The Clean Team  needs Volunteers !

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Clean Team Needs Volunteers

One of the crucial spark of rhizome i.e, Clean Team is looking for volunteers for following tasks :

  • Need volunteers to write letters to the residents on behalf of Clean Team.
  • Need volunteers to write proposals so that Clean Team can get funding for composters.
  • Need volunteers to help Clean Team get medical cards and provident fund facilities from the authorities.
  • Need volunteers to write the story on lives of the members of Clean Team ,their personalities , aspirations etc.

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     Some Facts about
    our feathered friends

Photo Courtesy : Barnali Ganguly
These days every bird is nesting. so if you see the nest, please do not go near it at all and don't look at it directly. If you wish to observe it, please do it subtly. Remember predators like crows and hawks are watching your movement and when you enter their territory they get more cautious. Do not let them know you've found a nest

Mohit Aggarwal

(Asian Adventures India)

     Report of first Meet
    Vatavaran Rhizome

Agar is a village in Rajasthan situated at a distance of 26 kilometres from Sariska Tiger Reserve. The name of this little known place will raise no eyebrows until you delve deeper… This village is characterised by clean and fresh air, simple lifestyles and homes which serve as economic units. These homes are either connected to the farms, or to the export-oriented markets[1] (mediated by middlemen). The people greet you warmly as you step out casually into the streets. You are served with the warmth of the people who invite you to their daughter's weddings. They serve you uncountable cups of tea/milk/buttermilk, welcome you into their homes, offer you whatever you like of theirs. And despite their vast expanse of valuable indigenous knowledge, they remain humble. The night sky shines brighter here, and it has an observation centre close by for observation.
In many ways, this village is a marvel. It has built dams and embankments, schools for both girls and boys, washrooms inside homes, and provisions for both electricity and water pipelines. Some may even argue that it is no longer a village, because of the stage of development it has reached. But it is truly off the beaten path, away from the city's evils. These dams and embankments have been built by a large amount of collective social work of the villagers themselves, with little government help. Being a characteristically arid region, the preservation of water is essential for the water to last for the rest of the year. It rains for only two-three months annually and sometimes lesser. These structures help in improving the groundwater table, so that water can later be drawn out through wells and bore wells. In the absence of these structures, the rainwater would have simply run off the surface and not retained for future usage. The objective of survival is what made the residents of Agar conscious of the need for water-preservation.
The barren hills have been turned green by the efforts of the people. Masti ki Pathshala contributes to this effort with the help of its school children who make seed bombs[3] and throw them from the top of the hill in all directions. Importance is given to the variety of seed sown, concerning the temperature, soil type, climate and benefits of the seed variety. Involving school-going children in this project sensitises the youth to the needs of the environment and brings them closer to nature.
It was in this remarkable village that Vatavaran Rhizome held its first meeting of all its Sparks. All the Sparks which were present introduced themselves and the different avenues of social upliftment in which each one engages. The approach to life which was adopted was holistic. The stars of the sky become your blanket while your back rests upon the cot. There was a collective effort in all the essential tasks- filling up water, cooking food, washing utensils and others. The harmony among all those attending the meet was astounding.
Masti ki Pathshala's interactions with the children are in a very innovative and engaging manner. The school is a centre focussed on imparting practical education based on alternative learning. The entire process is so unusual for the children that they yearn to come to Masti ki Pathshala even after school hours. They all have their own ways of engaging with materials around them, and no one dictates what is (or, is not) to be done. With the help of personalised learning for the children, the broader aim of this organisation is to prevent rural to urban migration. This will be achieved by creating avenues within the village itself, so the people will not have to migrate to the cities for opportunities of work. In this respect, the organisation also aims to provide vocational training to the children in their own fields of interest.
There are struggles in the village, as economic opportunities are still scarce. Women skilled in weaving carpets are unable to reap the full benefits of this labour-intensive work, as the middlemen take away a large part of the profits. A peek into the intensity of hard work: one square inch of the carpet takes two hours to weave. And as someone put it, just watching the process humbles you, and it testifies to values of patience, perseverance and hard work.
The other struggles are related to aspects of social and gender equality which seem to a long way ahead. Even when women earn and contribute to their family's incomes, they are deprived of an equal share of dignity. It is indeed heartening to see girls going to schools. But saddening to know that many of them are either engaged or married, and higher education is still rare among females. Menstrual hygiene and related issues are topics on which knowledge is scarcely imparted. Due to these and many other reasons Agar has a long way ahead for itself, towards sustainable development in not just economic but also social spheres. Masti ki Pathshala has begun work for the development of this region.
The path is rough, but the end will be rewarding.

