Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Go Solar: The new mantra

By Ila Garg

Opting for renewable energy is fast becoming the new trend. Every other household is finally seeing the benefits of solar energy: a source of electricity that is renewable, off-the-grid, clean, distributed and most importantly, affordable.

India can be most benefited from this renewable energy as more than half of the population still lives in rural areas where the grid cannot reach. These remote areas have therefore never seen electricity. They are lurking in the darkness as the world progresses each day. Now, India can finally move out of the darkness and into light, with at least 55 cities being developed as solar cities.

Taking a step towards solarising India, on Thursday, Delhi Power Minister Satyendra Jain released a Delhi Solar Energy Policy 2015 draft. This Policy aims at generating 1,000 MW of solar power in the next five years. This will help in resolving power cut worries quite easily.


At an event at the secretariat, Satyendra Jain remarked, “To promote solar energy, solar panels will be installed on the roof-tops of every government building and we’ll start with the Delhi Secretariat.”

The minister also revealed that a tender for 5MW solar power generation has been floated. “We have a target to generate 1,000 MW of solar power in the next five years and 2,000 MW by 2025,” he said.
He further added, “This solar policy will promote a rapid growth of solar power, especially from the roof-top source, via a combination of generation targets, regulations, mandate and incentives. This will also promote net-metering and grid connectivity for all solar plants.”

If all goes well, very soon, every household in Delhi will not only have access to an uninterrupted power supply but also save on the electricity bills.

Earlier, the Rajasthan government had approved of an investment of Rs. 1.56 lakh crore in the solar power sector. Sighting the benefits of solar power, the world’s first 12 MW solar power plant was inaugurated by Kerala’s chief minister at the Kochi airport. No wonder the newest metro line added to Delhi metro is NCR’s first solar equipped metro line.

Overseas, China too has already started building its largest solar plant to meet its voluptuous power needs. That’s not all. The enormous usage of this clean, green energy will leave you astonished; the first solar-powered aircraft Solar Impulse 2, made its first successful flight on 3 July, 2015.


The initial installation cost is a little on the higher side. However, since the cost can be recovered in a span of a few years, it remains a lucrative deal. Also, the enormous benefits cannot be ignored. What makes solar power the talk of the town is the fact that it is 100% eco-friendly and can reach the areas where the grid cannot.

Does that mean we will see a solar world soon?

Monday, November 9, 2015

Anything To Look Hot - Book Review

Anything To Look Hot
By Jas Kohli
Review By Ila Garg

Anything To Look Hot, a novel by a plastic surgeon and writer Dr. Jas Kohli, is published by Srishti Publishers and Distributors. The cover is apt and thoroughly intriguing for the readers. Wasim Helal has done a good job with the cover art. The title too manages to attract the readers as everyone wants to look hot these days.

A plastic surgeon by profession and a writer by passion – Dr. Jas Kohli had started his training as a surgeon twenty years back. Though during all those years, he hadn’t imagined that one day he would be exposing the secretive world of plastic surgeons and their clients. He takes keen interest in astronomy, music and bird-watching. Anything To Look Hot is his literary debut. Through his writings, he aims to foster a stronger doctor-patient bond.

The blurb reads as, “When the superstar diva of the past decade doesn’t want to play the hero’s mother on screen, she insists that she be reshaped into the most beautiful woman in the world…by any means.

This is just one of the many odd situations which plastic surgeon Dr. Dhruv faces in Mumbai. He has dealt with tyrannical bosses and finicky patients while undergoing his training, during which he has also won over a stunning doctor as his life partner. But satisfying the movie stars is a different ball game, because every girl wishes to have bee-stung lips, and every guy wants to flaunt a six-pack abdomen without working too hard. And all this while, he has to resist losing his balance over his ravishing female clients.

Dr. Dhruv’s journey surpasses even a masala movie for humour, drama and action. In debunking many a myth about cosmetic surgeries, the book will enthrall those who can do Anything to Look Hot.

The book is laced with realism and gives a deeper insight into the world of doctors through elaborate descriptions. This is a story centered on Dr. Dhruv and how he deals with the situations at hand. The plot is very different from regular chicklets. How he clears the entrance test for the M.Ch (Master of Chirurgiae) course, marries a fellow doctor and lets her stay at a hostel for 3 years to pursue her academic dreams is wonderfully weaved into the story. The various demands of the patients and how Dr. Dhruv tackles them is actually interesting.

