Recently, the world was full of exhortations to observe Earth Hour, and switch off all “non-essential lights” for an hour. In Bangalore, where there’s a power cut practically on the hour every hour, a sizable part of the population has no electricity at all and many, many roads have no street lights, this is not just a joke, but a cruel one.
It’s the equivalent of the Bus Day that someone tried to do a month or two ago. The posters are still stuck on the buses, mocking the crowds that struggle to fit into inadequate bus shelters perched on ill-maintained footpaths. The buses themselves are large and plentiful, but there’s nowhere to catch them from.
For these things to work, they need to be relevant to local conditions. Why not a no-paper-cup hour or no-printing day or no-paper-bag week or a no-chucking-garbage-out-of-your-car lifetime? How about the government takes a break from dictatorial, not to mention seditious, beef bans and introduces a conservation mandate?
They could insist that large companies have a certain wattage of solar power for every 300 employees. These offices usually have the space for the solar cells and the money for the batteries. It could be made mandatory for apartment blocks and gated communities to have solar-powered outdoor and common-area lighting. Home buyers could be given tax benefits to sweeten the extra costs that will no doubt be passed on to them.
Large office blocks should have windows that open so that air-conditioning can be switched off for a few hours in the day during the very pleasant Bangalore winters. Under-utilized PSU labs could work at finding a marketable DIY kit for rainwater harvesting, so individual homes don’t have to rely on contrivances that end up as maternity homes for mosquitoes.
And since the powers that be are taking care of Earth Hour for you, why not use your energy to go out and cast your vote? The recent local elections were held on a Sunday, but turnout still didn’t cross 45% in the so-called elite, educated areas of the city.
Gandhi’s descendents won’t leave their air-conditioned cocoons to be the change they say they want to see, but the first whiff of melting wax, and they’re there in swarms looking righteous and giving sound bites to TV cameras. What exactly is the point of a candlelight vigil? Apart from making you feel and look good without the inconvenience of having to actually do something.
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