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 Blooming Stars

Status of the World –6

            About five months after India’s political independence and three days before Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated he stated in 1948 that it was more difficult to attain economic, social, and moral freedoms than political freedom. Economic freedom implies that one does not lack the very bare essentials such as food, clothing, shelter, and medicine. We have made tremendous strides in per capita income, life span, and health. Deaths due to starvation and lack of primary health care have mostly disappeared. Yet there is still rampant poverty side by side with great opulence and waste. By far the vast majority of the people of the world still live below the line of poverty. They do not have the economic resources to live a life with dignity. Yet according to a recent study published in Lancet500 hundred million people in the world are overweight or obese. The whole world is shrinking into a global city in an era of instant communication, high-speed transportation, extensive travel, and high mobility.

            In such a world aggressive consumerism is using expensive commercials and advertisements marked by highly sexually seductive poses to create insatiable wants. Unregulated market economy based on supply and demands and instant gratification is prevalent. What has selling an expensive car to do with a highly sexually suggestive, scantily-clad female with the right vital statistics? What has a macho man or a film/sports star with attractive looks to do with selling cancer causing cigarettes or alcoholic beverages that ruin families and relationships? Are we so stupid as not to be able to see through the games and gimmicks that the advertisement companies play? Not long ago I came across a news item in connection with pharmaceutical companies spending in advertisements many times more than the amount of money they spent in developing the drugs. No wonder the drugs cost so much. Interestingly the same drugs that cost so much, say, in the USA can be bought at a much lower price in other countries.

            Humanity is being turned into a commodity and humans into objects of pleasure in a materialistic society where human and spiritual values are given little importance. What is valued is what increases the margin of profit. While authoritarian communism has fortunately crashed, unbridled capitalism is sadly soaring. While many countries are advocating a minimum wage in order to arrive at a living wage, we have not been able to put a cap on the maximum wealth an individual can accumulate. It is a shame that persons who hoard wealth that they will not even to spend in many life times are held in high esteem. It is also reported that Indians after independence of India have looted and deposited many times the wealth that the British looted during centuries of British Raj. Are we economically free in a country/world where a human being stripped of his/her human dignity can be “bought”.,into servitude? Is it not high time to change labels such as servants, masters, maids reminiscent of the old imperial, colonial, and dictatorial times?

            If we do not keep on changing or purifying our language, be it sexist, racist, casteist, or ethnically derogative, we cannot express ourown ideas accurately. I have heard not uncommonly persons not held in high esteem referred to aspayyan (boy) or kochu(small one) in Kerala. When I inquired about their age the payyan is in his thirties and the kochu is in her mid to late twenties. Yet it must be said that people on the whole are fed, clothed, medically treated, and housed many times better now than in the past. It is also important to note that when one human being anywhere in the world is diminished the whole humanity is diminished. Humanity cannot be smug and satisfied as long as one person on the face of the earth goes to sleep at night with pangs of hunger due to lack of money or resources to buy food. Currently, we are not economically free.


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