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Summary of NatGeo’s “when a COVID-19 vaccine is ready” article

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/06/how-we-will-know-when-coronavirus-vaccine-is-ready-cvd/ – published on 30 Jun 2020.

I just finished reading the above linked article from NatGeo. Following are two new things that I learnt :

  1. WHO is ok with approving any vaccine that works at least on 50% people! (this is new to me – very important to note) – although an “ideal” vaccine candidate is one that works at least 70% times (again as per WHO itself)
  2. Only around 50% of a population typically agrees to get vaccinated even after a vaccine is declared safe and effective (“vaccine hesitancy” – I didn’t know about this useful ino when I made my video). Also, women are more unsure than men (though not by much) when it comes to deciding if they want to get vaccinated (the article doesn’t offer any explanation for this).

There are four more key points in the article – that I have already known about and explained in my VATSANALYSIS video (it’s super insightful, crisp and also somewhat funny – you will love it – scroll down to see it).

Those four additional points in the NatGeo article are:

  1. When vaccine approval is rushed, healthy people suffer (and even die) // the article begins with a 1976 example – and later gives few more recent examples
  2. 140+ vaccine candidates are in different test stages (in my video, I could claim 100+ but then I had published it a month ago; also the best place to keep track of all the vaccine candidates is here).
  3. The article also offers a broad (but dry) overview of the three phases of clinical trials // I’ve obviously explained this in great detail in my video (with nice animations and jokes and all that)
  4. Some vaccines are more effective (like that for polio – once you take it, you are almost sure you will never get the disease) while other vaccines are not that effective (vaccination against Malaria approved in 2015 example) // this is a nice way to put things in perspective which I didn’t do that well in my video analysis. I did however talk about the ineffectiveness of many existing vaccines and said towards the end of the video, how we don’t really know that once the vaccination against Covid is out, would we need to take it just once, or once every year or every few years? We still don’t know.
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My email to Govt. of India on draft EIA notification 2020

//email to: eia2020-moefcc@gov.in (if you plan to send an email, do it before 30th Jun 2020 – the deadline) <update: Delhi High court got the deadline extended to 11 Aug>
<update: if you like the intent, but would like to copy-paste a less on-the-face letter (compared to mine below), check this out>

Dear Ma’am / Sir,

I just read this 83 page document http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Draft_EIA_2020.pdf – which invites me to offer feedback on this proposed notification. And so, I am writing this email.

I appreciate your attempt at removing too many regulations and hurdles that make it difficult for businesses and industries to expand. We definitely need ease of doing business. So please don’t take me as an anti industries environmental activist.

But it is also a fact that in 2020, India still ranks 168 out of 180 countries in Environmental Protection Index (EPI). While richer countries (that have relatively higher GDP per capita) definitely have more resources to invest in environmental safety (and so usually have better ranks), even poorer countries like Malawi and Ethiopia have better ranks than India! This is a bit much no? https://epi.yale.edu/

So in that context, shouldn’t we probably be improving our environmental regulations – than diluting them?

Are we diluting them? You tell me. Let me just share what I found when I read what you wanted me to read.

My reading of the 83 page PDF tells me that MANY INDUSTRIES CAN NOW START OPERATIONS EVEN BEFORE GETTING ENVIRONMENTAL CLEARANCE.

Let me show why I say so. In pages 3-7 of the PDF, you have defined the following four terms:

  1. Appraisal Committee – basically a bunch of “experts” at central / state / UT / district level (people who know how to read and interpret technical feasibility reports – engineers, professors etc.)
  2. Regulatory Authority – Ministry or State Level Authority (these look like politicians and IAS level officers)
  3. Prior Environment Clearance (‘prior-EC’)” clearance given by Regulatory Authority (that is by Govt.) on the recommendation of the experts (Appraisal Committee)
  4. Prior Environment Permission (‘prior-EP’)” permission (not clearance) from Regulatory Authority for projects that fall in “Category B2” that are *not* required to be placed before experts (Appraisal Committee)

And then in page 18, [section 13 (11)] it’s written that “No EIA Report shall be required for the projects listed under Category B2“.

So what you are proposing is that if an industry falls under a certain “category B2”, it DOES NOT have to submit any Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report that experts can read and comment on!

