Sunday, 14 May 2017

Mom my rockstar!

I got a message from one of my ex students who is an entrepreneur and a public speaker saying that he’d asked one of his colleagues to get in touch with me for a mother’s day activity. I was wondering what it was all about and how was I any different as a mother. All mothers are special; here I am not referring to women who have given birth to their children but all those who have that caring and nurturing instinct in them.  That makes them equally special if not more. It is said that the strength of motherhood is greater than natural laws.  Mother to me is more than a relationship, it’s a ‘feeling’ and her love and care can never be described. For when a child is born the mother also is born again. I knew about mother’s day in bits and pieces, of late we have started celebrating it in India too. Agree every day is mother’s day and it really doesn’t require one to choose a day to wish their mothers but what’s the harm in celebrating what makes people feel special? Anything that makes you feel good isn’t that bad an idea after all. Whatsapp will be full of content that traces the origins of this day. I found some and sharing the same here with you all to see where it really started.
Mother’s Day is a day for many to thank and show their appreciation towards their mothers and mother figures. It is an annual event celebrated worldwide but it may fall on different dates in the calendar, depending on the country. It is held on the second Sunday (being a non working day) of May in many countries. It’s a day to remember mothers and mother figures such as stepmother, mothers-in-law, a guardian, a relative or a family friend who has been like a mother. There are many ways to celebrate Mother’s Day.  Some common ones are:
Giving Mothers Day cards, flowers, and/ or cakes.
Mother’s Day poems and messages self composed or bought in the form of a picture frame or a memento. 
Gifts such as chocolates, jewelry, accessories, clothing, hand crafted items, hobby ideas and accessories or gift vouchers.
An outing or a day at the movies with mothers.
Phone or video calls if one cannot meet the mother or is based in another city or country.
Family gatherings or events where all mothers and children celebrate the occasion together.
Family brunches, lunches, or dinners either at home or at a restaurant.
Gifting mothers a day at the spa or a complete health check up.
Creating a traditional or conventional album of all pictures and photographs. 
For me mother’s day celebration began almost 15 years ago, that’s when I learnt about it. Got flowers and cake for mom and thanked her for all that she has done for us brother and sisters. It has continued over the years. Then mom in law joined the celebration after my marriage. Now, it’s two cakes and two bouquets. I generally have lunch with one and dinner with the other. Haven’t got both of them together yet may be this year, will have family celebration. 
Origins of Mothers Day
The origins of Mother's Day, as largely celebrated these days can be attributed to two women – Julia Ward Howe and Anna Jarvis, who were important in establishing the tradition in the United States. Around 1870, Julia Ward Howe called for Mother's Day to be celebrated each year. It continued to be held in Boston for about 10 years under her sponsorship, but died out after that. Other sources say that Juliet Calhoun Blakely initiated Mother’s Day in Albion, Michigan, in the late 1800s. Her sons paid tribute to her each year and urged others to honor their mothers.
In 1907, Anna Jarvis held a private Mother's Day celebration in memory of her mother, Ann Jarvis, in Grafton, West Virginia. In 1908, she played a key role in arranging a church service that attracted 407 children and their mothers. A Mother’s Day International Association was founded in 1912 to promote the holiday in other countries. Mother’s Day has grown increasingly popular since then.
Many people believe that Mother’s Day is now very commercialized, with card companies, flower shops, jewelry stores, gift shops, restaurants, hotels, and department stores advertising promotions and special deals for this event. Anna Jarvis, in her lifetime, unsuccessfully filed a lawsuit to stop the over-commercialization of Mother's Day.

Mothers Day for children away from home
Children such as sailors who are away from their families for long periods of time. It is said that distance makes relations grow fonder. Use this distance to make the bond with your mother even sweeter. Men are generally less expressive but making a phone call to your mother or a mother figure will certainly bring in loads of smiles and a few tears. Women are emotional and mothers in particular, simply adore anything their children do, that says ‘they care’. They won’t really bother about any material gifts but a couple of words do for them, bringing a lifetime of happiness and more.

I remember my mother's prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life
~Abraham Lincoln

Wishing all mothers a very Happy Mother’s Day and all children, young or old, all the happiness!

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Mom, you make me who I am

My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.
~George Washington

When I think of my mother, I think of a very strong woman who fought all odds to make sure that her first born survived and survived to be a warrior!  That’s me who was born premature and at home; barely into the seventh month of pregnancy. My Naval diver dad was away for a course and mom had to stay with my grandparents in a remote village in Uttarakhand, there was no hospital close by and healthcare unheard of during those days. I came unannounced and too soon,  no one was prepared including my mother. She was very young. She gave birth to me and nursed be all along to ensure that I survived, she named be Laxmi after the warrior queen of Jhansi, Rani Laxmi Bai. Don't know if I've turned out like that but my mother has treated me like a princess all through....I still am, her princess!  Mom has been my biggest support system, my friend, philosopher and guide. She allowed me to take my own decisions, be it choosing a field of study, career, marriage or any other matter. She was there with me through all thick and thin. I believe I have really been lucky to be born to her. Got luckier; when I got an equally loving, caring and supporting mother in law.

The natural state of motherhood is unselfishness. When you become a mother, you are no longer the center of your own universe. You relinquish that position to your children.
 ~Jessica Lange

I guess you need to know where I come from to understand the gratitude that I feel and the bleesing that I count. I am a professional with a career spanning over 20 years and a hands- on mom, have two lovely sons. I have gone through all the concerns and challenges that every mother faces. It wasn’t easy as I had to single handedly manage things, not depending on my mariner husband who is away for months.  My mothers; mom as well as mom in law have been the pillars of strength for me. They form a great support system, creating the right environment for my children to grow up in. Otherwise I don’t think I’d have been able to do justice to the roles that I play being a mother, daughter in law, professor, trainer, counselor and a blogger. Every woman wears multiple hats and she has the power to manage every role beautifully. The key being investing in relationships, if you want a 100% from anyone your contribution has to be much more than that. All relations are important but that with the mother in law is very special. When I look back, I am happy with my journey so far and I look forward to equally awesome years ahead. I owe all this to my moms. 

In a child's eyes, a mother is a goddess. She can be glorious or terrible, benevolent or filled with wrath, but she commands love either way. I am convinced that this is the greatest power in the universe. 
~ N.K. Jemisin

Happy Mother's Day!

Ballast Water – Some issues and concerns

Ballast water and its impact across oceans, continents and countries is an extremely important area of concern. With the introduction of steel hulled vessels around 120 years ago, water has been used as ballast to stabilize vessels at sea. Ballast water is pumped-in to maintain safe operating conditions throughout a voyage.  This practice reduces stress on the hull, provides transverse stability that improves propulsion and maneuverability. This also compensates for weight lost due to fuel and water consumption.
While ballast water is essential for safe and efficient modern shipping operations, it may pose serious ecological, economic and health problems due to the multitude of marine species carried in it. This very disposal of water, when it takes place within ports and harbors is classed as a waste product as it may include bacteria, microbes, small invertebrates, eggs, cysts and larvae of various species. The transferred species may survive to establish a reproductive population in the host environment, becoming invasive, out-competing native species and multiplying into pest proportions. That in turn can cause extensive ecological and economic damage to aquatic ecosystems, along with serious human health issues including death.
Scientists first recognized the signs of an alien species introduction after a mass occurrence of the Asian phytoplankton algae Odontella (Biddulphia sinensis) in the North Sea in 1903. But it was not until the 1970s that the scientific community began reviewing the problem in detail to understand its seriousness and impact.

