Report 2015: Mumbai Seminar

Report 2015: Mumbai Seminar




National Women’s Organization, Pune in collaboration with ISKCON, Mumbai and Chinmaya Mission, Mumbai, Gandhi Smarak Nidhi, Mumbai organized a meeting-cum-panel discussion on the topic ‘Gandhiji on Science, Spirituality, Development and Environment’ at Bhaktivedanta Hall, Girgaon Chowpatty, Mumbai on 2nd October, 2015 to pay tribute to our beloved Bapuji on Gandhi Jayanti.

The meeting-cum-panel discussion was chaired by Revered Imam Maulana Luqman Qasimi Tarapuri, National President, Global Imam Council and Pujya Prabhu Keshav Chandra Das, ISKCON.

The meeting commenced with prayers and was followed by introductory speech by Smt Rama Rauta, President National Women’s Organization and Founder & Convenor of Save Ganga Movement.

In her introductory speech, she said that Gandhiji’s entire life and work is an environmental legacy for entire humanity. The great teachers and seers of various great religions as well as of our Indian civilization would agree with the Gandhian view that the present fundamentally unspiritual, extremely eco-hostile, inherently unsustainable and out-and-out consumerist global market culture of unlimited desires and going to the ends of the earth with the help of science and technology causing great irreparable harm to earth’s life and health-sustaining natural systems in search of their satisfaction is satanic and suicidal. It is deeply painful that in the present Global Market culture even Yoga has become a multibillion dollar business enterprise in the global market, although it is essentially a science of self-purification, self-enlightenment and self-realization, a science of building enlightened ethical character. Considering our rivers are the source of drinking water for crores of our common people and also of animals; and STPs cannot convert sewage into potable water, as an expert member of National Ganga River Basin Authority, GOI she always voiced and worked towards the following charters of Save Ganga Movement: (A)In place of the present policy of allowing treated sewage into our rivers, we must adopt the policy of zero discharge into the river, and promote Reuse and Recycle of wastewater after proper treatment; (B)Industrial effluents, hospital wastes, treated or untreated, must never be allowed to enter into the rivers and must not also be allowed to mix with the sewage, which should be converted into valuable manure for organic farming- industries must treat their effluent and use recycled water (C)Organic farming should be promoted in a massive way for decreasing the non-point sources of pollution of rivers from agricultural run-off into the rivers. She also emphasized on: `An adequate flow of natural fresh clean water must be allowed to flow on the Ganga bed and the Yamuna bed throughout the stretch of the rivers throughout the year not only to protect and preserve their ecology but also to meet the basic water needs of the habitations on their banks. These charters are applicable to all the rivers of the country.


Following is synopsis of the meeting.


Prof K.C Sahu, Retd. Sr Scientist IIT Mumbai delivered the keynote address. He said that today, when the world is reeling with violence, pollution and environmental degradation, Gandhian philosophy and policy of economic development is considered by many thinkers as the only straw for sustainable development . Although, during the days of Gandhi ji, the type and magnitude of present day environmental problems were practically nonexistent, many of Gandhian principles are considered to be pillars of environmental protection and holistic living. Modernists argue that the area between need and greed is amorphous and yesterday’s greed (luxury) is today’s need. However, transformation of greed to need has given rise to resources crunch and consumerism. To meet the modern needs and aspirations of the current generation including those in developing countries we require five times the present activities continuously for fifty years. Obviously a finite Earth can neither sustain the demands and supplies for the newfound comforts, nor can it assimilate the “Exhausts” of increased production and usage. Even today we are living on a borrowed future. Gandhi emphasized: ” Man must learn to live and depend on what his immediate surrounding earth gives and not depend on things from distant sources.” This vital principle has been brushed aside in the name of globalization. Results: Trade control and exploitation and increased transport and communication. The Inconvenient Truth of Global Warming is merely one of the downstream impacts of fossil fuel burning in Transport and Communication extravaganza. 


H.G. Vraj Sunder Das, ISKCON, Mumbai in his address emphasized that Gandhiji’s teachings has great relevance in the contemporary context. He taught us interdependence. He said that in today’s urban world the Vitamin C is “Cash”, which has to be replaced by “Compassion” and Gandhiji was Mahatma for his compassion. The Bhakti Vedanta Hospital has been working on this core value.


Pujya Swami Swatmanandaji from Chinmaya Mission in his address said that Gandhiji’s main mission during the independence struggle was “Swadesh” and “Swaraj”; in this context “Swadesh” still holds true, as we need to make India self-sustainable. There is deep amount of selfishness in the world, and the greater question for any reflective person would be ‘why to go through difficulties when consumerism is giving things in an easy way’. He emphasized that the way will be understanding the ‘higher purpose’. For Gandhiji the higher purpose was “Freedom for India” and he pursued it. So if we want a solution to the contemporary crisis of violence in different forms which includes violence to environment, we have to seek a higher purpose which is to realize the vision of “oneness”. While talking on river pollution, he said that Vedanta also syncs Save Ganga Movement’s point that ‘river’ and ‘sewer’ should always be separate.

