Do it RIGHT!

Posted 14 February 2014 by Ashwin Baindur
Categories: nature


Agar Khuda na khasta ho jaye snake bite!
We have a weapon for the good fight!
Its not miracle, magic, faith or myth,
The first aid is called DO IT RIGHT!

R is for Re-assure!
Tell the patient you will be ok for sure!
Because non-poisonous snakes are percent 70!
Of the zahreela, dry bites are percent 50!
The rest of the cases, we can cure!
You can still have a full life, sure!

I is more Immobilise!
You can move nothing but your eyes!
Stop the poison spread!
Dont walk or move, dont even nod your head!

GH is for Get to Hospital!
This is the step that is most vital!
Dont wait for jadi booti or pandit or prayer!
Speed him to the doctor, fly through the air!

T is for telling the doctor everything;
signs and symptoms and how you feel within.
Also if possible, the very snake
or a photo or an id for life’s sake.

This is no homely gyan or rhyme
This is WHO 2007 treatment line
no ice, no sucking, no permanganate
Forget your tourniquet, forget your blade
Follow my advice or badly it will end!
Do it right and save your friend!

Authorship for this post – Baindur, Ashwin; Hariharan, Manisha & Rao, Sanjay (in alphabetic sequence)

License – Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution-Sharealike Unported License”


100 Children (Nature song)

Posted 14 November 2013 by Ashwin Baindur
Categories: nature


by Tom Hall
One hundred children brave boys and girls (CHORUS)
They come from nations all over the world
One hundred children marching along
One hundred children singing their song.

Don’t blow up the world don’t kill all the flowers
Today this is your world tomorrow it’s ours
Leave us pure water and forest uncut
Think of tomorrow leave something for us.


Your God may be dead but ours is alive
We think without him we cannot survive
Punish all the bad men, praise all the good
Talk to your neighbors about brotherhood.


This is the song I was singing one night
While I was thinking of wrong and of right
I thought of good things that still could be done
The marchers now number one hundred and one.


One hundred children brave boys and girls
They come from nations all over the world
One hundred children marching along
One hundred children singing their song…


Watch it on Youtube :

DYK – The Bush Rat, the Indian National Congress & the Unreliable Servant

Posted 25 May 2013 by Ashwin Baindur
Categories: Do You Know?, nature

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

What connection could the following have?

Did you know…

… that the Manipur Bush Rat (pictured) was described from the collection of A. O. Hume which he donated after his life’s work of ornithological notes were sold by a servant as waste paper?


The Manipur Bush Rat (Hadromys humei)
Painted by John Gerrard Keulemans (1842–1912) in the Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1886. (Public domain image)

Allan Octavian Hume Allan Octavian Hume CB (6 June 1829 – 31 July 1912) was a civil servant, political reformer and amateur ornithologist and horticulturalist in British India. Known to most of us as one of the founders of the Indian National Congress, a political party that was later to lead the Indian independence movement, few know that he was an extremely notable ornithologist who has been called “the Father of Indian Ornithology” and, by those who found him dogmatic as “the Pope of Indian Ornithology.”


Allan Octavian Hume
(Image: Frontispiece of “The Nests and Eggs of Indian Birds (Vol II) . Public domain)

Hume had a vast network of correspondents all over India who sent him many skins and much information. Read about his network here on Shyamal‘s blog:

The Power of Networks – A 19th Century Tale

His collection has been described as :

..of eight great rooms, six of them full, from floor to ceiling, of cases of birds, while at the back of the house two large verandahs were piled high with cases full of large birds, such as Pelicans, Cranes, Vultures, &c. An inspection of a great cabinet containing a further series of about 5000 eggs completed our survey.

Read more about his collection here.

Hume’s interest in life science was lost in 1885 when all his manuscripts were sold by an unscrupulous servant as waste paper and after a landslip caused by heavy rains in Simla damaged his personal museum and specimens.

The Manipur Bush Rat was just one of 258 new species of animals and birds described from specimens of his collection. 


Images: From Wikimedia Commons. Click image to reach source.

Text : Wikipedia articles on “Allan Octavian Hume” and “Manipur bush rat“.

DYK – The bacteria that could survive the shock of a supernova

Posted 25 May 2013 by Ashwin Baindur
Categories: nature

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Do you know…

… that an extremophile bacteria Paracoccus denitrificans has been found to grow even under 400,000 times Earth’s gravity, a fact having implications on the feasibility of panspermia?

Paracoccus denitrificans
(Image credit: Richard Evans-Gowing at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK. Colorized by Leila Hornick.. Click image to reach source)

That kind of gravity is found only in cosmic environments such as truly gigantic stars or the shockwave of a supernova. Such a bacteria would theoretically be suited for interstellar travel!

