Green Building for a Better Future


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Every creature on earth worth its salt has carved a niche for itself in some portion of the earth by way of shelter to see them through the inclemency of extreme weather conditions. Such being the case, can man, the most intelligent creation of them all, be left behind?

Archaeological surveys across the globe have revealed that ever since the evolution of man, he has felt and acknowledged the need to be sheltered from extreme conditions exuded by natural elements. Natural caves chosen as residence by the Paleolithic man had all the makings of a rudimentary home. Gradually, he gleaned know-how from the natural life around him and learned to build secure liveable homes deriving his sources from nature.

We have come a long way since then. Today we have the know-how to build state of the art buildings with every possible facility under the sun. Yet there is much to be desired in terms of planning and having equal accessibility to these conveniences. Startling realities of life like congestion and pollution are wreaking havoc especially in Indian cities.

Alarming urbanisation on the one hand and the need for cost effective housing on the other is pressurising architects and builders alike to construct homes for just about everyone who chooses to live in the cities. Every prospective house owner dreams of having a sleek, functional aesthetic contemporary home that is reinforced with strength sourced from premium housing material at an affordable price.

The expectations of the public appear to be reasonable and the builders are only too eager to fulfil them but in the process. Hence, homes are built all over the place without really ploughing through the pros and cons of the issue. The housing sector is riddled with chaotic posers from environmental, economic and ethical issues. There are a plethora of other related aspects that need to be sorted out.

It is high time man realised that global warming across the world is not a coffee table topic of the “eco-friendly lot” anymore; it is a serious issue that needs to be reckoned with. Conservation of natural resources and abstinence from using non-biodegradable materials should become the sovereign duty of each and everyone who walks the planet earth.

This does not mean that man does not have the right to enjoy his life, build his home or do it up the way it pleases his aesthetic sense. Yet if man remembers the words from the “Good Book” he will understand that “Charity begins at home.”

Dignity of labour
Home builders, owners and users should realise that the strength of eco-friendly architecture can go a long way in replenishing or at least sustaining the natural resources to a large extent. For starters, we can circumvent the use of extensive machines in the building industry and rely upon skills of people, thereby attempting to revive dignity of labour besides empowering labourers economically.

Eco-friendly ideas span across several possibilities like building materials, construc-tion technology, attitudes towards workers, alternative lifestyle, passive solar cooling, embedded energy, localising the act and such others. No construction can have all these possibilities explored in one, but may adopt as many ideas as possible towards a greener future.

Using natural building material tempered with technology can prove not only to be cost effective but can revive several traditional time-tested building techniques by master artisans across India.

If this measure is taken seriously by architects, builders, interior decorators and prospective house owners alike, we will not only be supporting the livelihood of several masons and artisans but will indirectly promote and rejuvenate a dying art which is eco-friendly and the need of today.

These days, space is a constraint in growing cities hence most people have to compromise on translating the home of their dreams on terra firma and look forward to realising them in one of the floors of a high rise building. Strong and light materials will prove to be invaluable companions in providing more floor space and letting in light and air in good measure.

When we take practical realties into consideration, it is obvious that one cannot turn the wheel of time back and undo all the damage that has already be­en wreaked on earth yet, if the decisions we make while constructing or renovating homes can be examined philanthropically, it automatically becomes our duty to switch over to eco-friendly building material.

Living in the Present


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There are many a time we put off doing or experiencing something for a later date. It may not always be money. We reserve our best clothing, crockery, candles, and accessories among other things hoping to use them at a premium occasion in our lives. Our usual excuse for doing so is usually a feeling that the present moment is not ideal for the activity.

A tale from the Panchatantra speaks about the dangers of being in the saving mode all the time. Once a hunter shot a wild boar, the wounded animal pounced on him and ripped his flesh apart. The agonised hunter was shocked to death by the boar before it breathed its last. A jackal which was passing by was beside himself with joy when he saw the corpses of the wild boar and the hunter. He realised that he need not go around scavenging for food for several days to come. He circled his newfound treasure and saw the bloodstained bow. He decided to save the bulk of meat for future. He proceeded to lick the life fluid off the bow and in the process triggered the arrow that was ready to be shot, right into his open mouth.

Almost immediately, the jackal fell dead beside his feast. The jackal died in his earnest bid to save the best for the coming days.

Those of us who are at least a couple of decades old must have realised that the precious moment that we have been waiting for may have come, but we may not have always had the time or the mind space to dig into our paraphernalia and fish out what had been saved for the red lettered day. It is also quite possible that our prized possession may not really rise to the occasion or we may have come across a better and a more contemporary and practical substitute to the stowed away goodies.

While it is pragmatic to save for a rainy day, it will do us a world of good to overcome our magpie syndrome and live each day to the fullest. It is said that yesterday is history, tomorrow is mystery but today is the present. It is impossible to discount the valuable content of the saying.

Testing time For Trees


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How does one kill a tree? Axe it down silly! I can almost hear you screaming out loudly. But then, we also know that the old fogey will shed tears for a while, mope around a bit and spring right back with tender green sprouts at the earliest opportunity.

So, if someone wants to get rid of the tree forever, they must ensure that the roots are pulled out entirely and they are denied access to moisture because they can battle back to survival with the least of resources.

Man learned to do this job meticulously because he did not want impediments in the form of trees on his road to progress. Never mind, if he destroyed the green cover, he could always cross bridges as and when he came across them. Well, what has been outlined is a well known old story.

These days, the green activists, the government, its opposition party and the common man are in agreement about the importance of growing and nurturing trees for our own sakes. This wisdom has dawned across mankind around the world after mother nature has given us a sample of how climate change and depleting natural resources can actually spell disaster to us in the long-run.

