The famous song ‘bohemian rhapsody’ has the lyrics ‘I wish I was never born at all’ that capture the mood and thoughts of the prolific singer, Freddie Mercury. I wonder what could have been in the works in his mind when he wrote this phrase forming part of the lyrics of the classic song? Similar feeling is harboured by numerous other people the world over who are bereft of hope and are forced to choose death to escape a life full of misery and ignominy. They die every moment of their existence. With every breathe they take they wish they were dead than being alive and having to face life in its cruellest form. Rather than leading a life full of pain and persecution they wish that they were never born at all. Isn’t it the biggest contradiction of our times that there are stingingly rich people who have untold wealth and everything that money can buy as well those who die of hunger and deprivation of basic healthcare for want of few pennies? The richest of the rich as well as the poorest of the poor continue to co-exist, live side by side, both leading a diametrically opposite life, one of abject poverty and neglect and the other of extravagance, surfeit and luxury? The amount of money the rich spend on worthless activities, abandoned ventures and wasted food is many times more than the money the poor live by in a whole year. And all this happens all the while without anyone taking a note of this and raising a single hue and cry. Who is to be blamed?
The rich as well as the developed nations continue to corner as well as use majority of earth’s resources, while the poor cannot afford them. Using those resources, the rich got richer and more developed than those who did not use them, leaving the poor to carve a different destiny away from the rich, fending for themselves. The poor often face the dire consequences of having to live in a disadvantaged and backward region (countries) without access to modern technology, modern medical facilities and above all in a polluted environment. I do understand that most of it is the doing (or shall I say inaction) on part of their elected governments but more often than not the governments themselves are caught in the web of low budgets having precious little to make a difference in their people’s lives. Since the rich are consuming these resources at an alarming rate and when the time comes for the poor to enjoy the resources, these would have been exhausted already. The biggest polluters and consumers of energy have a task neatly cut out for them which is ‘consuming with responsibility’. China and other third world countries produce almost all the products that the world uses. So naturally enough these countries having concentration of industries will be most polluted countries in the world. From what transpired at the Katowice summit (COP24), it appears that the poor have to fight the world’s battle on their own. I think, the lesser and least developed countries are caught in a quagmire of poverty and degraded environment, an escape from which is an uphill task if not an impossible one. The poorer nations are less equipped to fight the pernicious effects of degraded environment and pollution on their own. With whatever little funds at their disposal, should their attach priority to fighting disease and death or fighting pollution, is the big challenge facing them. As far as rich nations are concerned, neither controlling emissions nor providing funds and technology to the poorer nations is sheer arrogance and least pragmatism. Isn’t it a contradiction that the rich nations, though mistakenly, think that the fight against pollution is someone else’s fight and not their’s. They forget that climate change is a reality that will hit every individual, every life form and every country very hard in foreseeable future. We just have enough time at our disposal to collaborate and find solutions otherwise the entire humanity will be at grave risk, that is unprecedented in nature and proportion.
Technology is creeping into our daily lives and changing our world like never before. Our world and our lives are increasingly being powered by technology that is impacting every aspect of how we conduct our daily tasks as well as business. New and innovative technologies like AI, machine learning and IOT are at the root of this technological revolution that we are experiencing. Years back, it was difficult to start a new business that revolved around the ‘brick and mortar’ kind of set up having very little or no technological content. But today new careers and businesses have sprung up that are completely driven by technology alone unlike traditional businesses. Everything big or small is feeling the heat of technological upheaval. Hotel room reservations, taxi services, home delivery of items etc. are accomplished in a few seconds with a few clicks. Not only this, but the ‘apps’ have made it even more convenient and comfortable over the smart phone. While all this is changing the face of everything that we see around us but there are a few concerns that come to my mind.
[ Also Read: Technology – Embrace it rather than feeling anxious ]
The first and foremost is that technology is alienating the old generation of people who are unable to adapt to the new environment. How can we integrate them and make them part of the new format unleashed by technology? Secondly, there is a vast majority of people who do not have the requisite skills to contribute in the changed milieu and find themselves stranded in the job market. Unless they reskill or upskill themselves as per the new requirements, they might just be shunted out. Even though technology is creating new jobs it is taking away from the present set of work force by making them redundant and irrelevant. Isn’t it a big contradiction that in the name of modern technology all the traditional structures are falling apart? Instead of making it inclusive for all we are promoting exclusivity.
Decades back there was high level of pollution owing to greater reliance on coal fired thermal power stations and pet coke being used in industrial applications. Also, there were vehicles that used dirty diesel to let out thick black plumes of smoke. In general parlance, pollution meant only visible smoke and dust particles. Probably there was no measurement of pollutants of the variety of PM10 and PM2.5 back then. In the last few years, the technology has improved a lot and the government has come out with stricter emission norms for industries as well as vehicles. Don’t forget the graded response action plan or GRAP that is in place today. Consequently, the air should be a lot better today than what it was decades back. But what we find is that this observation is quite contrary to what we read in the newspapers today which claim falling pollution levels as depicted by the AQI (Air Quality Index). Isn’t it a contradiction that the more advanced we get, the more polluted is our environment? One reason could be that we are monitoring pollution better today, very closely and very strictly, as new technology has enabled us to measure even smaller particles of pollutants of the variety named above. Once we control the PM10 and PM2.5 today, who knows that tomorrow even smaller varieties of PM (particulate matter) will not come to haunt us (of the likes of PM0.5 or PM0.1). The more technologically sound we are, the more pollution we register. Isn’t it a contradiction it itself?
[ Also Read: Pollution – awareness is the first step towards curbing it ]
Life is full of contradictions, only some have been presented above.