Friday, November 26, 2010

ROLE OF YOUTH IN ACHIEVING THE MILLEINIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS

The 20th and the 21st centuries have been the one of progress and rapid growth. Yet these centuries have also been the ones of untold misery. It has seen two large wars where lakhs of people lost their lives. The conditions of women have deplored. Environment has been hampered to a large extent and new concems of health have emerged.

Keeping in view of this changing scenario in September 2000 world leaders came together to adopt the United Nations Millennium Declaration.The Millennium Development declaration was a visionary document, which sought partnership between rich and poor nations to make globalisation a force for good. Its signatories agreed to explicit goals on a specific timeline i.e. by 2015.The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set ambitious targets for reducing hunger, poverty, infant and maternal mortality, for reversing the spread of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria and giving children basic education among other goals. The MDG-based targets improved the lives of millions of people. However, we are still far from achieving what we set out to do. It is in this context that the role of youth is very important towards achieving the MDG’s. We must analyse each and every goal and then assess the role of youth towards fulfillment of this goal.

Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger:-

Young people living in poverty lack access to opportunities for economic growth. Poverty threatens the social stability to the point of war. Youth in war zones and post conflict zones are more likely to be poor and without access to school, decent employment or public services.

The youth must collaborate with the governments in creating mechanisms that look forward to the development of poverty reduction programmes. This will ensure that youth perspectives are heard and are relevant to local concerns. It will also promote widespread participation in their implementation. This can help to identify the key needs in terms of long range and “greatest poverty-payoff” is likely to be quickly identified.

In the rural areas unemployment is a major source of poverty. The rural youth can replicate the Self Help Group (SHG) model. By utilizing microfinance or government help the youth can ensure employment specially by stressing on rural agro- based industries. A part of the profit acquired can be utilized for rural infrastructure development. This will develop the overall poverty scene of the village. Government must enact laws that foster the creation of community-driven projects with urban youth living in poverty, support current youth-led entrepreneurial initiatives in urban communities, as well as UN-HABITAT’s work in slum development.

GOAL 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education

Ensuring primary education for all people is the key to unlocking the potential of all societies. Education enables people to take care of themselves and their families, to take control of their futures, and most importantly, to raise themselves out of poverty.

Young people are already helping to achieve the target of universal primary education The first step that can be taken in this regard include young people take initiative to enhance education and teach other young people should be showcased and funding made available to replicate them in other communities. Furthermore, young people have proven to be good mentors for younger students in school, helping them with their studies and counseling them in other areas.

Young people can make important contributions to the development of youth-relevant curriculums for schools. When young people given opportunity to have a view while preparing curriculum it promotes a sense of ownership over the school curriculum and helps to ensure that curriculum development is informed by the opinion of young people.

GOAL 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women

Despite progress towards achieving gender equality, women are still not given the same protections, rights and roles as men and are denied opportunities for employment and education. Poverty and social practices are the biggest impediments to gender equality .Beyond education, a lower status of women is perpetuated by economic, legal, and political polices. Young women grow up in a world of wage disparities, unequal protection and inequitable laws such as those that deny the right of inheritance.

It is crucial that young men should be involved in reducing gender-based violence and building a culture of gender equality .Young women can become trainers in participation and leadership to enable young women to help their communities. Young women’s can increase their civic participation through holding conferences for young women to address issues of concern, and opening other means of formal political participation, such as seats for young women in political parties or caucuses.

GOAL 4: Reduce Child Mortality

Improving the health and life of the mother is the first step to reducing child mortality. The chances of child survival increase when the mother has more education, not only because the mother is older, but also because she has learned more about hygiene, nutrition. Early marriage and adolescent pregnancy can severely threaten child survival. Beyond physical health and maturity, women need adequate services during pregnancy as well as access to health care after birth.

Young people can take a role in the design and needs assessment required for of teen clinics and adolescent pregnancy centers etc. The unemployed youth can train themselves in community-based health work, prenatal care, emergency obstetric care and family planning and expand these services in a strategic manner in developing countries. Youth can be active partners in decreasing the rate of child mortality by acting as health service providers in their communities, mobilizing to provide vaccinations for all, spreading awareness about reproductive health and rights, and providing education about sanitation and infectious diseases for other youth.

