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I had contributed a series of suggestions about party agenda to the Aam Aadmi Party, and several people asked me about them. Instead of forwarding a whole series of emails to everyone who asks, I'm compiling them here. There is some editing for coherence, but all the points are identical and any other party wanting to adopt them is welcome to do so too.

Note: These suggestions are not comprehensive, and generally omit ideas likely to have occurred to a lot of people.

Mosquito control

Mosquito borne illnesses kill hundreds of thousands of people in India and force even more to spend money they sometimes don't have on healthcare and preventative measures like coils and creams as well as increase the country's burden on health. This is not counting the many who suffer from anxiety for health and discomfort. This will result in savings of hundreds of rupees per home for those who spend on their safer health.

Additionally, mosquitoes covering vast distances easily, individuals have no means to protect themselves long term other than continuous deterrent.

 

Aggressive mosquito control can change many lives for the better. AAP could have supporting research on environmentally friendly extermination of mosquitoes as well as immediate and aggressive measures to curb mosquito breeding all over the country on their agenda.

Also consider punishing people (Minor punishment or the real evil - red tape hoops to jump through) who are repeatedly found allowing mosquitoes to breed on their private property.

Aggressive stand on child marriage including action against adults involved

Protection to whistle blowers who alert the state about child marriages and state adoption of vulnerable children if they are deemed to be at risk in their homes. This will improve health of mothers and children as well as have an impact on child mortality, as underage mothers are a large factor in underweight and at risk infants. It will reduce the birth rate (a third of Indian women marry underage and a significant number bear kids too early too - not sure of exact numbers off the top of my head - can be found out). It will also safeguard women from potential domestic abuse from a very young girl being thrown among strangers with authority over her while she can't even legally operate her bank account independently or take many actions in her own interest. Needless to say, politicians and governments who witness child marriages and allow them to happen should face legal action.

Gay+transgender rights

Endorsing the rights of gays and transgenders and possibly rooting for a quota in govt jobs (or alternative strategies or motivations), since social stigmatization and discrimination is a problem with getting employment. Will also be good if you can have a couple of gay/transgender candidates.

Environment and support for environment friendly practices

Crackdown on polluting industries, reviving water bodies, making roads safe for cyclists, possibly removing taxes or offering special subsidies for poor people buying cycles. Bicycles are important. They offer instant mobility that can be maintained for very little cost, promote health and have the potential to empower women in particular. Support for organic farming, encouraging people to recycle their organic waste at home as vermiculture. Steps to reduce plastic waste as well as clean up of plastic trash accumulating in rivers, roads, gutters and so on. Free legal representation/advice/other govt support/resources for environmental activists on issues related with protection of environment.

Laws about plastic should also be revised and made less discriminatory against the small businesses and local shops. For example, when plastic is banned, as it often is (till ban forgotten, it resumes out of necessity) a small grocer has a problem selling loose sugar (for example) because clients don't want to risk taking it home in paper bags that will puncture easily. Branded sugar continues to sell in plastic packing. A fifty paise toffee comes with its own plastic, as do five rupee snacks packets. But a forty rupee investment in sugar has to be risked to fragile paper or purchase branded (more expensive)?

There is also a need to investigate abundant reports of reverse osmosis water selling businesses dumping the brine from the process into the water aquifier (in the name of "recharging the groundwater", which degrades the quality of water for all (and in turn make the purchase of drinking water necessary). This should be investigated and banned.

Endorsement of control of people to their own land

They should have a veto on "development" being imposed on them without needing to risk their safety at hands of brutal crackdowns aiming to crush them.

Local resources sold should be by consent and sharing revenue received towards the development of people impacted.

Fuel independence

Solar lighting is very hep (and promotes imported products), but:

  • Solar cooking and water heating can save a hell of a lot of fuel and can be done with scrap materials.
  • Solar water purifying can be a boon in India (rather than the environmentally damaging, but highly profitable reverse osmosis mafia).
  • Biogas fuels can transform India with such a large rural population with cattle and agriculture.
  • There needs to be a decentralization of power production and movement toward renewable energy, which works out cheaper in long run and sustainable. Also important because our losses in Transmission and Distribution are far more than our deficit. Reducing the distance electricity has to be transported will help save losses and automatically improve availability.

