52-year-old Radhika Anand, resident of Delhi and a former Air Force Officer’s daughter, has planted more than one lakh twenty thousand saplings in a single year in partnership with the Indian Army. The Trees included in these are mango, tamarind, blackberry, and jackfruit trees which were planted in and around across Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and North India Army Formations. The cost to plant and nurture the tree for its entire life is just 15 Rupees as per her.
Radhika Anand is also a Founder & CEO of Plantology, which felicitates a mass movement amongst young minds which has subsequently manifested in productive socio-ecomomic welfare outcomes.
Plantology’s latest initiative is “Mission Fal-Van, Fruit for All” which is a movement towords creating more green cover and oxygen for our future generations and food for all species existing on plant earth. Mission “Fal Van” aims to plant 50,000 fruit trees per year.
You may contact Plantology at their website http://www.plantologyindia.com.
Mike Pandey is an Indian film maker specializing in films about wildlife and the environment. He has won over 300 awards for his work to spread awareness about biodiversity and species conservation. Mike Pandey has dedicated his life to the protection of wild nature through the use of cinematography and for his courage and determination in producing films – with or without sponsorships – that have influenced policy and saved endangered species.
At Vikalp Sangam, everyone has a story. Mari Marcel Thekaekara is impressed with the impact their ideas make on society.
Hope in the midst of despair? Pick up any newspaper. The headlines shout corruption, scams, war, the horrific ISIS beheadings, Boko Haram abductions, rape. So news about a Vikalp Sangam, a confluence of alternative ideas wasn’t seriously exciting. Yet another NGO talk-shop? Been there, done that.
But Ashish Kothari of Kalpavriksh insisted this was different. “I got fed up of the system-bashing at NGO conferences. Everybody has criticisms. Few offer solutions. That’s how the Vikalp Sangam idea emerged. People gather to share their alternatives even if it’s only an idea. We focus on alternatives, not experts or organisations. On sharing, not lecturing.”
I arrived in a cynical mode, but left refreshingly recharged by the initiatives I saw; people, young and old, working passionately for causes they believe in. It was vibrant because everyone came with a positive pitch. To talk about . Instead of moaning about the toxic effect of pesticides, groups were working on organic gardens. Reviving traditional millets, helping children respect and revel in old systems of organic farming, and appreciate ancient knowledge.
Vikalp Sangam’s intention was to bring together stories of hope from different sectors. The main themes centred around politics and democracy, economics, culture and knowledge, social justice and, of course, ecological sustainability. The discussions focussed on these pillars for a future saner society. Everyone had a story to share, everyone wanted to hear new ideas.
It was an eclectic mix of old and young; of Adivasis and a person with a disability; of ReStore, an upmarket organic shop in Chennai, and Just Change, a cooperative of producers, consumers and, uniquely, investors. The list goes on. Just the presence of Shankari, a transgender, was a revelation to many people. Nilgiri Adivasis taught urban folk about the Forest Rights Act, while veteran organic farmers taught young 20-somethings about growing their own food.
Perhaps most promising was the ‘fish bowl’ session where anyone seeking or offering collaboration stepped into the middle and invited potential collaborators to discuss taking their ideas forward together. There isn’t space to do justice to all the innovative projects and ideas, but here are a few.
As Kothari, the prime mover behind Vikalp Sangam, concluded, “We hope that it is a step towards a saner society.”
Rajiv from Chennai arrived in a wheelchair with a carer. He radically altered every person’s understanding of disability. “What did you eat?” “Did you cook it?” “Did you stitch the shirt you wear?” The answers were, predictably, negative. “So you are dependent. Then why is my dependence such an issue?” You could see the shock on every face.
Former panchayat president Elango realised that poverty persists though people work from dawn to dusk. All the money generated in villages leaches out. This, he decided, had to be reversed. “So rather than bothering about poverty, I focussed on bringing back wealth to our villages.” The villagers produced and traded paddy, toor dal, groundnut oil, soap and myriad other locally required products. The end result was an increase in prosperity, a boost in self-reliance. Elango dreamed of taking incomes up from the prevailing Rs.2,600 a month to Rs.6,000. In early 2015, incomes peaked at around Rs.15-20,000 per family per month.
We despair of finding solutions to our mountains of garbage yet waste management expert, Srinivasan, solves thousands of garbage problems through his Zero Waste Management strategy. He offered training to groups in Tamil Nadu to clean up their talukas. His presentation attracted many local groups eager to introduce his expertise to their districts. There was an air of determination. They wanted action not empty promises. Srinivas also offers native cattle-breeding programme and rooftop garden training.