GOAL 5: Improve Maternal health

Maternal death and unsafe motherhood primarily result from lack of comprehensive reproductive and sexual education and health services, circumstances connected to diseases such as malaria and AIDS, complications during birth, and unsafe abortions. Young mothers are a vulnerable group along with their infants.

The youth can promote sexual health education in rural and urban areas through formal non-formal activities like street plays. Community-based condom distribution for youth by youth can also be helpful. Young men and women can help in preventing gender-based violence through their participation and leadership in trainings and awareness programs. The youth must become educated active members on a local level so that they equipped to make the right sexual, reproductive, and family-planning choices for their future.

GOAL 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

AIDS is one of the biggest killer diseases today. Youth activists must organize in their schools, their communities, on the Internet and through international meetings. The youth must give stress in the need for openness in discussion, youth training youth programs. Young people must create, mobilize and strengthen teams of young peer educators to visit schools, places of worship, and other structures in their communities. HIV-positive youth; can advise the government on health policies how to distribute resources.

To combat other diseases the youth can mobilize themselves into awareness groups, and also act towards prevention of disease outbreaks in their communities’ .They must keep their community surrounding environment disease free.

GOAL 7: Ensure Environmental Stability

Rapid economic development has resulted in damage to the environment. With the biological systems and biodiversity continue to decline, young people face an uncertain future. Today the developing countries face the major environmental threat.

The youth from developing countries can attend and participate in UN environmental processes. The youth can also form a network where they can work at a global level by investing in the ideas of likeminded youths around the world. Youth can work out an effective strategy of employing green tourism while working towards a sustainable future for their own community. For example youth can act as guides in eco tourism or rural tourism hotspots to showcase and protect their local environment.

The young people must also campaign for fresh water and use of renewable energy. The young people can find ideas towards sustainable consumption. Youth can come together and work on scientific solutions which will provide an answer to the energy needs of the world. These solutions can come in the form of renewable sources of energy or judicious and sustainable use of the non-renewable sources of energy. Such ideas can be exchanged by the youth among themselves around the world. This will create a network of global green citizens tomorrow while taking care of the environment.

GOAL 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development

The youth can take part in the global economy, enabling them to become active partners and beneficiaries. The youth at a global level can network and partner to develop the environmental and social wealth. Global ideas on entrepreneurship can be discussed and a global model can be developed. In these networking youth can use the medium of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) as opportunities for education, business training, literacy, social activism and volunteerism. They can give a framework to youth related programmes in consultation with the government and the civil society.

Thus we have seen that youths have a vital role to play in achieving the MDG’s. The youth can network and channelize their efforts in this manner to achieve global development. It will be a world which will be environment friendly; disease free and one which talks of sustainable development with hope for a better tomorrow.

Friday, November 5, 2010

“ADVANCEMENT IN TECHNOLOGY IS LEADING TO SOCIAL ISOLATION”

Life in the modern times has considerably changed ,thanks to technology. The pace in which life moves has become considerably faster. Major success has been achieved in modern times in the field of medicine, nuclear science, computers and automation at various levels. The discovery of viruses by American biochemist Wendell Stanley in 1930’s and the discovery of mysteries of genetic inheritance by Englishman F.H.C. Crick and the American James Watson have undoubtedly been the biggest scientific achievements in the last century. Development in the field of nuclear science has shifted the balance of power in the world giving rise to a new term ‘proliferation’. Another major achievement in the last century has been the development in the field of computers and computing machines. These in turn have created an environment where the work is done at a very fast rate thus increasing the pace of life.

Technology and its boons have always been propagated in such a voracious manner that we tend to forget or overlook its harm. It too comes with its own set of problems. One of the major harms it has done is it has given man the power of mass destruction which was hitherto unknown .It has also affected the environment to a very large extent. Another major defect of technology is that it has created isolation in the society. In the times to come this is going to be a major influential factor.

