In 2001 when GoodNewsIndia reported on the work of Prof. Udipi Shrinivasa and his organisation SuTRA, at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, he had already proven the idea of using straight vegetable oils [SVO] as diesel engine fuels. He had demonstrated over a 40 square kilometer area that SVO can deliver power to homes and farms. How was this promise going to be taken to an India out there, we had wondered. The Professor however, had no doubts: "It will happen, Sir," he had said softly. He is a man who knows his India. Two years on, he is proving right. Several layers below the one that main media operates at and reports to you, is an India that is solving problems, bettering lives, adding value. It is the layer at which people are left to their own devices. They have no lobby, not much money,no choices like emigration, but they have no readiness to surrender either. They have their commitment to this land. And --believe it or not-- they have several civil servants at this layer who are helpful in nature, eager to innovate, and therefore willing to back promising ideas. It is from here that the SVO genie will rise and pierce the layers above it. The Professor will then be a media darling. The media --poor thing-- will have much to catch up with and report on.
It is instructive to learn how these nether layers function. Let us follow this story: Joint Forest Management [JFM] had been in trial mode since 1994 in Andhra Pradesh [AP]. Its novelty was to co-opt forests' natural people -- the tribals -- as guards rather than treat them as intruders. If they were allowed to sustainably forage the forests for their livelihood, they might be persuaded to zealously guard it. They and not the forest officers would then manage the forests. The World Bank was funding JFM and the programme in AP was headed by Mr. S D Mukherjee, who had pioneered the idea in Bengal. GoodNewsIndia had featured this experiment in April,2002.