By Dr Jyots Bhattacharjee
Life has become very complex—full of contradictions. It has become so complicated that one cannot see his way through the maze. It is like going round and round the mulberry bush. We are living in the 21st century and the world has progressed a lot. India has acquired success by leaps and bounds, and now our country is almost at par with other developed tions of the world. This glossy picture is attractive—but there is much discontent and frustration behind the gloss. Whatever is seen is not always true and we have to accept the truth of the statement that “all that glitters is not gold”.
There are hundreds of problems we are facing every day. Inflation, corruption, adulteration ad various crimes have choked the populace. The tax-payers have been denied even the basic amenities, which they rightfully deserve. One shower of rain is enough to submerge the entire city and turn it into a kind of pseudo river. The irony is that in spite of water all around during the rainy season, people in certain areas are deprived of drinking water. I suppose there is nothing so frustrating as to face waterless taps and pipes in the morning. That is what people are facing in certain areas. On the top of all these problems terrorism and counter-terrorism have crippled the society.
We are always facing problems, both major and minor. Apparently the administration is least concerned about the problems of the citizens. Due to the defective draige system Guwahati faces artificial floods throughout the rainy season. The drains are full to the brim with all sorts of rubbish, which block the tural flow of water, but nothing is done to clear them. Now we hear that many dengue deaths have occurred in the city and elsewhere in the state. Yet nothing has been done by the concerned authority to make the city mosquito-free.
For any small action which you rightfully deserve, you have to pay through your nose to get it done. These paid officials have to be paid improperly for doing their duty, for which they get a monthly salary. If you refuse to pay the money they demand, you would not get their service, which happens to be their duty. Even if you scour the entire length and breadth of the country you may not come across an honest person. Paying money improperly is as reprehensible and taking bribe. I suppose in that sense we all are corrupt, as some of us do pay the demand money.
Then there is large scale adulteration. None can avail any food, which can be termed as pure. Rice is mixed with tiny stones, sugar may be mixed with glass particles, mustard oil may be mixed with burnt mobil. Even baby food is adulterated. The life-saving Saline bottle may contain nothing but plain water and the precious capsule may contain only chalk powder.
We know that milk is beneficial to the children and to the sick and the old people. But we do not get pure milk in our city. I have direct experience of the quality of milk we are getting every day. In fact, in the battle of wits my milkman wins hands down and I become the loser. He is never at a loss for words. Words flutter from his mouth like confetti, but their meaning, if any, eludes me. With his eloquence he can easily take away the hind legs off a donkey.
As my acquaintance with the bovine species is purely elementary, I just don’t come anywhere near him in countering his arguments. So I am stuck with the watery milk and the wily milk man. So that is that.
How can our children be healthy if they are fed with adulterated food? In the past there was no adulteration in such large scale. Now we get nothing which can be termed as pure. How can we make sturdy individuals of them, if we feed them with wishy-washy adulterated food. On the top of that, with the emergence of these fast food stalls, children are no longer interested in homemade food, which is good for their health. Modernism has also destroyed their sense of value. They have lost their regard for their parents and other elderly people. Once the wish the parents was like divine command to the children. But now for the children it is not a sin to disobey their parents or to dump them somewhere like garbage.
Prices of everything is shooting up. LPG, Petrol, Diesel, Kerosene prices and electricity charges have brought untold misery to the citizens. The prices of essential commodities have also reached the sky. Innumerable problems have destroyed our peace of mind and happiness. Corruption, terrorism and diverse kinds of crimes have brought chaos ad catastrophe to society. The situation is such that we cannot trust anybody. A few scooterists chatting happily outside the gate give us shivers—perhaps they are terrorists. We are afraid to open the door in response to the calling bell in the late evening. May be, some ruffian is at the door. That is the life we are leading now—a life of fear and depression. Hope and happiness have deserted us.
