Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Stars, Men...and Nukes

It occurs to me, in wake of a still boiling Fukushima, that nature is so much more gentler, kinder, nurturing than man. Some might argue to the contrary following  the colossal earthquake and subsequent Tsunami that hit Japan's coast near Sendai last month. However, let me elalborate:

Universe is into nukes and man is also into nukes. Sun for example wraps up its core nuclear reactions in a blanket about 700,000 km deep, from where the radiation in form of harmful gamma rays take 30,000 years to emerge at the surface as life giving, golden warm sunshine to light our days, grow our food, create our oxygen. Man on the other hand wraps his nukes in haste and his giant ego, in flimsy concrete  structures thus taking giant risks with our precious Earth and all its members.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Reminiscing about "Nero's Guests" and What Sainath Said

Its been a few days since the screening, at IISc, of the documentary 'Nero's Guests' by Deepa Bhatia, on P. Sainath and his coverage of farmer suicides in Vidharbha - the cotton belt of India. The film was followed by a discussion session with Sainath. In movie and also the discussions later, Sainath was passionately and brutally honest, unforgiving, hard hitting, persistent in comparisons between our lives and those of Nero's guests who were entertained in the light of people torched to death to illuminate a party.

As usual, in a topic of this nature, I am unable to say "I liked the program". Yet there are key points that hit home and have stayed. Sainath started the discussion with the recent budget announcement. He said that the government's basic philosophy towards the poor, in general, and specifically on food security, was to load the tables of the rich sufficiently that a few crumbs fall off for the hungry masses.

He questioned the focus on a 9% growth in GDP in face of India's 163rd position on the Human Development index. Primarily he focussed on hunger and food and death. He pointed out that the per capita food availability had dropped since 1955 by 100gm per day and despite numerous efforts/reports to re-counting poverty, most conservative Tendulkar report estimates still placed 37% of Indians below poverty line. He strongly argued for an universal food security bill and also minimum assured returns for farmers to stem the growing suicide rates in the cotton belt. He clearly saw the corporatization of the farming sector in a globalised economy as a doomsday for small private farmers.

Sainath said these and many other things - all necessary and true. We all heard him, and heard him well. Now the change will depend on how much we all retain and respond. Listening, thinking, talking and writing are but preliminary steps towards a revolution.