Monday, 29 April 2019

गुरूजी रवीन्द्र शर्मा - एक स्मृति



आज-कल साल बीतते साल कहाँ लगता है. हर साल, 'साल की उम्र' कम होती जा रही है. शायद इसी अनुभव को कुछ इतिहासकारों ने 'इतिहास के त्वरण' (acceleration of history) के नाम से पहचाना है. तकनीकी प्रक्रियाओं की रफ़्तार अब इतनी तीव्र हो चली है कि यह गतिशीलता स्वाभाविक है. यह तीव्रता जायज़ है अथ्वा नहीं इसका अंदाज़ इस बात से लगाया जा सकता है कि एक साल का अन्तराल पृथ्वी के सूर्य-देव की परिक्रमा से निर्धारित है. इसको मानव-जाति अपनी इच्छानुसार छोटा-बड़ा, तेज़-धीमा अगर करे तो शायद केवल मात्र अपनी कल्पना में ही. जब इतिहास करवट बदलेगा तो समय जायज़ा लेगा. उस घड़ी में शायद अब ज़्यादा देर नहीं. 

ऐसी गुरूजी रवींद्र शर्मा की दृष्टि थी. लगता ही नहीं कि गुरूजी को गए ठीक एक साल गुज़र चूका है. आज ही का दिन था. हम माँ-पिताजी के संग बैंगकॉक हवाई अड्डे पर थे. (म्याँमार से लौट रहे थे. माँ की मनोकामना थी अपना जन्म-स्थान, रंगून देखने का.) हमारे मित्र विवेक का मेल था हैदराबाद से: "गुरूजी नहीं रहे." बुद्ध-पूर्णिमा के दिन वे महादेवी में समा गए. 

कोई ३ वर्षों से कैंसर-ग्रस्त तो थे ही. मेरी उनसे आखिरी मुलाक़ात उनकी बेटी दिव्या की शादी में उनके गुज़रने के कोई ८ महीने पहले हुई थी. बहुत कमज़ोर हो गए थे. बोलने में तकलीफ़ थी. कैंसर ने गाला पकड़ लिया था. गुरूजी हमे दिल्ली में हर महीने २-३ बार तो फ़ोन किया ही करते थे. बातें हमारी लम्बी होती थीं. लेकिन हाल-हाल में ये कम हो गया था, और ज़्यादा देर बात भी नहीं कर पाते थे. 

मेरी आदत बन चुकी थी कि गुरुजी से हर बार बात करने के बाद, अपनी मेज़ पर बैठ के सारी बातें याद कर के अपनी कॉपी में लिख लेते थे. ऐसी कई कॉपियाँ मेरे पास पड़ी हुई हैं. उन में से कुछ गुरूजी के चुनिंदे वाक यहाँ याद में पुनर्जीवित कर रहे हैं. साथ ही साथ कुछ उनसे जुड़े विचार भी प्रस्तुत हैं. ये रवीन्द्र शर्मा नाम के महासागर की मात्र एक तिर्छी झलक है. 

गुरूजी भारत के मौखिक-कथावाचक परम्परा के एक अनोखे मिसाल हैं. जाति-पुराण और लोक-संस्कृति में पारंगत, गुरूजी आध्यात्मिक ज़रूर थे, लेकिन अपने पाण्डित्व को दुनिया के बौद्ध-बाज़ारों में प्रदर्शित करना उनके स्वभाव के बाहर था. रोज़ सुबह कलाश्रम के चबूतरे में रामायण अथ्वा महाभारत पढ़ा करते. सेमीनार और सम्मेलनों से भला उनका क्या लेना-देना? उनको 'बुद्धिजीवी' की श्रेणी में डालना अपनी ही नासमझी व्यक्त करना होगा. उनके साथ रह कर किसी को भी बुद्धिजीवी और दृष्टा का अन्तर समझ में आ सकता था. उनकी हर चीज़ की समझ उनकी महसूसियत में बसी हुई थी. उनका दिल उनकी आँख का काम भी करता था. सिर्फ अपनी समझ को पेश करने के लिए वो विचार और शब्दों का प्रयोग करते थे. वरना अपनी शरारती मुस्कान या फिर एक इशारे या अपनी आवाज़ की लय और उतार-चढ़ाव से ही अपनी बात कह डालते थे. आचरण और उच्चारण का समन्वय बारीक था गुरूजी की सरल ज़िन्दग़ी में। उनका व्यक्तित्व साधारण लोक-संस्कृति से प्रेरित था. भाषा सदा सरल थी. अहंकार जैसी चीज़ नहीं. और इन ही सारी चीज़ों में उनकी सहजता का रहस्य था.     