Then we hear about the dangers of environmental pollution. The world has become aware of this dangerous problem. We have heard about global warming and about its destructive consequences. In the ancient era there was no question of environmental pollution. In India there was a kind of ashramite culture. People lived in the midst of ture and respected her as a benign deity. ture was like a mother to the people of that era. In ancient literature we come across instances galore demonstrating the close relationship between ture and human beings. In Kalidasa’s “Abhigya Sakuntalam” we find wonderful verses describing beauty and grandeur of ture. Sakuntala’s wedding with King Dushyanta was witnessed by ture. At the time of her departure to her husband’s home Mother ture bestowed on her jewelry, bridal dress and other gifts. Perhaps it was the imagition of the poet. But the incident does demonstrate the close relationship of ture and human beings in the past. The hermitages were full of tural flora and fau. Their fasciting beauty was admirably described by poet Kalidasa. If you go through the epic you would surely be spellbound by the magnificence of ture as described by the poet. ture was regarded as a living deity in that age. Animals were also treated with respect.
But the conquest of ture by scientific knowledge gave rise to lots of problems and these problems have assumed such enormous intensity and they have become so disastrous that scientists, philosophers and intellectuals are trying hard to find a way out of the ill effects of development, as scientific progress may filly lead to the total extinction of the earth and humanity. The construction of big development projects implies the destruction of ture to a great extent. To state briefly, humanity is being adversely affected by the scientific progress.
ture has been sacrificed at the altar of science and the earth is facing terrible crisis. That is the irony of modernism. Western technology flourished after industrial revolution. The West became very much advanced in the science of technology. India was once a rich country according to most of the intellectuals. But when the English rulers took over the country, the once glorious and prosperous India lost much of her glory and splendour. tural resources were desecrated without a care and the technologically advanced West brought out several miracles of science. They are still doing that. Now the Westerners have realized what havoc they have brought to the earth by their ruthless destruction of ture. India and some other countries are still suffering the brunt of development without its rewards and without the clean environment of the past.
Environmentalists are trying to spread the message of imminent danger of deforestation, chemical and other emissions and excessive urbanization that destroy the tural balance between ture and human development. But in reality nothing much has been done. Trees are felled to build multistoreyed building and for other development projects. Unscrupulous miscreants cut down huge precious trees surreptiously and make enormous profit. Wild animals have lost their habitats and hence they can be seen roaming around in search of food. They are also killed for persol gain. In ancient era animals were regarded as friends and they were given due respect. The so-called development projects have pushed the earth to the brink of disaster. It does seem that man has disposed what God proposed.
People have to be taught the value of life. They must not harm others with their selfish and irresponsible behaviour. Awareness of others is a part of our lessons about ture. We have a moral obligation to respect ture and protect it. We have also obligation to others. If we realise that and act accordingly, earth will be happy and peaceful.
It is due to human folly that the world is suffering. Possibly under the materialistic influence of the West, India has lost her glorious spiritualistic ideal. Once India was a land of spiritualism and great sages. But now that glorious spiritualism has been lost. People have become ardent followers of materialism. As a result now they are incredibly selfish, cruel and unbelievably debauched. Ethics tells us that there is no holiday for virtue. But as a friend told me recently that in modern society virtue has become defunct and it is the age of vice. May be, she is right. But I think that a person indulging in vicious activities can never be happy.
I really do not know what has happened to humanity. Is it entirely lost to us? Killing people have become a game to some people. Today they do not say it with flowers, but say it with bullets. Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent India has become a haven of violence and terror. Even innocent infants are thrown away or killed by heartless mothers, perhaps to conceal their crime. Can you imagine a baser crime than that? Through the years mothers have been famed for their sacrifices, affection and love. Have they lost their finer qualities and materl instincts. It is strange that when the world talks about the sacrifices of the mother made for a welfare of her children and family, some mothers indulge in horrific crimes like killing their own babies to demonstrate their fake chastity. It is not known to what level we can go to maintain own hypocrisy. People of this modern age have no love or feeling for others. We have become a depraved tion and our depravity has no end.
Some people say that virtue has become irrelevant in this era. Anybody can see that corrupt and dishonest people are leading a life of luxury, while the virtuous are languishing in poverty and misery. But I think that immoral conduct cannot give us permanent happiness. Only virtuous behaviour can bestow true happiness on us. If I do something wrong I will feel guilty and that would not give happiness. It will only bring suffering and mental anguish. It is essential to revive our lost spiritualism in order to regenerate our lost humanity. I may be wrong, but I do believe happiness depends on right conduct and in spite of all the suffering we may have a glimpse of happiness. It is worth making a sincere attempt—Isn’t it?