Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Year of Depression & Smart City!

“I, I don't think anybody's continually happy, uh, except idiots, you know. You know, you have to have little moments of depression”…  Rube Goldberg.

Reuben Garrett Lucius "Rube" Goldberg was an American cartoonist, sculptor, author, engineer, and inventor. Goldberg is best known for a series of popular cartoons depicting complicated gadgets that perform simple tasks in indirect, convoluted ways, giving rise to the term Rube Goldberg machines for any similar gadget or process. Goldberg received many honors in his lifetime, including a Pulitzer Prize for his political cartooning in 1948 and the Banshees' Silver Lady Award in 1959. With these entire qualifications yes he can afford to have a little bit depression & yes he has understood depression too! Since long I was haunted by the word depression & one small news few months back caught my attention, it said that WHO i.e. World Health Organization which looks after well being of the world’s population has declared Depression as this year’s agenda. Every year WHO declares some chronic disease after the year & for the first time it has acknowledged depression as illness or disease. I am no medic & far long from being a psychologist yet psychology has been always field of fascination for me. Its one branch of medical science which like environment actually deals with every aspect of life, that’s what makes psychology so so important even for industry like real estate.

Speaking about depression I think after acidity its most commonly used term across the genders & age boundaries of today’s society. Even the celebrities whose lives we envy too have been victim of it as recently super heroin Deepika Pudukone's video in which she has shown speaking about attack of depression has become viral on social media. How often we hear someone may it be in home or work or in friends saying or asking, “I am depressed today or why are you looking so depressed”. Right from teens to elder persons everybody use this term once in a while but how many actually knows it leave apart fighting with it or treating it? Off late depression has become cause of many diseases right from high/low BP, diabetes, migraine & many more which comes as package deal along with it. No more it’s just temporary mood swings of human mind but has become a prolonged state of mind causing severe damage to body along & that’s the reason even WHO has take cognizance & declared depression as a challenge in front of humans across the globe! Now, one will ask what’s relation of this topic with me as a builder or engineer as real estate, smart city or environment are the subjects about which most of my sharing are but somewhere all above things are closely associated & becomes root cause for depression silently, is what I feel, the more I think about it. For that we need to understand how we define depression & damage it makes on a human being; going by common sense or sheer logic depression is state of mind which is outcome of effect or impact of surrounding around an individual is well known fact. And when we say surrounding it includes our work places, our residences, and public areas as well our relationships with people in all these places, all becomes part of our life which we feel is depressing. 

When one says I am depressed, actually it means many things as it might be insecurity in life or it might be just got bored of routine or in most cases its frustration coming out of negativity or failure on many fronts. Depression causes may varies person to person but outcome is same i.e. negative mind set which gets reflected in every act the person in depression does. Leave apart the insecurity feeling for so called celebrities or rich people as that’s not our subject of interest, lest focus on depression created by surrounding of the common man for e.g. in our Pune city. Right from seeking a good job to owning a home many things can make you depressed by the hassle in obtaining what you desire. And even the people who are so called builders in real estate are not free from depression as those who wants to earn some money by building home & more importantly by legitimate way can easily get depressed by the obstacles in the entire process of sanctions to completion of a building. If such is scene for builders then one can imagine what it must be for the millions of home buyers whose hard earned money is at risk in all such projects. Recently my friend in PCMC has asked me to join hands an making common man aware about illegal construction & first thing came to my mind was depression you get associated with when you chose illegal track. As all the time you are under fear or pressure when you know you are doing something illegal or has bought your home in illegal building outcome of which is depression & this is how you allow depression to make you victim.

