Thursday, 22 December 2016

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Never Let Me Go is a novel which haunts you long after you have read it .First published in 2005 by Faber and Faber ,London , this 282 pages book was also  made into a major  movie , by the same name .
             Hailsham school is a  school  for children  who are cloned  and who are brought up to become  organ donors and carers. The ultimate destiny of these children is to keep donating their organs till they complete(die).The purpose of Hailsham is to  brainwash these students  so that they  remain steady and dependable  suppliers of  organs as they grow into adults. These children remain  puzzled at Hailsham   with many unanswered questions and  grow into confused adults. Their lack of understanding of the world outside is touching . Hailsham carefully ensures that  they are sheltered from any such understanding .They look for their Possibles , the human beings they might have been cloned from .But they fail.
                  The novel is about the life of three such children – Kathy,Ruth and Tommy. None of them have parents but they crave  security , parental figures and love one another. They have heard that if a boy and a girl deeply  love  each other , the couple can get deferral from donation of organs. Kathy grows into an excellent carer and  tries her best that she never lets Ruth and Tommy go .But they finally have to  leave , one by one .
      “Never let me go” is a very touching novel and indicates how hope in these children steadily erodes as they grow up  and begin to understand the world a little. They begin to realize turmoils and injustices  of the world  but  have no choice but to keep calm .But still , they do indulge in  small  pleasures  which life offers them in their situations.
               Kazuo Ishiguro has  written this powerful novel with great skill. The novel shocks and jolts  us on many levels – cloning and its morality , keeping the children in the dark about the world outside while brainwashing them , developing spare  organs for those who are rich and powerful and  who control the system .Despite its dark aspects , the  reading of this book is a very rich experience .
               I recommend you to read this book .Incidentally ,this book finds a place in the list of 100 novels of the century , prepared by Time magazine in 2005 .

Thursday, 8 December 2016

The Righteous Mind :Why Good People are divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidth

Many of us are guided by very strong and absolute morals. If some one’s morals differ from ours  , we treat him or her   less moral or even immoral .Such an attitude creates tremendous communication barriers, even  damaging misunderstandings. This book “The Righteous Mind  . Why Good people  are divided by Politics and Religion “ is a seminal book   which contributes  significantly to our understanding about ourselves and others. It tells us why we hold certain moral beliefs   and why many people disagree with us , even  if they are good.
                   I must state at the outset that  Jonathan Haidth  has written this great  book with great care and clarity and I  have very deep regards and respect for his integrity , indepth research  and his communication ability. He   has been on the faculty of  the University of Virginia  since 1995  and is currently a visiting Professor  of business ethics  at New York University’s  Stern School of Business. It is a book on moral psychology.The book is full of  brilliant insights.First published in The United States  of America in 2012 , it was republished in 2013 by Penguin Books in 2013 and has 500 pages.
       His first principle is :”Intuitions come first , strategic reasoning second.”In other words , we first make a decision  based on our intuitions , then  make post hoc  arguments /reasoning  to dismiss other people.(Inspired by David Hume).
          Another insight is derived from Glaucon , Plato’s brother , who says that people are only virtuous  because they fear the consequences of getting caught—especially the damage to their reputations.
             The second principle of moral psychology  is:”There is more to morality than harm and fairness”.The six moral foundations of politics are Care, fairness, loyalty,authority,sanctity and  liberty.Be suspicious of moral monists.Beware of any one who insists that there is one true morality  for all people , times and places—particularly if that morality is founded upon a  single moral foundation.You don’t need to use all six foundations , and there may be certain organizations or subcultures  that can thrive with just one.
            There is a total difference between moral relativism and moral pluralism .He quotes Isaiah Berlin :”The number of human values  is finite.If aman pursues one of these values ,I who do not ,am able to understand  why he pursues it .Hence the possibility of human understanding”.
           The third principle of moral psychology is:”Morality binds and blinds”.We are 90 percent Chimp(Selfish) and 10 percent  bee (selfless).We are Homo Duplex.We have been told for 50 years  now (By Richard Dawkins Selfish Gene , and others) that human beings are fundamentally selfish.But it is not true.We may spend most of our waking hours  advancing our own interests , but we all have the capacity to  transcend self interest  and become simply a part of a whole.Though it is difficult  but not impossible  to connect with those who live in other  moral , religious and political matrices.
           It is a brilliant book based on latest research .I highly recommend you to read it ---to understand your self , to understand others , and to bring about unity in the  world.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

