Friday, 27 July 2007

Of Titles and Awards

Of Titles and Awards
Space-time frame and beyond

It may suit
Rushdie to receive knighthood,
Tagore to accept Nobel Prize,
Sartre to reject Nobel Prize,
Remi − an unknown entity −
to reject conferred credibility
by feudal (slave) mentality,
within their space-time frame.

Tukaram, who returns the royal gifts
to King Shivaji, is beyond space-time.

Adivasis, rich in art of sustenance,
have no scriptures, no discourses,
until now, since time unknown: timeless.

(Tukaram: Saint-poet of Maharshtra India; Adivasi: the tribal or the aborigines)

Remigius de Souza
69-243 S B Marg, Mumbai 400028 India

Monday, 16 July 2007

Collecting cow dung for Energy 3

Collecting cow dung for Energy 3

Cow dung cakes as Fuel
This is familiar site anywhere in Rural India. After burning these flat cakes, even the ashes never go waste.

(Key Words: Industrial society. This phrase is commonly used for: developed society, The First World, elite society, the classless society, etc.)

Collecting cow dung walking barefoot in the fields during my childhood gave me some immunity in the times to come. The sound of the silence in the expanse of the landscape is extraordinary; no agoraphobia though. It was not only physical but also mental (social) immunity, particularly when I migrated to Mumbai. I could see through the glamorous veil of the urban society.

The youthful fascination about the waves of trends, fashions and fads, and information bombardment coming in hordes through market forces, in words, beyond words, in images, even though they might have come from the so-called leaders, heroes, celebrities and authorities, didn’t last long. I could see beyond their face value. Once, a classmate, from a high caste and high class, called me a “tramp”.

During my teens I had listened J. Krishnamurti’s lecture series at the campus of Sir J. J. School of Arts. His “freedom from the known” surely impressed me. Though he had renounced “institution”, ironically, he ended with several institutions started in his name, during his life time. While Tukaram, the saint-poet of Maharashtra, had made deep impact, it was the adivasis – the tribal – who brought about the transformation in my way of living.

I visited the tribal communities in some parts of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. I outreached the ancient people as a humble pupil. I didn’t carry any civilised credentials, likes-dislikes, judgements, or a platform of my status.

My dress didn’t matter; the tribal are intelligent to look beyond the dress-code. That is, I never visited them as a tourist in the search of the exotic, or as a scholar, or an anthropologist, or not even as a do-gooder.

I have been looking at them, their houses and habitat, and how they sustain. Their lack of materials wealth – call it ‘poverty’ if you wish according to your standards – has been by choice. One of their characteristics is the wise use of energy with moderation. Now, the poverty is inflicted upon them, by exploiting them and their natural habitat that is their homestead by the successive civilised societies and now by the industrial society.

Energy, and its sources and consumption in any form and for any purpose, directly affect the ecology and environment of Land (and Waters), air, people and life at large. Since the rise of industrial society, the issue of energy has taken a form of global war beyond the peoples and places.

During the war in the Middle East, the oil tanks in Kuwait were bombarded and soot from the burning oil landed upon the peaks of Himalayas, and the black ice polluted the rivers of Punjab. Who is answerable for the global environmental, ecological and energy losses?

Those who produce the devices of energy production and consumption and those who use and consume them, both, it seems now, are not bound by any moral, ethical, or legal obligation to connect the production of devices and consumption of energy, to the environment and ecology, and to regulate them accordingly; their only obligation, in the name of development, is to promote power, monopoly, trade and profit for the benefit of the invisible rulers – the capitalist – of the industrial society.

To cover up this immorality and unethical practices, they have created myths such as, sovereignty, free market, monopoly, globalisation, national security, liberalisation, research, development, privatisation…, and “population explosion”, whether by proxy or by state consent. They use these myths as tentacles to feed insatiable greed of the invisible ruler.

Of course, who could doubt the social sensibility/response-ability, and historical perspective, of those who occupy the high places of power and authority in the societal and institutional hierarchies, the so-called, the self-ordained, or by appointment, or the elected by the popular vote, in different fields – education, religion, politics, sciences…, at micro or macro levels? Who could doubt their imagination, perceptions, creativity, vision and intellect?

However, I wonder, could they match the ‘intelligence’ of the aborigines, who continue to sustain despite the plunder of their habitat by the powerful, the civilized and the so-called advanced societies and continue in defiance to the forces of the capitalist powers, until now?

Of course, they remain deeply embedded in their bubble of alter ego. Sitting in their plush compartments, with the blinkers of their respective departments put on, they are divorced from the land (and waters), air, people and life at large. To assume powers and to rule they have fragmented land, waters, people, and turned the persons into split personalities and the cohesive communities into zombies of decadent mass-society. This is neither accountability nor governance, neither democracy nor progress.

The industrial society, though it may claim to be modern, developed, progressive, has its roots in, and is the outgrowth of the feuds (kings, emperors, sultans…) of the past: the old wine in a new bottle, named and most celebrated sugar-coated capsule, “leader” or “leadership”.

The modern education too has its roots in the Christian monastic seminaries, or Islamic madrasas as some may claim, is inevitably dogmatic. On its assembly lines of mass production, it grooms its candidates in the new faith i.e., industrialization. Education is its powerful weapon to catch them young.

Another weapon is architecture as built environment in its larger context, in its entire gamut, from lock-stock-and-the barrel to regional planning, is one of the highest consumer of the fossil fuel energy and other resources of the earth.

Architecture, whether modern or humble vernacular of the tribal or shanties in the slums of Mumbai, is a primary commodity that touches the core of human existence, though it enjoys the status of high art. The tribal abode so far ad its natural habitat as its homestead. In contrast, modern architecture is a by-product of industrialisation born in city. And city is a symbol of centralised power.

With its new avatar as megalopolis – the global city – is an icon of immense centralised power; it footprint stamps across the continents and the oceans. Though is an obsolete form human habitat in the new age, it continues because its very foundation is denial of equity, freedom and democracy.

Architecture, from its education to execution, is manoeuvred by the powers in the industrial society, regardless of hazards it may cause to human lives. Though it manipulates the core of the inhabitants’ lives, the user has no say.

It keeps the masses mesmerised about the greatness of bygone civilisations and the defunct empires through its propaganda machinery. It glorifies the feudal icons of architecture of the past such as, from the Great Pyramid to Taj Mahal, or the recent move to select “seven new wonders of the world”.

We have heard about the destruction of the great library of Alexandria in a war some centuries ago. Humanity did not loose even a wink on its loss, except perhaps the pundits, the so-called pillars of culture! Great civilisations and empires have vanished, but people do prevail. It is anybody’s guess that the days of industrial civilisation are also numbered. Those who do not learn the lessons from the present – from what is now, how could they learn anything from the bygone past?
It is anybody’s guess that the days of the industrial civilisation are also numbered. It will collapse by its strength, not weakness.
As Teodor Shamin, a sociologist, says, ‘The modern economy needs only about a quarter of the global workforce. The other three-quarters are engaged in survival through the informal economy' (Fred Pearce, ‘How the other half live’ (Interview), New Scientist, 3 August 2002, p. 45-47). Those who do not learn the lessons from the present – from what is, how could they learn anything from the bygone past?
We see this, capitalist economy –parallel economy – black economy – state-run economy besides informal economy taking place right here in Mumbai, the financial capital of the country. The informal economy helps to sustain nearly 80 to 90 percent people of India.
However, the industrial society continues to raise, and raze, the debris of modern icons: mass housing, mega-industries, mega-malls, stadiums, cities…, and now in India, the special economic zones (SEZs). However, no one knows their survival rate, and their environmental-ecological-energy price, cost, value and benefit to 800 million people of agrarian society of India?

India, now, is on the march to use nuclear energy for peaceful purpose, unmindful of her billion plus human energy. Could those who have gone through the trauma of Chernobyl disaster forget their experience? While we can’t manage the waste disposal of our mega-cities, how shall manage the nuclear waste? Or take the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. It is the people who suffer who have no say in any project carried out in the name of common good and/or economic growth.

Whether it is so-called clean nuclear energy, or limited fossil-fuel energy, of benign renewable energy, its overuse, abuse or misuse cannot be without social fallout. Even an emotion is energy that could result in a work of art, or a terrorist act.

New Age Pyramids
Industrial society at global level is building the
projects in different countries, to unlock the secrets of universe, these are
new age pyramids. ‘They are made from tens of thousands of parts shipped from
every corner of the world. More than 5000 scientists, researchers and engineers
coming from different countries work on them. Some of the nine machines are:
  • Large Hadron Collider, near Geneva ($2.5 billion);
  • Earth Simulator, a fastest supercomputer, Japan ($430 million);
  • Cassini-Hygenns Torus, UK ($1.2 billion);
  • National Ignition Facility, California ($3.5 billion);
“Big” simply doesn’t do them justice (see: Valeri Jemieson, Monsters of the universe [Interview], New Scientist, August 26, 2004, 26-35).
I, being a layperson, can’t comprehend their functions, purposes, or theenergy they consume, so also that of the ancient pyramids which for me are simply tombs. I see the immediate success of these machines is Ladbrokes had started taking bets on the success of these machines from August 26, 2004 on its website: ― Money matters!
Needless to say, any experiment is subject to failure. I wonder, after the mighty British Empire how mightier (and faster) the new empire of industrial society is! Happily these new age pyramids will not last for another four thousand years, not even four generations. Thankfully the future generations will be spared from carrying some more burden of history. While collecting the shit of civilised society, urbanity and city, I fail to see ‘how to recycle it’ for the posterity.

Indeed, the industrial society, which may have reached a global level but is certainly not universal, operates through its vast army of zombies in every trade and occupation; the architects and planners are only a small number of morons.

~ ~ ~ ~
Remigius de Souza