Save some for us

It is very unfortunate that the ever-increasing population is depleting our already diminishing natural resources. We make such a hue and cry about every special day that comes and goes. Be it the Children’s day, the Valentine’s Day, the Mother’s Day, and so on. We spend lavishly on our loved ones; all deserving – no qualms there. However, when it is the World Environment day, it just passes with not a single voice raised.

I remember when we were kids, we celebrated days like the Vanamahotsava, the Environment day with real enthusiasm. It was more of a moral responsibility for us at that time. I wonder where all that enthusiasm has gone. Have we grown so indifferent to celebrate those little things in life? Have we become so busy that we cannot take time off to thank Mother Earth?

I very recently completed reading a book – “The Grand Design” by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow – which talks about how the universe was created and how extremely conducive the Earth is to harbour life. The book says that if the orbital eccentricity of Earth’s revolution around the sun was off even as little as 1%, life would not have existed on earth. Further, if Earth was even a few thousand kilometres away from sun, the temperature difference would be so large that in summer all the water would evaporate and in winter it would all get frozen! Earth is such a carefully crafted jewel that bears life – so called intelligent life. We are in fact, lucky to exist let alone survive and thrive at this magnitude.

Every day, we see trees felled in the name of modernization; forests cleared out to satisfy the needs of the ever-growing population; fertile land consumed by large manufacturing units! And everybody is torn apart trying to choose between nature and technology. Is there really a need to choose between the two? Cannot preservation of nature and technological advancements happen hand-in-hand?

Technology should evolve to protect nature; not exploit it. It is up to us – the intelligent life forms – to innovate and invent not only user-friendly technology but also technology which is nature-friendly.

P.S.: The title “Save some for us” was a slogan for a model-making competition which I had taken part in my school days. The theme of the competition was preserving the natural habitat for the wild and endangered animals and stop over use and over exploitation by man.

Communication: from pigeons to facebook!

“Communication is the art of bringing a smile upon the face of the person listening to you”

On the historical front:

Communication can be conceived as the corner stone for civilization. A civilized world is unimaginable without communication between the species. Ever since the early days, man, a social being has interacted with his environment by some form of communication. The medium of communication being sound, actions, crude drawings in the early days to speech, music, writing, acting, singing and so on, in the modern world.

Investigating further, when we try to draw a chronology of advancements in the media of communication, history has taught us how man used mud paints on the caves during early civilizations. Perhaps at the same time, there existed a crude non-structured interchange (spoken or symbolic).

In the course of millions of years, an established code of communication emerged into the society – the language. Language was distinguished mainly geographically; meaning, people belonging to a specific region communicated in a specific language. Over the course of time, this barrier began to diminish and with this there was a need for better media of communication.

On the technological front:

Until a few decades ago, written form of communication was predominant as a tool to send a message across where a ‘runner’ (the modern day postman) would carry the letter from the sender to the receiver. During this period, animals such as dogs and birds like pigeons were also trained to deliver these messages.

All this changed drastically once the first electronic message was transmitted over a telegraph. It was transmitted over electronic signals, encoded using the Morse code. Following soon, there was the telephone which could carry voice over electronic signals. From then on, the entire outlook of how the world communicated changed forever.

The convergence of space programs, innovations in technology and the necessity of ad-hoc communication systems laid the foundation for wireless and mobile telephony over satellites. Another milestone in communication systems was the birth of the internet. People can now communicate “almost” at the speed of thought.

That said, the research and innovation in the field of communication is still an ongoing voyage and promises to bring many surprises ahead.

On the social front:

As we spoke earlier, it is fair to deduce that communication has made man a social being and enabled the formation of civilizations. Man has always looked at his fellow beings for happiness, support and solitude. Having said that, the psychology of communication has changed.

If you were to ask your grandparents, you’ll mostly hear them say how they used to send letters; wait for days for the replies. Even though it was tedious, people were constantly in touch and everyone felt it was cheerful to write and receive letters.

However, the scenario is much different now. Owing a lot to mobile telephony and the internet, people are constantly ‘on the grid’. Nevertheless, it has become an obligation to stay in touch more than the sanguinity involved.

Things have worsened with the emerging of social networking websites like Myspace, Orkut and Facebook, where people boast of the number of friends they have on their profile page, yet knowing very little about each of them; let alone having met each one in person. The real sad state of affairs is how people, especially the youth, spend hours chatting with a friend across the globe, while having lesser and lesser time for family.

Technological advancements in communication have certainly helped us keep in touch with people far off. Is it also responsible for people drifting apart?