Rural Community Interdependence

Encouragement for poorer sections of society to contribute to and self-govern communal kitchens for cheaper food and saving labour for income generation. Community kitchens can use more heavy duty designs of solar cookers as well as bio-gas from animal/plant waste.

Possible exploration of bio gas to run vehicles and/or other machinery like pumps for water and such. In villages with lots of cow dung, even if some of the transport or agricultural machinery or pumps can be made independent, it will be self-sustainable.

Neo-Swadeshi

Another idea is encouragement for swadeshi and imports/FDI that will contribute to development. While complete swadeshi is near impossible as a lot of "essentials" are simply not made in India, there should be maximum stress on self-reliance and building capacity. For example FDI in computer manufacturing can prevent massive numbers of computer imports rather than crap like FDI in retail. Encourage people to know the source of what they buy and prefer the closest source as far as they can afford. Keeps money in local economy + is friendlier for environment as less fuel is spent on transport and preservation and storage.

Building a future

  • No clearance for new construction without solar panels to take of building lights and rainwater harvesting.
  • Every village in India to have its own rainwater harvesting tank strictly for drinking water for all its residents. Harvested rainwater needs no further treatment to be drinkable. The water from such tanks can NEVER be used for any commercial activity by law - including selling drinking water, factories or agriculture.
  • Water from lakes and ponds cannot be sold without consent of those dependent on it and sharing profits from its sale. Which means a village with a lot of water can allocate a portion of it to coca cola if they want and their share of the money can be used for the local school or whatever - this should be done my local voting/show of hands in Panchayat meeting or whatever.

Supporting the disabled

  • There used to be news for the deaf and dumb in sign language on DD. That should be started again. Daily. At least one weekly news slot for deaf-dumb should also be made mandatory for private news channels.
  • Government buildings should all be disabled accessible.
  • 50p, Rs1, Rs2, Rs5 coins should all *feel* different from each other and have properly raised inscriptions so that people with poor eye sight or blind don't have to examine barely visible numbers. Different shapes will be even better.
  • Govt supported care for special needs children with profound disabilities - or payment to hire help. Particularly for single parents living on their own. Single mothers with children with severe disabilities live near impossible lives with expenses as well as inability to take a job because of child.

On a long term, larger picture view, I think AAP should become India's Pirate Party as well by adopting their key agenda points like patent and copyright reform, free speech, direct democracy and so on.

The patent and copyright reform in particular is important for India because if knowledge is accessible to only a few who can afford it, then you will never be able to end inequality, because those who can't access that knowledge will simply never be able to compete. Also, reduced access to knowledge reduces speed of growth of knowledge available to mankind too, as the fewer people have access to it, the fewer people expanding it. Alternative means of funding and earning can help reduce restrictions on access as means of income.

An added benefit of becoming India's Pirate Party will become access and collaboration with Pirate Parties worldwide, access to policy ideas and research, and a common interest in channeling people's voices very transparently. There is no obligation, only access and sharing of resources and work done among people with similar goals. Pirate Parties are autonomous - Pirate Parties of other countries will have no power over you.

AAP has a lot in common with Pirate Parties. It will not be a big shift. New ideas will be added. Nothing already happening is incompatible, Pirate party agenda will only add some very useful ideas.

I guess I am the first individual to try to recruit a party :p.

PS: Feel free to let loose in the comments with your own ideas on how specific changes can get big results/improvements.

26

Khatnil herbal bed bug killer is a product that claims to be herbal. While there are precious few alternatives to target bed bugs in India, the ingredients of this one are unclear.

Khatnil K-20 for bed bugs is an insecticide product which claims to be herbal. However, the ingredients of Khatnil are not clear. With a base that smells of paraffin or kerosene, it is unclear how the product can be called herbal.

