Category Archives: Lifestyle

sustainable living

Humanity may one day be forced to get back to the primitive way of life.

In the 21st century, everything is a rat race, everything is a competition, and everybody tries to establish his or her hegemony over the others. There is no time for the humanity to stand and introspect. In this modern era, the only yardstick to measure things is money. To earn that money people work more, invest more, produce more and consume more. Anything small or moderate is not accepted. Life is worth living only when it is lived king size.

Economists always speak about growth. They advise on how to formulate suitable policies to maximize growth. But what is growth? In simple terms, growth means increasing the production of the various goods and services. More production leads to more employment and more employment leads to more purchasing power and more purchasing power results in increased consumption and increased consumption ultimately results in more production, making it come full circle.

Okay. It all sounds good, right? What’s wrong with more production, more employment, and more consumption? They all result in human welfare. So far so good. But do they all happen without showing any undesirable impact on the humanity?

The Quality Of Life of many people and communities is nosediving.

The Quality Of Life of many people and communities is nosediving.

Certainly no, if we closely observe the quality of life we are experiencing. The Quality Of Life (QOL) is roughly defined as the general well-being of individuals and societies. The well-being is measured in terms of health, wealth and stability. As far health is concerned, the humanity has never been so unhealthy. Our life expectancy has certainly gone up, but the kind of life we are leading has made us into living corpses.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that everything we consume is either polluted or adulterated. Even tender coconut water and mother’s milk are no exceptions. Researchers found a serious dose of  pesticide residue in breast milk (around 0.12 mg per kg). We all feel that tender coconut water is the safest liquid for us to drink. However, it has been found that even it is not free from the pesticide residue. So the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe – all are polluted. The frequency of our hospital visits has gone up. Newer diseases are putting the resilience of the humanity to test. Glandular diseases like diabetes and thyroid dysfunction have increased manifoldly. Hypertension and heart ailments are shooting up. The health care industry is reaping a bumper harvest.

As far as wealth is concerned, only a small section of the society managed to amass incredible wealth, widening the gap between the haves and the have-nots. The ever increasing economic inequalities appear to have a major role to play in the increasing social unrest in various parts of the world.

The humanity is indulging in the over exploitation of the natural resources to feed the conspicuous consumption in our market-driven economy.

The humanity is indulging in the over-exploitation of the natural resources to feed the conspicuous consumption in our market-driven economy.

The population explosion is putting a lot of pressure on the natural resources. The industries are extracting the resources indiscriminately to produce more to satiate the burgeoning demand of the rich and the middle class.  The growing industrialization is contributing to a lion’s share of the pollution the world is witnessing. The business organizations, especially the Multi-National Companies (MNCs), to induce the people to spend their high disposable income, are manufacturing various products, most of them unnecessary. This consumerism and conspicuous consumption are putting enormous pressure on the sustainability of the environment and the natural resources. It is a well-known fact that the environmental degradation and natural resource depletion will, in the long run, cause instability both in the societies and the nations.

Our mother earth has enough to satisfy the needs of the people, but it doesn’t have enough to satisfy their greed. Mother earth is like a cow. If we take good care of it and safeguard it, we can milk it for a long time and get the nourishment it provides us with. However, if we turn greedy and cut open its udder the cow itself dies. It is very clear that the humanity has turned greedy and grossly materialistic. In their blind pursuit of materialism, they are not in a position to realize the impending danger that is lurking around.

How long will this unsustainable growth continue, and how long will the humanity be able to tolerate the deteriorated quality fo life? We can’t continue this unsustainable lifestyle forever and one day the humanity has to stop this rat race and conspicuous consumption.

But what could be the solution to the innumerable problems created by the market-driven economy?

Pursuit of Gross National Happiness (GNH) leads to sustainable lifestyle.

The pursuit of Gross National Happiness (GNH) leads to a sustainable lifestyle.

