Report 2017-18: Awareness Yatra

Report 2017-18:  Gandhi, Ganga, Giriraj Awareness Yatra
SAVE GANGA MOVEMENT 
 
NATIONAL WOMEN’S ORGANIZATION, PUNE
 
A GANDHIAN NON-VIOLENT MOVEMENT FOR A NON-VIOLENT CULTURE OF DEVELOPMENT

Ganga symbolizes all rivers and water bodies; Giriraj Himalaya symbolizes all mountains, forests and wildlife; Gandhi symbolizes a culture of Truth and non-violence, i.e. a culture of pursuit of ethical perfection as the ultimate goal of life and pursuit of selfless ethical life of universal love as its means.

 

Report on ‘Gandhi, Ganga, Giriraj Awareness Yatra’ as part of the Centenary Celebrations of the Champaran and Kheda Satyagraha

 

As a part of our Save Ganga Movement, under the Centenary Celebration of the Champaran and Kheda Satyagrah an Awareness Yatra on Gandhi, Ganga and Giriraj has been undertaken throughout the country in Collaboration with Gandhi Smiriti, Darsan Samiti, Kasturba Gandhi National Memorial Trust and other likeminded organizations/ institutions, consisting of Save Ganga, Giriraj Himalays, Truth & Non-violence Meetings/ Seminars/ Discussions/Workshops/ Marches etc. Here Gandhi symbolises a culture of Truth and Non-Violence; the Ganga symbolises all rivers and water bodies and aquatic life; and the Giriraj Himalaya symbolises all mountains, forests and wildlife.

We commenced the ‘Gandhi, Ganga, Giriraj Awareness Yatra’ on 3rd October 2017 with a “Save Ganga, Giriraj, Truth & Non-violence March” from Gandhi Smiriti to India Gate. It was organized by: Gandhi Smiriti & Darsan Samiti , Rajghat Delhi, National Women’s Organization, Pune, and supported by: National Environmental Engeineering Reasearch Institute (CSIR)Nagpur &Zonal Lab, Delhi; M.C. Mehta Foundation, Dehradun; Ahimsa Vishwa Bharti , New Delhi; Bahai Lotus Temple New Delhi . The following dignitaries lead the March: H.H. Acharya (Dr) Lokesh Muni, Ahimsa Vishwabharti, New Delhi, Rev. Shri Satpal Singh Khalsa, Dr A.K. Marchent, Bahai Lotus Temple, New Delhi, Smt Rama Rauta, Founder& Convener, Save Ganga Movement & Expert Member, Expert Advisory Committee, Ganga Rejuvenation, Ministry of WR, RD&GR, Noted Environmentalist Advocate Shri M.C. Mehata, Dr. Devendra Bhargava, Retd. Prof., IIT, Roorkee. The event was recorded by Doordarsan Channel.

At first we had planned to have the first phase the “Gandhi, Ganga, Giriraj Awareness Yatra” in October and November 2017 in Uttarakhand/ Uttar Pradesh with the help of the Ministry of Water Resource, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation of Government of India. Sushree Umashree Bhartiji, the then Hon’ble Minister of the Ministry, had assured us that the Ministry would help us to make the Yatra a success. But unfortunately there was a sudden unexpected change of the Minister in the Ministry of Water Resource, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, and we did not get any help from the Ministry for the Yatra. So we had to cancel the Yatra.

We are happy that in spite of many unexpected major difficulties we faced to organize the Yatra, we have completed quite fruitfully and successfully a “Save Ganga, Giriraj, Truth & Non-violence Yatra” in Maharashtra in January and February 2018, with Save Ganga, Giriraj, Truth & Non-violence Meeting-cum-Discussions, on 30th January 2018, on the occasion of Bapuji’s death anniversary, at Gandhi National Memorial Society, Agakhan Palace, Nagar Road, Pune, and on 5th February2018, at Mahatma Gandhi International Hindi University, Wardha, followed by a visit to Gandhiji’s Sevagram Ashram and Vinoba Bhave’s Ashram at Wardha. The central topic of discussion of the Meeting-cum-Discussions was: Rejuvenation & Preservation of Our Dying River Mothers Ganga, Yamuna, Narmada, Godavari, Krishna, Cauvery … and Village Swaraj .

