Sunday, December 16, 2007

Did you bandh the batti?

We did. For a whole hour. It was great fun because n loves power outs - since, thank god, they happen relatively rarely, and because the candles come out. So we put out the lights, burnt the candles, and turned off the tv, laptop, etc. We chatted like in the old days, mom and me, before comps and tvs happened.
I realized that I could bear the lights being out, and the fans being off, the phone being off, but what I couldn't take, finally, was the laptop being off. We've got used to such 24/7 connectivity, with a constant state of activity, that I really, truly felt like a drug addict on cold turkey. My fingers literally itched and I kept wanting to switch on, to just surf a bit, a teensy bit, I'm mean who'd know... But I'm proud to report, I didn't!
Anyway, the Batti bandh campaign - though well-meaning - seems a bit overoptimisitx, if you ask me. One hour of power-saving will save the planet, reduce global warming, save the beaches, etc. etc. I don't think so. It might have conscientized people - which it sadly didn't in any large, mass sort of way. It held the promise of becoming one of those post-Rang-de-Basanti campaigns (like the anti-reservation stir) where everyone hopped on largely because it seemed like such a cool thing to do. Everyone - and here I count myself in too - fwd'd madly and hopefully - but finally nothing much happened. I wonder why.
I was a bit sceptical - I mean what does one hour of switching off do? Actions towards saving the environment have to be more comprehensive, holistic and regular. So I loved what Sampath, the books editor at DNA wrote when I fwd'd him the mail (he's put it so well, that I simply have to quote him):

I am sorry but this one-hour thing- even if it is totally voluntary - seems to me only a smoke-screen that hides the real issues - our unfettered industrialisation, obsession with 9 per cent growth, investment in stock market (how can your stocks grow without the economy growing? and how can your economy grow without more of global warming caused by more industrialisation?), our refusal to respect or even tolerate subsistence economies wherever they are - our exporting of alternative ways of living and thinking (the tribals, for example) into the past as outdated.

then there is our patronising attitude towards all that is not 'cool' - and 'cool' is really a marketing invention that is tied up with global warming - ironic as it seems - right from tata safari dicor to rock concert in a flood-lit stadium, this sounds just like a silly rant here - but if i get some time off from not heating up the globe - i can elaborate on it. this is just a response - on the spur of the moment. nothing personal.

So there you are. Angrily, but succinctly put, I thought. I fully agreed with him, especially the bit about people only attaching themselves to 'cool' issues.
Only this: forget about global warming (towards which NOTHING can be done bec of all the problems mentioned), but if people can just conserve a little power, and hopefully it will be mapped by the BSES, then I think that it might be at least a few steps towards - well, power conservation - and nothing more!


SUR NOTES said...

we observed the batti bandh hour too. agreed it is a smoke screen, but i am all for that first little step- sadly i did not see candles come on anywhere else in the area, only one window in banno's building, assumed thats her house!

i did not cold turkey at all, infact switched off my phone too.

Anonymous said...

On the same note as the books editor, the corporate I work for sent out a mail the day before Batti Bandh exhorting us to observe it and do other things to protect against global warming. This corporate also gives cars out as perks to senior management....

Banno said...

No, I didn't bandh the batti. Felt the same as the editor. Not so angry, not so lucid. But I think your point is right, we just need to conserve more in our day-to-day lives. As for candlelights, no TV, no computers, when we did have a couple of days like that during the floods, it was really good times at home, playing scrabble, talking, painting together.

SUR NOTES said...

hello hello. the new year has begun. two weeks have already been eaten up.

no new thoughts?

Anonymous said...

anita / amit,
have read some of your posts with interest. nice, informal, read. but who is this i? anita or amit or both together?

manoj pandey
[new jacketflap member]

anita & amit said...

sur, all my thoughts are dark, very dark, so not worth putting up here. though i have put up some book reviews from the last year on thanks for asking though! i keep reading yours and smiling at everything there!
manoj, mostly 'i' is me, anita :) amit's too busy these days to write, and where u see a 'we', it's usually us! fyi, amit's last post is the one on amitabh, if you'd just scroll down... thanks for stopping by!

Ajeya said...

I was part of the Batti Bandh campaign. What you say about bandhing battis for an hour is spot on. So is Sampath. But one thing we agreed on at Batti Bandh for the first time was that it was only symbolic, to try and create awareness. It is from movements such as this that maybe, just maybe, people will start rethinking their lifestyles. We may not 'save the world'. But we can slow down the destruction. For now, it seems like the best we can do.