28 February 2012

Ideas to Make a Better Society

You could call it the creative mind at work... While I travel I see different things around me and suddenly thoughts jump up at me, “What if this could be fixed like this...!” I smile... then I think, “Is it possible to make such things happen?”

One person alone may not be able to make the whole idea fall into place... I believe different people with different capabilities and guided by the same intention to see social change can make these things happen. In fact it would surely be possible if some people in places of authority took up such ideas and added energy and dedication to them so that we can see the change we are hoping for.

Are you wondering what kind of ideas I am talking about? Well they could be plain and simple ideas or they could be out of the box, different and sometimes crazy sounding ideas... all the same, the similarity in them is that they aim at changing something for the better.

A picture of me during the train ride that inspired me!
Like for instance, while travelling by the local train in Mumbai during my last visit there I saw the sides of the railway tracks all littered with paper and trash of every kind. I wondered how people living on the sides of these railway tracks were putting up with living around with such dirty surroundings.

As I was thinking about this, I suddenly noticed there was a lot of paper and plastic waste around which could easily be recycled. This brought to my mind that huge group of recyclers we know as ‘rag pickers’ who many take to be a nuisance but actually serve society by contributing to the recycling industry – silently.

I thought what if the railways chose a day when they would allow rag pickers to come and pick up every recyclable paper, plastic, carton, etc from the railway tracks and earn whatever they could from it? The result would be cleaner tracks, better surroundings around the railway areas and a better income for these rag pickers! It would be a way of society telling these rag pickers that we value them, care for them and it would build up their self esteem and probably a good number of them would start caring more about themselves as a result of this.

I know this is only possible if someone in the railways and at a place where such decisions can be made – takes up this idea and works it out. There are some NGOs working with rag pickers in Mumbai and they could form the team that will help bring this plan into action. It may sound crazy but I think it is very workable... all we need is the enthusiasm to bring about change!!!

Another idea... Well I have used public transport a lot in the years before and I used to fret a lot about the condition of some of the APSRTC buses which didn’t have proper rods for passengers standing in the front to hold on to... I used to wonder who on earth designed these buses because they didn’t seem to bother what would happen to the people standing there when the bus was over full and when the brakes were applied suddenly. I wondered if those who designed utility vehicles and other products think about the people who have to use those things when different situations arose. Well, thankfully they started phasing out those old rickety and terribly designed buses for better ones and the problem is being taken care of.

One more idea... I work with a Deaf NGO called Deaf Enabled Foundation and I have become sensitised to the needs of the Deaf in our country. One of their needs is that all movies, television programmes, videos and audio material be available with sub-titles because they cannot hear what is being said. While thinking about this it suddenly struck me that it is very possible if we can get a software made which would in the opposite way of ‘Narrator’ which is normally used to read out written material and is available with Microsoft Windows. In this case we need words spoken in any form to be transliterated and typed in subtitle form. This facility is needed in different languages.

Deaf Enabled Foundation Members at the International Deaf Day Rally 
I believe if brilliant software developers put their minds to this, it is very possible. Whenever they accomplish this, it can be made available for all television channels and government machinery like railway stations and all public places where announcements are made so that the Deaf can understand what is being spoken. Now that is a challenge that perhaps Microsoft and other companies who create software can take up as a CSR initiative! I would be overjoyed to see my Deaf brothers and sisters get the information they should be getting because it is their fundamental right to information!

Well, in a nutshell I would say we have a lot of creative minds in society who can be brought together to resolve the problems faced in society if they are allowed to collaborate with the people in authority. The main criteria for selection of such creative people into such a ‘Think Tank’ should be that their intention is to do good for society without any selfish interest. In doing so they could impact society and be instrumental in building in a better future for everyone. 

Maybe you are a creative person and you too have good ideas that could bring about change. Well, don't keep them to yourself, share them and hopefully in the future someday, your idea will germinate and bring about the change that is needed to transform the lives of many people. Maybe we creatives from around the world could come together and form  'Creatives For Change' or something like that... Who knows! It is possible!
Well friends, let the good ideas keep coming and may they be implemented too! Here’s to a better society and a better future!