur, I went down to the Massacre Ghat, which is named for three hundred British women and children who were killed there in 1857, during a rebellion against the reign of the British East India Company, referred to locally as the First War of Independence. The river was a hundred yards from the steps, across a bleak expanse of silt. Raw sewage leaked onto the beach from a drainage channel. Cut off from the river, it had collected in a stagnant, bubbling pool. Groups of children were playing in the shallows of the river, and women clustered in circles at the water’s edge, preparing offerings of coconuts, fruit, and marigold garlands.

Kanpur has four hundred and two registered tanneries, which discharge more than two-thirds of their waste into the river. Most are immediately downstream from the Massacre Ghat, in a Muslim neighborhood called Jajmau. In deference to Hindu sensitivities, the slaughter of cows is illegal in Uttar Pradesh. Most of the hides that reach Kanpur’s tanneries are from water buffalo; the small number of cowhides are either imported or the result of natural death or roadkill.

Tannery owners in both the poorest and the most lucrative parts of the industry complained bitterly to me that they had been singled out for persecution because they were Muslim. “From the government side, there is nothing but trouble,” Hafizurrahman, the owner of the small Hafizurrahman Tannery, in Jajmau, told me. Hafizurrahman, who goes by only one name, has been the president of the Small Tanners Association since 1987; his tannery works with offcuts that are rejected by larger enterprises. A soft-spoken elderly man with a white beard and a suède porkpie hat, he works out of a windowless shed with rough plaster walls. When I met him, flop-eared goats and quarrelsome geese were rooting around on the floor, and the yard was strewn with pieces of dried rawhide that would be turned into chew toys for dogs. A skinny teen-age boy, bare to the waist and glistening with sweat, squelched around in a brick-lined pit, sorting pieces of “wet blue,” tinged that color from processing with highly toxic chromium salts, which leaves the leather more supple than the older, vegetable-processing method.

Hafizurrahman conceded that the tanneries do foul the Ganges, but said that the real culprits are corrupt state and city authorities. In 1994, when the city government opened a central plant to treat the tannery waste, tannery owners had to contribute part of the cost. Then the construction budget tripled and, with it, their contribution. “There were only a hundred and seventy-five tanneries at that time,” he said. “But then another two hundred and twenty-seven came up—and the government asked them to pay again. But it never upgraded the plant. They just took the money.”

In 2014, the Council on Foreign Relations named India’s judiciary, police, and political parties the three most corrupt institutions in the country. Local officials commonly skim off a substantial percentage of the fee paid to private contractors working on public-service projects, such as water supply, electricity, and sewage treatment. “It’s almost legal,” Rakesh Jaiswal, the head of EcoFriends, a small environmental group in Kanpur, said. “If it’s thirty or forty per cent, it’s not corruption—it’s more like a right. Sometimes all the money is pocketed by the authorities, a hundred per cent, and the work takes place only on paper.” I asked if things had improved under Modi, and he shook his head. “Not even one per cent has changed,” he said.

Taj Alam, the president of the Uttar Pradesh Leather Industry Association, had another complaint. Alam’s tannery, Kings International, makes high-end saddlery for export; situated in Unnao, a small town a dozen miles from Kanpur, it is surrounded by manicured gardens and walls draped with bougainvillea. In his ornate, air-conditioned office, Alam noted that the government shuts down the tanneries each year, sometimes for several weeks, to avoid polluting the river during India’s greatest religious celebration, the Hindu bathing festival at Allahabad, a hundred and thirty miles downstream. This costs the industry tens of millions of dollars, Alam said. “But you have ten million people shitting in the river, urinating there, throwing stuff on the ghats. The tanning sector is maybe 99.99 per cent Muslim. Tell me, has the government imposed any treatment-plant order on any other industry?”

Alam told me that he was worried about next year’s state elections. “If there’s a B.J.P. state government, they can do whatever they want,” he said. “When someone has an absolute majority, it can be misused. And it is being misused.”

