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A Calcutta Theater Group, Nandikar , is presently staging a drama named ‘ Mulya Ferat’ . This is a Bengali adaptation of the original play ‘Refund’ (1938) by Hungarian  author, playwright, poet, journalist, and translator Fritz Karinthy (also known for his Six Degrees of Separation concept). The main protagonist of the play, Janardan in the Bengali play (Wasserkopf in the original play) is a disgruntled middle aged man who realizes that his education has not taught him anything worthwhile to make a living and he comes back to his school to demand refund of his tuition fees. His seemingly absurd yet justified demand comes to the fore as a self searching question about our education systems in a hilarious mix of the trepidations on the part of the teachers and the protagonist’s strife ends with a cunning scheme by a mathematics teacher who shows that the protagonist has after all attained a skill since he correctly calculated his refund. Read more >>

Womb For Hire

Approximate Surrogacy Cycle Cost at a reputed hospital in India is about US $ 22 to 35k. Add IVF/ICSI cost of about US $ 2 to 3k, you can have a child through a surrogate in under US $ 40k. That’s an attractive package because the same cost in US is 50 to 100k. Commercial Surrogacy is not illegal in India. That and a reasonably efficient medical technology (at least for those who can afford it) at a globally competitive price makes India a popular destination for fertility tourism . For example check Med Tourism Co, LLC, an international medical travel facilitation company registered in the State of Texas from their website here . Read more >>

Preventable Death*

Water is the commonest vector of diseases and most of these diseases are infectious. Health, hygiene and life expectancy are critically dependent on water; hence the necessity of ‘safe’ water is most talked about issue of the present time. If we do not live a healthy life, perhaps, all amenities of life that the modern growth obsessed world create for us will be left for a vast graveyard of future.

I am content to use the word ‘safe’ as this seems to be a collective metaphor for clean, accessible, drinkable, potable and possibly free water (at least for those who cannot pay for it). Read more >>

The Final Choice

Last evening, in a friendly discussion with a scientist friend of mine, my idea of combating Climate Change by conscious human choice to change life-styles (with a drastic reduction of consumption) along with a conserver economy (with resource re-distribution to reduce stark differences in life style standards between the poor and rich nations – tackling poverty, malnutrition, lack of education amongst others) and effective environmental governance (managing deforestation, habitat loss, species extinction amongst others) came under serious scrutiny and criticism. While this is hardly a subject that can be discussed over a cup of coffee, the main objections that my learned friend put forward were these:

a) Human choice, in the context of life in general, is hardly conscious. A conscious choice demands a perfect informative perspective, which is a near impossibility. Therefore, humans can not consciously reduce consumption by sacrificing life styles they have gotten used to.

b) A conserver economy, by definition the one that produces just enough to be consumed by population with practically zero waste and with an emphasis on spending within means, is a freakonomy, particularly looking at a world obsessed with growth.

c) Effective Environmental Governance is an ‘ideal’ concept, not necessarily valid in a world which is far off from a consensus about the scale of the damage and it’s accountability between nations.

The questions are by no means trivial. I feel compelled to answer them. Read more >>

The Immortality Question

This post is inspired by a talk by Dr. Harvey Fineberg , ex-Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health and a medical ethicist (see below for the full video of the talk) and works of Cambridge University geneticist Aubrey de Grey but based broadly on the works of Juan Enriquez and Steve Gullans, an experienced investor, entrepreneur and scientist who co-founded RxGen, a pharmaceutical services company. These are fascinating men, each can shake your belief system fundamentally – so watch out! Incidentally, Juan calls himself a futurist. Read more >>

Why Occupy Wall Street When Your Life Is Not Yours Really?

About three years ago, when I was writing on Climate Change in THINK ABOUT IT platform run by European Journalism Center, I tried to address the waste problem of our consumer society by proposing ‘ want not, waste not’ . An interesting discourse followed, I could sense few skeptic grins and few eye-brows up in curves – but there were few who also saw my rationale. Sometimes you know the truth but you prefer not to confront it, because that’s not fashionable or politically correct. I love to be guileless. Read more >>

Consumption Ethics – A Utopia?

As questions are coming up increasingly regarding the constraints of Growth in a world of finite resources, there should now be some ethical limits of personal consumption. The consumer economy feeds on popular demand, sometimes the demand seems to be ‘manufactured’ (bottled water industry) and incredible choice of consumption that encourages one to consume without almost no sense of reasonability. In the past, I had a brief stint with TED Conversations and I pitched this idea to see what reaction it could possibly bring. There were not many reactions, everyone who chose not to challenge the idea preferred to circumvent the crux of the issue – a voluntary resignation from the consumer race. Perhaps the most honest sounding comment came from Simona Stoicesescu (yes I am not misspelling the last name) where she asked: ‘Why cannot everybody be wealthy? It is not limited stock. We are creating value. Wealth can be used to create jobs for people, meaning, chances for discoveries, solutions for bigger problems, wealth is good.’ While I disagreed with Simona, I would complement her with honest engagement with the question, though the connotations of wealth she was using was very different from what I was putting on debate. Another TEDster, Anshul Pandey discarded my idea (of a consumption ethic) as ‘Utopian’. Read more >>

The Price of Development

Narmada, one of the 7 most sacred rivers of India from ancient Indian texts, originates from the Maikal ranges at Amarkantak, 1057 m above the sea-level, now in Shahdol district of Madhya Pradesh State of India. In its 1312 km long journey before joining the Arabian Sea, the Narmada flows through the three states of Madhya Pradesh (MP), Maharashtra and Gujarat. Nearly 90% of the flow is in MP, and most of the remaining is in Gujarat. It flows for a very brief stretch through Maharashtra. Read more >>

Calcutta Cacophony

A couple of years ago, my mother, then aged 74, was recuperating from an attack of hyper-tension, which was diagnosed as having some neurotic condition. She was frail, with an ischemic heart and even a loud sound would set her heart pounding. One morning, at about 9.30, a loud and screeching sound started to tear apart the relative tranquil of our neighborhood. The sound was painful to normal ears and for my mother it was harmful to say the least. As I went out to check the source, it revealed that some telephone company was digging a trench for a cable on the sidewalk close to my residence. Up close, the noise was tremendous and I saw the technicians using ear mufflers for protection. When I asked them what they thought the local residents would to get relief from such atrocity, typical indifferent replies followed. Typical because Kolkata is an indifferent city where creating noise is the order of the day. Read more >>

Don’t Flush It in Leh

Do you guys remember the school in Leh where Fungchook Wangdoo went back to – in the popular movie ’3 Idiots’ by Amir Khan? I am talking about the Druk Padma Karpo School where the movie was partly shot and the school that was devastated in the 2010 cloud burst. I guess you remember, but in case you don’t here is a . Read more >>

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All opinions are solely those of the author. Reader's discretion necessary for using any of the contents of this website. (c) Pabitra Mukhopadhyay 2011
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