On Radio Sheffield

For another five days only, you can listen to Chamu Kuppuswamy and Esme Cleall speaking about the project – the last in the series of Radio Shef interviews with Waheed Akhtar on the Eastern Air programme. Start listenting from 1.46.24 http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01lhd5c

Love Dark Skies

Every universe is covered by seven layers — earth, water, fire, air, sky, the total energy and false ego — each ten times greater than the previous one. There are innumerable universes besides this one, and although they are unlimitedly large, they move about like atoms in You. Therefore You are called unlimited (Bhagavata Purana 6.16.37)

 northumberland dark skies

Long dark days are days for contemplation. What better than to be able to look up and see a starry sky…..and wonder about the innumerable universes from the Bhagavata Purana

Only two National Parks in the UK are designated International Dark Sky Places. The Brecon Beacons was awarded a reserve status earlier this year. Exmoor was recognised some time ago.  And today, Northumberland National Park area has become the latest to be recognised for its dark skies. It has been given the highest accolade – the gold status. “It is estimated that 85% of the UK population has never seen a truly dark sky or experienced the sense of wonder that a clear night crackling with billions of stars can give.” [Northumberland Dark Sky Park]

A dark sky full of stars is something special and a lot of us enjoy it.

A Chinese journalism student studying for an MA in web journalism from the University of Sheffield came to interview me last week about my volunteer award.  I wanted to know how she came across this news and she said she subscribed to news feeds about the National Parks and came across my award, and discovering that I work at the university she studies at she decided to contact me for an interview, which she will then upload on to the website she and her fellow students are designing as part of their course!  When asked about her interest in the National Park, she said she was very interested. She had been on the spider walk – an all-nighter arranged by the Students union in the Peak District National Park.

She marvelled at the dark sky. It turned out to be a starry night when she was out. She had never seen so many stars before.

She looked up at the sky and said ‘I love you’!

I had such an experience many years ago now, thanks to University again, when I was on a tall ship, in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea with millions and millions of stars in the sky. It was an amazing experience I have not had before and since.

You should try star gazing in our National Parks!

Chamu Kuppuswamy

‘The planet ain’t half hot’: Seminar at Hindu Jewish Association, Manchester

The evening was around two talks presented by myself and Rabbi Natan Levy on the theme of environment. As the flyer for the event said ‘ Global warming and climate change is not a matter of debate for only politicians and scientists but also an important issue for the people of religious faith.’

hindu jewish seminar manchester

Agriculture and trees, these were two key words from Rabbi Levy’s talk on the 21st of November, 2013 at the Manchester Reform Synagogue. I wish I had taken some notes at the seminar so I could give you some detail on the talk that Rabbi Levy gave. It was superb and thought provoking. It definitely would not have gone down well with the agro industry or for that matter, the plant breeders. I made a mental note to discuss with my PhD student working on justice, sustainability and plant breeding to throw in an angle on whether even small farmer practices are really sustainable. How small should a small farmer be, in order to be sustainable? For these are the thoughts that Natan’s talk led me into. He took us down systematically through data and studies on some important events in the growth of civilisation and the impact of farming and populations on the environment, weaving them in with stories from Judaism. We should stop and think when we use technology, about its possible impact and take into account things we know we don’t know! We do think of the impact of technology, we use the precautionary principle; we do risk analysis, but is this how we should be doing it? How do we operate a wise system of decision making about uses of technology? The talk was by no means a call to revert to something primitive, but to rethink our current direction by asking some fundamental questions.

In my talk, I reflected on my experience working with community groups in National Parks, and presented some of my thoughts. If we want to do something for the environment, and I think we have a duty to do something for the environment (I can build an argument for it based on some fundamental Hindu precepts, but that’s for another blog post- I part presented an argument through Carpenter’s views, but just one slide, no detailed argument), I suggested that we needed to look deep into our thinking, and change some things fundamentally. Easier said than done! I do think, for such a fundamental rethink, we need to be re-educated. We need to seriously believe in alternative ways of spending our time, our money, our resources and our energy. Looking around to see what could foster that, I see tradition. So, my message for the evening was – Start learning something traditional. Learn a dance form, music, a language. You will be learning new methods, new skills, and new ways of doing things. But is not easy to do this, where do we find teachers with sufficient experience and knowledge?  Our public and private institutions have to support such teaching. Individuals, parents and teachers have a role to play in the choices we make in every event we put up, in every class we decide to go to, and in every endeavour of ours, for that matter!

Here’s a wonderful gesture from the Association – I think it is such a brilliant and thoughtful idea!

945777_10151979175188503_1162408094_n

Here are my slides form the evening.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Chamu Kuppuswamy