Cleaning up the tanneries of Kanpur has proved just as intractable a problem as cleaning up the sewers of Varanasi. I spent a day in the tannery district with Rakesh Jaiswal, the head of EcoFriends, touring the evidence. Jaiswal, who founded the organization in 1993, is in his late fifties, and has silvery hair and a courtly manner. We stopped at a cleared plot of land about a quarter of a mile from the river, where the detritus of the leather industry was heaped in large piles. Some were offcuts of wet blue. Others were made up of scraps of hide with hair and bits of flesh still attached, surrounded by clouds of buzzing flies. A laborer was hacking at the muck with a three-tined pitchfork. When he was done, it would be sold to make chicken feed and glue. Nearby, an open drain carried a stream of tannery waste down a gentle slope to the Ganges. The odor suggested a mixture of decomposing animal matter, battery acid, and burned hair.

 In 1998, Jaiswal brought a lawsuit against the central government and a number of polluting industries, and a hundred and twenty-seven tanneries were closed. Many were allowed to reopen after installing a primary-treatment plant, but Jaiswal told me that the levels of chromium pollution in tannery wastewater were still as much as eighty times above the legal limit, suggesting that the plant owners were not spending the money to operate them, and that the new regulations were only spottily enforced. From the tanneries, the wastewater is pumped to a central treatment facility, which was built in 1994. At the plant, sewage and tannery waste are combined in a ratio of three to one. After treatment, the mixture is used for irrigation. The plant handles nine million litres of tannery waste a day, barely a third of what the industry generates. When I asked the project engineer why the plant had never been upgraded, he shrugged.

Later, I drove with Jaiswal to the outskirts of Kanpur, to see the irrigation canal. It ran along an elevated berm where workers had spread out hides to dry in the sun. The treated mixture of sewage and tannery waste came gushing out of two rusted outflow pipes and made its way down the canal at a fair clip. In 1999, Jaiswal conducted a study of contamination in the villages that were using this water for irrigation; his samples revealed dangerous levels of chromium in agricultural produce and in milk. I asked Jaiswal if the situation had improved since then. “The quality of the water is the same,” he said.

The success of Modi’s cleanup effort will ultimately depend not on Uma Bharti, or even on Modi, but on less visible bureaucrats such as Shashi Shekhar, the water-resources secretary in Bharti’s ministry, who is charged with carrying out Namami Gange. Shekhar, who is in his late fifties, was trained as an earth scientist. Before assuming his current post, last year, he was the head of the Central Pollution Control Board, a national agency that is respected for its professionalism but is frequently unable to enforce the standards that it sets, because the state-level agencies responsible for meeting them are typically corrupt or incompetent.

When I went to see Shekhar in his office in New Delhi last fall, he walked me through a PowerPoint presentation that he was about to deliver to the cabinet. It served as a reminder that Modi is not only an ideologue but a demanding chief executive. In 2015, India recorded a growth rate of 7.5 per cent, overtaking China. In September, during a weekend visit to Silicon Valley, Modi won commitments from the C.E.O.s of Google and Microsoft—Sundar Pichai and Satya Nadella, respectively, both Indian-born—to help bring Internet access to villages and to install high-speed Wi-Fi in the country’s railway stations. (India has the world’s second-largest Internet market but the slowest average connection speeds in Asia.) He has also introduced programs designed to make the government more accountable to the public, such as pragati, a videoconference platform where Modi grills government officials on citizens’ complaints about bureaucracy, corruption, delays in executing public-works projects, and other issues.

“The P.M. is very particular about making the system efficient, accountable, and sustainable,” Shekhar said. He acknowledged that the cleanup campaign had got off to a slow start, but said that his ministry was setting a series of deadlines that would soon begin to show tangible results. He had been in Kanpur just after I left, and he said there was now a more coherent plan for cleaning up the city’s tanning industry. This included an order that each tannery install sensors to measure its discharge. Several lawsuits are also under way, including one before the Supreme Court, that could close down tanneries that exceed official pollution limits—although, as Rakesh Jaiswal noted, this has been done before, to little lasting effect.

Shekhar had also proposed a “paradigm shift” in the approach to sewage treatment. Despite the efforts of the previous government, sixty per cent of the treatment plants along the river were still either shut down or not operating to capacity, and ninety per cent failed to meet prescribed standards. Too much responsibility remained in the hands of corrupt local officials and contractors. Now the contractors would be paid only after they’d done the work. Otherwise, Shekhar said, “we found that the fellow does not put his skin into it.”

Major corporations had agreed to clean the surface of the river with trash-skimming machines and booms. The Tata Group, India’s largest conglomerate, would take on the stretch of river in Varanasi. Shekhar also planned to build communal toilets in some of the poorest riverside villages. Women were especially keen on this idea, he said, since, for privacy, they customarily go out into the fields in the pre-dawn dark or after the evening meal, when they are vulnerable to snakebite and sexual assault.

