Stolen Future

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Madhuvataritayate Madhuksharantisindhavah Madhvir nah santvoshadhih Madhunaktamutosashi Madhumatparthivam rajah Madhudyaurastu nah pita Madhumannovanaspatih Madhumamastusuryah Madhvirgavobhavantu nah Om Madhu, Om Madhu, Om Madhu

In the spring of 1998, I visited the Darjeeling tea gardens on a commission by the WWF Kolkata Regional Office, to check out on the use and impact of agricultural chemicals in tea estates.

In that respect, the above stotra from the Rig Veda shows the scary schism between what the vision of our forefathers was on world environment and what we have made of it, systematically, step by step, moved only by sheer avarice.

The stotra stresses on Madhu, or Nectar. In brief, it means

Let the winds and seasons be filled with nectar

Let the oceans bless us with it

Let the medicinal plants and herbs bring us nectar

Let even the sun give us nectar

And let the cows give us milk that is nectar…

Om Madhu Om Madhu, Om Madhu

Darjeeling, on the contrary, that spring, was all poison. Male children born with undescended testicles; girl children born without vaginas; multiple congenital deformities in neo-natal children in ward after ward of a hospital that has now been demolished.

Why I start with Darjeeling is that it is the perfect example of human greed, greed to get more for NOW and leave nothing behind for our progeny. The tea garden managers are given tasks to produce specific amounts of the prized tea, and pour in a cocktail of pesticides when the plants are attacked. The managers have a job to protect avarice

The plants are attacked because in the greed to grow more, Darjeeling forests had been chopped off. Hybrids with higher yields had been introduced, and more and more of yield were demanded from a soil that could not sustain the human avarice

More fertilisers, more pests, more pesticides…. More and more of children born with congenital deformities.

I had known of all of this from my readings of Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (1962), and “Our Stolen Future by Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski and John Peterson Myers (1996). Both books spoke of disasters at hand and aggravating every day. So when I was confronted by the harsh realities of Darjeeling, I was not surprised.

I was only shocked by the fact that just one single case of this in Holland in and around late 1990s had led to the entire health registry system of the country to be overhauled. And here in Darjeeling, I was facing scores of boys and girls born with the same syndrome.

Nothing was being done. India is not Holland, after all. Our collective conscience is dumbed down

Madhuvataritayate?

Here in India, we have taken the environment as spoils of avarice. From the Himalaya to the Western Ghats, from Assam and Arunachal Pradesh to Odisha and the Sundarbans, a country that was ravishingly beautiful once, commented upon by Greek, Mid-eastern and Far-eastern scholars, from Megasthenes, Pliny to Al-Beruni, Fa-Hien and Hiuen Tsang, has been laid to waste.

Development is the key word. Balance is not!

People are no..

And our progeny?

Naught

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