A GANDHIAN NON-VIOLENT MOVEMENT FOR A NON-VIOLENT CULTURE OF DEVELOPMENT
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; the Ganga, symbolizes all rivers and water bodies; and the Giriraj Himalaya, symbolizes all mountains, forests and wildlife.
A Report on the Celebration of the 79th Anniversary of Gandhji’s Dandi Yatra in the form of a Save Ganga & Save Himalayas Meeting- cum- Panel Discussion at Gandhi Darshan, from 9:30 a.m. to 1.pm, commenced after prayer near Bapu’s Samadhi, Rajghat, New Delhi on 12thMarch, 2009.
We are glad to inform that like in the previous three years, as a part of our Save Ganga Movement, we organized the above mentioned function to pay tribute to our beloved Bapuji on the occasion of the79thanniversary of his Dandi Yatra. A delegation consisting of Smt. Tara Gandhi Bhattacharyajee, H.H Swami Tejomayanandji, Shri M.C. Mehta, H.H. Swami Nikhilanand, Bishop Franco Mulakkal, and Smt. Rama Rauta met our Hon’ble Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at 5.45p.m. at his residence and requested him to implement all Our Charter of Ten Demands to Save the Ganga and the Himalayas, which was presented to him after our Save Ganga & Save Himalayas Rally at Delhi on 12th March 2006.
MEETING WITH THE PRIME MINISTER
We are deeply grateful to the Prime Minister for giving the appointment and discussing more than half an hour with us over the issue in spite of the medical advice to avoid meetings as far as possible because of his recent heart surgery. We expressed our deep gratitude to him for declaring the Ganga as our national river and setting up the Ganga River Basin Authority to stop the pollution and degradation of the great river with a holistic plan of action based on an integrated approach that sees the river as an ecological entity constituting the lifeline of crores of people. The responsibility of the Authority includes integrating activities relating to sustainable use of water, Prevention of Pollution, maintenance of ecological flow and river conservation. To our deep satisfaction the Prime Minister said that the government accepts in totality Our Charter of Ten Demands and said again that he considers the Ganga to be the soul of India. He said that the Government has also taken up a National Mission for saving the Himalayan Ecosystem as a part of the National Action Plan for Climate Change.
Mrs. Rama Rauta pointed out to the Prime minister that even the absolutely non-controversial time-bound project of N.B.R.I, Lucknow 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 Banks of the River,” has been put in cold storage by the Ministry of Environment & Forests. Mr. Vijay Sharma, Secretary of the Ministry of Environment & Forests and Mr. Rajiv Gauba, its Joint Secretary, and TKA. Nair, the Principal Secretary PMO, who were present with the Prime Minister, assured that the Project would be soon accepted and implemented. They also informed that it has been accepted by the Government that treatment of the sewage through the pond system would be given preference wherever it is possible. Shri M.C. Mehta explained to the Prime Minister why the construction of dams and other development projects between Gangotri and Dharasu (Uttarkashi) must cease, and the first 125-kilometre stretch of the Bhagirathi-Ganga’ be declared a ‘wild river’ and all steps be taken to protect it and the eco-system it supports. This has been included as a part of the Charter of Ten Demands. Bishop Franco Mulakkal told the Prime Minister that like our national Flag, National Anthem, etc., our National River must be given the necessary constitutional protection. We must not give anyone chance to make adverse remarks about our nation from seeing the pathetic condition of our National River. Smt Tara Gandhi Bhattacharyajee expressed her deep anguish to the Prime Minister for the Pathetic condition of the great holy river, which in places like Kanpur for most part of the year exits only as a dirty, polluted nallah. H.H Swami Tejomayanandji, assured the Prime Minister that Chinmaya Mission along with various like-minded religious organizations will help the Save Ganga Movement to create the mass-awareness necessary to put moral pressure on the government to take time bound-action plan to save the Ganga and the Himalayas and massive participation of the people to make it successful.
SAVE GANGA & SAVE HIMLAYAS MEETING- CUM-PANEL DISCUSSION:
Our Save Ganga & Save Himalayas Meeting commenced after prayer at Bapu’s Samadhi, Rajghat, with the Introductory Speech by Smt. Rama Rauta, Convener, Save Ganga Movement, which was followed by the Inaugural Address of Chief Guest, H.H Swami Tejomayanandji, World Wide Head, Chinmaya Mission. Noted Environmentalist& Supreme Court Advocate Shri M.C. Mehta gave the Keynote Address, which was followed by the address by H.H. Swami Sivanandji, Head, Matri Sadan, Haridwar Address by noted Gandhian activist Smt. Tara Gandhi Bhattacharyajee, Chairperson, Save Ganga Movement. The Meeting concluded with the Presidential Address by noted Gandhian activist Shri Subba Rao. The Save Ganga & Save Himalayas Panel Discussion was chaired by Smt Tara Gandhi Bhattacharyajee & Advocate Shri M.C.Mehta, The Panelists were: Dr. T.K. Ghosh, NEERI, Nagpur, (CSIR); Dr. M.L.Dewan, HIMCON, Delhi (Science& Technology); Baba Brajraj Saran, Maan Mandir, Varsana, Mathura; Shri J.K.Bassin, NEERI, (CSIR)Delhi; Rev. Fr. Sebi Sebastian, Archbishop House; Dr. A.K.Marchent, Bahai Group, Delhi; Dr. Madhu Kishwar, Manushi Sangathan, Delhi; Dr.Y.P.Anand, Ex .Director, National Gandhi Museum, Delhi; Dr. Vijay Verma, Matri Sadan, Haridwar
The function was hosted by Gandhi Smriti & Darshan Samiti, New Delhi and organized by National Women’s Organization, Pune; Chinmaya Mission, Delhi; M.C.Mehta Foundation, Delhi; Ramamani B.K.S.Iyanger Yoga Institute, Pune.
