In harmony with Mother Nature

We need a clean environment for human empowerment
Yesterday, the United Nations honoured me with the Champions of the Earth Award. While I was extremely humbled at receiving this honour, I do feel that this award is not for an individual. Instead, it is recognition of the Indian culture and values, which have always placed emphasis on living in harmony with Mother Nature.
A proud moment
It was a proud moment for every Indian to see India’s proactive role in mitigating climate change being acknowledged and appreciated by the United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, and Erik Solheim, the Executive Director of the UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme). Human beings and nature have a very special relationship. Mother Nature has nurtured and nourished us. The first civilisations were established on the banks of rivers. Societies that live in harmony with nature flourish and prosper. Today, human society stands at an important crossroads. The path that we take hereon will not only determine our well-being but also that of the generations who will inhabit our planet after us. The imbalances between our greed and necessities have led to grave ecological imbalances. We can either accept this, go ahead with things as if it is business as usual, or we can take corrective actions. Three things will determine how we as a society can bring a positive change. The first is internal consciousness. For that, there is no better place to look than our glorious past. Respect for nature is at the core of India’s traditions. The Atharvaveda contains the Prithvi Sukta, which contains unparalleled knowledge about nature and the environment. It is beautifully written in Atharvaveda: Salutations to Mother Earth. In Her is woven together Ocean and River Waters; in Her is contained Food which She manifests when ploughed; In Her indeed is alive all Lives; May She bestow us with that Life. The ancients write about the Panch Tatva s – Prithvi (Earth), Vayu (Air), Jal(Water), Agni (Fire), Akash (Sky) – and how our life systems are based on the harmonious functioning of these elements. The elements of nature are manifestations of divinity. Mahatma Gandhi wrote extensively on the environment and even practised a lifestyle where compassion towards the environment was essential. He propounded the Doctrine of Trusteeship, which places the onus on us, the present generation, to ensure that our coming generations inherit a clean planet. He called for sustainable consumption so that the world does not face a resource crunch. Leading lifestyles that are harmonious and sustainable are a part of our ethos. Once we realise how we are flag bearers of a rich tradition, it will automatically have a positive impact on our actions. Our country is devoting unparalleled attention to new and renewable sources of energy. Over the last four years, this sector has become more accessible and affordable. The Ujala Yojana has led to the distribution of nearly 31 crore LED bulbs. The costs of LED bulbs have reduced and so have the electricity bills and the CO2 emissions. India’s proactiveness is seen internationally. It makes me proud that India remained at the forefront of the COP-21 negotiations in Paris in 2015. In March 2018, world leaders of several countries converged in New Delhi to mark the start of the International Solar Alliance, an endeavour to harness the rich potential of solar energy and bring together all nations that are blessed with solar power.
Climate justice
While the world is talking about climate change, the call for climate justice has also reverberated from India. Climate justice is about safeguarding the rights and interests of the poor and marginalised sections of society, who are often the biggest sufferers from the menace of climate change. As I have written earlier, our actions today will have an impact on human civilisation much beyond our time. It is up to us to take on the mantle of global responsibility towards a sustainable future. The world needs to shift to a paradigm of environmental philosophy that is anchored in environmental consciousness rather than merely in government regulations. I would like to compliment all those individuals and organisations who are working assiduously in this direction. They have become the harbingers of a monumental change in our society. I assure them all possible support from the Government in their pursuits. Together, we will create a clean environment that will be the cornerstone of human empowerment!

Source : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/in-harmony-with-mother-nature/article25117057.ece

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