E-Waste,its disposal and Environment

 Recently(September6,2016)  ,  a survey “What India Knows about E-Waste “ was released by Toxics Link , a Delhi based  non-profit working on environmental issues  .The survey polled 2030 respondents in five metro cities of Delhi , Mumbai , Bangalore, Kolkata and Chennai.Here are the results:
  1. 34%   respondents said they were aware of the rules regarding E-Waste.
  2. 12%   respondents had heard about the   rules  but did not know the details.
  3. Only the 50% of the respondents   knew what   E-Waste  is.
  4. 93%, 90% , 74%  respondents in Kolkata , Delhi and Chennai   did not know anything about  the legal framework and its provisions, while in Bengluru 52% and in Mumbai 77%  respondents were ignorant about the rules.
     5. 61% of the respondents   are ignorant about the  impact of improper disposal  of electrical and electronic equipment.
    6.More than 50%  consumers ( 63% in Delhi and 65% in  Kolkata)  sell their E-    Waste to Kabadi walas(  local scrap dealers)—a practice leading to  informal   recycling , causing  harm  to human health and environment.
   It is obvious that   there is lack of  awareness  among people and users about E-Waste management , resulting in poor E-Waste management.

What is E-Waste?
The waste generated due to   discarded , obsolete , end of life  electrical and electronic  equipments  is known as  E-Waste The computers,mobile phones,  televisions , servers , music systems , refrigerators, air-conditioners, medical equipments  and their respective assemblies contribute to the E-Waste in the country.
                        Globally , 20 to 50 million tonnes  per annum  of E-waste are being generated , which is 5.0%  of the municipal waste at global scale.(UNEP Press Release ,2008).In India , total E-Waste  generation is about 12.5 lac tonnes per annum , which is  merely 2.5% of the global  production , taking a  base of 40 million tonnes  E-Waste generated per annum. Maharashtra among the states and Mumbai  among the metropolitan  cities are leading in the E-Waste generation  in India.
E-Waste has become  the fastest growing waste in the municipal waste stream.USA is leading in E-Waste generation , followed by China, by 30 lac tonnes and 23 lac tonnes  respectively.(Rajya Sabha,2010).
                      In India , the growth rate of the mobile phones is 80%  while that of PC is 20% and TV  is 18%.By 2020 , computer based E-Waste will increase  500% and mobile phone 1800% ,with respect to  2007. (Tom Young ,  ,2010).The E-Waste received from differenr sources comprise the following:
1.Televisions and desktops : 68%
2.Servers                              : 27%
3. Mobile Phones                 :1%
4.Import from developed countries :2%
 The other equipments like  refrigerators, air-conditioners, music systems ,  medical equipments , ovens , etc.,  also contribute in the E-Waste generation  marginally , as their life is more and their use is limited in the society.
Present Status:
The informal recyclers  get the E-Waste  from local waste collectors at very cheap price and recover the metals  like Aluminium , Copper, Iron and Steel,  Lead and Zinc  by primitive methods and leave  all hazardous metals  Lead, Cadmium , Mercury ,etc.,  at the treating sites in open  , causing an explosion of pollutants in the environment. .They generate  heavy loads of pollutants in the atmosphere .They use open burning , acid leaching  for the recovery of metals , which are environment-unfriendly methods.These are detrimental to human health  as the pollutants persist in the environment for years together.
              In general , in E-Wasted equipment, the metal constitutes  more than 60% , plastic 30% and hazardous pollutants 2.7%.It has been reported that  among total metals , 75% are  heavy metals  present in landfills  where E-waste has been landfilled.The landfills are  considered a good source  of manure  and people are making use of it  in vegetable growing .In this way ,  heavy metals  get into human food  chain  easily and may cause  neurological and bone disorders. Such disorders may also come  with ingestion and inhalation .
             Health hazards of  constituents of E-Waste are as follows:
  1. Lead: Causes damage to nervous system , blood system and Kidney .
  2. Cadmium: Toxic effects , neural damage.
  3. Mercury: Damage to brain and respiratory system , Skin disorders.
  4. Chromium: Causes Bronchitis.
  5. Plastics: While burning , causes reproductive problems.
  6. Barium, Phosphorus: Damage to heart , liver and spleen; Muscle weakness.
  7. Copper: Stomach cramps, nausea, liver damage.
  8. Nickel: Asthma, allergy to skin.
  9. Lithium: Harms nursing babies.
  10. Beryllium: Lung cancer, Beryllium disease.
( Ref: Status of E-Waste in India –A Review by Mahesh C Vats , Santosh K. Singh :IJIRSET, Volume 3, Issue 10, October , 2014.)
Present Rules:
In March 2016, the environment ministry notified E-Waste Management Rules , 2016 , replacing 2011  Rules.The earlier E-waste (management and Handling) rules were enforced from May 1, 2012.  Under  earlier Rules, the responsibility of each stakeholder , i.e. , Producer , Collection centre , Consumer or bulk consumer , dismantler and other stakeholders were explained .The E-waste storage was permitted for 180 days, and further    storage would be offensive  until permitted by  State Pollution Control Board concerned in unavoidable circumstances. The responsibility  for disposal of all equipment  produced under his control  was shifted from  municipality to OEM.(Original Equipment manufacturer).
   Under 2016 Rules , producers have  Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and rules provide for  financial penalty for   damage caused to ecology  and any third party  due to improper management of E-Waste.
                    India has ratified the  Basil Convention , prohibiting  trans-boundary  movement of E-Waste .But the developed nations are  despatching E-Waste to  developing nations  continuously in the name of  recycling , charity  and second hand use.
The formal recycling in the country  is in transition .CPCB is registering  recyclers every year.At present , 23  recyclers have been registered   for the treatment of E-Waste produced in the country.
Sno.    State         registered recyclers          E-waste allotted for recycling by CPCB.
1.   Andhra Pradesh            2                         11800 MTA
2.   Karnataka                     7                         3140.6 MTA,120,000 cartridges
3.   Gujrat                           1                         12000MTA
4.   Maharashtra                  3                         8060MTA
5.   Haryana                        1                         1200MTA
6.   Rajasthan                      1                         450MTA
7.   Tamil Nadu                  6                         38927 MTA
8.   Uttar Pradesh               1                         1000MTA
9.    Uttarakhand                1                          12000MTA
The registered recyclers have to  comply with E-Waste management  guidelines  and adhere to the rules  E-Waste (M and H) Rules , 2011.
A fixed quantity of E-waste is being allotted to them .However, they are not getting it easily  and always strive to get it from  import channels  so that their facility may be run at full load.The E-Waste generated reporting process is not in place .The infrastructure cannot be created , based on estimated quantity of E-Waste.

Environmentally Sound Management (ESM) foe E-Waste  :
The ESM  implementation has following challenges:
1.Extended Producer Responsibility has yet to be effectively implemented.
2.,There is a lack of awareness among people.
3.No common E-Waste  disposal point or centre in towns and metros.
4.Formal E-Waste collection , storage , treatment  and disposal system is not yet in place.New infrastructure is needed.
E-Waste is a serious threat to  the human health and environment , and needs our urgent attention .The producers, government and agencies  responsible , NGO’s will have to make joint efforts  to educate consumers  about proper disposal of E-Waste and  ensure that    E-waste  is disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner.(This article was published in the magazine Tree Take , Lucknow in its issue dated November 15,2016.)