The story moves in a flow and nowhere will a reader feel any disconnect. Though it is a Medical Fiction but any reader can be engaged with the storyline. The subject is tackled beautifully by the skillful author. Through Dr. Dhruv, Jas Kohli takes us into the world of doctors and also describes what happens when a mishap happens during any operation. For instance, if a patient dies during a surgery, the relatives start accusing the doctor of being a murderer, which is very sad.
Excerpt from the book: ‘Sir, even after working dedicatedly for donkey’s years in the hospital, I could be called a murderer and possibly assaulted for an act of God.’‘See, we Indians have wild mood swings. When the Indian cricket team performs badly, the public goes to the extent of burning effigies of the star players. The relatives had an irrational but firm belief that the wrong injection had been given to the child. So they refused to buy your explanations.’
The romance intermingled with humour add to the USP of the book. Also the language is easy to comprehend and style of narration is unique and fresh. The ease with which the life of a plastic surgeon is brought to the fore is good to read, the instrumental role that his dreams played in his tale, and how he fell in love and found his soulmate are some of the many reasons why you will keep turning the pages to find out what happens in Anything To Look Hot. Another reason that would keep you glued to this book would be the beauty with which a flawed character Dr. Dhruv is unfolded.

Further, this 196 page book is well written and moves beyond the regular romance novels. What makes it stands out is the realistic approach that the author took in characterizing Dr. Dhruv who is at once a plastic surgeon with the eye of a falcon and courage of a tiger, and also a keen explorer with love for astronomy. It’s a light read and one can easily carry it while travelling to read along.

My Verdict: To find out whether Dr. Dhruv becomes a successful surgeon or not, how he managed to survive the pangs of separation from a girl who he loved dearly, how he finally found a girl he could live the rest of his life with and how he treated his long list of clients with great concentration and endurance, and what happened with him in the end; you will have to read the novel, Anything To Look Hot.

Dr. Jas Kohli does come across as a promising writer!

Ratings: 3.7/5

Buying Links: Rediff | Amazon | Infibeam

Monday, October 19, 2015

In your arms...

I love the feeling of being in your arms,
I feel safe in your embrace, in your warmth.
The way you look at me is special, it disarms,
Your lips on mine are gentle, soft, and irresistible.

Something in me breaks every time;
you go silent, I can cry oceans but then;
I close my eyes, only to find you there in my rhyme,
And then I crave to hear that soothing voice of yours!

I love to see 'us' as one and not fragmented,
Yet I call off each time only to hurt myself more than you.
And for all this pain, I apologize. You keep me grounded,
away from harm when all I want is to be 'me'.

I don't wish to give up on 'us', and I won't,
I will continue to see the dream that I once shunned.
Because your alluring eyes continue to haunt,
And your voice is still resounding in my ears.

Many a times, your feelings you have unfurled,
You left me craving for more when you put down the pen.
And yes, we can be two people for the world,
But in the moment we kissed, our souls united as 'one'!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Tonight I feel...

Tonight, I feel hollow inside, 
Like something has broken beyond repair. 
Darkness has taken over the light, 
As I feel trapped in an endless tunnel. 
They say that at the end of the tunnel, 
You shall find the light that you seek. 
But I seem to have lost direction, 
As I keep coming back to where it all began! 
I hear faint voices, but no one hears me. 
I bleed but no one is there to heal me.
So I choose to use my blood as ink, 
To give vent to the pain flooding inside me. 
I cry endlessly, but it is all in vain, 
I want to be hugged so tight; 
That the pain in my heart subdues. 
I want to be rescued tonight, 
So that my heart can beat again. 
And then my heartbeats can mingle, 
And create a symphony with my beholder. 
No promises, no strings attached! 
As they only cause pain and hurt. 
Tonight I choose to bear it all, 
Only in hope of a better tomorrow...

