I posted earlier today, which was my first post ever. I have been smiling non-stop since. I realize that I am at that point in life where the future is most uncertain , there is so much to be fearful of and yet so much to look forward to. So I look back and rewind to this day last year. It is surprising that I remember I wrote something very special that day (and hence I re-post it here).
Life is cyclical you know, last year too I was in this state of flux like I am today. In fact, my whole life is that of me being a nomad – flowing along like a river, never still, never permanent. Last year, I was applying for the Young India Fellowship, on this day. The deadline was supposed to be 31st March, 2010 then (it later got extended) so I began writing , what could be assumed to be the most important of the bunch of them, that was to be titled “What Matters to me the most and Why?” (It still holds true by the way) =)
Photo taken by : Jairaj Bhattacharya (of myself at Colva Beach, South Goa)
“Breathe,” I tell myself, as I stop to check the gauge that reads ‘110 psi’ (pounds per square inch) of air and @ 18 m (approx.60 feet) below sea level. Suddenly, I feel a tap on my shoulder as Chris, my diving instructor points behind me. A Leatherback Sea Turtle is slowly approaching the reef. Transfixed, I stop moving as she stares back. For a moment there, she smiled. Through the mask I smile back which immediately loosens my regulator, after which I sputter out the salt water. I look again, but she has drifted ahead. Chris nudges – It is time to go, he signs. We quickly swim upwards; make a safety stop and surface.On the boat heading back to Havelock Island, (The Andamans) I narrate my encounter with the Sea Turtle to my fellow divers. Some of them laugh, to which I indignantly remark “I swear she smiled!” Some nod in understanding, and I sit quietly thereafter. I ponder then – ‘How marvellous Mother Nature is – it is a sign, your doing the right thing!’
I have loved Nature for as long as I can remember. Over the years, studying ‘Environment’ has become a passion and a vocation too. It is not easy to explain to family, friends, well-wishers and sceptics alike.
Yet I am convinced that sometimes Nature finds her own way to tell me ‘keep at it!’ Nature – People and their environment – Sustainability and the complex yet intricate inter- relationship, is what ‘matters’ to me – coupled with a thirst for knowledge, and a desire to use my skills towards conserving our resources.
I am convinced that ‘caring about environment’ transcends borders and cultures. While travelling I have experienced how it becomes a foundation for a delicate thread of relationships that brings and binds people together.
Across the globe, Climate Change has brought ‘green’ into businesses, professions and avenues. This has certain concepts very overwhelming e.g. Carbon finance, Trade and Environment, Intellectual Property, Laws etc. The technicalities involved often exclude large sections of society that ought to be involved in the ‘Environment-Development’ debate e.g. pastoralists, farmers, fishermen, tribal communities and minority groups. The need is for outreach, to be aware and to keep it simple. I believe that environmentalism is a ‘democratic’ cause – where communities ought to have the right to access, use and safeguard their resources. Unlike the situation in the West, the question of environmental destruction in India is not an issue related to quality of life but rather a matter of survival. (Anil Agarwal – Politics of the Environment -II, 1986) If ‘Environment’ is about ‘Ecology’ and ‘Development’ about ‘Economics’, there is a third ‘e’ that of Equity.
Our rich, dynamic and multi-faceted country has 80 per cent of its population having access to only 20 per cent of resources, and the remainder 20 per cent demands and consumes 80 per cent of available resources. This skewed figure gives a different perspective to economic growth and human development, especially while discussing sustainability. Consequently, peace and harmony prevails where there is ‘environmental justice.’ – Resource sharing even amongst marginalised communities.
I aspire to be well-known for having spread this message and to keep learning more about the fragile inter-relationship between Man and Environment. To sing a song I would incessantly hum – (lyrics failed me) as a nine-year old-
“I’d like to build the world the world a home, and furnish it with love,
Grow apple trees and honey bees and snow-white turtle doves.
I’d like to see the world for once all standing hand in hand,
And hear them echo through the hills for peace throughout the land.”
(Lyrics of the song by the Hillside Singers)