Some elements of the cleanup shouldn’t be difficult to execute. Sewage-treatment plants that are already under construction will be completed. Recently, Shekhar e-mailed me to say that work on cleaning the ghats in Varanasi, Kanpur, and Allahabad had begun on schedule; for a company with Tata’s resources, this is not a particularly challenging assignment. Shekhar also said that the government had spelled out the terms of what it called a “hybrid annuity” plan for payments to contractors working on the new sewage-treatment plants and other public-works projects. But will tinkering with financial incentives truly reduce bureaucracy and corruption, especially in parts of the country where state authorities aren’t under the control of Modi’s political party?

Modi’s greatest asset may be his conviction that he can inspire change through sheer dynamism. But this may also be his biggest liability. “The expectation is so huge,” Shekhar said. “Even bureaucrats have the perception of him as Superman.”

Shekhar acknowledged that Namami Gange would not fully restore the river. The hydropower dam at Tehri would remain, as would the nineteenth-century diversion canals. In lower stretches of the river, where the flow is already severely depleted, it will take decades to address the inefficient use of water for irrigation. Even so, he said, “never in the past has a government initiated a project of this magnitude. I am putting myself under great pressure as far as targets are concerned. But if you do not see high, you do not reach midway.”

Early one morning in Varanasi, I went down to Assi Ghat to meet Navneet Raman, the chairman of the Benares Cultural Foundation and the scion of a family that traces its ancestry back to the finance minister of a sixteenth-century Afghan king. Raman is an environmentalist on a modest scale, planting trees and offering to compost the flowers left by worshippers at the Golden Temple, the most important temple in the city—an offer that the priests had declined.

We hailed a boatman to row us across to the east bank of the Ganges. It is considered to be an inauspicious place; anyone unlucky enough to die there will be reincarnated as an ass. As we pulled away from the steps, the rising sun flooded the curving waterfront of ghats, temples, and palaces. When we arrived at the other side, Raman reached into a bag and scooped out a handful of shiny purple seeds the size of pistachios. They were seeds of the tropical almond, Terminalia catappa, and would grow into what is known locally as “the sewage tree,” because it can filter heavy metals and other pollutants out of standing water. We walked along a narrow strip of scrubland, above the flood line, scattering the seeds left and right.

“Most people come to Benares to pay last respects to the memory of their near and dear ones who have passed away,” Raman said. “So I thought that on this bank of the river we could make a forest of remembrance. This is my guerrilla warfare. I am not doing it for Mr. Modi.” Raman imagined leafy gardens and walkways, and benches where families could sit and look across the river at the beauty of the temples and the ghats. But he acknowledged that this vision lay far in the future.

I asked him if he ever grew discouraged by the slow pace of change. He shrugged and said that all he could do was place his trust in Shiva. “India is a land of discouragement,” he said. “If you’re not discouraged by the harsh summers, then you are discouraged by the cow eating your plant, or the motorbike or tractor or car that is running over your plant, or the neighbor who is plucking the leaves from it just for fun as he is going by. If you can’t deal with discouragement, India has no place for you.”

Reporting for this piece was facilitated by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

George Black is writing a book on the history and the culture of the Ganges. MORE

This article appears in other versions of the July 25, 2016, issue, with the headline “Purifying the Goddess.”

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Reports
Parth Bhalara (Ceramic 2014) Fellow at Teach for India, helping school children
@ Jul 17, 2016
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 We are pleased to publish the profile of our alumnus, Parth Bhalara (Ceramic Engineering 2014), who is tirelessly working for the upliftment of poor school children. He is working as Fellow at Teach for India organization. To improve the facility at Manglam Convent School, Ahmedabad, he campaigned for and received donations for Rs. 3 lakhs.

Those who wish to donate for “Teach for India” organization can visit the funding site: https://www.ketto.org/helpmcs.

