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Blueprint for Survival of Divine Himalaya-I

-Sunder Lal Bahuguna

Himalaya will play an important role in shaping the future of Asia. Peace is the first requirement of this region. Fortunately good sense has prevailed and two great countries -China and India – have come closer. This will definitely bring down the defence budgets and enable these countries to spend more on real development. But what should be the goal of Development? We have already seen the blunders committed in the name of development. Development has made the economic growth the new Religion of humankind and Dollar the God. In Himalaya and the countries around it, there once thrived Buddhism. Buddha was a social Revolutionary, who pondered over the basic problems of humankind. He found it was misery (Dukh) The cause of misery was DESIRE (Trishna) and the way to end it was end of desire, “(Trishna-kshhaya). He differentiated between need and desire, our needs should be fulfilled, but we should not run after our illusory desires. Buddha defined development as a state in the life of the individual and the society in which they enjoy permanent peace, happiness and fulfillment.

Development, with only economic growth and achievement of affluence, has made man the butcher of nature. He in a vain attempt to satisfy his never ending desires, has depleted the natural resources, and created problems for the survival of all beings. This mode of development is neither sustainable.  as it has exhausted the storehouse of Nature, nor ethical, as it has made extinct many species and compelled a large number of people to live in inhuman conditions. Science and technology were prostituted to achieve short-term benefits, at the cost of posterity. To achieve the goal of real development, our behaviour with Nature should be as a child’s with the Mother. We have to fulfill our needs from Nature. For this, the use of Science and technology should be to sublimate Nature.

Butchery of Nature (Prakritil) has created a perverted society (Vikriti), where as sublimation of Nature will take us from Nature (Prakriti) to Culture (Sanskriti). The way to do this may be found in old cultures of Asia. Edward Goldsmith concluding his findings of 32 years of study says; “Inspiration must come from the worldview of vernacular societies, in particular, the world-view of the earliest period, when people everywhere lived in harmony with the Natural World.” These societies regard the Living World of the Biosphere, the basic Source of all benefits and hence of all wealth, but only dispense these benefits to us, if we preserve its critical order … The behaviour pattern of an ecological society must be to preserve the critical order of the natural world of the cosmos.

The internationally known “Chipko” Movement, born in central Himalaya in the early seventies has its roots in the “Aranya” (forest) culture of India, Sages and seers, who were the visionaries and Gurus (the great teachers) of Indian society, lived in the forests. They developed a philosophy of life in which they saw life in all creation. Life not only in human beings, but in birds and beasts, rivers and mountains, plants and trees. They developed a worshipful attitude towards all life. These two principles can be practiced, only if we lead a life of austerity. One, whose worldly needs will be less, will do less harm to Nature. Austerity was respected in society.

“Chipko” (hug the trees) movement was a revolt against the concept of material  civilization, which regards nature as a and values the forest for its timber and other raw materials to the industry. “Chipko” challenged this by uttering the scientific truth:

What do the forests bear?

Soil, Water and Pure Air

Soil, Water and Pure Air,

Are the best basis of life.

Men, Women and children cringed to the trees to protect them from the commercial axes. The nonviolent movement compelled the Government to declare a new Forest Policy, aiming at the conservation of forests. The “Chipko” Movement initiated a new debate on development. The construction of Mega Tehri Dam was challenged on social, economic and technical grounds. The local community’s Right to natural Resources – water, forest and land – should be recognised and these should be the basis of their genuine economic development.

The People’s Movement against the mega Tehri Dam gave birth to “Save Himalaya Movement”, which demanded a Himalayan Policy.