They can fill some other forms (all provided in your PDF), including an “Environment Management Plan (EMP)” (which is just a small part of a full EIA) that Govt. (Regulatory Authority) can use as a basis to give them ‘permission‘ (prior-EP) to start the project! Wow!

In Appendix X (page 75 of the PDF), you have listed down the general structure of an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report. It is so nice. A quick read of this tells me that without all the information that is required as per EIA, one will never know whether a proposed project is net-net beneficial for the society / environment or harmful. The Appendix also lists what EMP (environment management plan is) – such a small requirement of all the things that a full EIA requires!

It’s like asking students questions from one chapter of one subject and then deciding their board percentage. Take test of all the chapters of all the subjects na? What is this B2 category anyway? Of course you have explained that in the PDF!

To understand this B2 category, I had to keep going up and down a table that runs from page 37 to 45 of the PDF. This B2 category basically includes mining, oil exploration, river valley projects, thermal power, production of chemicals and acids, cement plants, and many more – as also noted by others like the guys who have put together this beautiful list of recommendations to your draft policy – https://unitedconservationmovement.org/summary-of-citizens-response-on-eia-2020-draft/

Do we need more industries? Yes.

Do we need more jobs? Yes.

Do we need economy to grow? Very much.

But have many countries (not just the rich ones – but poorer ones like Malawi & Ethiopia) shown that it is possible to do so, without giving such free ride to industries? Yes!

SO PLEASE DO BETTER?

And I wish this was the only issue.

Section 17 (3) (Page 23 of the PDF), basically says that if Govt. (Regulatory Authority) fails to inform the applicant industry about its decision, within the specified time-period, then the industry can go ahead and start the project, “as if the prior-Environment Clearance sought for has been granted or denied by the Regulatory Authority”.

You are proposing that the applicant industry can do whatever the f*** they want to, if the Govt. doesn’t get back in time!

ARE YOU SERIOUS RIGHT NOW?

Just in April, even the Supreme Court of India saidthe “concept of an ex-post facto EC (environmental clearance) is in derogation of the fundamental principles of environmental jurisprudence”, “detrimental to the environment, and could lead to irreparable degradation”.

I will leave it at this. Please rework the draft and I highly recommend this list of recommendations (mentioned earlier too) – https://unitedconservationmovement.org/summary-of-citizens-response-on-eia-2020-draft/

These need to be addressed. You asked for my feedback. This is my feedback.

Jai hind.

Amrit

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Tame Vs. Wicked Problems

Tame problems are the ones where everyone agrees on the problem and therefore can work together to resolve it. Like the problem of Cholera. There are clear metrics to figure out when the problem is resolved.

Wicked problems are where there is no consensus. Like climate change or poverty or racism. It’s difficult to define the problem or agree on it and therefor they don’t get resolved.

The overall talk is fascinating and so so insightful!

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Obsessed with modern Indian Political History

I am listening to this 3 hour soundtrack as I write this post.

It’s fun to listen to such music when working on photographs. I click many in a wedding and it’s take quite some time and energy to go through each one of them, shortlisting the ones that are worth the clients to look at.

I have been pretty distracted from all other work, ever since the urge to understand and share the story of modern Indian political history took over. It’s been about two weeks now. And I have read a lot, and written a lot and encouraged few more to join me in a newfound effort to create a Youtube series that makes it very easy for anyone (from maids to drivers to sixteen year old kids) to understand how we got independence. Instead of talking more about it, let me just share the work that has already been done below (the slides will keep on changing, depending upon when you read this post; if you don’t find the sides at all, leave a comment and I will try to link up the latest content).

There is a story as to how this project started, but that’s for another blog, another time. Vatsap? Let me make some coffee and go back to working on my pictures. Today is a deadline as the couple eagerly awaits their wedding story from my lens. They are going to love it! 🙂

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2018 was pretty bad for this blog, wasn’t it?

The year is about to end. 2018. Bad year for this blog. Didn’t do much here. And yet, can’t let go of Vatsap.com. Can’t let go off this blog. There is something about writing that even when I don’t write at all for months, I know there is a space for it in my life.

These days when I am shooting a wedding, I wonder what I am doing there. There has to be better use of my time, than trying to do photography. The scope of this photography is very limited. Yes, it’s art, but why is it necessary? And more importantly, why do I need to spend time on dong it again and again. If this sounds like I am bored, that’s not necessarily true. I am always charged up in every wedding that I shoot. I am never in a ‘comfort zone’ as such. I just think, there are better things I should be dong – from a ‘scope’ point of view. But the thing is, I already do that too. Except that, the ‘bigger scope’ things are not necessarily money making. And thus, wedding photography has essentially become a need to sustain the other things that definitely bring me more joy. Telling stories. Powerful stories. Impactful stories. And yet, I didn’t do a great job at telling powerful stories this year. I made a few, and shot a few. But majority of my short documentary work was commissioned assignments, where I was paid and hired to create work.

Do I sound like complaining? I didn’t intend to, when I started writing. I just intended to note down my thoughts which are what they are. What else is the use of this blog now, other than to note down my thoughts. And thoughts are not so much in our control. Sometimes, they might sound complaining. But rationally speaking, I have already been working on plans to make my life align more to what brings me more joy. My joy is linked to working on stuff that has a bigger outreach, a bigger scope.

top candid wedding photographers india

I invested considerable time and money for second half of this year, to churn up more content for my Youtube channel, primarily with the objective of gaining more subscribers. The subscription count stands at 14,000 today. It was around 300 just two years ago. I had wanted to achieve 1 lakh this year, but it is what it is. Let’s see how the year ends. Lot of wedding work this month (that will carry on for most of December) and the remaining time filled with commissioned 3MSes, little time left to do anything else. But there is always time, if I think about it. I can’t say I have been the most efficient. Over work often takes a toll, and then follows several days of inefficiency. I have always been a victim of that mode of working. That’s just me.

Anyway, what’s up with you guys! Or Vatsap? rather! 🙂

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As long as the journey doesn’t kill me…

It’s kind of hot and humid and sweaty at five thirty in the morning. Got up early just like that, mainly because I slept off early. I am sitting here at the Dona Paula house in Goa. The fan is making a tak tak sound. Actually, let me go put the AC on, and come back to write.

** Goes and switches the AC on **

The financial scene got so bad last month that I started looking for jobs. But then I got some work eventually and had enough to pay for rent and eat. Times like these one must go through, I guess. I was lucky to never face a situation like this before. But surviving such tough days is probably the only way to go ahead! I hope so! If it were easy to be on your own and chase what you truly wanted to do, and succeed at it, everyone would be doing it! 🙂 You have to be crazy enough to take risks that can kill you. And it’s okay to die in the process. To me, what’s not okay is to give up. But all it takes is “no money” to almost give up. The mind goes crazy. Some nights, you want to just go drown in the sea and let it all end. On other nights, you tell yourself “all is well”. Talking about your problem with other entrepreneurs / freelancers helps. When you do that, they tell you they went through that “no money” phase at one point or another. They survived. And that kind of conversation makes you feel normal.

Someone from insti looped me in few conversations that revolved around donating money to insti. And suddenly you notice all these guys from your very own college, doing high profile jobs across the globe, making money and all that – thinking about donating! Millions of dollars! You on the other side, are figuring out how to make just enough to pay your bloody rent! It makes you wonder if what you have put yourself through by chucking a set career, is even worth it! I want to make more money than any of these guys. But I don’t want to do that by doing things that one does just to make money. I want to get super rich by doing things that I truly care about! And I know I will get there. It’s the journey that’s frustrating and stressful and sometimes tests your inner grit. As long as the journey doesn’t kill me, it’s fine though.

https://vimeo.com/233688154

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Take your hands inside your blouse and unhook your bra.

When was the last time you saw an Indian (non-vulgar) movie where a young dude says this to a lady in her mid fifties, and you absolutely relate to the scene? I never had, and for that reason, yes Lipstick under my burkha (LIMB) must be applauded. In fact, it had the potential to be an amazing movie. Unfortunately, it is not.

I could see how someone had a great idea for great characters – the kind that we hardly see in Bollywood movies. And then someone wrote stories around these characters. But, that’s where the problem occurred. The writing remained mediocre. Most stories for most part, were boring.

LUMB is about the journey of four protagonists.

You see all of them together in the beginning of the movie when one of them (waxingvali)  is getting engaged. And then you see them together again in the end, when another protagonist (Buaji) is being thrown out of her house.

SPOILER ALERT from this point onward.

