I was in Shanghai, China, on a maths project in August when I heard of the flood devastation in Kerala. I flew over the Himalayas to Kerala thinking how I could help in a substantial way. At about that time the Supreme Court issued the verdict that women of all ages could visit Sannidhaanam at Sabarimala. Protests and counter protests ensued. Meanwhile estimates of the flood damages came in at over thirty thousand crores rupees. I became concerned that the steady noise over the Sabarimala issue would dampen the flow of donations from Malayalees abroad. It occurred to me that if the memory of the flood is not allowed to become distant, more donations would come in. To help in this, I decided on a 30-day run over the length of Kerala from Trivandrum. News of the run would encourage those expatriates who had not yet contributed to the Chief Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund (CMDRF). So with the donation portal http://donations.cmdrf.gov.kerala.in displayed on three support vehicles I began the run.
This is a solo run alongside traffic over the length (approx.. 650 kms) of Kerala State. Such a run is difficult since the runner has to keep to the side of the road beyond the edge marking. And that portion of the road slants. This means that while running on the left side of the road the road generally dips to the left and hence the left foot is bearing more weight. Since the runs are on consecutive days, it would be more likely that the greater weight on the left leg would cause injury. So it is possible that the run might be interrupted due to this injury.
There is an additional difficulty running on the highway in Kerala. That is the stench of rotting meat from the garbage that people throw into the bushes on the roadside. And, indeed, there is the common difficulty of running on the public roads anywhere in India – the high-pitch sounds of horns of vehicles.
The pace of the run will be far slower than the runs where a runner competes for a single run and does not run the next day. I have a small caravan of three vehicles – an announcement vehicle that is 50-100 meters in front, an electrical vehicle a few meters in front of me, and a supplies vehicle behind me. Mahindramotor company provided their Reva brand electrical vehicle. It is interesting that I had used a Reva – before Mahindra acquired the brand – in my first run across the length of Kerala ten years ago.
There is a support crew of six including the three drivers of the vehicles. They wore white shirts that said “Parakshshemamaagrahikkuka” in Malayalam on the front of the shirt and “Desire the Welfare of Others” on the back. They also donned shorts and sneakers supplied to them. I am quite pleased with the crew.
The run is to be flagged off at 8:30 am. Near that time, Sivasankar, I.A.S., Secretary of the Government accompanied me to the portico of Cliffe House, the Chief Minister’s residence. After a few minutes the chief minister, Hon. Pinarayi Vijayan, emerged and we chatted briefly. Then we walked to the front gate of the compound. He placed a ponnaada on me and waved a huge white flag. I was off – to run for the next 30 days on NH66. The Trivandrum editions of the newspapers carried the news the next day.
I was off.
Our loudspeaker permit spanning all districts of thestate would not arrive till the following day. So we could not turn on the announcement. This made our passage difficult in the heavy 9 am traffic of Trivandrum. I ran 21.5 kms and reached the Thonnakkal Junction near the Kumaranaasaan memorial on NH 66
The day on the highway started at 6:30 am. After 22 kms I reached Kadambattukonam. The crew and I proceeded to Varkala where our loding was arranged. In the afternoon I gave a mathematics class on Neutral Geometry at the MGM school in Varkala.
Starting in the morning I ran 22 kms and reached Pallimukku, Kollam. A person with both legs amputated was by the roadside during the run. I felt like God was looking at me. I gave an offering of 500 rupees. We stayed at the lovely KTDC by the Ashtamudi lake.
The route today passed near the house of my younger brother in Kollam. Despite being a busy medical doctor, I saw him wait by the road. He took pictures. The run ended at 22 kms at Vettamukku, near Karunagappally. Vettamukku means the betal leaf junction. In other words the “tt” in Vettamukku is pronounced as in vendetta. We stayed at the KTDC inAlumkadavu on the Kayamkulam lake.
The route being close to the ocean was flat and therefore easy to run. The run ended at 22 kms at Kareelakulangara. We travelled to Mannarasala, to our lodging near the Nagaraja temple.
