By Bridget Lewis
Gauri Gupta, the Indian Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, visited the University of Dallas on Wednesday, Oct. 8 to speak about business, ethics and development. This lecture was followed by a book signing of Gupta’s book “Unraveling Mysteries of Life.” Gupta mentioned many topics in his speech, such as poverty, unemployment, innovation, and development, climate, change, growing health problems, social and ethnic conflicts and understanding oneself.
Gupta cited a number of statistics to illustrate the global state of affairs. Roughly 50 percent of the world’s population lives on less than $2.50 a day, and 89 percent of people live on less than $10 a day.
“Approximately 870 million go to bed without eating enough,” Gupta said.
These people are suffering from chronic malnutrition, which kills millions of children each year. Roughly 40 percent of the world population suffers from malnutrition, yet millions of tons of food are wasted daily.
“This is happening in the world today,” Gupta pointed out.
He also spoke about wealth inequality. About 1 percent of the world’s population owns 40 percent of global assets. The three richest people are wealthier than the 48 poorest nations combined. Since World War II, the total wealth of nations has gone up by 100 percent. These statistics suggest that there is no shortage of wealth, but rather, there is problem with the justice of distribution.
Gupta continued, describing the poor conditions and high crime rates of slums. Approximately 33 percent of the urban population lives in urban slums. In 2012, a total of 863 million people lived in the slums.
“They are born in subhuman conditions, they live in subhuman conditions, they die in subhuman conditions,” Gupta said.
The unemployment rate is growing, according to Gupta. With high unemployment rates across the globe, there are 200 million people unemployed. The youth unemployment rate is 25 percent, with 74 million unemployed youths ages 15-24.
“25% of young people today don’t have jobs, and employment is becoming more and more difficult,” Gupta said.
The ambassador also spoke of climate change. There has been an increase of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrogen oxide, he said.
“They say that the CFC [chlorofluorocarbon, a compound that contributes to ozone depletion] levels have increased tremendously in the last two decades,” Gupta said.
Industrial activities have raised the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere significantly in the last 150 years. Temperatures are expected to rise 2.5 percent in the next century. Lakes and glaciers are expected to dry, sea levels to rise, island to submerge, erratic weather patterns to appear and the number of floods and droughts to increase.
At the same time, Gupta said, there has also been an increase of health problems. Water and air are more contaminated now than ever before. Stress levels are rising, increasing heart disease, hypertension, cancer and much more. Foods are not as healthy as they used to be. There are more fast foods, foods filled with preservatives and genetically-modified foods. Gupta said the overall lifestyle of people is less healthy today than in the past, with more smoking, drinking and drug abuse than ever. People are also reacting to medicines they are taking, and these reactions make up about two-thirds of diseases, according to Gupta. Chemical levels in the human body are increasing, causing many diseases such as Alzheimer’s and autism.
Gupta continued to speak about the ethical implications of modern society. He noted the increase in crimes, drug addiction and domestic violence. There has also been an increase in intolerance and extremism, he said.
“Intolerance has become very common in the world,” Gupta stated.
There has been an increase in international terrorism and ethnic and religious wars, as well as wars over resources.
Instead of focusing only on work, Gupta suggested men use their minds, intellect and “human thought.” In order to avoid the dehumanization of the modern world, men have to understand themselves.
“What is the answer to these problems?” Gupta asked the audience. “This is something we have to look for ourselves.”