Thursday, August 08, 2013

A past overtaken by a fast moving world

Gulf Daily News 8th August 2013 -

These days newspapers often have stories about the global recession, an increase in unemployment, gross domestic product, growth rates, crude oil prices or falling gold prices, but I sincerely doubt this makes any sense to the common man.
Generation after generation we hear older people saying "in our day" or "in those days" - and I have started saying the same. Is it just that we are aging, or has it been always the way the world has progressed?
Let me rewind to a time when I was comfortable carrying a BD20 note in my wallet and would be unable to spend the whole amount in a week. What has changed?
Well, to start with, the need for communications has increased. Earlier, the justification was that businesses needed to always be connected. Now, it's the same even for individuals. So the once non-existent cost of mobile phones, mobile Internet, home Internet, Internet dongles and WiFi charges have come into play.
Secondly, super malls have cropped up everywhere.Simple purchases of groceries, milk and yoghurt do not happen anymore. You take a shopping cart, start browsing through the stalls, pick up anything and everything (often required items and mostly non-essential items on offer or sale).Now the shopping experience is all the more different and of course, all the more expensive.
Thirdly, the food joints offering the world's cuisine all within driving distance have turned us into food explorers. If it's a one-time venture, fine! But it doesn't stop there. You then have to introduce your friends to the newly-discovered restaurant. "That particular cheese item, what was it, ah well, that was very authentic.""You must try this..." I'm not sure whether we can really figure out whether the Italian or Mexican dishes on offer are authentic or not. How good are we at judging the authenticity of a particular cuisine? Nevertheless, every trip costs you something - an unplanned and non-essential expense.
Four, there is the ever-growing need for home electronic gadgets. It's amazing. Remember the simple Yashica, with 36 photos a film roll? You had to wait until you finished the entire roll and then rush to the photo studio - and then wait till the guy developed it in a dark room. The expressions on your face to see a few of your photos that were overexposed or underexposed. Forget about the excitement and thrill of seeing the photos, it wasn't expensive then! Now you have flashy digital cameras, camcorders and mobile phone cameras. Terabytes of storage are required to store the photos. Will you ever find that "one day" to sort the photos, delete the bad ones and retain the good ones? Maybe take a few for printing? Nope! What used to be considered a small business is now available in most modern homes. And you keep buying these expensive portable hard disks to store those precious moments, which you are never going to view again! At least not frequently! The habit of showing your photo albums to guests is no longer to be seen.
Five, don't forget the days when we used to play merrily and return home by dusk. Inexpensive, eh? Now modern children are tuned to PlayStation and Xbox. If you can afford the capital expense of buying the consoles, what about the games? BD15 or BD20 for a game? Come on! That used to be my weekly expense before the dawn of this new era! What has changed?
Everything around except the people of my generation and, of course, most of you readers in sync with what I have written. Now, is it time to go shopping? It seems there is some special offer on digital cameras!
Mohan Krishnamurthy

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Article:Rumours at the speed of light

Rumours at the speed of light

By Mohan Krishnamurthy, Posted on » Sunday, May 21, 2006

I STILL remember the day when we got our first television set. It was a different experience. A 12-inch black and white television, with a huge towering antenna, we often use to rotate to get clear signals. One odd programme for children and the rest some stuff which we couldn't understand or follow those days. Parents didn't stop us from watching it.

On the contrary they found it a tool to keep us home. Yes, they were tired of seeing us playing on the streets, coming home with bruises and cuts. Our clothes needed a change after every street game adventure as we used to come home soaked in sweat. Radio never needed as much attention as television demanded. You can switch on the radio and keep doing your work. But television was a crowd puller. A fascination-turned-pain before we realised. It got into our drawing room and slowly started controlling our thoughts and minds.

Unknown people started entering our home to watch programmes that were aired only between 6pm and 10pm. People used to gate-crash to watch poll results, movies or cricket scores. My mother enjoyed the recognition she got among the group as a first television owner. After the initial hospitality, my mother realised that it was going to be a Herculean task to extend the hospitality almost on a daily basis. But it was fine. We started having more unknown guests through the television itself. People were airing their views on dramas, songs, movies and debates.

With the Internet, paging, mobile and thousands of television channels, we, the public face a challenge. What to believe and what not to. What to follow and what not to. While the Internet and information technology innovation holds millions of pages of information, often we find facts are distorted, misrepresented or the truth totally blacked-out. For anything there are hundreds of views. Even scientific facts are denied, questioned or rejected altogether. Often the website reflects the owners' views and sometimes very aggressive efforts to force them on to readers. Rumours now travel at the speed of light with mobile voice, SMS and MMS. More misuse of technology rather than right use of it.

The younger generation spends time on books at schools, televisions and computers at home, hence giving birth to a new species - the couch potato. Reading books, watching television and sitting on computers for hours together negate any scope of physical exercises, handicraft, arts and literature.

Information availability is effortless nowadays, at the "click of a mouse-button" as they say. No need to discuss with elders and learned men, no peer discussion, no debate and no research by reading books from the library. In fact, if you seek any information from your friends, please do not be surprised to receive a standard answer - "Search on the Internet". But what is the accuracy of such easily available information. Is the right amount of information with accuracy reaching our children?

Creativity and innovation that existed among previous generations are scarcely found in the present one. We should not forget the growth in information technology, communications, space; aviation and automation are the fruits of man's creativity. The desire to discover, the fire to invent and curiosity to share the success have made us to see the 21st century of the world.

We must not let this creative fuel run out, particularly from our children. Schools, colleges and universities need to develop curricula that includes physical exercise, outdoor games, drawing, painting, carpentry, pottery and other handicraft courses. Parents need to spend more time with their children and help them balance between television, computers and other activities.

Yes, the older generation has a challenging task to pass on not only its technology and inventions, but also the phenomenon behind these inventions - creative thinking