तेलंगाना के आदिलाबाद में रहने वाले, गुरूजी उम्र भर अपने कलाश्रम में विराजमान रहे. न जाने कितनी लोक-कलाओं की वहाँ उनहोंने साधना की. सारे देश के न जाने कितने कारीगरों को उनके आश्रम में पनाह मिली. हज़ारों ने उनसे सीखा. साल-दर-साल तमाम लोगों का आवा-गमन रहा. लेकिन गुरूजी अपने ठिकाने पर क़ायम रहे. 

इस पर हमने एक मर्तवा उनसे चर्चा की थी. "गुरूजी, आप इतने समय एक ही जगह रह कर 'बोर' नहीं हो जाते हैं?" "कैसे बोर होंगे, सामने वाले व्यक्ति तो बदलते रहते हैं न, और कई बार जाने-पहचाने व्यक्ति का कोई नया रूप देखने को भी मिलता है!" साथ ही साथ गुरूजी की समझ थी कि आधुनिकता के मोह ने मानव-जाति को अत्यन्त बेचैन बना दिया है. आज यहाँ, कल वहाँ, लोग भागम-भाग में ही अपना सारा जीवन व्यर्थ कर देते हैं. वे कहते, "इस गति से हमारी महसूस करने की और सोचने की शक्ति तेज़ी से कम होती जा रही है. हमारे हाथ-पैर और ज़ुबान जितनी तेज़ रफ़तार से चलेंगे, उतनी ही सीमित हमारे सोचने की शक्ति हो जायेगी." गाँधीजी ने हिन्द-स्वराज पुस्तक में भी कुछ ऐसी ही बात लिखी है. 

गुरूजी की समझ थी कि आधुनिकता की बेचैनी और बेसब्री का कारण वैश्विक तकनीक के वर्चस्व में ढ़ूँड़ा जा सकता है. तेज़ से तेज़ मोटर-गाड़ियाँ, हवाई-जहाज़, मोबाइल फ़ोन और कम्प्यूटर जैसे अति-कुशल यंत्रों ने मानव समाज से उसका समय और उसकी आज़ादी छीन कर इन्सान को मात्र उपभोगता का पात्र सौंप दिया है. ये प्रक्रिया सदियों से चल रही है, और हाल के बाज़ारवाद ने इसकी गति अति-तीव्र कर दी है. समाज हाशिये पर है. 

कुछ साल पहले मसूरी में एक बैठक में गुरूजी ने वही बात दोहराई जो उन्होंने हमसे फ़ोन पर कई बार कही: "तकनीक का पैमाना सही होना चाहिए. एक हद तक तो समाज तकनीक को संचालित कर लेता है. अगर तकनीक इस हद से आगे चली गयी तो फिर वो समाज को संचालित करेगी." इस महा-तत्त्व का  प्रमाण हमारे चारों-ओर है. गुरूजी की समझ थी कि जहाँ हमारी परम्परा बाहरी ज़िन्दगी की प्रक्रियाओं को सरल बनाने का प्रयास करती है (ताकि हम अन्दरूनी दुनिया में गेहराई में डूब सकें), आधुनिकता बाहरी जीवन को जटिल-दर-जटिल बनाये जाती है और कुछ समय बाद हमको अन्दरूनी खोखलेपन का एहसास होता है. 

ऐसी दुनिया हमसे एक और कीमत वसूलती है. तकनीकी वर्चस्व से हमारा प्रकृति से रिश्ता धीरे-धीरे टूट जाता है. गुरूजी का प्रकृति-दर्शन गहन था. "बिना प्रकृति-दृष्टि के मानव समाज अंधा होता जाता है. प्राकृतिक रिश्तों का ज्ञान खो देता है  समाज. भेड़ डाँगर का 'मामा' लगता है. मगर शहर-शिक्षित लोगों को इन रिश्तों की क्या समझ!" आधुनिकता में पर्यावरण का संकट निश्चित है.   

प्रकृति-दृष्टि से ही जुड़ी है गुरूजी की सौंदर्य-दृष्टि. उनका मानना था कि जो चीज़ नैसर्गिक नहीं है वो भला सुन्दर कैसे हो सकती। आधुनिकता की सबसे बड़ी खामी, उनकी नज़र में, उसकी कृत्रिमता है. असली को सुधारते-सुधारते  आधुनिक समाज नक़ली होते चले आएं हैं. और साथ ही बद-सूरत. 

