A Shelter for the Homeless and the Aged

All countries require shelters for homeless and destitute people. In an earlier note here this author had suggested a shelter concept known as HISA. In view of its increasing importance, its essential features are summarized again here,

1.

HISA centers are shelters that provide a single bed and closet in partially enclosed beds in a dorm type of setting to a person in need of shelter. A possible configuration is shown in the figure. Sets of ten to sixteen beds in a dormitory are connected to common bathroom, clothes washing, and toilet area on one end. At the other end is the exit that has a hot and cold drinking water spout in a washbasin.

2.

Dormitories are segregated into three types within a HISA complex

  •  For women, girls and male children under the age of ten
  •  For men older than sixteen
  •  Boys between ten and sixteen stay in a separate dorm that is a part of a school for children

3.

The HISA complex contains a common mess where free meals are provided to all residents. Children and separated couples have an opportunity to meet in the mess as well as in common parks.

4.

HISA complexes are set up on outskirts of city and a free daily bus pass to city is available for all adults to visit and work part time or full time in the city.

5.

Admission to a HISA center is given based on a contract that says that if a resident has any income from pension, work etc. half of it is payable to the center as expenses. Those who have none pay nothing.

6.

Old age persons unable to manage on their own may also stay in a HISA center subject to signing a contract and will that anything they own shall become property of the HISA center on their demise if they have stayed in a HISA center for more than one year.

7.

Any person can apply to live in a HISA center and stay for as long as they wish. However, if they are away for a specified period without permission e.g. three days their allotted accommodation may be cancelled and they would have to apply afresh

8.

When a person moves into a HISA center, if they have belongings more than a suitcase and a handbag, then that has to be deposited in a central store that they can access no more than once a month or on leaving the center.

9.

If a person is a drug or alcohol addict, he is housed in a separate de-addiction center

10.

Peer reviews and dorm inspections are carried out to rate residents. Those with high ratings get certain privileges such as choice of location in complex or part time work within it. Those with low ones may be moved to a place where they disturb others least.

11.

The complex also has a few restaurants and shops for those who can afford purchases.

12.

HISA centers begin as tented accommodation in compounds allocated for it specifically that are later converted gradually to permanent barracks. A person who has moved to a HISA center may move out anytime he or she wishes, unless they are unaccompanied children who may move out only when they are adults (at least eighteen years old)

 

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Reviving the ancient Indo-Aryan Drink of Soma with Modern Science

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Summary

Rig Veda, an ancient sacred text of Indo-Aryans described a godly plant known as Soma. The juice of this plant imparted huge improvements in physical, intellectual and emotional abilities to ancient Indo-Aryans who consumed it. Some modern studies have identified certain intoxicating plants as possibly being Soma but these do not come close to original description. Soma was neither intoxicating nor hallucinatory. Rather, its effect was precisely opposite. It increased focus, alertness and memory. An earlier study by this author suggested that sugarcane grasses appear to be similar in description to this plant. However, sugarcane juice as available now, although healthy, does not have the unusual enhancing properties of Soma. It appears that it does not contain the active compounds that Soma had as described in texts. However, it seems possible to revive the ancient Soma drink with help of modern science as described in this note.

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Sugarcane stalks in green, yellow, tawny, gold, red and brown, colors of Soma

An ancient plant was described as a god among plants in Rig Veda, an ancient sacred text of Indo-Aryans. The proper identification of this plant has been lost to mankind since ancient times. Scholars have made several attempts to identify this plant but none of the proposals come near the original Soma plant. The plant was perhaps harvested to extinction in ancient times, especially because it as not the fruit or flower of this plant that was needed for a drink but its wood and stems. Thereafter, ancient civilizations from South Asia, Iran Turkey etc. have made use of substitutes such as ephedra or mixtures of opium, ephedra and cannabis in an attempt to approach the same effect, even calling the resulting potion by similar names. However, some of these latter choices were narcotics with adverse effects and none came near the magical Soma of lore.

Effects of Soma included ethical behavior, poetic insights, enhanced fertility, alertness, wakefulness, ability to heal, attainment of wealth and great physical strength useful for warriors. The drink of Soma was neither intoxicating nor hallucinatory and this rules out many of suggestions of modern scholars about what it might have been. In fact Soma did precisely the opposite. It increased focus, concentration, attention and memory. It also provided physical strength and accuracy in use of weapons such as a bow and arrow to warriors rather than intoxication or hallucinations. It seems that human aging was retarded while under the effect of Soma and it was therefore regarded as a drink of immortal gods.

 

Identification of Soma with Sugarcane grasses

An earlier study by this author [1] identified similarities of Soma with sugarcane grasses. The interested reader is referred to the earlier note [1] for arguments leading to this suggestion. The process of preparing the drink from this plant includes crushing the stalks to extract a sweet frothy juice as is done with modern sugarcane, filtering, resting in wooden vats and mixing with milk before consumption. The process is described in greater detail in the earlier note. It was also mentioned in the same note that modern varieties do not have all of the active compounds that were present in original Soma. One particular compound 2-Phenyletylamine was suggested as a possible compound that the Soma plant might have had because some of its effects appear to be similar to Soma.

2-PhenylEthylAmine

 Other names of this compound are phenylethylamine, β-phenylethylamine, phenethylamine, β-phenethylamine, and 2-phenethylamine, PEA. This compound is a natural compound that is a part of the natural biochemistry of humans, plants and animals.

