Waste is a by- product of ecomic activity. It is an input to economic activity.
As a ratoinal being, each one of us is called not just to be morally upright but socially and economically productive as well. A major part of our lives depends on economic activity hence, waste exists and permeates. The existence of waste is inevitable but the problem of waste management need not be. The problem of waste management may not necessarily lie in government and market policies but yet be more sublime. The concept of waste is not linear as many of us perceive it to be. It is also an input to economic activity to supply through which our fundamental demands are met.
It is often believed that management of waste might be the biggest probelm that we as a race may be facing. Given the current scenario this belief is further accentuated. Numerous forest fires, Global warming and the plethora of Statistics only proves our assertion further.
Charles Darwin in his Origin of Species gave unto us a line which has so successfully defined mankind’s existence –
” Survival of the fittest “.
Man has battled the forces of nature from time immemorial and has won his battles through grit, determination and perseverance to stand at the “high rise of the human dawn”* and is glad. Yet the trade-off in this pursuit looms over us faster and more stoic than ever anticipated. We hear and read of forest fires out of season,aquatic life in peril due to an oil spill off the Pacific Coast and a raging pandemic which shows no signs of imminent relief. Somewhere in our pursuit, we as a race have evolved from fighting with wild beasts for survival to fighting our own actions for the same. The ramifications suffered though grave and bleak are however not without relief.
The pandemic that has engulfed us right now has unfolded astounding things unto us. It has exposed the many loopholes in our system and practices. However against the backdrop of this raging pandemic the skies were once again blue, the air clean and birds serenaded us each morning with their songs. However as things gingerly limp back to normalcy we seem to have forgotten the lesson that we have struggled so hard to learn.
” Only through time time is conquered”**
In the face of danger and apathy, i believe that it is necessary to retrace our steps and examine what has brought us thus far. The entire concept and responsibility of waste management has been thrust upon the shoulders of some esteemed office of dignitary men whose efforts are largely inadequate by us. The need of the hour is not robust market policies but rather a robust understanding of waste being a responsibility of each individual concerned.
The village of Mawlynnong in Meghalaya serves as an archetype of what we must aspire to be. Voted the cleanest village in Asia numerous times, this village boasts of a strict no-litter policy. What sets the people of this village apart from the rest is that the idea of waste management is ingrained in them right from an early age. Littering is a grave offense. Another example is the village of Kamikatsu in Japan. Forty kilometres away from Tokushima city, this village boasts of zero waste produced as wate is recycled. The methods employed are however not extraordinary. The basic lessons of reduce, reuse and recycle ( the 3 R’s) is put into effect and is not merely a concept that people are aware of. Every little lesson learned is carried out at the micro level.
In contrast to our two examples above, Dipor Bil lake in Assam stands contradictory, highlighting the necessity of waste management. Located in the south-west of Guwahati City, Kamrup District, this lake was until recently a biodiversity hotspot for many birds and animals alike. Home to many migratory birds like the Siberian crane and the Spot billed pelican,this lake boasted of a diverse flora and fauna. However in recent years with the proximity to a land fill, encroachment and illegal settling this place has seemed to have lost its pristine beauty. The number of birds visiting has greatly dwindled and the aquaculture too has found itself in major crisis. Though restoration work has begun it is highly unlikely that its pristine beauty will be restored.
The story of this once beautiful lake is one amongst many. The story of the two villages is however a rarity both in our country and the world, which deserved to be emulated and appreciated. Our education has made us capable of things that were recently thought impossible and rightly so. Hence, it is all the more important that our education be not theoretical alone, for we know theory without practise is fundamentally flawed until done otherwise. Most of the most complicated problems of this world have the most rudimentary solutions.
It is well known to us all that what we do now will have ramifications in the future and that our present actions will one day be history. Hence, it is important that we know, “History may be servitude
History may be freedom “**.
It lies upon each of us to decide if we want to be in servitude to our actions or otherwise.
* Heights of Macchu Picchu ( Pablo Neruda)
** Four Quartets ( T.S. Eliot)