Rabindranath Tagore expressed a very accurate and pragmatic view point when he said, “The races of mankind will never be able to go back to their citadels of high-walled exclusiveness.
They are today exposed to one another physically and intellectually. The shells which have so long given them full security within their individual enclosures have been broken and by no artificial process can be mended again. So, we have to accept this fact …”
We live in a global village networked by electronic communication and supersonic transportation. At the moment we are living in a universe that is being engulfed by twin monsters of global warming and recession. However much we want, it will be impossible for us to retrace our steps and return our earth to its primordial avatar. Nor can we invoke the barter system to do away with the logistics of the down sliding economy. The next sensible step forward will be to tackle the problem on hand and work towards making a palpable change that will salvage the situation and steer us towards a healthier and wealthier future.
Governmental and non-governmental organisations are striving hard to create awareness and are also working on solutions. Banning indiscriminate use of plastics, conserving resources, recycling and reusing stuff is common knowledge today. But then this mammoth responsibility must be shared by each one of us.
It is time for us to collectively take stock of our basic understanding of our life on earth.
The earth has been home to innumerable species since times immemorial. Man, also a scion of the earth has evolved physically, mentally and spiritually compared to other forms of life. This factor does not automatically grant him the powers to lord over the planet and exploit its resources. It is high time we realise that we are a part of life on earth and not its owner. We must compensate for the colossal damage we have wreaked on the globe by extinguishing several species of flora and fauna, stripping verdant landscapes and reducing them into deserts and mining into the bowels of the earth and purging her of all her hidden valuables not to mention the different kinds of pollution that have been inflicted upon her.
It is time for us to wake up to reality and find indigenous methods to deal with the situation. It is apparent that there is no one solution for all these problems. We must think globally and act locally. We as Indians could do our bit by following some of our ancient customs and traditions. For instance, we could resume eating and drinking off leaves, or plates and cups made of leaves and barks of plants. If this trend catches on at both the domestic and public arenas it will ensure hygiene and will generate biodegradable waste. This move will help many small scale and cottage industries to spawn, creating employment opportunities to several lakhs of people. Entrepreneurs and farmers will start investing on cultivating plants which can feed these industries. The greenery will in turn prevent soil erosion, cleanse the air and replenish the water table. Lots of plastic and paper cups are discarded at functions and parties.
Food, clothing and shelter, the basic essentials of life will prove to be most convenient and congenial when sourced locally. The creative ones could always try out international recipes and designs substituting Indian ingredients and materials of the same genre and who knows, the result might turn out to be a super duper hit, good enough to be followed by the rest of the world. This step will get India an economic edge with an ethnic touch.
Indians who have relatives and friends (face book or otherwise) abroad, could invite the foreigners over for a holiday and let them get a taste of our country. This will make global human networking a reality, plough in money into the economy.
A casual look into a traditional Indian home even three decades ago can throw light on how eco-friendly we were and how recycling and reusing was an integral part of our lives. Clothes, books, shoes were used till they wore out. Leftovers were given away as charity. Compost and sanitary pits took care of garbage. Public transport largely formed the lifelines of towns and cities which actually housed “avenues” among other things.
‘Be Indian Buy Indian’ should be our mantra. It is possibly the panacea that can guard us from tumbling into a bottomless pit of environmental and economic degradation. After all, we are a nation that believes that the soul finds a new body after death, so recycling and reusing judiciously is not a new concept to us. We also believe in vasudhaiva kutumbakam – the denizens of the earth are one family. Sometimes we need to be reminded to practice what we already know.