A hardware store had Asbestos roofing sheets for sale in the front of the store. The sheets were piled about four feet high. It was clear that the dust from the sheets were going into the air. The worker who handles the sheets, the employees of the store, the drivers who transport the material to the poor homes are all at risk of cancer related to this dangerous material. The run ended 2.5 kms north ofThottappally bridge. We had meals at a small and clean restaurant that was less than a hundred meters from the sea. The fish in the curry they served tasted so fresh!
The road was flat as the route hugged the sea. I ended at 22 kms in Thiruvampady, Alappuzha. We stayed at Seaside resort; the building was far from the sea.
I took a break for a few mins at 13 kms. Actually a house that looked so peaceful beckoned me. It turned out to be the house of a retired teacher who has Vechoor cows and special goats. The householder gave me and the staff of five “sambhaaram”; so refreshing it was! A lady ran in from the road and garlanded me.
I ran 22 kms. Then I rested on the tarmac of a small and peaceful temple near the northern end of the Aroor-Kumbala bridge near Ernakulam.
From 4 to 5 pm I gave a lecture at CUSAT to students on an integrated M.Sc. maths program. I spoke about the Laws of Thought. I dwelt on the Law of Excluded Middle and why not all mathematicians accepts it. I showed why Proof by Contradiction is more powerful than Direct Proof in those instances where the former can be used.
We faced much traffic today as we passed through the Edappally junction in Ernakulam. At Edappallyour scheduled route took us towards Adakulam, which is south of North Paravoor. From Adakulam we drove to Alwaye where we were to stay for the night. This was a special day as I visited Union Christian College in Alwaye, my alma mateur. I spoke to about 150 students who were mathematics majors.
Today the streets had little traffic as there was a state-wide hartal. There were still crowds of people all along who greeted me. The run starts each day at around 6:15 am and we eat after the run is completed some 3.5 to 5 hours later. Since restaurants were closed due to hartal, we visited a beautiful house with peaceful environs. The man of the house arrived at the same time from outside on a bike. I was pleasantly surprised to see him greet us warmly. He said he had see us earlier in the run. I asked him if it would not be too inconvenient to give us something to eat. He immediately said he will make puttu and feed all seven of us. He went inside the house, ordered the preparation and went somewhere locally and returned with plantain bananathat was suited to be eaten with puttu. The crew ate while I rested. I did not feel like eating after the long run. Yet the host brought out a plate of perfectly ripe pieces of papaya. What a treat. We took some pictures with the host, thanked him and left for our night lodging.
Today was the best day of the run as I interacted continuously with the crowds and they encouraged me all along. I also gave alms to a slowly moving old man with lot of sores all over the body. I ran 22 kms and reached ten kms south of Nattika.
Today’s run was difficult as the highway had less than a foot of pavement beyond the edge marking where I run. But the problem lasted only for 10 kms. The highlight was the resting place I chose to change shoes. It was a small temple nestled by a huge banian tree. A peaceful place. A lady who seemed to be managing the place greeted us and gave us a very tasty prasaadam. We gave an offering in the vanchi of the temple. I ran 22.5 kms. We were just another day’s run from Guruvayoor. Our lodging for the day was offered by Kerala Tourism in their Tamarind brand resort in Thrissur. Our journey there was difficult as we lost the way trying to find the place.
We stayed the previous night at Thrissur which is about 25 kms from NH66 on which I run. A press conference is scheduled today at the Thrissur Press Club. Sowe have to travel 25 kms from Thrissur to NH66, run and return to Thrissur Press Club. After the run I entered the open gate of a beautiful house on NH. It seemed that only the lady of the house and her adolescent son were there. When a member of my crew asked if I could sit in a shady area of the compound, she refused. I told her that I understood. There were no shops nearby. So I went to the next house where I met an old lady who was hard of hearing. She also refused. These refusals turned out to be blessings in disguise as they saved our time to travel the 30+ kms to Thrissur for the press conference arranged at the Press Club in Thrissur. But there were only a few junior reporters at the press meet; the major media people had gone to Kozhikode for the annual meeting of reporters. I had also arranged a lunch reception for 40 people in an a/c hall at Pearl Regency. Only seven from the media showed. Along with my support crew of six and myself, we had only 14 people at lunch. The hotel people were nice. They charged me only for 35 people. Yet it was a loss. It did not seem to affect me as my finances were in good shape and the adversities of the long run had hardened me. The returned to the hotel we had stayed the night.