Another major reason of depression is getting frustrated by the system which we call govt & right from not getting driving license in time to getting wrong electricity bill to numbers of visits one needs to make to any govt office for smallest of the work like change of name on property tax bill, so many things can frustrate even strongest minds & making him victim of depression. And this we are speaking about so called middle or higher middle class, when its poor the reasons  for depression are many more. Not getting PMT bus in time which causes delay to go to work to unavailability of essential goods in ration shop to no water supply, school fees & medical bills, there are thousands of reasons which make a person feel real depressed. And on all this back ground when we talk about smart city then the target should not be just free Wi-Fi or beautification but providing a system to the citizens which will make them less frustrated for their day to day needs & that’s real insurance against depression. No doubt free Wi-Fi & beautification are important but need of the time is very basic things like good education as well public health first. On this background will share example of my own home where our house maid was very depressed & reason was she has taken money from a loan shark just for treatment of her son as well for his school fees & now that man was harassing her day-night to repay the money taking all her peace of mind & outcome is depression. And trust me if you speak with most of the people in your surrounding then you will realize everybody has such problem which is making him or her feel depressed with life. What kinds of progress we are talking about when most people around are worried (read depressed) about very basic things like education & health here! No harm in going for Smart City but this is what we should aim; a Depression Free City should be the target while measuring the success of so called Smart City.

Another major aspect missing here is awareness about the depression; as our govt along with local bodies spends millions of rupees on campaigns for building toilets or about diseases like Swine Flu or Dengue but nobody even considers depression as a disease & the damage it makes to the nation as whole!  A depression patient event doesn’t know he is ill & as management principles says; only a fit & happy mind can produce desired results. So imagine a society where right from a driver or sweeper to CMD of a company, all are knowingly or unknowingly victims of depression for their own reasons, the kind of loss in terms of reduced output by each such person due to depressed mind set is immeasurable! The best weapon to fight against depression is happiness & one should work for it individually because each one has different definition for happiness. And for that a dialogue as well self understanding is must. Here again smart city comes in picture as to have a dialogue as well keeping the mind engaged in happiness seeking activities, such opportunities should be made available to the people. We need to design spaces where people from every segment can come together & can have dialogue with each other in the form of sharing or performing. The best way to seek happiness apart from dialogue is getting engaged in some hobby which again means some activity & more better if such activity is being performed on the backdrop of nature. Now for a moment close your eyes & try to remember how many such places are there in our smart city & if there are such places then are they in position to serve the purpose? As all what we see is pollution & encroachment of wrong purposes on such places for e.g. if its river side walk then the river is in such state that one look at it & you will get more depressed. A walk along the river even with closed eyes isn’t possible as all sort of pollution mixing in the so called river makes it impact on your nose via the stench wind carries to your nostrils! And then there is every sort of encroachment from parked cars to panipuri/ paw bhaji stalls contributing to the hips of garbage along the walk. Unfortunately we don’t have any place where a depressed mind person will go for a simple activity like long walk in open & try to be happy & with due respect if there are then the number if very less than the need is a bitter fact!  So all one can do is go to the malls, spend money & get more depressed after coming back home when he looks at debit card bills & if one doesn’t has money then the depression crawls in more by the realization he can’t buy what he desires!

And then with due respect to smart city makers, use of giving free Wi-Fi like facilities is useful only if it will be making the common man’s life easier by adding services supported by the Wi-Fi. Or else the free Wi-Fi will be used to make the citizens more lonely by getting them hooked to so called net based social media & making them live in virtual world where depression is your only partner actually! We need open spaces, gardens, performing theaters & many public places where people can come together & communicate with each other. Here they will perform arts, can pursue their hobbies as well share laughter as that’s the only way to become healthy society & we need this fast as time is running out. Lets accept that every one of us has been victim of depression sometime or other & that makes each of us responsible for joining this fight against the deadliest disease ever & it’s high time we realize this & act or before we become Smart City we will end up as Depressed City!

Sanjay Deshpande 

Sanjeevani Dev.


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1 comment:

  1. More than 35 crore people suffer from depression worldwide.

    The number is 5 crore in India alone.

    Even in today's world there's a huge taboo associated with the D word.

    So many people could find a way out of their misery, by just being able to confide in their loved ones without fear of being judged, and by taking help from a therapist....

    Anagha Chhatre
    Counselor & Psychotherapist


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