Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Our Priorities

Where are all the open spaces, green patches, public parks and such other common sights that I took for granted in my younger days vanishing? Those that exist are fast turning into garbage-dumping grounds or lie neglected...or still worse are being frequented by stray dogs and secret times even people seeking to answer an urgent nature's call!
In these days of health consciousness most of us talk of the importance of fresh air, exercise, healthy diet, saving plants and trees...
But what do we do...
("talking" and "doing" denote different in preaching and practice, right?!)

Our most preferred health activity is working out in a gym on the latest gadgets and our ideal family outing that can be effeciently and often hurriedly squeezed into an activity-filled weekend is the family going to one of the favourite (or for a change to a newly opened) restaurant or if the children insist, then to a water park...or is shopping at one of the numerous malls the preferred family activity...?

Also if the children can be packed off to "affectionately obliging" grandparents then a couple can even think of going to a movie or a play, followed by a "romantic candle light" dinner where the mind perhaps is busy working out office schedule for the next day.

This sounds really fabulous and looking at the above multiple entertainment options that we seem to have, should our predecessors not envy us?
We have huge malls opening their arms to us:the common people, auto-industry giants manufaturing affordable cars just for us:the common people, international brands in food, clothing and accessories clamouring for our (the common people's) attention...

So on our ideal outing we drive in our branded car, wearing our branded clothes and eat internationally-patronised Chinese, Japnese or Thai food or watch one of the "well-made, technically sound, flawless Hollywood blockbusters".
And do we realise how much we contribute to the increase in pollution and the killing of our own indigenous crafts and cuisine?
Why then do we worry about the vanishing open spaces and modern-day health problems. Aren't we responsible for creating them?!

We are delighted to see a mall come up in our locality as perhaps it automatically announces the development and progress made. We hardly resent the coming up of such symbols of our march towards becoming a global super power. The space that could have been used for a public utility service or for the promotion of our art and culture actually becomes a source of pollution and increased emission of anthropogenic greenhouse gases. But we are oblivious.

The difference between cities and countryside does not exist now in most place. The late Mr.Sunil Dutt had once said that Mumbai to Pune would soon become one vast stretch of human inhabitation and the difference between the two would cease to exist. Even if it was a supposed exaggeration then, there are signs of this prophecy coming true!!

There is no scope for a non-productive activity anywhere on this planet now. Hence leaving open land patches for loose cattle to graze on, or for public parks is such a huge loss to national wealth when all this land as well as the land reclaimed from the sea could be utilised for profit-making activities like building business districts, shopping and residential complexes, expensive international schools and hospitals, state-of-the-art airports, industrial units and such others.

I completely agree that all the aforesaid activities are important to the progress of the people, and there is no denying that we need to develop and look forward. But is it necessary to allot agricultural land also to so called more profit-making activities? There has to be a balance in our activities only then can they result in sustainable and humane progress that would bring about better living conditions in the true sense.

So before we loose every little open space to an ever-hogging concrete jungle and profit-thirsty business tycoons, lets wake up and do the needful.

Zohra Javed.

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