Environment Consciousness: The Missing Ingredient in the Indian Youth Upbringing

By Ranjit K. Sahu

The point of the industrial revolution in the timeline of human civilization is a critical indicator of how the requirement for mass production has sunk into the domain of greed in the human mind. While the earliest idea behind such mechanization was a problem solving one with the motive being the induction of easier ways for a livelihood, it has gradually led to many technological advances , so much so that today’s humans are more dependent on technology than anything else to assert their identities, as persons, citizens, or nations. And one parameter that has often been used to indicate the power and capacity has been the money power. However, more often than not this money power has come at a great cost to the environment, other living creatures, the cultures and ancient traditions as well as the loss of moral consciousness of the society. Be it the rise of the imperialistic powers on the horizons of human history in the 17th century or today’s economic super powers, the ascend has always been detrimental to the environment. The British through their gluttonous appetite for wealth of other regions and their insatiable need for markets, degraded forests in their colonies, simultaneously promoting monoculture of crops they seemed best suited for their economic growth. For example, the promotion of potato by the Queen of England. In modern times, the Chinese have reached the levels of growth by degrading their environment. Sadly, this rat race has also now transcended into the Indian psyche and the age old principles of sustenance have taken a beating from Indians.

The Indian subcontinent has been one of the cradles of human civilization and humans have thrived here for many millennia, where the people lived in perfect harmony with nature, applying the principles of sustenance through nurturing nature. With the change in the attitude of people, where wealth accumulation at personal level has taken a priority over the vision for a social uplift, this balance has been largely offset, leaning towards increased degradation of the environment. As industries start generating more wastes to accrue profit for their owners who hide their greed beneath the mask of employing the people, they indirectly create far greater problems for the people they claim to help.

A notable feature of this type of ecologically sensitive industries is the advent of paper mills. In many areas where such industries have given rise to employment, they also result in the pollution of the local soil, water and air. Many times such pollution leads to increased incidents of crop losses and diseases which ultimately affects the local people though the industrialist walks away with profits. It is at this crucial juncture that the youth have a very crucial role to play. They need to be made aware that though their employment is a necessity, they have a responsibility to take care of their environment as it is they and their future generations that would be most affected.

This needs some proactive inputs from the scientific community in co-ordination with both governmental and nongovernmental organizations. The modus operandi would be the identification of indigenous flora and fauna as mascots for communicating about their conservation to the local communities and their importance in the ecosystem along with wholesome community development. This concept is not alien to the Indian subcontinent. For example the Bishnoi community has been protecting wild life for generations as a default practice. However this concept has to be reiterated at the local, village and Panchayat levels in a new form as many a times people are not conscious of the natural resources they are bestowed with.

People harm the environment due to their ignorance. For example, many times people take up environmentally unsafe practices on lands they deem as fallow or unusable. It is important to preserve such lands as they play a role in maintaining the ecosystem. A fallow land can be home to different microscopic organisms that help to degrade organic compounds and may be the repository for yet unknown species. Moreover open lands with scant vegetation still nurture different kinds of insects that help maintain species at higher levels of food chain.

In addition to these the youth have to be ingrained with a philosophy of being able to protect their surroundings from industries not complying with stipulated standards. This way they can bring any unsafe practices to the notice of the nodal agencies. It is vital that the local community be employed in all such activities as they are not only the medium for successful implementations of such practices but are the end users of any benefits originating out of such activities. With increasing migration of the youth to cities, it becomes an urgent need that youth in the rural and less traversed regions are imparted with proper training to take care of the natural resources. With the world food demand rising and the realization that sustainability in agriculture can only be maintained by resorting to organic and subsistence type of agriculture, it becomes important to engage youth in such conservation activities.

It is intuitive that while the youth from rural areas can in future earn in the cities, the vast majority of products will still originate in the country side. So if the youth have an illusion that migration will solve their basic needs, they need to understand that damaging the environment back home would indirectly affect their own progress. Nobody has eaten rupees for breakfast or dinner nor can the doctor’s pill be taken after eating currency notes!

Mr. M.K. Gandhi once noted that that the future of India lay in the villages. We must realize that development of villages does not mean importing the concepts from imperialist powers to create a population of slaves to feed the greed of the elite but it is the inculcation of values into the system for sustenance of both rural and urban societies. Let us motivate the youth to save the tiger locally and the vital agro-forestry systems will recover by default globally.

About The Author: Ranjit Sahu, was born in India and is a doctorate in biotechnology. He has published two books in poetry ( 2005: A Year of Love and Drunk ) and his poems have appeared in the website of Presently, he is working on several volumes of poems with different themes.

One Comment

  1. The article is very much comprehensive and informative. I am sure that the youth of not only India but throughout world will be benefited. I congratulate Dr. Sahu for his great contribution in this regard.