Friday, April 27, 2007

The Mirror of Change: This is Who We are Becoming

The Internet in its user-driven avatar is fundamentally altering the way we understand society, our relationships, ourselves and the way we share with each other, says Dina Mehta.

It is myopic for us to view online relationships as the ‘other’ woman or man in our lives. Youth clearly does not. For them, these are an extension of their real world — they don’t differentiate between their online lives and their offline ones.
Online life has a whole meaning of its own, with its own rites of passage and social norms. Even a hard reality like death is part of it: real people with real feelings will often mourn online for those they haven’t met physically, but have been emotionally intimate with — as happened with Minal Panchal, tragically gunned down at Virginia Tech, her murder later mourned in an Orkut community. Such memorialisations illuminate a world many people don’t know exists, a new world whose inhabitants form intense bonds distinct from those they form with their face-to-face friends. Outsiders, and even insiders, don’t yet know quite how to describe those bonds or deal with what happens when a crisis leads to the intersection of virtual and real worlds.
Social media researcher Danah Boyd has done extensive research on youth in mediated public spaces such as MySpace and Friendster. She talks of four properties that fundamentally separate unmediated publics from networked ones:» Persistence: Unlike the ephemeral quality of speech in unmediated publics, networked communications are recorded for posterity. This enables asynchronous communication but it also extends the period of existence of any speech act.» Searchability: Because expressions are recorded and identity is established through text, search and discovery tools help people find like minds. While people cannot currently acquire the geographical coordinates of any person in unmediated spaces, finding one’s digital body online is just a matter of keystrokes.» Replicability: Hearsay can be deflected as misinterpretation, but networked public expressions can be copied verbatim such that there is no way to distinguish the “original” from the “copy.”» Invisible audiences: It is virtually impossible to ascertain the number of people who might run across our expressions in networked publics. This is further complicated by the other three properties, since our expression may be heard at a different time and place from when and where we originally spoke.
In a recent talk she gave at Etech2007, Danah spoke of how youth are coping with invisible audiences and the breaking down of walls as they go online:
“In mediated public spaces, there’s no way to accurately gauge who is present or who will be present as the conversation spirals along.
“This has dramatic consequences because it means that the underlying architecture of life has changed. Things spread far greater than we ever would’ve imagined... This is quite different from the society that you and I were used to growing up. We were used to having walls. We assumed that the norms were set by the environment and that you behaved differently in a synagogue than in a pub and that was a-ok. Context was key but context depends on there being walls. Online, there are no walls. The walls have come crumbling down. You can cross through spaces with the click of a few keystrokes and it’s impossible to know what speech will spread where. The moment a conversation spreads, it changes contexts. How do you train a generation to speak to all people across all space and all time?...“Most people go with the ostrich solution. If you can’t see it, it doesn’t exist, right? If you don’t see the strangers staring at your virtual existence, they don’t exist, right? The other proposed solution is being a Luddite — avoiding all technology. Either way, we’re talking avoidance. But avoidance doesn’t ever work.
“The rules of privacy are fundamentally changing. For the first time, an entire generation is forced to deal and, for the most part, they are dealing. It’s not pretty and there are plenty of hiccups, but they’re doing a lot better than us old folk. Unfortunately, many of the above-25 are upset with the things that they’re doing to learn how to navigate this world with no walls.
“Personally, I think that we need to look to them to see what they’re doing and try learning from it. They’re growing up with this shifting architecture. You grew up with Andy Warhol’s fifteen minutes of fame; they’re growing up with being famous amongst fifteen. They’re collecting friends as a way of demarcating audience in a world without meaningful signals about who’s watching. If you’re not in their list of friends or aren’t like the people in their list of friends, you are not the intended audience.”