Update: The bedbugs did decrease after using Khatnil, but I was doing so many things from vacuuming to hot water washing of all cloth items that it is difficult to say what was killing them. It most certainly could not be applied and left to work. Not even regular applications got rid of the bed bugs completely, and we ended up trashing the mattress and the one that came after it as well. I did win the war against the critters, but it was not easy, and while Khatnil probably helped, it most certainly wasn't the solution.

bottles of pesticide khatnil


Bed bugs! When we returned after a trip with suspect accommodation, we were worried that we may have brought back more lives than we went in with - as in a whole colony of bed bugs. Actually, I suspected much later when I couldn't sleep and caught the critters red handed or rather red smeared on the sheets. I then put two and two together and remembered the ghastly sleepless nights in the cheap hotel .... and sure enough, the suitcase we had taken there had some in it too.

[slideshow]

Worried about the safety of my infant son Nisarga, I wanted to find an organic solution for bed bugs that was most appropriate and least toxic.

The local shop set me up with a bottle of Khatnil K-20 and I happily looked forward to a bedbug free home. Alas, things did not unfold so. True to form, before using anything I don't know much about, I decided to look up the active ingredients in the bottle to get an idea of their safety.

Imagine my surprise when all my hunting didn't find any place on or in the pack where it mentioned what was in the bottle beyond "Powerful liquid to curb bed bugs" and "herbal". Yeah, that's how everyone describes their herbal bedbug killer product - but not its content. I searched online. I couldn't find the ingredients anywhere.

So how does one check that the active ingredients in the herbal insecticide for bed bugs are actually safe? What if someone has an allergy to something in it? What in the world does a doctor combat in case of accidental poisoning?

So I went to the shop and argued my tongue off. No help. They wouldn't take an opened bottle back and offered me another 'herbal' solution, which they say is pretty much exactly the same as Khatnil, but mentions the ingredients - petroleum derivatives, coaltar... were some of the words that I had to investigate - herbal? The only herbal ingredient in there seemed to be eucalyptus oil.

This seemed worrisome. Taking a risk, I used it sparingly in areas I was dead certain no one would touch and still worried about fumes. It smells like turpentine. Last I know turpentine isn't a herbal product. For the rest, I just shook eucalyptus oil and water together and sprayed. It seems to be working, but then I physically slaughtered most of the critters and it wasn't a bad infestation.

We have no trouble these days, though I'm going to keep a sharp eye on things for quite some time.

Is there anyone at all who cares about such things?

2

This is a memory from a long time ago. Way before I figured out the internet beyond checking mail. This is a time when I was a nomadic horsewoman in the Himalaya.
I was living in the high pastures of the Kullu valley with my herd of horses. We were in the pastures below the Hampta Pass - about a 6 hour walk from Manali. The winter had been rough, and we were just camping out in the high altitude pastures where we leave them for the summers, supplementing their diet with some grain, to help them catch on on their health a bit faster.

What a place to be in! We were camped in the meadows at Juara. Alpine meadows - the air is crisp, the water is crystal clear and flows right through the pasture. A few empty stone structures that would later become nomadic tea stalls plus camps of herb gatherers dotted the scene, with sheer black cliffs rising on both sides in stark contrast with the lush comfort of the place. A place straight from some fantasy tale. Once could believe some nature spirits living here, particularly on moonlit nights, when the scene goes black and white, with the moonlight strong enough in places to register come colour. What a life - the horses living free around me, prancing with their improving condition. Pye, my bitch, by my side and the sounds of the stream for company.

The days were pretty idle. Feeding the horses a couple of times a day was no pain - they used to come happily enough for the treat. Beyond that.... not much to do. Cooking, enjoying the paradise I was living in, early to bed, early to rise. Perhaps an occasional visit to Sethan - the last village on this route, and the only fully Buddhist village in the entire Kullu valley, where my god-family lived. A timeless idyll.

Occupation came in an unexpected way. A gaddi camp was passing by, planning to camp a little higher than the pasture we were in. I recognised the shepherd, and invited him for a cup of tea. When he saw me, he decided to camp near our camp itself.

Over a cup of tea, I realized why.

A filly of his, had been attacked by a bear a week ago, and had been hurt badly. Originally, believing that she would die anyway, he hadn't taken her to a vet. But she hadn't yet died. She was in a bad way, with her wounds infected, and was struggling to keep up with the moving camp, to follow her mother. This was creating a problem, as the mare used to keep waiting for her, and slowing the caravan.

