0 comments for post: "Words of Inspiration by Admiral Bangara Sir on the latest event Treevolution 2012 by Tree Public, Pune" | Posted on 04. 05. by admin

Admiral Suresh Bangara.

(Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Southern Naval Command and Commandant National Defense Academy NDA )


Post retirement activities can be very challenging and occasionally very stimulating and satisfying too. Faced as I am, with wide ranging activities , I declined an invitation to be on a distinguished panel of experts on Environment- an occasion designed to involve corporates, educationists, academics and students- in the cause of protecting the environment.

A young but determined founder of a NGO Tree Public who was the organizer of the talk show, refused to accept my plea of ignorance. He repeatedly drew my attention to the sterling work undertaken by the Armed forces of India, towards protecting and improving our environment. Confronted by a fiercely committed young man, I was obliged to put my thinking cap on, so that in the presence of highly qualified experts, I could voice a layman’s perspective of the last 60 years, before articulating the determination displayed by the Armed Forces to fight all types of pollution in regard to environment.

Thanks to this unique call form Tree Public, I was able to journey into my past to introspect based on my observations; also with hind sight. This blog only covers the journey backwards in time. Perhaps many of you of my vintage can relate to my experience. If so, we stand exposed, as those who let down the next generation, on crucial issues pertaining to protection of our environment.

Economists will tell us the relationship between per capita income and the will to address environment related issues. It is said that crossing the barrier of US Dollar 5000(in PPP terms) is significant in appreciating the need to address pollution related problems and taking proactive measures to reduce damage to the environment. My early child hood memories are all about villages’ enroute to coffee estates of the south. Poor and illiterate as they were, their commitment to Mother Nature was so rich and their folk lore and anecdotes so telling on the need to protect the environment from all forms of pillage and plundering, that it had indeed left a deep impression on my sub-conscious mind. Nothing to do with income or affluence? We were taught at every stage to understand flora and fauna, coexist with nature, use herbal medicines for all forms of diseases, and appreciate the interdependence of humans with flora and fauna. Most of all we were urged to pass on by word of mouth so that knowledge acquired over centuries is not forgotten or obliterated in the name of modern science.

If Yajnavalkya Smriti the Indian Text on State craft and Jurisprudence, written in 5th century AD had a chapter on the ill effects of felling trees and Kautalya’s Arthashashtra had advice on Forest Administration, why and how did we lose track of our responsibilities towards protecting environment.?

Continuing with the past, if I were to list the positives of our way of life in 1950’s, some features stand out. Discipline and strict adherence to rule of law were cornerstones of life. Even a simple Government run school in a taluka,was clean, well maintained and well managed. The teachers were dedicated to the profession and hence were much respected in the community. Punishments to erring students were instant and the support of the parents to enforce such punishments was unshakeable. Great emphasis was laid on environment consciousness and customs and traditions. Energy efficiency even when electricity was inaccessible was ingrained in us. Gobar, camphor, thatched roofs etc were eco friendly pesticides, insecticides and renewable and affordable ingredients of consumption. Rivers and lakes were kept spotlessly clean-no plastics, no effluents, least of all human and animal faeces. Quality of water down -stream was the responsibility of those dwelling up stream. Water holes and ponds were kept clean by village and town administrators who were always at the service of the people. Trees were never harmed.
And then came the rat-race of my generation. Urbanisation, unruly, unplanned spread of towns and cities and a strong urge to look outwards(towards the west) rather than learn from our past. Overpowering consumerism and wanton destruction of the environment soon followed. Rest is history.
The silver lining is the reappearance of a little emphasis on the subject, in schools. My 13 year old granddaughter can lecture me on how to protect our environment and show our concern for the generations to follow. There is hope. After the terrible destruction caused during WW1&2, in particular, destruction of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, have we not recovered and to a great extent alleviated horrors of such destruction? Let us put our shoulders to the wheel, no matter how weak!
Abhishek, this is dedicated to you and your gallant friends at Tree Public Foundation.


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