It is important and critical to distinguish this compound from a class of compounds known as phenylethylamines that are chemically modified forms of this compound. Some of these latter find use in some medicines and others in illegal and dangerous drugs, many of them with serious adverse consequences. Most of these latter compounds appear not to be natural like 2-phenylethylamine, the focus of the present note. This last compound does not appear to be illegal in most countries and also appears to be unscheduled in most as per information in Wikipedia. Some athletes and sportspersons use it as a performance enhancing substance. For more on this compound please see [2]

The present note does not recommend that anyone consume this latter substance without advice from a medical practitioner and also by ascertaining correct dosages and methods of consumption, if at all. It may be mentioned that many isolated chemicals often have adverse side effects even though their origin may be a natural source as opposed to an organic compound consumed as a part of a health giving food that contains a host of other compounds that serve to balance its effects. The latter is a part of plant, human and animal life processes out of which life has evolved. An international study [3] described how many common chemicals used in the modern food industry may lead to cancers. This was conclusion reached by a massive study involving 174 scientists from 28 countries published in the journal Carcinogenesis. Therefore, the attempt of mankind must be to rediscover, Soma the plant rather than discover its isolated chemicals. If an isolated chemical has been mentioned here, it is for purpose of identification and/or regeneration of the plant.

Another organic compound of interest is Hordenine that has effects similar to PEA. It is occurs naturally in food grains such as barley and sorghum grasses that are closely related to sugarcane grasses. Presence of hordenine in smaller quantities (about ten percent) slows down the breakdown of PEA in the human body and therefore prolongs the effect.

It is interesting to note that users of the stated organic compound have described different effects, some describing beneficial ones and others unpleasant ones. This is in agreement with descriptions of Rig Veda that has suggested that in order to derive benefits from Soma one must be an ethical person,

“To him who keeps the law, both old and young, thou give happiness and energy that he may live.”

Regenerating Soma

An earlier study [4] has described how C4 grasses of which sugarcane is one, are eminently suited to be engineered with modern genetic engineering to produce a wide range of natural organic compounds including 2-phenylethylamine. Therefore, an attempt to regenerate Soma must focus on genetically modifying sugarcane to yield 2- phenylethylamine as also perhaps hordenine in a smaller quantity (about ten percent) in the expressed juice.

Preparing the Soma Drink

The process of preparing the Soma drink from the juice of the plant is available only in poetic descriptions of Rig Veda. Precise times and quantities are not known. These include,

  1. How long should the sugarcane juice be rested in wooden vats after filtration and what type of wood may be employed for the vat?
  2. How much milk is to be mixed in the juice to prepare the drink?

Both the factors as mentioned here might have important influence on quality of the final drink but it is something that should not be difficult to research once the Soma plant has been regenerated.

A Substitute Soma drink

A substitute Soma drink may be conceived in which chemical 2- phenylethylamine is added to fresh sugarcane juice and the process followed through. Although this mixing may mitigate some of the adverse chemical effects as compared to consuming the chemical in isolation, it nevertheless will not be natural. When an organic compound is produced by a plant, a host of associated compounds are also produced that serve to make the product natural. As a starting point one may attempt adding 200 mg of PEA HCL in salt form to a glass of sugarcane juice, resting it for a few hours in a wooden container and then mixing an equal quantity of milk. This may be attempted with or without an addition 20mg of Hordenine HCL salt to see the different effects. Both salts are available as supplements with online stores such as Amazon along with reviews of users.

This substitute drink has not been researched and its full effects are unknown. The public without medical advice must not consume it. It has been mentioned here as a topic for study and research.

7. Conclusion

The present note suggests a pathway to regenerating the ancient Soma Plant of Rig Veda. Central to the proposal is to locate, breed or genetically engineer sugarcane plants to produce the organic compound 2-phenylethylamine as also hordenine in required quantities along with other compounds sugarcane grasses produce naturally. It may be mentioned that the range of organic compounds as exist in nature are huge and one does not for sure what the original Soma plant contained. However, the suggestions of this note offer a starting point towards a discovery of a plant similar if not identical to Soma of ancient fame. The hope is that if such a discovery bears fruit, it would help mankind derive the immense benefits that Soma provided ancient Indo Aryans of Vedic fame.

This note also appears as a blog post where a reader may comment or discuss at: https://steamcenter.blogspot.com/2018/10/on-regeneration-of-soma-of-rig-veda.html

 

References

 

  1. Malhotra, A. (2015). On Revival of Soma Plant of Rig Veda, 2015 https://www.scribd.com/doc/290825034/On-Revival-of-Soma-plant-of-Rig-Veda
  2. Irsfeld, M., Spadafore, M., & Prüß, B. M. (2013). β-phenylethylamine, a small molecule with a large impact. WebmedCentral, 4(9), 4409. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3904499/
  3. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/science/Is-cancer-hiding-in-your-home-28-nation-study-flags-common-drugs-chemicals/articleshow/47808228.cms
  4. Brumbley M. Stevens et al ( 2002), Patent Application, Transgenic plants used as a bioreactor system, https://patents.google.com/patent/US20110252507

 