I had already gained a solid reputation as an animal lover, and my animals were often a point of interet for local livestock owners for the glowing condition I used to maintain them in. Plus, I was gaining a reputation as an enthusiastic "unofficial vet" from the knowledge of animal medicine I used to gather for the well-being of my horses in a land where vets were not easily available, and often very far from the place of need.

He wanted me to take a look at the filly and see if there was any hope for her, as well as see if she could be put down, if there wasn't. I refused flat out to put her down, as I am not of the opinion that animals should be killed when they are fighting to recover. Plus I lacked the kind of knowledge and equipment it would take to put her down. I agreed to take a look and see what I could do for her.

We went out into the pasture and unloaded his horses to set up camp and then look for the filly. She was in a bad way. She was sleeping, exhausted at the end of the pasture without even coming to join the herd, once she saw that they had halted.

We got her up and brought her up to my tent and tied her in front of it. I started to take a good look at her and see what it was that I was up against.

She was a beautiful, black filly. Three months old, lovely conformation - she would have made a fine mare when she grew up, if she survived this scenario. Her rump and neck was covered with deep gashes from the bear's claws, and a week of neglect had allowed infection to settle in. Most of the gashes had developed pus, and a couple had maggots in them - icky as that is, it is better, because the wound is cleaner - except for the maggots of course. You will not find pus and maggots in the same wound, unless it is really bad and the maggots haven't done their job yet. Except that you want them out now that they have done their bit. My whole being recoiled at the thought of having to clean up this mess.

If I had to save this filly, I had to do it, no matter how repulsive it was. I felt a surge of anger at the shepherd for neglecting her treatment like that, and vented my fury in choice words, yelling at him and his wife for being callous to the very animals that made their livelihood possible.

The filly stood there shivering from the early morning air and her exhaustion.

I made the couple promise to rest in the pasture for at least a week, before I would touch the filly - it was pointless to begin something, if it wouldn't be sustained. As an incentive, I praised the quality of the filly, and asserted that she would become a very valuable animal and bring him good money and work very well, if she was helped to recover. This seemed to strike a note of interest.

I had some anitbiotic injections in my animal first-aid kit. I gave her a shot. She hardly noticed. Then I knew, that I had to get over my nausea and actually deal with those wounds, and took a look at my medical supplies. They were minimal. The anti-septic I had, would hardly deal with half the wounds she had before running out. The same with the creams. Now what? I shoved the supplies back into my sack, and kept only the bottle of phenyl. The rest would have to be home remedies (which was what I preferred in any case).

I made a strong solution of tea in a huge pot and used that to clean the wounds. Yes, I just plunged in, and cleaned them all thoroughly, pus, maggots and all, till the flesh showed clean. Some of the deeper wounds still harboured maggots - of that, I was sure, so I used some gauze soaked in phenyle on them to dress them. On the rest, I applied a light film of honey and stuffed them full with crushed garlic.

All done, I walked away from the tent area and puked.

The evening saw a repeat performance. On the next day, the maggot wounds were clean too, and they received the honey and garlic treatment, and by that evening, some of the lighter cuts had begun to heal, and the filly was acting more interested in life, and giving me trouble to catch for treatment 🙂 But she seemed to understand that I was trying to help, so she flinched and nudged with her nose, if it hurt, but never tried to kick at me or hurt me in any way.

After that, I taught the couple how to do what I was doing, and told them that they would have to repeat this till ALL the wounds were healed, and that the filly could probably begin walking in a day or two.

They seemed to have got the point, and the two days were uneventful - so to say (not counting one of my fillies who seemed to be jealous of all the attention this one was getting)

The time was up, and the gaddi camp moved on, and the filly became another memory, until a few years later, when I ran across the same gaddi again. There was a beautiful mare in his herd - the one I had treated. I recognised her instantly and was happy for her. The couple put camp once more, to spend some time with me, and that evening, I was invited to a special dinner, where they thanked me with tears in their eyes for saving their beautiful mare.

Their animals also looked better cared for, since the last time. I was happy, that things had worked out well, and that they had developed some love and concern for the living factors in their "business"