On plastic bags

San Francisco’s recent ban on plastic bags has been widely reported, but what surprised me is that The Economist is wholly supportive of it. Their reportage pointed out something which hasn’t appeared anywhere else that I’ve seen — similar bans have been established “in Rwanda, Bhutan, Bangladesh…, South Africa…, and Mumbai.”

I’m amazed at the corn-starch plates and forks, and biodegradeable bags are a great step too, provided that the energy cost in making them is not too excessive. But it’s hard to find real data on that. Until then, count me in for the ban, and I hope other cities follow suit.


JANAM : Jana Natya Manch

I went to see a performance on Sproul Plaza by a aprt of Jana Natya Manch, a street theater company from Delhi, and later went to see a documentary about their work. From talking to Liz, I had thought that agit-prop really died in the early Soviet Union, but it’s alive and well in India. After years of watching the Mime Troupe’s ossified preaching-to-the-choir form of direct political appeal, JANAM’s methods and approach are refreshing and immediate. I don’t really know if the CPI(M) is the best option really, as I have a distrust of most political parties. One woman in the troupe talked a bit about this during the documentary — she was more interested in social change than political parties, but then realized that political parties should be about social change.

The flip-side is that their style would not work in the US. I have a lot of half-formed theories about this — the entrenchment of our two-party system, the fact that the economically downtrodden in the US have been duped into thinking that they are not as downtrodden as they are, and our curious predilection to be left alone all the time. People simply do not stop what they are doing or where they are going to see a piece of street theater.

Anyway, it was food for thought and food for blogging.