जब हम तीन वर्ष पूर्व माँ को आदिलाबाद ले गए थे कलाश्रम के कार्तिक-महोत्सव में, तो उनहोंने गौर फ़रमाया था कि "थके हालत में भी गुरूजी का अपनी धोती से पसीना पोंछना एक बारीकी अंदाज़ दर्शाता है!" गुरूजी हर मायने में देशज थे. बोल-चाल, चाल-ढाल, खान-पान, सब सरल से सरल. याद नहीं किसी को कि कभी वो सफ़ेद कुर्ता-धोती के इलावा भी किसी और वस्त्र में दिखे हों. 

आज की दूनिया में लोग गुरु के दर्शन के लिए ही उतावले रहते हैं. लेकिन वास्तव में गुरु वो है जो दर्शन कराता है. चाँद की तरफ उंगली के इशारे को ही चाँद समझने में तो कोई बुद्धिमत्ता नहीं है. आज तमाम मानव-जाति वैश्विकरण के तीखे प्रहार के प्रकोप में जी रही है, और प्रकृति पर भी घातक हमला ज़ारी है. गुरूजी के दिए सूत्रों द्वारा इन प्रक्रियाओं को सरलता से समझा जा सकता है. और जैसे-जैसे धुंध छंटती है, पुराने मंज़िलों की तरफ नए रास्ते बनाये जा सकते हैं.  

संगीत सिखाते वख़्त माँ हमसे कहती हैं, "गुरूजी की छवि सामने रख के रियाज़ करो तो शुद्ध स्वर निकलेगा अनंत से!" गुरूजी के सरल जीवन और दर्शन में दिखता है स्मृति और श्रुति का अनोखा संतुलन. उनका जीवन-दर्शन सनातन-सभ्यता की एक अद्भुत मिसाल है, जिस में नज़र आती है न केवल हमारे समय की साफ़ तस्वीर बल्कि शाश्वत की भी एक आनन्दमय झलक. हम इस महा-स्रोत से आगे भी प्रेरणा की श्वास लेते रहें, ऐसी महादेवी से कामना है.  
   




Sunday, 28 April 2019

Meher Engineer RIP… “Ami ki korbo?”



In a world whose imagination is choked by chronic notoriety (for just fame is no longer possible in the deafening chorus of today’s cultural barbarism), we may readily fail to perceive that human greatness often comes without a big name to announce it.

It was in one such way that I first met Meher Engineer who died tragically from a stroke last week in a Kolkata hospital. He lived alone (his two children both live abroad) in a small place near Chowrunghee and was found unconscious early one morning some ten days back. He had had a stroke the previous night and was hospitalised only the next day. Alas, too late.

Meher Da was, in 2007 (when we first met), as a decade later, a thin and tall, bespectacled man in an ordinary shirt and trousers. What stood out were his old sandals. In his less than modest appearance, few would have seen the veteran professor for what he was: an accomplished physicist, who had just retired as the Director of the Bose Institute, set up in 1917 by one of India’s greatest pioneer scientists, Dr. Jagdish Chandra Bose.

In 2007, we were both in Dehradun for a meeting on Special Economic Zones which the Indian governments of the day were actively promoting, after a Chinese fashion, around the country (they have not stopped this wicked activity yet), seizing forcibly the fertile lands of the peasantry all around the country, in the holy name of ‘development’. It was a policy which had the de facto blessings of most (though not all) economists, including Nobel-winning Amartya Sen.

Meher Da and I were introduced by our common friend, the stalwart Lohiaite activist, Vijay Pratap. Meher Da reported on the ‘Nano’ acquisition for the Tatas in Singur. I was expecting a somewhat ‘technical’ presentation from a physicist. It turned out to be anything but that. His talk was titled the same as his conclusion, the words of a 75-year-old woman, whose little plot had been taken by the CPM government to hand over to the Tatas: Ami ki korbo?    
I still had in my slow mind the dull residues of a little naiveté in those days and remember feeling utterly shocked to realise that a popular communist government could do something so cruel. It was Meher who made me see for the first time exactly how nefarious and dangerous the CPM rule of three decades and more had proved for Bengal, beginning with what is probably the greatest massacre in the history of Independent India: Morijhapi in 1979. He proceeded to enlighten us further on the gallant business ambitions of Buddhadeb, who he described accurately as a ‘Corporate Stalinist’. I began to see the remarkable affinity between communism and capitalism, an insight I owe almost entirely to that first meeting with Meher Da.

