ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Towards Building an Ecological Civilisation

There is a need to contemplate and work towards building an ecological civilisation that would outline the ways of living in harmony with nature. Dialogue and a belief in collective good mark the culture of bahudha, an approach that celebrates diversity and harmonious living.

This article is drawn from the author’s valedictory address in the International Biodiversity Congress, delivered on 6 October 2018 at the Forest Research Institute, Dehradun.

The author is grateful to Raghav Gaiha, former professor, University of Delhi, for his help.

For thousands of years, humanity lived in harmonious relationship with nature. The wave of industrial revolution that began 250 years ago and is continuing, marked a major turning point in earth’s ecology and humans’ relationship with the environment. Today, there is a credible threat to human survival from global warming and climate change with the potential to damage the lives and habitats of billions in different parts of the world. Rapid modernisation processes leading to the construction of dams, hydroelectric power stations, roads, the movement of security forces and the migration of people disturb the ecosystem and cause persistent disequilibrium. Climate change too has to be viewed in the context of enormous disturbance to the ecosystem. In fact, we are on the cusp of major environment and ecological catastrophe unless we adopt fresh approaches to harmonise development with ecology.

The devastating floods in Kerala have been a matter of great concern within the country and even outside. In fact, the Western Ghats, and the Himalayas and the Tibetan plateau are rightly called the two most fragile ecosystems in India. The Western Ghats are highly significant for a variety of reasons. It has a large number of rivers and a big landmass. The Godavari, Krishna, Netravati, Kaveri, Kunthi, Vaigai and a myriad of other rivers flow in this region. The famous Sanskrit poet Kalidasa compared the Western Ghats to a charming maiden and Agasthyamalai, Annamalai, Nilgiri, Kanara, and Goa and the northern Sahyadris as different parts of the body (Gadgil and Vartak 1976). Today there is no exaggeration in saying that she lies badly bruised, thanks to the thoughtless and mad craze for modernisation and urbanisation. This is despite the fact that this region also has a very high level of literacy, and democratic institutions have taken deep roots in states comprising this region. Kerala, one of the most developed states of the region, has not been able to formulate and implement an environment programme conducive to sustainable development. This is a great tragedy, as this region is the backbone of the ecology and economy of South India.

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Updated On : 1st Apr, 2019
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