For those completely immersed in virtual worlds such as Second Life, the seduction of intimacy combined with anonymity does not mean they do not share the joys and sorrows of their real worlds. My bet is that they do. “Pet”, a very close friend and a colleague who worked with a team of online volunteers when the tsunami struck in December 2004, got me looking at Second Life with new eyes. He had been feeling trapped in his body for a long time, and when he got onto Second Life, it helped him become more comfortable with his feelings that he was a woman trapped in a man’s body. The beauty is that Second Life was a tool for “Pet” to figure out who she really is and how to work it out for real. Today, she has friends not only in Second Life, but also in her physical world with whom she can be herself. “Pet” has shared so much of her period of transition and angst with me, that I feel I know her intimately. Being a geek, she also helps me with my websites. I trust her as she trusts me. I know she is very real — there is nothing ‘virtual’ about her, even though I have never met her.
While I may never have seen or met “Pet”, there is depth in our friendship, and solidity. I know, for some people, that is hard to accept. I’m often asked questions like, how can you feel connected to someone you’ve never met? How can you trust someone you’ve never seen? These concerns are understandable given the newness of this medium and the flow that determines these sorts of relationships. Oh there are dangers too — the pretence borne out of anonymity, the addictions, the spam and scams, the paedophiles, the pornography. And still, when I meet up with blog buddies all over the world, how can I explain the amazing level of comfort I feel!
I single out blogs here as throwing up a whole different social system than do virtual worlds and social networking sites. Detractors say, online you can be whoever you want to be and nobody cares. That may be correct, yet, if you try and fake things too hard, you most always are found out, and can be verbally beaten. My belief is that people tend to act more like themselves online than they like to admit. It is much more difficult to hide away who you are when you are blogging. I’ve found myself revealing things on my blog about myself that I would find difficult to talk about face-to-face. Ugly things too.
And yet, I found myself trusting myself as I began trusting people I met through this medium. There is a fine line between the public, private and secret self, and the boundaries blur sometimes. At others there is a conscious effort to keep them apart. In a physical world, our lives are compartmentalised, you have different sets of friends for different needs, and meet in different physical spaces as a result. My blog is one space where I connect with friends, potential clients, strangers, acquaintances, even spammers and trolls. It is entirely up to me what I want to share of me and when, at my blog. And, I have found, the more I share, the more others do. It’s just an extension of basic human needs for connection and community.
For me, the online world is simply a part of my world. It is not discreet from my ‘real life’, it is not an underground life, it is part of my everyday existence. I started using social networking sites and blogs in 2003 when I got broadband and discovered the immense benefits of the sociality that the Internet offers. The most fulfiling change it has brought into my life is that now, I control my own environment. My blog has become my social network today. Through the simple act of voicing opinions and thoughts, I feel liberated to speak out loud and discover voices within me. Through the magical connections I have made, I can ‘select’ to surround myself with people who stimulate me in so many ways, and fill my space, even if they live thousands of miles away. Earlier, my social interactions were more ‘prescribed’, governed by familial ties and restricted to a set of habitual relationships. Today I can connect with people all over the world, select my friends and community - and that is so utterly powerful. I truly feel that I don’t just live in India, that I have family all over the world.
This brings with it many problems, perhaps a little unique to India, where however ‘liberated’ we may seem, there are clear do’s and don’ts in our relationships and traditional structures rooted in power imbalances. The online world is toppling and threatening many of our traditional structures, giving open voice and power to many who hitherto had none. It is a world that is not hierarchical, one that encourages an even playing field for free speech and debate no matter what gender or age or race or religion you belong to; it does not have many pre-ordained rules and prescriptions; it is one where we need to learn to respect personal space, and to embrace team play that can be so rewarding.
We need to learn how to better integrate this online world with our physical worlds, as the youth are doing so naturally. There’s been enough written about the disillusionment and the fracturing of real-life relationships as a result of baring your identity online. There is both beauty and ugliness, but it is no different from our physical world. Those who advocate censorship as a knee-jerk response to the ugliness are in denial of the reality of this space.
Mehta is a market research analyst
Source: Her Blog