The only possibility that appears feasible is reverting to the primitive lifestyle. Primitive life need not necessarily mean reverting to the Stone Age. The Macmillan Dictionary defines the word primitive as “old-fashioned, simple, and without modern features or comforts”. So the humanity, instead of measuring development in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), should start measuring it in terms of Gross National Happiness (GNH). The GDP approach only triggers a rat race that results in over-exploitation of natural resources and conspicuous consumption, which is not sustainable in the long run. On the other hand, the GNP approach avoids rat race and results in building a society which prefers simple, need-based and sustainable lifestyle. Then only we will be able to leave this mother earth to the future generations in a good shape to enable them to lead a happy and purposeful lives.

antibiotics

Is antibiotic resistance an impending apocalypse?

Antibiotics are losing their power because of their excessive and inappropriate use.

Antibiotics are losing their power because of their excessive and inappropriate use.

What is it that we the humans dread the most? It is none other than death. Because we don’t know what does it feel like to die and where do we go after our death. We all dearly love our bodies and prefer to peer into a mirror daily to detect any signs of aging or degeneration. The moment we feel any inconvenience in our bodies, we start googling for symptom check, and rush to a doctor if the symptoms point towards something ominous.

Most of the diseases we get are the result of infections, and the antibiotics, which have the capability to protect us from almost all microbial infections, enable the physicians to reassure us of a cure. So in other words, the antibiotic/antimicrobial drugs are the things that enable us to overcome the fear of premature death. They also make it possible for us to undergo surgeries without any dreadful complications.

However, if the medical scientists are to be believed, all this is going to change. They say that there are perceptible signs of many of the harmful microbes developing antibiotic resistance, in other words, the infections caused by these  microbes cease to be treatable by using antibiotics. This phenomenon is already observed in many parts of the world and there is a possibility of it spreading throughout the world. If such a situation arises, the future of humanity will be very bleak. When you get infected with a disease, you go to a physician and the physician tells you ‘sorry… there is nothing that I can do to save you’. Imagine the scary prospect of even small infections getting transformed into life-threatening conditions, and your survival becomes dependent on sheer luck.bacteria pull

Now the big question is what are the reasons that are contributing to the advent of such a dreadful and precarious situation? One of the reasons cited is the excessive and indiscriminate use of antibiotics.

People have this habit of popping antibiotic pills even for cold and sore throat.

People have this habit of popping antibiotic pills even for cold and sore throat.

In India, most of the antibiotic drugs are available over the counter. Whenever my four-year-old daughter catches cold, my wife asks me to get Amoxicillin oral suspension.

Most of the poor people in our country, who are unable to bear the high medical costs, go to a nearby pharmacist, reveal their symptoms and ask for medicines.  The pharmacists, based on their knowledge and guess work, dispense some tablets, especially antibiotics, which leads to the rampant misuse of the antimicrobial drugs.

Even the medical professionals in India, unable to resist their greed to get more commissions and goodies from the pharmaceutical companies, over prescribe the antibiotic medication.

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Sometimes it so happens that a physician, when he has incomplete or imperfect information to diagnose an infection, tends to prescribe a broad-spectrum antibiotic with a suspicion that the patient might be suffering from an infection.

So the patients, pharmaceutical companies, and physicians are all contributing to the phenomenon of antibiotic/antimicrobial resistance.

Now what are the measures that could be taken to avert the crisis?

As the primary reason behind the growth of drug resistance is the excessive and inappropriate use of antibiotics, the government should step in to formulate the rules and regulations to curb the misuse of antibiotic drugs.

Catastrophic-Antibiotic-Threat

Over the counter availability of antibiotics should be regulated in our country to prevent their inappropriate use.

As the people got used to popping antibiotic pills even for some common viral infections like common cold and sore throat, the pharmacists should not be allowed to sell the antibiotics without a prescription. Even the medical profession should be regulated in such a way that the physicians diagnose the infectious diseases accurately and prescribe a specific and judicious use of antibiotics.

Already the scientists have discovered an enzyme called New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase-1 (NDM-1), that makes bacteria resistant to antimicrobial drugs, which is found in India, Pakistan, the UK, the US, Canada and Japan.

India is particularly vulnerable to the phenomenon of antibiotic/antimicrobial resistance because of the highly inadequate and expensive diagnostics services, greedy pharmaceutical companies, easy-going healthcare professionals, and rampant availability of antibiotics over the counter.

So the government and the professional associations like IMA should plunge into action and take decisive steps to curb the inappropriate use of antibiotics so that the frightening prospect of losing lives to simple infections in future could be averted.