SAVE GANGA MOVEMENT
A GANDHIAN MOVEMENT FOR NON-VIOLENT CULTUREOF DEVELOPMENT
SAVE GANGA & SAVE HIMALAYAS MARCH
GANGA SYMBOLIZES ALL OUR RIVERS AND WATER BODIES HIMALAYAS SYMBOLIZES ALL OUR FORESTS, MOUNTAINS AND WILDLIFE
A Report on the Celebration of the78th Anniversary of Gandhji’s Dandi Yatra in the form of a Save Ganga & Save Himalayas March from Bapuji’s Samadhi at Rajghat to Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi on 12-03-2008.
We are glad to inform that like in the previous two years, we organized the above mentioned function, as a part of our Save Ganga Movement, to pay tribute to our beloved Bapuji on the occasion of the78th anniversary of his Dandi Yatra. It was intended to put moral pressure on our government to take time-bound decisive steps to completely and permanently save the Ganga, symbolizing all rivers and water bodies, and the Giriraj Himalayas, symbolizing all mountains forests and wildlife.
The Save Ganga & Save Himalayas March from Bapuji’s Samadhi to Rashtrapati Bhavan commenced with prayers near beloved Bapuji’s Samadhi at 8.30a.m on 12th March 2008. H.H. Vincent M. Concessao, Archbishop of Delhi, Hon,ble Member of Parliament Shri Rewati Raman Singh, Dr Priya Ranjan Trivedi, President, World Institution Building Programme, Dr M.L. Dewan, President, HIMCON and Gandhian Activist Smt Rama Rauta, Convener of the Save Ganga Movement led the March. Many distinguished persons such as Dr. Ashok Srichand, President, Ganga Sewak Samaj, Allahabad, Shri Promod. R.S, Secretary, Jain Swetamber Terapanth, New Delhi , Smt Rekha Udit, Secretary, Global Warming Reduction Centre, New Delhi, Shri Manish Kumar Shekhar, President, Khadi &Village Industries Development Agency of India, Dr. Pramod Talgeri, Vice Chancellor, India international Multiversity, Pune , Shri Madhav Aslekar, Registrar, India International Multiversity, Pune participated in the march. The March commenced with prayers near our beloved Bapuji’s Samadhi at 8:30 a.m on 12th March 2008 and concluded with the formal presentation of Our Charter of Ten Demands to Save the Ganga and the Himalayas in the form of an Appeal to our Hon’ble Rashtrapatiji at the Rashatrapati Bhavan.
Although more than two dozen organizations are supporting our movement and many of them had informed us to participate in the March, unfortunately only a few organizations mentioned above participated in the March. Sadly professional Gandhians have been conspicuous in their absence, although they have been personally requested to participate in it. It is deeply painful to say that this time not a single Hindu spiritual leader or organization participated in the function although we had earnestly requested many of them. We had invited many Members of Parliament, but sadly most of them did not even respond, and some of them although accepted our invitation, except Shri Rewati Raman Singh, none of them did come to the function. Sadly also, the Mass Media neglected the event, although we had earnestly requested them in advance to give wide publicity about our Charter of Ten Demands and to help us to make the event a grand success.
Some Journalists and Gandhians asked me how could one clean the Ganga from Pune! The following is our answer to them:
The objective of this movement is on the one hand to create scientific awareness among the masses with the help of the like-minded organizations and eminent noble persons, religious leaders, scientists, intellectuals, social activists and Gandhians against the environmental degradation in general and the pollution of our rivers with special reference to the Ganga in particular, on the other hand to put moral pressure on the government to completely prevent discharge of industrial effluents and untreated sewage from the cities and towns in to our rivers. We intend to convert this Movement into a GANDHIAN NON-VIOLENT MASS MOVEMENT FOR A NON-VIOLENT CULTURE OF DEVELOPMENT, which is the surest and perhaps the only means to prevent the impending massive global ecological crises. The thought of Gandhiji, the apostle of Truth and non-violence of our age, does provide the form and content of a non-violent culture of development in the context of our present technological age. The seers and prophets of all great religions would agree with the Gandhian solution. (For a discussion on this issue, please see the Note on “Gandhiji on Village Swaraj” in our Website, www.savegangamovement.org .)
In the National Workshop on ‘Gandhi Ganga and Giriraj’ held on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti as a part of our Save Ganga Movement at Gandhi Darshan Samiti, Rajghat, Delhi on 1st and 2nd October 2004, the above Charter of Ten Demands were unanimously accepted to be the Ten Commandments for establishing in our country a culture of development based on the principle of non-violence, which constitute the base of all ethics.