A northern lass speaking Tamil like a native overturns the stereotype completely. Like the Israelis, Bombay-bred architect Meenakshi transformed an arid desert-like wasteland with an eight-year regeneration programme. Rooting herself in Dharmapuri, she started the Puvidham School. Her curriculum is based on farming, earth construction and craft work, with a hostel for migrants’ children. She also practises and teaches alternative medicine. A brave venture in hot, dry Dharmapuri.
From aeronautical engineering to organic farming? An unlikely leap. But Parameshwaran from Oddanchatram is an extraordinary lad. “I realised farmers were controlled by seed, fertiliser and pesticide companies. I had the luck to study at the famous Nammalwar Organic School. I learnt about seeds, planting organically. Someone requested some seeds. I obliged. Then I posted “I have these seeds” on Facebook. News spread. Many people have land and money but know nothing about cultivation. Increasingly, people want organic food. With 400 sq.ft of land, your family’s vegetable supply can be assured. I want to spread this idea across Tamil Nadu and am working towards that.”
Sujatha Padmanabhan, one of the forces behind Vikalp Sangam, brought experiences from Ladakh. “We developed primary textbooks for Leh district. Ludicrously, textbooks had no connection to the life experience of Leh children. They exhorted the kids to ‘save electricity, switch off fans, turn off taps, cross roads safely’. There are no fans, taps or roads there. Wildlife education was about tiger, peacock, lion; not Ladakh wildlife. So we developed relevant textbooks: Life in a farming village, How to keep your house warm (build to retain heat)… We’ve been developing local curriculum in the Andamans, Kutch, Ladakh, Karnataka Adivasi schools. National curriculum will soon include localisation, but we’re not sure when.”
Sangeetha Sriram, a key organiser of the Tamil Nadu Vikalp, is the founding member of ReStore, an organic shop in Chennai aiming to restore health through nature. Sangeetha says, “ReStore is a collective that provides a platform for people interested in sustainable and holistic living. It tries to bring producers, consumers and traders into one tight-knit community.”
Sankari and Shakthi represented Nirangal, an organisation working for gender/sexual minorities (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender), and sex workers rights. They explained how different groups face different kinds of violence. Transgender sex workers are harassed both by the police and goondas, while lesbians and transgenders face violence from their own families because of patriarchal attitudes. They argued that while forced sex work is a crime, doing sex work voluntarily should not be criminalised.
Dr. Regi George’s Sittlingi experience showed how growing millets could help bring down infant-maternal mortality. A decade of failed medical intervention failed inspired Gudalur Adivasi leader and health animator Sreedharan to think about starting ragi cultivation for malnourished families in the Nilgiris.
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‘ENVIRONMENT’, ‘WE’ AND ‘GOD’.. – Jolly Nadukudiyil, S.J.
Today, we live in a world where there is a growing awareness towards the care and protection of environment. Environment is most often perceived other than human beings, as if both human beings and environment have their own distinct existence and extinction. Is that true?
What is environment? How do we understand it? People of various walks of life and academic pursuits try to define and articulate ‘environment’ in the best way suit to them. But I want to reflect about it in my own way after being with and caring for the Mother Earth closely for the last 12 years…
My basic premise is that there is only one God, one creation, one cosmos and finally one environment. I understand that the living and nonliving organism of the creation/universe/cosmos/mother earth is the environment. In other words, environment is the wholesome creation with all its living and nonliving organisms. Every created being belongs to the realm of environment. God, creation, cosmos, universe, mother earth, environment are the synonyms of one existential reality but very often they are spoken of as if having its own shade of existence, and the disregard and destruction of our own life begins at this point.
Most people specially proponents and propagators of various religions seem to have certain religious doctrinal compulsions to adhere that human being is the centre of creation and everything else in the world is subservient to it. Further, to make their stand stronger, they teach that other living beings such as birds and animals live on instinct but not on intelligence. So, the outcome of this belief system is that human being becoming uncaring for the other living and non living beings/environment seeking self gratification and finally destruction of oneself.
If ‘human centeredness’, ‘primacy of human beings’ is the purpose of the creation of the world and its existence, just think the other way too. Human beings cannot survive without the air, water, food, trees, animals etc but all other living beings grow and flourish without human beings!.. So, who is great? Who is at the centre?
Look at, observe and ponder at the world around us… We feel a purposeful creation around us.. We experience a harmonious existence of created beings, an existence which is enhancing one another but not dominating and enslaving. Finally, we are led to understand that we are not the superior beings of creation, environment. We are neither superior nor inferior. We are part of one creation. We have no existence without being part of environment. Human beings and environment are intrinsically, existentially and holistically one. If this is true, it is our sacred responsibility to care for all other beings as much as we care for ourselves.
