Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What's to love about Delhi? Public Art, Bookaroo, Pride Parades!

Every year around this time, I'm reminded of why I like Delhi so much. Here are three things I did for fun over the past few days--all of them free, and none of them involving consumption of useless stuff.

1. Public Art: I confess, I'm a little ambivalent about the Project Bandaloop dancers that the American Center brought to Delhi on Friday.  They performed hanging from the Jeevan Bharati LIC Building in CP. Did their dance glorify this huge, unsustainable building? Or was it just amazing art?  Like many people, I watched the action from a construction site on outer circle. Yes, CP is still torn up in places.  There was a guy throwing up not far from us, which didn't add much to the ambiance. But the dance was spectacular, and my kids thanked me for bringing them.

Delhi's full of great public art. Keep your eyes out for Transportraits: Women and Mobility in the city.  I saw it last week at the Alliance Francaise, and you should see it if comes back. Most of us greens care about transportation, of course.  And transportation is no good unless it's safe--for everyone.  See this exhibit. Very enlightening.

2. Bookaroo.  This annual literary festival for kids just keeps getting better. Great authors, great books and a general celebration of reading and thinking.  My kids love Bookaroo! If you missed this year's festival, go get on their mailing list for next year.

3. DehliQueer Pride Parade: The annual Delhi pride parades are just plain fun.  We took the family.  Why not? Love is a family value and most kids can understand that freedom to love is a pretty important freedom.  And that if we let one group get picked on, then nobody is safe.  

Last Sunday's march was big and colourful--it was a celebration and an assertion. It was serious and tongue in cheek all at once. Like this old-new chant, to be said loudly, with a smile: Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Isai, Homo, Hetro: Bhai Bhai!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pindan Chon Pind Sunida Baas Dhakkan

In today's piece about his time in the village,  Gandhi fellow Kabir Arora reflects on caste, rainwater harvesting, green building materials, and useless government schemes.


My accommodation was in Baas Dhakkan but my school and kids belonged to Lohsana Chhota. This gave me an opportunity to explore two villages in one go. I have not visited Lohsana Chhota for lot of reasons, but still have some insights about it. Baas Dhakkan became my baas for a month. Confusion emerged from this  too, as my wards and I were still in different spaces altogether.

Baas Dhakkan or Dhakkan Ka Baas's literal meaning is "Residence of people who have Dhaka as surname." I'm still not sure under which Jati they are identified; most probably either with Jaat or Rajput. It's just a random assumption. Nobody asked me about my caste except the PT instructor of the school, who later announced that I belong to Vaishya Varna- which is historically not correct. Aroras are the only non-mercantile community by caste (belonging to Khatri varna- distorted version for the word Kashtriya- Gazette having details of Jatis in Punjab) but engaged in trade. As the caste question never came across, it was tough to explore the caste composition of the village. Hinduism, but of a Northern Rajasthani version, was followed in both villages. There were few Muslims and other faith followers. Ramdevra and Guga Peer were the two main deities worshiped there. The deities are also respected by Muslims of the region. All the villagers used “Ram Ram “ for greeting each other. Ram here does not refer to Ramayana's Ram, but to Ramdevra.

Lohsana Chhota had 225 houses where as Baas Dhakkan had 220 houses. Lohsana Chhota was under Lohsana Barra Panchayat Samiti. The Public Health Center and Higher school were both in Lohsana Barra which was quiet far from the village. Both the villages had Anganwadis and Primary Schools.

The villagers have a long tradition of harvesting rains. Tanke or Kund commonly used words for rainwater wells. There are two kinds of well structures used in the villages of this region. One has a dome like structure Ghomut in the core, very deep to store water; the periphery has a cemented floor in a circular pattern bordered with a small wall to keep insects and animals away. The floor is inclined towards the core and the Ghomut has a lot of pores on all sides so that harvested rainwater can go in core. The other structure is similar to urban rainwater harvesting structures where people use the roof for gathering water which is collected in wells through pipes. The roof is cleaned properly before the rainfall.

The underground water is very saline, so it is used in toilet and washing utensils. This year, it rained a lot so all the wells were filled to their utmost limit. In order to provide tap water to all houses in the village, the government  constructed wells to extract water from underground aquifers for storage in tanks on the ground in Baas Dhakkan. They are now lying as abandoned ruins. People prefer to use their Kund for water. Clearly this is a case of  implementing the government scheme for the sake of implementing.

