My old friend Professor Robin Jeffrey and his friend, anthropologist Dr. Assa Doron, have written a new book called Waste of a Nation published by Harvard University Press.
The book is about garbage and India, or India and garbage, whichever you prefer, but does not send the same message as do articles or books about pollution that have been published elsewhere in the world.
In this new book, their take on the subject of garbage is as different from mine as is India from British Columbia where Robin and I grew up, and is also as different from anywhere in Canada as is Australia where he and Doron both live.
|Robin Jeffrey, left; Assa Doron, right: Book Talk (photo from Wikipedia)|
In reading about this book, I have found that North Americans and others in this world deal with garbage in a far different way than do the people of India.
|Map via Wikipedia|
Large-scale waste management as we now know it...with Sweden being today's model and other countries thus inspired...might become a serious problem in India rather than a solution.
The management of waste in India was handled by its specialists for centuries with no interference from scientists and their ilk. Of course, waste itself is a problem everywhere, as we all know, but solving today's pollution problem with technology might not be the end game for India.
I haven't read Waste of a Nation because it hasn't yet arrived by mail from Australia, but I have been apprised of its content by one of its authors — not only apprised but also surprised, because I have always been used to the view that so much of the world has on the subject.
We sit in our houses or apartments or condos, and we travel in our cars or trucks or camper vans or motorhomes, spewing waste gases into the atmosphere and dropping bottles, cans, papers, wrappers, and other detritus into bins or, heaven forbid, onto the roadside, some of which will be picked up by vast garbage trucks every day or week, depending on the location, and the rest of which will be left to moulder by the wayside or be eaten by animals who cannot digest it properly. Yet so many people in 'civilized' countries see ourselves as superior beings, or at least see our systems, as superior.
We've probably all been raised to believe that in waste as in everything, our way is the right way, and have only recently started to realize we could be wrong. (For recently, think 21st Century.)
It never occurs to North Americans, for instance, that a much, much older civilization might have been dealing with waste in its own way for centuries.
I look forward to reading this book by Assa Doron and Robin Jeffrey in order to learn more about those ancient practices, and how they compare with waste management in 'our world'!
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