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About Parth Bhalara

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(Parth Bhalara)

Parth can be contacted at:

bhalara.pdharamshibhai.cer10@iitbhu.ac.in; parthbhalara@gmail.com;

parth.bhalara2015@teachforindia.org

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Profile of Parth Bhalara (by Parth Bhalara)

I completed my B. Tech in Ceramic Engineering in 2014. I always wanted to pursue research for some cause creating a product that can help us to solve any socio-environmental problem. For the same, when I was in my college I interned with DIAT-DRDO and did research on water filtration methods and studied about present state of art in this field which cures some of the elementary problems of the environmental degradation. I along with my team published 3 international papers and also filled an Indian patent. I also received 2014 IIT BHU Student Academic Award for the same.

But when we reflected, we found that we designed a product with our perspective and not of the people who needs the same. So after a Design thinking meeting I decided to strengthen my understanding of the communities and how they operate. I also felt that all the problems of the universe wouldn't be in existence if everyone was aware in advance. So that comes from Education-Teaching. So finally I was ready with 2 parameters that are Teaching and Community. That's why TFI!!!

Here at Teach for India, I work as an Educator to 35 curious 4th graders. My school, Manglam Convent School, is located in Kubernagar, Ahmedabad; a cramped slum of migrants. Apart from teaching them, I also work with community, parents & school to make sure we together combined can create an eco-system that can push kids to create their own learning pathways without worrying about other external factors like finances and resources. My job revolves around giving this set of kids the excellent education which not only talks about academics but also instills Values & Mindsets and Access & Exposure. For me it’s a journey where we grow symbiotically each day. My vision aligns with TFI as “One day all children will attain an excellent education”

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Parth Bhalara in LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/parthbhalara

Parth Bhalara in Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/ParthBhalara

Parth Bhalara in Researchgate:

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Parth_Bhalara

Parth Bhalara in Google-Scholar:

https://scholar.google.com/citations?hl=en&user=c9I-n-YAAAAJ

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About Manglam Convent School project

Manglam Convent School is located in Kubernagar, Ahmedabad, a cramped slum of migrants. It was established by Bhadauria Education and charitable trust who owns the Chali. They constructed the school with a vision that every kid of the community deserves education. As most of the members of this region are illiterate, they are unaware about the importance of education. They want their kids to just work as they do and are hopeless about their future. Majority of the community has a huge problem of alcoholism in their family, so domestic violence is something that they are well aware of.

My kids dream to become actors, bankers, pilots, soldiers, scientists etc. and the most amazing part about their ambition is that they do not want to run away from the problems that exist there, instead they want to solve it. This is why I call them “Leaders” because it needs a great deal of belief and courage to have great ambition, given the current scenario of their communities. They have their values, ambitions, and goals ready, I am just acting as a guide to help them reach there and I want to do it with the best resources possible because they deserve it.

So for the same, I started fundraising for resources in my very-first year. I approached my close relatives and friends for their support and I got basic things from them, which were missing in my school and classroom.

After my first year, I decided to go for crowdfunding for my cause and I received amazing support from all the members of my family and my alma-mater IITBHU. From my juniors to 80’s alumni, I received excellent support. Through this fund-raising, many of my friends got awareness about the TFI project and a lot of them also applied and joined TFI this year.

So far from the funds, we have collected different basic and modern utilities for school to boost the capabilities of our students.  

To know what’s happening inside my school and classroom check the below Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/manglamconventschool

Also check our documentary below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOy64gILbew

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About Teach for India

At Teach For India, each one of us feels lucky. Incredibly lucky. We understand that it is just a matter of chance that we are where we are today. We didn't choose the family that we were born into, or choose the fact that our parents could afford to give us quality education. Every time we make a choice, we feel lucky. However, we cannot help but think …what if? What if these choices weren't available to us?

It is this thought that makes us work towards that one day when every child in India will attain an excellent education. The family or the demographics that a child is born into should not determine his or her destiny. We understand the importance of education but more importantly, we understand the value of each of those 320 million lives and the potential in every one of them. Imagine 320 million astronauts, or 320 million scientists. Imagine 320 million change-makers driving India forward. That's what we're working towards - A day when every child gets the opportunity to attain an excellent education. A day when we can empower every human being with choice. Because that's what every child deserves. That's what India deserves.

BEGINNINGS

After having served at Akanksha as Founding member and CEO for Akanksha for about 20 years, Shaheen Mistri, met with Wendy Kopp, CEO and Founder of Teach For America to discuss the feasibility of adapting the Teach For America's model to the Indian context. After a twelve-week study, launched by McKinsey and Company turned out favorably, Teach To Lead was formally established in 2008. Teach To Lead is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to create a movement of leaders who will work to eliminate educational inequity in the country.