Ideal Solution to American Immigration Crisis is also the Simplest

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For years USA has faced huge immigration problems on its southern borders as large numbers of persons have crossed its border through Mexico. The American response to the problem has varied over the years. Few of its responses have been perfect; few responses have escaped criticism. The most recent response of zero tolerance that consisted of declaring those entering as criminals, separating adults from children and putting them in separate detentions has been criticized hugely around the world. It was described as torture of little children by no less than the UN Human Rights Commission from which America withdrew subsequently, of even babies and of snatching babies from mothers. It has been reversed but thousands of children remain separated while America scampers for alternate policies. This present move may have destroyed future of thousands of children through psychological trauma. It is heaping disgrace upon a once great nation. More tragic still is the fact that instead of finding solutions, many have jumped in to profit from the situation, politicians both for political and financial gain, prison companies and child traffickers, human traffickers, pedophiles, drug dealers and criminals accompanied by what a child prison guard described is an orchestra of wails of little children crying for their parents.

While all these problems persist and America continues to tie itself in knots over the issue, the question needs to be asked, could these problems have been avoided and if so how? The answer lies in one word – TRUTH.

If instead of calling all who come in as illegal aliens, illegal migrants or criminals the truth had been admitted that most of these persons are fleeing violence in their home countries, especially Central America then a solution is immediately found, Those fleeing violence from one country and arriving in another are REFUGEES. Once this fact is recognized the solution follows automatically.

America would have then done what every other country in the world does with refugees. If the number is small then asylum or deportation is considered after some deliberation. If numbers are large then they are housed in refugee camps near the border even for several years at a time. Presently there are millions in such camps in Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and most recently the Rohingya in Bangladesh.  How to manage these refugee camps is well known. A number of international agencies and the UN have much experience in it. If there is fear that some are not real refugees but come to improve economic standards or with criminal intent, then the prospect of living in a refugee camp, perhaps for years on end, is deterrence enough. This solution can be used even now to solve the immigration problem overnight. Perhaps it is the only one that would have to be resorted to sooner or later.

President Trump has said that he would not like to see refugee camps in America but the fact is that American interventions around the world ever since WWII have directly or indirectly helped to create refugee camps in many countries around the world and saints, mystics and scientists declare that everything we do good or bad must return, albeit, often with a delay. The time for that Karma to unfold has come.

One may ask, what if refugee camps are set up, what next? The same as every other country does with refugees. Work towards stabilizing conditions in their home countries even if it takes several years and then returns the refugees there through various arrangements for one. India had to go to war with Pakistan to return millions of refugees that had fled violence to Bangladesh in 1971. The entire process was well organized, swift and efficient.

This saga once again illustrates the eternal truth that saints have voiced from the beginning of civilization,

In adherence to truth lies solution to all human problems, the use of lies leads to misery

 

Use of L-Bend in rivers to reduce water shortages in India

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Over the last half century, human population has expanded considerably in India. This has resulted in much shortage of fresh water for human needs. Water is basic to life and the resulting shortage severely compromises quality of life in the country.

While this shortage of fresh water persists, a huge proportion of fresh water that falls as rain in the country during monsoon months collects in rivers and is lost to oceans. One way to reduce this loss is construction of dams. However, large dams take time to build, cost a lot, pose dangers and are disruptive of ecology, river life and human habitations. Another way to collect excess monsoon water that gathers in rivers is through side streams that lead to lakes and ponds situated near or far from the river. In some parts of the country where they have done this, as in Karnataka, India’s Bangalkot district (see report 1) it has wiped out water shortages. However this effort was through impromptu barrages constructed by people. There is a need to repeat this all over India in a more systematic manner.

The L-Bend barrage as described here can assist in collecting excess water in monsoon months from rivers in lakes and ponds spread across the country. The L-Bend is a low cost solution, can be constructed rapidly along with the associated side streams with help of earth moving equipment. It preserves river and surrounding ecology and fish life and improves human habitations. It has the potential to add value through blue water farming.

When water is collected in lakes and ponds, some of it is lost through evaporation but much of it is used directly or percolates into ground where it serves to increase ground water level. The majority of fresh water used in India by humans is sub-soil water drawn through bore wells or traditional wells. Presently the water table has been falling in most areas but when a lake or pond is constructed nearby, the water table rises. Because of the presence of Himalayan Mountains in the North of the sub-continent much of the evaporated water from lakes and rivers also returns as rain.

The L-Bend

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The L-Bend consists of two walls in the shape of an L as shown in figure. The shorter side blocks the mouth of a side stream from the river to a lake. It is constructed at a height of the average river level during monsoon months. Whenever the river level exceeds height of this sidewall, water from the river flows into the stream that leads to a lake or multiple lakes and ponds. The longer side of the l-bend is kept at the level of the riverbank on the side on which the stream is constructed. It spans one third or less of the river width so it never completely blocks river flow. Average of river level during monsoon months can be determined from data of past several years to fix the height of the shorter section of the L- bend

Rivers continue to collect water during their course from tributaries and seasonal streams that develop during monsoons. Therefore, it is necessary to construct such L-Bend fed lakes all along the course of the river. The lake may be close or at some distance from the river depending on the topography of surrounding land. Existing ponds and lakes that fill up in monsoons may be enlarged if connected to an L-Bend Stream or alternatively entirely new lakes developed.