"On October 9, 1604, sky watchers -- including astronomer Johannes Kepler, spotted a "new star" in the western sky, rivaling the brilliance of nearby planets. "Kepler's supernova" was the last exploding supernova seen in our Milky Way galaxy. Observers used only their eyes to study it, because the telescope had not yet been invented. Now, astronomers have utilized NASA's three Great Observatories to analyze the supernova remnant in infrared, optical and X-ray light." - Chandra X-ray Observatory

Kepler’s Supernova
“On October 9, 1604, sky watchers — including astronomer Johannes Kepler, spotted a “new star” in the western sky, rivaling the brilliance of nearby planets. “Kepler’s supernova” was the last exploding supernova seen in our Milky Way galaxy. Observers used only their eyes to study it, because the telescope had not yet been invented. Now, astronomers have utilized NASA’s three Great Observatories to analyze the supernova remnant in infrared, optical and X-ray light.”
– Chandra X-ray Observatory
Image Credit : NASA, Public domain

A very, very interesting bacteria, read about it here :

Did you know….on Wikipedia

Posted 25 May 2013 by Ashwin Baindur
Categories: nature

Tags: , ,

If you visit the Main Page of  Wikipedia, you will find that the left column publicises the featured article for the day.  Featured articles are the best, most accurate and well written articles on Wikipedia. But more interestingly, just below that box, you will find a clutch of “Do you know…s”!

For example, Did you know

A “Do You Know..” is an interesting fact from new material added to Wikipedia and is abbreviated as DYK by Wikipedians. 🙂

Here’s how one such set looks like :


The “Do You Know” column on the Main Page of Wikipedia

These facts are taken from the newest articles on Wikipedia. Either the article has been made in the last five days or it has been expanded 5 times in the last five days. The article also needs to be accurate, well-referenced and carefully checked for copyright violation. If it has an image, it must be “free” (free as in free speech, not as in free beer). The fact of the DYK must be interesting, verifiably referenced and accurate.

To get a DYK published, one first has to do volunteer work (vetting at least one other DYK, no “bhai-bandhi” permitted, at peril of your reputation). Then the DYK you submitted goes through checks, and others contribute to the cleanup and improvement of both the hook (as the DYK fact which appears is known) and the parent article. If your DYK submission is found unacceptable it gets axed! If it meets all the criteria, it gets a “Ready to Go” signal. Finally it is added to a queue. Every 8 hours or so, the set of DYKs is replaced with a fresh set.  So its worthwhile visiting the Main Page of Wikipedia often to see interesting stuff!

As is obvious from what I wrote, getting a DYK published is an achievement and genuinely something to be proud of for Wikipedians. My current count is upto 19 and I hope to get the 20th soon.

Predictably most of my DYKs are about nature and natural history with an odd one from a history or social science article that I created or helped expand.

So, in the absence of anything original written by me, I shall present to you my series of nature DYKs for your information and entertainment, dear Reader.

NOTE : “bhai-bandhi” means “I scratch your back, I scratch mine”.

The Masked Bandit!

Posted 20 May 2012 by Ashwin Baindur
Categories: animal behaviour, art, CME Weekly, Maharashtra, nature, poetry

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Here is a poem celebrating one of CME’s little known animals, which emerges at night and is harmless to man, yet people in their ignorance kill the animal on sight. All readers are requested to instruct family members, staff of their departments, and servants not to kill this animal.


You hardly see me on the ground,
I’m slickest of all the mammals around,
Late at night when everyone’s asleep,
Then CME’s all mine to creep!

Living in lofts of campus bungalows,
or holes in tree trunks far above,
Fruits, and insects are what I devour,
I am an accomplished omnivore.

I even eat some seeds such as coffee beans
that when excreted, cost beyond your means.
My scent glands give rise to an aroma nice,
called civet, which smells, just like basmati rice,

I’m harmless to humans, yet people fear,
me strangely;  kill me without a tear,
Pray be merciful and please let me be,
I’m just one of nature’s banditry.

Call me Palm civet or toddy cat,
Enjoy my company,
For larger mammals in CME you can no longer see,
For I too have my role like all the others
in our ecosystem’s biodiversity.

The palm civet – by Gustav Mützel (1927)

Outreach in Itanagar!

Posted 3 April 2012 by Ashwin Baindur
Categories: forts, Itanagar, Museum, nature, NERIST, NIT Arunachal Pradesh, Wikimedia Commons, Wikipedia

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I was lucky enough to get to go to Arunachal Pradesh. One of my friends, Nearly headless Nick, could not go to the Northeast Regional Institute of Science and Technology (NERIST) so he recommended me instead. The NERIST wanted a speaker on Wikipedia and he recommended me for which I am deeply grateful. They sent me an air ticket and off I went.

At Guwahati, I met up with User:Planemad (Arun Ganesh), a young expert on Geographical Information Systems and OpenStreetMap and we travelled all evening in an Innova reaching late at night at Itanagar. NERIST is a 25 year old institute with very good reputation. The institution has been the bedrock of technical education in the Northeast.

NERIST Academic block, Nirjuli.
(Image credit:Renzut)

We had two days of sessions at NERIST. On Day One, we had the Wikipedia session where we met the local students who were quite interested in what we had to say. Arun Ganesh helped me & vice versa. The Wikipedia session went off very well. We introduced the students to Wikipedia, how to edit, the Five Pillars, etc. The power kept going so we had problems with the presentations. Finally, we chucked the ppts/odps and moved to Wikipedia proper on the internet. A very strong argument can be made for quitting presentations altogether and relying only on the internet. A number of students created their accounts.

