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Assyrian Voice interview with Steve Netniss, an Assyrian technologist, professor and author of recently published ‘POTENTIAL: The Assyrian Quest for Identity: What does it mean to be an Assyrian from a Christian perspective?‘ book

Assyrian Voice interview with Steve Netniss, an Assyrian technologist, professor and author of recently publishedPOTENTIAL: The Assyrian Quest for Identity: What does it mean to be an Assyrian from a Christian perspective?  book

 

Personal questions:

Assyrian Voice interview with Steve Netniss, an Assyrian technologist, professor and author of recently published 'POTENTIAL: The Assyrian Quest for Identity: What does it mean to be an Assyrian from a Christian perspective?' book

Assyrian Voice interview with Steve Netniss, an Assyrian technologist, professor and author of recently published ‘POTENTIAL: The Assyrian Quest for Identity: What does it mean to be an Assyrian from a Christian perspective?’ book

-Welcome and thanks for taking the time to do this interview with AssyrianVoice.net.

– Can you please introduce yourself and a bit about your background (Including your Assyrian roots)

Shlama Assyrian Voice, thank you for this special opportunity to introduce myself and tell you about my book. I was born and raised in Turlock, California, the heart of the Central Valley. Turlock was one of the first place Assyrians settled over 100 years ago. I spent 7 years in Dallas, Texas. Recently, I moved to California and currently live in Oakland (30 minutes from San Francisco).

-What do you do for living? What about your education?

I am currently a Technology Integrator at an independent school in the Bay Area. I am also an adjunct professor at California State University Stanislaus where I teach a Management Information Systems course. I have an undergraduate degree in Computer Information Systems from California State University Stanislaus and a Master’s in Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary.

-In your biography, you mention that you are both a preacher and a tech enthusiasts. Tell us a bit more about that? How did you start with each?

Growing up in an Assyrian home, we were raised to acquire skills that would allow us to be contributors to society’s basic needs. Thankfully, I found one of my passions in technology. Later, I realized that I had an interest in theological studies. I have found great success in both fields and have a deep love and appreciation for both.

-What places have you lived in so far and what has been your favorite?

Raised in Turlock – great place to grow up and I still have deep roots there.

Dallas – I enjoyed my time in Texas.

Oakland – The East Bay has its strengths.

 

Book: 

-You recently published your own book, can you tell us a bit more on it? What is the book all about and what inspired you to write it?

I believe there are many aspects of our Assyrian culture that are healthy and strong but there are also some areas that need refining and questioning. I wrote my book to help the Assyrian community mature even further. I believe the Assyrian identity is strong enough to handle some of the questions I have raised.

-Your book is still relatively new but has already received a lot of good feedback on Amazon: how do you plan to keep the momentum going, and hopefully translating into bigger sales?

I am trusting that the book will have legs of its own. I wrote the book to help with an issue in society. I believe the book will continue to be helpful until we have reached a level of new awareness. At that point, I’ll have published my second book.

-Is there something specific that you want people to take from reading your book?

Mainly, I want to encourage those who feel like they weren’t growing or didn’t have a clear direction to head in. This book will inspire, encourage, and challenge anyone who reads it.

-How long did it take you and how has the reception been? Has there been any critical or negative reviews?

I spent over 5 years working on this book. So far the Assyrian community has been entirely supportive. I am still working with different organizations to host future book signings. The churches have also been super supportive.

-Do you believe that if Assyrians were to read your book in droves, it could mean a brighter future for our nation?

Assyrians, religious or not, should read this book if they want to help enhance the Assyrian community. The people who have read it so far seem to have really been blessed by it.

-Why should a non-Assyrian read this book? What is in it for others?

It’s important for all of us to learn about other cultures. We should not be stuck in our own world and miss what others have to offer. This book helps non-Assyrians to learn more about Assyrians.

 

General:

-What is the future of Christianity in the US? Is it on a decline and do you see a revival?

I think Christianity is only alive when it is morphing, changing, and adjusting to what God is doing in the world. Christianity has constants but it is not a museum. It is important for Christian ministers of all denominations to be asking questions the people are asking.

-Ever been to Canada? Or other countries? Do you have a favorite city or country you visited?

New Orleans, Louisiana is one of my favorite places to visit. I would like to visit Canada in the near future.

-What are your top 3 websites they you like to follow on a regular basis? 

http://mikemchargue.com/

http://www.robbell.com

-what are some of your favorite movies and books?

Star Wars, Ben Hur, The Old Man and the Sea.

-For those who are still in high school, what area of IT or computer science should they focus on, for a shot at a better career in the future?

It is important to know how to program but it is also important to learn how to work with others. Often, people who are really good at programming have a difficult time communicating with others. It’s important to be able to do both. Programming skills and people skills.

-If you could time travel, what period in history would you like to go to?

I’d love to check out the Ancient Near East in the 1st century. Pretty hectic place.

 

Assyrian:

-Are you up to date with Assyrian developments in Iraq and Syria?

I am constantly following different news outlets and key individuals to try and learn more about the situation.

-What is the future of Assyrians in Iraq? Do you are you optimistic or do you see a Middle East that is empty of Assyrians and Christians in general?

Interestingly, I think that question is directly tied to the future of Assyrians in the West. In other words, if Assyrians in the West do not figure out a way to galvanize and become a unified front, then how will our people in the homeland unify? We are the ones who left the Middle East to create a better life. Unfortunately, that ‘better life’ has led to several religious, and political factions that do not seem to be serving or encouraging one another. This is a serious problem and it must be resolved. If we can work together then we can create a better future for everyone involved.

-What will it take to reverse the immigration tide to ensure more Assyrians stay home 

Assyrians who have become financially success should really consider and think about ways to reinvest in the homeland. It might actually pay huge dividends 10-20-30 years from now. People will stay in the Middle East when the societal structure is conducive to a healthy future where people can reach their human potential.

-How do you see the role of the Assyrian church in keeping our culture and language alive?

This is a difficult question and I think I’ve spoken at length about this in my new book. I would start there.

-Being someone who has written a book about this very topic, how can we ensure that our Christian belief is in sync with our Assyrian nationalism and vise versa. Do you think the two go hand in hand? Or does one prevent the other from being fully realized?  

This is a great question and again it is what my entire book revolves around. I think there are healthy answers and discussions.

-Do you believe Chaldeans and Syriacs are part of our nation (regardless of what they believe in) and that we should make every effort to unite with them?

YES, YES, YES. I think we need to stop asking the questions our parents asked ‘who’s Assyrian and who isn’t’ and start asking bigger and more important questions. “How do we unify?”

-Ever been to an Assyrian convention and what was it like?

I’ve been to several Assyrian conventions. It always seems like the location plays a large role. I’m a sucker for San Diego so that was one of my favourites. I do think we need to seriously consider hosting a convention in Texas.

-How do we ensure that the Assyrian language survives with the generation growing up in the west, where the first language at work and school is English?

I have a lot to say about this in my book. I would start there…

-Where you live and have worked recently, how do you see the state of Assyrian academia? are more Assyrian pursuing higher education and advanced degrees? if not, how can we encourage more to go for it?

Assyrians in the United States are VERY well educated. I don’t think we give the Assyrian people enough credit for all of our amazing accomplishments.

-If there is something you would like to say to all Assyrians out there , what would it be? 