Precise dimensions and details are not given here but can be easily worked out by engineers from the discipline once the concept is understood. If more clarifications are needed from this author, a reader may enquire by posting a query as a comment to this note.

Report 1: https://www.pressreader.com/india/the-times-of-india-mumbai-edition/20180627/282840781781906

 

Tracing the Origin of Saraswati River to Tons and Baspa Rivers

By Dr. Ashok Malhotra, Ph. D. UBC Canada

Abstract: A recent exhaustive study by K. S. Valdiya on the now extinct Saraswati River concluded that the origin of this river was a Himalayan Glacial one. In the present work, the author examines major glacial rivers in the designated Himalayan region so as to locate the precise glacial sources and rivers that were likely to have contributed to this river. It is suggested that The Tons and Baspa Rives are possible original Himalayan sources of the Saraswati River before they changed their course to flow westwards and eastwards into the present day Yamuna and Sutlej Rivers respectively.

 

 

The Saraswati (also spelt Sarasvati) River is one of the main Rigvedic Rivers mentioned in ancient Sanskrit texts. This river more or less disappeared from South Asian subcontinent perhaps as early as 1500 BC.   Its precise origin and route remains a matter of debate for scholars. Some years ago, this author, based on available studies, had written an informal socio-cultural blog note on the topic [1] and speculated that the glacial origins of this river may be the Tons and Baspa rivers of the Himalayas. Since then, others have expressed interest in the idea and would like a more scholarly albeit brief note on the topic. Therefore, this author is now reproducing the main thesis on the glacial origins of the Saraswati River as the present day Tons River as also perhaps the Baspa River in this brief online note for rapid availability of any interested person.

 

The Ghaggar-Hakra River

There is reasonable agreement among scholars on the route of this river in the plains as the present day seasonal river, the Ghaggar- Hakra, especially the part that passes through Haryana and Rajasthan. This is well confirmed by an overwhelming body of both ancient as well as modern scientific evidence. Most scholars accepted identification of the Vedic Saraswati River with the Ghaggar-Hakra River as early as the 19th and early 20th century, including Christian Lassen, Max Müller, Marc Aurel Stein, C.F. Oldham and Jane Macintosh amongst others. However, its northern connections and tributaries to the Himalayas are not yet fully ascertained as also its southern routes of flow into the ocean.

Clinching evidence in favor of identifying the Ghaggar-Hakra River as the lost Saraswati River is recent archeological evidence that traces ancient cities dotted along the route of this ancient river including prominent recent discoveries of Bhirrana and Rakhigarhi [2]. The greatest of early civilization of mankind had all developed along the banks of major rivers from the Indus to the Nile. Although Indus valley civilization is the name given to this ancient civilization of the sub continent, the Saraswati River rather than Indus was the prominent course of this civilization at its peak in light of discoveries since the earliest cities of this civilization were discovered along the Indus River. It would now be more correct to refer to this ancient civilization as the Indus-Saraswati Civilization as a civilization of two rivers.

Himalayan Glacial Origins

In his recent well-argued and thorough study, K. S. Valdiya [3] proves with an enormous body of supporting scientific evidence and arguments, the fallacy of some modern studies [4] that deduced that Saraswati River did not originate in the Himalayas but was merely a monsoon river. Moreover, additional recent archeological evidence since of extensive and thriving cities discovered in Haryana such as Bhirrana and Rakhigiri would not have been possible if the river was not a perennial one. Therefore, the conclusion is that the Saraswati River was a glacial fed river seems reasonable.

The Nadistuti hymn (10.75) of the Rigveda [5] mentions that the Saraswati flowed between Yamuna in the east and the Sutlej in the west. Later Vedic texts like Tandya and Jaiminiya Brahmanas as well as the Mahabharata mention that the Saraswati dried up in a desert. The goddess Saraswati was a personification of this river. The late Rig Vedic Nadistuti sukta enumerates important rivers from the Ganges in the east up to the Indus in the west in clear geographical order. Here (RV 10.75.5), the sequence “Ganges, Yamuna, Saraswati, Shutudri” places the Saraswati between the Yamuna and the Sutlej, which is consistent with the Ghaggar identification. The river being a perennial one may have caused floods in the monsoon months month much as the Nile River used to as suggested by Rigveda 7.95.1-2 Here the Saraswati is described as:

This stream Saraswati with fostering current comes forth,

Our sure defense, our fort of iron.

As on a chariot, the flood flows on,

Surpassing in majesty and might all other waters.

Pure in her course from mountains to the ocean,

 Alone of streams Saraswati hath listened.

Thinking of wealth and the great world of creatures,

She poured for Nahusa her milk and robustness.

The wide river bed (paleo-channel) of the Ghaggar river suggest that the river once flowed full of water during the great meltdown of the Himalayan Ice Age glaciers, some 10,000 years ago, and that it then continued through the entire region, in the presently dry channel of the Hakra River emptying into the Rann of Kutch. The Late Glacial Maximum, 13,000-10,000 years ago is defined primarily by the beginning of the modern warm period, in which the earth warmed substantially. Southampton researchers [6] have estimated that sea level rose by an average of about 1 meter per century at the end of the last Ice Age, interrupted by rapid ‘jumps’ during which it rose by up to 2.5 meters per century. Global sea level rose by a total of more than 120 meters as the vast ice sheets of the last Ice Age melted back. This melt-back lasted from about 19,000 to about 6,000 years ago in which period  it is expected that the flow of the Saraswati River would have been at its peak.  The river continued to flow, with reducing flow, until perhaps around 1500 BC helping create one of the earliest known civilizations of mankind. Presently the remnants of it as the Ghaggar- Hakra are seasonal monsoon river having been disconnected from its Himalayan source.

