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Noise And Signals

The writer passionately argues how noise in elements can be detrimental to the cause

It was one of those routine wee1k days when I was stationed in Goa. It was my turn to pick up my son from school, waiting along with other parents in the premises of the school, awaiting the ring of the final bell that heralded the dispersal.

During that brief time slot, I saw a small boy rushing out of his class, heading straight towards a plant which was slightly wilted. He emptied his water bottle watering the plant and moved ahead. His action seemed voluntary.

As he charged along my path, I quizzed him about the priceless deed he had indulged in. He seemed cool and distant about it. This small little boy was Ved Bhatkuly who was unknowingly doing his bit for mother Nature without any loaded prefix or suffix of words like ‘duty’,  ‘initiative’ , ‘role model’, ‘CSR’, etc  which in  all probability would have been unnoticed  but it provoked me to write about it.

Well, let me admit that many such valued interventions which are simple and straight forward simply go unnoticed because we are getting addicted to the noise of meaningless discussion and debates especially on topics which are not even remotely connected to us. In the bargain, we are missing the sensing of relevant signals.

Ved’s small deed came as an eye opener for me as amidst the chaos of noise, the glitter of a small signal of a selfless constructive action was shining through. It is said that the way to hell is paved with best of intentions .Just look around and you would see the growing noise level in almost all walks of life eclipsing the valuable signals like the Karna of Mahabharata.

As an ode to Ved’s initiative, out of several loci which influence and impact our lives, I am sharing three clusters which definitely have inherent noise but hidden in the noise are signals of peace and prosperity but what it needs is the ability to see and amplify them.

The ‘Extrinsic Noise’ of Media World

Read through any newspaper or check on any Indian news channel, the header or footer on the TV screen keeps flashing ‘Breaking News’. Continuous repeat telecast, over dramatic presentation, cock fight debates based on ‘Throat power’ rather than ‘Thought power’, provoking language, allegations, front page of leading news papers settling for meaningless advertisements etc have perplexed one and all. Is this what it means when we used to proudly say ‘Pen is mightier than the sword’? ‘Peepli Live’! The film came as an eye opener but nothing much changed, the rule of TRP seems to be omnipresent.

Take social media. It will mesmerize you with several thousand likes but very few of them would actually come out on streets or contribute to support the cause. Technology noise in the field of media is killing the humaneness within us through ‘Emoticons’ which are nothing but a ‘con’ of emotions!

The intrinsic signal of the media world

I was hell bent on searching for a signal of hope and yes, I could trace the signals in TV channels like RSTV, LokSabha TV these channels were somewhere hidden in the clutter of other channels. On social media I could find ‘The brighter India’, ‘The Up India’ etc which were focusing on purposeful constructive news podcast.

‘The uglyindian.com’ has done some amazing work in Bangalore. They are indeed on a mission of transforming the filthy streets into a showplace of art. Its founders and volunteers are anonymous and they work in synergy with the civic systems to maintain sustainability.

If it is said that the fourth pillar of democracy is media, then isn’t it high time for the media houses to come together and co-author a code of conduct, self regulate the quality, content and frequency of the broadcast so that there is no skewed bias on cynical criticism which can unknowingly build toxic levels in our secular social fabric.

The media collectively can build an India specific model of broadcast and podcast without compromising ethics and values. If this signal is amplified it will energize India’s transformation process.

Extrinsic Noise of ‘Gratitude’

Very few corporates or individuals have built amplified signals of CSR. But on a large scale most corporates and their HR teams find it convenient to engage in noisy CSR initiatives which are nothing but ‘Event Management’ with an expiry date of 24 hours or a week. Quite often, they take pride in measuring its effectiveness on the basis of newspaper coverage instead of collecting feedback from the beneficiaries.

The ‘Swachh Bharat ‘ mission a much required signal with all its noble intentions has been reduced by many corporates to a noise of symbolic cleaning of streets or offices once in a blue moon that too at superficial level and more as a bureaucratic compliance.

The glamour quotient and ease of one day road show is a shrewd path of least resistance rather than engaging into difficult options of working on solving sewage treatment issues, garbage disposal, initiating increase in the frequency of cleaning cycles etc.

The intrinsic signal of ‘Gratitude’

Let us take a real life scenario. We have 600 plus industries in Verna. Imagine, if they are aligned on few CSR projects which are thoroughly researched and adopt an execution time span of minimum three years.  As the industries have all the requisite competencies and capacities for driving projects, if pooled and partnered with the government, this partnership can create huge reservoirs of fiscal and managerial strengths which will give requisite momentum. Like for instance, we have 100 plus football clubs spread across Goa. If industrial associations come together, adopt villages in their vicinity and partner GFDC, GFA and fuel them for minimum three years by sponsoring nutrition, encouraging grass root level participation, community involvement, the State sport will rise to international standard such that our home grown players will be invited by international clubs like Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal!

The Extrinsic Noise of schools

The sight of children, some obese, trekking with abnormally heavy bags, tight packed schedule with tuitions / projects, squarely leave no time for societal responsibilities and sensitization. As a result, subjects which need action are taught via theory like moral science, environmental education, value education etc and marks are perceived as guarantees of understanding and application.

The school system, for the compliance pressures from their respective Boards, are unknowingly making students individualistic and solo players. The duplication of project work adds to criminal wastage of resources, time and efforts.

The intrinsic signals of schools

Ved’s innocent act gives us enough easy and workable signals. Imagine if the school makes small cohorts of three to four students who plant or adopt an existing sapling and take care of it on their way to school, then within a span of two to three years, one could enjoy the green cover as one would see about 400 plus trees in and around each school growing into a self sufficient ecosystem system.

Let us take another burning issue of electricity or water – its wastage and shortage. If the school clubs build awareness and then embark on a unique project where each student works towards saving electricity or water in their own backyard, and if they show a savings on it month on month, then their suitable reward will trigger them to own up and amplify the signals. The students will jostle to understand the tariff slabs, scout for energy saving equipments and volunteer to avoid wastage. .

Most schools have 1,000 plus students, now imagine the significant fiscal savings it will derive apart from this the power / water saved can be utilized for feeding the hinterland which is quite often subjected to power cuts, water scarcity due to excessive usage and wastage by elite urban.

I am sure you would be inclined to try out something similar to what Ved Bhatkuly did unknowingly. It would be a measure of success. But if you truly and seriously understand his perspective and then chart your own initiatives, and I think this effort would be richly rewarded

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