We woke up at 4:30 am and headed for the spot on NH near Guruvayur where we had ended the previous day’s run. Today was Nabi day. The region we were passing through on NH had a profusion of mosques and Madrassas. Processions of capped boys and men filled the highway. They greeted us and offered crushed watermelon and sweets. The watermelon mix tasted so good! At VeliyamcodeI gave alms to a poor youth who seemed to be retarded and ill-clothed. The run ended at over 22 kms at Ponnani. We went to a clean-looking restaurant. The food was good. But in the washroom, the sole toilet was missing a toilet seat! We put up at a local hotel.
We woke up at 4:30 am and were ready at 6:30 am at the spot on the highway where we had ended the previous day in Ponnani. The cheering crowds continued to energize me. We were proceeding towards Kuttippuram. At about 6 kms into the run, the highway had verdant fields of rice and coconut palms on both sides. I noticed a nursery of exotic plants. I rested at the nursery to look over. They specialized in orchids. There was also cactus of many varieties, as well as tropical plants and fruit trees. The owner was happy to have me. He offered tea which I accepted and got back on the highway.
The drink belt I wore carried two 200ml plastic bottles. One bottle has fresh coconut water while the other has plain potable water. Now, coconut water was obtained from fresh tender coconuts sold from the sides of the highway. Today I realized that although the highway is fringed with coconut trees the coconuts we bought were actually from Tamilnad. Those coconuts are from trees which were fed chemicals to increase yield. So I decided to procure coconuts from homes along the highway. We have on the crew a young man who is an expert climber of these trees. I offered him Rs 100 for each tree he would climb – one per day. A householder offered us free coconuts if only we would pluck them from the tree. Soon we had six coconuts which would yield us the 1 liter I needed for the day.
We ended the day 3 kms from Kuttippuram towards Kottackal. The picture is at the junction immediately south of Bharatapuzha. It is the Sabarimala season which is the famous pilgrimage perhaps next only to Hajj. The devotees wear the cloths according to the custom. I did 22.5 kms. We stayed at the KTDC Tamarind hotel in Kuttipuram.
I had a restful sleep. We began from the point we ended the previous day. It was gruelling route of two steady climbs and a few short ones. The steady ones lasted several kms. But I kept a steady pace, stopping briefly four times for water. I also stopped for two minutes when I saw a man with both legs amputated and sitting by the road for the merciful rupees. I gave 200 rupees. I wanted to give more, but
my expenses were mounting more than I had planned for. One stop I made was when I was nearing Kottakkal. A person ran across the road to me with a bottle of mineral water. I was overcome by his generosity and accompanied him to the shop. I asked for samphaaram, the beaten curd mixed with green chilly and salt. I asked that the water he gave me be used in the preparation. It was so tasty. I told him that this is the sixteenth day of the great run and he is the first person to offer me water. I then asked my project mange to pay him. But he said this is the least he can do for the great mission I am on.
I ran on for several kms, through the length of Kottakkal, and then past a bridge astride of which were beautiful stretches of paddy fields and stands of coconut palms. I ended the day a 150 meters past the bridge. The GPS watch showed that I had run 25 kms this morning!
This is the 17th day of the run. I started at 6:15 am from the Kozhikode-side of Kottakkal past the bridge. The first 1.8 kms was a gruelling climb. There were shorter but steep climbs further on too. Solo runs alongside road traffic is difficult since the runner has to keep to the side of the road beyond the edge marking. And that portion of the road slants. This means that while running on the left side of the road the left foot is bearing more weight. My Achilles Tendon on the left foot has been hurting for the past three days. For temporary relief I rub in Voltaren before bed each night now. It was quite hot today. I finished 22 kms at the entrance of the Calicut University.
I conducted a class to math students at Nadakav HSS for girls.