It seems clear from Rig Vedic descriptions that it is not that the Sutlej or Yamuna Rivers that have moved away from Saraswati River although their course has altered somewhat over the centuries but those rivers too existed in ancient times. Rather it is the tributaries of Saraswati that have shifted away and most likely begun to flow into the former rivers instead of the Saraswati River.

The most important tributaries in the Himalayas that emerge from glacial sources in the region between the Sutlej and Yamuna are the Baspa that now flows into the Sutlej and the Tons that now flow into the Yamuna. The Tons River develops from its tributaries, the Rupin and Supin Rivers. In ancient times it is likely that tectonic shifts altered the course of these latter tributaries to feed into the Sutlej and Yamuna rivers as at the present time. This conclusion is in accord with that of Validya [3] although they have not identified the rivers by name. They state in all their works that the discharge of the once mighty Saraswati had diminished when its eastern branch swung south to join with the Yamuna.

During the active Indus valley civilization, Saraswati River was not just a monsoon river because it was fed by glacial tributaries that presently flow into the Yamuna and Sutlej aside from the additional monsoon fed tributaries that flow from the Shivaliks at a point somewhat west of the Yamuna but east of the Sutlej in the Himalayas so as to become the mightiest of rivers of the time. When the Tons River changed its course due to seismic activity or landslides and began to flow into the Yamuna, it dealt a blow to the Saraswati River in the dry months of the year [7]. The deduction is that Tons and perhaps also the Baspa rivers in their original state as existed soon after the late glacial maximum some ten thousand years ago were glacial sources for the sacred Saraswati River

The Tons River 

It appears that the Tons River became a tributary of the Yamuna a few thousand years ago following a tectonic event in the Himalayas. Prior to the shift, the Tons river, possibly also enriched by the present day Baspa river, once ran an independent course running southwest into Haryana where other tributaries merged into it.  This river was the Saraswati River mentioned in Vedic texts as the greatest of all Indian rivers. The fact that Saraswati River was the mightiest of rivers of its time is not in doubt as evident from prominent Indus valley sites dotting its course. The source of Tons River lies in the 6,315 meters high mountain presently known as Bandar punch and it would perhaps be more appropriate to refer to them now as the Saraswati Mountain Ranges. The Tons is the most major of perennial Indian Himalayan Rivers. In fact, it carries more water than the Yamuna itself that it now meets but appears not to have a few thousand years ago when it was one of the major Himalayan sources of the Saraswati River.

Conclusion

It has been argued that the Tons River as also perhaps the Baspa River were original glacial source of Saraswati River and that its change of course became the major cause of drying up of Saraswati river it must be mentioned that drying up of the Saraswati region may have been accelerated due to natural solar cycles or due to man made causes very much like the present day climate change as indeed some recent studies suggest. Deforestation and urbanization is likely to have been a contributing cause of climate change and this must have taken place in Indus-Saraswati valley civilization because of agricultural needs. A recent NASA study ascertains that trees and forest help to create rain[8]. The Indus Valley civilization was wiped out 4,350 years ago by a 900-year-long drought, scientists at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur (IIT-Kgp) have found[9]. The study revealed that from 2,350 BC (4,350 years ago) till 1,450 BC, the monsoon had a major weakening effect over the zone where the civilization flourished. This ancient civilization was eventually forced to abandon cities along the Saraswati and move eastwards towards the greener Yamuna and Gangetic plains.

 

References

  1. https://alienaccount.blogspot.in/2014/08/reviving-lost-sarasvati.html
  2.  Wright, Rita P. (2009), The Ancient Indus: Urbanism, Economy, and Society, Cambridge University Press, p. 133, ISBN 978-0-521-57219-4,
  3. K. S. Valdiya, The River Saraswati was a Himalayan-born river K. S. Valdiya Current Science, Vol. 104, No. 1, 10 January 2013, http://www.currentscience.ac.in/Volumes/104/01/0042.pdf 
  4. Giosan, L. et al., Fluvial landscapes of the Harappan Civilization. PNAS, 2012 (www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnsas.1112743109)
  5. The Rigveda, translated by Stepahnie W. Jamison and Joel P. Brereton, 3 Volume Set, Oxford University Press, 2014
  6. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101201120605.htm
  7. Jain, Sharad K.; Pushpendra K. Agarwal; Vijay P. Singh (2007). Hydrology and water resources of India- Volume 57 of Water science and technology library – Yamuna River. Springer. pp. 344–354. ISBN 1-4020-5179-4.
  8. https://climate.nasa.gov/news/2608/new-study-shows-the-amazon-makes-its-own-rainy-season
  9. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/900-year-drought-wiped-out-indus-civilisation-iit-kharagpur/articleshow/63776710.cms

NOTE: This note can be found as a downloadable online note at:

https://www.scribd.com/document/380650060/Tracing-the-Origin-of-Saraswati-River-to-Tons-and-Baspa-Rivers

 

 

 

 

Some Basics of National Healthcare Policies

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Good health is central to human happiness.  A Human may be a happy human without much wealth but he cannot be a happy without good health.  There is the old saying – where there is health there is hope. Because of this, Health care must remain a central subject of healthcare policy of governments. Recently, this author has contributed many of his thoughts on the topic to leadership of US and India on twitter where this policy is under active debate and transformation. However, twitter, because of its brevity and informality cannot explain points fully. This note shall attempt to do that. A blog note also has a wider and more durable presence for the world at large and all do need to devote their attention to this topic some of the time, so central it is to life.

