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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Shifting Responsibilities

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60th Van Mahotsav has passed. It has left behind a number of reports and press releases for us all the same in language and style as they usually remain to read and forget, nothing new, and without any relation in speech and action. The same age old slogans and politically colored dialogues as we Indians tend to do – that trees are essential part of environment, so plant trees; that forest productivity must be raised, that forest cause rain and control floods (a child of Vth class knows it well), that every school going boy and girl should plant a tree and what not. Some people are born to deliver dialogues while others are born to listen them and still a very few like Sunderlal Bahuguna and Medha Patekar are born to stand fast and suffer without delivering speeches and listening long lectures of those who are born to lecture and preside over those meetings.

All the captions and slogans and theories mentioned above have lost their popularity. But what more can be done? This is the way most of our environmental duties are being done through years. What pains most bitterly are the same old dialogues and directives that put all the responsibilities on the delicate shoulders of our children. Why a child in a school is asked to plant a sapling? Why not elders alone do that job? Are they only for snatching and stealing away the share of resources of children and then ask them to regenerate and develop alternatives? Are not the shoulders of children already aching carrying the heavy school bags that are becoming heavier year after year by the addition of new books and notes? Meetings and lectures form major part of environmental programmes these days. A political leader presiding a Van Mahotsav meeting in a school delivers impressive speeches and lays all the responsibilities of environmental preservation on children, addressing them as citizens of tomorrow. So does a teacher in his/her classroom. Certainly children will do their part if they are left with resources to synthesize a little blood and other tissues in their bodies as long as they their metabolic activities are left unaltered inspite of drinking contaminated water, breathing in polluted air and taking in pesticide contaminated food. But don’t they actually have the right to inherit some of the resources, atleast those resources that are given by God? Aren’t parents selling and eating away all the natural property before the development of teeth and jaws in their children? Some of us may come angrily with a negative answer. Wood mafias may claim that they are already trying to box bundles of bank notes for their children taking all those pains generated by vigilance and enforcement agencies. Scammers may claim that they have faced a lot of dangers in collecting money for better development and better education of their children. Poachers earn a lot of money by poaching animals and doing international trade. They too probably think that they commit crime and all the immoral practices for their own greed of wealth and put responsibilities on others and even innocent children are not spared.

The Indian culture tells us that children belong to all. But it is in principle and not in practice. As regards the practice, not only biological difference is applied there. Some children deserve hatred and negligence because they are rag pickers, beggars, laborers or hawkers, since they don’t go to schools they neither know about environment nor about Van Mahotsav. Rich parents can think only about the two or three children who have been brought into this world by them to feed on bank notes and to breathe in laboratory prepared oxygen. What? …Yes, because they have poisoned the food, water and air and have eaten up or have damaged all the other resources given by nature.

Today’s children are being taught all those lessons that elders could not understand in their childhood. Just compare the environment of our childhood to the environment of the childhood of our children and go a little ahead. Who has done all this damage? Haven’t we all ? Hence, if least sense of responsibility is left in us, we should depart only after repairing the damage or only after arranging alternatives for what we have squandered. The human life is not unlimited one. Go away only after disposing off the garbage you have created, after bringing back the natural quality of resources you have altered, after arranging school bags and food to every rag picking, begging or laboring child. Don’t celebrate Van Mahotsav as you have not raised nurseries. Nurseries are to be raised first. Forests cannot be regenerated without raising nurseries or without caring and reviving the dying plants. Environment cannot be protected through speeches and slogans nor can it be protected by putting responsibilities on coming citizens. Environmental Education and celebrations have their own importance but we too need some sort of education about that and a little more of moral education first.

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