Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Onco Society

I have often thought of the similarities between our human body processes and our country/society as it exists today.  It very uncanny, but you may mentally superimpose one on the other and see.

We have  an entire set of rivers flowing from the mountains into the oceans. Some big, others small. Most of them being subject to, as they say in medical parlance, environmental insult.  The Ganga, of my younger days, is now  a troubled flow, replete with the silts of progress, industrial  effluents, and sewage of a shameless humanity.

What can you expect of a people, who gave up sensible seasonal organic eating, a daily high-movement lifetsyle and avidly pursued food studded with trans fats, additives, banned chemicals , heavy sugar, heavy salt and phosphoric acid, and messed up their own Ganga , the Aorta , the main artery in the body; with blobs of sticky plaque all over, and sometimes, even stretching encroachment outside its 3 layered banks, in the form of blooming aneurysms.

Of course there are rivers like the Brahmaputra , that are cursed for changing courses, and creating new channels of flow. Maybe, like collateral flows (compensating alternative blood flow  paths ) that happen in our body when faced with blocks in the normal flow, the river too, took corrective action

A sense of intense greed makes us reclaim land from what is normally a free wavy sea, and  we show off smooth and posh constructions unconcerned about the fact, that somewhere else,  the sea will have to make up for being driven out. And so you watch, ladies traumatised by age , using Botox fillers to reclaim youth and beauty, unaware that this is going to show up at some point , problematically somewhere in the body, which has a fixed capacity to throw out junk.  In various places , we artificially try and flatten, raise, and sculpt the body parts, just like we flatten entire forests and hillocks in the interests of landgrabbing and progress.

And then there is the business of the genes.

These are in the nucleus of the cells, millions of which make us what we are. These genes, basically contain the operative instructions for the growth, maintenance and running our body systems. Some of these genes we inherit from our parents/ancestors and we call them traits/predispositions. Others we are born with. 

While we need to be aware and knowledgeable on what genes we have inherited, turns out that some of the other genes get affected by things like environmental insult (smoking, unnecessary scans, UV radiation), and the coded operative instructions inside them get smudged

The understanding between the cells and the genes is lost and the cells go wild replicating themselves, and the gene is said to have mutated. Of course, there are also other genes which specialize in various repairs, and they try to right the situation.   When it's a lost battle, we realize that we have an unnecessary proliferation of rogue cells, thanks to some terribly messed up , misguided genes, and we say that it is cancer.

Can anything be more different in the country ? 

There was a time when the entire country was united; education was still taken seriously, and educators were greatly respected. Money had quality, and not just  quantity. There was an  ethos, a predictability and sense of balance about society, a graceful seamless taking over by the young of the old. 

But at some point, there were disruptions , of standards. How you got money became unimportant, how much you got made you great. Lying and indulging was considered OK, so long as you achieved your ambition.  The killing gene in society was rampant. Someone didn't respond to your overtures, throw acid on her; someone blocked your path from thieving, push them out of a train; don't like your election opponent, bump him off.

So many rogue genes in society, forcing some many other hesitant genes to change for the worse. Cheating in exams, in diagnosis, in following rules, and even in living, became rampant. Even those who were supposed  to save society from the bad folks, became evil themselves, as in the recent news about the Haryana Women's Homes, and ruthless female infanticide by doctors and ill educated husbands in Beed, Maharashtra.

It is as if a cancer is growing wild and rampant all around us.

While our bodies get subject to extremely invasive treatments for the management of detected cancers, with outrageously expensive treatments and medications being the norm, all this at a huge other cost to the human body, I often wonder what we do to eradicate or even fight these mutating  goonda genes in our society.  For some, it is simpler to turn Goonda themselves.....

Like in actual cancer, there are , in society, some repair-gene like folks, who work towards trying the stop the wild multiplication of the societal cancer cells.

That is where the similarity between the cancer in our body and that in society ends. 

Current cancer research focuses on identifying the defiant gene(s) in the cell, that are responsible for a particular cancer, and creating medication to straighten out the undisciplined tendencies of that gene, so that orderly cell activities can take place.

A simple look at a newspaper on any given day,  shows more and more innovative wild proliferation of society cancers. With so many genes  in society giving in and  mutating to take the easy way out, i shudder to think of the world that lies in store for the Generation Next.

Welcome to the Mutating Onco Society......

17 comments:

  1. Thoughtful post, Suranga. Yes, there is certainly a similarity between the course that the disease takes- in the human body as well as in our society.

    As you have pointed out, members of a society are reluctant to isolate and regulate the gene responsible for the cancerous behaviour.

    Part of the problem may lie in the current popular view, that each individual should look out only for him/ herself, and does not need to feel any responsibility for the well-being of society as a whole.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Manju, thank you. The last para of your comment needs to be written in a huge bold font .

      Delete
  2. Yes, Suranga. The cancer is spreading and is finding innovative ways to proliferate. But more than ever I am seeing medicine men/women take the battle against cancer to where it is starting from. Greater awareness, greater refusal to accept the state...there is a change Suranga and I am seeing it.
    This morn my colleague told me about cows in a dairy farm run by Goenkas for Express Group who chew on fallen mangoes smartly enough to spit out the seed. It was such a sweet moment to just hear about the cows, the tall grasses, the mango grove, the fallen baiganpally mangoes--the music of it all.
    There is hope, there is hope, there is hope--I hold on to it desperately!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bhavana, thank you ! Another way to look at it is that the cows are more sensible than us.....and todays kids think milk comes from a machine in a plastic pack ......:-(

      Delete
  3. Yes i agree with you Suranga. Very well written. There is another cancer that i can think of...

    Not caring. It is always 'let someone else do it'. many times i am told, 'you people in NGO sector' should do this that or the other. Education, employment, equality, rights, responsibilities all are 'someone else's' job. like manju said, we can't look beyond our noses.

    But again, the whole situation is not hopeless. Sun shines, rivers flow, crops grow, we smile... life is beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Madhuri, sometimes I think one needs to develop an attitude of looking at things optimistically. Which is difficult, and so people take an irresponsible easy way out ..... Hopefully , things should change....who knows ?

      Delete
  4. Wonderful metaphor! As always, dissected medical facts excellently.One can make out you have been reading 'Emperor of Maladies'! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sandhya, Thank you ! And yes, I have been reading that book. Took me for ever to complete it.

      Delete
  5. I so hope your post is read by more and more people ! We need more and more people to write like you and get the message across !

    Wonderful post !

    ReplyDelete
  6. I regret having not read this so far. Perfect prose analysing the scourge that ails the society today. You have rightly pointed out that unlike good medication and invasive treatments that get rid of the cancer of the body people who try to correct the cancer of the society are hounded and maligned. You are as good with prose as you are with poetry :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Zephyr, Thank you for the kind words !I was reading Emperor of Maladies by Dr. Siddharth Mukherjea over a long period of time, and the more I read it the more I thought of the similarity between cancer in the body and the scourge in our society. Hopefully, we will realize our mistakes before the cancer spreads all over.

      Delete
  7. I couldn't help but soak in silence your thoughts on cancers within and without. And nothing sums the rot within and without better than this: "The Ganga, of my younger days, is now a troubled flow, replete with the silts of progress, industrial effluents, and sewage of a shameless humanity."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. USP, Thank you . What intrigues me again and again, is that in the old days, there were less complicated ways of dying, living, communicating, relating and so on. Both rivers and the human body were treated with respect.No longer so . .... :-(

      Delete