The run started from the entrance of Calicut U on NH 66. There followed two steep climbs which together stretched 1.8 kms. There were a few smaller climbs. At 5 kms I reached Ramanattukara and proceeded in the direction of Kannur. The road from now on was flat and lined with trees and greenery. Arapuzha bridge in this stretch. The wide river and the stands of coconut palms fringing the vast water made such a beautiful scene from the bridge. The road on the bridge is only two lanes and used the concrete pavement for people to walk.
The scheduled end point for the day is Thondayad Junction which we reached at 10 am. We then proceeded to Yaz International hotel in Kozhikode city. A press Conference took place there, beginning at 12:40 pm. The conference was attended by more than 50 media people. The conference took place in a lovely hall that was set up for press conferences. We stayed in Kozhikode for the night.
The day began at 6:35 am from Thondayad Junction east of Kozhikode on NH 66. The road was generally flat due to proximity to the sea. The long stretch did not straddle substantial towns or villages. There were hardly any people in the occasional shops. Being a Sunday, the traffic was light. The sun was not intense due to patches of clouds. The highlight of the run was the brief stop I made at a camping of Rajastani artisans casting Hindu gods and painting them with bright colors including blue and red. From the many photo shots they requested with me, it seemed that they greatly enjoyed my visit. I did 23 kms and reached about 6 kms north of Kappad. Our stay was arranged at Kappad Beach. It was a large house, entirely to ourselves, opposite the lovely and clean beach.
Today the run started only at 7 am and the sun was already intense on a cloudless sky. I struggled but made 22.5 kms to Vadakara. I passed the Pisharikavutemple (near Koilandy) and its beautiful temple pool..
The run started at 6:15 am from 3 kms south of Vadakara city. Barely 1 km into the run, I noticed a poor family from another state just waking up on the pavement in front of a building. I approached them and blessed them and gave the man Rs 500. The run continued. At 17 kms into the run I began passing through Mahe, the Union territory inside Kerala. It offered a couple of steep climbs. At 22 kms I reached the outskirts of Thalassery which the British called Tellichery. It was 9:50 am and I stopped.
At 2 pm I visited the Brennan Government College near Thalassery, the college where the Hon. Pinarayi Vijayan was a student. I delivered a maths lecture to B.Sc. Final Year students. I discussed the Fregge(pronounced Freegay) notation for “p implies q” and proved why “p implies q” is equivalent to its counterpositive, namely “Not q implies Not p”. The proof used the Law of Excluded Middle which I explained by discussing Aristotle’s three Laws of Thought. For fun, I shifted into Projective Geometry and showed how a parabola can be projected to become an ellipse in that geometry.
The run began at 6:15 am from the ending point of the previous day. For 2 kms it was a dangerous moving. The national highway approaching Thalassery from the south is wide enough for just two lanes. The side marker is inches from the walls of the shanties and low buildings and the traffic is heavy. It became normal at about 2.5 kms near the Thalassery police stadium. Near the entrance to the stadium a boy riding with his father on a motor bike offered me 100 rupees. His father probably thought I am collecting money from the public. I said all donations go directly to the online portal for the Disaster Relief Fund. I blessed the boy and continued down the highway. I passed three rivers in quick succession a kilometer apart. Their banks were lined with beautiful long lines of coconut palms. I went through several towns. People cheered me on. This made me less aware of the pain in the knees. I clocked 22 kms at 3 hours and 25 minutes and ended before 10 am. The point was about 2.5 kms to Kannur.
There was a press conference at 11:30 AM at the Kannur Press Club. The support crew and I then retired to a KTDC hotel where we would stay till we check out at 5:45 am.
Today I started at 6:17 am from the ending point of the previous day – 2 kms south of Kannur city. After 3 hours and 34 minutes I had covered 22.5 kms to reach Thaliparamba. It was a smooth day. At 2 pm I visited KPRGHSS Kalliassery and gave a 50-minute math class to about 60 students in grade 11. I spoke on Aristotle’s Laws of Thought, Frege’s representation of “p imples q” and drove home to students the proof of the equivalence of “p implies q” with its counterpositive. The students were quite attentive and seemed to enjoy and follow. My support crew and I retired to KTDC hotel for the night.