Written By :
Mahima Bobin

(Volunteer at Vatavaran Rhizome)

Be Aware of Holi Colors !


Almost all colors available during Holi are concoctions of chemicals thus toxic, allergic and carcinogenic. Any one can come up with natural and attractive soft, and good for skin colors. All that is needed is a visit to a forest,a garden and a kitchen to collect leaves, seeds, bark of trees, flowers, fruits and peels.

The 6 steps to make your own colors are:
  • Dry the color source in shade.
  • Powder the dried material coarsely.
  • Soak the powder in water for 30 minutes.
  • Boil this water for 45 minutes to an hour.
  • Cool it, filter it and keep it till you want to use it.
  • Dry the residue in shade. Powder it finely and this becomes the dry holi color, ready to be used.

Chemical Holi Colors

If however you still prefer the colors from the market then please remember that all three categories –Pastes, Dry powders and Wet colors have health hazards. The most dangerous however are the pastes.Silver, Gold, Metallic, Green, Blue and Black pastes available in the market are all extremely dangerous. The cost varies from rupees 5 to rupees 50per tin containing 100 grams of the mixed paste.
The colorants are also available in small pouches which can be mixed in any type of oil or water depending upon weather it has to be used as a paste or wet color by the user. Cost of these pouches is from rupees 2 to rupees 10.
When you smear someone ared in pink, you actually daubed someone with Rhodamine B, if the color is violet or blue it actually is Methyl Violet, green is Malachite Green and yellow is Auramine. All these are prohibited under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
The two components of Dry Powders are Base and the Colourant. Depending upon the quality of Holi Powder the base can be Asbestos Talc, Chalk or Cornstarch. All will adversely affect us.

Chemical and their health hazards
Colors Chemicals Effects
Black Engine oil + Lead Oxide Renal failure
Green Engine oil +Copper Sulphate Eye allergy, puffiness and temporary blindness
Silver Engine oil + Aluminium bromide Carcinogenic
Blue Engine oil + Perssian Blue Contract dermatitis
Red Engine oil + Mercury Sulphite Highly Toxic Skin cancer
In addition pure coal tar, discarded diesel oil and greese are also used as Holi rubs. To clear the skin of all these rubs keriosine oil is the most commonly used remover.

Re-kindle the Original Holi Spirit

A festival intended to commemorate the conventional historic triumph of good over evil has been transmutated over time, assisted by a strong element of mass-ignorance, ironically, to what seems to be the reciprocated dominance of evil (in the form of chaotically aggressive unruliness) over good (a happy, colorful yet peaceful celebration). The unobtrusive, incurrence, eye pleasing natural colors have been replaced by a multitude of toxic, carcinogenic-hazardous, eye-irritating (even to the point of blindness) chemical ‘colors’.

Make your own colors

Dry colors have two components. Base and Colorant. The natural bases can be made from the following:
Grounded Orange peels, Lemon Peels, Sandal Wood, Rose Water.
Natural colors can even be made at home without much toil and effort. Given below is a list of natural colors (along with their sources) and natural bases. We can thus make our own natural colors by mixing these colors with the bases.

