When New Year comes by, everyone plans to make a resolution. And many like to talk about it.
I was thinking what should I decide that will reduce my present mess in life, reduce work entropy and bring better health and peace of mind. My wife pointed to me a chart as shown below “Do something you can and do that you badly need to do – such as losing weight” She said
(taken from http://www.drperillecounseling.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/5ccacd00-1ae8-4a14-b670-6abcb8e9b2ec.jpg )
I did not find this list exciting. This is all simple stuff I told her which anyone can do. Let me think differently and about sustainability I said.
But instead of deciding by myself, I thought I better ask people around first. Their New Year resolutions will give me ideas.
On December 31st, when the doorbell rang early morning. I opened the door and I found Raju, my usual newspaper boy. I asked Raju about his New Year resolution.
“Saab, I am a small guy” He said. “I don’t understand this resolution part – but if you ask me, I would not like to deliver newspapers that carry the “bad news”. It’s terrible to wake people up in the morning with something sad and depressing. And in your case Saab, I will certainly not deliver newspaper that carries news about the pollution and corruption where names of some of your friends in the industry and the Government are cited. I know reading this news will hurt you badly”. I thought Raju was right. Many of my friends were engaged in “unsustainable” activities and still were my friends.
When he left, I realized that I will need to find a new job for Raju as most of the newspapers today give only the bad news. They keep repeating news about air pollution in Delhi, noise made during Diwali, Effluents in Mithi River in Mumbai etc. and make us so insensitive about the challenges we face! I wish there was someone from the media resolving to publish only a “good news” newspaper! Won’t it be nice if we could read News that could inspire? Then it becomes worth to pay for the news!
I got into the car with my driver Ganesh. I asked him about his New Year resolution. Well Sir, he said, I would like to drive an eco-friendly car. A true environmentalist like you cannot drive this diesel driven Skoda and I really feel ashamed. I have heard about Toyota Prius – world’s first mass produced hybrid car that runs on petrol and electricity. Sir, please buy this car. Let us make this resolution for 2016”
I explained to Ganesh that Toyota Prius costs 3.2 million Indian Rs as against Skoda that costs only half of this price. We will make this resolution for 2017 and drive Prius when we will attend public meetings to show off- I assured him “Hopefully by then the price of hybrid cars will fall”. Ganesh was disappointed to see that I did not value his advice on sustainability.
I reached my office and called my secretary Kermeene for a dictation. After I finished, I asked her to order a plate of Patrani Machhi from Jimmy Boy for lunch. What’s your New Year resolution Kermeene? I asked
(taken from http://static.dnaindia.com/images/cache/1854657.jpg – dont miss the lunch here!)
Oh I have decided to become a Veggie from January 1, Kermeene announced. When she saw my startled face, she said “Sir, Have you read the article “Top 10 Reasons Why It’s Green to Go Veggie?” See https://www.downtoearth.org/go-veggie/environment/top-10-reasons ). Being your Secretary, I thought I must do my bit too towards “green” and for the environment
I thought of telling her not to trust claims made by such articles.
But Kermeene continued “Sir, by the way, I would not from tomorrow order any non-veg food for you too. I want you to follow vegetarianism like me for the interest of this planet’s sustainability. Hope this will be OK with you”
I explained to Kermeene, that while she is free to have her own Veggie resolution to protect the planet she should not indulge in upsetting my day to day life. How can I miss the box lunch of mutton biryani from Karims in Bandra and Tiger Prawns from Excellencee on the Mint Street? Talking about sustainability is different from putting sustainability into practice. I saw some disappointment on Kermeene’s face. I thought I probably lost her respect.
We had a group meeting in the afternoon with an agenda on Sustainability Reporting. Three of my senior colleagues attended this meeting who had flown in from Delhi, Chennai and Ahmedabad.
When we had a smoking break in between, I asked my colleague from Ahmedabad about his New Year resolution. He said that he will not travel in 2016 by airplane. “No air travel anymore except when on holidays” he said. I want to reduce carbon footprint of the company. You know we will soon have a bullet train between Ahmedabad and Mumbai – thanks to our PM’s recent meeting with the Japanese Premier) and so I will prefer to ride on the bullet train instead.
