गुरुवार, 5 नवंबर 2015

Will science solve the problem of have-have not

For most of the time in the history there was huge difference between those who were sitting in upper strata of class hierarchy and those who were in lower strata.

In ancient Rome a person with money could afford cloths imported from India while a slave would have to live without even cloths required to cover his body. But the difference was not just in cloths. A rich could afford communication, horse carts, food, good wine and a lot such things which an ordinary being can't even think off.

Modern world is different. Poverty is all time low (not in absolute numbers but surely in terms of percentage). But along with it rich and suoer rich can afford a lot of things which is still dream for many. Still in developed countries being elite is becoming less and less fashionable. And here lies the real contradiction, societies with more rich has made it less fashionable to be elite and behave differently than ordinary citizens (compare it with Aristotle’s thought of giving citizenship rights to a small population). But why is this happening? Biggest threat to elitism is not those who have not what rich can afford. But it is growing middle class which has made it.

And middle class is doing it with the help of science and technology. Consider a society with a small or non-exiatant middle class. And an invention of something kind of modern washing machine suddenly pops out of the blue. Obviously only few lucky one could afford it, and it would be very fashionable to own one such machine. But with modern production assemblies and low costs a lot of people could afford that machine and now there would be nothing special about owing that machine. A rich person can still take solace in his mind that he could afford a higher version of that machine which other could not, but it would not be that fashionable as compared to only 2-3 people in city having such a machine.

Same is true for most of the domains of life. A rich could afford a business class flight ticket but still going to most of the places in the world is possible for many of the people and most people can easily afford intra-country journies.
Communication has reached to every one’s pocket. Just 200 years back, only super rich can send their messages to other person with incurring heavy costs. But its sounds so obvious now that we don't even consider it anything special. Eliticism gone at least in domain.

Cloths are more and more affordable to almost everyone. A rich can afford some specially designed cloths but there is nothing special even about that because mass production of designer clothes has made it possible that the big middle class would wear same clothes next month.

Having a personal transport vehicle is now possible for everyone in middle class strata. A rich can have an SUV but the exclusivity of having a personal vehicle has gone and with that the eliticism.

And this is going faster than we think. Today’s billaniors are wearing the same clothes and travelling is same kind of vehicles, having same food and talking the same language of science and democracy like billion or so those who belongs to middle class.

Probably science and technology created that class and would solve the problem of conflict of “haves” and “have nots” in a good way, i.e. making everyone’s better.

मंगलवार, 11 अगस्त 2015

Go for ride: Future of our cities, mother earth and humnity

For our future and for fewer deaths per year on road, we should reduce no. of vehicle and should move towards moving as many people as possible in as less time we could do and the best solution is of course, use of cycles.
I am trying to compare 3 mode of private commutations here. Cycle/ motorbike/ car?

Why will people choose a particular mode of commutation?
These criterias are-
1. It should save time
2. It should be safe
3. It should be comfortable

And India has the 4th criteria:
4. Mode of commutation is attached to status of a person.

As far as first point is concerned, for small to medium distances, and considering the increasing traffic on our roads, cycle may take almost as much time as a car and motorbike definitely takes less time than a car. (I go to my office on my scooter and it always takes less time to reach office/home using my scooter compared to what it took on some the days in which I go with my office colleagues using car)

Safety is a big issue and it is the only one which ranks cars above bike/motorbike. Cycle lanes are must and I don't know how long it will take our policymakers to decide that it is more beneficial to convert 2 lanes of roads to cycle lanes than allowing cars/motor vehicle on all 4 lanes.

For the third one, it is very very much comfortable if one starts his bike/motorbike inside his house and reaches office on time, when many are stranded in their cars in our own Indian traffic. Best thing about cycle is that it keeps moving. We have to take in our mind the harsh summer which most of the India faces and which makes cycling a bit difficult than driving. Then also we may wish to move with motorbikes and not cars. Or on a very harsh weather condition, take an umbrella, walk and use public transport. By using cars don’t make it harsher for others.

And on the last one; Aaahh. I have felt personally that our society attaches one personality with the length of his car. And a person riding cycle is one who has to be poor enough for not to afford at least a motorbike. We have reached such a level that when I visited one government office in Allahabad, I found out that the parking area nearest to office premises is reserved for cars (with a warning that any cycle/motorbike found standing in that area will be fined). This is a classical example of our mindset. We are doing exactly the opposite what we should do.
But it has to be changed. And this change will have to be us, all of us. All of us who are working in s/w firms, government offices etc have to break this stereotype. Many of us now (especially after qualifying civil service examination) think that what the others would think if they saw us going market with our cycles than cars. But why to care for them? Also with the increasing lifestyle related diseases it would help in keeping your blood pressure and sugar level under control. There is no point in using car to go to a gym and then start running there on treadmill.

I have now decided that I would use cycle as much as possible for short distances (< 5 kms) and public transport/scooter for distances more than that. And use of car would be limited to only when it is actually required.

Think about it once. Who wants our future generation to going on road with oxygen cylinders on their back? I know that none of you want such a future. To change that, start from today.