Raw Material
The construction material used in the village was also from the local resources. Mud huts, we all know use material from surroundings. The concrete houses too, used sand, limestone, boulders which were gathered from the areas around. Many houses were more than hundred years old.
Nowadays cemented houses are also being constructed but people there don't hesitate to question their age span. 

For more of Kabir's experiences, see:
If I were my own teacher: confidence, colour and voices
Steep Climb 
Tourist Guide  

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

2G Spectrum Scam: how much is Rs 1.76 lakh crore?

What could we do with Rs 1.76 lakh crore? A lot!
 Fund NREGA for 4 years, clean up a giant oil spill, stack of Mentos to the moon and beyond...

The media has been running a lot of stories about corruption lately.  Following all the CWG drama, there was the Mumbai housing scam, the paanwala in a Gujarat village who uncovered an alleged one crore NREGA scam, and fresh scandals in Karnataka.  These are all important and it's good to shine a light on rot wherever it may be.  But we have to make sure we don't lose track of the difference between corruption and what can better be described as massive loot and pillage of the public coffers.

This brings to mind the report recently released by an international watchdog saying that Rs 20 lakh crore (Rs 20,556,848,000,000 or $462 billion) in 'black money' was illegally transferred out of the country between 1948 and 2008.

Rs 20 lakh crore is a huge amount of money.  But it was taken out of the country over a sixty year period. According to the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), it apparently took just a year or two for the government to give away 1.76 lakh crore (Rs 17,60,00,00,00,000 or $40 billion) when it allocated rights to the 2G spectrum (that's second generation wireless bandwidth) to new bidders at giveaway prices. 

Just so we are clear: the airwaves, like the air, rivers, and most natural resources, are owned by the people of India--and it's the Government of India's job to make sure these resources are managed in the interest of the people.  So selling the airwaves at ridiculously low prices is a violation of the public trust.  It's like selling a public park to a developer for a pittance: most of us lose; only the developer gets rich.

Most of us read these stories and think, "Wow, 17,60,00,00,00,000 looks like a really big number!" But though we all understand that a pile of money just slipped out of our collective hands, most of us don't really have a sense of how big that pile is. That's because the human brain just can't deal with that many zeros. We need something a little more concrete.

So today, I'm not going to go into the political machinations that led up to this embarrassment or the billionaires who benefited.  I just want to shed a little light on what all those zeroes mean in real life?  What could Rs 1.76 lakh crore--or Rs 20 lakh core--buy?

It can buy quite a lot as it turns out. So in case the government wants to fix this problem and recover that lost money, here is a list of things they could spend it on. Yes, there would be tough choices, but I have no doubt they will be up to the task!

1. Three percent of nearly everything
Why not start big?  Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is a number which attempts to measure the value of all the goods and services bought and sold in a given year. That's every cup of tea, every grain of rice, every new car or DTC bus.  In 2009, India's GDP was something like $1.2 trillion. So the money lost in the 2G fiasco alone amounts to more than 3% of our yearly GDP. Put simply, that means that in one fell swoop, we gave away close to 3% of our yearly economy to a few telecom giants.  Think about that for a moment. By the way, all that illegal foreign black money is equal to just under 40% of our GDP!

2. Rs 1500 for everyone
Instead of giving all that money to a few billionaires, why not spread it around? Admittedly this would be logistically difficult. But don't dismiss the idea so quickly. See when you give money to billionaires, they send much of it abroad, in the form of investments, or by simply buying imported luxuries.  Poor people don't do that--they spend nearly all their money close to home, where it has maximum economic impact.  And we have a lot of poor people.  Rs 1500 would amount to a more than 20 percent raise in annual income for the 800 million Indians living on Rs 20 or less every day!  (If we recovered the foreign black money, we could give every man, woman, and child something like Rs 17,500.)

3. Rural jobs at a decent wage
When you hear people say that we can't afford to pay state-mandated minimum wages to workers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), don't believe it.  The Union budget for 2010-11 allocates Rs 40,100 crore for the MGNREGA. With the money recovered from the 2G giveaway, we could fund rural employment for more than four years.(If we got back the overseas black money, we could fund rural jobs for 50 years!) If we kick in the money already budgeted for the program, we could vastly expand the wages and the reach of the program. And remember, all that extra money in the hands of rural farm labourers would fuel a boom in our rural economy, whereas extra money in the hands of billionaires too often ends up fleeing the country!

