Monday 22nd September, 2008

 
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SOCIAL SUFFERING FROM INCOMPLETE PLANNING

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction is a well-know law in classical mechanics. It is used by physicists and engineers to design space rockets as well by the 100-metre sprinters.

The ill-informed erroneously postulate that it also is the definition of karma. Karma has to do with actions, consequences and accountability. It transcends classical mechanics, space and time and hence plays a greater role at both the individual and collective levels.

Even if the narrow-minded may not want to acknowledge the applicability and practicality of karma, they would be hard-pressed to not acknowledge the concepts of consequences and accountability, unless their politics subverts their sense of logic and civic-mindedness.

The closing of Caroni (1975) Ltd was based primarily, one presumes, on economic considerations. There may be disagreement on whether this should have been the case. However, there can be no disagreement on the almost complete lack of planning for the consequences of the closure beyond the measures put in place (and yet to be fully implemented) for the social and employment issues that arose because of the termination of the employment of the workers.

On this note it would be interesting and of critical concern to everyone in the nation as to the effect of the termination of the aerial spraying of the large acreages of sugar cane fields, particularly on the mosquito population.

It would be untrue to say that we did not have the occasional outbreaks of dengue before and that public officialdom did not endeavour to put a less-than-objective slant on it. It would be in line with the objective and factual reality to say that this time the PR doosra and chinaman delivered by the spin doctors would have embarrassed both Murlitharan and Mendis, singly and conjointly, for their (the spin doctors, not the spin bowlers) sheer lack of subtlety.

Indeed, if a skit were to be made of the episode it would be aptly named “The disacknowledgement of D Eng Ue” The story line in precise format would about the time D Eng Ue came to Tee and Tee in full force. But the See Emm Oh refused to see him and worse yet refused to acknowledge him. Said the great one: you are not D Eng Ue. You are SC Ickle!

Naturally some portions of the population began saying, yeh is true! Nobody prove it is really D Eng Ue. It may appear to be him but we need more blood work and more tests! Never mind a distraught family was being traumatised by the loss of their child! Of course while such public discourses were being aired, the mosquitoes were “buzzingly” controlling and patrolling the airspace.

So what is the logical consequence of the above? Maybe the next time you show your passport or national ID Card or DP you could be told: you look like you, you appear to be you but some detailed tests would have to be done, including verifying your DNA. In the meanwhile while the tests are being done you are going to be quarantined.

The above issue is really symptomatic of a larger ill that trips up our progress as a nation and a country: that of the need for detailed national planning. Visionaries are needed but they cannot really effect positive change unless there is detailed planning for the implementation of the grand visions.

To give a practical example. Architects may have the grandest designs but they would not be worth much if there are not the engineers to translate their ideas into strong and safe structures. Indeed, the famous “bird nest” stadium of Beijing, in which the last Olympic Games were held, is probably more of a structural wonder that an architectural one.

Planning would be most incomplete if only the expected outcomes of the actions are considered. There must be the experience, the foresight and the responsibility to also anticipate the unexpected outcomes.

Of course one cannot be expected to know everything but if one were to do simple analyses of the consequences of initiating new processes and the termination of old ones, then many if not most of the consequences could be anticipated and their fallouts mitigated. The evidence is that no such practice, at least in any significant way over the many public ventures, is the norm or culture here.

Many of the problems that we face on a daily basis, as ordinary citizens, could be solved or mitigated if simple planning and execution procedures were put in place. Take a simple one and one of my pet peeves.

Traffic swinging right from the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway onto Aranguez Road is always blocked because of traffic entering Aranguez Road from Nanan Trace, a hundred feet or so from the junction. The effect of this is that traffic flow from the highway to Aranguez Road is blocked every single day with the continuous problem of being stuck in the middle of the east-bound lane of the highway when that light turns green. A most dangerous situation that can be easily solved by making Nanan Trace a one-way street.

Similar simple measures would mitigate the traffic at many if not most junctions of the highways.

All it takes is some caring and simple planning and implementation. Nothing grandiose.

n Prof Prakash Persad is the director of Swaha Inc

* Prof Prakash Persad is the director of Swaha Inc

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