The students lapped up knowledge like a sponge! (Image credit:Planemad)

We found that the Wikipedia article on NERIST was quite okay because a student’s from last year’s session – User:Renzut (358 edits) – had built it up. We added a few facts, references and an image. We also created a stub on Ita Fort by moving some material out from Itanagar article. One of my Pune friends, User:Wasimmogal2007, moved to Itanagar very recently. He came over to the workshop and met some students. Hopefully Itanagar Wikipedians will get together now!

The next day’s session was on things geographical. Arun Ganesh dazzled the audience with OpenStreetMap and Quantum GIS. Though the stuff was a bit difficult to cotton on to, the students did really well. At least six sets of students got the Java OpenStreetMap editor going, (quite a feat)  and added road after road, building after building. To see the effects visit NERIST at Nirjuli on OpenStreetMap, just 20 kilometers east of Itanagar. The kids pretty much mapped up their whole campus that day. It was amazing to see the student’s lap up the tech stuff. Reminds us how much their inquisitive minds are deprived of genuine stimulation. They were truly awesome.

Planemad weaves his OpenStreetMagic

After our two days of sessions, we went on the third day sightseeing to Itanagar. Two of the NERIST students were very kind to guide us around. There we saw the Ita (brick) fort – a very few but good looking walls of brick. We took images to add to Commons everywhere we went. We had a rickshaw driver who spoke in Nyishi and whose message we recorded for posterity.

Southern gate of Ita Fort. Very few artefacts remain.

We also visited a very beautiful Museum – the Jawaharlal Nehru Museum which outside is not impressive but inside has fabulous dioramas, modern lighting and display systems. I spent an hour photographing the objects for Commons.The Museum is on two storeys and despite the scarcity of informative charts (there were a few but just not enough), the getup is quite good. The Victoria Memorial, Kolkata has been collaborating jointly with them to improve the Museum’s exhibits and the results are very evident.

Entrance to Jawaharlal Nehru Museum.

A diorama of the Tangsa tribe at the Jawaharlal Nehru Museum. There is a display for each of the tribes.

A display of handicrafts in the Nehru Museum.

Later we went to the Government Emporium where lots of beautiful necklaces, shawls and other artefacts were available but at prices suited for generous pockets than mine, though I bought my daughter a beautiful necklace worn by young girls of the Nyishi tribe. We returned to NERIST that day in time to experience a rainstorm – Northeast style!

Hornbill sculpture at the Government Emporium. The Great Hornbill (Buceros bicornis) is the state symbol for Arunachal Pradesh!

The next day was also supposed to be sight-seeing but we instead were asked by a new institution – NIT Arunachal Pradesh, in its temporary campaign at Yupia – to come and speak there. We went there in a Scorpio which travelled at breakneck speed through the country mud tracks, across the Dikrong river, through mud patches and a large deep pool to reach it – a real roller coaster of a ride. See this adventurous cross-country route marked as a dashed line in Open Street Map between the red coloured Nirjuli-Doimukh road and the peach-coloured Yupia road (mapped By Arun Ganesh with his Datalogger).

The temporary location of NIT Arunachal Pradesh at Yupia.

NIT Arunachal Pradesh is very new and operating from a temporary campus at Yupia. The students go forth bravely despite many infrastructural problems including water and electricity. The students were very interested in what we had to tell. We got a very hospitable and friendly reception from both the teachers and the staff. The students really wanted to do more but in a couple of hours each, we were only able to showcase the most basics.

Editing Wikipedia at NIT Arunachal. (Image credit:Planemad).

The Wikipedia article on NIT Arunachal Pradesh was already existing and we showed the students how their article was targetted for deletion by a P*@#%$&&i editor and then saved by the intervention of a non-Indian editor of WikiProject India – an example of how globalisation had already begun to affect their lives though they did not know it. We then improved the article, added the first image, cleaned it up and added a reference. After our sessions, we were taken specially to meet the Director NIT, Dr CT Bhuniya, who presented each of us with a book.

Prof CT Bhuniya, Director NIT AP, presented books to the participants. (Image credit:Unknown but with my camera.)

We returned to Guwahati on 28th by the same Scorpio who averaged 80 and often 100 kmph and did a 400 km journey in six hours! We stayed at Guwahati that night and flew out the next day. All in all, it had been an awesome experience for us, and we like to think, for the students of the two institutions also.

I am grateful to the organisers of NERIST Techfest, specially Biswajit Saha, for inviting me and Dr Rattan Chowdhary for inviting us to NIT Arunachal Pradesh. Thanks are also due to User:Sir Nicholas de-Mimsy Porpington for recommending me to NERIST, User:Planemad for great company and opening new horizons of learning to me, and to User:Nitika.t of India Programs for sending me her latest copy of outreach presentation for use in Itanagar.