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Posts Tagged ‘Public Spaces’

Mention the name of any sweet and our bodies respond immediately. The saliva glands start operating on all twelve cylinders. The gastric juices gear up to receive the next morsel in keen anticipation, much like an Aberdeen terrier eyeing a slice of fish in his master’s hands.

Sweets contain heavy doses of sugar, a basic source of energy for our bodies. Besides keeping our bodies alive and kicking, sugar also keeps our spirits high. With the rights amount of sugar within us, we walk around with our head held high and with our chins up.

However, consumption of excess sugar is fraught with several risks. If one belongs to the Couch Potato Club, the body eventually registers a protest. Obesity, cardio vascular diseases and other ailments gradually start popping up. Pretty soon, life starts throwing up surprises of an unpleasant kind.

Each year, Indians gobble up around 23 million tons of the pristine white intoxicant. Each region has its own exquisite variety of sweets on offer. Talk of sandes, rasagulla, gulab jamun, jalebi and payasam, and we start drooling with gay abandon. For many Indians, these sweets form an integral part of at least one meal of the day. It comes as no surprise that we have more than 68 million diabetics in our fold. The real number is certainly much higher, given the absence of rural areas on our public health radar.

Think of long-term implications and the mind boggles. Besides ruining personal and family lives, diabetes surely drags down the Indian economy. The imagery of the country being a super power and reaping its demographic dividend simply evaporates. This truly calls for a National Mission which is supported by the public, the corporate world and the government alike.

Other than launching a media campaign exhorting the public to lead more active and healthier lives, the government can push this critical reform through in several ways.

One, we need to ensure availability of healthier food choices to our citizens across all our public spaces. For example, Indian Railways can offer the option of sugar-free diets to its passengers. As of now, even a cup of tea sans sugar is not readily available. Take a saunter down any of our railway stations and you would run into vendors peddling deep-fried stuff. If you are searching for some fruits or milk, you would have to be a Milkha Singh to be able to buy what you need and hop on back to your compartment. Travel by a bus and a similar challenge would await you. Go on a shopping spree and you are left gasping looking for a decent fruit juice joint. IRCTC can surely juggle around its menu and enable the hapless passengers to make a better choice as to the kind of nourishment they need.

Two, bicycles need to be promoted as a means of conveyance in a big way. Entrepreneurs can be encouraged to participate with the government in offering bicycle-on-rent facilities in cities and towns. Leaders and role models can be persuaded to get off their high-end limousines once in a while and campaign for this healthier and smarter way of commuting.

Three, urban planners and city mayors need to be pushed to create parks and dedicated walking spaces in the areas under their control. Cities and towns need to ensure clean and level pavements free of encroachments.

Four, our entrepreneurs simply hate taxes and love exemptions. Our taxation mandarins can surely sweeten the deal by offering tax breaks to those who deal in healthier food products of any kind. This would fire up their zeal to support the proposed National Mission and come up with innovative solutions. Perhaps the time has come to treat sugar at par with liquor and slap a ‘sin tax’ on it. Of course, this is a bitter pill to swallow.

Five, sugarcane can be increasingly diverted to produce bio-fuels. This would also help in curtailing our import bills, thereby improving India’s fiscal health. Countries like Brazil are already doing this.

If steps to control the Diabetes Tsunami are not taken now, the costs of healthcare in India would shoot up exponentially in the decades to come. The so-called demographic ‘asset’ would then become a severe ‘liability’ instead. Our time is running out.

(Related post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2013/05/05/o-my-beloved-when-would-you-depart)

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Inventors of the world need to quickly come up with a Poop Scoop which would work for humans. This would solve a messy problem which is driving governments all over the world a bit potty.

In third world countries, it is pretty common to find people defecating in the open. Any train passenger who has been Potty open-defecation-titleadventurous enough to peep out of his window while the train is entering an urban settlement in the morning hours would readily attest to the same.

