Indices of a decent society {Ethics}

Context

This article talks about changes in our society along with change in time.

Things do change, with a whimper and not with a bang. Changes in our lives creep upon us and before we know it they become part of our daily habits. This is true of changes in society as well as in nature.

Example

Earlier, Bengaluru used to be known for its gardens and greenery. Even the Kannada spoken in Bengaluru was leisurely and didn’t trip over its syllables in a hurry. We drank water off the taps and had no fans in our houses.

Today, Bengaluru has become a developed city. We boast of the world’s first burning lake, of increasing incidences of diseases related to the low quality of air, and a falling public health profile.

An indicator of our indifference

The recent report that ranks India 177 out of 180 countries in the Environmental Performance Index is not just an indicator of pollution but is as much an indicator of our indifference.

How did we arrive here?

It is not just about pollution of nature but also of our society. How did we arrive at a situation where mile-long queues of silently simmering cars stand one behind the other every day at so many traffic junctions?

This is how hegemonic power changes the natural and social worlds — without our active intervention but at the same time appearing as if we are all acquiescent.

Pollution of our society

Society is an artificial system formed by complex social relationships. It has a set of values and norms which help in maintaining harmonious relationships between members of the society and grant them full opportunity for development and enjoy decent way of life free from tyranny and exploitation.

It is not an easy task to make a distinction between pollution of the natural world and that of the social world. The pollution of our society is much like that of the natural world: it happens silently and seemingly without our control. One could even perhaps say that it is the prior pollution of the social world that creates natural pollution.

It a pollution which starts fro the mind of an individual, spread at an uncontrollable speed, infecting other minds and finally the whole society is in it’s grasp. “Social pollution” is what I call it. It decomposes the society and doesn’t’ let it move progressively to achieve higher mortal goals. It’s not a new entrant to the list of pollutions and has many constituents

Possible solution for reduction in Social Pollution

Like the air quality index or the water quality index, there should be indices of a decent society. Something like a ‘social indifference index’ can gauge social pollution and we shouldn’t be surprised if India ranks among the bottom in this category.

Drivers of Natural Pollution

Unthinking development in our country. Why do we take for granted that possessing a car or vehicle by every individual is a mark of progress? What is it about the nature of development that makes us so easily accept so many unwanted consequences in our daily life as if it is only a price we pay for development?

Our air or water quality index will improve when we attack social pollution in conjunction with natural pollution. The cleanliness of a nation is really not very different from the cleanliness of the natural environment.

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