With the advent of the Digital Age, data will be at the core of almost everything. Apart from other utilities, it will be a must for sustainable development. As we use more and more technology in different fields of life and gather data that was not available earlier, new applications of that data will emerge. This has been the trend over the last several years and it will continue in the coming future.
However, too much technology has started to adversely impact people’s health and we now hear of things like ‘digital detox’. Too much information overloads the mind and causes stress. While I am all for using technology, one should also take a break every now and then, and take out time to meditate, so that there can be a right balance of Internet and ‘Inner Net’ in the mind.
The growing reliance on data has also brought to the fore the importance of spatial data, which experts argue, is indispensable for building a sustainable world. To counter the looming water crisis in India, The Art of Living has been working tirelessly on reviving rivers and other water resources through its water conservation initiatives. Through these efforts, people at the grassroots, in towns and cities are being made aware of water conservation practices and the importance of the judicious use of natural resources like water.
Even our River Team has been using Remote Sensing data from satellites for planning their work in reviving rivers. As they tell me, they use many thematic maps based on which they derive the optimum River Rejuvenation Action Plan. The team has many hydrogeologists, former ISRO scientists and GIS analysts to work and train the community on the usage and implementation.
Our work so far has seen good results, but there is still lots to be done on the ground; lots of area has to be covered. It is also important to ensure that here is an effective study of the impact of our work so far. We want to involve academic / research institutions to be part of the study and also enable its usage for effective policymaking and needed course corrections across all water distress areas.
Along with innovations and technology advancements, there is a growing disparity in terms of data access. For instance, the developed world has emerging data economies and the developing/underdeveloped parts have populations with absolutely no access to data. The developing countries do not even have the requisite infrastructure that supports creation of the much-needed socio-economic-demographic data.
At the same time, technology has made the entire world a village, where anybody can know anything. This has obviously brought in many changes in the way people communicate and has also given birth to new economies — new kinds of jobs and skillsets have emerged with the emergence of new markets. While data is central to all of this, we have to be careful that it is not misused, as we have seen in many cases in the recent past.
Carl Sagan once famously said that “the Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life and there’s nowhere else, at least in the near future”. With mankind facing unprecedented crisis in the form of Climate Change, depleting resources and growing global social and economic disparity, there is a section which believes that we are running out of time.
A spate of natural disasters in the recent times has shown that Climate Change is for real and is affecting all of us. To start with, the most important thing is to sensitize people so that there is a sense of responsibility inculcated in individuals as well as in the society as a whole. This will ensure that the people understand and accept that the environment is not ‘someone else’s problem’. Every nation has a role to play to preserve and rejuvenate their natural resources.
Our team has been working to rejuvenate rivers and their ecosystems. They have been working with communities at the grassroots to bring awareness and ensure participation from all stakeholders. There is still lots to do in this direction. The ancient civilizations revered nature and when there is a sense of reverence towards something, you cannot pollute it. This attitude of honoring the nature is what we must bring back through education and awareness.
While technology adds comfort to our life, it is the state of one’s being that defines the quality of life. It is worthwhile to pay attention to how one can improve the state of one’s being, and spirituality is the technology for that.