In subsequent years we grew closer, the traffic of emails always on the rise, so much so that I did him an honour I do for few friends (and parents): name a whole archive in my Gmail account after my physicist friend. More than any other single individual I can think of, it is Meher who has educated not just me but thousands of others, I am sure, about the great perils of global warming and climate change. 

I am no scientist to be able to comment on Meher Engineer’s professional work in his discipline. But about one thing one could always be very sure. If something was coming via Meher it would be 100% reliable information and analysis. I have seen Meher at work at his table in his cubby-hole of an apartment in Kolkata: he was ruthlessly clinical in his investigative rigour, bringing to bear all his long, arduous years of scientific training on whatever theme he was examining. The first thing he always did before claiming anything was to test, as would befit a scientist like him, the contrary hypothesis. It was a sine qua non for him before opening his mouth in public.

As a result, many of us first learned from Meher Engineer what we reliably know now about flooding seas, melting polar ice caps, retreating Himalayan glaciers, and ocean acidification. The ‘Meher Engineer’ archive in my Gmail box could be the basis of an excellent public primer on the subject of climate change. Always up with the work of IPCC and other authorities, Meher would keep us updated on what is probably the decisive survival issue for humanity in the 21st century, the smug complacency of Ivy League economists notwithstanding.   

For Meher Da, all science should have been citizen science, in the first place. He would often quote lines from Einstein or DD Kosambi to that effect. ‘MacScience’ (often serving military interests too) was to him a personal professional offence. He would have some choice sarcasms to describe the eager intellectual conformity and pusillanimity of those among his colleagues who contributed their brains to such corrupt projects. Meher Engineer could never have been a promoter, a fund-raiser or a salesman!

When it came to one of my disciplines, Economics, Meher Da would call me frequently to check a piece of World Bank data, or some argument made by a government economist in a newspaper column. He would assiduously go through any references I gave him, following them up with further questions. He had a brainy child’s curiosity which could trouble any professional consensus.

Over the years, our friendship grew deeper as we began to stay at each other’s homes on visits to Kolkata and Delhi respectively. Gracious and generous as a host, Meher Da would always find room for me in his tiny place on Lenin Sarani, engaging me in long conversations on his delightful balcony over a cup of tea. Then he would take me out to have jhaal-bhaat or a dosa at a favourite restaurant near Esplanade. Not merely that. He would invariably arrange a discussion or a meeting for me with people who he felt I would benefit from meeting. It was originally through Meher Da that I came to know such invaluable friends and advisors (for my research on Tagore) as Probal Dasgupta, Dhrubajyoti Ghosh, Samar Bagchi, and Subhas Roy. Each of these astonishing people has opened further doors for me in Bengal, a relatively mysterious place to those of us still halting in the lingua franca of what was the original laboratory for the British Raj in this part of the world.  

Meher Engineer was such a sensitive soul, and approached the sufferings of humanity with so much compassion that he all but withdrew from formal physics in his later years and devoted all his time to social work, public education, and activism. His contributions are large and, true to character, hidden behind many a flourishing bush. They are unlikely to be known to the world through his name even in the future.

A model of professional and personal rectitude, Meher Da maintained high moral standards throughout his life. For this, he had the respect and friendship of many who shall mourn him now and miss him ever after.

Rest in peace, Meher Da. You have played your innings with exemplary integrity and done your daring best to delay the catastrophes that await humanity.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Dhrubajyoti Ghosh: The Intrepid Ecologist and his ‘laboratory of survival’


In the course of his work on the wetlands of East Kolkata Dhrubajyoti Ghosh published many articles in newspapers, magazines and academic journals. But he also published three significant volumes on ecology. The last of his three books, published by Oxford last year, is called The Trash Diggers. It is a pictorialised text on the lives and ecologically cleansing livelihoods of the ragpickers of the wetlands village called Dhapa. The villagers have been practising the environmental gospel of “reduce-reuse-recycle” for aeons without ever knowing the words. Urban recycling of non-biodegradable solid waste has been pioneered in India precisely by such officially illiterate, poor, semi-urban communities.

