In modern ecology noise or sound pollution has come for serious discussion. Formerly men did not mind persistent loud noises. It disturbed the peace of poets and thinkers, but it was not considered to be a factor that could tell upon one’s health. But today it is so.
City noises or noisy cities are both alike. The main factor that contributes to their unwelcome noise is the loudspeaker. It is said that Rabindranath Tagore had forbidden the use of loudspeaker in the draft constitution of the Santiniketan. It is strictly observed during marriages or other social functions. Its use during cultural functions remains confined within the halls.
The big cities are most subject to such noise pollution. Publicity vans, cinema songs, functions or marriages deafen us with their decibel sounds. The horns in cars honk in extraordinarily loud sounds. As a result some hospitals are marked no-horn zone. Now the doctors often come across deaf cases caused by high sounds in factories.
These days’ people have a notion that the louder kirtan prayers carry higher rewards. These prayers sometimes continue for days on end. One cannot protect because it is a secular state. The serious student suffers, the patient spends restless nights. This practice has been in vogue since long. But recently I read that the High Court in some of the states has passed a judgment restricting the decibel limit of such sounds.
In fact unwelcoming high noises affect not only our hearing; it has slow poisoning effect on the brains as well. The human brain is a highly sensitive organ. The repellent noise cause a kind of tension in the brain: and its continued effect may cause any kind of damage to the human sensibility. It is a well known fact that hardened criminals are often treated with this device. They are subjected for hours to continuous monotonous deafening noise so that their psychological resistance is broken. It often yields the desired result.
Like other kinds of pollution, the remedy to this dangerous curse lies with men themselves. The government or the High Court may contain the nuisance by enforcing strict measures. But men at large must pay regard to the feelings of others. Loud noise is never a sign of culture. Nehru remarked, “Culture is never loud, culture is quiet”. A cultured man is noted for his quiet and restrained manners. Only the uncultured think that he gains by creating abnormal noise.
Noise Pollution caused by unhealthy sound are less obvious than those caused by light or smell. In the latter case the senses immediately react. The eyes automatically shrink against unusual glares. Similarly the hands cover the nose against foul smoke. Whereas long dinning noises do not seem to affect us outwardly, but they sink into our senses’ like an unseen evil. Sometimes a man becomes dangerously conditioned to this.
I have heard a railway employee complain that he cannot sleep in a restful surrounding. The shunting noise of the engines brings him sound sleep. What a tragedy!