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

आजको प्रमुख कार्यभार

- प्रदीप गिरी

नेपालमा राज्यसत्ता पुनःसंरचनाको माग उठिरहेछ । बहस भइरहेछ । यस्तो माग र बहसलाई अघि बढाउनु आवश्यक छ । यस्तो प्रत्येक प्रयत्नले राज्यसत्ता के हो भन्ने प्रश्नस“ग सामना गर्नु पर्नेछ । पहिले त राज्यसत्ताको सामान्य अस्तित्व र चरित्रको कुरो उठ्नेछ । दोस्रो, नेपाली राज्यसत्ताको विशिष्ट स्वरूपको चिह्नारी र छिनोफानोको सवाल आउनेछ ।
राजनीतिशास्त्रको सामान्य चिह्नारी भएको व्यक्तिले पनि राज्यको परिभाषाबारे आफ्नो स्कुले पढाइमा समेत केही न केही बुझेको-सुनेको हुन्छ । बुद्धि छिप्पि“दै जा“दा हामी आफ्नो जीवनमा राज्यलाई भोग्छौं । लोकसेवा, पुलिस-प्रशासन, अड्डा-अदालत, मालपोत, सेना, झ्यालखाना आदि राज्यका अंग-उपांगस“ग जीवनको कुनै न कुनै चरणमा हाम्रो भेट भइरहन्छ । तर हामी यस्तो भेटलाई गम्भीरतापर्ूवक लि“दैनौं । त्यो भेटभन्दा पनि पढेका-सुनेका कुरा हाम्रालागि ज्यादा महत्त्वपर्ूण्ा हुन्छन् । त्यस दृष्टिले हर्ेदा सरकार र राज्यले शान्ति, व्यवस्था निसाफ दिन्छन् भन्ने कुरा नै हाम्रो सोच-विचार र संस्कारको प्रमुख तत्त्व भएको भेटिन्छ । नेपालमा कुनै समय गोरखामा निसाफ पाउने कुरा प्रचलित थियो । सबै थरीका सामन्तवादमा राजा सबैका साझा भन्ने उक्तिले प्रचार पाएको थियो । यस्ता मान्यता र उक्तिले हिजोसम्मको नेपालको आमजनताको राज्यसम्बन्धी धारणा बताउ“छन् । तर आज यो स्थिति छैन । यो फेल भइसकेको छ । उल्टिसकेको छ ।
शास्त्रीय दृष्टिले राज्य देशको सिंगो जनसंख्याको साझा हक लाग्ने संस्था भएको कुरा कतिपय विचारकले अगाडि सारेको भेटिन्छ । खास गरेर उदारवादी परम्पराले उनीहरूले व्याख्या गरेका राज्यलाई वर्ग, जाति र समूहभन्दा माथिको सर्वोच्च संस्था बताउन धेरै कोसिस गरेको भेटिन्छ । हेगेलले त अझ राज्यको एक अधिभूतवादी -मेटाफिजिकल) सिद्धान्त प्रस्तुत गरेका छन् । अन्ततः राज्यबाट सबैको भलोमात्र हुन्छ भन्ने उनको सोच हो । त्यसैले व्यक्तिगत हित, स्वार्थ, चाहनासमेत राज्यको निम्ति बलिदान गर्नुपर्छ भन्ने राज्यको अधिभूतवादी सिद्धान्तको आग्रह छ । अराजकतावादीले भने राज्यलाई स्वतन्त्रताको शत्रुका रूपमा लिएको छ । मार्क्सले अधिभूतवादी एवं अराजकतावादी सिद्धान्तको अतिवादका बीचबाट हि“ड्ने कोसिस गरेका थिए । अहिले नेपालमा व्रि्रोही र अराजक कहलिएका माओवादीहरू आफ्नो राज्य विषयक धारणामा मार्क्स र माओबाट विशेष रूपमा प्रभावित छन् । उनीहरूले सुरु गरेको गृहयुद्धका कारणले नै नेपालमा अहिले राज्यको पुनःसंरचनाको माग बलियो भएको छ । मधेस जनजाति, दलित, महिलाहरूको असन्तोषले राज्यको पुनःसंरचनाको मागमा नया“ आयाम थपिएको छ ।