Ranking Countries by Healthcare Outcomes

Several different ways and methods exist to rank countries of the world on healthcare but the simplest is infant under five mortality rates in a country. It is a reflection of a lot else within a country on the health front. It is not a perfect criterion but it is also least amenable to manipulations and bias and a fairly good one for a quick check. Such rates can be found in lists on Wikipedia and elsewhere easily. Some countries fare well with infant mortality rate under five deaths per thousand live births. The worst touch near hundred.

Three factors influence health and infant mortality rates most, first is the life style and environment of people that includes the air, water and food they consume: second the general level of prosperity in a country and lastly public spending on health by governments for public and not private healthcare.

Thus Monaco a small city state seems to have the healthiest population in world, scoring high on all three fronts.  Japan and Scandinavian countries score very high because of high second and third factors. Cuba a small country has lower infant mortality rate than USA because of public healthcare even though the latter is much richer that depends on private for profit care and insurance. Ikaria an island in Greece has perhaps the healthiest population on the planet for lifestyle reasons.

Private for profit versus non-profit charitable or public healthcare

An unfortunate reality of human life is that humans are driven by greed. Only a few saintly persons among them escape its grip. Perhaps humans are much too recent in evolution on a planetary timescale to have reached a higher level of existence yet.  Human traits regarded as bad in general play a role for good in special cases for humans too, not just animals. It is for this reason Nature has created such traits. Fear helps a human to learn and protect, anger has helped humans to overcome injustice, lust is essential for procreation and so it is with greed too, it has a role to play in human welfare.

While humans have been wise to exploit greed for some of its needs through capitalistic mechanisms with careful control in many areas to create prosperity, the profit motive fares badly in some areas. One area where profit motive does badly is care of infants. Rich persons have tried to provide care for their children through hired nanniess but only in rare cases is such care better than that by love of a mother and in many also disastrous. Secret cameras installed by mothers have revealed some of the most horrific of treatments by nannies of babies in some cases. Seems a nanny in a British royal family would pinch a royal baby’s bottom every time she handed it to the mother so that it would begin to cry and she could secure her job. A second area where ‘for profit activity’ has failed in human experience or at least fared very badly is healthcare.  It can lead the’ for profit healthcare’ industry consciously and subconsciously to make people sick rather than healthier while giving an impression of caring for them. The daily deaths by the opioid crisis in America are a proof of this as is widespread prevalence of prostrate and other cancers in richest countries of the world. For profit healthcare tends to create unnecessary fears and procedures for profit. A human can choose if to buy a facial cream or car but he has no choice when fears of death or severe pain are raised. In India, patients are routinely pushed into ICU for high profits by some hospitals and then kept there even after near dead on artificial support to prolong the profit.

Wise nations such as Iceland and Japan have banned for profit private hospitals realising this truth about human nature and healthcare and ended up with some of the best healthcare in the world. If policy makers of some countries offer arguments to the contrary, it is because of three reasons: First because of ignorance or brain washing by peers, second because of trying to hide a government’s shortcoming in providing public healthcare to people and lastly because of the loot and exploitation of public for profit. The entire for- profit chain of the for-profit healthcare industry shares the loot and this includes some lawmakers too.

It goes without saying that when healthcare is publically funded healthcare, the health insurance industry has no role to play. It only has a role in the for-profit healthcare system.

Private Practice by Medical Practitioners

While inadequacy of for-profit hospitals has been made amply clear in the last section, there is a useful role for the family or neighbourhood doctor or dentist on payment basis in society to meet lesser healthcare needs of society that do not need care of a larger facility or hospital. An individual doctor may not design organised practices of loot as a larger business organisation may and can provide convenient help. Such a practice may be carried out from homes or an office in a commercial area. However, to ensure that private practice by medical practitioners does not morph into private hospital care some regulations are necessary. An example of such regulations is

1 A doctor on salary in a public or charitable hospital may not carry out private practice because it will compromise the former.

2 Private practices by a doctor must employ no more than two full time employees and two part time employees and shall be carried out in an establishment of no more than five hundred square feet in carpet area.

Minimum and Maximum Charges

Around two decades ago in a note comparing the good and bad of communism and capitalism this author had published an online note that suggested that while government funded healthcare is a good idea it is also a good idea to charge a small fraction of costs from patients. This realisation of the author had emerged from his experience in a fully paid healthcare system in Canada. A small charge say around 10% of costs with caps prevents misuse and increases public participation in improving quality of healthcare in a country. It also improves the efficiency of public hospitals. This author is glad to note that this practice exists in places like Iceland, Norway and Japan with some of the best healthcare systems in the world. However more thought is needed on the minimum and maximum charges

Minimum Charge:

The famous doctor A J Cronin had described how a practitioner with private practice could make good money by pampering hypochondriacally or leisurely rich old ladies by pampering them with placebos. While this is fine on high street it compromises public hospitals. A minimum charge of around a few dollars for visiting hospitals prevents misuse by public. Many a person would then just take a day of bed rest with a common cold rather than knock on the door of a hospital. A percentage of total treatment cost is also a good idea for minimising unnecessary hospitalisations and treatment.  The minimum charge could simply be issued as a ticket at the gate of the hospital to all who enter not just those who seek consultation and treatment. It would help to keep a hospital more clean and secure as needed in a place of care.

