Posts for 2004
There appears to be a sudden resurgence of thinking around Nuclear Power. The concept now being introduced is that it could help to resolve the energy crisis. Little do most people know that almost 78% of the power produced in the UK is lost through the energy production process, I wonder if the same is true all over the world! In addition, with so many household and commercial electrical units on standby, energy is being wasted every second of the day.
The new nuclear message is also being sold on the basis of next generation nuclear power stations. However, I fear that their risk is still imposing on society. Maybe Im being too paranoid but could it be that a political agenda with big money is being hidden from the public eye. Nuclear power has too many risks to humanity and this includes future generations. With so many accidents (lets just not get started on 3 mile island or even Chernobyl) and their long term impact, it appears that humankind has not learned from its past mistakes. Has anyone released yet that we will have to fund these new stations through taxes and that they could take over 14 years to build what do we do in the meantime?
The other argument against going nuclear again is the risks associated with disposal, security, volatility and health. With regard to the latter point, we have to all be honest with ourselves and admit that nuclear power stations leak. This leakage affects the air, water and life forms within its vicinity.
What is needed is a radical redesign of how we live and the houses that we build. I remember when I was younger the number of government sponsored advertisements that attempted to tell us to save energy for future generation. Did the world suddenly find a new energy source when these advertisements stopped?!An energy strategy needs to be built upon exploring greater opportunities for renewable sources. Im not suggesting that wind power alone should be relied on. What could help is offering a multitude of sources (Wave, Wind, Solar and Hydrogen) and an investigation into why so much waste occurs in the energy development process. In addition, why cant businesses/factories be encouraged / rewarded for being innovative in their use of diverse power sources? There is a great opportunity for innovation if only the incentive was there. Corporations have to have a social responsibility too.We need to ask ourselves where are yesterdays heroes that fought for CND The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Surely, the issues they struggled for are still the same. At the time they stood against the build-up of weapons, especially during the backdrop darkness of the cold war. The story is the same today. Nuclear power is a threat to everyone because the energy source is just too risky to work with.
There is an alternative to nuclear power; we cannot wait for the new stations as they are a long term liability both financially and to humanity. We have renewable sources around us, lets innovative to accumulate.
The other day I stood at the entrance of a giant Supermarket. For some reason the whole store had been refitted to show strength through stock. What I mean by this made phrase is the following: Imagine rows and rows of square shaped buckets each piled high with fruit and vegetables. The obvious logistical nicety for the supermarket is that stocks are easy to replenish but what a great subconscious marketing message, i.e.: Come and shop exclusively with us as we have plenty to satisfy your demand and desires
As I gazed at the newly fashioned entrance I couldnt help mutter under by breath Is it not an outrageous that in our part of the world (London, UK for international readers) there is so much but in many parts of the world there is virtually nothing. Some readers may now be thinking that Im back on my anti-poverty rant yet again. Maybe I am and what I would say in defence is that we should all be on a mission to make a global change for the sake of equality. We cannot just rely alone on issue awareness seeking programmes (essential as they are too) that hit our screens. For example, on Thursdays 3rd Nov05 at MTV Europe music awards Sir Bob Geldof was presented with an award. He spoke of the need to carry on his mission to eradicate poverty. Some of you may have read my 2 part I was there article on Live8 where I appreciated the nature and sentiment of the gig but was disappointed with issues such as special access areas, press and reporting arrangements. Im certainly not belittling Bobs mission but I just feel we should all feel and contribute for the people
I believe there is a missing element amongst us all The power to be confident that we can make a change. I condemn the action of drug taking hippies in the 1960s. However, many of them in the US and internationally protested against the Vietnam War. Take another example; there are more Sikhs that sacrificed their lives for the freedom of India. It was Sikhs that gave India religious freedoms and smashed the Mogul campaign of ethnic cleansing.
What will it take for us to be confident of not just passively hoping for change but to demand action?
I always thought that the Internet was free but increasingly it is becoming commercialised. If we feel that not enough is being done for a particular cause we should use the power of email and the potential to communicate to congregate. Do it now before this medium changes!
This morning I heard that not enough money is available for the thousands that are stranded in the highlands of Pakistan due to insufficient short-term funds. The World Bank audit announced on Tuesday 8th Nov05 that over 86,000 people have been killed due to this disaster. Unfortunately many of the victims died in the earthquake and within days of its wrath. Many victims have had parts of their bodies amputated due to infections / lack of treatment. Money is needed now to prevent further deaths due to the approaching winter.