Ballast water discharges by ships can have a negative impact on the marine environment.
There are hundreds of organisms carried in ballast water that cause problematic ecological effects outside of their natural range. Some examples of serious impacts on ecology are:
New Zealand: The ballast tanks in New Zealand carry animals and plants that kill ecosystems. Ballast tanks are only used in cargo ships there. Ballast water is controlled under the Biosecurity Act 1993 in New Zealand.
Peru: A form of cholera, Vibrio cholerae, previously reported only in Bangladesh apparently arrived via ballast water in Peru in 1991, killing more than 10,000 people over the following three years.
United States: The zebra mussel, which is native to the Caspian and Black Seas, arrived in Lake St. Clair in the ballast water of a transatlantic freighter in 1988. Within 10 years it had spread to all of the five neighbouring Great Lakes.
Singapore: Among 818 ports in the Pacific region, Singapore alone accounts for an estimate of 26 percent of cross-region (long range) species exchange. Via targeted ballast management on Singapore and a few other important ports, cross-region species exchange to/from the Pacific region can be combinatorially reduced.

Invasive species and their cost implications
Since the Ballast Water Convention was adopted in 2004, almost all of the world’s seas and waterways have continued to be invaded by unwanted species. Global economic losses from the damage caused by harmful invasive aquatic species were estimated to have exceeded USD7 billion per year in  2004/05, making the total bill between the 2004 adoption of the Convention and end  of 2009 at least USD50 billion in present-day value. This sum reflects damage and repair costs to fisheries, aquaculture, water supply systems, industrial infrastructure and harbours. It does not include all of the indirect economic losses caused by changes to marine biodiversity and habitats, including impacts to and even near-extinctions of endemic species.

Reasons for the problem being on the rise
Merchant ships have increased dramatically in their number, average size and speed since the 1950s, with the sector currently estimated to grow at 8% per year until 2020 in response to widening world trade. Opportunities for spread and population increases of non-native species can also be expected to increase due to factors such as regional warming associated with global climate change, and increasing port and coastal water eutrophication in many areas.

The 2008 analysis of marine invasions found that marine invasive species have been reported for at least 84% of the world’s 232 marine eco-regions. The study also identified international shipping as being the major introduction pathway for these species. Studies of introduction records for particular ports, bays, countries or regions have yielded estimates of aquatic species invasion rates, including some alarmingly high rates for invasion-prone ports and estuaries. For example, introduction rates as high as two to three new species every year have been reported for Port Phillip Bay (Melbourne, Australia) and up to one species every nine weeks for San Francisco Bay (California, USA).

Shipping industry concerns
Until the Ballast Water Convention comes into force, ship owners and fleet managers cannot progress ballast water management in a consistent, business-predictable and safe manner, and without fear of their ships having to operate different procedures, equipments and performance standards when trading between different countries, or even different ports within a single country. Furthermore, the lack of a globally ratified Ballast Water Convention restrains the incentive for research and development of approved treatment systems.  

Way forward- finding a solution
Management practices and technological treatment systems that prevent invasions are a far more practical and cost-effective approach to the problem of invasive species transported in ballast tanks than clean-ups once a species has been discovered and may already be established in a new area.

Ballast water treatment systems in use
More than 80 manufacturing firms, water treatment companies and maritime businesses have undertaken research and development, testing and trialling work of ballast water treatment technologies since 2000. Having obtained type approvals by national administrations, and are thus ready for the market.
The modular treatment systems now coming on to the market are sufficiently compact to fit in or around most engine rooms and the majority involve pre-treatment and end-treatment as follows:
·         During  ballasting,  the  inflow  is  passed  through  filter/s  to  remove  larger organisms, sediments and other suspended solids.
·         The  filtered  water  is  then  subjected  to  the  main  treatment  which  kills  or inactivates the small organisms that had escaped filtration.
·         At the end of the voyage the ballast water is subjected to a repeat treatment prior to its discharge, so as to destroy any organisms that may have re grown in the tanks during the voyage.

