Sunday, 27 March 2011

Future Futile

Courtesy: The Assam Tribune, Horizon 26 March 2011

By RK Rishikesh Sinha

Japan Disaster 2011

The whole world is shocked watching the level of destruction and devastation that swept Japan in the wake of the recent 8.9 magnitude earthquake followed by tsunami. It reminded us how fragile we human beings are against the power of nature. We saw how nature’s tandav of obliteration went on in Japan. As the tragedy wasn’t enough, the blasting of nuclear reactors, gripped us with the another greatest fear that we all associate with Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and Chernobyl disaster, the radioactivity exposure.

However, the tsunami and subsequent blast of nuclear reactors in Japan have given us food of thought to introspect the world we are living. Though we don’t have any control over the earthquakes, we definitely have control over the setting up of nuclear plants and in the use of radioactive materials. The tragedy reminds us lot of other human-creations which have brought havoc to the mankind. The Bhopal disaster that occurred in the night of December 2, 1984, which is estimated to have killed 15, 000, is one such gory example perpetrated by the human creation in India.

The Japan nuclear reactor blast has sparked off again the debate on the use of science in the development of humankind. It is pure coincidence that when the people were reeling under fear of nuclear fallout in Japan, the world celebrated the birth anniversary of Albert Einstein on March 14 whose contribution to the advancement of science and relating mass and energy is well known. His role in the Manhattan project of the development of first atomic bomb used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II reminds us the human involvement that goes in the development of instruments of mass destruction.

Now when India has shown interest in meeting the future energy requirements with the setting up of nuclear plants, the incidents that have unfolded in Japan gives us daylight goosebumps with a sense of terror and fear. Are we ready to face eventuality of such magnitude in India? Does India’s rapid advancement in the nuclear power industry is required, understanding the fact that the country is dependent on the imports of nuclear fuels? These are some questions that haunt all of us.

It is definitely a matter of concern since India’s record to the safety of nuclear plants gives a different picture. Since 1987, six accidents have taken place in the nuclear power plants in India. Researchers at the American University have estimated that at least 124 ‘hazardous incidents’ have taken place at the nuclear plants in India between 1993 and 1995. Scientists and policy-makers might argue that the nuclear installations in India are safe and secure; still their arguments do not go down to our neck.

If for a moment the nuclear fear is sidelined from our consciousness, the way our cities are growing haphazardly with complete negligence of building laws and safety, we can conclude that we are creating mass graves for ourselves. Time has come to give serious thought to the world we are busy in creating in the name of infrastructure development and meeting the future necessities that it meets the future eventualities. But to what extent we restraint ourselves to play in the working of the mother earth is a big question! So far, our future looks futile and uncertain if ever we face the scale of destruction that hit Japan.
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