October 13, 2009

Your Time Starts Now.

‘Transition Elements’, I think that’s what I would call us. The generation of people who live life the 21st century way with all the technology and ease it has to offer, knowing fully well how life used to be as recent as a decade ago, simple yet content.

Personally I miss the days when I was restricted to just one hour of television a day, the Internet was a fascinating world that was yet to be explored and ‘the outdoors’ was my best friend.

I once had an interesting conversation with a kid, probably ten years old, talkative and brilliant. He knew exactly how to sneak into the heavily guarded palatial residence of the Brazilian President, assassinate him and walk out without a trace, thanks to his xbox 360. This same boy however didn’t have a clue of what his neighborhood looked like or worse, if there were any other boys his age living close by. There could be many reasons for this innocent yet strange ignorance and I am quite certain that he is just one of many such kids. Children today are born into a manmade world almost completely cut off from the natural one. They would rather choose to play virtual tennis and hack animated bad guys to death rather than go out and actually get bruised and dirty.

The definition of ‘socializing’, to a large population of teenagers wouldn’t exactly mean to mingle and get to know one another but instead it is most likely to be something on the lines of ‘lets shop all day, dress up and club all night!’

The point I am trying to make here is that most young people today have priorities spread across varied wavelengths. While ‘A’ might want to dedicate his life to prepare for higher studies, ‘B’ might want to be a little more laid back and spend his summers at home watching reality Television. But no matter where you go and what you do, the environment and its pathetic shape will most definitely affect you.

Yes, Global Warming is an enormous crisis that’s posing a threat to our planet, but if you break it down to smaller bits, it equates to something far more difficult to digest and simply put, REAL. People in the coasts being washed away by floods, people in bustling cities having to breathe hot air and drink rationed amounts of water while going through weeks without even so much as having a bath!

That is probably something you would call –The worst-case scenario. But strangely enough we seem to be inviting it with open (and careless!) arms.

The Green House Emissions of India have been found to be 1.1 tonnes per annum making us the third largest contributor to Global Warming, after the States and China. The margin by which they lead however is pretty huge, the US releasing approximately 20 tonnes. Yet, efforts are being made by our country to reduce the numbers further, alongside making sure its economic progress isn’t affected. The area of Climate Change brings in new avenues for people from all walks of life because we NEED man power at every level!
That is the precise reason why the youth of today has to wake up and start becoming responsible for their future. Yes, we have reached a point where we need to think of our immediate future, not even that of our children’s
No one is asking  people to quit what they are doing ,walk onto the streets, plant trees and eat berries! Not even close.
Climate change requires the convergence of every stream of Science, Arts and Commerce. Use the knowledge that you have spent your whole life trying gain, do your bit and Effect Change!

"Time, our most precious currency, is the most valuable thing we humans can spend"....so spend it well.

My parting words for every youngster who reads this would be, don’t let the water run, try the bus and yes, Vote!

October 11, 2009

"This is a public service announcement - with guitars."

Excerpts from Bono's University of Penn Commencement Speech

"...There's a truly great Irish poet; his name is Brendan Kennelly, and he has this epic poem called the Book of Judas, and there's a line in that poem that never leaves my mind: "If you want to serve the age, betray it." What does that mean to betray the age? Well to me betraying the age means exposing its conceits, its foibles, its phony moral certitudes. It means telling the secrets of the age and facing harsher truths.

Every age has its massive moral blind spots. We might not see them, but our children will. Slavery was one of them and the people who best served that age were the ones who called it as it was, which was ungodly and inhuman. Ben Franklin called it when he became president of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society. Segregation. There was another one. America sees this now but it took a civil rights movement to betray their age. And 50 years ago the U.S. Supreme Court betrayed the age May 17, 1954, Brown vs. Board of Education came down and put the lie to the idea that separate can ever really be equal. Amen to that.

Fast forward 50 years May 17, 2004, what are the ideas right now worth betraying? What are the lies we tell ourselves now? What are the blind spots of our age? What's worth spending your post-Penn lives trying to do or undo? It might be something simple. It might be something as simple as our deep down refusal to believe that every human life has equal worth. Could that be it? Could that be it?

Each of you will probably have your own answer, but for me that is it. And for me the proving ground has been Africa. Africa makes a mockery of what we say, at least what I say, about equality. It questions our pieties and our commitments because there's no way to look at what's happening over there and it's effect on all of us and conclude that we actually consider Africans as our equal before God. There is no chance.
So what's the problem that we want to apply all this energy and intellect to? Every era has its defining struggle and the fate of Africa is one of ours. It's not the only one, but in the history books it's easily going to make the top five, what we did or what we did not do. It's a proving ground, as I said earlier, for the idea of equality. But whether it's this or something else, I hope you'll pick a fight and get in it. Get your boots dirty; get rough; steel your courage with a final drink there at Smoky Joe's, one last primal scream and go. Sing the melody line you hear in your own head; remember, you don't owe anybody any explanations; you don't owe your parents any explanations; you don't owe your professors any explanations.

You know, I used to think the future was solid or fixed, something you inherited like an old building that you move into when the previous generation moves out or gets chased out. But it's not. The future is not fixed; it's fluid. You can build your own building, or hut or condo, whatever; this is the metaphor part of the speech by the way. But my point is that the world is more malleable than you think and it's waiting for you to hammer it into shape. Now if I were a folksinger I'd immediately launch into "If I Had a Hammer" right now, get you all singing and swaying. But as I say I come from punk rock, so I'd rather have the bloody hammer right here in my fist. That's what this degree of yours is, a blunt instrument. So go forth and build something with it.

Remember what John Adams said about Ben Franklin, "He does not hesitate at our boldest Measures but rather seems to think us too irresolute." Well this is the time for bold measures and this is the country and you are the generation.

October 10, 2009

The Gerry Martin Project.What we Are.

I have, for the longest time, been in awe of the natural world. From tiny ant hunting parties to the magnificent slopes of the Himalayas with all the life that they support, everything has captivated me. I have also had the good fortune of growing up surrounded by these wonders.

Unfortunately, the time taken growing up has also revealed drastic change. I miss the wildlife that used to live around my home. I miss the predictability of the weather and the pleasant climate we had around Bangalore. I miss the lake that used to attract a myriad of wading birds next door. I spent a long time enjoying what’s left- trekking, camping out and working with the animals that I have always been engrossed in.

I now want to make things better. I believe that we can do a lot more than conserve what’s left. Through well-structured practices, policies and models, we can bring back a lot of what was. These models need to be feasible and worthwhile for those involved. The Gerry Martin Project is doing just this.

TGMP sees value in conservation and is creating avenues by which conservation efforts can continue to function from a platform of value and strength as opposed to an approach of submissive pleas for support. Saving this planet is NOT charity or a cause or anything noble. It is simply what needs to be done to keep ourselves alive. Like eating or breathing!

TGMP is starting small. Creating a platform. It will become a movement though. Join the process in any way you can. Come to the table with whatever you have to offer. Write in if you have ideas, networks or anything that might help. But do something. Let’s not just ‘go with the flow’ anymore.

In the words of Bono from U2, let’s betray our age. No more resignation and tolerance. Let’s be honest with ourselves and …CHANGE!