Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Scraping the E-scrap

We live in the Electronic Era. Our lives consist of wires and rays. Computers have revolutionalised the way we think, work and live. Everything is just a click away. In the light of economic development, users and usage of computers is increasing. Life without TV or computer seems a nightmare. But this nightmare may become a reality if we continue ignoring our Environment. Economic Development and Environment Conservation does not go hand in hand. Environment is seen as a hurdle for achieving economic success and so is often ignored. It’s only when the situation becomes out-of-control that the poor Environment gets some light. The e-scrap or e-waste of our e-world is not environment-friendly.
E-scrap refers to the discarded old and broken electronic devices. They are non bio-degradable. When they are not disposed properly, they harm the Environment as they contain toxic substances such as lead, cadmium, nickel, antimony etc.
E-scrap is imported to India illegally as the other countries don’t want to take the risk involved in recycling it. After China banned the import of e-scrap, India has emerged to be the World’s e-scrap dumping ground. In India, e-scrap is not handled properly. They are treated in informal and unorganised scrap yards. The workers are not trained. They don’t wear any mask and so are exposed to dangerous chemicals. It has adverse effects on their health. Nickel leads to skin damages and asthma. Antimony leads to heart and fertility problems. Breathing high levels of cadmium can lead to severe lung damages and can cause death. Lead affects the nervous system. They try to retrieve metals from the equipments. They burn these equipments which then release dangerous gases into the atmosphere. Land filling is another way of disposal. It’s not safe either. Chemicals present in e- scrap like, mercury, lead, cadmium or plastics are dumped on the ground. These chemicals then pollute soil and underground water. Landfills are generally unorganized. E-scrap is often dumped in open grounds.
E-scrap management is under the informal sector. But in recent years, Government has tried to improve things. It has instituted a number of regulations for management of e-scrap but they have been ineffective. There is only one Government-run e-scrap Recycling System in India. Fortunately, some private companies are taking charge of managing the e-scrap. Manufacturers like Wipro, HCL, Nokia, Acer, and Motorola have initiated recycling of their products. Wipro has 17 collection centres, HCL has 500 and Nokia has 1,300 collection bins.
But e-scrap recycling in a proper manner is still meagre. The main sector handling it remains the ignorant scrap-dealers who have no technology to handle e-scrap. The Government should enforce a law that makes it compulsory for the manufacturers of the Electronic goods to take responsibility for their recycle. A Government official should visit scrap yards to make sure the working conditions are proper and that the workers are wearing masks. We, as individuals, can do our part by handing our e-scrap to authorised recycling systems. Dell is one company which can recycle e-scrap without charging any fee. Get the electronic device repaired if possible. Try not to dispose it. We can also donate it to someone who needs it. She/he can get it repaired. We should make efforts or one day we’ll suffocate in our own scrap.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Hindustan or Hindusthan?

India is proud to call itself a subcontinent. It is a land of diverse religions , languages and cultures. The Constitution of India hoped to preserve this uniqueness. India was declared a Socialist Secular Democratic Republic. Everyone is free to profess and promote the religion of their choice. However, in recent decades Politics have become a-constitutional. It has become religious. Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) , a Hindu Nationalist Party has emerged to be the strongest opposition against Congress. Its formative policy , Hindutva , is a-secular in nature. The base of communalism , however , was set up in pre-independence era.
The British policy of ‘divide and rule’ is well-known. The formation of Muslim League and the separate electorates were products of this policy. History as a discipline emerged in the British era. The Aryan theory was of prime importance for both Indians and Europeans. Sanskrit was classified in the Indo-European linguistic family. For a period of time it was believed that Aryans spread from India. However , it was soon refuted. The superiority of Aryans had suited Indian sensibilities. It was in this background that V.D. Savarkar propagated his theory of Hindutva . It rested on two pillars , one of ‘land of birth’ and the other of ‘land of worship’ or birthplace of religion. He defined hindu as anyone who considered this Bharatbhoomi as his fatherland. He gave the concept of Hindusthan or Hindu Rashtra. He remarked, “In Hindusthan , hindus are a nation. The rest are communities , numerically minorities”. Herein the roots of the famous two-nation theory can be found. Dr. Hedgewar founded the Rashriya Swamasewak Sangh(RSS) with the goal of promoting Hindutva or hinduness. Archaeological , literary and genetic evidence now claim Aryans to be immigrants from Iran but as this theory is not compatible with Hindutva , Hindutva propagators refute this with baseless theories. Muslim Fascism did not lag behind. The Muslim League’s two-nation theory comprising Hindusthan and Pakistan is famous. Both Hindu and Muslim fascism led to the partition of independent India. The riots that followed severed hearts deeply. The pain became hereditary in nature. Only a spark was required to ignite the communities. In 1990s BJP Leader L.K. Advani came up with a flame torch. He drew attention to a mosque which was originally a temple. He demanded the liberation of ‘Ram Janmbhoomi’ by demolishing the Babri Masjid. RSS and other affiliated parties supported him. The Ayodhya Dispute became the platform for BJP. In 1992 , when BJP was the State Government , thousands of communalists (they called themselves..karsewaks) attacked the mosque. There was unprecedented rioting across the country. In 2002 , there was another communal earthquake known as the Godhra riots or the Gujarat Carnage. Terrorism was the answer to these attacks. The Islamic terrorists claims to take ‘revenge’.
But BJP and its affiliated groups still raise the ‘Ram Mandir’ issue incessantly. BJP and other fascist groups use the religious sentiments of the people for its political motives. BJP is seen as the preserver of ‘Indian’ culture. It is seen as a saviour in the light of increasing cultural globalisation. But there is a need to redefine Indian Culture. Hindus believe it is their religious duty to vote for BJP. The evil of revenge is back. The policy of hindutva is a political construct. BJP, however, is not the only party to be accused of communalism. Congress is criticized for ‘appeasement of minorities’. While BJP counts ‘Hindu’ votes , Congress is considered for ‘Muslim’ votes. But Congress has only taken advantage of the communal platform created by BJP. There is a competition among BJP and Congress supporters. While Congress supporters accuse BJP of anti-muslim riots , BJP supporters criticize congress for 1984 anti-sikh riots. Though the motive of sikh riots was not hindutva , it was a national shame.In the midst of struggle , both parties’ supporters end up justifying the riots. Politics which was already a dirty game is now smeared with blood. Mixing communalism with Politics is a-constitutional. India is a secular democracy. The Constitution provides no space for religion in political activities. Things have changed but not for good. The demand of Hindutva is one language , one religion and one culture. This policy is not compatible with India’s ‘unity in diversity’. Hindustan will become Hindusthan. This process will also require huge human cost. India will lose its shine.
Things have gone bad but it can be controlled. It’s a democracy. People should think beyond religion. Country has to come first . This is what true patriotism is. People should influence Politics instead of getting influenced and manipulated by politicians. Religion is personal . Lets not make it political.