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  Opinion   Oped  08 Jan 2018  We live in a dystopian world

We live in a dystopian world

Kishwar Desai, is the chair of the Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust, which is setting up the Partition Museum at Town Hall, Amritsar.
Published : Jan 8, 2018, 2:21 am IST
Updated : Jan 8, 2018, 2:21 am IST

Our New Year resolution would be thus to wake up and smell the coffee — and will be more ecological aware! Cheers!

British Prime Minister Theresa May (Photo: AP)
 British Prime Minister Theresa May (Photo: AP)

This New Year has brought in Arctic blasts, which are expected to last for another week, and London continues to be battered by chill winds. Minus 12 degrees is just a little better than the minus 20 that the US is suffering right now — which means, you fortunately get just partly frozen! Thank God for central heating as that is the only way so many of us will make it through this extremely cold winter.

But for the homeless the situation will be unbearable. And instead of sympathy in this season of goodwill — they have received the unkindest cut from a Tory councillor who is already concerned with the visual impact the street dwellers will have on visiting tourists when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle get married. Simon Dudley, head of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead council, before flying off for a skiing holiday, said that the homeless should be evicted from the streets as they would give a terrible impression to the millions expected to pour into the UK in May 2018.


He would like them to be removed so that the optics are good, especially at and around Windsor. Naturally, this callous suggestion has not gone down well and Prime Minister Theresa May has also given a firm refusal.

Strange that while it is terrible that a welfare-oriented country like the UK still has heart-wrenching poverty, and a number of people are forced (for a variety of reasons) to sleep and live on the streets, one imagines that bundling them away will solve the problem. This is really an issue which local communities need to examine. In the old days, when the population was smaller there might have been generous help given from within the community itself. But now we live in a dystopian world, worried about making weddings more “picture perfect”.


Apart from these foolish interventions, there is no doubt that the royal wedding will boost the economy as already hotels are being booked for the May 19 event. And so if we are not depressed by Brexit and the economy continues to do well, let’s give the credit to the royals! Once again they charge in to the rescue!

Meanwhile claims of sexual abuse still pour in. Why did it take so long? And why were so many of us silent all these years? Again, as allegations are revealed, often against popular figures, one hopes that somewhere justice will be done. The lead actor in the ironically named Ordeal by Innocence Ed Westwick has been accused by two American actresses of having raped them in 2014. The producers of the BBC 1 show (not taking any chances) immediately replaced him with the British actor Christian Cooke. Though Westwick has denied that he was responsible for such “vile and horrible conduct”, only an investigation will be able to reach the truth, perhaps. And so another high-profile celebrity will go into ignominious retreat.


For many of us coffee is a way of life, and we cannot live without a cup of Starbucks or Costa brew in our hands. And to think we once used to be a tea-drinking nation! Now it’s a hundred flavours of fine coffee — and more are being added every few months in delightful combinations — but it’s about time we paid some attention to the number of takeaway cups we use! Even a recent report by members of Parliament has pointed out that the 30,000 tonnes of coffee waste — and the 2.5 billion takeaway coffee cups are going to create a huge problem. Perhaps the only way out is to charge for them, 25p is the amount that has been suggested... hopefully leading to an eventual ban. It seems we use enough coffee cups to go around the world five and a half times!


Recycling used to be a perfectly normal thing we all did. Our neighbourhood kabariwalas still (in India) collect everything that can be recycled. And pay us for it too. But it is the actual recycling that needs to be pushed urgently. Perhaps we need to start carrying our own mugs to Starbucks or Costa just as we carry our own shopping bags. Some coffee shops do definitely encourage this — and even offer a discount. But apparently studies show that customers change behaviour most often if they are charged — this was the experience when supermarkets began charging for reusable bags. The change did not set in when discounts were offered. And then what about the last mile connectivity between the retailers and recycling plants... that’s where an army of kabariwalas need to come up... Can we offer this as a solution to the world?


Our New Year resolution would be thus to wake up and smell the coffee — and will be more ecological aware! Cheers!

Tags: theresa may, prince harry, sexual abuse