मार्क्सले राज्यसत्ता आमजनताको साझा संस्था मान्दैनन् । यो संस्था वर्ग-संर्घष्ाको परिणाम हो भन्ने उनको ठहर छ । रोगको यस निक्र्योलमा मार्क्स र एंगेल्स दुवै नै स्पष्ट छन् । यो पुरानो राज्य ध्वस्त गरिनर्ुपर्छ । यो पुरानो राज्यलाई जितेर वा कब्जा गरेर पुग्दैन । पुरानो वर्ग-संरचनाको सेवा गर्न त्यो पुरानो राज्य बनेको थियो । त्यसैले नया“ वर्गलाई अर्कै राज्य चाहिन्छ । पेरिस कम्युनले त्यस नया“ किसिमको राज्यको रूपरेखा कोरेको छ भन्ने मार्क्सको एक समयको दृष्टिकोण थियो । तर फेरि उनको जीवनकालमा हर्ेदाहर्ेर्दै बालिग मताधिकार र नागरिक स्वतन्त्रताको विशाल विस्तार भएको थियो । मार्क्स जनतन्त्रको त्यस्तो विकासबाट पनि प्रभावित भएको देखिन्छन् । पmेडरिक एंगेल्स त निश्चय ज्यादै प्रभावित थिए । "जनतान्त्रिक अधिकार" को विस्तार भएको देशमा राज्यको चरित्र सुस्तरी परिवर्तित हुनसक्ने सम्भावनातर्फएंगेल्सका अन्तिम लेखहरूमा प्रस्ट संकेत छ । कार्ल काउत्स्की र एर्डवर्ड वर्नस्टिन यस तर्कका प्रबल र्समर्थक भए । त लेनिन यस तर्कस“ग सहमत हुन सकेनन् । लेनिनले पेरिस कम्युनबाट नै प्रेरणा लिए । उनले "राज्यसत्ता र क्रान्ति" मा नया“ किसिमको राज्यको वकालत गरेका छन् । सोभियत रूसमा यस्तै राज्य बनाउने उनको प्रयत्न थियो । तर त्यहा“ त्यस्तो राज्य बन्न सकेन । पछि माओत्सेतुङको नेतृत्वमा चीनमा सांस्कृतिक क्रान्ति भयो । त्यस क्रान्तिले स्पष्ट रूपमा "पेरिस कम्युन" तथा "राज्यसत्ता र क्रान्ति" बाट प्रेरणा लिएको थियो । सांस्कृतिक क्रान्तिले पनि त्यस्तो जनमुखी राज्य बनाउन सकेन । तर आशा अमर छ । मनुष्यले हिम्मत हार्दैन । र्सवथा नया“ एवं जनमुखी राज्यको खोजी जारी छ । नेपालमा चलेको आजको यो बहस यसैले बडो महत्त्वपर्ूण्ा छ ।
माथिका सारा कुरा इतिहासका कुरा हुन् । तर इतिहास बिर्सिन हुने कुरा होइन । इतिहास राजनीतिको एकमात्र प्रयोगशाला हो । मार्क्स, लेनिन र माओको अनुभवको आलोकमा हाम्रो निकट भविष्य केलाउ“दा नया“ अन्तदर्ृष्टि प्राप्त हुनमा अवश्य सहयोग हुनेछ । तर स“गस“गै विचारधारा र ऐतिहासिक अनुभवका अन्य धारापट्टबिाट पनि उदासीन रहन सकि“दैन ।
सोभियत युनियनको गठन र विघटन बीसौं शताब्दीको निश्चय र्सवाधिक महत्त्वपर्ूण्ा घटना थियो । सोभियत युनियनको गठनको उत्साहले संसारमा पु“जीवादी प्रजातन्त्रको औचित्य र अनिवार्यतामा ठूलो प्रश्नचिह्न लगाएको थियो । यसको विघटनले ठीक उल्टो प्रभाव, त्यो पनि यान्त्रिक रूपमा छाडेको छ । दुनिया“मा अब राजनीतिक प्रणालीको बहस टुंगियो । प्रजातन्त्र, अझ त्यसमा पनि बेलायत र अमेरिकामा उत्पन्न एवं विकसित प्रजातन्त्रको मोडेल नै संसारको र्सवमान्य 'नमुना' हो भन्ने आजको विश्वको वातावरण छ । तर नेपालमा भने हाम्रो आ“खाका सामु लगभग ठीक यस्तै यही मोडेल भर्खरै धराशायी भएको छ । यो के भएको हो - यस सवालस“ग साक्षात्कार गरेर मात्र नेपाललाई चाहिने नया“ किसिमको राजनीतिक संरचना बारेको बहस र्सार्थक हुनसक्छ । त्यसैले कथित बहसको र्सवाधिक महत्त्वपर्ूण्ा प्रश्न यो हो- ०४७ सालको संविधान र राजनीतिक प्रणाली किन ध्वंस भयो - हामीस“ग