Environmentalism, Humanity and the Indian government with Anupam Saraph

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Are you reading this on your phone or your laptop? How about you stop doing that for a second and look around what life is like.

I know it’s not beautiful at all, but ignorance would not stop it. 

Most of us are usually suffering from the declining levels of oxygen no matter the state, pollution is way higher than it should be.

Some of us don’t have enough water to take a bath in peace. We are unable to manage our waste and reuse it at least 80% of it so we don’t exhaust the natural resources but we will if we keep doing what we are doing.

When we see animals (I am not talking dogs, I know they are adorable) roaming our streets. We usually see them as an obstacle. For example, when monkeys unusually try to hack away, they consume food that is ours. 

And obviously we try to get rid of them as soon as we can because that is our natural instinct. It’s all like a big big vicious circle where everything is coming back to us. We deforested them years ago, we made zillions out of it. But don’t you think the planet was theirs first? Damn, what would you do to somebody who hacked your home in the first place, kick you out from your own land, then steal away your ownership, and reconstruct it into its own domicile?

Yes, dude. It hurts. So, take some time and empathise.

Image result for indian government

Coming to the point, which is totally pointless, our government. I love India, well, I mean I used to. As I am growing up in this democratic country, my hate is on the rise especially for the Indian government authorities that we have. My hate is all constructive, as I personally believe that they show off too much of the good that they do but they usually hide the bad things, which is pretty obvious as a natural human instinct but when it comes to their moral accountability, that is just frustrating as they just hide all of it. 

I might be wrong but who can right my wrongs & perspectives than somebody who has already lived too much of a professional life and has years of experience in complex systems, governance, public policy, information systems, sustainable development, resilience, environment & urbanisation. Introducing  Dr. Saraph is an advisor to the Earth Charter International, established by Dr. Maurice Strong, Mikhail  Gorbachev and many other distinguished global leaders. He also sits on the board of the Balaton Group, a global network of scientists, policy makers, social activists who play a central role across the world in sustainable development and the Sustainable Development Goals. He advises the Club of Rome on the climate crisis and sustainable development. He has also served as one of the ten top global scientists on the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Complex Systems. He has advised several national leaders, and has also served as the governance and IT Advisor to the late Manohar Parrikar. He also works with civil society for democratic reforms. Over the last ten years, Dr. Saraph has also been working together with Dr. Rajendrasingh and hundreds of social activists working for the cause of protecting the environment and rivers of India. Dr. Saraph is based out of Pune, where he also teaches and has a large following of students from across the globe. He also serves as an independent director on boards and also as a trustee of foundations.

  • Why Environment is so important?

Do a thought experiment. Imagine yourself in a room that has no air, no water, no light, no other life. 

You wouldn’t exist either, right? 

The air, the water, the light, the other life are your environment. They create the conditions to allow you to live, even for you to feel alive and enjoy your life. 

When the air, water, light, or other life forms are exploited, encroached, or polluted, we destroy that which gives us life. 

The environment is that which creates and sustains life. What can be more important than that for life to sustain itself, for life to be healthy, for life to feel alive? 

  • Human Evolution has come a long way, are we on the right track?

Evolution is not a destination. It is a process. A process where the choices of a species decide whether they will continue to have enough progeny who can make it to the next generation.

A species that destroys its environment faster and faster with each generation and grows exponentially to occupy all available land on the planet is in a hurry to make itself extinct. 

Would you say that we are making our air unbreathable, our water undrinkable, our natural light impenetrable through smogs, but also our fellow species extinct? Have our lives become resource and energy intensive? Have made the resources and energy for our lifestyle dictate our ethics, values and purposes in life? 

  • Can we feed the planet without destroying it?

Do you mean feed our species? Despite the world producing more food than required for 7 billion people, at least a billion go hungry. At the same time the worlds diet has changed to require less than 10kg meat per capita, it will require less than 50% of its land requirements.

  • Will we discover a twin Earth?

If we do, wouldn’t it have its own life throwing on it? Would the colonization of another planet have a different ethical yardstick than the colonization of the world by the Europeans?