4. Double the Union budget for infrastructure spending 
The Union budget for 2010-11 calls for a total of 1,73,552 crore (US$ 37.57 billion) in infrastructure spending. The money lost in the 2G giveaway  (1.76 lakh core or $40 billion) is just a bit more than that. So if we added the 2G money to what's already budgeted, we could double the infrastructure budget for a year--or we could spread the increase over a decade. Being a green, I'd advocate putting the lion's share of that extra infrastructure money into buying clean water for all.  Then we could invest in trains, buses and other forms of sustainable public transportation. We might even think about converting T3 of the Delhi airport into a high speed rail terminus.

5. Cut the deficit in half
The central government borrows a lot of money every year, and this year is no exception. The net market borrowing of the Union government in 2010-11 is estimated at Rs.3,45,010 crore. If the GOI wants to make the deficit haters happy, they could use the money lost in the 2G giveaway to cut that deficit in half. (I wouldn't recommend it, but that's another story.)

6. Clean up the Gulf Coast
According to latest estimates, BP (or the US government) will have to pay $40 billion to clean up the Gulf coast and compensate oil spill victims. The lost 2G money is just about the perfect amount of money to pay for that!  Of course this move might be controversial with the survivors of the Bhopal disaster who would argue we should clean up their city first. They have a point.  But think of the 'big picture'; bailing out BP and the US federal government, might be enough to get us a seat on the UN security council! Or at least another visit from Obama.

7. Mentos to the Moon!
My son was helping me with this project, as you can see from the art work.  He asked, "So, how much candy could you buy with 1.76 lakh crore?" We worked it out with a packet of Mentos we had laying around, and here's what we found.  A packet of Mentos is about 13cm long, which means you need 7.7 of them to make a meter and 7,700 to make one kilometer.  According to my son, a pack costs about Rs 20.  So one km of Mentos will cost you Rs 1,54,000.  Rs 1.76 lakh crore would thus buy you 11.5 million km of Mentos.  Since the distance from the moon to the earth is only 3,84,403 km, you could buy enough Mentos to stack to the moon just about 29 times!  That doesn't include the cost of the Fevicol you would need to hold your pillar together, or the space suits and stuff.  But if you bought that much candy, you could probably get a pretty good discount.  And if we could get all that foreign 'black money' back, we'd be able to buy up enough Mentos to cross the distance to both Venus and Mars, if we timed it right!

For more on 2G, see our 2G/CWG page.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Kabir Arora's Village Immersion: Ram Kahani Begins

Last month, we published Kabir Arora's notes from his work in a Jaitpura school.  This month, he's sent us his reflections on the time he spent learning more about village life.
“This land derives its driving force and momentum from people formed and raised in the country side with the vigor given by direct work; from those genuine spirits who carry within themselves an original and insuperable strength-not from these impotent raised by anxious parents and irascible school teachers in schools of mere words where one learns barely more than an apparent way of satisfying needs that stem of instinct”.
---Jose Marti in “A false concept of public education”-La Nacion.

From a very long time, I'd been feeling like an impotent raised to satisfy the needs which originated from the instinct. To get out of this structured life, I decided to find Gandhi in the villages of India. Now I am sitting in Khetari, writing the story of Village immersion which I completed few days back. Village immersion is a second step after Learning Quality (LQ)Training in Gandhi Fellowship Programme. I completed my LQ in Jaitpura (Udaipurvati). Second step was placed in Churu hundred kilometers away. A long journey began!

Likh kabir ki bani likh
Fir Meera diwani likh
Pehle to kuch akshar soch
Tab akshar mein manni likh
Aasman mein gheerte badal
Badal mein to pani likh
Shor sharaba cheekh pukar
Kavita mein virani likh
Krishan kahani kucch nahi
Apni Ram kahani likh... (Krishan Kalpit)

My Ram Kahani begins on 6th September, 2010 when I reached Churu. The village alloted to me was Lohsana Chhota, 40 Kms away from the main city. My bus was at twelve o'clock. But I left my place at ten itself and reached the bus stop at ten thirty. There was one chai ka thela. I ordered a cup for myself, next to me an old man was sitting. He was passing his time while listening to songs played in the next shop. I ordered a cup of tea for myself to begin a conversation with the chai waala.  