Karl Marx gave the concept ‘alienation’ which was central to his theories while defining class conflict in the capitalist economy .Marx claimed that in a capitalist economy each worker had a restricted or limited role .He or she no longer applied total human capacities of hands, the mind and the emotion at work. This created a sense of isolation which was explained in four stages:

  1. Workers alienation from the product he produces.
  2. From the process of production
  3. From himself
  4. From the community of his fellowmen.

When the worker has reached the fourth stage he was no longer attached to either himself or the society and this gave birth to social isolation. Marx definition of social alienation is very much true in today’s modern world where extreme level of mechanization and specialization have forced humans to become socially isolated to a large extent.

Technology has affected the human thinking to a large extent. It has clouded his patience. Today man wants work done so fast that the mere concept of waiting seems obsolete to him. It has altered his very basic nature thereby affecting his psyche. Patience which is a very important word in any relationship is slowly vanishing from the dictionaries of modern man. This has thus created a sense of isolation because people don’t have the required patience to build any relationship anymore. This is an indirect attack of technology with respect to social isolation.

Studies in the American society have reflected disturbing trends:-

“That image of people on roofs after Katrina resonates with me, because those people did not know someone with a car,” said Lynn Smith-Lovin, a Duke University sociologist who helped conduct a study on the contemporary American society. “There really is less of a safety net of close friends and confidants.” This can be out rightly attributed to the increasing use of technology in human lives which has negated the need for social interaction at a basic level. Thus when a calamity struck people didn’t what next to do since they were not attached to the nearby people anymore.

New research indicates that the modern man has very few close confidants .It has dropped from three to two in the past twenty years and this is directly attributed to technology by all sociologists. American sociologist Michael Karnjanaprakorn gives a classic example in this respect

Social networking sites connect us to people that we already know. They don’t facilitate new relationships and connections as it’s almost impossible to add someone you don’t know. The social norm of social networking states that you can only connect to people you already know. You may have over a 1,000 friends on a particular social networking site and you would probably know 99% of them. But, out of those 1,000, you would stay in touch with around 25 and keep updated with the rest through status updates. “

Advocates of technology might demonstrate that technology like social networking sites have bought about a revolution in human interaction but the real picture has been truly summarized above .An American company has developed a machine which leaves voice recorded messages. They say that they have replaced the text messaging system but what they have actually mastered is the art of leaving a voice recorded message without having to undergo the ordeal of engaging into a conversation. All these and many others points towards one simple fact that use of technology in modern times has actually given rise to social isolation.

The past few centuries saw the society being divided in terms of haves and have-nots. This created a great misbalance in the society .The post industrialization modern era saw rapid strides in technology in every field. This has led to the emergence of a new class of division skilled and unskilled which is going to become more prominent in the coming times. If the division between haves and have-nots had created a mere misbalance in the society the difference between the skilled and the unskilled will however lead to the total collapse of the system. There is a deep rooted sense of isolation in this divide. It goes on from being merely social to physical and finally alienates man from himself. The common sense of solidarity among these people at the receiving end of this system is however missing this time which makes it a larger threat to humanity than the previous division among have and have-nots.

Social isolation nowadays is defined in the broader terms as the absence of social interactions, contacts, and relationships with family and friends, with neighbors on an individual level, and with ''society at large" on a broader level including the environment. The last part ‘environment’ leads to a different discussion with terms to social isolation .Development can be attributed to two major sources nature and technology. Nature’s concept of development is based on abundance like air, water land etc. Technology’s concept of development has largely been around scarcity like expensive medical treatment. Thus this very basic difference in nature led to the emergence of conflict between technology and environment. In this conflict technology has successfully created havoc on the environment .Thus when nature gets destroyed man feels alienated which brings an altogether different direction to the term of social isolation.

The friction between technological development and the social bonding of man in particular and the influence of the former upon the course of social and cultural changes have been a great source of controversy. Today, human life is an industrial life. In this life which is governed by technical relations, all products are interrelated and interdependent, where the purchase of a product commits one to the purchase of another. Technology advances constantly and rapidly; what has been useful and favored one day runs out of style next day. This rapid stride has bought about a sense of detachment of man from goods .Thus his feelings of belongings even to the materialistic things begins to decrease since the products change so rapidly that he is not able to associate himself with any of it. All these are the major harbingers of social isolation.