In todays world where some have so much and others so little, dont we owe it to our fellow brothers and sisters to pay a tax, say call it a global relief fund to help fund potential disasters and the current world disaster of inequality.
If insufficient funds is an issue, why not use the power of email to demand change and suggest greater awareness to the media of such events – so that its presence does not continue to distract us all to ignore the suffering of those around us.
At this time of year, the streets are lined with Christmas decorations, coloured lights and illuminated fir trees. The atmosphere projected is one of a welcoming air of joy and warmth. People are rushing about from shop-to-shop, with a cluster of bags in one hand and the other with a folded sheet of paper representing indexed lists of presents. At the cashiers desk some shoppers may place a limited price tag on what they are prepared to spend on their presents, others may decide on suitability regardless of price. However, bargain hunting should not be knocked.
In the field of marketing management, the acronym AIDA is suggested to promote product sales. AIDA stands for: Awareness, Interest, Desire and then Action. This assumed human behaviour is also suggested as a driver for impulse buys. How many times has your mind signalled you to make a purchase on a product you do not really need or want? Retailers can also be too clever for their own good by placing products in particular shelf positions. For example, exploiting both reach and line of sight human traits.
I recently read about some purchases being made by a king of poverty and disease struck country. I wondered what criteria he was applying before buying presents or luxury items for himself. One of his purchases is the Maybach car It includes an integrated television, DVD player, 21-speaker surround-sound system, fridge, cordless telephone and sterling silver champagne flutes. He is also reported to have 11 wives and 2 fiancees. In addition, his particular country has nearly 40% of adults diagnosed as HIV positive. In recent years, he has asked parliament for $15m to build a palace for each of his spouses and $45m to buy a jet. NB Street protests led to him abandoning the plans to buy a luxury jet. Given a rise in income or receiving a financial bonus, our selection criteria and capacity to spend will inevitably rises. The question is to what level and is it controllable? When spending becomes uncontrollable or without purpose, the person doing the spending can be branded as a Spendthrift – One who spends money profusely or improvidently; a prodigal; one who lavishes or wastes their estate. One argument suggests that if you are a rich successful businessperson, lottery winner or Oil tycoon, you have a disposable amount to spend on yourself as your Spending power has just leaped. This is not to imply that those with riches (£$) do not assist or contribute to charity organisations. Instead, maybe their (rich folks) reality of worth moves into a different dimension. Establishing a form of personal tax saving world funds could be one way of balancing our need to spend and delivering vital essential needs of the many. We have to also consider responsible spending by developing countries. Should we allow these (developing) countries a free reign on spending policy or strive for charities to work with governments to establish intra-country funds. What we do need is a sense of sincerity, empathy and recognition that although everyone wants to survive and enjoy life, unfortunately, basic needs in the form of clean water, education and health care are too far behind in many countries. We should all aim to help to fix these issues through an acceptance that we are a world family. Giving the gift of survival should be at the top of all of our luxury item list.
