Friday, October 05, 2007

KTWV 08 Issue 35: Finland best for living?

Posted on my Jacob's Blog, the Cathedral School Seventh Heaven Blog and the St. Stephen's College Kooler Talk Blog.

In a Readers Digest report just released titled Study says Finland best for living and which was covered by Reuters, caused Annikki and me to think about our combined life in India, Finland, Sweden, Germany and England over the last 60+ years.

This evening, we went to the Nallikari beach for Annikki to collect stones. (I just walk around doing some photography with my lousy camera) and help her carry the collection to the car!

The yellow, gold and red autumn leaves were strewn all around, truly beautiful.

The autumn sunset was glorious. It felt as if we were lifting off into space!

Looking at these photographs of today and the peacefulness that surrounded us on this beautiful autumn evening, maybe you and we can agree with what has been claimed in the report!

HELSINKI (Reuters) - The Nordic countries are the world's greenest and, despite the cold winters, Finland is the best country to live in, according to a Reader's Digest study released on Friday.

Finland was followed by Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Austria.

"Finland wins high marks for air and water quality, a low incidence of infant disease and how well it protects citizens from water pollution and natural disasters," the study said.

My having lived here for the last 23+ years (of course, Annikki was born here and lived the first 18 years of her life here) makes it difficult for us to either agree or disagree with even this specific conclusion.

Annikki said that when we came to Finland there were several reports saying how unhealthy the tap water was in Finland as it was over-chlorinated. In her opinion, things have not improved since then.

She queries the validity of this report as the source of the data is not known to us. If it came from Government sources, then both of us agree that it is a load of bull!

Finns are great at creating a golden image like a beautiful polished apple, but remove the skin and we will find many worms gnawing away inside.

Many environmental activists also may not agree with this study done by U.S. environmental economist Matthew Kahn, who looked at issues such as quality of drinking water and greenhouse gas emissions as well as factors such as education (totally stereotyped) and income (low after high taxes without corresponding benefits).

When we look at education in Finland, there is nothing even coming close to the level of "education" provided by my alma maters, Bishop Cotton School (Bangalore), which had 7 playing fields for its student in its town centre campus, Cathedral and John Connon School (Mumbai) and St. Stephen's College (Delhi).

Incomes are certainly not high. Retained income is low. Savings are virtually non-existent.

But people feel they are rich because of the easy accessibility to long term low interest loans that enable them to enjoy their "own" homes and new cars and other material benefits!

But that is certainly not a reflection of the income standard in Finland.

Certainly, I do not drink anything but tap water. Annikki and many others tend to buy bottled water. Many go to bore well taps located around the city to collect their drinking water as they do not think the tap water is healthy.

My philosophy has always been that tap water contains all the germs and bacteria that our bodies require to build resistance to the local environment. Avoiding that diminishes our natural resistance.

It used to be said that India had the greatest advantage with regard to germ warfare as all the Indian Government had to do was export water from Calcutta!

My health over the last 23 years compared to most others I know in Finland proves my point of view. I have had no major or even minor illness during that time and never lost a day of work during my working life.

Mathew Kahn obviously did not meet the many thousands of Finns who suffer terrible allergies to dust, pollen, cat fur, dogs and many edible items as nuts, milk, etc. etc. Our grandson, Samuel, is a typical example - allergic to tens of things!

This is a direct consequence of a bad environment and living practices, so this would contradict his conclusions.

Finland is a great place to live if you follow the rules we have laid out in the book "Handbook For Survival in Finland" written by Annikki and me which was published in 1994.

But for others - life can be very very difficult on all fronts.

Our new Findians Google Group, which should go online in a few weeks, will tell you many of the pros and cons of working and living in Finland and the changes that have occurred during the last two decades.

So stay tuned!

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