Ravi Kuchimanchi

first_imgIn the 2004 film Swades (Homeland), the hero is an expat engineer who leaves a cushy job in the U.S. and moves to a village in India. Moved by the plight of the people, he organizes the residents and helps them hook a makeshift generator to a nearby waterfall, bringing electricity to the village for the first time. The movie was based loosely on the life and experience of Ravi Kuchimanchi, founder of the Association for India’s Development (AID), who worked with grass roots organizations to electrify 12 hamlets in Bilgaon, a tribal village. AID has evolved since its 1991 launch into a non-profit organization with more than 50 chapters that work on issues such as renewable energy and other forms of grassroots development.Can you tell us about the genesis of AID, and how it has grown over the years since you founded it in 1991?I was a graduate student at the University of Maryland in 1991. I basically thought that it would be good to have some channels where the Indian community in the U.S. could relate to the “real” India rather than only relating to the “Bollywood India” or to the markets in India; but also to rural India where 60% to 70% of India lives. That was the idea I had in mind when I sent out an email that led to the starting of this group – Association for India’s Development. Essentially, it channelizes the energy and interests of the non-resident Indian (NRI) community, both students and professionals. It seeks for them to learn about as well as participate in issues that are connected with rural India. They help out by raising funds as well as by giving knowledge inputs and by volunteering their time in both the U.S. and in India.You started out as one organization and you now have 50 chapters around the world. Yes that’s right. The organization started in College Park and after three years at the University of Maryland, it started spreading to other university campuses, like Pittsburgh, Princeton and so on. Over time, we had about 40 chapters in the U.S., and also small chapters sprouted in Australia and the UK – and that is how we grew. The other thing was that it moved from a student organization to also include professionals and the general NRI community. Right now, our mix is about 40% students in our chapters and about 60% are working people.Ironically, it was a Bollywood film called Swades that told your story. In fact, it was based on a project in which you provided electricity to the tribal village of Bilgaon. To what do you attribute the success of the project that the film was based on?The context of that project is that it is situated in the Narmada Valley. The Narmada Valley is very famous for the struggle against a large dam, the Sardar Sarovar Dam, which is displacing about two lakh [200,000] people just by its reservoir alone. The World Bank had in the beginning funded the project, but they now have recognized the problems with it and they have agreed that the project is faulty and they have withdrawn. But the project is continuing with the efforts of the Indian government.It is within that context that we thought it was a very good idea to set up an example of an alternate energy – where electricity is generated based on village resources and can light up the village. In the case of these large dams, what happens is that the energy of the water is tapped and then it is fed to larger cities in India. And the villages that are being displaced themselves do not get any electricity from that project, so they do not develop locally. That is one contrast that we also wanted to show.We collaborated with a group called the People’s School of Energy [PSE] which kind of provided the technical help to the project and the Narmada Bachao Andolan, which is the people’s movement which was raising the struggle in our group. The achievement of the project was that it was done entirely by shram daan [donated labor], which was essentially the volunteer labor from the people. It tapped the energy from a waterfall. There’s about a 9 to 10 meter waterfall in that village; it’s a beautiful waterfall. We diverted part of that water and dropped it 10 meters to turn a turbine, which produced electricity.Do you find that these projects each require a unique and innovative solution? Certainly lots of villages aren’t next to waterfalls, so you’ve probably had to find other methods for generating energy. That’s true. This is very applicable in tribal areas or in hilly areas actually. It doesn’t have to be a waterfall, but if there is a source of water, the hill naturally provides a conduit for the water to drop. And so, you can make a drop in a pipe by taking it some distance and then making it drop where the hill is steeper. You don’t really need a waterfall, but you need a source of water, and you need ups and downs, so that the water can be made to fall. That is there in many hills. Micro hydro projects of this kind have wide-ranging applicability. The Indian government is investing money through