Namkeen Chai!
The intention behind the order was to know about the bus arrival. While waiting for the bus, the old man kept staring at me. After my initial introduction, he started asking me questions about Punjab (my home-state). He commented on the girls passing by, and later passed a comment that my eyes have Kashish. My mother used to say the same thing in old times. Later he turned to the beauty of girls in and around my village. “The girls there are beautiful but have no dressing sense”, were his words. Maybe he was referring to traditional outfits which women wear in villages.  

The bus arrived. The journey to that village itself was a unique experience. Sitting on the roof of the bus, head covered with Gamcha, butts like paranthas baked in tandoor. Fear in the heart whether I’ll get a home to stay or not, prepared for the worst case scenario.

Suddenly Bhagirath ji, Headmaster of the school appeared on the road to stop the bus. Fully baked, I got down from the bus and entered Rajkiya Ucch Primary School-Gram Chhota Lohsana, constructed by Panchayat Samiti-Barra Lohsana. My school was between Dhakkan Ka Baas and Lohsana Chhota. There were few questions and queries about my prospective presence in the village and work details.  I met him in a workshop organized in Jaipur. So I was aware of his nature to an extent. Our conversation concluded with an idea proposed by him that I should stay at his place, which is in Dhakkan Ka Baas (Baas Dhakkan). I accepted the offer with no hesitation. Jose Marti's On Education and Totto Chan accompanied me on this journey. I was sitting in a small village of 220 houses-in the mid of nowhere, reading about Hispano-America and Japan, two extremes of the world map. 

I reached back home, there was an initial introduction with Bhagirath ji's brother who was staying next door in the same courtyard. 

Later in the evening, I started writing a diary (after a long time), I felt like documenting each every incident so that I can turn back to it. First day while writing, an old man and a young man were sitting and  staring at me constantly, innocent faces full of curiosity. I was feeling shy, kept my eyes down in the diary. Summed up my day with lot of rotis, Kachari ki sabzi and a huge bowl of curd as my dinner around seven thirty in the evening, went to sleep at nine.
For more of Kabir's experiences, see:
If I were my own teacher: confidence, colour and voices
Steep Climb 
Tourist Guide  

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Story of Electronics: best known cure for the annoying 'green paper fetish'

There is a lot wrong in the world.  Hunger, massive corruption, ecological destruction, brutal oppression of many kinds--these things inspire emotions like outrage or even despair. But there are plenty of things out there that are just plain annoying.  Like 'greenwash' or the term 'brand ambassador' --or the 'world class toilets' being built in a city where millions of people lack clean water and basic sanitation facilities.

Today, let me add one more thing to my long list of pet peeves.  I'll call this one the green paper fetish.

The green paper fetish actually a sub-class of greenwash. It afflicts those people who believe that being 'green' means the exact same thing as 'saving paper at all costs.' This fetish lacks both the prurient charm and the kitsch potential of the foot fetish or the restrictive clothing fetish; it is simply and solely annoying and stupid.

First, let me be clear: I do not advocate wasting paper. Although paper is recyclable, it takes a lot of energy both to make and to remake. And of course, new paper requires harvesting trees or other types of plant life. A few months back, I looked at the environmental costs and benefits of both electronic and paper reading here. It's a lot more complicated an equation than you might think, because most alternatives to paper consume a lot of electricity and because the electronics we read on--like the computer you are looking at right now--come with high environmental costs.

Of course many people who admonish us to use less paper at the office are actually not interested in saving the earth--they are interested in saving money. There's nothing wrong with saving money, but let's not pretend our primary reason for printing or copying less is to save the earth, unless our office is also considering how to cut systematically cut our collective use of big things like power and unsustainable forms of transportation. Are the people in charge willing to come to work by public transportation? Are they willing to do more than just use more efficient light bulbs; will they turn down the AC to the point where they might actually break a sweat from time to time?

I'm going to say this one more time: nobody should be wasting paper.  We just shouldn't pretend that we work for green organisations just because someone comes around and collects the recycling or because we print on both sides of the page from time to time. 