The run started from the southern edge of Thaliparamba, which is 22 kms north of Kannur city, at 6:21 am. After passing through Thaliparamba I faced a long and steep road for several kms. Then it levelled off. However I had already been taxed beyond the normal and finished the 22 kms with difficulty some 3 kms north of Payyanur. At the end of the run the frame of my glasses got damaged. I still resolved to go to the high school – Govt. HSS school in Chemeni. The school was 20 kms of uneven country road from our lodging in Payyanur. I made do with the damaged glass frame and had a marvellous math time with the eager students. After returning from school I got my glasses repaired. I rewarded myself by going for dinner to a nice eatery named The Bamboo Restaurant in Payyanur.
The name Payyanur is derived from Payyan’sOor or Payyan’s place. There is a famous temple here – Subrahmanya Swami temple. Payyan is Payyanur Perumal who is said to be Lord Subrahmanya Swami. Because the temple is here, it is the Swami’s place – Payyanur.Payyan means young fellow. Subrahmanya swami is young fellow because he is said to be the younger of the two sons of Lord Siva.
Starting the day 3 kms east of Payyanur on NH 66, it was smooth for a few kms. Then the road was patchy, meaning it was patched up ashphalt that was not even so that almost every step had to be carefully taken by studying the ground. As if this was not punishment enough, the road was not wide as one would expect for NH 66; the traffic was inches from me. I passed three big rivers which had waters as clean as I had seen, pale green water which was translucent near the banks. People greeting me was the energizing element which with my will not to succumb kept me going to finish the 22 kms to reach the outskirts of Kanjanhad. This is a city – the second largest in Kasaragod district.
No idea why Kasaragod is spelled to end with “god” In the native language it used to end with “kod”. As to why “Kasara” one opinion is that it is indication of the preponderance of the “Karaskara” or kanjira tree in this state. This is a water-rich state with many rivers and lakes and with a long shoreline with the Arabian sea. Folks here are relatively more spiritual than in several of the other districts of Kerala. I visited two ashrams this evening – Guruvanam set in a forest and Anandashram which is a sprawling complex. Of the two, I liked the latter where I meditated for 20 minutes to the harmonium-accompanied chant of “Sri Ram Jaya Ram Jaya Jaya Ram.”
The day started at 6:17 am from 6 kms south of Kanhangad. As there would be only 2 days available for me after today to do the run and 68 kms remained, I decided to cover 24 kms this morning. Keeping a brisk paceI finished 25.5 kms reachingMelparamba town; Melparamaba means higher field. It indeed was higher field for there was a long climb to it which however did not affect me as I seem to tap into psychological energy in addition to having an endorphins-flooded brain towards the end of the run. The run had crossed the beautiful waters of the Chithari and Bekel rivers. The picture shows me chewing on a stick of sugar cane. Our lodgings are at the KTDC property in Pallikkare near Bekel; a lovely place on the sea and a staff there so friendly that they seemed to me a sample of Kannur people who I found so warm. We are in Kasaragod district which adjoins Kannur district. I feel that the folks in this districtare equally friendly for today today I was vested with a ponnadawhile in the run. For my western readers, ponnada is a piece of rectangular cloth, generally with a golden border and which is placed over you from the back to fall over the chest while going over the shoulders. Placing ponnada indicates respect accorded to you. Interestingly this is done also at funerals when the cloth in its rectangular extent is simply placed,as a mark of respect, over the stilled body. At the end of the run, I rested by an ice cream shop and my support staff, as usual, draped my knees with ice so there is no swelling to prevent the next day’s run. The youth clubat Melparambaquickly organized a small ceremony which comprised a quickly printed banner saying Expatriate Run for Disaster Relief”, the club president saying a few words and placing a ponnada on me. This wasthe first felicitation since the start of the run 25 days ago – today is the 26th day. I felt that it is rightly due!