I think it is important to be proud of being Assyrian but that should be matched with an eagerness to learn more about what it means to be an Assyrian. Often, Assyrians are tied to one way of understanding our own Assyrian ethnicity. If the Assyrian nation is going to grow, then it needs to begin thinking deeper.

Favorites

-Google or Apple

Both

-California or Texas?

Depends on the time of year.

-liberal or conservative?

Depends on the topic.

-Preaching or teaching? Preaching is a lost art and it needs to be reclaimed. What do people thin when you say the word ‘sermon’? Usually, it’s ‘boring, dull, agenda, political.’ Instead, I wish people thought, ‘inspiring, intellectual, thoughtful, subversive.’

-Football or baseball? Football!! WHO DAT

-Paris or New York? Paris. New York is great but Paris speaks to my soul.

-Favorite food? Nothing beats my moms Assyrian home cooking!

-Favorite TV show: Breaking Bad, Dexter, Mad Men, Orphan Black, Game of Thrones…the list keeps growing.

-Favorite NHL/NFL/MLB/NBA teams?NFL: New Orleans Saints, NBA: Boston Celtics, MLB: San Francisco Giants

 

Final thoughts

-Who is one Assyrian celebrity or person you would like us to interview in the future and what question should we ask them?

I think it would be great if some of our Assyrian religious leaders were interviewed and if they were asked some of the questions many of us wonder about. Practical questions that sceptics think about. Ideally, it would be great for the Assyrian community to setup a panel of speakers from all the different Assyrian religious traditions, ACOE, Protestant, Chaldean and so on.

-Someone is going through tough financial and social hardships and wants your guidance to help him through this difficult time: what biblical lessons would you give them?

I would probably stay away from biblical lessons and focus on more practical or immediate needs. The Bible is a great compendium of books but I don’t view it as a manual for life. Instead, we are led to make healthy choices through the reading and meditation on Scriptures that is in community with others and driven by the Holy Spirit. People often try to apply the Bible to real life situations and end up creating a standard that just doesn’t jive with the Spirit of the Scriptures.

-What is the last thing you want to do before your time on earth is up?

I’d like to preach a sermon that inspires churches to connect at a deeper level.

-Do you have one big regret from the past?

I am still bummed about when the Saints kept blitzing the 49ers on the last drive of a playoff game. It made no sense and to this day I regret not running out on the field to stop the madness.

-If we were to meet again in 50 years from now, what do you hope to have done or accomplished?

I hope that 50 years from now I have a brand new heart and a wrinkled face. That’s a line from one of my favorite songs.
Thank you for your time Steve and good luck on your new book and all your future endeavors and career in general.

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It Is Time For the Assyrians to be Truly United With One Strong Voice

 AbbeyAssyrian

By: Abbey Mikha

Dear God protect my suffering Assyrian nation.  The young, women, men, elderly, and disabled and those suffering from mental illness.  I know its difficult to believe in God sometimes when we see our nation in such a situation, but this is when we must be strong in our faith, and realize that we need to be truly united as Assyrians with one strong voice.

There is no superpower on earth willing to help us thus far, but perhaps the Superpowers of the Universe will help us?! Dear Jesus use your powers to help your nation.  Dear Melchizedek I read once that you are at a high level in the hierarchy of heaven, so help us.  Dear Inanna or Ishtar as we call you, you have always loved the Assyrian nation, so will you love us again and help us?!  I always believed that heaven was much more powerful than even any atomic bombs on earth.  So, let it be so.  Let us witness your love and power.

Our people are dying, they have been abducted and God only knows what they are going through in this moment and what evil place they have been taken to.  Our artifacts have been destroyed in the museum of Nineveh and looted and sold in the black market by the international mafia.  The jewel of ancient civilizations, the city of Nimrud has been destroyed. Today more villages in Syria have been attacked by ISIS and our men are fighting them off with riffles and limited ammunition.  I’m afraid to ask what is next.  Why wont anyone help the Assyrians defeat this evil group of people?  Who are the powerful individuals planning for this to happen to the Assyrian nation and why?  We are being attacked by many, but we will resist and we will never give up.

 I just wish that we could say the powerful words which Queen Zenubia declared to a Roman general once, “You may have the civilization of power, but we have the power of civilization.” Help us that “power of civilization” and I say it again make us be united as one strong voice so that we can rebuild ourselves, our nation, and our Assyria.  Our spirit has been shaken for we are good sensitive humanitarian people and we are worried about the future of our nation, and of the future of humanity on earth, but until our last breath we will write about and defend our suffering nation.

The Assyrians have been massacred from 1915 until 2015.  That is a hundred years of massacre, murder, and GENOCIDE.  We may ask from heaven to help us, but we also ask, “When will the world rise up and defend the Assyrians?”  This may be your last chance.  Are we not humans, are we not people, or do you actually think still that we are not part of the chosen people?  Well I’m here to tell you there are no chosen people.  Every individual good person from any nation is chosen.  We are chosen to live too.  We want to live and we do not want to die anymore.  Let us all rise up together and end the suffering of the Assyrians one of the ancient Christian peoples of the world.

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The Ancient City of Nimrud Always In Our Hearts

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By: Abbey Mikha

I have been surprised by many things in my life.  I have been outraged by things which have been occurring in the past weeks in our homeland.  As I heard the news today in regards to the ancient city of Nimrud, I was questioning society and why the world is standing by idle and watching silently as this ancient city is being destroyed by ISIS terrorists?!

If Nimrud were Jericho or some other significant place for westerners, we would be hearing a whole other story unfold in American and Canadian news outlets.  There was a program on television last week.  It was supposed to be funny. Anyway, the people of the program said, “Isis is destroying artifacts in Iraq” then they said, “but what color is that dress?”  Referring to the dress that has been on the news all week.  People are wondering is the dress black and blue or gold and white.  Is this what people in America and Canada really care about?  Are they that brainwashed by the media?

The ancient city of Nimrud is a jewel of the ancient world. Everyone should be devastated at the destruction of this great ancient city.  They should be outraged.  It doesn’t matter who you are. Any god which is against the ancient people of the world is no god at all. Any god who encourages the destruction of ancient artifacts whether Lamassu or Buddha  deserves to be destroyed himself for he definitely does not exist, only in the minds of the true infidels which is ISIS and the other extremist gangs…

If the world were able to squeeze out oil from these ancient artifacts surely they would be receiving much more attention, but everyone believes these artifacts to be lifeless rubble.  What everyone doesn’t know is that the sacred Assyrian spirit resides in every wall and artifact which is supposed to be home, in its own homeland, and is today being destroyed by godless people who do not belong in this country or anywhere else.

The city of Nimrud will always live in the hearts of Assyrians and belong to the Assyrians.  This is written in the stars, just like the three pyramids of Egypt are a perfect reproduction of the three stars of Orion’s belt.  Today its the destruction of ancient Nimrud.  What is next ISIS, the pyramids in Giza?