And when people say the answer to our environmental problems is to trade paper for laptop computers, we need to explain the high costs of the electronics that more and more of us are becoming dependent on. Nobody does this as simply or as convincingly as Annie Leonard. Her Story of Electronics is the best thing she's done since The Story of Stuff. Not only does she explain why electronics are so toxic, but she suggests ways in which we could vastly reduce their toxic affects.  

Take a few minutes and watch in now.  Then send it to your coworkers--especially those with a green paper fetish!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Photo Essay: Tree Mirrors by Salil Chaturvedi

You'll stop seeing your soul reflected on these,
So, go out and hang some mirrors on your trees.
       --Salil Chaturvedi



Salil Chaturvedi blogs at saliloquy.

For more green photo essays, go see the Dhaba's Photo Essay page.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pressure cookers: an essential part of any green kitchen!

There are people who argue that a raw food diet is the only healthy way to go.  A friend of ours followed this way of eating for a time, and she seemed to be healthy enough, though I worried when she talked about her non-veg preparations!  There is no doubt that many foods are tasty and healthy when eaten raw. Still, I don't think I'd want to give up cooked food completely, forever.  

In fact, I think good cooking is, and continues to be, one of the greatest--and least recognized--cultural achievements of human kind. How many women (and men) over how many years refined our understanding of the joys of the coconut, say, or the mango? What about those who figured out how to grow and prepare rice, dal, wheat? And we mustn't forget yogurt and beer. We know who invented peanut butter, but most of the great food inventors are long forgotten.  This is probably because food preparation and innovation has always been low status work. Ancient kings were not in the habit of building memorials to cooks; and considering the wages earned by most people who cook for a living today, it would appear that things haven't changed much.

Cooked food is important for reasons other than the joy we get from eating.  Cooking kills many harmful bacteria.  Cooked food is also easier and more efficient to digest, which means it gives more energy.  In fact, some scientists argue that the increased energy that we get from cooked food was part of what allowed human beings to evolve relatively large brains and relatively small stomachs as compared to other primates. Raw food is fine, they say, for a sedentary life, but it just won't cut it for people who hunt--or do hard manual labour--for a living.  In fact this argument is much more complicated and interesting than that; Steven Mithen wrote a fascinating article about it in the New York Review of Books a few months back, which you should read. It's no longer available on-line, but I found another version of it here; you just need to scroll down past its Danish introduction.)

That, my friends, is my defense of cooked food: it's one of the finer things in life, and it gives us the energy we need.  That said, cooking is not without its environmental consequences . Everyone knows that cooking requires heat, which typically comes either from some sort of flame or from electricity. That means pollution, climate change and more.

Given that we have to cook, it makes sense to do it as efficiently as possible. One way to do this would be to spend huge amounts of money remodeling your kitchen in a "green" way, as this couple in the US did. That way makes an architect, a contractor and any number of companies happy.  But there are other options for people who care about the planet. Like the good old pressure cooker! In the US, few people use pressure cookers, perhaps because, as one blogger wrote, they "suffer a bit from that grandma image." 

Of course pressure cookers never went out of style in India.   That's because they save a LOT of energy--up to 70%, in fact.   Pressure cookers are so efficient because they create a high pressure cooking environment. That higher pressure makes water boil at a higher temperature-- and that makes cook faster! And as if that weren't enough, if cooked right, foods prepared in a pressure cooker can also be more nutritious than food boiled conventionally. 

Modern, well-maintained pressure cookers are safe to use if you follow some basic safety tips--don't place the cooker in a heated oven;don't force the lid open; don't get drunk and pass out while cooking your rice.  You can read more of these here. And happy cooking!

Sometimes low tech is the best greentech; for more examples like this, check out our low tech greentech page.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Unanswered questions: final words from a Jaitpura school

This week, Gandhi Fellow  Kabir Arora concludes his report on his work in a village school in Jaitpura with a series of questions.  Soon, he'll move on to a more urban setting.  

During the past six weeks I came across lot of things. Some inspired. Some depressed. Many of those moments are a part of this small book. I thought to conclude in this section, but realize there are so many questions unanswered. I decided to share all those unanswered queries here.

Where does violence start? Can classroom hitting lead to violence and anger againstthe society?

Can teachers bend down a little to hear what a kid wants to share?

Is it possible to incorporate the dialects (languages) like Marwari in the syllabus instead of making it Hindi (English too) Centric? What kind of political and social will be neede to do that?