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Post Ganesha Chaturthi: Delving on eco-friendly alternatives

By Ila Garg

Every year, Ganesha Chaturthi is celebrated across the nation with great pomp and show. It is a 10-day festival that Hindus celebrate with great fervour during the month of Bhadra (23 August-22 September) in accordance with the Hindu calender. The preparations begin months ahead of the event as hundreds of artisans start making Ganesha idols and paint them in beautiful colors. Many tourists too love to visit India to witness the proceedings of Ganesha Chaturthi as the excitement that this festival brings with itself is unparalleled.


Streets of Mumbai go berserk as innumerable hues and countless tunes take over to celebrate the birthday of our elephant-headed God, Ganesha.

However post festival, the water pollution caused by immersion of idols cannot be ignored. The idols, made up of toxic materials like Plaster of Paris, cement, plastic, and clay do not dissolve in water easily and later they create a layer on the water surface. This layer then cause breathing and surviving difficulty for fish and other aquatic creatures. And, that’s not all! The paints used to colour the idols contain mercury and lead. The plastic and cement used in the idols takes months to dissolve and yet the residue is left lurking near the debris. Also, the water’s acid content increases post the festival due to the immersion of idols. This polluted water not only hits the flora and fauna adversely but also causes diseases like skin irritation and others.

After the immersion, no steps are taken to clean the water so the pollution aggravates the problem. The Yamuna River in Delhi suffers to a large extent due to the immersion of idols. “Even after the immersion, no one from the (municipal) corporation comes to clean the riverbank. The locals collect the bamboo from the river bank for their own use. This practice is seen every year. The MCD comes to just put the road in order,” said Bhubaneswar, a local resident.
Rajesh, a member of a puja committee from Noida Sector 76, said, “The clay used for making Durga idols in Kolkata is always recommended because it gets absorbed in the water. Idols made of Plaster of Paris are not good because they release a lot of chemicals. The government should make alternate arrangements for immersion of Ganesha idols.”
This problem has persisted for many years now. The number of idols immersed increases every year. This year, the 10-day festival that ended on September 18 saw at least six lakh idols immersed in small lakes, rivers, and seas across Maharashtra. Many more idols were immersed nationwide. Imagine the amount of pollution that this would cause due to the toxins used in the idols!
“Every year we come here for Visarjan. There is no alternate arrangement. We don’t want to pollute the Yamuna but can’t help it. Every year the Yamuna gets dirty during Ganesha festival and Durga Puja, the government should do something about it. There is so much space near the ghat. The government should make separate arrangement for immersion. The sages and seers of our country should come forward and create awareness about it. Only then, this practice would change for the better,” said Somesh Lal, an engineer and a member of the puja committee in Delhi.
On September 16, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) came out with an order to ban the immersion of idols made of plastic and Plaster of Paris. As awareness is finally spreading, people have started working towards finding eco-friendly alternatives of celebrating Lord Ganesha’s birthday. Many organizations have addressed this issue and are actively coming up with eco-friendly Ganesha idols that are made of biodegradable materials and thus they can be safely immersed in the water. They also encouraged people to immerse the idols in tanks instead of rivers or seas to keep a check on the pollution.

In this regard, while on one hand a Mumbai-based NGO launched the #GodSaveTheOcean campaign, on the other hand, a Bengaluru-based organisation, ‘To Make a Difference’ (TMAD) manufactured 9-inch long eco-friendly Ganesha idols and home-delivered them to several houses this year.

Recently, the Human Resource Development Centre also started a Skill Development Scheme under which a small group of women made idols using bio-degradable materials. Two self-driven citizens of India– Shashi Shah who is an IT consultant and a Bengaluru-resident along with his friend Subru– started a company called Mudpiez this year. This company delivers ocean-friendly Ganesha idols and also offers to pick the idols for the immersion to ensure that the idols are immersed in an eco-friendly manner and not merely dumped in lakes, rivers, and seas. It is indeed a welcome move.


The eco-friendly Ganesha idols have been discussed upon a lot of times in the past but this year, we saw the execution of the idea. However, what came across as the most innovative way of celebrating an eco-friendly Ganesha Chaturthi was the idol that was made up of chocolate. A Mumbai-based baker Rintu Kalyani Rathod became an inspiration when she chose to make a 38 inches tall Ganesha idol with 35 kg of chocolate. It took her 50 hours to do so. What she did next is perhaps the most-amazing part of this whole idea. She immersed the chocolate Ganesha idol in milk and then she distributed it among hundreds of underprivileged kids. This served two purposes; firstly, it didn’t cause any pollution and secondly, by spreading happiness among the poor kids, she earned a lot of love and blessings.

