Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Honour Killings – Blatant Transgressions of Human Laws!!

A series of incidents related to ‘honour killing’ are coming to light with a promptitude that defies logic. The slaying of young couples is based simply on the premise that the family’s honour is sacrosanct and thus, supersedes all forms of attachment to the kin. Then we have had a glut of human rights activists & NGOs filing petitions to introduce new legislations that would curb this burgeoning menace.

What exactly is the sin of the girl or the boy in question to be condemned to eternal perdition? Simply that they undertook a peremptory pledge to spend the rest of their lives together as two like-minded human beings would and justifiably, should with regard to the Universal law of nature. This has set me thinking as to what ideals, morals & ethics fall within the ambit of human survival, which one believed held good so long as you are true to yourself and to the laws of the Universe. Bernard Gert, a philosopher of ethics & utilitarianism had propounded a theory on moral rights based on the hypothesis that every human had a right ‘not to be killed’ inasmuch as ‘not to be deprived of basic freedom’.

In fact, every human faces the ethical dilemma of choosing his or her actions in such a way as would be morally acceptable to everybody and that one’s motives would be constructive rather than exploitative. In that sense, a couple which defies age-old conventions is bound to attract some amount of indignation, yet, the fundamental basis of human rights is that everyone should be treated as a free individual to execute his or her own will within the permissible laws. So, as long as two adults are compatible, it appears quite a travesty that the ruse of ‘family honour’ could be used as a bayonet to fragment their moral & spiritual union.

The Universal declaration of human rights validates what Immanuel Kant in his metaphysical thesis on morality had stated – ‘an action could be deemed morally right for a person if he acts in such a way that the maxim is generalized or becomes universally applicable’. For such families who are fettered by the strongholds of orthodoxy and thus, indulgent in such barbaric acts, the question that needs to be answered is whether they would be accepted unanimously and whether every other person would have acted on similar lines given the exigencies of the same situation.

The ambit of the society stretches out to castes and sub-castes so that it often does not result in similar interpretation of moral rules. Yet, in spite of this, nature has bestowed in varying capacities the power to freely choose the aims that each one of us desire to pursue. Thus, ‘honour killings’ committed without a sense of guilt or shame are nothing but transgressions of natural laws beyond acceptable or defensible limits, whereby, a person’s basic rights to live and to co-exist in harmony & peace are being ruthlessly trampled upon.

A Carbon-conserving Economy for Environmental Sustenance

We all are bearing the brunt of one of the hottest summers ever. As one grapples with the scorching clammy heat, there is an intense desire to be swathed in the summer-cooled sheaths in a ceaselessly ‘arid’ zone. The successive climatic changes are a clear pointer to the fact that the summers are getting longer and more ruthless with every passing year.

We may truthfully say of our ancestors that for years on end, they left the earth quite vibrant & undamaged. People lived a modest life based on limited renewable energy sources for centuries together on planet earth, which consisted of a combined availability from plant growth and the power of sun, wind & water for their sustenance. However, the industrial revolution in the later part of the 18th century, gave humanity the power to start exploring the rich stores of fossil fuels that had accumulated in the earth’s crust over several million years. As a result, human power and thus, the damaging impacts of human activities in a way, grew exponentially.
Since then, the world over, industrial and urban development has been driven by an increase in the burning of fossil fuels and as an offshoot, our continuing our reliance on them. According to most estimates, oil, coal and natural gas presently account for more than 80% of the energy throughout the world. This raises two questions. First, fossil fuels are non-renewable and every barrel of oil and ton of coal that we burn is lost for use by future generations. Second, combustion of fossil fuels continues to dump billions of tons of carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere. By an estimate, only about half of our annual emissions of some 10 million tones of carbon is currently being absorbed by the biosphere, which is likely to create potentially disastrous long-range effects on the climate. Even though, there are about 20 so-called greenhouse gases that make up the earth’s atmosphere, scientists are primarily concerned about the increase in the levels of carbon-dioxide since it is difficult to quantify the exact cause and effect of the others. However, it can be safely concluded that the capacity of the biosphere to absorb these gases is being reduced majorly through deforestation, erosion and depletion of carbon-rich soil by unsustainable farming methods. The more of the carbon-dioxide build-up, the more heat trapped near the Earth and thereby, raising the temperatures alarmingly worldwide. Thus, the challenges facing us are not just to reduce annual global carbon-dioxide emissions but also their annual concentrations in the atmosphere.

The mainstream of environmental ethic can be realised in terms of the principles which reduce industrial expansion and energy consumption and forbid the use of non-renewable resources like fossil fuels in ways which would threaten their future availability. We must therefore, find the means for sustaining the natural world in such a way as to create a viable future for humanity on a finite planet. A transition to a carbon-conserving economy thus, would be vital for climatic protection and human security.