Maximum Charge:

While charging a minimum as a percentage has been explained it is also necessary for fixing a maximum to prevent citizens from getting Bankrupt in case of serious needs. Norway has fixed a cap of three hundred dollars a year. An even better idea is to make this cap equal to the income tax paid by a citizen in the preceding year.

This note ends with a wish that may God grant humans wisdom to lead healthy and happy lives as long as they live.

Mystic Secrets of Happiness

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A Flowering Creeper in the Author’s Home

While some humans, for some of their lives, lead peaceful and happy lives, there are also huge numbers who suffer from varying levels of unhappiness. The unhappiness may vary from severe distress and trauma as for those bombed in their homes and forced to flee as in Syria or Yemen presently, to just those suffering form daily stress and grind of life. It has been so with me too in my journey through life dear friend.

It is worth reflecting on the cause of all this and do something to make our lives peaceful and happy for how can there be happiness without peace? Once one discovers root causes of misery and the path to overcome them, one can gain huge amounts peace, happiness and exhilarating joy. While the worldly teach us ways to make money or become more successful, the experience of many is that such paths lead to misery more often than happiness.

In the end two things decide course of our lives. First are our own thoughts and actions that create our world and second are circumstances that world around us seems to impose. We may call these First Cause and Second Cause. While some feel that they may be able to do something about the first cause they also feel the second is out of their control.

Mystics since ancient times have reflected deeply on human life and workings of the universe believe that even the second cause is a result of our past thoughts and deeds, our karma. One may not agree with mystics but then one will agree that there is nothing that can be done about it short of curse our fates or someone else for it making matters worse. Better it is not to bother about it at all and just put up with it if there is nothing that can do about it.

As regards the first cause, our own thoughts and deeds, they are in our control.  All would agree that it is best to work with the first cause in a way that improves lives in the best possible way. In fact, if one does that, one may reach the same path mystics recommend for dealing with both the first and second cause, whether we believe in the words of the mystics or not.

It is our own desires, thoughts, and actions that are the only thing in our control and it is this we must work with to improve our lives. What path should we follow for this? Should we choose this path on our own or seek advice from elsewhere too?

As wisdom increases one realizes how little one knows of life and the world but a fool is secure in his knowledge. Therefore the latter would not need the feel to seek any advice from anyone, secure in the knowledge that he knows the best path forward.

What of others who feel that it would be better to consult before choosing one’s path in life? Here too one may face problems. As an example, consider a person who is suffering from a physical ailment such as chronic pain and decides to consult a medical practitioner for it. The doctor he consults may be moved more by greed and the benefits a big pharma company offers him and therefore instead of recommending a safe pain killer or course of action that offers relief, advises a course of opioid pain killers that makes huge profits for the company. These latter may feel like heaven for a bit but they can addict, compromise health and then kill. Thus one has in effect jumped from the frying pan into the fire. This is not a rare instance because large parts of the world are motivated by greed. Enough wisdom is required not just to seek help but also a little more wisdom than that to reject the wrong sort of help.

Similar is the case for those who feel that the best recourse is to surrender to a religion, spiritual teacher or guru for solace when life is in distress. Here too there are many sharks in disguise motivated by greed. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing out to enslave souls and strip them of whatever goodness remains with them after making them feel like they are in heaven for a bit. How does one safeguard oneself?

The good news for those who trust in God and their own heart is that His help is available directly to all. He shall lead one suffering from pain to the right doctor; give enough wisdom to find one or quite often suggest how to just use things like rest, sunshine, pure air, a bit of exercise and patience to overcome the difficulty.

Similar is the case for spiritual help. If some further education is required in this direction, the Lord has scribbled knowledge on every leaf, flower and tree as well as in one’s heart before sending a soul forth into life. Often we smudge that knowledge with things like lust, anger and greed. When we control the latter, knowledge surfaces.

If necessary, He shall lead one to right words, the right path and it shall most definitely not be in a religion that says that only though them you can find salvation, for that is like a car dealer who says it is only in his car you shall find comfort and it is the best. There are numerous types of cars out there each good for someone or the other.

When it comes to the human condition, there are an infinite number of possible conditions and an infinite number of spiritual paths out there, each to discover for himself, with the help of the Lord. While theologians shall continue to debate and quarrel until kingdom come, mystics of the world have spoken the same language from beginning of time and shall continue to until final dissolution. If you would like to know more about these paths than check out the author’s blog on the topic at

https://ashokbabji.blogspot.com

Or if you prefer to read about in a book that you can read and reflect on with ease and which you can keep with you for referring back as and when you feel like, then you may find the contents of that blog in a little book – Mystic Pathways to Love, Peace and Happiness. It can be found at the following link as well as elsewhere if you search for it on google

https://www.amazon.com/Mystic-Pathways-Love-Peace-Happiness/dp/1546343792/

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Loveganism – Food Sans Violence

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Around 2500 years ago Gautam Buddha advocated compassion and non-violence to all life including animals. This led to a large number of persons adopting a vegetarian life style in South Asia. In recent times the concept has spread further, across the globe.