I thought that this resolution was great as it will cut down our travel costs apart from emissions. I changed my mind however when this colleague said that he will arrive one day earlier for the meetings and book a room in Taj President. I realized then that “up” and “down” flights would be cheaper. In fact, the net carbon footprint of this journey could be even higher given the carbon emissions resulting from night stay Taj (with the air conditioner guzzling) and accounting for the embodied energy spent on the food and drinks there. Sometimes life cycle analyses (LCA) can be rather telling and dissuade to let you do anything different – I realized. LCA is such a cheeky tool that you can prove what you want by choosing cleverly the system boundaries of the analyses.
In the evening, there was a Seminar followed by dinner at the Oberoi that I went to attend. Hon Union Minister of Railways Mr. Suresh Prabhu was to address the participants. Before his speech, I bumped into Environmentalists Deepak Apte and Rishi Agarwal “Friends, what are your New Year resolutions” I asked. Both of them said that their New Year resolution was to stall the Coastal road and the Trans Harbor Sea link projects. “These two projects in their present form will be a disaster to Mumbai”.They said this so loudly that CM Phadnavis sitting on the round table in the first row could clearly hear. (May be that was the idea)
But I don’t know whether the CM actually heard. Perhaps his New Year resolution was to commence these two very projects. We mumbaikars do not have time enough or sensitivity to understand importance of the mangroves that protect us or the migratory flamingos around Sewri that provide a joy to our eyes.
After Mr Suresh Prabhu delivered his address, I met him and asked about his New Year resolution. A very clever man that he is, he said “I don’t have any personal resolution as my life is now public, But I have resolution for my Ministry. From January 1, 2016, Indian Railways will get green. All railway coaches will now be painted in green to start with” When he saw my startled face, he smiled and said that he was only joking. He explained that there were many items in the agenda like bio-toilets, solar powered canteens, monitoring and controlling indoor air quality in the AC coaches and putting the CO2 concentrations on display”. “Thank God Sir you were only joking. I said But I am sure one of the earlier Railway Ministers would have just done that i.e. painting the coaches green!
I liked Mr Prabhus idea on monitoring indoor air quality in AC coaches – we simply don’t know today what is the air quality we are breathing at night on the long distance trains! Ignorance is often a bliss.
Finally, I spoke about the New Year resolution to my Professor friend. He was busy examining a recently launched app on iOS called Strides. “It’s not important to know what you have resolved, key is to know whether you are actually implanting your resolution” He said this in his characteristic serious tone. Strides is an elegantly designed app, flexible enough to help track multiple goals and it has built-in templates to help you meditate, save money, lose weight and so on. You type in the goal’s name, enter data about your target (like a dollar value to save, or target weight to achieve), select a meaningful time scale, then set up regular alerts and reminders. Strides shows all of the goals on a dashboard with an at-a-glance indicator. To log your progress, tap the goal’s checkmark in the dashboard. Selecting the goal’s name takes you to a page that shows your historical progress, as well as statistics like the number of days you have kept up with your resolution and your percentage success rate so far. The app is free and runs on iOS only.
(Visit http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/24/technology/personaltech/video-feature-apps-for-keeping-new-years-resolutions.html?_r=0 to know more about Strides)
Coach.me is another goal-tracking and habit-forming app that’s free for both iOS and Android. This app has a social networking aspect that lets people share their progress toward goals with a community and earn praise, as well as being able to ask other users for advice. You can also use the app to find and hire a real-life coach to keep you motivated.
“I am working on these apps to set up a Sustainability based New Year Resolution Dashboard” Professor said. A blend of coach.com and strides seems promising to get people on the sustainability track. Our PM will be talking about this new app during Mann ki Baat (See http://www.narendramodi.in/mann-ki-baat) tonight requesting all to download and use.
Wow, this will surely transform India. Imagine nearly billion of us pledging New Year Resolution towards this planets sustainability. I congratulated the Professor.
When I returned home, my wife asked me “so what did you decide for the New Year”.
I said “Let me get back to your standard list of resolutions”. With so many people pledging on sustainability, I don’t think I need to do much – I would rather focus on reducing my weight”
My wife wholeheartedly supported this simple New Year resolution!
You may like to read blog of Dr Ajit Ranade (See http://www.mumbaimirror.com/columns/columnists/ajit-ranade/Resolutions-fit-for-2016/articleshow/50327427.cms )
Cover page sourced from http://img2.timeinc.net/health/images/slides/2011-year-resolution-400×400.jpg