भएको वाद, विचारधारा वा विज्ञानले यस प्रश्नको उत्तर के दिन्छ - त्यो उत्तर कुन हदसम्म सही छ - यस उत्तरको सत्यार्थमा त्यस वाद वा विचारधाराको नवीन तर्जुमाको विश्वसनीयतामा भर पर्न सकिन्छ । प्रचलित कुनै वाद, विचारधारा वा राजनीतिक विद्वानका वैज्ञानिकहरू समेतले ४-५ वर्षअघिमात्र आजको यस परिस्थितिको कल्पना गरेका थिएनन् । हिजो अधिकांश नेताहरू आफ्नै किसिमको सत्ता संर्घष्ामा संलग्न थिए । राजाबाट हुनसक्ने प्रहार कसैलाई अनुमान थिएन । यसैले यिनै नेता र चिन्तकका भरमा मात्र भोलिको नया“ राजनीतिक व्यवस्थाको गठन वा परिकल्पनामात्र पनि हुन गाह्रो छ । हिजोको नेपालका राजनीतिक पात्रहरूमध्ये पठितहरू खासगरी कुनै न कुनै मार्क्सवादी शास्त्रको बन्धनमा भेटिन्छन् । अरू स्वतन्त्र बजार, उपभोक्तावाद र निजीकरणका उपासक छन् । आज पनि यो स्थिति
कायम छ ।
आजको मितिमा ०४७ सालको संविधान र राजनीतिक प्रणालीको पुनरावलोकन गर्दा धेरै प्रश्न स्वाभाविक रूपमा उठ्नेछ । राजा ज्ञानेन्द्रले यस संविधानको हत्या गरे, यो एक तथ्य हो । प्रश्न छ- यस्तो सहज हत्या कसरी सम्भव
भयो - राजाले सेनाको एकाग्र र्समर्थनले यो हत्या गर्ने गरे भन्नु एउटा प्रचलित प्रवाद छ । तर प्रवाद पर्ूण्ा सत्य होइन । प्रत्येक राष्ट्रिय-राज्यस“ग सेना हुन्छ । तर त्यहा“का राज्य-प्रमुखले खोज्दैमा सेनाको प्रयोग हु“दैन । सेनाको बफादारी र सक्रियतासमेत संविधानको कुनै धारा विशेषबाट नियन्त्रित हु“दैन । आखिर कुनै सेना पनि समाज र राजनीतिस“ग असम्पृक्त रहेको संस्था हु“दैन । यसैले ०४७ को संविधानको हत्याको शवपरीक्षण अपेक्षाकृत गम्भीर रूपमा हुनु जरुरी छ । संविधानको यस्तो शवपरीक्षाको अर्थ त्यस दस्तावेज विशेषको धारा-उपधारा वा प्रस्तावना मात्रको समीक्षा होइन । बाझ्दै नबाझ्ने धारा नभएका संविधानले लेख्नै सकि“दैन । अहिलेसम्म कहीं लेखिएको छैन । ठीक त्यस्तै लेखिएका धारा सदैव ठोस, स्पष्ट र एउटै अर्थमात्र भएका पनि हुन सक्तैन । भाषाको गतिशील चरित्रले गर्दा पनि यो सम्भव छैन । यसैले संवैधानिक प्रणालीमा विश्वास भएको प्रत्येक राज्यले संविधानको व्याख्यानिम्ति एउटा बेग्लै निकाय खडा गर्छ । साधारणतः कुनै न्यायालय त्यो निकाय हुन्छ । संविधानवादमा विश्वास भएका राष्ट्रमा सर्वोच्च न्यायालय र कार्यपालिकाको अधिकारको स्पष्ट सीमांकन भएको हुन्छ । संयुक्त राज्य अमेरिका यस सीमांकनको एक उदाहरण हो । तर आज पनि नेपालको संविधानको व्याख्या सजिलो भएको अवस्था छैन । एउटै व्यक्ति सरकार-प्रमुख र राष्ट्र-प्रमुख हुनुहुन्छ । मुलुकमा यस समय एक विधायिका छ । सिद्धान्ततः त्यो विधायिका वा संसद संसारको र्सवाधिक शक्तिशाली निकाय भएको छ । व्यवहार ठीक उल्टो छ । तानाशाही व्यवस्थामा खडा गरिने व्यवस्थापिकाको प्रतिरूप बनेको छ, यो संसद । बहुप्रचारित अष्ट-प्रधान कतै सल्लाह गर्छन् । श्री ३ महाराजझैं उनीले खड्ग निसाना लगाउ“छन् । संसद निरीह भावले लालमोहर लगाउ“छ । यो निश्चय नै शुभ वा सकारात्मक परम्परा होइन ।
