Uncommon Sense

Cycling daily to the workplace makes the commute interesting, healthy, and non-polluting.

As with most people, my vehicle got bigger as I grew professionally. I started my career with a moped, and then graduated in stages to a scooter, a small car, a bigger car, etc. However, 10 years ago, it struck me that this was a stupid way to go and I started cycling for three reasons - all equally important.

Governments and industries are yet to accept the reality of climate change. Then, can our individual choices and small scale efforts change anything at all? Best-selling author, Michael Pollan talks of why should we, as individuals, bother?

Waste is the shadow side of the economy. Stripped of desire, it weighs like a corpse around the necks of the living. It is placed in black bags and transported, like the dead, to sites of exclusion – to landfills and incinerators, the graveyards and crematoria in the kingdom of objects.

The critical task before those approaching Gandhian economics is to define M.K. Gandhi’s understanding of economics, as distinct from the mainstream economic tradition of Adam Smith. While it is true that Gandhi was not a professional economist, his economics is rich in its comprehension of the dynamics of economic processes, and thought-provoking in its provision of creative alternatives.

“I would like to say to the diligent reader of my writings and to others who are interested in them that I am not at all concerned with appearing to be consistent. In my search for Truth, I have discarded many ideas and learnt many new things. Old as I am in age, I have no feeling that I have ceased to grow inwardly or that my growth will stop at the dissolution of the flesh.

Scientific predictions of environmental change are difficult for ordinary human beings to comprehend fully. We hear about increasing temperatures and rising sea levels, increasing cancer rates, vast population growth, depletion of resources, and extinction of species. Human activity everywhere is hastening to destroy key elements of the natural ecosystems that all living beings depend on.

Excerpts from a talk by Satish Kumar at the ‘Be the Change’ Conference on Food, Health and Climate Change, organized by Bhoomi Network in December 2009 at Bangalore.