The Great Public Loo

Ask any of the defecators and he would be quick to point out the benefits of open air ablutions – minimal irritation to the olfactory organs, a gentle breeze soothing the hind quarters and the pleasure of a comforting smoke without the imminent danger of a secondary inhalation by any of the co-defecators. A very environment friendly and socially sustainable practice, he would say.

Push him a wee bit more and he is bound to come out with yet another justification. Well-heeled passengers of railways are permitted to litter the tracks all across the length and breadth of the country with smelly abandon. They enjoy this liberty irrespective of whether the train is stationary or moving over vast tracts of land and rivers, pious or otherwise. If so, why should his tribe of open defecators alone be singled out and reprimanded?

A Potty Dawn

Come morning time and vast stretches all over the country witness the unusual spectacle of human droppings, putting Potty Roman Public Toiletsmany a bird and beast to shame. Early morning joggers have already perfected the art of dodging such excrescence, thereby saving their precious branded footwear from getting soiled.

In the bye-lanes of small towns, toddlers can be easily spotted relieving themselves just outside the main door of their palatial houses, thereby saving their parents the hassle of suffering from an Undue Potty Syndrome.

Marketing honchos of companies making diapers and plastic potty contraptions would do well to target this segment in their next promotional blitzkrieg.

A Gratitude towards Mother Earth

Those of the two-legged Homo-sapiens who are far away from home and hearth find the vacant stretches of land Potty Limbourg Belgiumabutting our swank new highways quite suitable for the purposes of fertilizing the soil. This is their way of expressing heart-felt gratitude towards Mother Earth.

In towns and market places, walls become an easy prey to such offerings, duly supported by the local civic authorities who ensure that our streets are poorly lit; if power is available, that is.

In most public spaces, denizens hardly need directions to the nearest rest room. Their keen sense of smell does not lead them astray. Their olfactory organs turn out to be better direction-finders than their GPS-enabled gizmos.

In many countries, democracy is taken pretty seriously. Quadrupeds of all sizes and shapes – whether bovine, canine, feline, or of any other kind – also believe that they have equal rights on public spaces. Since their lives invariably run as per the solar clock, they exercise their rights at any time of the day.

Bollywood Beats

Bollywood is not far behind in promoting the practice of open air urination and defecation. Showing a bunch of boys Potty Ishqiyarelieving themselves in an open space is no longer a taboo.

One of the protagonists in a recent flick (the inimitable Naseeruddin Shah in a particular scene in ‘Ishqia’) waxes eloquent over the sheer bliss of resorting to this ‘environment friendly’ practice.

However, there is some consolation that the heroine (Vidya Balan) subsequently supported a campaign by the Ministry of Sanitation and Rural Development of Government of India to promote an extensive drive towards toilet building.

Petty and Potty Problems

As we celebrate yet another World Toilet Day today (on the 19th of November), one hopes that the coming days would see a better focus on resolving this predicament of our modern lives.

Manufacturers of all kinds of sanitary products can pitch in and tackle this issue. Technocrats and scientists who are busy exploring the universe can come up with scoops designed to handle excreta of all hues and shapes.

Social scientists who keep discussing inane matters on our TV screens ad nauseam can plan for campaigns which are directed towards changing the mindset and attitudes of our citizens.

Movie directors can weave in clear messages denouncing the practice of open defecation in their future projects. Potty Vidya-BalanMayors of our cities can raise pig squads which would hopefully ensure that our streets are squeaky clean.

Politicians of all hues can stop wasting their energies in running down each other and highlighting petty problems; instead, they can address potty problems.

Mind over Matter  

The fact that we have more phones and TV sets than toilets goes on to show that, as a civilization, we accord a higher priority to matters of the mind than to those of the material body.

We are perhaps heading towards the next step of our human evolution into a species which would be far better endowed in terms of its intellectual capabilities!

(Related post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/the-monkey-business-in-india)

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