Buaji’s journey

Buaji’s story was great. It was the only good and interesting story out of all four. Ratna Pathak is a good actor in general (and she was good in this movie too), but she looked too posh to be an old Bhopali aunty. I totally loved the swimming trainer though. That dude did an amazing job and fit the role 100%.

The second oldest protagonist – Shireen – was played by Konkona and her story was pretty boring.

Shireen’s journey

I like the intention of showing that there are these assholish men who remain asshole always – even when they clearly are losers. But where’s the story? What is the beginning and what is the end? Nothing. Throughout the movie, Shireen just kept trying to ‘adjust’ to accommodate her husband’s assholishness. That’s a very very flat storyline for a 2 hour movie. With the same characters in the same scenario, a good writer could have written scenes that were engaging too.

In fact, this lack of engaging storyline applies not just to Shireen but to all the three protagonists, save Buaji.

Waxingvali’s journey

The guy who plays the photographer is a great actor in general, but in this movie, he just didn’t fit the role. He always seemed to be overacting. Or may be I know exactly how a small town studio photographer walks and talks, so that’s why I found the acting very fake. 🙂 The ‘better guy’ was really really fun to watch though. In fact, it was his presence that added some spark to this otherwise very ordinary, nothing exciting about it story-line.

And last but not the least, the most boring of all the stories was that of a college-girl (acted brilliantly though).

The college girl’s journey

 

Overall, other than lack of great storytelling, I think the use of four protagonists was a little too much! For the first 15 to 20 mintues, it looked like there were ten different stories unfolding and that kind of gave me a headache. And became very boring to watch, because there was not enough time to feel for any character. Yes, there have been movies made with even more protagonists (‘Love Actually’ for example, that also inspired a similar template Bollywood movie – Life in a Metro) each having their own stories. But something worked for those movies that doesn’t work for LUMB. They could have probably chosen two, like Masaan and spent more time developing a great story for those two.

So yeah, that’s about it. Should you go and watch this movie? Sure, watch it. Especially, if you are woman. Watch it for the intention behind making this movie. And try to ignore the lack of effort in writing engaging stories. On that note, want to share what a friend thought about the movie! That might explain why this movie still works, in spite of poor stories.

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Shitoon #157 – Notinmyname

  

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I made a film about death that also makes you laugh

My grandfather passed away in December last year. Few days ago his youngest brother passed away too. He had one more brother who had died when I was in school. So all three brothers are gone now. I revisited the footage that I had shot during the post cremation rituals. This is that film. It shows you what a family does after a member dies. And the kind of conversations they have. And for some reason, it’s not as sad as one would expect a film about death to be! You let me know what you think about it! I prepare myself for another family reunion.

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Help me find cricket / football based stories to shoot please?

https://vimeo.com/192322212

Few days ago, an Amsterdam based online company approached me and said that they have found a sponsor to fund Football and Cricket related positive stories from India and if I would be interested in finding and shooting it for them.

Of course I would be interested. My latest 3 Minute Story (below) is a fair enough example of what a sports based positive story could be like. This one is about cycling – but you get the idea!

https://vimeo.com/187422955

In the last two years, I could make around twenty stories. And that’s because there is only so much of free work that one can do. Paid documentary projects happen only few times. And I shoot a lot of weddings to make money – which effectively cross-subsidizes my documentary work. So you can imagine how cool it is for me to get paid directly by someone to bring out meaningful real life stories – something that I care so much about!

I have very limited leads at the moment.

So can you please help me reach out to potential subjects / organizations who might be using football / cricket to send out positivity in this world?

By helping me,

  • you will be directly contributing in helping this world have something nice and positive to cheer about (amidst the sea of negative news and stories that we live in);
  • you would also be helping those doing something nice and beautiful and positive to share their stories with the world in a way that is only possible through nicely made films;
  • and last but not the least, you would help me, as a documentary film-maker to continue doing what I love doing in a sector that is not the most money-making sector out there (I was a business consultant for four years before I quit my job in 2012 to pursue film-making / photography).

If you know of something / someone directly, please do write to me at amrit@3MinuteStories.com with links / contacts. My no. is 95525 89252 (that works on Whatsapp too).

If you know of someone else who might be of help to me in finding cricket / football related positive / inspiring stories from India – please share this post with her / him? Sending love and positive energy your way!

Thank you so much!