Teach For India, a project of Teach To Lead, is a nationwide movement of outstanding college graduates and young professionals who will commit two-years to teach full-time in under resourced schools and who will become lifelong leaders working from within various sectors towards the pursuit of equity in education.

In June 2009, we placed our first cohort of Fellows in low-income municipal and private schools in Pune and Mumbai.

Today, Teach For India is in 7 cities - Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai, Ahmedabad and Bengaluru. We have a total of 910 Fellows and 660 Alumni working towards eliminating educational inequity.

OUR VISION

One day all children will attain an excellent education.

OUR MISSION

Building a movement of leaders to eliminate educational inequity.

INDIA’S EDUCATION CRISIS

In India today, 4% of our children never start school. 58% don’t complete primary schools. And 90% don’t complete school. At Teach For India, the fact that only 10% of our children go on to college both saddens and angers us.

Teach For India exists because of a deep belief that every child can and must attain an excellent education. Teach For India exists to prove that no child’s demographics should determine his or her destiny. To us, the end of educational inequity is the freedom for all children to have the opportunity to reach their potential. And the day that all children reach their potential is the day that India reaches her potential.

Teach For India believes that that day will come in our lifetime.

Teach For India believes that it will take a movement of leaders with the idealism, belief, skills and commitment to actualize this vision. We are committed to finding, developing and supporting India’s brightest, most promising leaders for this to happen.

WHAT WE DO

4% of our children never start school.

This doesn't seem like a big number, does it? Think again.

For us at Teach For India every single child matters. We believe that every child can and must attain an excellent education. In order to achieve this, we need a movement of leaders across all sectors that are committed to, and will work towards, ending educational inequity in our country. In order to achieve this, Teach For India believes in a two part Theory of Change -

The short term theory of change includes the Fellowship - Teach For India recruits India's most promising college graduates and high performing young professionals to serve as full-time teachers in low-income schools for two years. Fellows work tirelessly to bridge the immense gaps their children face, putting their students on a fundamentally different life path. Through the Teaching as Leadership framework, Teach For India staff provide training and support to Fellows so that they can employ innovative teaching strategies to maximize their effectiveness in the classroom.

The long term theory of change includes the Alumni Movement - After two years of the Fellowship, the Fellows are then inducted into our Alumni Movement. The Alumni are the forerunners of our movement and are instrumental in helping us reach our vision. The Alumni are a powerful and growing leadership force. Informed by their experiences and insights, the Alumni Movement works from inside and outside the educational system to effect the fundamental, long-term changes necessary to ultimately realize educational opportunity for all.

Core Values - At Teach For India we believe that our journey of leadership is a journey of learning and living our core values i.e. Seva, Teamwork, Integrity, Respect and Humility, Resourcefulness, Excellence, Sense of Possibility, and Reflection.

THE TEACH FOR INDIA MODEL INVOLVES

RECRUITMENT & SELECTION

Teach For India recruits the most outstanding college graduates and professionals to teach in low-income schools for two years. Fellows go through a rigorous selection process where they are evaluated for academic excellence, demonstrated leadership, a commitment to the community, critical thinking and perseverance, amongst other qualities. We believe that these core competencies are required to drive student achievement and to become life-long leaders who effect systemic change.

TRAINING

Prior to and during the two-year Fellowship, Teach For India provides Fellows with training needed to make them successful teachers in the classroom and to drive positive and significant student achievement. Fellows are also given adequate leadership training to ensure that they are successful leaders in any field once they complete the Fellowship.

PLACEMENTS

Teach For India places Fellows for a minimum of two years in full-time teaching positions in under-resourced schools where impact on student achievement can be maximized. Fellows have clear accountability for their classrooms, and are responsible for ensuring that their students reach their ambitious academic goals.

ALUMNI IMPACT

Teach For India builds partnerships in all sectors to ensure that participants have a clear path to leadership after the two year commitment. Through the alumni network, alumni of the Fellowship stay connected to each other as they work hard towards Teach For India's mission.

IMPACT

Teach For India has set up systems to drive and measure our short-term impact on student achievement, as well as our longer-term impact in the development of our Fellows into life-long leaders who can eliminate inequity in education.

