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Saturday, March 12, 2016

Forests, Culture, Nation - the web


The recent debate on JNU and right to speak ignited a thought process on nation, nationality and nationalism. First let’s understand what nation and its symbols stand for:

Nation – a large body of people, associated with a particular territory, that is sufficiently conscious of its unity to seek or to possess a government peculiarly its own.

National symbols – As per Wikipedia: “A national symbol is a symbol of any entity considering itself and manifesting itself to the world as a national community: the sovereign states but also nations and countries in a state of colonial or other dependence, (con)federal integration, or even an ethno cultural community considered a 'nationality' despite having no political autonomy.

National symbols intend to unite people by creating visual, verbal, or iconic representations of the national people, values, goals, or history.

These symbols are often rallied around as part of celebrations of patriotism or aspiring nationalism (such as independence, autonomy or separation movements) and are designed to be inclusive and representative of all the people of the national community.” (Part in bold is subject of my thoughts)

National symbols as described in government of India’s website: https://india.gov.in/india-glance/national-symbols : “This section introduces you to the National Identity Elements of India. These symbols are intrinsic to the Indian identity and heritage. Indians of all demographics backgrounds across the world are proud of these National Symbols as they infuse a sense of pride and patriotism in every Indian's heart.”

As per above website national symbols of India include our national: flag – the tricolour, anthem – Jana Gana Mana, song – Vande Matram, emblem – Sarnath lions, bird – Peacock, animal – Tiger and flower – Lotus amongst others. Off these 3 are living symbols – Peacock, Tiger and Lotus.

I have been thinking of the kind of debate that has arisen in last few days, everybody from top to bottom, media and people are talking about how a few students (they are not sure if they were students or outsiders) raised slogans against our mother land and even went down to say they will fight till they break us. How and why? From where did they get the guts to even say something like this for our mother land? Is it that we Indians have not raised our children to love our country? Is it that we no longer think of our country first but only about ourselves? Is it that for us now our country is not our mother land but just a chunk of land? Is it that we are a total failure, a land of corrupt people and what Sir Winston Churchill said was right?

It seems it all zeroes on our system. Today we have become more money conscious, we just want to be economically sound and don’t care where our nation and our culture is going. We from a nation which respected our country as mother land, lived sustainably, revered nature and forests have become ‘pro development’ even if it is harmful for us and our coming generations in the long run. Recently I read about a decision passed at the Supreme Court of India, it was about Tigers and its habitat. Yes, it was only about an animal not our national animal, the symbol of free and united India, the symbol of patriotism and valour. I have not yet read the whole order but as per media reports it said: The Supreme Court on Wednesday said conservation of tigers was important but could not be at the cost of movement of human beings from one place to another and general economic development of the country. (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/environment/developmental-issues/Real-danger-to-tigers-not-from-road-traffic-but-poachers-SC/articleshow/50662141.cms). Although it also said that “……. go before the HC and inform it about the measures that needed to be taken for conservation of tigers.”

But, the harm was done. The message went out very clearly – economic development projects and we humans are important and not Tiger our national animal, our symbol of independent India. When we don’t care about our living symbol of nation where will our national flag and anthem stand with time? The message which goes by above order in no way helps us in increasing love for our nation or its representing symbols but says economic development at cost of symbol of our independence, even our coming generations health and security is more important. When any nation doesn’t care about its symbol of nationality of which we should be proud of where is the nation heading? Where is that sense of pride and patriotism?

In October 2002, a judgement was passed by Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in a PIL filled against opencast strip mining operations in Kudremukh national park which said: “By destroying nature, environment, man is committing matricide, having in a way killed Mother Earth. Technological excellence, growth of industries, economical gains have led to depletion of natural resources irreversibly. Indifference to the grave consequences, lack of concern and foresight have contributed in large measures to the alarming position. In the case at hand, the alleged victim is the flora and fauna in and around Kudremukh National Park, a part of the Western Ghats. The forests in the area are among 18 internationally recognised ‘hotspots’ for biodiversity conservation in the world”. Central and state governments were ordered to look into implementation of eco-restoration plan at the cost of KIOCL and to evict all KIOCL equipment, building, machinery, etc., to clear the area for reclaiming by nature.

What has happened in these less than 14 years? What has caused this turn of mind? When even our Supreme Court thinks that Tiger is just an animal and human rights come above everything how can we expect our citizens to have that love for our nation our mother land and our national symbols. Where is patriotism?

Our Indian philosophy says that every living being be it a small ant or a big elephant, trees or even humans have equal importance as all have ‘Atman’ in them which changes its body – the outer shell time to time. It says Tiger is vehicle of mother goddess. Tiger – which is revered by our tribal community as their elders or Bagh deo. When we finish all our free roaming tigers and its habitat what will we say to our reverend mother goddess – Oh mother sorry we have finished all your vehicles, but, don’t worry, I will give an extra dakshina of 50/- just take a taxi when I need you, but do come to save me??????? In a country where it was right of living for all, where we revered our forests and our rivers, today we have left all this back and are only living for our own self and that also with so short sightedness that we don’t care what will happen to our coming generations when all forests are cleared, rivers are dead and air full of pollutants.

What happened at JNU, where a few people were hooting our mother land, shouting slogans against our nation and no one objected says it all. We have taken a wrong path and need to turn right now before it is too late. Just do not boast about our culture and religion, follow it with pure and true heart, respect what it says, love life.