Upwardly Mobile and the middle class Morality


Upwardly Mobile and the middle class MoralityBy- Kiron Kakoty

How long before the mountain of rubbish in Chennai outskirts, the rubbish dumps of Bangalore streets with the nauseating rotten smell is going to be repeated in the so called metropolitan Guwahati and Towns and suburban spaces of Assam? Do we have a policy on rubbish disposal? Or are we wanting to increase our GDP creating Darrabi slums in Assam so that our puppet ruler CM can with a broad smile boast about the incredible GDP statistics!

You may be smiling CM, but, my heart is aching seeing my green Assam disappearing due to the follies of you lot. The policy of printing money to pay high salaries to a percentage of a white collared worker has enlarged the middle class. Criminals and corrupt law makers giving the civil service a nod to loot the public fund created by toiling majority below poverty line is another catalyst. You have forced the rest into silence by the use of even more corrupt hands of the law maintainers.

This middle class now afford to buy fancy goods wrapped in multi-layered packaging carry these in non-biodegradable bags, eat in fast-food restaurant and throws the takeaway packaging on to the street side, as if it is the rightful place for more non biodegradable and the provider of the service puts out the colourful service trays, boxes, tumblers in huge bags, again all non-biodegradable through the back door on to the side street. Dogs, foxes, birds all taking turns to spill everything out and passing cars blowing the lighter material away and those ending up resting on the shallow side drains or on the tarmac to be crushed by wheels over them scattering them like autumn leaves all over the place.

The sellers of the markets have to fall in line and fall prey to plastics. I go to the vegetable market and plastics bags hanging in the stalls of all the sellers from name sake to the massive ones. Look for jute bag and you see none. You take one yourself and you get a look as if you are from a different planet. You buy some vegetables and put forward your jute bag, the vendor ignores you. It is beneath him to put his in the richy rich environment to drop it in your jute bag. He uses his suspect weighing device from a bygone century and tips the vegetables onto the voracious mouth of the plastic bag he passed onto me and I had to obey his unspoken command and open it for him. Otherwise I shall have to return to my sharp tongued wife empty handed.

Yes I admit, I am a timid person. But am I alone? Are we not all timid? Our hills flattened around us, ancient trees been cut down and the timber transported away in Khaki convoys, The virgin forests are encroached and set on fire to clear for habitation destroying the habitats of our almost extinct species day by day; are we doing anything substantive to reverse the trend? We just try to show a brave face of an impotent husband to face our societies.

The youngsters, some of who are internet surfers, celebrate cultural festivals and organize political rallies or religious celebrations with massive budget. I have to fork out some of my teacher’s pension money to keep them away from my throat. Event organizers rolls in their trucks full of eats, drinks and the inevitable plastic cups, plates decorations and the drink bottles and the aluminum drink cans. At the close when everyone departed the field will give an appearance of varying sizes of milky white mushroom covering the green grass. What is the fate of these artefacts? I am sure all my readers are well aware.

When shall we wake up? When all our drains, ditches, rivulets, rivers, tanks and lakes become clogged up with these products which will never degrade? Yes, these can be burned and being burnt; but at what cost? Our air will become poisonous and brought down onto the soil in rain. All our indigenous fish already under threat from insecticides and inorganic fertilizers in agriculture, mosquito repellent and criminal use of DDT to control mosquito are facing second challenge. Anyone keeping fish in an aquarium knows very well how fish die with slightest imbalance of chemicals and lack of oxygen

In this ‘Money, Money, Money’ culture the existing middle call and the neo upwardly mobile generation has only selfish interests. They may have read Pygmalion but do they understand the middleclass morality question poised by the character. Title? This land of lahe-lahe is rapidly bondaged to the aims of multinationals through the so called Globalization trademark. But don’t you see it is modern day slavery for the services of the first world economies?

I doubt we can beat the first world in their own game the way Chinese has done. From Mao’ disastrous steel producing theory, the focused planning and hard work has turned once a slave the master of the first world. Are we going to just enjoy the cheap Chinese imports and learn nothing from our giant Asian neighbour?

If we decide to wake up from being a sleepy Rip Van Winkle  can we start working towards a goal of getting rid of these Plastic time bombs with quite easily swappable home produced organic products and make our world a different place from the inevitable consequences if we do not do anything hurriedly.

At the beginning of my intention to write this article, I was thinking how to put my thoughts in words that would carry the purpose of my toil. A humble plantain or a banana tree came to my mind. Think of it, what not you can do with it! So if we can sustain our life by using just one gift of the vegetable kingdom abundantly available in our land, are we poor? Nature has given us plenty. Aping modernism we mock our ancient knowledge and beginning to ignore the nature’s gift. How lucky we are that grasses can grow here and become bamboos! Bamboos can almost match the usefulness of the plantain. China is exporting floorings made from Bamboos to beatify floors of western homes. Japan has produced a fine and toughest silk from bamboos! Have you heard of the Udal tree bark can make an incredibly strong rope even to restrain an elephant! The jute and allied plants can produce fibres that can be woven to make rough fabric and hessian which can be used as carrying bags of various sizes and shapes. Then why do we embrace plastics? Can you remember the vegetable vendor? There is your answer.

I am sure there are thousands of idealist youngsters who want to see a better tomorrow. Because it is their planet. Those fortunate to have the internet facilities can go places and find out new things and educate us with experiences of people from faraway places facing problems like ours. Teach us to experiment and innovate from the nature’s gift round us and to stand on our own feet. Few days ago while visiting a city dweller old friend of mine his grandson found a Bangladesh channel on his Internet and came running to me to ask if I know if we have Surjya Konya plant in Assam. Not knowing what the plant looks like had to admit my ignorance. He told me that a researcher in Bangladesh has found out the plant can kill mosquito larvae better than any chemical known to science yet. I told him that many years ago some research took place with the same ideation using Neem but as nothing was heard after that perhaps it was not successful. I was interested to find out what the Surjya Konya looks like to look for it in Assam. He told me that next time the channel shows it he will take a screen shot of the plant. What on earth is a screen shot? I asked myself, but dared not ask him. I am after all a villager past sale by date!

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