THE GLOBAL CHALLENGE

Children all over the world do not have access to quality education. Educational disadvantage is perhaps the world's most fundamental injustice. It persists in different countries at all stages of development severely limiting children's life prospects

WHAT IS TEACH FOR ALL?

Teach For All is a global network of 33 organizations around the world, working to expand educational opportunity in their countries. Teach For All works towards the vision that one day all children in the world will attain an excellent education. These organizations recruit leaders of all academic disciplines to commit two years to teach in low income schools and as alumni work from both within and outside the education system to address the root cause of educational inequity in the world.

Teach For India is a part of Teach For All network. To know more about Teach For All please visit the website here

FELLOWSHIP

The Teach For India Fellowship program is a 2 year full-time paid commitment in which we place the most promising graduates and professionals as full-time teachers in under-resourced and low-income schools.

The Fellowship program is rigorous, challenging and provides Fellows an opportunity to develop themselves as leaders and simultaneously transform the lives of the children under their care. Prior to and during the two-year Fellowship, Teach For India provides Fellows with the technical skills and leadership training required to achieve the goals they have set for themselves and their students.

This training includes a 5 week, residential training Institute before they start teaching followed by on-going training and support throughout the two years delivered through conferences, training sessions, leadership forums, online resources and on the ground mentoring by a Program Manager. In the 2nd year of the program, each Fellow undertakes an assignment called the 'Be The Change' project wherein they ideate, plan and execute a project that benefits their classroom, the school or the society as a whole.

There are four application rounds for the 2014-15 recruitment cycle. Application Deadlines: August 27th, October 29th, December 10th, February 4th.

WHO WE ARE LOOKING FOR

We look for applicants who will have a transformational impact on their students in the short-term and be leaders in the fight for educational equity beyond the Fellowship. Teach For India looks for multiple attributes in a potential Fellow, including but not limited to:

- A strong belief in and commitment to Teach For India’s mission and vision

- Fit with Teach For India’s core values

- Leadership experience and potential

- The ability to work effectively in challenging environments

- Critical thinking ability

- Strong English communication skills

WHO CAN APPLY

Students and professionals with a Bachelor’s Degree at the time of joining the Fellowship are invited to apply. Applicants need to be either of Indian citizenship or of Indian origin.

HOW TO APPLY

Application Process

To apply now click here.

Please go through our Admission & Application FAQs page to go through our Selection process. Please feel free to send your queries to apply@teachforindia.org with any questions about the application and selection process.

ALUMNI MOVEMENT

At Teach For India, we believe the problem of educational inequity is vast and complex; one individual or organization cannot solve the problem. We aspire, therefore, to drive collective action towards addressing this multi-sectoral issue. The two years a Fellow spends in the classroom is the beginning of a lifelong mission - a mission to ensure every child in India attains an excellent education. The experience gained as a Fellow in a low incomes school, or as staff supporting the Fellowship, forms the bedrock of Alumni action. Currently, Teach For India Alumni are working in a variety of for and not-for-profit sectors.

GET INVOLVED

If you are a corporate, entrepreneur or non-profit looking to hire from our diverse pool of Alumni, lead/facilitate workshops for the Social Enterprise Club or are interested to know more about other Alumni Impact initiatives please write to alumninfo@teachforindia.org

FELLOW IMPACT

Teach For India aims to be in 8 cities by 2015-16 with 2000 Fellows impacting 60,000 students from low-income backgrounds.

Children

We teach children in classes 2nd through 8th standard.
There are 27,920 children in our classrooms at the start of 2014-15
22,978 children in our classrooms at the start of 2013-2014
16,216 children in our classrooms at the start of 2012-2013
12,000 children in our classrooms at start of 2011-2012
6,500 children in our classrooms at start of 2010-2011

Fellows

We have 910 Fellows in total

Schools

Teach For India has 271 schools at the start of 2014-15, 209 partner placement schools in 2013-2014, which grew from 164 partner placement schools at the start of 2012-2013, 122 schools at the start of 2011-2012; and 63 schools at the start of 2010-2011. In our first year of operations, we had 33 partner placement schools. In 2013, we placed Fellows in 633 classrooms, having grown from 443 classrooms in 2012, 310 classrooms in 2011 and 160 classrooms in 2010.

