Put off the Light! Groping in Dark to Fight Menace of Pollution

A sizeable number of middle class men – not to talk of women – do not walk even one kilometre daily. Nor do they get any time to do some hard work. They end up turning obese and developing some health problems while still in the mid-life.

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A sizeable number of middle class men – not to talk of women – do not walk even one kilometre daily. Nor do they get any time to do some hard work. They end up turning obese and developing some health problems while still in the mid-life.
However, there are some health conscious individuals, who throng to parks and fields to undertake morning walk or jog. And even to reach those open areas they would use cars, rather than do some leg-work. They are our modern day nawabs, kulaks and feudal lords who cannot move without the help of palanquin. And like the palanquin-bearers of the past, the drivers of private vehicles have no time-table – they have to work on peanuts.
Rampant industrialisation and unchecked growth of motor vehicles are held responsible for the menace of environmental pollution which ultimately leads to the global warming. It is no doubt causing immense devastation to the world yet those who champion the cause of ‘development’ are not at all concerned about it.
As the most industrialised nation of the world the United States is the largest emitter of the greenhouse gases yet it is least sensitive to the issue and never ratified the Kyoto Protocol, which called for the reduction in poisonous gases.
Developing countries like China and India too are not willing to go all out to reduce the greenhouse gases from the environment on the plea that they are busy taking millions out of poverty. This was reflected during the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, which was held in Bali between December 3 and 14, 2007.
The new Australian government of Kevin Rudd, however, made a U-turn and agreed to work to reduce the emission of the carbon gases. The European Union too pledged to cut the emission of greenhouse gases by 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 – that is 13 years from now.
What is strange is that while Australia and European Union now realises the havoc which the environmental pollution can cause countries like China and India, among the largest polluters of the world, are in one way or the other, toeing the line of the United States. On the plea of lifting people from poverty they started arguing that it would be unfair and unrealistic for them to agree to any target for reducing emission of poisonous gases.
This argument means that pollution-free world is synonym to backwardness. If your vehicles and industries do not emit poisonous gases and kill lakhs every year and do not affect the health of millions others then you are backward, even if you are the largest producer of food grains in the world. That industry has become synonym to development is a dangerous trend.
The truth is that the capitalists, be they of the United States, China or India, have nothing to do with the development of the society as such. It only wants to mint money and through its intellectual agents want to spread its tentacles all over the world. The greatest capitalist of the world would readily agree to provide India a loan of Rs 55,000 crore to build super-highways not for the benefit for the crores of Indians but to ensure that the sale of cars increase in the country. Once the roads are good the demands would obviously increase. The ruling class here – or in any other Third World country – would prefer the construction of such highways instead of developing mass-transport system in which thousands of people could travel by consuming much less energy.
In the last few years everyone in Indian establishment started shouting from the house-top that India is an energy starving country, that we need to import all sorts of fuel available in the world: oil, gas, electricity, nuclear energy, coal and what not. After all, what has suddenly happened to us? While our trains continue to take the same amount of time to cover distance between Mumbai and Delhi or Kolkata and Chennai and the commuters in metros still travel like animals – as we have hardly done anything on this front – the number of luxury cars and two-wheelers have increased manifold.
We are damming rivers after rivers, not for better irrigation, but for producing more electricity even if it means uprooting thousands and lakhs of people. After all city-dwellers need light as they had to play cricket matches till mid-night, watch TVs round-the-clock, enjoy night-life and what not. We organise more than a dozen day-night cricket matches every year even when the fact is that electricity spent in one match can irrigate thousands of hectares of land or supply light to millions of children who cannot read because they are still in the lantern age.
While most middle-class houses have all sorts of electronic equipment, power-shortage even in the most advanced cities has become a common phenomenon. Once again the better off can go for inverter and generator while the lesser mortals are left to grope in dark. The crass materialism propagated by the capitalists has blinded each of us yet few are realising as to wherein lies the problem.
While the Bali conference on climate change was concluding on December 14, some environmentalists in Mumbai called upon people to go for one-hour voluntary black out to save electricity. Greenpeace and other organisations have effectively used this method of protest elsewhere in Australia, Europe, etc. Whether such move would actually help or not, the fact remains that now there is no dearth of people who are realising that what is being preached to them as development is in fact a sinister capitalist design to sell goods and walk all the way to World Bank.
If cars really become cheap and all the Indians – like people in the US – can afford to buy them then that would be the worst day for our country. In that situation there would be around 100 crore cars in the country. And if each car is three metres long then the total road length needed just to park these cars would be 30 lakh kilometres. Do we have 30 lakh kilometres of highways just to park – not drive – these cars? The capitalists had no answer; they only want to sell and turn the world into hell.
The rise in consumption and excessive spending does not necessarily amount to development. The ruling class always has its own ready-made theories of development. Even before the advent of fossil fuel and electricity, entertainment and night-life had its own meaning for the ruling clique.
By the time of Akbar-II and Bahadur Shah Zafar the Mughal Empire was tottering, yet the emperors and the ruling class would misuse energy to keep the whole of Red Fort and adjoining areas of Delhi lighted for lavish night-life. This was in total contrast to the time of Akbar the Great – or even Sher Shah or others – when the Emperor would start working just after sun-rise, would personally supervise the whole matter of administration and call it a day by sun-set. True, there used to be life at the night, but that would not be as colourful as 250 years later. And the world knows better what the zenith time of the Mughals was.
Consuming energy without any purpose does not amount to development – rather it is a sign of a decadent society.