Sunday, March 23, 2008

Building an inclusive Dubai

Dubai - the city of the future has some serious flaws. It is definitely a world-class city with unmatched infrastructure and possiblities in this part of the world. At the same time, the city has some obvious missing links. some obvious shortcomings which reflect the lack of planning to include all sections of people in the city.

Consider pedestrians. It is almost impossible to walk in Dubai. Unless one is risking being run over by a car speeding at 100 km per hour, one cannot walk safely in Dubai. As someone who lives close to his place of work, often i walk to office. Apart from being an exercise, it gives me a chance to feel part of the city. But each walk can be a potentially hazardous experience, with cars zooming past me. Besides, half the roads do not have pedestrian paths; so one is forced to walk on the road.

Secondly, there is virtually no public transport to speak of. The almost invisible public buses never arrive on time and in no way a reliable means to commute. Once that i actually tried to use the bus, i was late by over two hours for a meeting. That was my first and last attempt at catching a bus. It simply isnt worth the time and effort.

Also, there seems to be no space for poor people in Dubai. Those with low income jobs have no place to live. With sky-high rentals, most of the poorer people are pushed to the fringes of the city and often un-hygienic conditions of living. This is indirectly telling people that there is no space for the poor in Dubai. with the prohibitive cost of living and rentals, many people commute from Al Ain and sharjah (a good two-three hours commute one way) to work.

Hopefully, with the upcoming Metro things should look up slowly...but the needs of a larger section of society must be kept in mind while planning the growth of Dubai.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Role of religion in the world

Is organised religion a curse ? Does belonging to a faith make one hate those who dont share the same views ? Has religion been the cause of all major conflicts ? I believe the answer to all of these is a NO. For starters, the two major wars World War I and WW II both were political in nature and not religious.

The more one examines the nature of the arguments that religions cause conflicts, the more one realises that they are driven by ignorance more than informed opinion. Yes, there are terrorists out there killing others in the name of religion and modern day imperialists occupying land which they claim belonging to them; but their chief driving force is not religion but politics and power.

In this illuminating talk, Karen Armstrong, well known author of all things religious speaks of compassion as the chief force which drives all the three monotheistic religions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam. She rightly says that unless there is compassion, there is no religion and those who claim to be violent and religious are just opportunists using religion to their advantage.

Watch this to gain an insight into some complex issues and understand that peace and compassion is the only way forward. There must be a concerted effort by those in power to build bridges of understanding rather than divide people in the name of religion.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Innocent office exchange

My GM, walking into the office space : Guys, does anyone here have my calculator

Me : Sorry boss, i dont earn enough to need it

COO : Neither do i :)