Natural products and their Colors :
1. Saffron - Brilliant yellow
2. Turmeric - Yellow & Orange Brown
3. Henna - Orange Red
4. Manjistha - Rust Red
5. Katha - Brown
6. Beet Root - Magenta
7. Indigo - Rich Blue
8. Chlorophyll - Green

Here are the colors for people who do not understand science:
1. Mix a spoon of powdered haldi in a cup of flour (atta/besan/maida), talcum powder for yellow color, which is also great for your skin. Haldi powder can also be mixed in water to make a wet color.
2. Use henna/mehandi powder, separately or mixed with flour (as above).
3. Chopped pieces of Beet root soaked in water for a few hours give a wonderful magenta color.
4. Put tea or coffee in warm water. Let it cool and use.
5. Put flowers of Semul/ Tesu or Palas/ Dhak (tree which are common in India and bloom during March) in water and boil. Leave overnight to obtain a saffron color.
6. Mix lime (chuna which is put in leaves) with haldi powder to get a deep red color.
The above are just a few ways to make natural colors. Ask your parents and grandparents for more! Experiment with different seasonal flowers (like marigold, harshingar), fruits & vegetables (grapes, spinach, rind of pomegranate), leaves (eucalyptus) and explore the fascinating word of natural colors.

Vatavaran demands

A cottage industry be setup, generating harmless natural colors to replace the current toxin laden and thus aid an attempt to resurrect yet another rigor-mortified festival. The introduction of natural colors should be supplemented by a complete ban on the current colors in market, heavy in concentrations of Sudan Red, Metanil Yellow, Melachile Green and Salts of metals like lead, chromium, mercury, etc.

Gulal Aspiration: A Festival Hazard!

Bajaj Monika, MD Kumar Viredra,
MD Malik Iqbal, Ph.D. Arora Praveeen, MD Dubey N K,
From: The Department of Pediatrics, Kalawati Saran Children’s Hospital,
Lady Hardinge Medical College, New Delhi And
Vatavaran (NGO- Working on socio-environmental Issues)


The inhalation of noxious chemical substances and heavy metals is a known cause of chemical pneumonitis and acute as well as chronic lung injury. Occupational exposure is more often a cause for the same. However, significant exposure to chemical may occur due to accidental inhalation during domestic activities, hobbies, and festivals (1,2). We report here a case of accidental “gulal” aspiration during Holi festival.

Case Report

A previously well, six year old boy, presented with sudden onset of cough and respiratory distress following accidental aspiration of “gulal” during Holi festival. He was treated for one day at a nearby private hospital, before being referred to Kalawati Saran Children’s Hospital, New Delhi.
On arrival, patient was conscious but excessively irritable and had marked respiratory distress. His heart rate was 140 beats per minute, respiratory rate 96 breaths per minute, with marked intercostals and subcostal recession, but there was no cyanosis. Blood pressure was 100/70 mm Hg. On auscultation of chest, air entry was markedly diminished with bilateral ronchi. Clinical examination of other system was unremarkable.
Investigations revealed hemoglobin – 13 gm/dl, TCL-24000cells/Cmm with 66% polymorphs, blood urea-59 mg/dl, serum creatinine – 0.5 mg/dl, serum Na+ - mEq/L, serum K+ -5.36 mEq/L. Chest X-ray revealed bilateral patchy pneumonitis especially involving right middle and lower zones. Arterial bloods gas analysis revealed pH- 7.365, pO2 58.2 pCO2 –49.6, HCO3-20.4, O2 saturation –88.7%.
Patient was treated symptomatically with humidified oxygen, intravenous fluids, and salbutamol and ipratropium bromide nebulisations. He was stared on I/V hydrocortisone (10 mg/Kg/day), crystalline penicillin (2 lac IL/Kg/day) and chloromycetin (100 mg/Kg/day) in divided doses. Due to clinical suspicion of supper-added infection, antibiotics were changed to I/V cerftriazone (100 mg/Kg/day) and netilmycin (7.5 mg/Kg/day) on day three. Special attention was given to chest physiotherapy, and 3% saline nebulisation was given to encourage expectoration and removal of aspirated substance from the repiratory tract.
On day four the patient developed subcutaneous emphysema over chest and neck. Repeat chest X-ray showed bilateral extensive pneumonitis and mediastinal emphysema (Figure-1). Patient however did not require any surgical intervention for the same.
Patient subsequently maintained arterial gas (pH-7.51, pO2-70.5, pCO2-36.4, HCO3-25.6, O2 saturation-94.4%)and improve steadily. He was discharged after two week of therapy. After stabilization of his respiratory distress, spirometric assessment of pulmonary function (PFT) revealed severe restricted pattern (FVC- 0.54L, 45.95% of predicted value; FEV1 0.54L, 52.5% of predicted; FEF25-75%-0.68L/sec, 52.32% of predicted). At one month follow up patient was asynptomatic, chest X-ray had normalized, spirometry revealed however continued to show a restrictive pattern, thought less in severity (FVC- 0.89L, FEV1- 0.89L, FEF25-75%- 1.21L/sec). Six month later spirometry revealed normalization of pulmonary function (FVC- 1.16L, FEV1- 1.04L, FEF25-75%- 1.45L/sec).


