The last decade left with some massive loose ends and several critical questions staring humanity in the face. While there may have been some great developments in the 2010s, we cannot deny that we have a long way to go in making this world a better place for our children and subsequent generations. I am not going to begin the year on a grim note though. There have been many silver linings in the past decade and I feel this decade will have many more.
Hope is that one torch that never blows out and I am (wishfully) hoping to see some critical changes around the world 2020 onward:
1. Greater Responsibility Among Corporations Towards Society and Environment Large corporations have been enjoying great leverage at the cost of society’s overall well-being. People have long been fooled by corporations with low to zero transparency about their actions and policies. There needs to be a far greater sense of responsibility towards all stakeholders and not just the shareholders. Giant corps like Amazon, Google, Apple and Facebook need to be more honest and responsible. FMCG firms such as Pepsi, Coke, Unilever and others also need to override their unsustainable practices. Whether it is data privacy or carbon footprints, corporations (both large and small) are answerable to OUR next generation.
Most often corporations are aware of their questionable practices. I do not want to project them as malicious but it’s time that they stop focusing on profit and shareholder returns alone and start caring for all stakeholders’ interests. They can and must lead by example in various causes such as sustainability, reducing carbon emissions, shunning plastic, avoiding over-packaging, promoting healthier products and more.
2. Dramatically Lower Defence Budgets (and Higher Budgets for Education) There has been an increase in defence budgets all across the world. Many countries spend 10-30% of their annual GDP budgets on defence and less than 5% on education. If people are well educated, maybe they can live in harmony and wars, and hence defence budgets are not needed. Governments across the world must distinguish needful expenses from their arms-race fantasies. Topping defence budgets cannot add to any nation’s pride when their significant population is uneducated and leads to several problems. Instead, countries (especially developing nations like India) will benefit more by increasing their Education budget.
3. More Vegans in the World When we consume dairy products and meat, we are supporting animal farming which is leading to:
- Poor living conditions of animals (Tens of billions of them)
- Health issues in people (Animal products can expose humans to various bacteria and viruses)
- Environmental decline (The no.1 cause of climate change happens to be animal farming as it is building up excess of methane gases while making poor utilisation of natural resources like land and water)
- We are mis-sold the idea that milk, dairy, meat products are good for us. If you ever happen to watch ‘The Game Changers’ or ‘Cowspiracy’ on Netflix, you’d understand how bad animal products can be for everyone. Veganism is much more than just a dietary style. As quoted by The Vegan Society, Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose. If you think going vegan is merely an ethical obligation started by some animal lovers, you need to read more about it. Recent reports cited by Forbes and National Geographic indicate that animal agriculture is clearly detrimental for our planet. I sincerely wish to see more and more people going vegan and more vegan related options becoming available to all of us.
4. Governments & Political Leaders Focus on Serving People Rather Than Themselves
They say if you believe in politics or governments, you have learnt nothing from history. I wish the trend changes and the from governments lying, indulging in petty politics, controlling people (using deceptive propaganda), and focusing on getting re-elected to truly serving people in an unbiased and sustainable manner.
5. Efficient Waste Management
More people means more consumption which means more waste. Global population is still growing at a 1.05% rate annually. Meanwhile, the World Bank has some grim predictions. Global waste production is estimated to rise by a whopping 70% by 2050. Ever wondered where all that waste will finally go? Although scientists and innovators are busy finding solutions for the current waste situation, every person, home, office and institution/organization must make all possible efforts to minimize waste production.
This would call for avoiding over-packaging, shunning unsustainable products (paper cups, tea bags, the so called ‘disposables’, single-use plastic, non-biodegradable personal hygiene products etc), and recycling (paper, plastic, metal, glass, cardboard and clothes) as much as possible. Plastic recycling is a massive industry and promises to provide sustainable solutions. Recycled plastic can be successfully turned into furniture, fleece, apparel and even building products. Young innovators and entrepreneurs must come forward with new, improved solutions for recycling and waste management.
6. Building Technologies to Ensure Positive Usage and Avoiding Their Negative Effects
Facebook connects people and that’s indeed helpful but it’s increasingly turning people into online-addicts making them waste time by following random, useless posts and leading to a dopamine-release in their brains. This is a major side effect of Facebook and other social media like it.
Genetically designed babies can get several potential diseases removed from them before birth; but it can also lead to a generation of perfect babies for richer parents, who may not carry any diversity that humans may be meant for.
Similarly, most technologies can lead to benefits and solutions to problems, but we must evolve with them by controlling their side effects that can lead to deterioration of humanity as a whole.
7. Healthcare ATMs
We need to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor. While we find the right economic models to do that, we should use technologies to improve the lifestyle of poor people by getting them better access to education, healthcare and other facilities.
Robust healthcare systems are the mark of an advanced society. The new decade must see revolutionary technology take centre stage in the healthcare sector. Healthcare ATM technology is a rather new innovation that roots from the need of healthcare at times when finding a proper pharmacy, hospital or even a dispensary can be difficult, especially for the poor people in remote locations.
It envisions ATM-like stations that would be able to dispense basic medical requirements such as first aid kits, antipyretics and antibiotics, painkillers etc. upon selecting symptoms. These could even serve as an online interface with doctors so that a proper prescription can be generated. Few healthcare ATMs have been introduced lately in some cities but remote and rural areas are still out of its reach. Healthcare ATMs could efficiently resolve the inaccessibility of medical supplies in such areas. Not to forget, it stands relevant for cities and towns as well. A quick access to medicines or a first aid kit at an odd hour can be instrumental in saving lives.
8. Making Mars Habitable
The quest for Mars has begun and it wouldn’t be strange if you hear people talking about buying land on Mars already. But before a human being can step on the red planet, we would need to make a habitable ecosphere that would be able to meet all our needs in a self-sufficient and sustainable way. A new human settlement would require a lot more than just the ecosphere and technology. We’ll have to figure out social contracts, administration, laws and economic precedents as well.
Is it going to happen soon? Well, this train has already left the station. Sooner or later we’ll be right there looking at our Earth through a telescope. The 2020s are raring to go and will soon take a giant leap towards our crimson neighbour. If not you, your children or grandchildren someday will plan to relocate to a quaint little village on Mars.
9. Connecting With the Inner Self
Many of us are so disconnected from ourselves. We are living in a social media and smartphone driven-world where we would do anything to impress others without really knowing what we want.
Ask yourself if you’d please – When was the last time you intently sat down to spend some quiet time with just yourself? Did I mention without your phone? No wonder, most would struggle at that question. Many of us have even experienced anxiety and even panic without our mobile phone. That’s how disconnected we have become with ourselves. We need a gadget to feel complete.
No matter how well we might be doing on the outside, it’s extremely important to stay connected with our inner self. This encompasses everything, from our thoughts, emotions and insecurities to our faith and our values. Some call it self-awareness and some may even call it spirituality.
10. Ethics and Morals Should Come Back in Fashion
We are increasingly becoming narcissistic, self-centered and less caring for those around us. Possibly, its an outcome of the consumerism and current form of ‘capitalism’ we practice. I wish each one of us would start realising that life is not about ‘me’ but about ‘us’ and we start following good morals by becoming more ethical and practicing integrity in our actions.
No matter what we all want, it all boils down to one thing. We all dream for a better world for ourselves and for the generations to come. If we all come together peacefully and do our bit, there’s no force in the universe that can stop us from turning this dream into a reality.
What are some changes that you’d like to see? Please do share with us.