यथार्थ कुरो यो हो । मुलकमा यो अवस्था आउनमा हिजोको संविधानको धाराको मात्र जिम्मेदारी थिएन । नेपाली जनताले यो कुरो बुझनु आवश्यक छ । खासमा ००७ साल लगायतका संविधानसमेत आफ्ना अन्तरनिहित विसंगतिले नष्ट भएको होइन । मुलुकमा एउटा खास खालको वस्तुस्थिति छ । संविधानले त गणतन्त्रसमेतको ठाउ“ दिएको छ । तर मुलुकको भौतिक-राजनीतिक वस्तुस्थिति र सर्वोपरी हाम्रो नेतृत्व लोकतान्त्रिक हुनसकेको छैन । मुख्यतः यसैकारणले राजनीतिको आजको विकासक्रममा द्वन्द्व हुनासाथ संविधान च्यातिएका छन् ।
आजको मितिमा ठोस रूपमा भन्दा मुलुकको राजनीतिक वस्तुस्थितिमा तीन द्रष्टव्य विशेषता छन् ।
-क) राष्ट्रिय-राज्यको रूपमा संगठित भएका दिनदेखि नेपाल एक काठमाडौं-केन्द्रित राज्य भएको छ । ०४७ सालको संविधानले यस वस्तुस्थितिलाई भत्काएन । आज पनि भत्किएको छैन । यसतर्फअविलम्ब काम हुनर्ुपर्छ ।
-ख) एक वा दर्ुइ जाति-विशेषले राज्यको नेतृत्वउपर एकलौटी कब्जा गरेको छ । उक्त जाति-विशेषको कब्जालाई राज्यले र राज्यलाई यस जातीय प्रभुत्वले परस्पर संरक्षित गरेको छ । सेना, दल, पुलिस, प्रशासन, अदालत, शिक्षा, स्वास्थ्यमा समेत यस जातीयको प्रभुत्व र दबाब यथावत छ ।
-ग) यसै जातीय प्रभुत्वको कारण दलहरू पनि जनतान्त्रिक हुन सकेनन् । यस जातीय-प्रभुत्व र सामन्तवादको अपवित्र गठबन्धन छ । यस गठबन्धनका शक्तिका आधारमा सामन्त र पुनरुत्थानवादी बारम्बार संविधान स्वेच्छाले लेख्छन्, दिन्छन्, च्यात्छन्, मिल्काउ“छ । फेरि लेख्छन् ।
उक्त तीन कुरा मुख्य छन् । अरू तपसिलमा धेरै कुरा आउन सक्छन् । नागरिक अधिकार, कानुनको शासनदेखि निजी सम्पत्तिको पवित्रताको --) कुरासमेत उठ्ने नै छन् । तर अहिले धेरै कुरा उठाउ“दा गति र गन्तव्य अल्मलिन सक्छ । तपसिलका कुरामा गई उक्त तीन रोग ध्यानमा राखेर अगाडि लम्कनु आजको प्रमुख कार्यभार हो । त्यस कार्यभारको सम्पादननिम्ति गरिनुपर्ने कार्यसूची सजिलै कोर्न सकिन्छ । त्यो यस्तो हुनसक्छ ।
काठमाडौं केन्द्रित राज्यसत्ताको अन्त्य हुनर्ुपर्छ । त्यसको ठाउ“मा संघीय राज्य हुनर्ुपर्छ ।
राज्य उपरको जाति विशेषाधिकारको अन्त्य हुनर्ुपर्छ । यसनिम्ति विशेष अवसरको सिद्धान्त अर्न्तर्गत 'आरक्षण' र सकारात्मक भर्ति र सहवरण हुनर्ुपर्छ ।
राजाका रूपमा ज्ञानेन्द्रको उपस्थितिमात्रले गणतन्त्रवादी र आमजनतालाई कमजोर बनाएको छ । गणतन्त्रको घोषणामा ढिलाइ गर्नै हु“दैन ।
संसद गणतन्त्रको घोषणा गर्न र्सवथा सक्षम छ । कदाचित् त्यसमा सहमति नभए जनमत सङ्ग्रह सुन्दर विकल्प हो ।
राजनीतिक दलहरूले संघीय ढा“चामा आ-आफ्नो संगठनलाई तत्काल ढालिहाल्नर्ुपर्छ ।
कुनै पनि संविधानको धाराले मात्र संविधानको रक्षा हुन सक्दैन । उक्त कार्यसूची नै ०६३ को संविधानको दर्ीघायुको एकमात्र पर्ूवर्सत हो । तर पर्ूवर्सतमात्र हो, पर्याप्त त त्यही पनि होइन ।

