Fatalism is a philosophical doctrine that stresses the subjugation of all events or actions to destiny. Fatalism symbolizes powerlessness or the inability of human beings to bring about meaningful or desired change. In a way, when we accept the status quo or stop questioning things which are wrong , things which we know we “ought to” correct but still chose not to act, either due to the acknowledgement that nothing will change or due to a tacit approval and acceptance of the conditions as they are, this is called fatalism. And today, this is precisely what has happened to us especially with regard to the deteriorating air quality situation. Today, that is on 7th November 2017, the atmosphere of country’s capital was unbearable due to air pollution, yet there was hardly any hue and cry among common masses. Yes, the media, as it has always done, did raise some uncomfortable questions but that is simply not enough. We can talk about the problem endlessly, do television debates, write articles etc, but these things mean nothing if not accompanied by action on the ground. It is doing, which is the hard part, for anyone and everyone can talk. Sadly, we all are too immersed in doing our daily chores, that despite of knowing well about the deadly poison we are inhaling we don’t do enough (if at all we do anything). But this is just the tip of the iceberg, what is even worse is the fact that there is now a deadly disquiet among people regarding the deteriorating quality of air, especially in Delhi. We have come to accept the invincibility of air pollution as we have become too accustomed to smog (a mixture of smoke and fog), that clouded the entire Delhi-NCR region today. Every winter, the situation remains the same, so we have in a way learnt to “live with it”. The “chalta hai” or “kya hi karsakte hai hum” attitude is clearly guiding us. Also like its routine activity during winters, the government also every year “reacts” to the worsening situation by adopting curative measures like closing primary schools for a couple of days or more, advising people against going out of their houses especially during early morning and late evening hours when the particulate matter concentration is maximum in the atmosphere and with many other piecemeal measures. However, in all this we invariably forget to address the root cause of the problem which is the ever increasing number of automobiles on the roads, poor mass transit systems, increasing number of industries with poor regulation, etc etc. All of this continues because unfortunately we all have some or the other vested interest in some or the other of the above mentioned activities. Hence deliberately chose to prioritize our short term gains over the long term harmful effects of air pollution. Well, a lot has been written about those harmful effects so this article will not dwell upon on that, rather as it is clear by now the purpose of this piece is to show a mirror to each one of us, who have accepted this worsening situation as our fate. So, is there a way out or are we really left to our fate.
“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” To begin with curative measures, firstly we need to cleanse the issue off partisanship. Partisanship not just related to the party but also at the level of global arena needs to be shed. Economic and political interests have overshadowed the agenda of climate change mitigation for long and unless this is not done away with very little is going to change. It is not just Delhi, but the entire country and the globe which is facing this menace and we all acknowledge this is theory that a collective fight is needed but when it comes down to act, partisanship or parochial national/local/regional/personal interests gain prominence. Something has to be sacrificed and so till the time we do not get ready to face some temporary disruption to our comforts we cannot secure our future. A classic case in point is that of the odd-even formula which was implemented in Delhi where despite of knowing that it is beneficial to all, many chose not to abide by it and even ridiculed it only for the sake of the comfort of travelling though their own personal cars. Air pollution is a silent killer, we have to make changes to our lifestyle, a little discomfort today will give a better future to us and our children. Let’s do this – now or never.
-Contributed by Kunwar Suryansh
Picture Credits: heartsteps.org