Do we need to redefine the work of the teacher? Is teaching in the classroom only task assigned to a teacher?

Is it possible to complete the syllabus with the same method which I adopted during past six weeks?
Lot more going on in my mind.

Who is Kabir Arora?  Here's what some his peers, other Gandhi Fellows, had to say about him:
Our nodal point of intellect, whose knowledge is group’s inspiration. His articulation makes us proud, his “happy go lucky” attitude gives us joy. Art of managing time, and, his knack to carve his space out, makes us all look upto him, so brilliant in his positive criticism, that you want him to be your critic always.

However with “positive” there is always a “negative” and our dear Kabir, apart from being moody, demands too much of the space which becomes hindrance, and the art to learn when to speak & when not too is something he needs to master as well!

For more of Kabir's experiences, see:
If I were my own teacher: confidence, colour and voices
Steep Climb 
Tourist Guide  

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Unconventional Green Diwali Gift Ideas

I like Diwali, but I don't like the pointless consumption that frequently goes along with it. And while I'm on the subject, let me say this: I'm also sick to death of all the talk of 'gifting' we see in the papers these days.  I HATE that word--wasn't 'giving' just fine?  'Gifting' sounds like it has a thick layer of artificial sweetener spread all over it.  

In all seriousness, how many boxes of sweets or plastic-wrapped packages of junk food can one family really eat?  I've got nothing against sweets--in fact I love them far too much for my own good. But at the point I feel a heart attack coming on, I usually take one of my kids for a walk and go find a labourer who's not looking for charity, but who looks like he could use a few extra calories.  I make it clear he's doing me a favour and not the other way around.  And it's almost always appreciated.

Listen, I know there are people who expect sweets, just like there are people who expect money.  There is nothing wrong with this kind of giving.  Sweets are not bad for people or the earth as long as they are eaten in moderation.  And many low wage workers depend on the Diwali bonus just to make ends meet, though I suspect they would prefer a living wage every month. 

But there are plenty of people on your Diwali gift list who do not need--or want--want sweets or junk food.  So for those people, here are a few environmentally friendly gift ideas. Yes, some of these are...unconventional.  But we need to be unconventional if we want to change the rules of the game. Why not start this Diwali?

1. Delhi Metro Smart Card. The metro is growing, and a lot of people are suddenly finding there is a metro station not far from where they live.  A Smart Card means you don't have to wait in lines to buy metro tokens. Do not give this gift to make a politically correct point.  Give it to someone who will appreciate it.  That could mean someone who's always meant to try the metro but never gets around to it.  Or it could mean someone who usually takes the bus to save money, but who would appreciate the relative speed and comfort of the metro.  For people like that, a Smart Card would be real Diwali treat.  And now that they have a reserved coach, women don't have to worry about some of the 'hands on' treatment they often got previously when traveling on crowded trains.  You can get your metro Smart Card at any metro station, fixed price.  They'll take a Rs. 50 deposit, which is refundable.  Then you add however much cash you want to add. Rs. 200 will pay the deposit and buy 8-12 trips.

2. Make a donation.  Give to a good cause and tell someone you did so instead of giving them another box of sweets.  Simple. 

3. Books. Books don't go bad like sweets do, and they won't clog your arteries. Why not give books this Diwali? For those poetry lovers on your list, you can find Anindita Sengupta's City of Water at Sahitya Akademi  for very little money. Those who like politics, travel writing or personal narratives will love Annie Zaidi's Known Turf. You can also check out the green books reviewed at the Dhaba. For a really nice gift, nothing beats a gift certificate from a good book store.  That way your book loving friend gets to choose a book s/he'll love!
4.  Small Steps carry bag. Mrs. Batti got one of these last year, and she uses it all the time. It is big and sturdy enough to hold a big load of marketing and it folds up into a tiny little pouch, so she can carry it wherever  she goes--just in case! This year she found them at several stores, including a place called Manan in Khan Market below Market Cafe. These sacks will reduce your plastic bag use, but they are also just convenient. You can read more about the bag and the NGO that makes them here.

5. Fruit and Nuts.  Healthy and good.  Simple.

If you've got a great green Diwali gift idea, why not share it in the comments section below?  And go easy on the Atom Bombs--all that smoke is killing me!