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Window Seat: Use crises as opportunity

1/08/2020 at 4:53 PM

In Japanese the word ‘crisis’ is called ‘kiki’. The word has two characters and they have different meanings. The first first character means “dangerous” while the second means “opportunity”. That is what a crisis is after all. It is dangerous, scary and many other things but it also represents an opportunity, a chance for a change.

It has happened in the past. In fact, trying times test the true mettle of human beings. History shows that several inventions have been made during crisis time.

iPod was created less than two months after the September 11th attacks. Apple introduced us to the tiny, portable music device and transformed the consumer electronics industry.

And then there’s the game of basketball. Invented in 1881 by Dr. James Naismith to keep athletes inside during the cold, basketball was previously played with a soccer ball. During the recession in 1894, Dr. Naismith asked A.G. Spalding to create something specifically designed for basketball.

You can also credit the Black Death pandemic for giving us one of the world’s most notorious universal laws, the law of gravity. In 1665, the Bubonic plague in England forced Cambridge University to shut down, leaving Isaac Newton to return back home to Woolsthorpe Manor.The rest is history. Newton was sitting in his garden when he saw an apple fall from a tree, which provided his inspiration to create his law of universal gravitation.

From humble bicycle to the canned food to tea-sachets – several devices that we use now have grown out of crises.

Use crises as opportunity to stoke your imagination and do something spectacular.

Language and its use in Digital Age

I was writing an article on Urdu language and its use in the digital era and for that did some serious reading. I am now convinced that if a language is used for political gain-it suffers.

The pre-partition Muslim League rejected suggestions that English, Hindi, or Hindustani be the official language of undivided India. Instead, it wanted Urdu (Pirpur Report, 1938) because it was thought to be the carrier of Islamic culture. It was a pathetic reading of the origin of one of the most beautiful, organic and inclusive language of the world.

For Pakistan’s founders, Urdu was to be the glue cementing together the new country. In 1948, Mr. Jinnah addressed the students of Dacca University in immaculate English. He was emphatic: “The state language of Pakistan is going to be Urdu and no other language. And anyone who tries to mislead you is an enemy of Pakistan.” Interestingly Jinnah spoke little Urdu and did not read its script.

Ironically Pakistan was divided and a brand new country Bangladesh was born- for several reasons; one major issue was of language. Religion could not keep them togather.

Urdu is Pakistan’s lingua franca. English has receded. But has education in Pakistan improved? Pervez Hoodbhoy, an academician of repute of Pakistan writes, it has not. He says, “the real enemy of education in Pakistan is a regressive mindset, not language or financial resources. Critical thinking is actively discouraged, memorisation is encouraged.”

The same holds good for India as well. Language is not the issue. Critical thinking is. And building a repository of knowledge base in that language.

Use Cloth Diapers

My wife used home-made cloth diapers for my son. So did tens of millions of mothers for their infants. Then, gradually because of several reasons- mostly convenience and peer-pressure- plastic diapers were used. My niece uses them- bought in packets for her infant daughter. So do other young mothers.

Millions of such plastic wrapped disposable diapers are used worldwide every day, the production of which creates tons of plastic waste every day. Besides, doctors say- these are not good for the babies. It might create rash and allergy.

How about going back and use reusable cloth diapers? In India, ‘langot’ has been long known as cloth diaper which are washed, disinfected, dried and used over and over again.Healthy for your baby and – the environment!

Immerse your self

AnuradhaBarik, my student at Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), Dhenkanalis a self-taught artist, who sketches, doodles, paints and draws cartoons. She says, “My favorite thing about creating art is that it completely absorbs me mentally. Whenever I’m overwhelmed or stressed out, I can just start doodling,mandala drawing or painting, and it’ll only be a few minutes before I completely forget about all my troubles.I can literally spend hours at a time like that, just focusing on creating something that is my own and that I have complete control over. It’s highly engaging, and yet also relaxing and fun. I’ve just always loved it.”

Art in anywhich form liberates. Immerse yourself in it. Liberate yourself from the mundane worries and tensions.

Tail-piece: Conference and Webinar

Because of the Corona induced extended lockdown many of us now are familiar with webinar. What used to be Conference in pre-Corona times have become Webinar- thanks to the improvement in digital technology and increasing internet penetration and connectivity quality. People used to physically go and attend conferences in far off cities, now conferences have entered into their home. People used to sleep through Conferences. They continue to sleep through Webinars.

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Journalist- turned –media academician MrinalChatterjee lives in Dhenkanal. He also writes fiction and plays. mrinalchatterjeeiimc@gmail.com

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