Next year, for Ganesha Chaturthi, let us bring eco-friendly Ganesha idols to our homes and save the environment without hampering the festivity.

(With quotes from IANS)

The article first appeared on NewsGram.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

I am Siachen…

How am I ever gonna say all that is there in my mind, I wonder! Earlier, I tried to give you a glimpse of a retired soldier's journey when I posted I am coming home - a poem very close to my heart. 

Now, this is the least I could do as my mind took me the cold, wild, harsh fronts of Siachen. A land that is silent and violent at the same time. I am Siachen... is therefore an attempt to bring you face to face with the toughest battlefield in the world. Compared to LOC, this place has remained forgotten and not been an active part of the "news". However, this place is no less than a hell for the soldiers who serve there. It is strategically important for keeping a hold on Ladakh and Kashmir too. Therefore, in spite of the hardships and the harsh weather conditions, soldiers consider it their pride to serve a tenure of 90 days here.

Siachen is known for the legendary soldiers like Capt. Bana Singh (PVC) who went against all odds to capture the Quaid Post in 1987 (now named Bana Top) and regained control of this place. I and my partner in crime, Shwetabh Mathur dedicate this poem to the dare devilries like these and we salute the utmost commitment of every soldier who has dared or will dare to serve under the extreme weather conditions of Siachen.

So up, close, and personal - Here's Siachen for you - the most unforgiving battlefield of the world! Come walk with us as we march through this cold, numb, bone-chilling land. My friends, my lovers, my companions - Let us all go hand in hand...

"I am Siachen..."

I am Siachen… the land of wild roses.

I am the highest, coldest battlefield of the world, the bone of contention between two countries.

Life is anything here… but rosy.

At 21000 feet above sea level and temperature as low as -65° C, I can be a cold hell; sometimes even worse than the arctic.

Yet those guarding me go about their job in the bone-chilling climate which freezes weapons and makes walking a mammoth task.

I cover an area of 700 kms… for I am Siachen.

The more “active” of my counterpart extends till here – the LOC.

The world treats me as a demonic place where angels fear to tread and death seems to be something which lurks at every corner for the soldiers.

But believe me, it’s not me who takes their lives, it’s my climate which is too extreme for their bodies.

The melting glaciers and avalanches aren’t my fault too, yet I am seen as a brat.

I am Siachen…the land of wild roses.

I have seen wars fought for my control; such heroic sagas are embedded in my history.

I have witnessed Operation Meghdoot in 84 and then Rajiv in 87.

I have seen sweat turn to ice, fingers and limbs lost to frostbite more than hostile fire.

Where kerosene stoves are used just to keep weapons warm, the green parkas becomes black, food comes from cans and oranges become hard as cricket balls.

Where hunger and appetite take a backseat at these heights and food is eaten just to keep the body energized.

Where choppers behave like oversized bumblebees.

Where artillery guns have opened up in support of the soldiers whenever needed.

I have seen Lt. Rajeev and others sacrifice themselves in the capture of Quaid post.

I have seen Bana Singh defy elements to capture the same post with just 4 men.

With a fury of a wounded tiger he avenged the death of his comrades and captured the post.

I have seen the dying light and soldiers raging against all odds and elements.

I have seen them climb near vertical walls of ice without second thoughts, for this is what the Siachen battle school trains them to do - where only the fittest are sent to serve.

I am Siachen…

I share the jubilation of the troops at the bada khaana when they return to base camp after 3 months tenure.

They go as soldiers, return as veterans.

I share their gratitude to OP Baba for keeping them safe all throughout.

The faith in him so strong that soldiers vow to keep away from alcohol and tobacco during their tenure.

Ceasefire or not, soldiering continues, if not for surveillance, just to tread on trodden tracks so that the trail does not disappear in the snow.

There are angels here too, they are called as the Air Force and Army Aviators who make sure to keep the posts supplied all the year round in their choppers, in conditions which test both men and machines to their absolute limits.

Leave no men behind is their aim as they help bring casualties back irrespective of the weather.