The Trash Diggers begins with the following Foreword by a villager from the wetlands:

 “Mr. Ghosh has been visiting us for a very long time. I do not remember anyone else who has taken our photographs with such care and shown them when he came back. All his pictures describe our neighbourhood - how we live there, how we make a living, the types of fuel we use, how we eat, why there are holes in pigs’ ears. You do not know these things. If you see the pictures you will know. We are farmers on the Dhapa agricultural fields. But we also collect and separate the trash into different types, and then sell them to the traders for a little money. The plastics, glass, cloth, metals - all these that we collect are used to make many kinds of things. The vegetables we grow go to the markets. You buy them cheap. But no one talks about what will happen to us tomorrow. We live in constant fear about our future. If you look at these pictures, perhaps you too will think about us.”

These are the words of Soshthi Mandal who lives in Dhapa. He is the elder brother of Kalyani Mondal, a waste-picker who was crushed to death under a bulldozer on 20 February 2015, while working atop the Dhapa dump site. (“No one blinked”, writes Ghosh about her in his book). Over 5,000 families are engaged in the sorting and recycling of solid waste in Dhapa. They belong to ten different castes, sub-castes, and tribes and have come there both from other parts of West Bengal as well as from states nearby. They do not have a legal right to live and work there. Yet, their ecological contribution to the sustainability of the metropolis is huge, if invisible.

It was a Bengali entrepreneur, Bhabhanath Sen who first got a land lease from the colonial authorities in 1879 to grow vegetables atop the garbage heaps of Dhapa. Sen introduced the practice of co-recycling of solid waste and wastewater. The first urban garbage farmers in India worked in Dhapa. From the Dhapa experience of over a century, Ghosh concluded, and always insisted on, the twin principles of urban solid waste management: decentralised governance and managing waste as a resource.

“To what extent a community, a race, or a nation is civilised depends upon the waste it has to throw away”, writes Ghosh in The Trash Diggers. “The present dispensation is not just about the behavioural pattern of an excluded community. It is also about the kind of knowledge they have mastery upon and the science underneath.” In the theory of knowledge, Ghosh argued, there is growing respect for ‘tacit knowledge’ which presupposes a rational subject who is often unable to verbalise and narrate what s/he knows (almost like a soccer artist unable to give words to his skill).

However, this scarcely means that the knowledge lacks content. It is real, substantial, and positively consequential. It is derived from long and close experience of living and surviving successfully in a challenging ecological context like the East Kolkata Wetlands. The villagers have learned to be “adaptive and resilient” in tough conditions. In Ghosh’s words, “the Dhapa co-recycling practice sets a comprehensive example of a low-carbon model for city waste management that has not yet received the attention of those who matter.” (Something that should have merited public attention by now is the manner in which the natural wastewater recycling mechanism of the wetlands removes E.coli that cannot be cleaned by conventional sewage treatment plants even in advanced countries. It decomposes fruitfully in the tropical oxidation ponds of the Kolkata wetlands).

Ghosh was sarcastic about the manner in which the waste pickers of Dhapa are seen (more precisely rendered invisible) by municipal authorities and the metropolis at large. He wrote in his book: “A community that has been serving a metropolitan city with its painstaking practice of waste recycling, without recognition, remuneration, or social security, is a group that only merits the suspicion of being thieves and vandals! The beginning of this exclusion starts from the deliberate undercounting.” The waste pickers, mostly women, “remain unreachably beyond the notice of the average Kolkata citizen. That is the signature of our civility.” “We count the number of millionaires, but not the millions of pickers who are active in our nation’s backyards.”

Finally, these wetlands, like others known to ecologists, play a part in carbon recycling and sequestration. This last benefit is not to be taken lightly in a time of rapid deterioration in the world’s climate because of rising carbon emissions. Kolkata is the world’s third most exposed city, when it comes to the risk of climate flooding.

However, because these invaluable benefits of wetlands do not appear as cash in a ledger, they are brushed aside in the planning policies that allow developers to encroach and build there.



Ghosh’s intellectual contribution 

In his book Ecosystem Management (NIMBY Books, 2014), Ghosh provocatively suggested that we scrutinise the ‘cognitive apartheid’ that stops experts, media, and the educated public from recognising the ecological wisdom of poor, illiterate communities who have so much to teach us. In making their livelihoods, these modest communities illustrate the ecological principle of self-organisation in ecosystems, with humans active and conscious agents and participants in their functioning. Only studied ecological ignorance can explain a public that takes no notice of this long-standing virtue, and builds luxury offices on fragile lands.

Ghosh also made a case that such ecologically wise communities actually have a ‘positive ecological footprint’. They take away very little from their environment and give back so much – unlike metropolitan households, offices and establishments that take so much and return only effluents. Globalised, metropolitan India is so accustomed to thinking of footprints as intrinsically negative that we fail to imagine that livelihoods can actually return more to nature than they take. It is possible. It happens. It may also happen to be the only way to live in the future.

Ghosh argued for the replacement of the dysfunctional ‘environmental impact assessment’ (“a bit of a joke”, in the words of a recent Union Minister of Environment, while he was still in office) by an ‘ecological assessment’ which would have as its foundation “a charter of ecological ethics”, with the renewable livelihoods of communities directly dependent on ecosystems as its primary reference point.

Ghosh insisted that human culture does not consist just of literature, cinema, music and dance. Rather, the patrimony of ecological culture, which is not just an artefact of the past, resides in the practical collective memory of communities, showing pathways of “living creatively with nature”. Such rooted wisdom lights up paths to an ecologically viable future for all of India, teeming as it is with communities who ‘know’ how to live in harmony with nature.

This is India’s epistemic gift, a privilege not available any more in the supposedly developed world. The ecological practices of people who live in intimacy with nature may be the key to the future survival of this civilisation.

Ghosh’s work of a lifetime has led to the birth of a new organisation, the Society for Creative Opportunities and Participatory Ecosystems (SCOPE), now managed by several of his students. It works, through research and action, to conserve the East Kolkata Wetlands, protecting them from the gluttonous claws of developers. In the face of stiff odds, Ghosh remains for them a steady light of inspiration.



(I wish to thank Dhruba Das Gupta of SCOPE for her suggestions).


Thursday, 8 March 2018

The man who exposed the policy-elite's arrogance from ecological ignorance


"Good morning. Slept well after 15 days. I love you so much."


Those were the last words I received on my mobile phone from Dhruba Da. That was on January 3, 2018. He breathed his last on the morning of February 16, but he was in no position to speak or write messages in the last weeks of his life. He was in hospital. He died of a lung infection which led to further complications. 

There was still so much left for Dhruba Da to say, to write, to do. It is striking for me to recall that I only knew him in the last two years of his life. It was as though we had a connection from a previous birth. He got my number from a common friend in Kolkata and called me. I was in Mumbai for a lecture. Our first call lasted over an hour and he said that I should stay with him next time I visit his city.

I did. And I stayed with him a second and final time last September. His generosity was boundless, his humour ever so wry, his intellect razor-sharp. Our conversations always ran out of time, signed mutually with a 'TBC' (to be continued). On September 11, 2017, he came to my friend Subhas Roy's home for a discussion among many friends on Rabindranath's ecological vision. That was the very last time I saw him.

Dhruba Da's gentle presence and warm smile live in the heart.

I wrote a 2500-word essay on his life and work with the East Kolkata Wetlands last week. Nobody was willing to publish the whole of it.  So I drew two pieces from the original. And two media outlets have agreed to publish one each of them. Here is the shorter one, from today's The Hindu :


http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/the-ecologically-subsidised-city/article22970933.ece

(Related: A staggering statistic about wetlands in Chennai: "Around Twenty years ago, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras pegged the number of wetlands in and around the city to be at around 650. Less than 5% (27 to be precise) exist today. 

"It is a country-wide problem: one-third of India’s wetlands are already wiped out or severely degraded because of habitat destruction, pollution, and encroachment. In low-lying coastal areas where heavy rains are common and high tides can occur, the consequences are potentially disastrous.")

(http://theglobalcalcuttan.com/?p=4539)

Friday, 20 October 2017

Nature's Grandchildren


Rabindranath believes that the inevitable ecological alienation involved in metropolitan life cripples our cognition profoundly, leaving humanity in a condition of an ultimately destructive spiritual destitution. Intimacy with the natural world from a formative age is the only way to restore humanity to spiritual and ecological health. This, to him, is the core of his practical religion as well as his pedagogy.

http://www.radicalecologicaldemocracy.org/natures-grandchildren/

Friday, 18 August 2017

When Nehru's 'development' superseded Gandhi's 'swaraj'

In October 1945, two years before India's independence, Gandhi and Nehru exchanged ideas on the question of swaraj. Nehru dismissed Gandhi's idea of Hind Swaraj as outlandish. The idea of swaraj was sumamarily superseded by the modern notion of 'development', with consequences which made even Nehru himself regret his views towards the end of his life.

http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/freedom-issue-2017-essay/who-killed-swaraj