We have presented our charter of Ten Demands in the form of an earnest appeal to save the Ganga and the Himalayas directly to our Hon’ble Prime Minister on 13th March 2006 and to Hon’ble Rashtrapati on12th March 2007, which are undoubtedly two great noble souls. We are deeply sorry to inform that unfortunately the government has not taken any significant step so far to save the Ganga & the Himalayas. Since all our major rivers flow through more than one states, it would be the best if the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests takes the full responsibility of making and keeping all our rivers completely and permanently pollution free through time-bound steps, leaving no scope for the central and state government authorities blaming each other for the failures. To begin with, it should take time-bound decisive steps to make the Yamuna at Delhi completely and permently free from pollution, which would set an example for the entire country. It is deeply painful to see that Delhi, the capital of our great nation, is the greatest polluter of the sacred Yamuna, the largest tributary of the Ganga. If the industrial developed countries could keep the water of their rivers clean, why can’t we?
It is truly deeply anguishing to see that we have failed to make the Ganga free from pollution in spite of our central government launching the Ganga Action Plan in 1985, and spending hundreds of crores of rupees for this purpose, even though we know that the Ganga is the lifeline of our crores of people and crores of our people consider her to be their divine mother. In the National Save Ganga Seminar held at Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, on 22nd Nov. 2003 in the course of our Save Ganga Yatra, many comprehensive reports presented by experts pointed out that “even with the available knowledge, skill and money, the Ganga could be cleaned completely within two years.” (For the report on our Save Ganga Yatra from Gangotri to Gangasagar, please see our Website, www: savegangamovement.org.) It is deeply painful to know that disrupting the continuity, quantity and quality of the flows of the Ganga, the government of India has been proposing and/or promoting a number of hydro-electric projects on various rivers of the Ganga valley in Uttarakhand including the the Bhagirathi to tap their enormous hydro-power potential without having an in-depth national debate on this highly controversial issue. (See Dr G.D. Agrawal’s article on this issue in our Website) Dr. G.D. Agarwal has declared to go on a “fast-unto –death” from Ganga- Dashehra, June 13, 2008 at Uttarkashi on this issue.
Lack of will and apathy of our political leadership and almost total apathy of our bureaucrats and industrialists to solve the problem is mainly responsible for our failure and our moral bankruptcy is the cause of our lack of will .The Nation’s moral bankruptcy is evident in not being able to eradicate none of our various major traditional social evils such as gender injustice, caste and class injustice, communalism, exploitation of rural masses by the urban, cruelty to animals, etc. even sixty years after our Independence. It is truly deeply painful to see that our farmers are committing suicide in large numbers, even in an economically and socially developed state like Maharashtra, even when our GDP Growth is very high. We deeply agree with Gandhiji that “when the kisans become conscious of their non-violent strength, no power on earth can resist them.” Unfortunately our intellectuals have failed to create the mass awareness necessary to create mass movements against various forms of injustice. Although India is a land of morality and religions and of many great moral and spiritual teachers, under the influence of modern western civilization, they have even excluded ethics education from our education curricula from school to university education level.
We must completely prevent discharge of industrial effluents and untreated sewage from the cities and towns in to our rivers and not only protect our existing forests and mountains which constitute their natural sources but also take time bound decisive steps to convert one third of our land into forests. We must make a massive effort to realize Gandhiji’s conception of Village Swaraj in our rural India and to begin with we must take time–bound decisive steps to convert rural India in to worth living places for those who want to lead a life of simple living and high thinking. It is greatly agonizing to see that Gandhians and Gandhian Institutions are not doing anything substantial to complete the unfinished work of our beloved Bapu, the apostle of Truth and non-violence of our age. (For a discussion on this issue, please see the Note entitled ‘Saving Gandhi and Gandhian Institutions’ in our Website,www:savegangamovement.org.)
Neither Bapuji nor any of our great teachers and seers would approve the present culture of development of modern western civilization, which has caused disappearance of tens of thousands of plant and animal species and which continues to cause greater and greater violence to our life-sustaining natural systems.
The great teachers and seers of our ancient Indian civilization explicitly accept universal non-violence, i.e. non-violence to both human and non-human life, to be the foundation of ethics. They see clearly that enlightened selfless ethical life of love constitutes the core of Truth, i.e. of the true ultimate goal of life, and pursuit of selfless ethical life of universal love, making constant effort to grow towards ethical perfection constitutes the core of its means. They explicitly accept that pursuit of wealth and pleasure within the limits of ethics is essential not only for the pursuit of the ultimate goal of life, but also for sustainable development and prosperity in society. Gandhiji sees clearly that all great religions also explicitly or implicitly accept the same. Although various great spiritual seers have seen clearly that an enlightened spiritual life is intrinsically a life of happiness of the highest kind, it is our predicament that intellectuals and religious preachers generally fail to see it, because without leading a spiritual life it would not be possible to see this invaluable eternal spiritual truth even if one is man of great intelligence.
