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September 19, 2010 / pkdhodapkar

The most risky professions in India!

No, this post is not about “Khatron Ke Khiladi” or about people who work in mines or workers in high rise buildings. I am talking about very ordinary people. Let us read their stories (note-real names changed).

Amar is a caretaker in guest house of XYZ Company. His job keeps him busy for most of the day as well as night (yes, guests do drop in at odd hours). Assisted by a small team, he has to cook meals and keep in touch with the administrative office of the company. He helps the guests in many ways- traveling arrangements, information related to shopping in the city, etc. Due to the nature of his work, he hardly gets any time away from the guest house and hence lives, eats and sleeps there.

Akbar is a driver for a contract vehicle. Whenever the client, executives of a reputed public sector undertaking (PSU); visit the metro, they avail of the services of the vehicle and Akbar has to accompany them on all kinds of assignments (visits to corporate office, conference venues, business meetings, personal shopping, airport pickups and drops, etc.). He spends most of the time either driving or waiting in the vehicle. 

Anthony is a bartender in the club meant as a recreational facility for the executives of a reputed public sector undertaking. During morning and afternoon hours, he cleans up the facility and keeps track of the ‘stock’. Evenings are very busy, serving different drinks and snacks. 

Anamika works as a maidservant in the house of a PSU executive. Her salary is not much, but gets a quarter with water, cooking gas and electricity.  Her job consists of cleaning the floor and washing the utensils. She has a teenaged daughter and her husband works as a carpenter in a local shop. 

There is a common element in all the above stories- all of them are suffering from lifestyle ‘diseases’ such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. This is really shocking, since such diseases are inconsistent with their socio-economic status. A closer look at their lives reveals a change from a life of hard labor to a more sedentary one. Lack of physical exercise and relatively abundant food has made them obese compared to their counterparts in other professions.  However, stressors are ever present in their lives in the form of lack of financial or social security. Anthony died a few months ago, suffering from liver damage.  

The rising financial clout of middle class has boosted the market for domestic help and personal services. This success story is bitter-sweet, if the above characters (real ones, I assure you) provide an evidence.

September 9, 2010 / pkdhodapkar

Safe drinking water: Then and now

Visitors to the City Palace in Jaipur come across a huge silver vessel. The guide informs that the vessel was used by the royal family to carry drinking water during voyages. Imagine all the resources and efforts required just to carry the drinking water around! In absence of any technological alternatives, it was prudent to stick to the familiar- carry your own drink.

Times have changed, and technology has made access to safe drinking water everywhere, to everyone (well, almost) at reasonable cost. So you can have water when you travel (in palstic pouches), when you entertain large number of guests (in plastic jerrycans) , etc. You can have different sizes of packaging, and of course, there are premium brands of packaged water available.

Alas, this means that there is an additional cost to be borne by everyone (Call it a social or environmental cost, whatever you like), that of disposing off a huge amount of plastic in a suitable manner. Looks like nobody cares, and we come across the ugly sight of waste plastic littering the urban as well as rural landscape. Economists explain this using terms such as “market failure” or “the tragedy of the commons”. Well, that’s another topic altogether.

September 8, 2010 / pkdhodapkar

Welcome!

As the title suggests, this blog is about three inter-related themes. Technology attempts to control nature, though technology is often inspired by nature.  Perhaps human beings didn’t like the way natural changes occurred- often very slowly, violently on occasions. Society often values everything that is natural, yet cannot give up the comforts made possible due to technology. The rate of technological changes makes us wonder- where are we going to land up?

OK, this is not about how the world is going to end. Or for that matter, how we can solve all the problems through technology-including the ones created by technology. However, I hope to engage in some interesting dialogue with you all. Keep in touch, and take care.