H.H Swami Tejomayanandji, in his Inaugural Address explained about the importance of creating the mass-awareness necessary (1) to put moral pressure on the government to take decisive time bound-action plan to save the Ganga and the Himalayas and(2)to make massive participation of the people to make it successful. Smt. Tara Gandhi Bhattacharyajee, the Chair Person of our movement, expressed the view that the pollution of the environment is the result of the violence of mind and we must do the needful to remove violence from the mind of the people. Smt. Rama Rauta in her introductory address pointed out that 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 experts expressed the view that “even with the available knowledge, skill and money, the Ganga could be cleaned completely within two years.” She expressed the view that our lack of will and apathy especially of our political leadership and almost total apathy of our bureaucrats to solve the problem is mainly responsible for our failure and our moral bankruptcy is the cause of our lack of will, which could be removed by giving top priority to character- building through the necessary universal ethics education from the very beginning of our education system. Shri M.C. Mehta in his Keynote address explained the devastating harm the government through its dam-construction activities doing to the ecology of the Ganga and the Himalayas in Uttarakhand and expressed the view that the construction of dams and other development projects atleast between Gangotri and Uttarkashi must cease, and all steps be taken to protect the first 125-kilometre stretch of the Bhagirathi-Ganga and the eco-system it supports. He pointed out that the government’s dam-construction activities in the Uttarakhand region of the Ganga clearly conflicts with Government’s acceptance of (1) the Ganga as our national river and (2) its acceptance as our a national Mission to save the Himalayan Ecosystem as a part of the National Action Plan for Climate Change. H.H. Swami Sivanandji, Matri Sadan, Haridwar expressed the view that the entire Uttarakhand part of the Ganga should be spared of any works that disturb its natural flow-regime, ecology, purity or piety. Shri Subba Rao in his Presidential Address expressed the view that our proposed “Save Ganga & Save Himalayas Yatra from Rameshwar to Badrinath” would be an important step in the direction to create the mass-awareness necessary to save the Ganga & and the Himalayas. He said we should try to have substantive youth participation in the Yatra.
In the Panel Discussion Dr. T.K. Ghosh expressed the view that treatment of the sewage through the pond system should be given preference wherever it is possible Mr. J.K.Bassin pointed out the importance of maintaining at least the minimum flow of fresh clean water in the Ganga which is necessary for protecting the many-sided intrinsically invaluable benefits it freely provides to people from Gangotri to Gangasagar. A naturally flowing fresh water river freely and permanently meets various water requirements of people on its banks, recharges the ground water all along its flow, improves the fertility of a lot of farmland through its silt, provides the habitat for hundreds of diverse life forms, etc. which must not be sacrificed for short-term impermanent narrow gains of a few. Baba Brajraj Saran, Maan Mandir, Varsana, Mathura informed about the pathetic condition of the Yamuna in the Varsana, Brindavan Mathura region and the great harm the mining activities are causing to the ecology of the sacred Govardhan mountain. Rev. Fr. Sebi Sebastiane expressed the view that the Self- help Groups’ Movement for recycled use of plastic wastes which cause great harm to environment should be included as a part of the Save Ganga movement. Similarly Dr. M.L.Dewan expressed the view that the Save Ganga Movement should have as its part the movement for spreading eco-friendly use of various forms of renewable energy available in plenty in our country. Dr. A.K.Marchent expressed the view that like- minded religious leaders and religious institutions of different faiths should play a central role in the Save Ganga& Save Himalayas Movement to make it a success. Dr. Madhu Purnima Kishwar expressed her anguish about the great harm human evilness is causing to Mother Earth with the help of the enormous power acquired through science and technology and Dr. Vijay Verma expressed the view that the Gandhian conception of ‘Truth, non-violence and Satyagraha’ does provide the means to save planet earth from the impending ecological disaster. Dr.Y.P.Anand agreed with the above view of Dr. Vijay Verma and expressed the view that continuous effort should be made to intergrate more and more like-minded people from different streams of life into the movement. Smt. Tara Gandhi Bhattacharyajee opined that perhaps converting our entire country into a truly Gandhian Ashram would provide her salvation and through it the world at large.
OUR FUTURE PROGRAMME:
As the next major step of our Movement, we are planning to organize a “Save Ganga & Save Himalayas Yatra” from Rameshwar to Badrinath in November 2009. The main objective of the Yatra will be to bring various like-minded eminent persons from different streams of life, scientists and intellectuals, social activists and organizations, youths, Gandhians and Gandhian Institutions, religious leaders and religious institutions of different faiths (Temples, Mosques, Churches, Gurudwaras etc.) under one roof to devote to the cause of creating through Save Ganga & Save Himalayas Meetings/ Seminars/ Workshops, etc. (1) the mass-awareness necessary to save the Ganga, symbolizing all rivers and water bodies, and the Giriraj Himalaya, symbolizing all mountains, forests and wildlife &(2) the mass-awareness necessary to create a Gandhian Non-violent Culture of Development, which is the surest and perhaps the only solution to our impending catastrophic Global Ecological Crisis. The seers and prophets of all great religions would agree with the Gandhian solution. (For a discussion on this issue, please see the note entitled “Gandhian Solution of Global Ecological Crisis” in our website, www. savegangamovement. org.)
Smt Rama Rauta
Convener, Save Ganga Movement
President, National Women’s Organization, Pune
Mahatma Gandhi: “I feel and I have felt during the whole of my public life that we need, what a nation needs, but we perhaps of all the nations of the world need just now, is nothing else and nothing less than charter-building.” “Our ancient school system is enough. Character building has the first place in it and that is primary education. A building erected on that foundation will last.”