Our spiritual teachers and leaders have collectively an unique important role to play to create the mass awareness necessary for creating the necessary mass Satyagraha to prevent our impeding catastrophic ecological crises. But they are also showing utter apathy to our impeding ecological crises. Unfortunately they do not have the culture of working together untidily for such great noble works, although not performing a collective work which could prevent great mass sufferings is highly immoral. They normally fail to see that “an ounce of practice is worth more than a ton of preaching.” It is important to note that unlike modern western civilization, classical Indian civilization has clear answer even to an atheist to the question why to make sacrifices for our future generations or for our harmless fellow lower form of creatures even if it is against our substantial selfish interest.
It is our deep conviction that classical Indian civilization has the moral and spiritual resources to create a mass Satyagraha to save the world from the impending massive ecological crises (Global Warming, Air, Water and Land Pollution, Destruction of Forests and Wildlife, Etc.), which has devastating implications not only for our future generations but also for the entire life world in the long run. It is important to note that according to the report of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) published on 20th March 2007, apart from the Ganga, the Indus, Nile, and Yangtze are among the 10 most endangered rivers of the world, that are lifeline of billions of people. Global warming could cause more hunger in poor countries and extinction of many animal and plant species and melt most glaciers of the Himalayas, which is the source of the Ganga, the Indus and many other great rivers, by the 2030s, according to a draft UN report published on 6th April, 2007. Extreme Climate changes caused by global warming could lead to heat waves, cyclones, droughts and floods across the world. Surely India, the mother of this only great living ancient civilization which is the mother of many great religions, is in far better position than any other country to create and lead such a movement.
India must try to become a moral and spiritual super power. We must not repeat the mistakes of the form of development of the West. Let us replace the present eco-hostile, out-and-out consumerist and unsustainable self–destructive culture of development of the modern western civilization, by a non-violent sustainable life-saving culture of development. Surly the seers and prophets of all great religions would agree with Gandhiji that such a culture of development is bound to be rural centered. Let us provide the world a culture of Truth and non-violence in the context of our present technological age, where all religions could grow harmoniously in spite of their differences in the realm of metaphysics, and where development could take place with loving care of the invaluable countless kinds of flora and fauna of our life-sustaining natural systems. Posterity will condemn us and curse us if we do not take the necessary time-bound steps to avoid the impending ecological crises.
As the next major step of our Movement, we are planning to organize “A Save Ganga & Save Himalayas Yatra” from Badrinath to Rameshwar. The main objective of the Yatra will be to bring various like-minded organizations and eminent persons from different streams of life, especially gandhians and gandhian institutions and various likeminded religious leaders and major religious institutions of different faiths (Temples, Mosques, Churches, Gurudwaras, etc) under one roof to devote to the cause of preventing the impending massive ecological crises by creating a non-violent culture of development through a Gandhian Non-violent Mass- Movement.
We are glad to inform that the scientists from N.B.R.I, .Lucknow who participated in our Save Ganga Yatra have prepared and presented to the Govrnment an absolutely non-controversial time-bound project for the plantation along the banks of the river Ganga from Gangotri to Ganga-Sagar entitled “Plant based management of Ganga water pollution: Plantation along the banks and development of constructed wetlands for sewage treatment in major cities on the bank of the river.” Completion of this project would surely set an example for undertaking similar projects for our other great rivers. Since our Government is not responding to our request for its implementation, we shall persuade our religious institutions to take the responsibility of implementing the Gangotri to Gangasagar Plantation Project.
We would like to express our deep gratitude to H.H. Swami Tejomayanandji, Head worldwide, Chinmaya Mission, Mumbai, for providing every possible help for the success of our movement from its beginning We are glad to inform that and he has promised to lead the Save Ganga March on 12th March next year. We are deeply grateful to, H.H. Archbishop Vincent M. Concessao for participating and leading our every Save Ganga March on 12th March at Delhi and giving his valuable moral support and blessing for their success. We are deeply grateful to Smt Tara Gandhi Bhatacharyaji, Vice President, Gandhi Smriti &Darsan Samiti, Tees January Marg, New Delhi & Chairperson of our Save Ganga Movement for her invaluable moral support and selfless help for making our noble event a success, although because of her ill health, she could not participate in the event. We are deeply grateful to Noted Yogacharya H.H.B.K.S Iyengar, Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute, Pune for his invaluable blessing, moral and financial support for our movement. We are grateful to India International Multiversity, Pune for its moral and financial support for our movement from its beginning. We are grateful to K.P. Foundation, Pune for their moral and financial support for our movement. Lastly we are deeply grateful to all the organizations and persons who participated in our noblefunction.Smt. Rama RautaConvener, Save Ganga MovementPresident, National Women’s Organization, PuneEmail: