'Nira Nischinte' (ನೀರ ನಿಶ್ಚಿಂತೆ) or loosely translated - 'Peace of mind with Water' is the slogan we chose for the Kannada version of Water Portal (which is funded by Arghyam), and also as the title of the event we planned surrounding it. We just had the third edition of the 'Nira Nischinte' event at Tumkur yesterday. The first one was at Dharwad, the second at Mangalore. It is quite an interesting event considering that not many people in general take interest in issues surrounding Water. Here, we have had passionate people attending the event, in good numbers that too, which is quite surprising really. We have had people learning how to share information on-line, and more importantly about doing so in *local language*. It has made up a rather unique event and the name has caught up already! And the discussions we have had until now has been excellent. In general, many discussions just end up with complaints, but no solid initiatives towards solving the problem. Although water issues affect everyone, they always end up being perceived as "somebody else's problem" and go without being addressed properly. Most often than not, public authorities are blamed. The day to day situation on water is something that people have got "adjusted" to, rather than trying to improve it. Whether it is to prick the public authority to do their jobs properly or to take up simple initiatives on their own (like Rain Water Harvesting), not many seem to have enough motivation or intent. And all this, I note down from my interaction over a significant amount of time, and having been the same myself earlier. You get a feeling that the intent is now changing when people discuss the issues even when having their lunch (!) and seeing them cover that extra distance discussing "what could be done about it"! Is it because we never tried earlier to gather people of the same interests together? or is it because things are *really* changing that people *have* to take note? It is interesting though how the facts, the situation and the problems start to sync in with the picture of what could happen figuring in your thoughts all the time. That is when probably we think beyond the water supply to our homes, the water supply to our office and beyond the drinking water that *we* have been getting each day. A village that has a beautiful lake beside it stands queue in front of the tap every morning, for hours together, just to fill up the water that gets them started for the day. If that ain't painting the picture of what we need to do, as a community, as people who care about our environment and surroundings, what else could? Yesterdays event was unique for many reasons for most of us who participated in it. We not only ended up reaching enthusiastic writers who had this one barrier of not knowing how to type in Kannada, share information using Kannada, but also people from various backgrounds and roles in the society. A head master of a school from a little village near Gubbi to workers of non-profits from the region to software engineers who came all the way from Bangalore for this (apart from the ones in organizing team) - summed up the heavy contrast in the audience. Although we discussed the regional issues, the regional activities, politics in water, drying rivers, cleaning up tanks, rivers - among many other things, the focus was primarily on how to utilize technology to spread awareness about the probable solutions to the issues and to use technology (Internet, mainly) to discuss the solutions and improve collaboration among various nodes functioning on their own. While Mallikarjun Hosapalya and Bhushan briefed about the ongoing activities, Yathiraj, an academician and environmentalist, talked about the Tumkur situation to kick off the event. Later, we had different tracks helping the audience familiarize themselves with technology, blogs, wiki, twitter. Thanks to Shiv, Vasanth, Anil, Murali who formed an excellent team from Sampada that also included me coordinating stuff. :-) It was then hands-on demo sessions, where people from the audience created userids on water portal and tried uploading information to share. Much of the introduction to technology was simple, straight forward since much of the audience were new to all this although they use Internet and email. The event ended with a documentary film on Water being played on the projected screen. It was great talking to the headmaster from the government school from a village near Gubbi and many of his counterparts of some nearby schools who had also come down on hearing about the event. The head master spoke to me and mentioned about how he likes to read Kannada on that Internet and it was quite a surprise really that he's been reading what many of us have been writing in Kannada all these days! The stuff we write on Internet, in our local language, being read by people in the little villages and towns is quite unimaginable. It was also nice talking to the people from IDF. They were quite excited about yesterday's learning on how to share information in Kannada. One participant from their team was telling me how many of his friends in software were not familiar with this aspect of computing. He went on to say that he was glad that he attended the program and that he got to learn all this. Well, I'm glad that it helped. Looking forward to seeing many of these guys writing and sharing information on-line. Thanks to Arghyam for making this event possible, and many thanks to Bhushan Midigeshi and Mallikarjun Hosapalya who were acting as local resources and were of great help. Thanks to the great folks from Sampada who acted as resource persons, leaving their technology mask behind in Bangalore to speak with lot of patience about the simple elements. Thanks for participating, helping out on just my word. :-) There were many more people who talked to me, tried talking to me. Sadly, I could not talk to many people among these as much as I'd have liked to. Drop me an email if you attended and are reading this. And I do have the list of attendees with me. I'll put you all to a mailing list so that we could stay in touch. Photos: Murali Vasanth Kaje Vasanth, Bhushan Documentary Screening Books - Jalasiri Audience More photos are here.