From yesterday’s ending point in Meleparamba we started at 6:27 am. I was 5 kms from Kasaragod. Three climbs and three descents covering the 5 kms I reached Kasaragod. I ran on to finish 22.5 kms and crossed four rivers. Mangroves began to appear in the fringes of the rivers. The clear banks still had coconut palms. The second river had a long bank of sand brought in by long wooden boats that moved by manual power using paddles; these boats have men diving into the river bottom and bringing up sand in wicker baskets that drained the water efficiently. I noticed three big campuses of the Central Plantation and Crop Research Institute (CPCRI) fronting on this section of NH66 in Kasaragod district. On one campus I posed beside a coconut palm of the dwarf variety – the palm is four years of age.
In the afternoon I conducted a class for Grade 11 students at MogralPuttor Govt HSS in MogralPuttor.
Tomorrow would be the final day of the run. Had I been running only half-marathons, it would have taken 30 days. But I exceeded a half marathon each day and so the run would be finished in 28 days.
This was the final day of the run and the distance to Karnatakawas only 18 kms. I powered through in 2 hours 22 mins to reach the end point,Thalapady, and then further a half km inside Karnataka state. My six support crew has been away from their homes for a month. So,after a final breakfast I quickly dispatched all but one – the driver of the electrical vehicle. The embedded professional photographer and his driver – making a video of the whole run – also remained. The photographer, Raghu, is a scholar and former teacherwith a deep knowledge of India, having journeyed the country a few dozen times.
The four of us retired to the beautiful and peaceful seaside KTDC resort at Pallikkare between Kasaragod and Kanjangad. After a quick shower we went to the Central University of Kerala in Periya, an institution supported by the government of India, reaching there at 2 pm. What a sprawling campus!
There was a felicitation ceremony attended by dignitaries including the Collector of Kasaragod district. I was draped in two ponnadas and pointed at as an example of how determination can outdo infirmity of old age. In my reply, I told the august audience that I am nothing special but that I hear a ‘drummer’ by name Michael Angelo who said, “the greater danger in life is that you keep your aims low and achieve them.”
After this ceremony, the dignitaries left and I was given a reduced audience of some 80 comprising faculty, Masters and PhD students. I delivered a lecture on the equivalence of conics under a Plane Perspective. This is a difficult topic in Projective Geometry. By explaining the idea, I am confident that I gave the audience something useful. Half way through the 90-minutes lecture, there was a tea break. I was pleasantly surprised that the size of the lecture-audience had not reduced after the tea break which occurred in a different hall. At the end of the lecture, Dr. K.J.Thomas, Dean of Physical Sciences at the university thanked me and invited students to come up and give their thoughts on the lecture. One female student and one male student came up to the podium and thanked me for making a difficult concept easy to comprehend. I then spoke for a minute in reply and quoted Einstein and Feynman: If you can not explain a concept in simple terms so that the audience can clearly get it then you do not understand it well enough yourself. I have not placed the previous sentence in quotes because I do not know the quote literally. I then thanked the faculty and students and said that I am grateful for their presence, for this lecture is the end of my month-long campaign for the state – a campaign to raise funds from expatriates and to communicate mathematics in the afternoons to students. I also said that that this is the final run of my life – having also been the first to run the length of Kerala some ten years ago – and that there is one final project I wish to do if I last another year and that is to lift this state and this country in mathematics; that would be easier for me to do than 28 consecutive half-marathons, for mentoring students showing high promise in mathematics is the work I am happily engaged in the USA and China.
With the dean, chair of mathematics department, PhD and Masters students and some faculty at Central University of Kerala, Periya, Kasaragod district
Having observed Kerala for over a half century in the context of the rest of the world which I have travelled, my conclusions are these for making this state a decent place.
- Semi-weekly collection of segregated waste and recycling them in environmentally safe manner
- Western-model covered dual drainage: One for rain water that goes to a water body like a river or lake, and one for effluents from bathrooms and kitchens going to recycling plants that filter and disinfect and release the final potable water to a water body
- Clean toilet facilities maintained 24×7, especially for females, in every bus station and train station; also, during open hours at restaurants and educational institutions
- Drinking water, good enough for any V.I.P., comprising two units: One from which water issues in a small parabolic arch and one in which water falls vertically and allows filling in a bottle
Item number 1 will eliminate the discarding waste on the roadside, bushes and waters. Item 2 will keep our water bodies safe and clean while eliminating the stench of street drainages and reducing the breeding of mosquitoes. Item 3 will eliminate the biggest inconvenience for travellers and students. Item 4 will reduce the use of bottled water.
