N. Korea, Nuclear Tensions and the Policemen of the World

When India conducted her nuclear tests at Pokhran back in the late 90's, the US promptly imposed sanctions on India. At that time I had despised US for doing so. My thoughts were roughly: "What do they think of themselves? Are they the policemen of the world?And what's this hypocrisy? Let them dismantle their nukes first, then they have the moral right to tell us to do so"

I felt the same about NPT (Nuclear non-proliferation treaty).


However, when N.Korea conducted two nuclear tests within a span of a few months, I had to revise my thoughts. Although it does appear that Obama envisions the world completely disarmed of its nuclear weapons in the near or far future, I am not sure whether that is a good thing or a bad thing.


I don't know whether I am making any sense, but I am jotting down the various random bullet-points that come to my mind in connection with this issue:

  • With rogue states like N.Korea around, it is never safe for the (seemingly) gentleman states to get rid of their nuclear arsenal. Who knows how many other Commie or military states are stocking up on their nukes.

  • Pakistan has nuclear arsenal. While the country is not a rogue-state in itself, the extremists and religious fanatics are taking control over large swathes. Who knows how soon they will have the N-button at their fingertips?

  • Who knows what seemingly harmless Governments like Myanmar (if you can call it a Govt that is!) are stashing underground.

  • And hey - even the gentleman states dont completely trust each other - do they? How can they be trusted to completely (I emphasize on the "completely") dismantle all their nuclear weapons?

  • Finally, even in the almost-impossible event that all the nuclear weapons which currently exist in the world are dismantled - how difficult will it be for any of the current nuclear powers to re-create the weapon? Remember, only the weapons are being destroyed - not the technology. And nuclear fuel will still be available, ostensibly for power generation!


It's a hopeless situation really. Nuclear proliferation or not .. nuclear disarmament is not going to happen anytime soon. Obama's vision may remain but a dream.



We're the Greenest Consumers!


According to the Greendex, an annual study of sustainable consumption, conducted by NGC and GlobeScan, Indian consumers are the greenest among the 17 countries considered for this study. This study was started in 2008 and in that year, India had ranked second behind Brazil. For the second year in a row, the country which fared worst in this index is ... surprise, surprise ... the USA.


On a related note, I calculated my own Greendex score using the Greendex calculator and was surprised to find that it was a healthy 59 – especially considering the fact that I drive a car to work everyday – all alone!


Those were the facts and figures. Now, my take on the matter.


One does not need to be Einstein to figure out that consumption patterns in India are, on the whole, way more environment-friendly than those in the West. Maybe in several orders of magnitude. But it is surprising that India is at the top spot. I mean it may be true that we are environment-friendly by choice or by force. For example,

  • Our low per-capita incomes do not allow us to drive big cars, thereby preventing us from committing the sin of unnecessarily high fuel consumption.

  • For the same reason as above, we are primarily dependent on public transport for getting from point A to point B. Even in case of private transport, two-wheelers form the overwhelming majority.

  • Air conditioning is not really wide-spread and room heaters are not necessary in central and southern parts of India.

That was just a sample, there are several other points to consider like water consumption/wastage, food production etc.


But the reason I am surprised at India's top position is that there do exist several inefficiencies in our system. For example,

  • The cooking and emission setup used in the rural hinterland is extremely inefficient in terms of fuel (wood) consumption and at the same time, is also extremely polluting.

  • Our vehicles, particularly the public transport vehicles, are ill-maintained. This holds for industrial machinery too. Consequently, the efficiency and emissions both start deteriorating during the life of the equipment.

  • Urban India is over-dependent on plastic – mainly the “carry-bags” used for shopping. This is a heinous carbon-sin committed by India (not to mention the non-biodegradable-ness of the plastic)

  • With a burgeoning middle-class, in the recent years, Earth-unfriendly elements like air-conditioning and big cars are gaining ground especially on the urban Indian scene. The bigger problem here is we tend to use some creature comfort simply because it exists. The best illustration of this point is the A/C. How many of us use the A/C (whether in the car or at home) only when it is really hot as against switching on the A/C first thing when we enter our cars or our rooms?


Well apparently, the negatives which I pointed out above form a relatively small number in the final analysis. Lets celebrate this good news by resolving to continue this leadership in Earth-friendly consumption. And, at the same time, lets also resolve to address the negatives before they spiral out of control.


(Green)Peace be upon you!


Monkeys Learn From Their Mistakes Too ...


... According to this article.


How I wish the following categories of people had inherited this trait from their ancestors:

  • Leaders (this includes politicians, Governments – even kingdoms that have gone by)

  • George Bush (He deserves special mention because he is a class apart. And in the context of this post, he is relevant in more ways than one)

  • SreeSanths (well – that's not one person, that's a species which includes the likes of Anu Malik, Bhajji et. al.).

  • Auto Drivers

  • Last, but not the least, those omnipresent species which we all have to deal with at work, and who exist at all levels ... bosses, co-workers or subordinates (like dude in this post, for example).


Grammar ... Culture ...


English Grammar:

  • ME: 1st Person
  • You: 2nd Person
  • Others: 3rd Person


Sanskrit Grammar:

  • Others: प्रथम पुरुष (Prathama Purush). Prathama is the Sanskrit word for First – i.e, Others are considered as 1st person
  • You: मध्यम पुरुष (Madhyam Purush). Madhyama stands for Middle – i.e, You are considered as middle person
  • Me: उत्तम पुरुष (Uttam Purush)- Although Uttam literally means superlative or ultimate, in this context, the word could be interpreted as final, or last person.