  • Has the environment improved or deteriorated over the last decade?

If world leaders of 194 countries signed the Paris Agreement to contain the global rise in temperature within 1.5 degrees centigrade. This is short of declaring a climate emergency. It is short of accepting that our human activities have destroyed the atmospheric gaseous composition and resulting in an acceleration of conditions that are making our planet inhabitable. Would you say the environment has not deteriorated?

  • Is Social Media creating a digitally dependent culture?

Consider the yardstick we apply to evaluate progress. Can we escape being digitally dependent if we use access to the internet and digital technology as a measure of progress? Can we be digitally independent when our government’s and businesses think there is value in presenceless, paperless, and cashless governance? 

After all, haven’t the designs of our worlds systems led us to know less and less of how we can care and respect each other, and the community of life as we care more and more about digital enabling growth? Is social media just a drug to get us addicted to the digital, to believe that the digital is progress? 

  • How often do you use social media?

Unfortunately, I have not yet been able to design my life to be independent of social media. I use it everyday.

  • Is most of the older generation now addicted to the new technology as well?

We have replaced the real world with the virtual world created by digital technologies. How many people can escape needing to use the internet and digital technologies? 

How many people are able to make time for conversations or being together? How many people know how to have conversations anymore? To talk about life, love, nature, poetry, art? To respect and care for each other, and the community of life? To be surrounded by people who do not make them be lonely in a crowd?

National Q

  • Have you seen any major cultural changes in India over the last decade?

Did you too notice that we have become more consumerist and material? Don’t we consume more than we need? Don’t we want everything we could have, here, and now? Don’t you feel we evaluate success in terms of our CTC, EMI, brands of phones, computers, TVs and vehicles? Don’t you feel we size up people more and more based on their street smartness, brashness, exhibitionism, bullying, and inconsistency rather than their humility, sacrifices, dedication, commitment, honor, honesty, loyalty, care, or respect?

  • Why is poverty still a problem in India?

Will poverty disappear in any land whose culture is driven by success, not care and respect? Will it ever disappear as long as ambition, not fulfilment drives individual action? Will it disappear as long as we do not know the difference between need and greed? Will it disappear as long as our ethical framework is about street smartness rather than a sense of justice, dignity, and liberty?

  • As a profound teacher, what do you think about the value of an education?

Do we have education? Is learning smart ways to exploit, encroach, and pollute our planet education? 

Isn’t education what you get from the elders, from the wise? 

Isn’t education that which would create value by providing us with an ethical framework to live together with the community of life, our planet, and the environment that sustains us? 

  • How can anybody become an effective teacher?

The sanskrit language recognizes six kinds of roles for teachers.  The adhyapak is the one who imparts information. The upadhyaya is the one who imparts knowledge and information. The acharya imparts skills. The pandit provides deep insight into a subject. The dhrishta provides a visionary view on a subject and the ability to think like a visionary. The guru awakens the wisdom. Their pedagogies are vastly different. The persons they prepare for the world are completely different. The world that their students design and create is completely different. 

Can a teacher play a role without a student? Can a teacher be effective if the relationship with the student is ineffective? Can a relationship be effective unless the teacher and the student share a common purpose?

  • What is your review on the Indian government?

Do you mean lawmakers who have lost their way in growing economies and forgotten their purpose to protect dignity, justice, liberty, and fraternity for all?

Or do you mean the bureaucracy that shows no respect and care for the people and makes them follow procedures that strip dignity, are unjust, and constrain liberty to no national or public purpose?

  • Where do you think Indian government needs to change?

Wouldn’t it be sufficient to do what the Preamble promised? Ensure liberty, justice, equality, and fraternity? And to dismantle everything else that is busy promoting private interests? 

  • What is that one thing that you absolutely admire about the Indian government and why?

Are government’s made to be admired or made to protect the justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity of the people who put it together?

I had just one thing to say, don’t mind my rhetorical tone, they are answers in the form of questions.

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