Mar 26, 2012

The Big Problem

Kolkata. ‘The city of Joy’. Despite the title it has been given, there is a lot lacking on the part of the state government to make it hold true. To focus on one problem, I would like to say that our main problem in this city is the non-alignment of the human systems to the natural systems. All the problems like populations and expansion, poverty, deforestation, overconsumption, etc actually come down to this. When you see these problems in totality, there’s a vitality in that, which does not come through when you see them as individual problems. These problems connect by cause and effect and these connections need to be understood. For example, there are excellent child health care projects as well as separate family planning projects put forth by the government. But, those two should be put together because the minute the parents see that their children will help them in their old age, they will have smaller families.

Another example of the non-alignment is of the cutting of trees in Kolkata in order to create more space for roads and hence, to expand the size of the roads. This is probably one of the worst mistakes on the part of the government because it overlooks the fact that more road space in turn means more pollution and congestion.

Industry, promoted by the government for taxes that they can get from big companies, must be used sustainably and not over-exploited. It can be made eco-friendly using alternate technology like solar power, hydroelectricity, CNG, biodiesel, renewable energy sources, etc. 

An overall solution to the problem is a complete lifestyle switch by a majority of the people. But this seems to be difficult to implement since people are unwilling to make compromises on their comforts-they do not want to use buckets of water instead of showers, they do not want to take out time to differentiate the garbage into renewable and non-renewable, they do not want to go vegetarian.

Another solution is to enable a mass realisation of the damage that is being caused to the environment NOW, which could have serious implications on our future generations, thereby moving towards sustainable development. Keep in mind: When you hurt nature, you’re hurting yourself! We can be paralysed by the magnitude of this problem, but we must resist it and actually try and immediately reduce our environmental footprints.

Yet another possible solution which could work is to put a lot of pressure on the government. We have to find ways to do this once mass awareness on the issue has been created. People can write to the President, the Prime Minister, newspapers, United Nations agencies, etc in the form of letters and petitions and get them to act upon the issue. We must write to governments of other countries too, especially the richer countries who get richer by putting more CO2 into the atmosphere and make them aware of the implications of their actions to developing countries like India. But we must still keep in mind that though the government has responsibilities to solve these problems, but as individuals, we can still make a difference!

As the great philosopher, Jiddu Krishnamurthy said, “We are in great conflict with each other. There is crisis after crisis, war after war: there is starvation, misery: There are the rich, clothed in respectability, and there are the poor. To solve these problems, what is necessary is not a new system of thought, not an economic revolution, but to understand what the discontent is, the constant probing of what is-which will bring about a revolution that is more far-reaching than the revolution of ideas.

(This post is my entry for the Time to Change contest on IndiBlogger.)