सोर्स: कांतिपुर
Posted on: 2007-04-25 21:35:53

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

"Why are we ready to drive three miles to pick up 250 gm of jalebi?"

The latest report on global warming issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in Brussels has set the alarm bells ringing. Among the report’s dire predictions: 30 percent of the species will be wiped out if there is a 2° C rise in temperature, up to 3.2 billion people will face water shortages, and large-scale melting of Himalayan glaciers will wreak havoc in the Gangetic Plains.

Dr RK Pachauri, Chairman, IPCC, spoke to Himanshu Bhagat on the subject.

The IPCC report was a joint effort by 2,500 scientists from 130 countries. That sounds a little unwieldy. No, it’s not unwieldy at all because it is very well organised. The core team that actually worked on the report consisted of little over 500 people. They have clearly defined chapters in each group and maybe five or six people were working on a chapter.

How was the study organised?
It is organised to draw in the best expertise. If you are talking about the impact of climate change on marine ecosystems, there is no one guy who knows everything. You have got to draw in people who have an understanding and knowledge of, say, the Arctic marine environment or the Equatorial system.

Climate change happens over thousands of years and involves far too many variables. Can we even go beyond informed guesswork?
There is no informed guesswork here. These are scientists who have spent their whole lives studying the subject. If they’ve been guessing for the last 30 years and publishing definitive papers on the subject, then I am afraid there is no field of knowledge where you go anywhere beyond guesswork.

But many question the idea of climate change induced by human activity?
They are bound to. Look, in any such endeavour there are vested interests. You have to look at the weight of the evidence. Look at the amount of consensus that has developed in the scientific community today. There is a very small segment of so-called sceptics. And I don’t want to question their motives.

Is the IPCC report projecting a worst-case scenario and exaggerating the perils of global warming? Saying, for instance, that floodwaters could claim seven million victims in Tokyo and New York by 2080?
Seven million is peanuts. Look at the major deltas in Asia, which we have identified as highly vulnerable. Look at Kolkata, at even Mumbai or the entire Mekong delta. These are areas where the rise in sea level can wreak havoc. We had the tsunami two years ago. If the sea level was even a foot higher than it is now, can you imagine the havoc it would have caused?
Same intensity but greater impact.
But, to answer your question, we are not developing a worst-case scenario. The IPCC does not do any research, nor does it do any projections itself. It looks at peer-reviewed literature and picks up what has been published in prestigious journals. On the basis of that, we come up with a balanced assessment.

So, it’s a compilation.
And an assessment. It has to be an informed assessment. At Brussels, we spent four days going through the report line-by-line, word-by-word. You have all the governments of the world lined up. Do you think they would accept anything that is exaggerated?