We concluded the Centenary Celebration of the Champaran Satyagrah, through celebrating the 88th Anniversary of Gandhji’s Dandi March in the form of a Meeting-cum-Discussion at Gandhi Darsan, Rajghat, New Delhi on 12th March, 2018 on the topic: What we must do to rejuvenate and preserve our national river mother Ganga and her source the Giriraj Himalayas.The Save Ganga, Giriraj, Truth & Non-violence Meeting-cum-Discussions on 30th January, the Punyatithi of Bapu, was held at Gandhi National Memorial Society, Aga Khan Palace, Nagar Road, Pune under the auspices of National Women’s Organization, Pune, Gandhi National Memorial Society, Aga Khan Palace, Pune, Friends of Gandhi Museum, Pune, Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti, Rajghat Delhi and Kasturba Gandhi National Trust(central), Indore. The program started at 10:30 am with lighting the lamp by dignitaries led by Padmabhushan Smt Shobhanatai Ranade, who also presided. Smt Ràma Rauta, Convenor, Save Ganga Movement & President, NWO, Pune, welcomed the guests and gave the introductory speech. The following speakers expressed their valuable views on various relevant issues: Swami Siddheshanand, Head, Chinmay Mission, Pune, Dr Harshwardhan Singh, Principal Scientist, NEERI, Nagpur, Dr. S.N. Kaul, Retd. Senior Scientist, NEERI, Nagpur, Mr Ravindra Dharia, Chairman, Vanrai Trust, Pune, Dr Kuruvilla Pandikattu SJ, Dean, Faculty of Philosophy, Jnana Vidyapeeth/ Papal Seminary, Dr V.N. Ranade, Former Secretary, Water Resource Department, Govt of Maharashtra, Mr V. Dhonde, Hydro geologist, Govt of India, Ministry of Water Resources, Dr Bodhankar, Convener of Jal Biradari & Sagar Mitra. The program was attended by about seventy people including forty students from various colleges and several distinguished members from some organisations. The program was compered by Dr Ashwini Tilloo, Vice-president, NWO, Pune and vote of thanks was given by Ms Jyotika Wale, Member, NWO, Pune.

The Save Ganga, Giriraj, Truth & Non-violence Meeting-cum-Discussions on 5th February2018, at Mahatma Gandhi International Hindi University was organized by: National Women’s Organization, Pune, Mahatma Gandhi International Hindi Vishwavidhyalaya, Wardha, Gandhi Smiriti & Darsan Samiti, Rajghat Delhi and Kasturba Gandhi National Memorial Trust(central) Indore. Prof. Manoj Kumar, Dean of Mahatma Gandhi International Hindi University, presided the meeting. Smt Rama Rauta gave the keynote address which was followed by speeches by Dr T.K. Ghosh, Retd. Senior Scientist, NEERI, Nagpur and Dr G.K. Khades, Principal Scientist, NEERI, Nagpur. The program was attended by a lot of students from the university, and there was a very fruitful interaction between the students and the speakers through questions and answers. Dr Ashwini Tilloo, Vice-president, NWO, Pune gave the vote of thanks. The function was followed by a visit to Gandhiji’s Sevagram Ashram and Vinoba Bhave’s Ashram at Wardha.