A traditional vegetarian diet consists of not consuming any meat or fish. However milk and its products are consumed freely. In a traditional vegetarian diet eggs are not consumed since these too are regarded as a flesh food. Vegans on the other hand go further and consume no animal product at all including milk.

Some years ago, this author proposed the concept of Loveganism that included eliminating or at least minimizing violence to all life, not just animal life but also plant life. Lovegan foods are foods that conform to this principle. Since the introduction of the concept online a few years ago, it seems that some have taken up loveganism in different parts of the world. A fresh note summarizing the older ones would therefore be useful.

At first glance, it may seem that loveganism would lead to a highly restricted diet but it is in fact not so. All it requires is love for both animal as well as the green side of life. A Lovegan diet is easier and healthier than both vegetarian and vegan since milk and eggs are part of lovegan food provided they can be produced compassionately. In traditional farming homes a small number of cows or hens are kept as free range pets and consuming some of their milk or eggs does not involve cruelty to the animal. Some modern farmers have also devised compassionate forms of larger milk dairies and poultry farms that permit the cows or hens to roam to over fenced enclosures.

As regards the plant kingdom, it may be noted that food grains such as wheat are collected when wheat grass has completed its life cycle and hence bread is a lovegan food as are lentils, fruits, nuts and a whole range of vegetables that do not involve killing the entire plant. Potatoes and peanuts may be collected after the plant dries out or begins to do so. Vegetables such as lettuce, cabbage and cauliflower involve cutting the plant and are therefore not a part of lovegan diet. Leafy vegetables are lovegan food provided the entire plant is not plucked out but leaves are taken selectively and periodically as new growth comes up. Plants produce leaves far more abundantly than humans produce hair.

Therefore, a lovegan food eater has a wide range of foods to select from and can attain a life style that is healthier than both vegetarians and vegans.

A Wise Precaution

For those contemplating a vegetarian or lovegan life style, it may be mentioned that the human body takes time to adapt and one may suffer in health by suddenly giving up on meat. The sensible way appears to be to cut down the number of times in a week meat is consumed bringing it down to once a week over several months as the first step. This would give the body time to adjust as also an opportunity to learn about alternatives. Only when one has become comfortable with that should one consider giving up on meat altogether. It may be noted that taking up any system of thought in a fanatic way does not appear to be wise in most thing, especially not food. Even after one has become a vegetarian, if occasions arise when one is visiting, eating out or emergencies, one should accept whatever is available or appealing in a spirit of gratefulness. In the eventual analysis any food does good to one’s soul if we use our life and energy in contributing good to the world.

An interested reader may find a lot more discussion on the subject at the following link:

http://someitemshave.blogspot.in/search?q=lovegan

Refugee Absorption Potential of Different Countries

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At the present time the world is grappling with an unprecedented refugee crisis especially due to instability and destruction in Syria. A large number of refugees have now run away to neighboring countries of Turkey, Lebanon and Jordon but since many are neither finding any permanent shelter there nor work or assured food year after year and children are having to grow up without any reasonable avenues of education many have started making their way towards Europe, the only nearby region at peace accessible to the refugees. Just today on the media a Minister from Hungary has said that Europe must not be made to suffer the burden alone but being an International issue it should be shared by the world, this being an International problem. The proposal is up for discussion in UN soon.

The question then arises is that if the world agreed to share the refugee burden how should they be distributed? Some countries are too poor or too small to accept any refugees; some have their own huge populations such as Bangladesh. There is a need to find a simple and just criterion that can measure the refugees absorption potential of any country in a fair and quick manner. In fact such a number is fairly simple to define realizing that the refugee absorption potential of different countries is proportional to their GDP and Land area and inversely proportional to their own population. Thus we may define the Refugee Absorption Potential Number, RAP as

RAP = GDP x Land Area of Country / Population of Country

Stated in words this criterion is simply saying the following:

The more the GDP of a country the more capacity it has to take in refugees, and more the existing population density of a country the less its capacity to accept refugees.

The land area may be measured in square kilometers and GDP is millions of US Dollars.  With the present units the right order of magnitude of numbers is obtained with 1 refugee for the least able countries and in thousands for the most able with a total of around 1.5 million.  Thus if a country has twice the RAP number as compared to another country it has the potential to absorb twice the number of refugees. It is a different matter if it agrees to or not. Countries that agree to opt in and share the burden then may share a given number of refugees in proportions of their RAP numbers.

It would be nice if someone out there can calculate the RAP number for all the countries of the world, so that the world may view the potential in this regard of different countries that make up our world. Perhaps the Hungarian Minister can do the calculation quickly and present it to the UN. Some quick approximate ones are presented next for the purpose of illustration for a few countries only.

ILLUSTRATION

as an illustration an approximate calculation of RAP was done to distribute 1.4 million refugees according to RAP. This is only a first approximate attempt for illustration and if the proposal is used, fresh accurate ones must be done with recent data. The present calculation was also a quick one with no time to check carefully and may have errors.  The input data is as online at: http://doheth.co.uk/info/countries-of-the-world.php

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