This week, it has now been a year since I started writing a weekly column for the Sikh Times. Id like to thank the team for their continuing support and commitment to this publication. Over the last year I would like to think that the readers and I have explored & shared a range of subjects and ideas. For example, world affairs, globalisation, the need for debt reduction, ID-Cards, Bollywoods gloss/hype, charity, peace/harmony and the potential trouble with patriotism. The aim of my commentary is simply to raise awareness and cover lifestyle issues. I believe that the very fundamental theme of journalism is the right to express ones view and aim to stand-up and defend the defenceless in society. Knowledge is power. Take for example, the proposed Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill. On Tuesday 7th December at the House of Lords, the bill will have received its second reading. One of the bills aims is for the inciting of religious hatred to be made a criminal offence. Back in July 2004 David Blunkett suggested that there was a need to stop people being abused or targeted just because they held a particular religious faith. Extending anti-discrimination law is only worthwhile if we actually change the processes on the ground. In addition, previously he is quoted to have said that the legislation would not curb people’s right to express their view of other people’s religions. The issue is not whether you have an argument or discussion or whether you are criticising someone’s religion. It’s whether you incite hatred on the basis of it. NB There is already an offence of inciting racial hatred but this does not offer protection if someone is being targeted because of their religion. It is proposed that any passed legislation will be supported by a ‘British FBI – the Serious Organised Crime Agency, bringing together the National Crime Squad, National Criminal Intelligence Service and parts of HM Customs and the Immigration Service. However, there are some that consider this whole area as questionable. Some commentators suggest that religious based jokes will be disallowed leading possibly to imprisonment. There is also the need to stop negative influence. Remember last years trouble with an assignation based computer game. One game in particular, hitman2 was clearly both blasphemous and insulting to an implied community. Does the bill prevent free speech commentary or anyone raising questions around a religious community or an associated groups activities? A Home Office spokeswoman on defended the bill. There is a clear difference between criticism of a religion and the act of inciting hatred against members of a religious group, she said. The existing offence has not interfered with free speech and we are confident that an offensive incitement to religious hatred will not do so either. The home secretary believes the law change would help tackle religious extremists who preach against other religions. Another concern that is often raised by those opposed to legislation against incitement of religious hatred is the difficulty involved in defining religion. According to the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Bill 2001, religious hatred means hatred against a group of persons defined by reference to religious belief or lack of religious belief. This definition was seen to be too vague and open to abuse by extreme groups and fringe cults. In response to this criticism, any attempt to define religion was dropped from the Bill altogether. Is there a need to make a distinction between religion and religiosity- the quality of being religious? – A matter of personal choice. NB Those that incite religious hatred rarely make this distinction. The BNP’s campaigns, for example, are not only targeted at religious members of a community, but a religious community across the board. The fundamental issue here has to be the need for facilitating respect. Boundaries do not grey when negativity towards religion is expressed in public. An insult against a religion is exactly that. If such tones are used to fuel violence then clearly this is wrong and its associated perpetrators must be brought to justice. A law that is flexible enough to interpret explicit anti-religious references to protect communities has to be a positive for all affected.
I recently saw the strap line (advertising phraseology for catchy marketing line / pitch) ‘Need Vs Want’. The hoarding also boldly declared that there was a thin line between each word. If we go back to basics, we can observe that:
A need is defined as a condition or situation in which something is required or a necessity / obligation. Whereas a want is defined as to greatly; wish for, seek with intent to capture or have an inclination toward.
In both cases, a want or a need is often driven by desire.
Take for example, the question of identity cards. Is there a need for one or does the government want to place an additional mechanism to track its population? I am sure we all agree that we wish to live in a safe and secure country. Maybe the reasoning or desire behind the identity card issue is the need to simply verify identities and stop possible terrorism. However, civil liberty groups consider the introduction of the identity card as a device to restrict personal freedom.
Some anti-id card protesters suggest that ID cards would contain selective biometric information, for example, iris scans or fingerprints. ID cards would probably be required to attain employment, use a banking system, use the national health service, vote, buy a house, receive benefits, drive or travel abroad thereby preserving the status quo, Or some cynics may suggest a capitalist society. Therefore, any organisation or individual which threatens the status quo is a potential target of organisations on the side of large firms such as the security services and police. ID cards could be used to increase the surveillance of certain activists that disagree with specific government policies therefore constraining voices of concern or freedom of speech. Just imagine if the anti-poll tax protesters of the past during the 1980s had been gagged. In addition, ID cards would fail to significantly combat crime or terrorism since criminals would easily be able to forge the cards or obtain ID cards for other people illegally. There appears to be a fear that the introduction of such cards would subtly facilitate an Orwell type 1984 culture. Recently a firm that supplies loyalty cards to a large supermarket chain denied an accusation that it was monitoring and analysing consumer purchases patterns.
On a positive note, ID cards could in time replace carrying physical money or replace the multitude of cards that we carry, including other types of identification, for example: our passport and driving licence. The reality is that there is a cost for each of us to own the new id cards – New Labour have now announced that they want to make ID cards compulsory yet force people to buy them for possibly £35. Fines for failing to tell the state where you live have also been mooted. We need to be concerned about the possibility and dangers of generalising of personal profiling that could take place. Will the data that the government will hold on us ever be truly secure?At this stage, we should each analyse the pros and cons and alert your MPs of your opinions. What we do not want is a forced agenda and we all need to be aware that there is a fine line between wanting and needing such an item. Finally, let us also not introduce a scheme that is only motivated with one agenda. The danger being that in the future it could be used as a device to make paranoia take-over the basic instinct of fear.