In spite of all this, I am worried about the ecology of my own area.

Bio-degradable waste generated is a threat to me and I am highly affected pertaining to that.

I can be peaceful and tranquil to the human eye, but my wrath comes to the fore when I am exposed to such treatment.

My glaciers melt away causing avalanches, crevices which can open up suddenly to nearly 100 feet. I die out daily because of the imbalance that is created here.

It causes me pain and sorrow; pain because of my disturbed ecology, sorrow for the ‘purple’ bloodshed.

Soldiers are not born every day, they are special and thus it tears me apart when I see their blood being ‘purple’, so rare, being shed.

What’s the use of all this? Crores being spent on me just to maintain control and vigil on me.

Even then, we share a love and hate relation; they need me and yet tend to go carefree.

For now, I sit here as every year more brave-hearts come to prove their mettle as I pose challenges in front of them, to protect me and then be proud that they searched at Siachen.

For I am… the land of wild roses. I am Siachen…
“Quartered in snow, silent to remain… When the bugle calls, they shall rise and march again.

To every man upon the earth death cometh soon or late. And how can a man die better, than facing fearful odds, for the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his gods”.

- Scroll of honour at Siachen War Memorial.    

 Post Script: This poem is written in collaboration with Shwetabh Mathur

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Tech Talk: When Technology Backfires!

By Ila Garg 

Technology is ever growing, ever expanding! With the market flooded with gadgets of all shapes and sizes, it is nearly impossible for a person to pinpoint one gadget that they won’t get bored of. Well, yes eventually we all find something new, something better that tempts us to dump our prior gadget and happily switch to the new one. every other day a new gadget is launched with an array of fancy features, but do we really need them? Are they ever going to match our expectations?

But even after changing your gadgets multiple time, you encounter similar issues, don't you?

Technology fails you just when you think you have found the right match. Even iPhones don't hold your interest for too long then how can smartphones ever match your ever changing desires!

Only a few months back, I got this pretty hyped smartphone by Xolo – Omega 5.5. I thought it would be nice to get a hands-on experience of this gadget as it is not only affordable but offers a 1.4GHz octa-core processor. This means I can use multiple apps without cutting on the speed. With a HD display and a 5.5 screen size, this seemed to be a promising product at that time.

Next in its specs list was a 13 megapixel rear camera equipped with flash. I was hooked instantly as the shop assistant told me that yet I decided to act rationally. Before I could ask for other options, this assistant told me that it has a 2 megapixel front camera1 GB RAMHIVE UI skin, and has a 2600mAh Li-Ion battery.

Of course, I bought it.

So my experiment started. I was disappointed by each passing day. The 2 megapixel front camera wasn’t worth anything as howsoever hard I tried to click a selfie, it was blurred. An abrupt haziness surrounded my pictures and I was compelled to stop taking selfies. From a phone filled with thousands of selfies, switching to a phone that doesn’t allow me to click one single shareable selfie was a pain. Anyways, I survived that somehow.

Only after a month of my purchase, the screen of this “smartphone” cracked, breaking my heart into pieces. How? Oh no, it didn’t fell. I had nonchalantly kept some books on it and later when I finally reached for my phone, it was cracked. Oh wait, that’s not all. I was gradually coming in terms with the cracked screen as the phone was working fine but suddenly another problem started to occur. The touchscreen encountered some defaults making it impossible for me to type anything correctly in one go. I had to at least tap multiple times before seeing an input on the screen.

And the problem just worsened when I woke up from my slumber only to find my phone super-heated. A pop error message said – Overheated. Remove your battery immediately – I was obviously scared. We have heard cases of battery blasts, haven’t we? With shaking hands, I finally managed to remove the battery. It was so hot to touch. I kept it separately for some time and then replaced it back into the phone. I breathed a sigh of relief as the phone finally came back to life.

But this experience has made me lose my faith in technology. It can backfire anytime, anywhere. For now, I am seriously about to dump this “smartphone”, maybe I need a smarter phone and not just a smartphone.

Time to explore the market once again. Any suggestions? Did I hear someone say iPhone 6s? Do you think that would satisfy my longing? Will it satisfy yours? Let's put our thinking caps on and maybe for once let the rational mind think and decide.