There are three types of treatment systems available in the market:
1.    Systems that use filtration plus UV, oxygen stripping and pH reduction, and magnetic filtration.
2.    Systems  that  use  advanced  oxidation,  electrolysis  or  oxidative  chemical  dosing modules  to  produce  short-lived  radicals  (OH',  O3,  ClO-)  that  decay  without producing long-lived toxic end-products.
3.    Systems that generate chloride ions – typically by electro-chlorination – that can produce  long-lived  end-products  at  potentially  toxic  concentrations,  therefore requiring  adequate  decay  time  or  sulphite  treatment,  particularly  if  the  organic content is high.

 Additionally, the following steps can be followed for better BWM.
·         Clean ballast tanks regularly to remove sediments.
·         Rinse anchors and chains when the anchor is retrieved.
·         Remove fouling from the hull, piping and tanks on a regular basis.
·         Maintain a BWM Plan that includes the above in addition to ballast water management
·         Maintain records of ballast and fouling management.

The cost of ballast treatment systems
The operational costs of a ballast water treatment system will vary according to ship type and size, as well as the type of system that is selected. Capital cost estimates for installation onboard range between USD150,000 and USD500,000; extending to USD1 million for systems installed on very large carriers. However the total installation cost for a particular ship will also vary according to the number and arrangement of its ballast tanks and the difficulty of the retrofit.

The Cost of not treating ballast water
Using the estimated figure for direct global economic loss to society for damage caused by invasive species of USD7 billion per year  and the figure of 10 billion tonnes of ballast water used every year by international shipping, we can calculate a cost per tonne of untreated ballast water at 70 USD cents. Thus, the cost to society of not ensuring ballast water treatment is at least 350% higher than that of fitting adequate treatment onboard vessels, using the higher estimate for cost of treatment.

IMO convention
To react to the growing concerns about environmental impact of ballast water discharge, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted in 2004 the "International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments" to control the environmental damage from ballast water. The Convention will require all ships to implement a "Ballast water management plan" including a ballast water record book and carrying out ballast water management procedures to a given standard. Guidelines are given for additional measures then the guidelines.
The spread of invasive species is now recognized as one of the greatest threats to the ecological and the economic well being of the planet. These species are causing enormous damage to biodiversity and the valuable natural riches of the earth upon which we depend. Direct and indirect health effects are becoming increasingly serious and the damage to environment is often irreversible

Means to avoid, minimise and address the potential impacts of wastes managed within ports and harbours
The main means of avoiding, minimizing and addressing the potential effects of port, harbour and ship generated wastes on the marine environment are provided by the following management practices:
·         the continued education and motivation of port and harbour users,
·         the production of waste management plans and provision of adequate reception facilities,
·         the preparation and implementation of oil and chemical contingency plans, and
·         the observation by ships of IMO guidelines to avoid introducing non-native species and contaminants in ships’ ballast waters.

Many of these management practices are regulated by other authorities and bodies, including the IMO, MCA, port state control, the environment agencies, MAFF, and local authorities, and not the port and harbour authorities themselves. The role of these bodies in waste management regulation and guidance is is to be described. The ports can, and should, support campaigns initiated by these bodies to ensure that measures to avoid, minimise and address environmental impacts are implemented effectively.
For example, it is the local regulations that require BWM to save their ecologically sensitive areas like the US, Australia, America, Brazil, Argentina to name a few. Usually, ballast exchange is carried out in open waters with minimum depth of over 200 meters and away from land at least 50 meters.  Even after BW is exchanged in open waters, Black Sea counties require Ballast to be exchanged once again in their Sea prior to making port calls. Argentina requires all tanks to be chlorinated and kept sealed for at least 12 hours prior to discharge being permitted. Shore reception facility for the discharge is also available at some places. 

Everyone needs to understand the seriousness of the BWM and contribute to making our planet safer and shipping a responsible trade.

WWF for a living planet,- silent invasion.

Pictures are taken from Google for representational purposes, with due credits.