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Not for the Assyrians Mr. Walsch

17887_10153041339715851_6624592021715608757_nBy Abbey Mikha

Today my favorite author Neale Donald Walsch, who wrote “Conversations with God” posted a thought-provoking message on his Facebook page. He said, “Nothing is as bad as it seems. Nothing. There is a benefit and a blessing hidden in the folds of every experience and every outcome. That includes every and any ‘bad’ thing that may be happening to you right now. Change your perspective. Know that nothing happens ever that is not for your highest good.  All that needs to change for you to see this…is your definition of ‘Highest Good.’” I know that Mr. Walsch’s message was intended to be positive but it made me teary and questioning “logic”.  As Assyrians today his thoughts are not our reality. This is the reality of elite human beings who have countries, rights, and are allowed to dream. The Assyrians are not being afforded any privileges in their ancestral homeland. To say the least the Assyrians are being treated inhumanely in Syria today.  Assyrian teenagers protecting their families are dying in combat in Khabour at the hands of ISIS.

So, I had to respond to Mr. Walsch and let him know about our desperate situation. I said, “I believe this to be true but not for everyone Neale. My people (The Assyrians) are today facing Genocide at the hands of ISIS in Khabour, Syria. Thousands have escaped from their homes, hundreds have been kidnapped (children, women, and men) and we are afraid that we will hear of brutal murder like was done to the 21 Coptic Christian men a few weeks ago. My highest good Neale? We are commemorating the 100 year anniversary of the Assyrian Genocide of 1915 at the hands of Kurds and Turks. Today it’s ISIS! The people who are under attack in Syria today are the grandchildren of those Assyrians who escaped the Semele Massacre of 1933 which was committed by the Iraqi army of those days. Please, for those of you fair minded spiritual people. Make your voices heard about this new Genocide which started in Mosul (Nineveh) Iraq a few months ago and now has moved to Khabour, Syria. They want to wipe out the Assyrians! Our little Christian nation needs good people like all of you to stand up and express your disgust and outrage at what is happening, for you stand for humanitarianism and for everything that is good in this survival of the fittest world…”

There are hundreds of thousands of people who read on this page on Facebook, so I hope my emotional appeal will work and many people from various cultures will raise their voices on behalf of the Assyrian people. I also post similar messages on the White House website on Facebook. I feel really helpless and sad about our people’s situation and I don’t know what to do. My only power is in writing how I feel about the situation, but is that enough? The answer of course is that no it’s not enough. Nothing we can do is enough and we must always do more! We must band together to stop this Genocide from going further!

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How can the stories of a Pizza delivery driver and a factory worker inspire Assyrians to do more?

By: Ashur Sada

James Robertson is a factory worker in Troy, Michigan.

Assyrians should be more active and generous in donating money to help their people

Assyrians should be more active and generous in donating money to help their people

Jarrid Tansey is a pizza delivery driver in a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts.

For those of you who haven’t heard of them-assuming the majority of you-and what is common between the two, let me give a brief background.

Both of these two men were the subjects of online fund raisers by complete strangers. For the former, his story was very inspiring and got a student to start an online fund to collect money to pay for a car, so he doesn’t have to walk some 20+ miles to get to and from work. For the latter, he was the subject of what amounted to being bullied on the job by a customer, and this in turn received some strong reactions from the online public and lots of sympathies and donations.

In both cases, the original goal for the fund was not only reached but completely shattered. For Mr. Robertson, the original goal was $5,000 which was broken in a matter of hours. It was then raised to $25,000, which was also reached in less than 24 hours. By the 11th day, an astonishing $350K was raised for him! Mr. Tansey may not have been as lucky, but he too got close to $30,000 in donations from complete strangers online.

 

Online funding for Assyrian causes

So what, if anything, can these two stories teach us as Assyrians? they are great examples of what online funding can do for people and causes. What if we attempted the same thing with Assyrians? say we launched an online funding campaign to do one of the following:

-Help an Assyrian family in need
-Donate to arm an Assyrian defense force in Iraq or Syria
-Give money to help build an Assyrian church in a certain city
-Donate to help build an Assyrian library
-Give money to help Assyrian students make a trip of a lifetime to their homeland

One such online fund-raiser was already done. It was a fund-raiser for Assyrian activist Suzy Younan to help her travel to Iraq to provide humanitarian relief for Assyrians displaced from the Nineveh Plain by the recent ISIS onslaught. So what were the results? While encouraging, you would think such a noble cause would have generated a lot more money or at least met the goal of $25,000. The end result was $13,290! That is $11,710 short of the goal set. But Suzy and her travel companions made the best of these donations and helped as many people as they can.

But it is so much more than just the money. It is about sending a message of support, unity and sympathy. If so much money can be raised for two individuals, by complete strangers, why can’t we raise a lot more money for more urgent needs and much nobler causes? If the plight of Assyrians living in tens, in extreme weather conditions doesn’t get us to open our wallets, what will?

In the past, we have come across so many different Assyrian fund-raisers and for different causes and rarely did I see one that matched or exceeded its goal, no matter what the objective was.  Whether it is a trust issue or one of laziness and lacking of generosity, we just don’t do enough to help those in need.

Assyrian Aid Society and ACERO are the two most established and credible Assyrian charities out there. I trust them with my life, never mind my money.  The two have achieved some success in convincing Assyrians to open their wallets to those in needs. They have done a great job of matching donors’ money with those who need it the most. But even they (ACERO and AAS) can do a lot better, if more people become more generous and comfortable with donating their money, especially online.

Despite all of this, the responsibility actually starts with the fund-raiser organizers first, rather than the donors. If the organizers (i.e those who run AAS, ACERO etc.) do a good job of explaining where the money is going, publishing regular reports, posting their accounting online, people will be a lot more trusting and give more of their money. If you go to the two organizations’ respective websites, you will find that both do an excellent job of being accountable with the money they collect from donors. Moreover, their own directors and founders are often on the ground, helping with the relief effort themselves.

Unlike other ethnic groups who may have richer groups and nations behind them, Assyrians only have themselves to support their own. The responsibility and stakes are higher. We simply can’t run away from it and hope that someone else will donate. The ‘by-stander effect’ doesn’t apply here! Each has to do their work. When you go to church on Sunday morning, you don’t tell yourself “I won’t put anything in the basket today, other people are doing that already.”  Why would you treat Assyrian charity any differently? You can donate once or you set a reminder in your calendar to donate multiple times a year. For example, if you believe in ACERO and AAS, you can set a reminder in your smartphone to donate to each one every other month. For example, on January, you donate to AAS, on February you donate to ACERO and so on. If each or most of us did this, the two organizations would have more than enough money to help almost every Assyrian in need.

And when all else fails, put yourself in someone else’s shoes: image you are one of thousands of people who used to live in Mosul or the Nineveh Plain, and were driven out from there by ISIS and have lost your home and all that you built in your lifetime. You are now living in dirty tents under such extreme wintery conditions. Your kids don’t even have a proper blanket to cover themselves, let alone a proper bed to sleep in or a good meal to enjoy. Would you not want people to donate and help you get out of this misery? I am sure you would! Count your lucky stars. You are not living this miserable life. You are sitting comfortably in your home and your kids are well-fed and taken care of. The least you can do is to help these needy Assyrians by making a donation.

Next time you come across an Assyrian fund for a noble cause, don’t hesitate to reach for your wallet or credit card and donate. It will help someone who is in extreme hardship. People did it a pizza delivery driver and a factory worker, whose condition was not nearly as bad as what our Assyrian people are enduring.

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5 health and social benefits of Assyrian dance (Khiga)

By: Ashur Sada

 

Ever noticed that a lot of the good Assyrian dancers are often slim and in good shape? is that a coincidence? could be, but it could

Assyrian dancing (Khiga) has a lot of social and health benefits

Assyrian dancing (Khiga) has a lot of social and health benefits

also be that dancing helps them stay in shape.

