Sunday, June 12, 2011

Of washing machines, socialism, environmentalism and Bangalore



Do see this video, by the incomparable Hans Rosling - where he talks about the magic washing machine. Yes, I personally love the washing machine - saves a ton of time and as he says, helps us read and do many other things - hopefully productive.

But what he brings out really, is the common thing across washing machines, socialism, environmentalism and Bangalore - hypocrisy. Let me explain.

Many people - who work in highly paid jobs or have made their money working in highly paid jobs or businesses - all decidedly capitalist - suddenly adopt a socialist approach. Take any "successful" politician who talks socialism and you will find that the actions taken by the politician in his or her own personal life is decidedly not socialist. They talk socialist and ensure that they loot the money of the socialist people. They float socialist schemes (NREGA) and their own cadre loot the money in between. They fly in on the chartered planes of capitalist entrepreneurs and leave you with vacuous words of socialism.

Many of us who work in the corporate world have similar idiotic notions. Anybody who talks of socialism while taking a capitalist salary is a hypocrite at best and an ignoramus at worst. All it means as Hans puts it is that you want the "other" to be deprived of what you got.

Many years back, in the verdant landscape of Munnar - there was talk of a power project being built. And I, all of some 10 odd years old argued with a local resident - another 10 year old - on the proposed dam that would submerge many acres of forest land. He replied without batting an eyelid - that the dam would give them electricity and I was shellshocked. Many years later, I realized that I, living in the city had access to 24 hour electricity while they barely had electricity for 8 and the realization hit home - as Hans says that the whole idea is that people like us - try to live more sustainable lives - is more environmentalism than about opposing dams or power plants.

Which brings me to the final point. Bangaloreans love trees on roads and each time a tree is cut, some publication somewhere will write a couple of stories about the same - ironically on cut trees. But do check out Bangalore from the air - no trees at homes or in apartment complexes - the trees are either on roads or on public property. Here too, if you care about the city, please let charity begin at home - your own. Build rainwater harvesting systems, conserve water, use public transport, use solar water heaters (if at all), grow trees (or vegetables) wherever you can.

Either way Hans Rosling makes you think. Do watch the video. And btw, do check if A Roy has a washing machine in her jungle retreat...

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