The above, in my opinion are the issues that cry out for immediate resolution. While the visitors from abroad respect India for its generally non-violent populace, they still consider us as primitive.
There are additional issues. The easiest among them to solve is the jostling for entering buses and trains. State legislation must make it mandatory that we must form queue to enter public transport – first come first enter. Violators must be heavily fined. Tamilnad is an example where people form queues. This problem can be solved overnight. Here are other problems needing solution that take much more than a day to solve.
- Preservation of forestsForests should not be encroached for making dwellings, worship places or other constructions. New dwellings should be in highrises unless non-forest land is available.
- Land ZonesEvery part of the state needs to have zoning that is so planned that particular buildings and activities are designated for particular zones. Zoning change could occur only by consent of a majority of those in the vicinity as well as assent of expert independent panel. Considerations of present or future financial benefit to the society should not count in the decision unless such benefit is so overwhelming that compensatory re-zoning elsewhere would easily mitigate the potential adverse impact from the decision.
- Speed limits on roadsSpeed limit must become strict. Transport trucks and buses must pay heavier fines for exceeding speed limit. And speed limit means limit of speed. 60 kms limit means there is penalty if it is 61 kms. In this matter, police must be replaced by cameras.
- Population GrowthFamilies should be limited to 2 children so that the runaway train of population growth will slow down immediately.
- Use of Asbestos sheets for roofingAsbestos dust is positively correlated with lung disease including Mesothelioma. First, no government sponsored or aided building construction should use asbestos sheets. Second, the sale of these sheets should be made illegal – the hardware store employees and drivers who transport the sheets are at the greatest risk. This is going to be difficult to implement as the manufacturer lobby will try to prevent it. But Asbestos roofing will be prevented; the question is how soon?
- Playgrounds for schoolsEach school must have a playground that is not bare soil raising dust.
- School UniformsThe foolishness of physically restrictive and uncomfortable school uniforms should drop. For example, schools requiring ties or full-sleeve jackets/coats should change the dress code unless the school is air-conditioned – imagine the teachers also having to wear those things! The quality of a school is in the instruction!
- Pesticides and FertilizersNo pesticide or fertilizer that is not scientifically proven as harmless to man and animals should be allowed manufacturing license.
- Burning of debrisBurning of debris or anything else other as kindling (for cooking) should require a permit from the local government for each occurrence unless the burning is in an incinerator approved by the government and where the smoke produced is filtered to remove harmful gases including CO2.
- Spread of disease from barber shops and hairstyling placesEach barber shop and hairstyling place should keep the scissors and other cutting and styling instruments in sanitizing media/liquid before use on the next customer.
- Drinking strawThe drinking straw should be made of biologically degradable materials and each straw should be wrapped in paper which only the customer should remove.
- Sanitation in restaurantsWe are quite primitive in sanitation in the handling of food in restaurants; the most primitive is the tea shop where the glasses are washed in a metal basin and the dirty water remains for yet another arriving glass; people are saved partly by the few ounces of boiling water that the tea-preparer throws into the glass before pouring tea. The customer needs to be served in a machine-washed glass or cup; the machines can be supplied by the local government for a fee unless the teashop owner supplies his own (which is unlikely as the owners are generally either poor or understand the need for it). The foregoing could also apply to plates and utensils on the table.
We need to change to electric or hydrogen vehicles, but the change is beginning; let our neighboring country, China, be the model in this as well as mass transport using ultra fast means. We need to eliminate coal-fired electricity generators and replace them with nuclear stations; may national policy on pollution govern in this! Finally we can adopt the personal habit of people in many countries in the manner in which we cough, yawn, and sneeze; let us do it into the bent elbow so that the jet of air from the mouth is slowed down into the elbow and we can shake someone hand immediately, if needed, and not pass on germs.
Let us build a new Kerala. I have tried to do my part by completing a long run. Now it is your turn. Contribute what you can afford to CMDRF. Yes, you!
Dr. George R. Thomas