Is this difference in grammar reflective of the big gap in cultures (well, maybe not today – but say half a millennium back)?


And, on a slightly tangential thought, could this more-importance-on-others attitude have anything to do with our forefathers allowing ourselves to be colonised?


I think the answer to the first question is Yes; while the second one .. I'm not really sure.


What say?


And Thats why Nothing Gets Done on time..


.. or within budget.


****************


Boss (B): Hey Mr. Employee, can you give me a rough estimate as to how much time you might take to drive from Ouagadougou to Tarawa?

Employee (E): (Here goes Mr. Bonkers again). Er .. boss .. I dont even know what continents the two places you mentioned are located on. If you could give me some time to do some study before I give you an estimate ..

B: Huh? Driving is supposed to be your primary skill, is it not? You are expected to be competent enough to put at least a rough number against this task.

E: (How can I “put a rough number” without even knowing what I am supposed to do Dammit!) I understand boss, but these 2 places could be as near to each other as 5 kms .. or as far apart as five thousand. Could you at least give me time to look up the locations of these places?

B: (Believing he's striking a compromise) Tell you what; you give me a very broad guesstimate now because I need to project this to my bosses right away. Then you can revise it later.

E: (reluctantly) Ok Boss. I don't know why, but the names of these places remind me of Africa. So I assume they are both located in Africa; and I take a wild guess of 30 days if you give me a proper all-terrain vehicle.

B: Oh .. but I don't think we have that much time. If I go to my boss and tell him that we'l take 30 days, I think he's going to freak out. Let's do this. You send me a mail saying that your estimate for this drive is 23 days. Then we will work it out. What say?

E: (Do I have a choice?) @#$%^


Mr. Employee goes back to his desk and finds out that Ouagadougou is the capital of Burkina Faso, a country in Africa (he got that one right!), while Tarawa, to his horror, is located in the Kiribati Islands in South Pacific!How in this whole ellipsoidal world would he drive from a small country in Africa to an island diametrically opposite?


****************

Ok, let me begin at the beginning. I was having a discussion with my friend, Mr. Professional (MrProf), about the routine delays in projects in India (or anywhere for that matter). Construction projects, education initiatives, healthcare programmes – whether in Government space or private sphere – they all have one thing in common: Time & cost over-runs. I have quoted here verbatim, the story which MrProf told me in this context.


I gave it quite a bit of thought, and I reached the conclusion that MrProf is right. The flow of inefficiency usually goes like this:

  • It all begins right at the top. Like at a Minister, or Executive level. They are the ones who commit to something outlandish in order to get votes or customers.

  • They then put pressure on the project planners to squeeze in things so tight that storage companies would pay a fortune for such kind of squeezing capability!

  • There is invariably one level of project planners who are totally dispensable – all they do is seamlessly transfer the pressure from a level up to a level down (many bureaucrats in the Indian administrative setup belong to this category). This level is where the planning is botched up.

  • The pressure eventually reaches the “worker” level (this is the root-level where the actual implementation is done). At this point, Boyle's law kicks in. Under all the pressure, the temperature begins to rise too. We all know how many mistakes a heated up worker on-the-ground is liable to commit!


Result – project screwed! This is not all that far-fetched, even in case of the B-I-G projects (see the programmes on Discovery and NGC – like “MegaStructures”, or “World's Biggest” to know what I mean). And more often than not, who is the one whose head is on the chopping block? The worker-bee.


For example, take the same story as above. How would it play out when Mr. Employee complains that the drive is impossible?


Employee (E): Boss, the Ouagadougou-Tarawa drive is impossible. Tarawa is on an island bang in the middle of the Pacific.

Boss (B): But, you were the one who committed to me in the last meeting, were you not? How can you not honour your commitment?

E: But boss, I was not given enough time to do a background study before coming up with an estimate. And it was only an estimate anyway, not a commitment.

B: Well, you should not be using the “lack of time” as an excuse to cover up for the error in your calculation. You should have taken all this into account before you gave me the 30-day number. And it was a commitment because I communicated this number to the higher-ups. ...

E: (are you just arrogant or plain stupid?) Sorry to interrupt boss, but we are not talking about the feasibility here – we are talking possibility – which is zero. (you want to drive thousands of miles in the Pacific? For Gods' sake).

B: Well, we cannot displease the powers-that-be. You will have to put in extra effort and get the task completed in 23 days.

E: @#$%^


****************

OK. That was exaggerated. But the point remains:

Most projects/initiatives, even though initially badly planned, can still be brought back on track. But they rarely are – because of the all-pervasive I-just-wanna-save-my-neck gene which everyone carries in abundance these days.


I conclude this off-topic post (rant rather) with the statement that I think in addition to what MrProf has told me, it is the passing-the-buck attitude which is blocking transparency, efficiency and a better world on the whole.

Countries might become “developed”, per-capita incomes might sky-rocket, infrastructure might boom – but as long as the attitude of the masses remains under-developed, so will the world in general.


Peace.


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Disclaimer: This is my personal blog. All the views and opinions expressed on this blog are entirely my own and do not reflect the views of my employer, organization, relatives, friends, acquaintances or any other person/entity.