its Renewable Energy ministry to look at some of these ideas.Obviously, your organization has grown over time through the participation of non-resident Indians. Do you see that trend continuing, and what do you think is driving it?I think that it’s a passion. You know people are both actually interested in it, both Indians and Americans. For example, we have potentially a Fulbright Scholar, who is from the U.S., who is probably going to be visiting and staying with us in India for about eight months. So, what drives these people, whether they are American or Indian is kind of a passion to change and to make the world a better place for everybody.Somehow, there seems to be so much inequity in the world today. There’s a large fraction of the world that basically the resources are not reaching. And there is a lot of exploitation in the world. You know a lot of these people have remained poor because their rights have been trampled historically as well as continuing to be even today. Somehow, the youth of today wants to play a role in changing that. So you see it as a generational thing, specifically.Both a generational thing and maybe also because of the internet – that has really helped AID. It has given us an easier way to communicate and reach out to each other. And, it’s a cost effective way. Today, leadership can come from anywhere; but in a decentralized manner [through the internet] you can make your thoughts heard. And so, I think that this is also a part of it.Let’s talk a little bit about some of the new initiatives that you are focusing on as well. You are keeping an eye on the Right to Information Act and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act that were passed in the country. Why are you stepping up your interests in those areas?Because they fundamentally have to do with democracy, like the Freedom of Information Act in the U.S. There is a lot of corruption in India and the government’s accountability to the people is something that we need to work on. As I was speaking today at the conference, the feedback from the people to the government, or to industry, even from the poor people, is something which is neglected. Without feedback, this is very difficult.Do you see your organization moving more in the direction of influencing policy in the future?Definitely, and I think that it has moved both in the past and it’s also continuing to move in the trajectory in influencing policy as well as the implementation of good laws, like the National Rural Employment Guarantee (NREG) Act…. What our organization is keenly interested in doing is if there is new legislation that comes into India, we need to ensure its effective implementation; to give feedback to the government, to take it to the officials or administrators locally, as well as to the state representatives. And in cases where we find corruption or other faults in the implementation of the NREG Act or the RTI Act we can go to the courts, if necessary. We need to ensure that an accountable person is there implementing this progressive legislation – so that it happens. This is so we end up with not just good laws, but also good implementation of those laws. This is where India lags behind the U.S. quite a bit, I feel. In the U.S., I think they do a much better job of implementing its laws. In India while the laws are very progressive, but I feel that the implementation is lacking.What do you see as the largest hurdles on the horizon for organizations like yours? What are some of the biggest challenges?I think one of the biggest challenges is that a lot of solutions seem to be custom-made. There is no one effective solution that addresses a diverse country like India. There is no magic wand that you can wave to solve all of these things. And so, it requires people who are committed and [are willing to] spend more time. There is a learning curve for new people who get involved in this kind of thing as their chosen field of pursuit or as volunteers. There is a learning curve that they have to go through to be effective, and it requires staying power. Tapping human potential, making it stick – you know to handle all of these problems – and making them understand the complexities. And then, people will find what they can do.   Related Itemslast_img read more

Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires

first_img Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires Top Stories 20) Only Reggie White (47 games) reached 60 career sacks in fewer games than J.J. Watt (66 games)… ESPN Research21) Roethlisberger has had the most 30-yard, “down the field” completions in the last 10 years… ESPN Research22) Tyrod Taylor went 21-of-25 for 234 yards with three TDs and a pick on 1st or 2nd down but just 2-of-5 for 8 yards, two interceptions and four sacks on third down…. ESPN Research23) 2014: Bills gave up two TDs to a tight end. 2015: Bills have given up two TDs to a tight end… ESPN Research24) Travis Benjamin’s first four TDs are all over 50 yards which hasn’t happened since Patrick Peterson did it his rookie year.25) Titans ran the ball 82 percent of the time from under center and threw the ball 89 percent of the time from the shotgun… ESPN Research26) Johnny Manziel has three TD passes and all were thrown over 30 yards down the field to Travis Benjamin… ESPN Research27) The last time the Browns had a 21-0 halftime lead, Bill Belichick was the head coach… ESPN Research28) Julio Jones has more receptions than DeMarco Murray has carries…I heard that on Mike & Mike on my way in to work 11) The Cardinals take 41 seconds of real time between plays, second most in the NFL…ESPN Stats & Info12) The Eagles 21 first-half yards against Dallas was their lowest total since playing the Cardinals in ’94… ESPN Stats & Info13) The last time the broadcast team of Dave Pasch and Tom Luginbill did an ASU home game was the crazy finish Wisconsin game…a tweet from Devils Digest14) Before David Johnson’s day versus the Bears, Ollie Matson in 1958 was the last Cardinal with a rushing and kickoff return touchdown in the same game…NFL press release15) Out of Cam Newton’s 64 games played, he has 25 games with both a passing and rushing touchdown, overtaking Steve Young who took 121 more games to do the same thing…NFL press release16) If the Steelers beat the Rams, Ben Roethlisberger will be the winningest quarterback in Pittsburgh Steelers history…NFL press release17) Only Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald caught 400 passes in fewer games than Antonio Brown… NFL press release18) Marcus Mariota has more TD passes in his first two career games than any player in NFL history… NFL press release19) Ryan Mallett went 0-for-14 with an interception under pressure against Carolina…ESPN Research 0 Comments   Share   Arizona Cardinals kick returner David Johnson (31) runs the opening kickoff or a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks) 29) The Miami Dolphins became the first team in NFL history to play against Blake Bortles and not sack him… ESPN Research30) Derek Carr was 7-of-9 for 142 yards and a TD on play-action versus Baltimore… ESPN Research31) Every quarterback in the NFL except for Tom Brady and Kirk Cousins had more rushing yards than the Eagles running backs… ESPN Research32) Doug Russell won the 1935 rushing title and returned to rush for 11 yards in his first two games of 1936, now DeMarco Murray has done the same… ESPN Research33) Murray rushed out of the shotgun 36 times last year and half that already this year… ESPN Research34) Last year, DeMarco Murray averaged 3 yards before first contact and now he averages getting hit for the first time 3 inches behind the line.35) Sam Bradford went the whole first half without completing a pass that traveled 1 yard beyond the line of scrimmage… ESPN Research36) The first seven Eagles drives went 324 inches, 252 inches, 0 inches, 72 inches, 144 inches, 432 inches(!!!) and 0 inches…MMQB (with my math skills)37) Since Andy Dalton became QB, Cincinnati has three double-digit win seasons and made it to the playoffs four straight years for the first time in team history… MMQBcenter_img The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Every week as part of my show prep (and because I’m genuinely interested), I read through as many research notes as I can find. Sometimes I research my own stats to see if there’s a statistical trend that backs up what I think I’m seeing when I watch games. Unfortunately for my time efficiency, occasionally those stats show me nothing and I throw them out.Here are the stats (or interesting tidbits) from Week 2 of the NFL and Week 3 of the college football season that I’m using on the show this week. 1) The Saints have lost six straight at home…Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback (MMQB)2) Tyrod Taylor has more passing yards, more touchdown passes, a higher completion percentage and a higher quarterback rating than Peyton Manning…Yours truly3) David Johnson is the only player in NFL history to have a touchdown catch, touchdown rush and kickoff return for a touchdown in his first two games…NFL press release4) Tom Brady became the first quarterback in history to throw for 450+ yards with three TD passes and no INTs with over 50 attempts in the same game…ESPN Stats & Info5) The Giants are 22-28 since beating the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII and have no playoff appearances…MMQB6) Only 5 teams have turned the ball over more than Sam Bradford…Trey Wingo7) The Week 2 loss to the Packers was the first double-digit loss in the NFL career of Russell Wilson…ESPN Stats & Info8) Seattle’s former defensive coordinator is 2-0 while Seattle is 0-2…Yours Truly9) The Giants are the only team in NFL history to start a season 0-2 while having at least a 10-point, fourth quarter lead in both games…Sportscenter10) The Eagles are paying DeMarco Murray $55,000 per yard rushing…Trey Wingo Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impactlast_img read more