If we agree with the stand above, we further realize that the ‘environment’ is an integrated intrinsic extension of my being… my well being and my happiness… There is no duality, and if ever it exists, it is only a mental abstraction. Caring for the environment is caring for ourselves. I am the air, birds, trees, animals, seas, rivers, butterflies, rains, thundering, lightening.. I am everything that the creation/environment can hold.
When Jesus, the teacher and Lord of all times was asked to name the greatest commandment in the law: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Mathew 22:36-40.)
We have failed to comprehend the depth dimension of the teaching of Jesus. Intellectually, we know that God is everywhere – omnipresent but at the gut level we believe and act as if God is confined to a particular place. (God is a ‘super person’..God moves from place to place.) Our ritualistic expressions of faith and worship are witnesses to this. From our faith dimension we know that God has created the world and we are created in the ‘image’ of God. So, if the spirit of God is dwelling everywhere, can we think of a creator without creation?.. We know the creator/God from the creation (environment) but not vice versa. So, if our faith is that God is omnipresent then it follows that the creation/environment is the dwelling place of God. Further it follows that we need to maintain the innocence/sacredness/purity of the creation…So, when Jesus teaches that ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’, it becomes clear enough that we must love the creation/environment as a custodian but not as owner.
The key words of the Upanishads “I am Brahman,” and “You are That,” and the teachings of Jesus, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ are the two sides of one coin. We can blossom to the full in so far we take care of the environment/creation because we are the extension of God and (the image of ) God is dwelling within us. We can’t have distinct existence.. Our existence intrinsically and substantially depends on creation but not vice versa.
Today the greatest threat to environment is human beings…In other words, Human beings perceiving and acting environment as a distinct entity try to overpower, dominate and abuse it to satisfy and gratify its self centeredness. But by doing this, we kill our own self and that is the world where we live in and orienting to.
Today we are living in a world of ‘speed’…We have made aeroplanes where we can travel faster than sound… We have discovered “God particles”.. The rich have booked their ticket to settle down in Mars… We think we have mastered the God and the universe..
We are in a world where countries try to outsmart the other towards the production of supersonic mass destructive weapons in the pretext of protecting their territory and sovereignty. We have been building up industries where we produce tons of chemical manure and pesticide to enhance food crops to feed the world… GMOs (genetically modified organisms) has become the catchword for the development for a prosperous world.
The prime and basic elements which can sustain the life principle of the creation/environment is threatened at an alarming phase more than ever before, today. The air is polluted, water is contaminated and food is adulterated and toxified and this is done by none other than human beings. As the days pass by we continue to dig our own grave and set the time bomb.
As the time is clicking for the explosion of the time bomb, political statements are being made by the leaders of various governments of the world community at large towards the care and protection of ecology and environment.. Agents of national and multinational companies, firms and industries producing highly pollutant and toxic products and byproducts make tall claims that ‘environment safety is their motto of their business’ . But in reality these are the prominent agents in the guise of care takers of mother earth, in assembling the parts of the environmental time bombs to be exploded in the future.
Common men and women becoming the victims at the hands of the heartless politicians and profit and self oriented industrial giants do contribute in their own way towards the degradation and poisoning of Mother Earth. In brief except some exceptionally enlightened people, human beings play the role of neglecting the care of environment and the only difference is the intensity in this regard varies.
In this given self threatening situation of human life on this planet, apparent visible signs of awareness towards the care and protection of mother earth is also taking place side by side, but a close watch on this exhibits to a large extent of pseudo care for the environment. Laws are passed and amended by the concerned government, millions of rupees are sanctioned by the government and other grant making agencies, political speeches are made, seminars and workshops are conducted, syllabus for educational institutions are made, paintings are made on the canvas and walls, photos are taken on tree plantation and circulated on print and digital media towards environmental care and protection. But all these initiatives remain mostly in the realm of the understanding that environment is distinct from human beings but the real care for the mother earth should begin and blossom with the indepth and integrated insight that we are neither superior nor inferior among the created beings in the universe but we are integrally, intrinsically and existentially part of it as an organic wholesome..
LOVING MOTHER EARTH AND HER CREATED BEINGS IS LOVING OURSELVES AND GOD..
About the Author
Jolly Nadukudiyil,S.J, www.facebook.com/XavierCenterForEcoHarmony, Vadodara Educating the children of migrant workers who will not be pursuing their studies on their own. We have a school, Xavier Green School in our campus area to educate these children. We have rain water harvesting/lakes..organic farming..compost manure..biogas plant etc.We have 39 acres land with 50000 tress growing in the campus area..educating the children of migrant workers who will not be pursuing their studies on their own.
Disclaimer : This article is shared by Author with “Green Ecosystem” voluntarily, free of cost and for the purpose to be shared with everyone for free and Green Ecosystem doesn’t own / reserve any rights of this article, all rights remains with the author (as mentioned above) of this article. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with title of this article if any change.