The Centenary Celebration of the Champaran Satyagrah was concluded with a Save Ganga, Giriraj, Truth & Non-violence Meeting-cum-Discussions at Gandhi Darsan, Rajghat, New Delhi on 12th March, 2018 on the topic: What we must do to rejuvenate and preserve our national river mother Ganga and her source the Giriraj Himalayas. It was organized by: Gandhi Smiriti & Darsan Samiti , Rajghat Delhi, National Women’s Organization, Pune, Kasturba Gandhi National Memorial Trust(central) Indore; and Supported by: National Environmental Engeineering Reasearch Institute (CSIR)Nagpur & Zonal Lab, Delhi, M.C. Mehta Foundation, Dehradun, Ahimsa Vishwa Bharti , New Delhi, Bahai Lotus Temple New Delhi, Global Imam Council, Gujrat. Smt Rama Rauta presided the Meeting-cum-Discussions and Shri Dipanker Shri Gyanji, Director, Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti, Gandhi Darshan, New Delhi gave the welcome address. The following persons expressed their views and had a very free frank constructive critical discussion on this issue great national importance: Dr A.K. Marchent, Secretary, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahai’s of the India, New Delhi, Dr U.N. Rai Retd. Senior Scientist, NBRI, Lucknow, Dr. Papaya Mandal, Senior Scientist, Zonal lab,(CSIR,NEERI), Delhi, Shri Abhilash Khandekar, Senior Journalist& Loksabha T.V. Anchor, Shri Arun Tiwari , Editor, Pani Post. Mrs Ranjana Kiarkar, Trustee Member, NOW, Pune gave the vote of thanks. The event was recorded by Doordarsan Channel.

***********************************Concluding Remarks:In the Save Ganga, Giriraj, Truth & Non-violence Meeting-cum-Discussions held in the course of the Yatra, there was a general support to the Recommendations of our Save Ganga Movement. It was generally agreed that as soon as possible:

  • (a)We must take necessary steps to declare the Ganga constitutionally as our National River with statutory provisions that ensure due respect and protection to her, considering her National River status;
  • (b) We must take decisive time-bound course of actions` to ensure an adequate environmental flow of natural fresh water with sediments on the Ganga bed throughout the year, throughout the stretch of the river, to begin with at least up to Varanasi, not only to protect and preserve her ecology but also to meet the basic water needs of the habitations on her banks, and restore the unique health promoting bactericidal, non-putrefying, self-purifying qualities of Gangajal (the water of Ganga);
  • (c) We must accept and implement the policy of zero discharge into the rivers and maintenance of Adequate Environmental Flow in the rivers throughout the country.
  • (d) We must declare the highly earthquake-prone, eco-fragile and ecologically, aesthetically and religiously invaluable Uttarakhand region of the Ganga Basin “Ecologically Fragile and a Sanctuary for Himalayan Flora and Fauna”, and its rivers “wild rivers” and take all the necessary steps to protect them and the natural ecosystems they support. We must also declare this religiously invaluable Uttarakhand region to be our national Spiritual Heritage Zone and must not allow any eco-hostile tourism in the Name of Tirtha Yatra: we must know that Tirtha Yatra is a form of Tapah (Purificatory action/Austerity/ Self-control). The proposed 900km 12000-crore All-Weather Char Dham Yatra Highway Development Project is very likely to affect the Himalayan region of the Ganga Basin very badly if absolute care is not taken to make it absolutely eco-friendly and spirituality-friendly. There must be an upper limit on the number of the tourists/ pilgrims taking into account the eco-friendly carrying-capacity of the Himalayan region.

Mother Nature will not forgive us if we fail to save our national river mother Ganga and other great river mothers and their sources our great mountains and forests, the natural source/ store-house of pure air, water and soil, which are in the process of slow death; and surely our future generations will condemn and curse us. We must convert one third of our lands into forests. Our intellectual and spiritual leaders must not be silent witness to the slow death of our great river mothers and their sources, which is the symptom of the grave ecological crisis through which our mother planet earth is going through at present.

Our National Development Plan and National Mission of Clean India must give top priority providing clean air, clean water and clean food to all. We must always keep in mind that It would be highly unethical and satanic to allow our development activities, essentially to satisfy our greed for wealth and lust for luxuries, in the name of development for the common people, to deprive the masses the various invaluable services they have been getting freely since ages from our life-giving and life-& health-sustaining aesthetically, religiously and ecologically invaluable natural eco-systems. We must realize that:

  • Rejuvenating and preserving the Ganga and her tributaries and their source the Himalayas and the Godavari, Krishna and Cauvery and their source the Western Ghats, and our other great river mothers and their sources is absolutely necessary to ensure lasting water, food, air­ and health security to our masses, and saving our national river Ganga would be a major step in the direction to save all our other great rivers which are also in the process of slow death.
  • In the long run, we must replace the present fundamentally unspiritual and greed for wealth and lust for luxuries based, extremely eco-hostile, inherently unsustainable out-and-out consumerist global culture of development of our Modern Civilization, by a Gandhian alternative, which essentially involves retelling the basic ethics of our great living ancient civilization as well as of all great religions in the context of our technological age, and provides the form and content of a sustainable, equitable, loving and caring non-violent culture of development.