There are numerous cases of people committing suicide unable to cope with the pressure of technology. This may sound unbelievable but it’s true. A large number of youths commit suicide for reasons as feeble as losing a computer game .This is nothing but a sense of isolation from themselves. They do not feel attached to themselves anymore. After getting isolated from their co workers their family the environment and finally materialistic goods there is no doubt that they finally feel alienated from themselves. This creates a deep sense of isolation in their minds which leads to panic and finally he or she takes a drastic step.

Thus in the above we see that in modern times man has actually been able to alienate himself from the society with the help of technology. Science and technology provide no panacea for the problems of the world. If those problems have to be solved man and women have to work and not machines. They will be better equipped to do so if they have a sense of solidarity and a common sense of their own past. The lesson of history is not that it never repeats itself. The lesson is rather, than that the present can be clearly perceived and the future intelligently planned for only when those responsible understand the basic working of human nature. Man is a social animal and for knowledge and insight of this simple fascinating mechanism, it is not technology but a common sense of history achieved through a simple concept called togetherness.

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LACHIT-the last defence(short story)

LONDON:2060

“You really think we are alone? Bhagwad that is a statement I will never buy” said Dr Narlikar as Bhagwad Sharma looked on with a smile in his face. They were in the embassy dinner being hosted in London. UN Wing Commander Bhagwad was India’s number one warfare expert at the young age of 40.They called him “The Strategist” as he had won hundreds of battles for the UN against terrorists in counter insurgency operations. Two kids –Samiran and Kashvi –and a beautiful wife Srishti his life was the story of a fairytale. He was the cynosure of all eyes the prince charming of modern India.

Little however did he realize how true was the statement of Professor Narlikar, as he went to sleep that night .The next day he woke up to an unusually cold London summer, his kids and wife were still in bed. Getting up from the bed he went outside to wake up Eric -3411 his confidante and personal robot .Together they started out for a walk when they realized that the sky was unusually dark. Something was not right thought Bhagwad as he stepped out of the house .There was a cold unusual chill in the air. He took out his PDA and found the temperature was -8 degree celsuis! He was shocked; the last time that kind of temperature was heard was in the Himalayas before they had melted away. He quickly went back to his house while Eric-341 adjusted himself to the new environment by incorporating a heat shield over himself almost immediately. The power was down so was the satellite phone .Left with no choice Bhagwad called up his friend Narlikar as he wanted to know if there was any scientific reason for this climate change. Narlikar picked up the phone almost immediately and said “Bhagwad come over here I have to tell you something urgent and come walking because there is a huge jam in the roads so you won’t be able to use a car ”. It was such a funny request Bhagwad thought as he got ready …Why did Narlikar talk like this? With a thousand questions in his mind Bhagwad started for the professor house .He was there in 15 minutes. The professor was at the door waiting for him .The moment Bhagwad reached the doorsteps the professor grabbed Bhagwad and took him to the lab .There was sweat all over the professor face as he faced Bhagwad and finally said “We are being attacked…..!”.Bhagwad was stunned. “……by aliens”continued Narlikar. Suddenly in a fraction of a second the world made sense to Bhagwad .He was numb.

Slowly he sat down and asked Narlikar to explain the situation to him. Narlikar continued “Today morning when I woke up I was stunned to see the weather so I took out my octometer2 and started scanning the atmosphere as I was sure things were not right .The octometer was not giving correct signals there was some kind of magnetic interference. Sensing some kind of problem I began scanning for iron scraps in the atmosphere left behind by some spacecraft .And you know what I found instead an iron plate whose diameter is about 700 meters the size of Old Trafford ….You know what it is ? It is an UFO .It was emitting some kinds of signals .I called up my friend Jerry and we began intercepting the signals and the programming team at Raman Labs3 began encoding it and the results arrived 9 minutes ago. See what it says” as he handed Bhagwad a paper “26 hours before annihilation!”Bhagwad heart stopped for a second. But he was not the only one, within seconds alert was sounded in London. Annihilation was 26 hours away.

The Indian PM called up Bhagwad almost immediately; he was needed at the capital Delhi. Taking leave of the professor he headed back home. Reaching home he asked his family to pack .They were ready in about half an hour .Bhagwad called for the Mach 8 Indices .The swanky jet arrived in 12 seconds, the family boarded the flight in silence .In 14 minutes they were in Delhi .Once in the airport they saw the representatives of the 7 permanent Security Council members (India and Japan had joined the original 5 permanent members of the Security Council) of the UN waiting for him .Almost immediately Srishti realized what this meant and she clasped Bhagwad’s hand. However he was calm .The PM came forward to shake his hand, Bhagwad clasped his hands and said “Humanity will prevail”. After that the family was whisked away, from the glare of the media as the first breaking news began to hit headlines all over the world “Bhagwad Sharma to lead the team to defend humanity”.

Actually 5 years ago the UN had passed a resolution that in event of an inter galactial calamity a team would be sent to represent earth’s case. At the time when this idea was forwarded it was laughed upon by many. Bhagwad was nominated to lead the team. All that seemed so unreal even to Bhagwad; until today! They reached Pragjyotishpur the new space research facility in India in about 2 minutes .And there they sat down for the most difficult task of choosing the team .Bhagwad zeroed on the team in about 7 minutes .It was:

John Nash (Irish)- Pilot

Lin Giu (Chinese)-warfare specialist

Khaled Zameel (Pakistani)-nuclear arms expert

Cindy Susan (American)-Linguist

Thomas Obuye (Kenyan) - Doctor

The English Premier asked Bhagwad to think of a name and finally Bhagwad answered “Lachit”. The greatest hero his home Assam had ever produced .Srishti began shedding tears as she realized “Lachit” may be successful but the price was going to be high. Preparations began on the Mach 34 “Lachit” and then suddenly; the bombing started from space. Like the Bible had predicted doomsday, all hell broke loose as balls of fire came down from the sky. The team working inside the underground hanger began to work faster .After 6 hours of continuous bombing the shelling stopped .Official counts of loss of lives put it at billions. The Pacific islands were wiped out .Humanity was at peril people began praying all over the world, and Bhagwad sat in a corner with the Gita in his hands. Srishti came and sat beside him, they clasped each other’s hand and for the first time Bhagwad cried. Srishti hugged him tightly .After some time the Indian PM called for Bhagwad and so leaving behind his wife Bhagwad went to the Premier. The PM asked Bhagwad to take some rest and wished him luck .Bhagwad came back to his wife and together they went to the cubicle where his kids were playing .The moment he reached there he ran to his kids and hugged them. After that they sat down to watch Rokeman on Funtoons. Bhagwad laid his head on Srishti’s shoulder while she kept stroking his hair. They stayed like that for hours.

Finally the call arrived he was to get ready. The team assembled at the grounds. The whole world was watching them. The team was introduced to the world by the UN secretary general. Hopes of humanity rested on these 6 persons. One by one the national anthems of the various countries were played and finally the audiophera4 began playing “Vande Mataram”. Bhagwad stiffened ….tears rolled down his eyes .And once the anthem was played he bend down kissed the soil and said “Hey Ai, moi dhonya holu aji je tumi muk tumak seva korar aei sujug dila!”(O Mother am honored that you gave me this chance to serve you).

