Sustainability In India

By Chandrashekar (Chandra) Tamirisa, (On Twitter) @c_tamirisa

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I bow to thee, Mother,
richly-watered, richly-fruited,
cool with the winds of the south,
[[verdant] with the crops of the harvests]
O! Mother of Krishna (original: sasyasyamalam mataram)

Her nights rejoicing in the glory of the moonlight,
her lands clothed beautifully with her trees in flowering bloom,
sweet of laughter, sweet of speech,
The Mother, giver of boons, giver of bliss!

Terrible with the clamorous shouts of seventy million throats,
and the sharpness of swords raised in twice seventy million hands,
who sayeth to thee, Mother, that thou are weak?
Holder of multitudinous strength,
I bow to her who saves,
to her who drives from her the armies of her foremen,
The Mother!

Thou art knowledge, thou art conduct,
thou art heart, thou art soul,
for thou art the life in our body.
In the arm, thou art might, O Mother,
in the heart, O Mother, thou art love and faith,
it is thy image we raise in every temple.

For thou art Durga holding her ten weapons of war,
Kamala at play in the lotuses
And speech, the goddess, giver of all lore,
to thee I bow!
I bow to thee, goddess of wealth
pure and peerless,
richly-watered, richly-fruited,
The Mother!

I bow to thee, Mother,
dark-hued, candid,
sweetly smiling, jeweled and adorned,
the holder of wealth, the lady of plenty,
The Mother!

India’s National Song, Vande Maataram in English (Shri Aurobindo’s translation from Bengali, with an edit by the author of this article for greater clarity)

Samalkot, India – Returning to places of birth is a pilgrimage, when you have left them to make a life in faraway lands. So it has been for me in Samalkot, a small town of about 65,000 people in the heart of one of the richest agricultural deltas in Andhra Pradesh, India.

Rivers run through the state which may have played host tens of thousands of years ago, before the ices had melted in the north, to the first Indians south of the Vindhyas, a mountain range, older than the Himalayas, which forms India’s latitudinal midriff that is said to have bowed to the sages to let them pass from north to south.

The river Godavari, its source high in the western Indian mountains, floods the soils of Samalkot in the east through canals to nourish the simple people I was born into.

Ferried in the car in the area upon invitation by India’s Minister of State for Defense in New Delhi and a Member of Parliament from the region Mr. M.M. Pallamraju, a graduate of Temple University in Philadelphia, India’s sustainable development seems as intuitively unnecessary as that of the American prairie. Still, out of the box thinking prevails.

Samalkot has not changed in more than 40 years. The local people living off the land have lived well in the social order to which they have been accustomed. The generational shift has opened vistas, just as it did for me, about living better.

I am far too American it appears to the locals, many of whom recognize me from my younger years during my summer visits to my maternal grandparents home from Hyderabad. They know they can live better because their children and grandchildren have told them so and they have experienced it themselves on their trips abroad.

That life has indeed come to India since the economic liberalization of the early 1990s but was largely confined to its urban population which makes up about 30 per cent of the country.

The rest of the much needed 70 per cent is the rural agricultural India of Gandhi, but far better off from the days of 1947, yet offering a quality of life enjoyed by only a few. That frustration and hope can be seen among the people.

The fledglings fly away as soon as the wings begin to flap from rural to urban areas in search of a better life only India’s giant cities can offer. Besides people like Mr. Pallamraju and India’s well educated civil service, not many want to live in small towns such as Samalkot, producing an exodus which strains cities bustling at the seams to become megapolises. It only makes sense, therefore, for better life to come to India’s vast majority outside the cities.

Better life in the West has proven to be a drain on resources, locally and globally for about 2 billion people. Ever higher consumption, education or no education among the populace, for India’s 1.2 billion can drive the earth bankrupt. China is already on its way there. Still, it cannot be denied in the interest of social and global stability because all, eventually, will want to live just as well.

The local yearnings of the world’s majority living less well will aggregate and morph into a beast if not fed appropriately. India, as also the United States, is making every effort to centralize policy and decentralize implementation to ensure the adaptation of the big picture frameworks of economic development and growth to local conditions. It, however, misses building in sustainability requirements and practices into its policies.

India’s defense ministry can have a prominent coordinating role in incorporating sustainability into India’s peaceful development and growth through 2050 because sustainable development and integration is the best national defense mechanism.

Sustainable development, a combination of better and more efficient infrastructure and faster telecommunications to improve commerce, climate-smart agriculture and a cleaner living environment can raise living standards and quality of life around the world without conflict far more efficiently, in Rockville, Maryland, my American hometown or Samalkot, Andhra Pradesh.

The West is resistant to sustainability because of cultural attitudes to economic development: the industrial revolution having been powered by coal in the United Kingdom (UK) and by oil in Pennsylvania.

India is hobbled by cultural attitudes to economic development, seeing growth as a colonial enterprise, notwithstanding that sustainability is Indian by culture.

History being what it is, clean coal and appropriate oil use is the path where the twain, west and east, shall meet.

India’s national song is also its vision of sustainability.


About Chandrashekar (Chandra) Tamirisa
This entry was posted in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mongolia, Energy and Natural Resources, Energy Policy, Food, Foreign Policy, Government, North America and Caribbean, South Asia: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Burma and Sri Lanka, World and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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