Academic Growth

We structure our program around the rigorous curriculum developed by Educational Initiatives, in addition to teaching the SSC curriculum. Most of our students are at the skill-level about 2-4 years behind their current grade level and we aim for a minimum of 1.5 years, on average, of skills-growth from their incoming skill level for each student in Reading Comprehension, Reading Fluency, Math, Grammar and Writing. In the academic year of 2010-2011, students in Teach For India classrooms achieved an average of 1.7 years of skill growth in Grammar, 1.4 years in Writing, 1.2 years in Speaking and Listening, 1.1 years in Reading Fluency, and 1.0 in Reading Comprehension. In total, 60% of Teach For India classrooms made over 1.2 years of growth in Math.

What do the School Principals say?

97% of principals agree that “Teach For India Fellows are respectful to students and parents, and interact with them in a positive way.” 91% of principals would “Recommend allotting Fellows to their school next year to the authorities.” 98% of principals think that Fellows use “Innovative ways of teaching that makes lessons more interesting for students.” 92% of principals would “Recommend Fellow’s teaching methods to other teachers.” 92% of principals are “Satisfied with Teach For India Fellows working in their school.”

ALUMNI IMPACT

With our first cohort of Fellows graduating in 2011, our powerful alumni force is growing bigger year on year. Members of the oldest cohort have been in their post-Fellowship path for three years now, impacting change across sectors! With many choosing to go down the social entrepreneurship and development routes, we're measuring our progress by keeping track of which sectors our Alumni have ended up in and how many of them are continuing to work in socially productive or relevant fields.

Out of 660 Alumni, 64% are engaged with issues in Development or Education, either through their professional work or through their field of study in graduate school. Teacher Training, School Leadership and Innovation Technology are some of the most prominent pathways pursued by Alumni within education. Our Alumni are largely spread across Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Chennai and Hyderabad with 65% choosing to remain in a Teach For India placement city.

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*Teach for India

http://www.teachforindia.org/

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Travelogue
Madhava Syamlal (Chemical 1977) at the base camp for Mount Everest
@ Jul 17, 2016
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  (Chronicle note:  This is the first article published under travelogue section. We invite such travel related articles from our alumni for publishing. If you had travelled to any exotic, new places or undertaken adventure, you can submit articles with photos to us for publishing. Send your articles at: chronicle@itbhuglobal.org)

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(Madhava Syamlal)

Madhava Syamlal can be contacted at: msyamlal@gmail.com.

He has published his adventure experience in personal blog:

https://ebctrek.net/

His adventure is also published in June 2016 issue of Plugged In. Plugged In is the employee news magazine published by NETL (National Energy Technology Laboratory (www.netl.doe.gov).

 The June issue of the magazine attached here:

June issue

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Everest base camp trek - my experiences and thoughts while trekking

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About

In March 2016 my son Rahul and I went on a trekking trip to Everest basecamp. In these blog posts I will share my experiences and thoughts during the trip. A 15-minute summary of the trip can be seen in my YouTube video: https://youtu.be/fpjfxqmo8Gs 

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Rahul (right) and Madhava Syamlal at Everest Base Camp

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Trekking Route to Everest Base Camp

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Day 1: Lukla and Phakding

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Tara Air aircraft being readied for the flight to Lukla

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Day 2: Namche Bazaar

Day 3: Acclimatization in Namche Bazar 

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Mount Everest at center, framed by Mount Nuptse on the left and Mount Lohtse on the right

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Day 4: Deboche

Day 5: Tengboche monastery

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Outside Tengboche Monastery with a view of Mt. Everest

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Day 6: Dingboche

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About the trip (by Madhava Syamlal)

At this age (60 yr.), with no prior trekking experience, I was not sure I could make it to EBC (Everest Base Camp). Good preparation, I thought, could improve my odds. So I did a lot of research and about eighteen months of preparation. In the end I was lucky to find Skyline Treks & Expeditions and Ngima as the guide. If Ngima were born in America he would have been at least in a good middle management position. He is very capable and equally caring.

The trip was only up to basecamp. Going beyond the basecamp is another ballgame altogether, in terms of the required effort, preparation, time, fitness, mental attitude, and cost. Up to basecamp you can basically walk, and survival is mostly within your control. For going beyond basecamp it is necessary to climb sheer walls of ice, and survival is dependent upon things beyond your control. I think you have to be a little bit crazy to try to ascend Mt. Everest and lucky to return alive. Jon Krakauer’s “Into Thin Air,” gives an excellent account of summiting Mt. Everest, including all the human drama surrounding the expedition.