It was 5 hours before the countdown as the team began boarding “Lachit”. John immediately went to helm and took to the controls. The ATC5 officers cleared the deck and finally with billions of prayers they took off to space. After travelling for about 25 minutes the UFO first came into view. It was majestic; black in color with a thousand lights emitting from it. Almost immediately they were hit by the first shell .John immediately switched the craft to stealth mode and within seconds the craft vanished visually. As soon as they became invisible Cindy got down to work .She began intercepting the signals being emitted and was in constant touch with the programmers in Raman labs (her Alma matter).In about 18 minutes she had developed their language .And all this time Bhagwad was standing beside her .As soon as Bhagwad got the script he asked Cindy to write a message to them in their language. He asked them to come over and talk to them instead of unnecessary shelling on earth. The message was drafted and then it was transmitted over to the UFO.And then the wait began. The shelling on earth had stopped for now. Bhagwad quickly ordered Khaled and Lin to do a damage analysis on the UFO .The results turned out to be not good. Lin answered that the craft was made out of special alloy of titanium and an unknown metal. No amount of firing -even with the arsenal they had -would inflict more than 12% damage on the craft. Khaled answered that the craft could be nuked but only from inside. Bhagwad made a mental note of what it meant. As they were contemplating the results inside the craft suddenly Cindy came running to them .The craft had replied back that they wanted to talk to the commander.

Bhagwad ordered Nash to switch off the stealth mode. After that he changed into the spacesuit and then sat on his space scooter and drove out of Lachit towards the UFO.The gates opened the instant he arrived. And soon he was inside the dome shaped craft. Once inside he was shocked by the technological might display. Soon two machines came upto him and lo and behold they introduced themselves in English! They were purely metallic in structure much like Bhagwad’s own robot but much mightier and powerful. The one who introduced himself as the commander answered they wanted the hydrogen present in earth. It was important for fuel generation in their craft .The humans present were a mere hindrance in their objective. Bhagwad listened quietly and then asked if they could stop shelling earth and search for their hydrogen somewhere else .The aliens replied in the negative. Earth was going to be annihilated and there was no doubt. Bhagwad stood there for a moment and he knew what he had to do.

He asked for the commanders’ permission to return to the base to inform earth and convey the final message. And he asked permission to return to the UFO once he had sent his crew back home. The commander though somewhat puzzled by this strange request accepted it out of pity. Deep down Bhagwad knew he had just one shot and he could not miss it .Bhagwad returned to “Lachit” and informed his crew members about the situation. And then “Operation Retaliation” was framed .Almost the whole crew opposed the plan apart from Nash. Eventually however they had to listen to the order of the commander. As per plan Khaled started nuking up Bhagwad as Cindy kept crying. Others were quite. Lin was giving final touches to the spacecraft missile defence system .Nash was playing a song in the guitar for his wife in front of the visiphone6. She kept crying. Finally Khaled clamped the 1000 fissions per millisecond reactor to the central fuel injection system of “Lachit”.

Bhagwad made a last call to Pragjyotishpur where the world was wating, he didn’t say anything and just blew a kiss at his family .The next moment connections were jammed. And then “Lachit” was evacuated by everybody apart from Bhagwad and Nash .Nash was still singing a song .Bhagwad went upto him and hugged him tightly. It was valor, it was courage, and it was the free Irish spirit, free even in the face of death. The time of reckoning had come. Nash opened the craft door and Bhagwad walked out with his space scooter .And he started maneuvering towards the UFO. Immediately Nash went to stealth mode and began following Bhagwad. Bhagwad reached the doors, they opened and with one last look towards earth Bhagwad entered .Nash followed and in a few seconds the people in earth heard a deafening sound. Srishti wept and so did Nash’s wife. Humanity prevailed as Bhagwad had promised .The sky lit up with a thousand stars and then the first rays of sunlight became visible; and with it came new hopes.

SOMEWHERE IN SPACE 2080:

Wing Commander Samiran Sharma closed “A FEW GOOD MEN” by Kashvi Sharma. He looked up and smiled at the stars after all the stars seemed so near from “Lachit 2” .Only this time he knew….he was confident that he would go back to the lap of his mother.

GLOSSARY OF UNKNOWN TERMS:

Eric-341 - personal robot used by humans and Eric is one such

Robot used by Bhagwad.

Octometer - an instrument used by scientists to scan the

atmosphere.

Raman Labs - the pioneer research facility centre in India established

in A.D. 2050

Audiophera - Modern day loudspeaker system

ATC - Air Traffic Control

Visiphone - A video phone which can be used between the

spacecraft and earth to transmit messages.