In Just a Minute

Professor and I decided to meet in our usual Café for our weekly chat session. We decided to meet at 10 30 am to avoid the office rush.

But still, I was late by a few minutes. Professor was already at the table in the patio. He waved at me.

We ordered for the usual Ethiopian coffee with some ginger biscuits.

Professor looked into his watch and said

“Dr Modak, you are late by five minutes. Do you know what happens to the world in a minute? Have you ever thought about it?

I said, “Professor, nothing much happens in a minute and it takes years to bring in a change. Over the years, I have learnt to be patient when it comes to time. Time changes but not the world”

Professor did not like my attitude. May be I sounded philosophical. He lit his cigar.

“Do you know that every minute  more than 2,000 tons of garbage is generated on this earth? And more than 70,000 tons of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere as a by-product of burning fossil fuels.

In 60 seconds, the world will consume more than 5  million kgs of food. However, during that same minute, the world will also waste about 2  million kgs of food.

UPS in the US alone will deliver 11,319 packages and generate heaps of packaging waste”

I was astonished with such staggering statistics.

“You must have referred to some crazy and sadist antidevelopment NGO I guess. These numbers are not verified and could be fake or just a wild imagination. You must look at the Vikas (development) perspective too. Lot good happens to the world. We must be positive”

I continued to make my point.

“ I am sure in India under the Swatch Bharat Abhiyan more than 35 toilets are built every hour and our Honourable Union Transport Minister Mr Nitin Gadkari is constructing nearly 1.75 kms of road every hour. I can reel more of such numbers as the India’s national elections will come by”

“Oh Dr Modak, every minute is of concern to the sustainability of this planet. You don’t realize. Around 960 million tons of water is evaporated from the surface of the Earth every minute and 2,040 trees are cut down in the rainforest.

“Now it does sound scary Professor” I said this while opening a bottle of mineral water.

“You mentioned about Vikas and Vikas, but do you know that disparity is growing between the rich and the poor by every minute. Bill Gates will make $15,000 in a minute and in the meanwhile, a Nike factory worker in Vietnam will make only 1/10 of a penny.

Companies like Apple make more than 70,000 USD every minute and following closely behind Apple is Samsung, who makes close to $55,000 per minute.”

Professor was right.

I thought how much money Mukesh Ambani must be making in a minute as compared to a worker living in Mumbai’s slums. A friend of mine from Ministry of Health had told me that about 250 babies will be born around the world every minute,  and of those 250, 113 will be born into poverty and 15 will have birth defects.

My mobile phone beeped indicating that a new email had “arrived” in my mail-box. Today Internet has become a part (or shall I say a major part) of human lives. A lot happens in just one minute on the internet. Our virtual life is clearly dominating the real. I feel that instead of a punishment of life imprisonment, the best punishment could be LWI meaning sentencing a Life Without Internet. The LWI will be real torture to the convicted.

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I thought more about what’s happening to me in a minute.

I realized that blood will circulate through my entire vascular system three times in one minute. Every 60 seconds, I will blink 15 to 20 times. And a hummingbird will flap its wings 4,000 times! There is so much happening then in just a minute!

What if we think about an hour? Wow, every hour will show much more staggering statistics. Studies in Australia have shown that every hour of TV watching shortens life by 22 minutes and every hour, sadly, one student commits suicide in India.

Professor tapped my hand when he saw me lost in the thoughts.

“Your coffee is getting cold Dr Modak. You have already wasted one full minute! Were you meditating?”

I thought I probably was.

No wonder he saw me “doing nothing”. But sometimes doing nothing may also bring good to this world. Do you think it will? I got confused.

I decided to approach Lord Vishnu for his practical advice on this dilemma and refer to his narration  in the Bhagwat Gita. I am sure there must be answers.

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  1. Very nice description of what mankind does to the Nature in a minute. Therefore, we must appreciate what Nature does in a minute in terms of oxygen produced, biomass generation (photosynthesis), assimilation of wastes and other services which are responsible for sustaining life. The big question is How long mother Earth can sustain life under BAU scenario??

    1. On the different note illumined souls like Nisargarun Maharaj and Raman Maharshi sermoned to do “NOTHING”

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