Age has not deterred people from going to basecamp or even summiting Mt. Everest. In 2013 Yuichiro Miura (80) from Japan became the oldest person to summit Mount Everest (8,848 m). He plans to go back a fourth time to the summit at age 90, if he is still alive. On our way to basecamp we met a South Korean team that was returning after summiting Island Peak (6,160 m), and the team included a man in his seventies, in my estimation.

It took nine days from Lukla to Basecamp and four days back to Lukla. Typically trekkers take eight days to basecamp. As recommended by a Lonely Planet guide, I took an extra acclimatization day to reduce the chances of acute mountain sickness.

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Tips for trekking to Everest Base Camp (by Madhava Syamlal)

For trekking to Everest base camp, most trekkers go to Kathmandu, Nepal. Indian citizens do not need a visa to visit Nepal. Citizens of other countries can obtain a visitor’s visa on arrival at the airport. From Kathmandu the trekkers go on a 40-minute flight to Lukla, from where the trek begins. Lukla can only be reached by flying or walking, as it is not connected by road or rail to other places. From Lukla, it takes eight days to trek to base camp and four days to return. Each day the trek begins around 8 am and ends around 2 pm. Most trekkers spend the night at teahouse lodges located along the trekking route. Some trekkers sleep in tents. The change in altitude between Lukla (2,728 m) and Everest base camp (5,350 m) is very large. For acclimatization, it is mandatory that the trekkers spend an extra night at two locations along the way, usually at Namche Bazaar and Dingboche or Pheriche.

It is best that a trekking company takes care of the trek logistics. They will make all the arrangements in Nepal: airport pick-up, hotel stay in Kathmandu, flight to Lukla, stay in teahouse lodges, food, trekking permit, guide and porter, return flight from Lukla, Kathmandu tour, and airport drop-off. The cost of packages can vary from $1,000 - $4,000, depending upon what’s included in the package.  A $1,200 fee should cover most of the basic costs during the trek. The trekkers are responsible for incidental costs of items such as snacks, drinks, charging cell phones, Wi-Fi etc. Also tips are extra and expected. Here’s a short list of Nepalese trekking companies:

http://www.skylinetreks.com/

http://www.crystalmountaintreks.com/

http://www.fihp.com/

https://www.langtang.com/

The book Trekking in the Nepal Himalaya by Lonely Planet is an excellent guide. It lists many more trekking companies and provides very good information on various aspects of the trek.

It is important that the trekkers are prepared with adequate trekking gear. Information is available from various websites, such as:

http://www.trekkinginnepal.org/everest-base-camp-packing-list/

http://www.bergadventures.com/v3_trips/asia/everest-basecamp-gear.php

It is also recommended that the trekkers obtain an insurance that covers helicopter rescue. Recall that the trekking route is not connected to others places by road or rail. Here’s the address of one of the companies that offers insurance:

 http://www.worldnomads.com/travel-insurance/trekking-and-hiking

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About Dr. Madhava Syamlal:

Madhava Syamlal is Senior Fellow, Computational Engineering at National Energy Technology Laboratory. Dr. Syamlal is responsible for the development and application of science-based simulations that span a broad range of scales, in order to accelerate energy technology development. His degrees are in chemical engineering: B. Tech from IIT (BHU), and MS and PhD from IIT, Chicago. He was the initial architect of the widely used open-source multiphase computational fluid dynamics code MFIX and led the development of software for linking process- and device- scale simulations and the C3M chemical kinetics software. He was the founding Technical Director of Carbon Capture Simulation Initiative, which recently deployed a suite of computational tools, including basic data submodels, steady-state and dynamic process models, process optimization and uncertainty quantification tools, filtered CFD submodels, and device-scale CFD models with quantified uncertainty. He is a fellow of AIChE and the recipient of numerous awards such as DOE Secretary’s Achievement Honor Award and AIChE’s Fluidization Process Recognition Award.

He can be contacted at: msyamlal@gmail.com

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Additional links:

*Dr. Madhava Syamlal (Chemical 1977) wins US Department of Energy award

http://www.itbhuglobal.org/chronicle/archives/2011/12/dr_madhava_syam.php

*Dr. Madhava Syamlal (Chemical 1977) receives AIChE Award for energy research

http://www.itbhuglobal.org/chronicle/archives/2009/07/index-alumni-world.php#004434

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