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Gandhiji & Climate Action: The Ecological Mahatma

“The Ecological Mahatma”

"The only tyrant I accept in this world is the ‘still small voice’ within me. And even though I have to face the prospect of being a minority of one, I humbly believe that I have the courage to be in such a hopeless minority" - Mahatma Gandhi Gandhi Ji was an Indian but he was not only for India. To many Gandhiji was a mass leader, a political leader and champion of the rights of the downtrodden. To others he represented a way of life, a method of tolerance, harmony and simplicity. I regard him as the World’s first environmentalist. He was an apostle of peace, offering to the world and humans a vision of being at peace with oneself and at peace with the world. His philosophy was one of cutting out violence in every form, whether it was within oneself, in one's thoughts, interactions, words, language, writings, deeds and actions. In present times, there is a great deal of concern about the climate crisis, pollution caused by plastics, our dying rivers and oceans which have become dumping grounds for all kinds of waste, extinction of our wild habitats and wildlife. Climate Change, Sustainability and Sustainable Development have become buzzwords, ringing out in classrooms to boardrooms and in the summits of world leaders. Underlying this concern is the recognition of a deep-seated and pervasive conflict between modern human lifestyle and Mother Nature. This conflict is the root cause of most crises, whether it is environmental degradation, climate change / global warming, lack of water, food insecurity, conflict, migration and rootlessness or anxiety, depression, suicide, addiction, gun violence, broken relationships or general all-pervasive despair and ennui. Our day to day disconnect with nature is near complete. In earlier days, we used to drink from the river, stream or pond or pluck a fruit from a tree. We produced and consumed only what we needed to sustain life. Most ailments were treated from medicines sourced from herbs and minerals and through necessary dietary and lifestyle modifications – an approach that addressed the underlying causes of illnesses. Today water is conveyed by pipes to the home. We drink the water unmindful of its origin and therefore have the propensity to abuse it, little realizing that the water is depleting and that rivers are being polluted. These days, many children believe that water is made in the supermarket in bottles! I tried to contact a bottle water company which makes and sells plastic bottles containing water as I wanted to see and understand the pristine watersheds that they advertise. Despite several attempts I failed to find a single person who could guide me. So my only connection to the pristine watershed are the beautiful advertisements or the plastic bottle of water. A Washington Post story said that many children believe that Chocolate comes out of brown cows. Similarly, we consume food without knowing where it is produced or who has produced it and at what cost. We have no awareness of the complex and increasingly fragile food chain we are a part of. The medical and pharmaceutical industry is primarily about treatment of symptoms using synthetic chemicals that often have harmful side effects. Human greed and exploitation of natural resources have skyrocketed to the extent that chronic and acute under nutrition in many parts of the world is matched by profligacy, waste, over consumption, over nutrition, obesity and lifestyle illnesses in other parts.


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