The dangers associated with aspiration of foreign material into the airway have been chronicled in medical literature for over 350 years and airways foreign bodies continue to be a problem frequently encounted by pediatric practitioners. Foreign body aspiration is most frequent in the 1-5 years age group, with 85% cases occurring in children less than three years of age.
Item frequently found in the environment of a child, such as nuts, shells, candies, grapes, pears, jewelry, small toys etc. are the ones that pose a risk for entering and occluding the airway. Aspiration of powder like substances expect for talcum powder and soot in burn injury, are less frequently encountered in children.
Gulal, a seemingly innocuous powder substance has been traditionally used, to smear over face during the festival of Holi, since ancient time. Environmental experts and doctors are only to aware of the hazards of these innocent looking colors, namely triggering of skin allergies, impairment of vision, precipitation of asthmatic attacks etc. this is for the first time, that we encountered a child with massive aspiration and restrictive pulmonary disease due to gulal.
In our case, the gulal could not be procured and no attempt had been made at bronchoscopic aspiration and of the material aspirated, in view of the extreme sickness of child and delay in arrival to our hospital after the incident. Chemical nature of the same is therefore difficult child to comment upon. However, one may hypothesize, that lung injury is caused both by the physical i.e. powdery, nature of the substance as well as heavy metals, chemicals and hydrocarbons that go into the preparation of these colors.
Powder like consistency of the gulal, result in it being drawn into distal airways almost instantly like in the case of any other powder and this probably causes acute respiratory distress, obstruction, atelecatesis, hyperinflation, and air-leak. With the help of a non-government organization (Vatavaran), chemical analysis of different sample of used during Holi was done. Summery of that is shown in table-1. It seems possible that the material aspirated by this child, had traces of lead and mercury. Review of literature revealed case report of mercury inhalation injury, which presented in similar manner with respiratory distress, Air-leak and restrictive lung disease (3).
We managed our patient symptomatically. Systematic steroids have been used but without definite role to reduce inflammatory process and fibrosis in chemical pneumonitis (4). They have of late proven to be of benefit in patients with mercury induced acute lung injury (4). In our patient, they may have benefited by reducing airways inflammation as well bronchospasm.
Air-lack can occur in cases of chemical pneumonitis especially those resulting from hydrocarbons aspiration or mercury vapor inhalation (5). Conservative management is advocated for the same, and patients usually improve, as was witnessed in our case too.

Act Now!

Act Now-Replicate the Models

  • Convert public squalors to green settlements.
  • Make multiple imapired as the vehicle of change.
  • Help students become entrepreneurs.
  • Bridge the gap-each family teach one girl child.
  • Create people's movement for a clean -green life through theatre.
  • Help mitigate rural migration to cities.
  • Start Aquaponics for self sustenance.
  • Understand animals, take them seriously and care for them scientifically.
  • Close the loop whereever and whichever you can.
  • Work to heal and regenerate the nature.