So, If we are under the impression that we have turned into Samaritans who will squirm at the very thought of bringing down sturdy trees, we must stand corrected. We have simply changed our excuses to do the dreadful deed.

These days we bring down the old fellows who are threatening to fall down during the next rains. This measure has the sanctified permission of the powers that be and is carried out in full public view in broad daylight.

Inhuman way
However, this piece aims at throwing light on several other inhuman ways which are being employed to do away with the green shade. How many times have we not noticed a lot of garbage, mostly the inflammable variety being dumped around a tree?

They are regularly burnt down till the tree gets browner by the day; even as its life supporting roots are singed to death. When the tree starts resembling deadwood, they become officially ready to be brought down with official sanction. It is strange but true, that this modus operandi has been almost uniformly adopted by urban India.

Materialistic instincts

It is also a fact that these trees are invariably the ones that are found on the pavements or properties that have been earmarked to serve a greater commercial purpose driven by the materialistic instincts of the perpetrator/s.

All the same, these days, the eco-friendly lot occasionally smells a rat and bung a spanner in the destructive project. Nevertheless, there are people who are ready to go to any length to eliminate the obstacles that come in their way of their growth.

More recently a bunch of diehard tree lovers were shocked out of their wits to see a whole copse die and fall down. When the area was marked to be developed as a commercial complex, the builders wanted to get a better look at the ground and ordered the trees to be cleared.

The tree enthusiasts managed to convince the owner to retain the trees and even came up with a less lucrative plan B which would prove to be a green service to the society at large.

The matter did seem to conclude amicably and seemed to be that way for almost a year, till the day when all the trees came crashing down within a matter of a few days. A little investigation by the heartbroken group revealed that small dozes cups of poison had been dropped around the roots of the trees, one foot below the ground level. When they shared this bit of tragic news, it became apparent that this dirty secret happened to be the cause of death of many such random trees that came down across time and space.

Once the initial distaste for the morbid thought process ceases, one must realise that people will always be on either side of the fence when it comes to their equations with nature’s verdant bounty.

Therefore, it becomes the solemn duty of the champions of the cause of trees to watch out and foil the clever, furtive and sly attempts of their detractors. If we choose to be passive onlookers of the massive annihilation of our green cover, we may not even have enough time for retribution.

Money Can Mess Our Lives


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With each passing day, the world around us is becoming increasingly materialistic. We are possessive and avaricious about our worldly wealth and go through indescribable stress to earn, own and retain it against all odds.

Sometimes, it is the very riches that we have worked hard for end up paving the way to a host of other problems like breach of trust, selfishness and lack of discretion.

A tale from the Panchatantra highlights the problems of hoarding excess wealth. Once lived an intelligent Sanyasi called Deva Sharma. People often solicited his advice and paid him for the offices. Though Deva Sharma had renounced the world, he did not hesitate to collect a sizeable amount of wealth his way.

His altruistic way of life did not permit him to use the money. Nevertheless, since he was very fond of his assets, he bundled the money and checked on it every single day. Whenever he went out for some reason, he made it a point to carry the bundle along with him.

A malefactor called Ashadhabhoothi sighted the treasure and hoped to own it someday. He ruminated on the various options to siphon off the riches and finally decided to cheat Deva Sharma off it.

He approached the Sanyasi; spoke about the ephemeral nature of human life and expre- ssed his desire to be initiated with the Shiva Mantra with the hope of attaining emancipation. Deva Sharma bit the bait unwittingly. He accepted Ash- adhabhoothi as his disciple and allowed him to stay with him.

Over a period of time, Ashadhabhoothi won the confidence of his Guru. One day, when the duo set out to honour an invitation, they came across a river. Deva Sharma decided to bathe. He instructed Ashadhabhoothi to guard the treasure when he bathed.

The hypocrite who had been waiting for this opportune moment all along nodded his head roundly and took custody of the loot. When Deva Sharma entered the water, he tiptoed away, robbing the Sanyasi of the money and also the trust that he had reposed in him.

Most of us are like Deva Sharma. We are making money or stowing it away, dreading to lose all the time. This syndrome can become detrimental to our physical and mental health in the long run for money can mess our lives.

Losing Our Roots


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It is sad but true that the human race has lost its touch with its roots. We have happily forgotten that we belong to the earth and it is not the other way around.

When Kahlil Gibran said, “To you the earth yields her fruit, and you shall not want if you but know how to fill your hands. It is in exchanging the gifts of the earth that you shall find abundance and be satisfied. Yet unless the exchange be in love and kindly justice, it will but lead some to greed and others to hunger.”

It is obligatory for us to acknowledge that everything that man possesses today is a gift of the earth in some way which has to be shared and enjoyed by her inhabitants sans disparity of any sort.

Man gave up barter system and switched to the concept of using money only to make life simpler. Ironically this very step has pushed him into the abyss of ethical degradation which has been taking monstrous forms from time to time.

We could live in a world free of wars, pollutions, scams and indignity if we could reconnect with the earth and use her resources prudently without upsetting the larger picture.

Bribery and scams have become the order of the day. Malpractice, mismanagement and corruption are all around us. The bonhomie and effective teamwork which must have been the driving force while doing the dirty work suddenly frays when a hole is picked in the fabric of corruption. While some prefer to act righteously indignant, there are others who plead innocence while yet others do not mind playing the blame game or simply pass the buck.

It is sad but true that hardly anyone who is caught red handed is repentant or at least is filled with a sense of shame when they are faced with the facts.

Apparently these culprits have lost the distinction between need and greed. They have forgotten that life is punctuated with death, the point of no return.  They do not realise that the wealth that they have stashed away cannot be taken forth and that they are spawning a decadent set of descendants who are likely to be idle bones.

If the observation made of the scamsters reveals a bleak black picture, the profile of the common man is no better for his character can be identified in the various in-between shades of grey.