Thursday, October 4, 2012

Essay on inequality

A very thought provoking essay on inequality in our society

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Small and Big Steps

Yesterday I came across few developments from different quarters. The messages were read completely casually and hence the pattern that emerged left me thinking..

1. A social entrepreneurship venture in Kenya that has come out with a cost effective technology with a sound business model to back it for providing electricity to the people in the country who are still languishing in the shadows of the glitz that marks the other part of the world
2. A news brief explaining how Indian railways is will be installing 2500 ecofriendly toilets as against the present shoddy system of human waste disposal. Each unit will apparently cost around  Rs100000.  Thats a big sum of money ! Considering that a train generally has around 16 coaches, this will approximately cover close to 156 trains and which is really good.
3. The third piece of data I received was from the pollution board of the state where I reside. It was an SMS- "Let's celebrate eco friendly Holi, avoid chiemcial toxic colour, use natural Eco Friendly colours, save water, protect environment- Maharashtra Pollution Control Board"

One may say that I chose to read on a given topic and hence found three messages that are indicative of the small and big steps being taken at various geographies but the interesting part for me was that these three bits of information have come almost on the same day and I just happened to read about them. They are developments at different levels of space viz. First one in a different country and continent, Second one at a Central govt level in India and the third one is at a Regional level again in India.

These initiatives are indicative of the efforts being taken at different levels by different stake holders and they will surely have an impact on the ground. It may need reciprocation from various quarter- such as the third one on the appeal by the pollution control Board.

Many a times the magnitude of the problem- like sustainability is daunting and gives us a perception that there is little that is happening but if we truly try to count such efforts and consolidate them over a period of time, it surely would amount to a wise set of decisions that lead us to live in a more harmonious way with nature. Its a very positive trend.

Every small and big step would matter. What matters is to act. All have a role to play- big or small.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A peep into the history of social media

A nice article giving sound instance of how the new word 'social media' is not actually a thing of today.  The author explains the effort of Luther in Germany way back in 16th century and how he managed to shape public opinions during his times.

It was a refreshing read on the subject

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Pseudo heroism?

The above image has been taken from one of the protest in a European country in the year 2011. A close examination of this visual struck me from the point of view of the number of people who were trying to capture images at the moment. Several people can be seen weilding cameras, phones, ipads or some other gadget. One thought that came to me was possibly that there are people from the media. But the sheer number of such individuals as seen in the visual makes me wonder whether they are all from the media.

There are two aspects to it-

  • In the age of social media, we want to feel good about ourselves and what we have been upto. Sharing of images from such protests when one is part of it is one aspect of this self love. 
  • There is a sense of romanticisation about fight against state which has been glorified not just by media but also by entertainment industry. Films like Hazaron Khwaishein Aisi, Hazar Chaurasi ki Ma, Rang de basanti are all testimony to it. There are some movies from India. There are several from the west too where the oppresive state against unarmed citizens makes for an engaging story. Remember the iconic image of the revolutionary Che that we have seen on many a t-shirts?

A genuine revolutionary whose image became iconic amongst youth

An image from Rang de Basanti signifying the attitude of 'letting go'

In a state of extreme emotion, do we really feel like pulling out our camera to capture being present there?

There is a sense of high that one feels by claiming that one got hit by police or else when one was caught by the police. But isn't it totally different from the kind of struggle that freedom fighters did or else people like Suu Kyi and all have gone through. Shouldn 't people try to be more genuine when they seek to be in the middle of such movements.

Movements require passionate people and the passion should be towards the cause and nothing else. But if one enters into these protests for the sheer appeal of being captured in the press or sharing it on facebook, it loses its essential value. And the same momentum can't last beyond few hours. All leaders who start such movements should be vary of such 'supporters' as it is very difficult to guage from the crowd as to who is supporting what at that point in time.

This is one reason why Gandhian followers (in the true sense) and on extreme level terrorists never care to come in front of the media. Media searches for them when possible. They are committed to the cause because they believe in a given ideology, they understand its roots, history and possibilities. They are not there for bubble fames. And such people will aways be few.

It is important to distil true heroism from pseudo heroism. The former gives you numbers but the latter is about sustained strength.

The age of Eklavyas

 Any person who has taken interest in Mahabharata even remotely would be aware of the story of Eklavya. The famous archer who considered Drona to be his guru and developed his expertise after taking inspiration from him. Drona didn't agree to teach him archery because he was associated with Arjuna- a kshatriya, while Eklavya was apparently from a lower sociological strata. This didn't deter Eklavya to give up his passion.

Fast forward and come to the 21st century. There may be few Dronas now who may be unwilling to tutor anyone for sociological reasons. But on the flip side there are millions who can't really afford to pay to learn from professors of the best universities of the world.  Had internet existed in the age of Mahabharata, Eklavya would have been able to see Drona on youtube, listened to his thoughts on podcast, read about his theories of warfare online and may be even attended his webinar without Drona ever getting to know about all this. We are all Eklavya's in some form trying to learn from Dronas scattered all over the world. The distance between Arjuna and Eklavya has shrunk considerably.

Today we as Eklavyas can get to learn from whosoever we want to, provided we have the intent and inclination to do that. Big assumption being we can afford to access internet. 

And the icing on the cake is that, the Drona will not get to ask his thumb as gurudakshina any more.

It has taken several ages to reach this stage. Some distances are just so long to cover !