If a scientific study was done on Assyrian dance (khiga) they would find so many health and social benefits. Let us go through some of them:

1-Get to see everyone dancing: when dancing, you will go through everyone else that is dancing, at least once. This is an easy and quick way to see people, without having to stop and chat to them.

2-See new people: related to the earlier point about seeing people you know, Assyrian dance, given its mobile nature, is great for people watching. It lets you see new people, new styles, new ways of dancing etc. You are observing others and seeing new things and faces.

3-Great exercise: when it comes to Assyrian weddings, most are held at big banquet halls. If you look at the size of an average hall, it is almost as big and wide as half a football field. Even one or two laps of dancing around the hall will help you burn so many calories and give you a much needed workout. All while having fun. And for those that dance a lot during the night, you can burn most or all the calories you just gained from eating at the wedding.

4-Music becomes more fun: ever noticed, music is more fun and enjoyable when you dance to it than just listening? and as the beat goes, so goes your body, and that all makes the experience that much more fun.

5-Great mind and body booster: dancing in general helps boost the mind and body. It is an exercise after all, and exercising is always good for the mind and body. In the specific case of Assyrian dancing, where there is a lot of mileage, you get to exercise your stress out and sweat your calories away. That all translates into feeling better about yourself and having  a sharper mind. Anecdotally, I have observed that my friends, shortly after finishing a round of Assyrian dancing, come up with some nice things to talk about and usually sound more confident and open-minded. That, my friend, is the effect of Assyrian dancing.

As you can see, Assyrian dancing is more than just going in circles. It has a whole range of social and health benefits. And I didn’t even get into the cultural aspect of Assyrian dancing and how significant it is in that regard as well.  So the next time you are at an Assyrian wedding or party, remember, traditional Assyrian dancing (be it Khiga, Khiga yaqoora, Sheykhani, Belati, Saskani, Toulama etc.) has a lot of benefits beyond the obvious ones. Needless to say, it will improve your health, boost your confidence and connect you better with people around you.

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Why did the chaldean parties fail miserably again at the recent Iraqi elections?

Parliamentary elections were held in Iraq on 30 April 2014 to select the 328 members of the Council of Representatives.  assyrian chaldean in iraqi elections failureThese in turn will elect the Iraqi President and Prime Minister.

Our Assyrian Chaldean Syriac politicians and parties were also very active in this election, vying for the 5 seats allocated for the ‘Christian quota’.  There was a total of 9 lists representing our people in Iraq and these were:

298: Sons of Mesopotamia
299: Al-Warkaa Democratic List
300: Al-Rafidain List (Zowaa)
301: Bet Nahrain National Coalition
302:  Chaldean Syriac Assyrian Popular Council (KRG affiliated)
303: Babylon List
304: Souraya National Coalition
305: Ur National List
306: Shlama Entity

 

Of those, lists number 303 and 305 had relatively or majority chaldean representatives and were heavy on promises for reviving chaldean politics and aspirations.  Problem is, many or most were based on empty rhetoric, one that serves no one but the candidates themselves in most cases.  Moreover,  most of their platforms was heavy on anti-Assyrian agendas, as if Assyrians are the one and only problem facing our chaldean brothers in Iraq and outside of Iraq.

This brings us to the following question: why do chaldean politicians and platforms keep failing in winning in Iraqi elections? to be clear, it is not necessarily about the candidate being a chaldean. It is about their platform and its separatist aspirations.  After decades of useless divisions, our people are tired of these divisions and are making it clear at the ballot box. We want unity and not someone who makes false claims and empty promises about ‘restoring Babylon to its former glory’. By all means, if you can do that, go ahead, liberate Babylon and reestablish it again. Last time I checked, Babylon is inhabited by Arab Muslims and has virtually no Christians living there.  Our true home is in Nineveh, more specifically the ‘Nineveh Plain’, where the majority of Assyrians now live and happens to be where the former great Assyrian empire once stood.  That is where we should focus our attention, hopefully getting our own province there, and not on a false promise to ‘bring back Babylon’!

Our politicians, like most have been doing in the last few years, should instead focus their energy on unity. Nothing else matters in this day in age. With unity, we can do a lot.

To these chaldean politicians who keep lying to the people and screaming their lungs out about serving the chaldean people and their political aspirations, just do yourself and your people a favor and stop it. This is not what people want anymore, even if those close to you-cousins and friends-tell you otherwise.

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Facebook now wasting valuable time from Assyrians’ already busy schedules

By: Ashur Sada

 

As if Assyrians didn’t have enough distractions, you can now add spending hours and hours on Facebook to the list.  We already

Assyrians are increasingly wasting more and more valuable time on Facebook. Time they could have and better used it on more useful things like reading, working out, volunteering, family time etc.

had Turkish soap operas on satellite dishes to make even the most active of Assyrian mothers and wives into very immobile, lazy and stationary creatures, glued to the TV for hours-or to a computer-watching non-stop Turkish soap operas. Ask any Assyrian or Middle Eastern female about the name ‘Mohanad’ and they will tell you everything about him before you are even done asking the question. For the record, he is a blonde, blue-eyed Turkish actor whom ladies find very handsome and attractive.

And while Assyrian ladies are busy watching Turkish soap operas and non-stop Arabic songs and movies on satellite dishes, Assyrian men are busy at coffee shops and other places of socialization, wasting even more time. In other words, both have enough time-wasting activities to ensure not much is left for useful and educational things (i.e reading, house work, volunteering, working secondary jobs, working out etc.)

Then came Facebook…

As if things weren’t already bad enough, we then had Facebook to worry about (in addition to the other already time-wasting online activities, including Paltalk, Youtube etc.) But when Facebook came, the number of hours in a day for Assyrians remained fixed at 24 and didn’t increase. So Assyrian parents and even younger generations now had to prioritize. How do you divide your day between watching Arabic and Turkish soap operas, be able to go to coffee shops and be on Facebook for hours? And if you were unfortunate enough to have a job, you had even less hours to do all of these. Here are some examples:

  • Unemployed:
    -Wake up at 12 PM
    -Go online till 1 PM
    -Start watching the dish till 6 PM
    -Go to your local coffee shop to socialize and waste more time
    -Be home by 9 PM and go online to waste more time on Facebook, Youtube etc.
  • Employed
    -Wake up at 8 AM and go to work
    -Come back home at 5 PM and spend some time online, but not much, because you have to go out
    -Spend your early evening at the local coffee shop to socialize
    -Come home and go on Facebook for hours until it is time to sleep

Now to be fair, some have become creative and started multitasking to be able to enjoy as many of these activities at once, without missing a beat. For example, some can now be found at their local coffee shop, with a mobile phone glued to their hand, so they can be connected to Facebook while being with their friends drinking coffee and socializing. While others have either installed a TV in their rooms or bought a laptop/table to be able to be on Facebook while watching satellite TV.   And there are some who  have ingeniously combined all three activities. This last group is to be commended for their time and multitasking creativity!

