Gandhian Philosophy for a Green Future

In the world we live in, the ideas of scientific and technological development have assumed tremendous importance. So much so that during the era of industrial revolution senseless harm to the ecology was inflicted, in the name of development. In fact the idea of development itself is extremely controversial.The process of development that is carried out today generally refers to economic development, better infrastructure and fast and easy lifestyle. It totally ignores the humanitarian and environmental concerns that come with widespread development .Development should not mean unethical plundering of natural resources. In India, there was a widespread resentment against the Narmada Project in the form of Narmada BachaoAndolan. The Narmada project is an apt example of unsustainable development. According to the Narmada BachaoAandolan, these dams built under this project would force the displacement of about a million people, and affect a large number of poor people and tribals.

So, a lot of people would lose their livelihood in the name of ‘Development’. Vandana Shiva, an eminent environmentalist, argues that development is nothing but a continuation of colonialism. Borrowing from Gustavo Esteva, she argues that “Development is a permanent war waged by its promoters and suffered by its victims.” It is true that sustainable development is the need of the hour, and Gandhian values need to be imbibed in our plans for development in order to make it a reality. Gandhi is the epitome of peace and non violence in the world. He was a leader and a social revolutionist of extraordinary abilities. But very few people see Gandhi as an environmentalist. Gandhi was not an environmentalist in the modern sense of the term, primarily because the major environmental problems emerged in the post Gandhian era. But Gandhi’s ideals and philosophies including the idea of ‘swaraj’ reveal how sustainable development is possible without compromising on the quality of lifestyle. His idea that ‘nature has enough to satisfy everyone’s need, but not to satisfy everyone’s greed’ became one line ethic to modern environmentalism.

Gandhi was an ardent supporter of vegetarianism, nature cure, a form of medication, that has now achieved a semblance of acceptance in the West, was practiced by him long ago; he was a dedicated practitioner of recycling and a trenchant critic of modernity. Most of the prominent Indian environmentalists follow the Gandhian ideals of ‘Satyagrah’, non violence and fast unto death to show their resentment against the current political scenario. But despite his attachment to nature, Gandhi was not a naturalist. The problems posed by the man-eating tigers of Kumaon, made famous by Jim.

Corbett, would have left less of a moral impression on him than the problems of the victims of injustice in the society. It is reported that the English historian Edward Thomson once remarked to Gandhi that wildlife was rapidly disappearing in India, to which Gandhi replied “wildlife is decreasing in the jungles, but increasing in the town.” RamachandraGuha, an eminent environmentalist, has observed that ‘the wilderness had no attraction for Gandhi’. Gandhi, in his writings, has not celebrated the untamed beauty of nature, the mystic ideals of mountains, yet he has focused more on his study of men and their mannerisms and problems. So, there are some limitations in calling Gandhi an ‘environmentalist’ yet his immense influence on the life and works of many of India’s well known environmentalists cannot be overlooked.

Gandhi considered the earth a living organism. He used the cosmic law and the law of species to express his ideas. According to the cosmic law, the universe is a single entity and nothing could malfunction beyond the threshold built by all powerful, all encompassing universe, that is the abode of animate as well as inanimate objects. He believed that ‘the universe was structured and informed by the cosmic spirit, that all men, all life and indeed all creation were one.” He was primarily an advaitist who believed in the essential unity of men and nature. He wrote “I believe in the advaita (non duality); I believe in the essential unity of man, and for that matter all that lives. Therefore, I believe that if one man gains spirituality, the world gains with him, and if one man fails, the whole world fails to that extent”. Gandhi also believed that without the cooperation and sacrifice of both human beings and non human beings, evolution is not possible.

This Gandhi Jayanti, let us all aim to incorporate the great Gandhian values into our lives.Being Responsible India Jainism, Christianity and Islam. His social, economic and political ideas were framed on the understanding of the interdependence of the whole universe. The Gandhian prescription of ‘simple living’ attempts to put a check on the mindless exploitation of natural resources.

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