Gandhiji’s Satyagraha at Champaran and Kheda does show the best and surest means to solve the problems of exploitation of rural India in general and of our present very grave agrarian crisis in particular through absolutely non-violent way with the help of soul force. We must take time–bound decisive steps to solve the problem of forced migration of rural unemployed to cities by converting rural India into an ideal place for leading enlightened ethical life of simple living and high thinking in an atmosphere of natural purity and beauty with loving care of the life-& health-sustaining aesthetically and religiously invaluable natural eco-systems with the help of the Gandhian conceptions of Truth and non-violence, village Swaraj, Swadeshi, dignified exhilarating & health-friendly body-labor, cottage industry, non-exploitative rural serving/centric eco-friendly decentralized industrialization and urbanization, Antyodaya, Sarvodaya, Satyagraha, character-building ethics education, etc. In Harijan on 4th August 1946 Gandhiji wrote: “When our villages are fully developed, there will be no dearth in them of men with a high degree of skill and artistic talent. There will be village poets, village artists, village architects, linguists and research workers. In short there will be nothing in life which will not be had in the villages. Today the villages are dung heaps. Tomorrow they will be like tiny gardens of Eden where dwell highly intelligent folk whom no one can deceive or exploit. The reconstruction of villages along these lines should begin right now…not on a temporary but permanent basis.” Mahatma Gandhi, the apostle of Truth and Non-violence of our age, does show us the surest and best way and perhaps the only way in the long run, how to build a New India with a sustainable, equitable, loving and caring Non-violent Culture of Development. He rightly says: “That you cannot serve God and Mammon is an economic truth of the highest value. We have to make our choice. … Let us seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and the irrevocable promise is that everything will be added unto us. These are Real Economics. May you and I treasure them and enforce them in our daily life.” (M. K. Gandhi, The Voice of Truth, p. 328) Let us build a new India rejuvenating and preserving our great ancient civilization of Truth and non-violence and save India and through it the world at large from the impending catastrophic global ecological crisis along with the present all pervasive deep rooted moral and spiritual crisis.

We have now the necessary wealth, knowledge, skill and a holistic scientific National Ganga Basin Management Plan (NGRBMP) prepared by the Consortium of 7IITs to save and rejuvenate our national river mother Ganga. It is our firm conviction that if there is political will and moral power, it is possible to make mother Ganga Aviral & Nirmal by 2019 the 150th Birthday Year of Mahatma Gandhi, and rejuvenate it by 2022, the 75th year of our country’s Independence. There is no scarcity of wealth, knowledge and skill to save and rejuvenate our villages along with our rivers, water bodies, mountains, forests and wildlife which are in the process of slow death. There is lack of will due to our moral and spiritual bankruptcy/ deficiency. We must introduce universal compulsory critical ethics education with character-building ethics education as its core and the problem of the ultimate meaning of life as its central problem from the beginning of our education system, which would be a major step in the direction to overcome our present deep rooted moral and spiritual crisis. Rejuvenating & Preserving mother Ganga and her tributaries and their source the Himalayas and introducing universal compulsory critical ethics education with character-building ethics education as its core and the problem of the ultimate meaning of life as its central problem from the beginning of our education system would certainly be some major steps in the right direction to rejuvenate and preserve our great ancient civilization of Truth and non-violence and establish a Kingdom of Spiritually Enlightened Righteousness(Rama Rajya, Kingdom of God) in the context of our present technological age. Under the spell of the glamour of the modern civilization, which Mahatma Gandhi called a Nine days wonder, let us not become modern Dhrtarastras.

 

Smt  Rama RautaPresident,

National Women’s Organization, Pune

Founder& Convener, Save Ganga MovementExpert Member,

Expert Advisory Committee, Ganga Rejuvenation, Ministry of WR, RD&GR, GOI

Former Expert Member, National Ganga River Basin Authority, Govt. of India