Seriously, is there a middle ground? there is nothing wrong with doing any of these activities, or even all 3 together. But it is all about moderation.  Do we have enough time left for family, kids, reading, studying, working around the house, working a second job, learning something new, working out etc.?  Think about the time people-not just Assyrians-are wasting on Facebook. It is mind-boggling. Hours that can easily be spent on something much more advantageous.  If we were to assume that Assyrian Facebook/Cafe/Dish addicts are spending  and average of 3-5 hours on these activities everyday, that is a lot of wasted time that could have been spent doing something much more useful.  That is enough time to make a good secondary income from a PT job, finish a course in a few weeks or even volunteer doing something at a local charity or church.  And if all of that is not possible, how about doing some reading, even if that reading is done online. Given all the vast and free information at our fingertips, it is a crime for us not to make use of it.  And even if you are going to spend time on Youtube for example, you can find thousands upon thousands of tutorial and educational videos, from which you can learn a lot. Wasting time while learning and gaining nothing is simply stupid.

This post may have a few generalizations, exaggeration and assumptions but the message is clear: Facebook, as useful as it may be at times, is wasting valuable time from us. Time that could be spent doing other more productive things.   Our world is moving at a very rapid pace and competition is fiercer and more global than ever before. We need to do our best to be ready for what is to come and ensure we have an even better generation coming up. Put down the remote and mouse and grab a book instead. Even if for just 15 minutes!

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Using crowd-sourcing to count the Assyrian population worldwide

If you were to ask 10 different Assyrians about the population of Assyrians around the world, you would probably get 10

assyrian population

What is the true Assyrian population worldwide?

different varying answers. And it is likely that none of the answers would be accurate enough.  And we can’t blame any of them for such a discrepancy, since there has been no worldwide effort made at counting the true Assyrian population.

For starters, it all depends on how you count and who you are including etc.  For example, do you include Assyrians from all church affiliations, including those who don’t admit to their Assyrian ethnicity? Once you have a criteria in place for who should be counted, you then move to the actual step of  counting the population. But how do you count them? Even after agreeing on a criteria on who should be included, what is the methodology?

Crowd-sourcing

Say hello to ‘crowd-sourcing’, a new phenomenon that is revolutionizing the way we work and interact across cultures and continents. So what is this fancy word and how can it help Assyrians in counting their population accurately? it is simply a process that involves outsourcing tasks to a distributed group of people, for an eventual and unified common goal. In this case, you would leverage the power of online users for the task of counting the population of all Assyrians worldwide.

Given the power of internet and crowd-sourcing, this could be one project we can all work on together. Here is how:

Different people from different cities can volunteer to represent their cities and regions for this project (where significant and large Assyrian populations live)  These volunteers will  go to their local churches or even social clubs and try to get figures of how many registered members/families/individuals they have. Then we can all add up these figures.  For example, the Assyrian church of the East, here in Toronto, has about 1200 registered families in their database. Assuming every family is 4 individuals, that means we have close to 5000 Assyrians going to this church. That would be a good start. Then you have to account for those who are not registered or go to a different church and so on.  To make this project more accurate and successful, it would help if the volunteers or at least some of them had a good background in statistics and census-counting.

To ensure accuracy and proper oversight of the data collected, there has to be a central database to gather, manage and tabulate all the data coming from different sources. There would also have to be a system of ‘double checks’ to ensure the data being gathered is as accurate as possible.  Slowly but collectively, using the power of online crowd-sourcing, we can come up with a better number and more accurate number.

In addition to some of the issues already mentioned at the top, there would surely be other obstacles facing such a massive project. For one, how do you account for regions that are sparsely populated by Assyrians (less than 100 people)? Another is the issue of getting conflicting numbers from different sources and trying to consolidate them. For example, the church in a certain city may give out one number while a popular social club in the same city may give out a totally different number, even though it is a known fact that the two entities are attended by mostly the same members. This is where more research is needed to reach an accurate figure.

A project to count or estimate the true worldwide Assyrian population would take more than a few weeks or even months to conclude. It could possibly take years, until all efforts have been exhausted to get to every region and center where Assyrians live. And even when that has been done, double or even triple checks have to be done.

Once a good number has been reached, what can we do with such a number and data? To some, it may not be worth all this effort just to get to one number. But in reality, such a number will be of vast importance to Assyrians, for many reasons and implications. To start, it could help their case politically, arguing that Assyrians are not a small minority, but one that numbers in the millions.  The bigger the number the more weight it bears on the UN and other humanitarian and political agencies.  It would also help us culturally in that it could increase worldwide efforts to save our language and heritage. And last but not least, it is important for us Assyrians. To have a good idea how many Assyrians there are in the world, it will increase our own passion and awareness of our nation and drive the idea that the Assyrian population, despite all the genocides committed against it, has risen again and is alive and well.

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Abbey’s Defense of the Maharashtra Region in India and all Poor Farmers of the World

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best Use for Degraded Lands in Western India Project

Think of the following essay in relation to our homeland.  We have water shortage in Iraq as well and in all our villages, like for example in Bartella.  Our Assyrian people need help as the people of India also need help.  We are an ancient people just like the Indus Valley people.  What is happening in India is happening all over the world.  Take fifteen minutes of your time to read through this report.  Our friendship as Assyrians with peoples of the entire earth is a testament to our humanitarian spirit as a nation.  Let me know what you think.

By Abbey Mikha

Summary

Changing the ideas of modernized people of the earth in relation to poor peoples of other nations has to be part of an education process for modernized people in regards to human and humanitarian issues. Abolition of rural poverty should be an extremely important concern for all persons and nations. We need to help peoples of the Third World! In our project area in the Maharashtra region in India there live a simple ancient people who have not been influenced a great deal by the progress other regions of the world have seen. Though they may be poor they certainly have people of intelligence and wisdom. Our team wants to help improve the situation of the people who are trying to survive on a seasonal basis. We have to aid in the development of farmers who can serve as future leaders in the field of agriculture. Also, we realize that water is the source of life. We want to provide help and opportunities for creative people and even inventors to influence the future of their land and villages by implementing ancient wisdom combined with modern knowledge on water harvesting techniques to cure the ecological degradation in the area. We have researched the opinions of various individuals and experts on the three approaches to land use under consideration. In our research it was our hope to find the best solution for the peoples of the Maharashtra region of India. Although it would be amazing if we could make each person in our project area rich, a more realistic solution is to provide practical advice and support in order to influence their life, so that their living conditions can improve and they will have hope and joy not just for a moment but for a lifetime.

Structuring the Problem definition

Trying to help people of other cultures is every good human beings hope regardless of which culture they are from, but there are problems to achieving those goals and dreams, most of which are financial. In the following research project and report the opinions of various individuals and experts on the three approaches to land use under consideration will be evaluated. The opinions of individuals who are actually from India like Dr. Narayana Shenoy, Greeta Nair, K.G. Kshirsagar, and Madhav Gadgil have been considered. Additionally, the views of Kevin Conway and Thomas Rosin have been presented. We also referred to Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd report called, “Modern Irrigation and Fertigation Methodologies for Higher Yields in Sugarcane.” We are of the opinion that considering a variety of views will lead us to more accurate conclusions.

It is rather confusing to think that poor peoples of the world could not want help from those who are modernized, but the fact is that people are afraid of change. The peoples who wholeheartedly want to help are often times received in a suspicious manner by the villagers in the Maharashtra region. Accepting help from those who are strangers to the ancient land of the Indus Valley is a choice and cannot be provided by force.

The ancient water harvesting techniques that the people have used for generations must be developed and combined with modern techniques to improve the livelihood of the people. To take for granted this ancient wisdom of water harvesting would be a testament to our ignorance. Therefore, we will do our utmost to appreciate this knowledge, which springs from a distant time and even an eternal source.

Background Information

In his report titled, “Conjunctive use of water resources in the Decan Trap, India” Dr. Frank Simpson gives a detailed explanation of the area of Akole Taluka which is very similar to our project area located on the eastern flanks of the Western Ghats mountain range. He says:

“Akole Taluka is located on the eastern margin of the Western Ghats mountain range in the westernmost part of Ahmednagar District, Maharashtra State, India. This area is comprised of uplands to the west and south, which give way to rolling and relatively even topography, at lower elevations to the east. The taluka is part of the Deccan Trap plateau, where generally flat lying basalt lavas make up the bedrock beneath a variable cover of weathered basalt and soil. In these respects, it is similar to much of the Deccan region, which covers an area of 500, 000 km2 in western and central India. Superficial deposits are thin to absent at higher elevations and up to 2 m or more in thickness in the valleys. The annual rainfall, which ranges from 600 to 2,000 mm across the taluka, is largely confined to the monsoon period, from June to September. July is the wettest month. Typically, there are sporadic showers during the post-monsoon period (October–January) and little or no rain in the pre- monsoon months (February–May). Before the onset of the monsoon, temperatures in the 40–50°C range are common.”

The tribal and rural people are subsistence farmers. Their main crops are rice, groundnuts, ragi and local grass during the autumn growing season, and wheat and gram during the spring season (Simpson). The quality of the harvest depends on the amount of soil moisture and there is also fluctuating water availability that decreases gradually after the monsoon period, which affects the soil and agriculture (Simpson). Water is the source of life, and attaining it is part of the difficulty for this region.

Measures of Effectiveness

We will consider that we have succeeded in our project not necessarily when we have changed the whole region. Rather, through simple signs like when the local people trust us and have learned to more effectively subsist from their land, as a result of a combination of their ancient knowledge and our suggestions and expertise. When we have shared our information of modern strategies and combined it with the people’s ancient approaches and they start to believe that we want to help them, we will have accomplished something amazing. Our goal is to help the people of Maharashtra region and those near Akole Taluka in moving forward as a group, society, and even as individuals.

We are certain that humanitarian work will and would be embraced by many individuals of the world if the funds were available. This though should not be an excuse for non-action; we must at least attempt to help poor peoples of every nation. Nonetheless, funds are one aspect of our project that we had to keep in consideration and under control. Our team of agrologists and volunteers have decided to live amongst the people of the Maharashtra region and in this way avoid unnecessary expenses. This also will help us in understanding the daily difficulties of the people. The funds we have been granted have been expended carefully with the hope of making the best of every dollar.

Alternative Solutions

Water Harvesting Solution:

Water harvesting is an ancient water collection method, which has been improved and improvised throughout the ages from the time of the earliest civilizations including that of the Indus Valley. A most pleasant verse indicating a part of the water cycle is found in the ‘Kiskindha Kanda’ of Valmiki’s Ramayana. It states: “The sun’s rays have drunk the water of the seas, and carrying it as an embryo for nine months, is giving out the elixir of life” (Shenoy). The ancient peoples of the Indus Valley realized the necessity of water and its obvious connection with all the living beings on earth.

In the article titled, “Traditional water harvesting methods of India”
 by Narayana Shenoy he states:

 

“Ancient Indian Sanskrit literature reveals the extensive knowledge our ancient predecessors possessed, of very complex and dynamic phenomena of movement of water in nature i.e. knowledge of rainfall, run-off, weather pattern, properties of water, properties of soil, etc. They designed and constructed dams, aqueducts and a variety of water harvesting structures much earlier than the commonly believed Greek, Roman or other ancient civilizations.”

This is a testament to that although the majority of the peoples of this region are poor; they are the descendants of a rich culture and civilization from a mysterious forgotten time in history. They were able to make it to this century from so many thousands of years ago! This is an achievement considering the difficult environment they live in. It is the opinion of our team that the ancient water harvesting techniques should be continued and developed and combined with modern techniques that suit the area. There are solutions, which will cause the least harm for the land and also the people.  On the subject of rainwater harvesting Dr. Narayana Shenoy states:

“It can be simple to construct from inexpensive local materials, and are potentially successful in most habitable locations…Roof rainwater can’t be of good quality and may require treatment before consumption. As rainwater rushes from the roof it may carry pollutants in it such as the tiniest bit of mercury from coal burning buildings to bird feces. Although some rooftop materials may produce rainwater that is harmful to human health, it can be useful in flushing toilets, washing clothes, watering the garden… these uses alone halve the amount of water used by a typical home…Overflow from rainwater harvesting tank systems can be used to refill aquifers in a process called groundwater recharge, though this is a related process, it must not be confused with Rainwater harvesting. Rainwater harvested from roofs can contain human, animal and bird feces, mosses and lichens, windblown dust, particulates from urban pollution, pesticides, and inorganic ions from the sea (Ca, Mg, Na, K, Cl, SO4), and dissolved gases (CO2, NOx, SOx)) ( Shenoy ).”

This is exactly where modern science and technology and technique can help. After collecting the water as described in the passage, it must be treated. Clean water can be made available for the population of the region. In this world of coincidence there are so many ways to lose ones life, but not having drinkable water is not an acceptable reason to die for anyone in the world, for any child of any nation. We are responsible for this as human beings and as friends to our fellow human kind.

Another opinion is that of Kevin Conway who asserts that, “Over the past 70 years, human numbers have tripled but our thirst for water has surged six-fold” (p.1). He continues:

“Supply is only one part of the growing water crisis. For an increasing number of people, water quality is every bit as threatening. Population growth, industrialization, and urbanization are not only depleting lakes, rivers, and aquifers, they are polluting them as well. Already more than 1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water; 3 billion lack access to basic sewerage systems. For millions, life-sustaining water is now a deadly menace. Water- and sanitation-related diseases will rob many more of their health and a productive future. The history of rain harvesting is rich in technique and innovation. The Greeks, the Mayans, and island peoples around the world all developed ways of harvesting or holding back rain as it cascaded from their roofs or flowed across their fields. IDRC-supported researchers tapped into this broad base of traditional knowledge and used the tools of modern science to improve water-harvesting techniques and safeguard water quality (Conway p.1).”

We agree with this strategy. The water harvesting solution is beneficial for the villagers near the area of Maharashtra. There are no negative consequences for the people using the various ancient techniques of water harvesting. This knowledge may come in handy at times of great need. We can help improve upon this way when combining it with some modern strategies to insure the best results.

The Sugarcane Solution:

According to the Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd report called, “Modern Irrigation and Fertigation Metholodgies for Higher Yields in Sugarcane” India is the world’s largest producer of sugar and sugarcane (p. 5). It also states that sugarcanes requirement for water and fertilizer are also equally high (p. 5). Sugarcane is grown with flood irrigation in all other states except in Maharashtra, which is the location of our project area (p. 5). According to this article the constraints for sugar cane production are:

1. Non availability of high yielding varieties
2. Dearth of good quality seed
3. Improper water management
4. Use of imbalanced fertilize doses
5. Negligence in plant protection
6. Low awareness among the farmers to use improved cultivation practices.

In this article it also states that sugarcane grows extremely well in medium to heavy, well-drained soils, and high organic matter content. Water logged soils and soils of poor drainage are not suitable. Growth of sugarcane will be poor in sandy soils (p. 6). Also, heat, humidity, and sunlight intensity play important role in sugarcane germination, tillering, vegetative growth and maturity. Sugarcane grows well in humid and hot weather (p. 6). In the JISL report it also states that the mean minimum temperature and the relative temperature disparity are comparatively lower in Maharashtra (p. 7). It seems that for all those reasons some are of the opinion that Maharashtra is a good region for growing sugar cane. This must be analyzed further with the reality and truth at heart. The motive of those trying to promote this alternative must be considered. Are these individuals trying to take what they believe to be the easy way out? This idea of making fast money while not considering the future of the land will cost the poor people in the end, not those making big money.

In an article titled, “More Maharashtra farmers shifting to sugarcane cultivation” the author Greeta Nair said the following:
Favorable conditions not necessarily climatic but more political, financial and overall support, are making farmers shift. Increasingly land in Maharashtra is being diverted to sugarcane. This shift is significant in Solapur, Beed and Latur. Traditionally cane has been grown in western Maharashtra and accounts for more than 60% of the state’s contribution to the sugar bowl. But now, cane is also been grown in areas that have historically known to be chronic drought prone areas and they are contributing 25% to the sugar production (Nair p.1).

In this region of India politics hardly considers the destiny of the common folk. Politicians should not make decisions about degraded lands and best alternatives. Politicians study politics and should contribute to their field. Geologists study the earth and these scientists and engineers should be the decision makers in regards to earth issues. This would positively influence our destiny as a human race upon this planet we call home.

All things considered, the district of Maharashtra is actually facing the problems of water scarcity and sustainability due to sugarcane cultivation. Therefore sugar cane cultivation is not the solution. A society cannot make all of its decisions based on a one-year economic plan. The income made within one year of sugar cane production will only be beneficial for those with the money in their pocket.

In the Agricultural Economics Research Review of 2006 called the, “Organic Sugarcane Farming for Development of Sustainable Agriculture in Maharashtra” by K.G. Kshirsagar the issue of how much sugar cane costs to grow is discussed. Also, how much fertilizers cost chemical and non-chemical, costs of irrigation, and plant protection chemicals. In this article he states:

In Maharashtra, about 80 per cent of water is utilized for agriculture (World Bank, 2003), and more than 60 percent of it is utilized for the sugarcane crop alone. Moreover, farmers mine water from deeper aquifers for the sugarcane crop, especially in the study district. This is a cause of great concern and demands conservation and judicious use of water, as it has endangered the stability and sustainability of agriculture. The organic sugarcane farming (OSF) has been found quite successful in the study area and has offered several benefits as compared to those by inorganic sugarcane farming (ISF). Although OSF requires more human labor, cost of cultivation has been found lower due to savings on chemical fertilizers, irrigation, seeds and agrochemicals. The yields have been observed to be relatively lower on OSF but are more than compensated by the price premium fetched by the organic sugarcane and the yield and profit stability observed on OSF. The OSF has been found to conserve the soil and water resources, increases farmers’ income, thereby enhancing their economic well-being and livelihood security. Thus, OSF is important in achieving the goal of sustainable agriculture. It has been suggested that organic farming should receive prime attention from all the stakeholders to realize its full potential in increasing profitability and providing the much sought after sustainability of agriculture.

This is an exaggeration of the reality of sugar cane production in Maharashtra and the future of its lands, soils, and economy. Although it is always good to consider various opinions in the end the truth must be the guide, for the harnessing of truth of those of the poor of Maharashtra region will be a beacon of light that will enable them to subsist well into the future. Their truth may need to be considered on a global level. It may well be a simple truth, that they need honest advice and help. The future of the lands in the region must be well thought out and although the people are being pressured to grow sugar cane by the government this solution is not the best alternative.

Do Nothing Approach

In his article called, “Conjunctive use of water resources in Deccan Trap” Dr. Frank Simpson stated, “Indigenous knowledge, attention to local religious practices, and respect for traditional and folk approaches to communication were indispensable to the success of the project.” This is a very important factor of our project also. Allowing the people of the Maharashtra region to continue on with their traditions and the way they have subsisted since ancient times without any help may be a choice, albeit an unfair one. It allows them to live life as their ancestors have done. So many times throughout history modern peoples have intruded on the lives of ancient peoples and have caused a lot of unpleasantness in the life of the people as a community. Although our project is an honorable one and we want to help the people of Maharashtra, they may not want the help we so want to give. Though they live in poverty they may have found some greater meaning to life.

A simple question may be, “Does what we want to provide for the people of this region fit with their life style as physical and spiritual beings?” The answer to this question may be contradictory depending on whom we ask. Some of the people might be very attached to their practices and consider them holy. Nonetheless, our goal is to try to increase their self-esteem so that they can change their future, but we must remember that this may not be ours to control. The natural way of living may be satisfactory and the most environmental friendly system for human beings to subsist at peace with the earth. Perhaps someday there may not be any better permanent solution and therefore we must think about the meaning behind this approach.

It is true that we should try to influence other cultures in order to help them move forward. Aiding people of the area in the Maharashtra region will benefit them physically, propel them forward as a community, and give them a better life. Nothing is certain in this world but the philosophy of brotherhood and sisterhood is everlasting.

In Madhav Gadgil’s article titled, “Biodiversity and India’s Degraded Lands” she discusses a very interesting topic. She says that, “ecosystem people” subsist by producing or gathering a diversity of biological resources from their immediate vicinity. The people of the Maharashtra region are such “ecosystem people”. She says:

“Their quality of life is intimately lined to the maintenance of modest levels of biodiversity in their own circumscribed resource catchments. Their resources base has been extensively degraded by pressures created by “biosphere people”…the Third World elite and citizens of industrial countries, who can draw resources from all over the world and are thus, indifferent to environmental degradation in the Third World. “Ecosystem people” have a genuine stake in biodiversity maintenance in their immediate surrounding, it is important that conservation efforts include maintenance and restoration of at least modest levels of biodiversity throughout the Third World (p. 167).”

So the question must be considered, “Do we want to help the poor of the region in order to give them bits of our life style, or rather so that we can continue our own life style in the future?”

Our projects incentive is moral so we can help poor farmers and villagers and give them our knowledge. After we do so though we must be careful not to consider ourselves their managers. We must not allow ourselves to believe that after we have given the people in Maharashtra newfound information that we must now stay in the country and become the overseers of events. It has been said many times that the world has become a global village and this is true, but we have overstepped many boundaries as a western civilization. We must deal with the people in a very considerate and sensitive manner. Their culture is fragile. We should help them and protect them but we should not govern them. We should never destroy that which makes them unique. Above all we should ask what they want.

Analysis of Alternative Solutions

The positive and negative consequences of each possible solution to the alternative solutions will now be considered. In Mintesinot Behailu and Mitiku Haile’s report about water harvesting they state:

“The aim of water harvesting is to mitigate the effects of temporal shortages of rain, so-called dry spells, to cover both household needs and productive use. This involves storage component and various forms of storage exist such as: micro-dams, farm ponds, subsurface dams, tanks… Water scarcity is a critical issue for many developing countries in general and for those in the arid to semi-arid areas of the world in particular. It has long been understood that intensive water resource development can have a decisive role in the economic and social development of a country and in alleviating drought. Alleviating food security related to drought and famine through sustainable agriculture and environmental rehabilitation…attempts are being made to harvest runoff water in micro-dams for use both in households and small-scale irrigation schemes. It is recognized that the construction of micro-dams with proper irrigation and agronomic services will result in micro-climatic and environmental changes with positive impact on sustained productivity. Notwithstanding the positive impacts on increased agricultural productivity and improved community welfare, the negative impacts of water resource development require constant assessment and monitoring on environmental changes (Behailu and Haile).”

Therefore, there are innumerable positive aspects to water harvesting. There are no negative consequences for the people relying on their ancient techniques and further developing them through our modern knowledge of water retrieval. This solution can only bring constructive results for the land and the people. Although the water collected may not be directly drinkable instantly, it is usable in many other ways, and there are many procedures to clean the water so that every person in Maharashtra will have enough to survive and hopefully prosper.

The positive aspects of sugar cane productions are that it provides a multitude of jobs and thus influences the economy positively. Negative aspect of sugar cane production other than the negative influence on soils, is that sugar cane is a water intensive crop, and enormous amount of water is required for its cultivation. This water is lacking in the area. The water to cultivate the sugar cane will be taken from the mouths of the people.

Although local politicians, representing both the State and Federal Governments, have proposed that there is money to be made from growing sugar cane on a large scale in our project area, we must consider the needs and the thoughts of the villagers. We are of the same opinion as the villagers. We believe that the proponents of the widespread production of sugar cane and scarce soil nutrients would be depleted on a large scale, with every harvest. Therefore, although the politicians think this strategy would be a big money maker it is not the best long-term solution for the land or the people.

The do nothing approach which would allow the villagers to live their life as they have done in the years before, since many thousand years ago in ancient times, also has positive and negative impacts. The positive aspect of this strategy is that the people would live as their ancestors have lived without disruption of their life style. The negative aspect is that the people may not be able to survive as they have because of changes upon the earth. Also, it must be said that our future as a human race is codependent. Yes, we may also need to learn from the people of the Maharashtra region, perhaps to balance our own life style of greed, waste, and excess. Therefore, we must lift the people of Maharashtra unto a higher standard of living and perhaps in the future lower our standard of living, in order to meet somewhere in the middle in a forthcoming time where we all must coexist together. Balance and equality of living standards will be essential so that we all survive into the next thousand years upon the earth.

Evaluation

Although it might be difficult to explain to all the people of Maharashtra what the solutions are for the project area, our team of volunteers and experts are eager and ready to meet with all the various village councils who oppose the growing of sugar cane as a major crop, and anyone else who may wish to attend our meeting. We believe that the village council is correct in that they believe that the problem of land degradation would get much worse in the longer term as a result of the mass production of sugar cane for profits. We also agree with the village council that the only way to reverse the processes of desertification, which are well under way in the region, is to prevent the monsoon rains from flowing out of the area as surface runoff. This is best done through the widespread introduction of the technologies for water harvesting and water spreading. These involve very simple modifications of the hill slopes, which are cheap, small-scale and easily replicated. The new technologies would raise the amount of soil moisture and permit the production of a higher-yield second crop. When this knowledge is combined with that of ancient harvesting methods the people will feel comfortable because they will sense a familiarity with the practices.

In Thomas Rosin’s article, “The Tradition of Groundwater Irrigation in Northwestern India” he expresses that research indicates that there existed a different groundwater irrigation system of dams and perennial canals redesigned for India by the British during the early nineteenth century and have been continued by modern Indian government. There were though also indigenous principles and practices that the people in the region followed before. He writes about a folk system of hydrologic practices in India and gives importance to the surface impoundments of rain (p. 51). He further expresses that there is a interlinking among surface water facilities and their significance to the all over hydrology. This article argues that the opinion has been voiced that the indigenous system is actually superior to that of the British (Rosin p. 51).

It is very true that some modern civilizations have lost admiration for the ancient world and the knowledge that its peoples hold within their memory. Ancient knowledge is precious and we were all once connected to peoples who were originally ancient. One day we will know perhaps how those ancient people built the great civilizations of the world including that of the mesmerizing Indus Valley, and how they survived for so many thousands of years. Until we better understand these civilizations we should never undermine the knowledge of its people.

In conclusion we cannot accept the sugar cane solution, which would cause further problems down the road for the land and the people. Therefore, we must work with the locals of the Maharashtra region to bring about changes in the area through the ancient water harvesting techniques combined with our modern knowledge. The do nothing approach in our opinion is also not acceptable. We must do something! We must be able to earn the trust of fellow human beings in that we will help them and contribute our knowledge in order to make their lives better. The Indus Valley people are a link to the past and our sincere friendship with them and all peoples of the world is our link to the future.

We should respect all the farmers of the world and not just in Maharashtra.  We must always also remember just like human beings need rest the earth also needs its rest and can only produce so much.  Do not abuse the earth that freely gives of herself and be true to our planet.  God only knows how much time there is left on earth.  This was an Assyrians point of view in regards to Geology and what is going on in India and the world.  The big question is though do you agree and what do you think and believe?

References

Brooks David, Shames Tilly, Wolfe Sarah (2001). Local Water Supply and Management: A Compendium of 30 Years of IDRC-Funded Research International Development Research Centre. Retrieved from: http://web.idrc.ca/uploads/user- S/111711308618Brooks.pdf

Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd. Irrigation & Fertigation Methologies for Higher Yields in Sugarcane. Retrieved from: http://www.jains.com/PDF/crop/sugarcane%20cultivation.pdf

K.G. Kshirsagar, Agricultural, (2006). Organic Sugarcane Farming for Development of Sustainable Agriculture in Maharashtra. Economics Research Review Vol. 19 pp 145-153. Retrieved from: http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/bitstream/57785/2/DrKG-Kshirsagar.pdf

Madhav Gadgil, Biodiversity and India’s Degraded Lands. Published by: Springer on behalf of Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Page 167 of 167-172. Obtained from Jstor: Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4314063.

Mintesinot Behailu and Mitiku Haile, (2006 June). Highlighting the impacts of North– South research collaboration among Canadian and southern higher education partners. Association of Universities and Colleges in Canada.
http://www.aucc.ca/_pdf/english/publications/colloquium_proceedings_e.pdf

Nair Geeta, (2011 Jan 14). More Maharashtra Farmers Shifting to Sugarcane Cultivation. Financial Express. Retrieved from:
http://www.financialexpress.com/news/more-maharashtra-farmers-shifting-to- sugarcane-cultivation/737292/1

Rosin Thomas (1993). Human Ecology: The Tradition of Groundwater Irrigation in Northwestern India. Obtained from Jstor.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4603074

Shenoy Narayana, (2009 August 16). Traditional Water Harvesting Methods of India. Retrieved from: http://www.organiser.org/dynamic/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage& pid=304&page=22

Simpson Frank, and Sohani Girish, (2003). India BP-II.13: Conjunctive Use of Water Resources in Deccan Trap. In: MOST/Nuffic (IK-Unit) Database, Register of Best Practices on Indigenous Knowledge, Chapter 4 of Best Practices on Indigenous Knowledge, Joint Publication of the Management of Social Transformations Programme (MOST) and the Centre for International Research and Advisory Networks (CIRAN), MOST Database of Best Practices. Web-link Reference: http://www.unesco.org/most/bpik13-2.htm

 

 


 

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