Were some predictions watered down because of pressure by governments?
No. Sure, some wording has to be changed, because, through this process of debate and discussions, what you get actually is a much better worded document. What you get is something that the governments have bought. So no government can say later, “Look, I don’t support this report.”
So there is an element of compromise.
It is what I would call “informed compromise”, because it is not arbitrary.

It seems to be less scepticism now that global warming poses a threat. Why? Better scientific data? Or, have all the calamities scared people?
It’s not merely science but observation. The scientific observations we have are so compelling that public opinion has turned in a big way.
India and China are emerging as big potential greenhouse gas emitters. Are the rich nations using this to make us pay for damage they have done?
This is a contentious issue. Fact is, the developed countries are responsible for the concentration of these gases in the atmosphere, which has taken place cumulatively over the last 150 years. Even today, if you look at per capita emissions, China and India are nowhere near the developed countries. As the framework convention says, there has to be “common but differentiated responsibility.”
By differentiated you mean…
That the developed countries have to assume a larger responsibility. But at the same time, I think it is a common responsibility and to the extent we can, without hurting our own economy, we should try to do whatever little is possible.

Can we lift 300 million Indians out of poverty without contributing to global warming?
If you look at the developed countries, there is no single unique model of development. In France, for instance, the emission of greenhouse gas per capita is substantially lower than North America. One reason is that they have much better public transport. They also use nuclear power on a large scale.
Look at the emphasis we have placed on private automobiles. It’s going to pose all kinds of problems. In India, there are huge opportunities for what can be called “no regrets measures”, whether it is energy efficiency or shifting to renewable energy sources. Delhi, for instance, has brilliant sunshine all year-round, but we use electricity for heating our water. If we had the right mix of policies, we would have solar water-heaters in every house.

The government is undertaking huge infrastructure projects, building dams, exploring for oil and natural gas. All this will contribute to greater greenhouse gas emissions.
There is no getting away from the fact that to develop and get rid of poverty we have to have economic growth. But at least in those areas where we can bring about a shift without compromising on economic growth, we should do something.
What is the government doing to address these concerns?
Not too much, I’m afraid. They better get going because, as it is, we have a severe problem when it comes to adapting to climate change.

You mean disaster management.
Not just disaster management, but anticipatory measures. For instance, we are faced with water scarcity. We are going to have problems affecting agriculture. We will have to come up with crops that are more drought-resistant and more salinity-tolerant. All this has to be clearly understood and articulated, before we can start adapting. We don’t have that in place.

Another instance of our political leadership’s failure?
I would say it is a failure of the Indian public. Leaders will do what the public wants them to do. The public has to be educated.

What about the corporate sector?
The private sector will only respond to signals they see in the market. Therefore, you really need incentives, you need disincentives, and you probably need taxes. And more than anything else, you have to have a policy regime, which requires regulatory measures.

Many companies in the West are proactively trying to minimise greenhouse gas emissions.
More and more, but it’s still a very small proportion. They see the writing on the wall. They know that low-carbon technologies are the future. That is what I mean. It requires policies so that they find it of value to take some of these measures.

You have to have the laws, which force them.
Laws or physical measures. A year and a half ago, Mr Chidambaram announced that larger cars would be taxed at higher rate. I immediately wrote to him saying, “Please don’t do that. Do it on the basis of energy efficiency.” He was good enough to immediately say “Please prepare a scheme for us”. Which we did. Some of that has been implemented.

Are you satisfied with the Finance Minister’s response?
Well, there is a lot more to be done.

What can middle-class and rich Indians do as citizens and as consumers?
I feel very concerned at the distortion of values among the rich and the upper class. We talk about corporate social responsibility but far more important is crorepati social responsibility. That’s a term I have coined. In the US or Europe many people at the top have a certain set of values. But in this country, the rich, who are getting richer, are so disconnected.

And the middle class?
All of us. I don’t exclude anybody.

Consumption drives the economy. Should people consume less to save the environment?
I wouldn’t say that. But I would say consume those products that don’t leave a major footprint on the ecology of the planet. You have choices. I wrote in an article that people are quite willing to drive three miles to pick up 250 grams of jalebi. Changes will be required, but that doesn’t mean that you start living in caves and move around in sackcloth.

Apr 28 , 2007
Source: Tehelka