H.G. Nimai Lial Das from ISKCON Mumbai said that when we listen to the topic of the meeting; “Science” and “Spirituality” as well as “Development” and “Environment”, these terms appear to contradict each other. However, these can very well complement each other. He said that eastern world emphasizing on India has gone very deep on research when it comes to value based science while the west has done very well in value neglected technology based science. According to the famous environmentalist Michael Bailey, if the industrial revolution would have started from the East instead of the West, the technology and the design of products would have been very different. Use of science and technology must be based on values. ISCKON has worked on this front while developing the Eco-Village in Thane.

Shri Mustaqeem Makki, Chief Editor in Huda Times: He said that the current state our country is very devastating. The gap between rich and poor has increased. There is so much violence against environment, when it comes to the agricultural sector, farmers are committing suicides. People are madly running after materialistic means of development while there are regions which have turned into highly water-deficient regions because of over-exploitation of resources. What is the solution to this crisis. Gandhian solution is the only solution. Gandhiji was a very religious man, and he understood Islam very well. Islam is a religion that promotes ‘brotherhood’. He said that Prophet Mohammad was very conscious environmentally which is reflected from his verses that say that if there is a green plant or tree then one should take care of not harming or cutting it even in the war zone. If there will be a third world war then it will be for water.

Dr. S.N Kaul, Retd. Senior Scienist, NEERI Nagpur: While talking on the subject ‘water; he emphasized that rate of degradation is faster than the rate of re-habilitation, hence we have to scrutinize the use of water. All have agreed to the fact that river and sewer should be different and sewers should not be mixed with the rivers. When it comes to industrial use, pure water should be given only to the ‘drug’ and ‘food’ industry, while treated sewage water should be given to other industries. River water should remain pristine and only for drinking purposes. He also gave the example of how Hussain Sagar lake in Hyderabad is being used for sewage and industrial waste dump and treated further. He further envisaged that when it comes to ‘waste’ only organic waste can be treated, when it comes to inorganic waste, even God cannot treat it. Hence one should cautiously decrease the use of products that will generate inorganic waste.

Dr. T.K Ghosh, Retd. Sr. Scientist, NEERI Nagpur: While working in NEERI, he was involved in Ganga Action Plan Phase I & II both, and in his entire experience in NEERI he says that he has not witnessed any improvement in water quality be it of the River Ganga or any other rivers, despite crores being spent on river pollution abatement. However on the positive side a lot more importance is given to research on this front. He said that there is need for techno-economic viable treatment for water pollution.

Revered Imam Maulana Luqman Qasimi Tarapuri, National President, Global Imam Council gave his concluding remarks. He congratulated the organizers for conducting a meeting on this important relevant subject on the auspicious occasion of Mahatma Gandhiji’s birthday. He said that Islam considers ‘water’ as the root of every making and ‘water’ is the very cause of survival. Various rules envisaged by Prophet Mohammad have proven to have scientific significance. For e.g. sitting and drinking water has diminishing effect of appendix. While talking about Save Ganga Movement founded by Smt. Rama Rauta, he is in a shocked state that in a country like India where there is so much religious astha towards Ganga Maa, a Save Ganga Movement needs to spearhead. He has visited the holy place of Hindus in Rishikesh several times and he has seen many religious ashramas draining their sewage into the Ganges. In this country, the pathetic state that Ganga has reached, it is the moral responsibility of the religious leaders to make Save Ganga Movement their movement and work towards her restoring her lost dignity. He said that saving environment and sustainable development is so important now in the global context that this year the subject in the World Religion Parliament is ‘Global Warming’.

Pujya Prabhu Keshav Chandra Das, ISKCON in his concluding remarks said that no religion will support the present eco-hostile mode of development and all will agree to the Gandhian mode of development as the alternative mode.


Meeting’s General Agreements:

As Mahatma Gandhi rightly said: “The Earth has enough for everybody’s need but not for even a single person’s greed.” It was unanimously agreed that no religion would support the present extremely eco-hostile, inherently unsustainable and out-and-out consumerist global market culture of unlimited desires. He very rightly said that “It took Britain half the resources of the planet to achieve this prosperity. How many planets will a country like India require!” The Gandhian alternative to modern western form of development is the surest and perhaps the only solution to our impending catastrophic global ecological crisis, including the seemingly insoluble problem of Global Warming and Climate Change. Also when it comes to river pollution, it was generally agreed that all religions will support that treated or untreated sewage and industrial waste must not be discharged into the pristine rivers and organic farming should be promoted in a massive way for decreasing the non-point sources of pollution of rivers from agricultural run-off into the rivers and also for maintaining soil fertility, checking the groundwater degradation, reducing water requirement of crops, producing health-friendly food, etc, which is the view of Save Ganga Movement and also of the consortium of seven IITs draft report of Ganga River Basin Management Plan(GRMBP). 


Smt Rama Rauta
Founder & Convener, Save Ganga Movement
President, National Women’s Organization, Pune
Mobile: 09765359040
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