Tuesday, May 09, 2017

As both the Telugu states called April a ‘cruel month,’ experts warn that May is likely to be even worse

South India’s Drought Part 8: Telangana, Andhra Pradesh reel under heatwave, but petty politics takes centrestage
South India’s Drought Part 9: Rayachoty one of the worst-hit in Rayalaseema; govts play down water scarcity

Here are some tentative thoughts about a query of Purnima Tammireddy about the role of social media in status seeking rather than helping with these problems.

I have been watching news like this. Years ago, I visited Indian Statistical Institute, Bengaluru Centre, and used to go out to drink tea. Nearby there were municipal water taps where water was available for a few hours and many women, who looked like my relatives when I was growing up, were waiting in question to collect water. Inside the centre, we had 24 hour water supply and there were stories that watchmen would sometimes allow outsiders to come in to collect water for undpecifiedfavours. Another time I was visiting Vivekananda University in Belur. Outside a road was being repaired. There were women labourers whose feet were wrapped in clothes to repair the road in hot weather. Some of them would leave their children on the roadside and would go to breastfeed them once in a while. Inside we were comfortable in buildings partly laid in marble with otriums and what not with various comforts and gadgets.
I am one of those who benefited from globalisation, interact with similar people in real life and on social media like Facebook. I find we talk about Macron, Trump..., those that may affect our future prospects of visiting other countries for business or pleasure. Or we talk of April, the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere, quote from various writers all over the world showing off our learning to increase our status in the blogosphere and interact with similar people. We ignore the water problems outside our own gated communities and how the poor are faring. We think that a job is a job and think that we are earning our money honestly. We are only dimly aware of the institutions or infrastructure that we are using where poor labourers including women with young children toil for the infrastructure that we use. We talk about the latest innovations, entrepreneurship, corruption of politicians forgetting that we are are part of the structures that keep these structures going. It seems to me that there is a disconnect between various groups living nearby and similar to what D.R. Nagaraj called 'intimate enmity', perhaps more like 'intimate neglect' in this context. The result is inequality inexorably increases, as those like us who keep the current systems running are preoccupied with our own prospects and status keep working at our often meaningless jobs. Meanwhile some concerned ones talk of Naxalites revolutions and only such can change the system. Historically, it seems to be true that only violent changes reduced inequality, often the  the new systems are run by people too and end of up with the same problems.
It seems to me that two kinds of programs that may to some extent alleviate these problems are 1) sharing and 2) local cooperation movements like Timbaktu Collective, and the Tetsu Nakamura kind of work in Afghanistan posted earlier.

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