Skip to main content

Ex-IIT, IIM scholar threatens: Would sit on indefinite hunger strike to "save" Ganga

 Sant Atmabodhanand
By Chandra Vikash*
As already reported, a United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues team visited  Haridwar in support and solidarity with 26-year old Sant Atmabodhanand, who hails from Kerala. He is fasting for making River Ganga Aviral (free-flow) and Nirmal (pollution-free).
This feisty and strong-willed youth stands up like the mighty Himalayas for the indigenous rights for Ganga that we call as Mother and the crores of indigenous livelihoods of farmers, fishermen, herder, boatsmen and so many other diverse indigenous communities for whom the free-flowing and pollution-free river is the lifeline.
Friday, March 22, marked the 150th day of his continuous and indefinite fast till the time the demands are met or he breathes his last. The UN team visit was at the behest of GAIA -Global Academy for Indigenous Issues. The team consisted of Phoolman Chaudhary, Asia representative at the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (PFII), his press secretary Hari Paudel and Nepalese parliamentarian Metmani Met Chaudhary.
We had great support from local teams who made this visit a great success in sensitizing the behemoth Government of India to the plight of the river and the indigenous people, and to make them sit up and listen.
Ashish Goel and his team at Haridwar, Dr Chinmay Pandya, pro-vice chancellor of the Dev Sanskriti Vishvavidyalaya at Haridwar, Hitesh Chandel and his Defined Values team in Delhi NCR, Nirmala Pandey, BK Jha at Noida among several others. Being thinly funded, we are yet to reimburse the UN team for the travel expenses despite our onerous efforts.
We hope that the mainstream media wakes up to the grim reality of dying rivers and depleting forests in the deluded and desperate chase of "development" which is pushing crores of Indians into misery and destitution dispossessing and disempowering them of the natural resources and eco-systems that generate their livelihoods at the cost of providing comfort to a few and shrinking diseased folks in the cities -- bureaucrats, politicians, media, sychophants, parasites, power-brokers and their cronies.
As the anger and frustration of people gathers more steam and the rage turns into fire, it is likely to burn down their castles made of wax and petro-chemicals. The coming national elections - where these vultures and hyenas are hankering for each others blood and for gorging up bigger chunks of people's resources -- will only add more fuel to the fire.
We have made a petition (click HERE) to the President of India. He is travelling far-flung to Croatia and even further to Bolivia and Chile. I hope he finds time in the next few days to visit the fasting young saint at Haridwar which is just 3-hours away from Delhi by road or rail before a precious life departs us.
We have been trying to reach other key figures in the establishment Nitin Gadkari, the Ganga Minister, and Narendra Modi, who swore by her, proclaiming "Maa Ganga ne bulaya hai" -- only to betray her and go back on his words only hastening her to die faster as various reports cite that the Ganga waters are even more polluted and threatened by more dams in the past nearly 5 years of his regime.
If we don't hear from the establishment, I resolve to sit on fast from Sunday March 24 at Jantar Mantar in Delhi  till the time our demands are met or I breathe last in support and solidarity with Sant Atmabodhanand's fast at Matri Sadan in Haridwar. This reminds me of one of my inspirational poems "Hum Panchhi Unmukt Gagan Ke" from early years by poet Shivmangal Singh "Suman":
होती सीमाहीन क्षितिज से
इन पंखों की होड़ा-होड़ी
या तो क्षितिज मिलन बन जाता
या तनती सॉंसों की डोरी ।
नीड़ न दो, चाहे टहनी का
आश्रय छिन्न-भिन्न कर डालो
लेकिन पंख दिए हैं तो
आकुल उड़ान में विघ्न न डालो ।
I shall seek all of your blessings and good wishes for the same.
---
*Chief mentor and innovation coach, GAIA Innovation Lab; convener, Global Academy for Indigenous Activism (GAIA); alumni: IIT Kharagpur, IIM Calcutta 

Comments

TRENDING

Girl child education: 20 major states 'score' better than Gujarat, says GoI report

By Rajiv Shah
A Government of India report, released last month, has suggested that “model” Gujarat has failed to make any progress vis-à-vis other states in ensuring that girls continue to remain enrolled after they leave primary schools. The report finds that, in the age group 14-17, Gujarat’s 71% girls are enrolled at the secondary and higher secondary level, which is worse than 20 out of 22 major states for which data have been made available.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad "declared support" to two-nation theory in 1937, followed by Jinnah three years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

Hindutva founders, not Congress, were actual 'proponents' of two-nation theory

By Shamsul Islam*
No other organization, in the present world, can beat Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in double-speak. In fact, what George Orwell termed as "doublespeak" would be an understatement in the case of RSS. The latest proof of this nasty case was provided by the Union Home Minister Amit Shah, de facto Prime Minister and senior RSS leader in the Lok Sabha (akin to the House of Commons in England) on December 9, 2019.

Congress 'promises' cancellation of Adani power project: Jharkhand elections

Counterview Desk
Pointing out that people's issues take a backseat in Jharkhand's 2019 assembly elections, the state's civil rights organization, the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, a coalition of activists and people’s organisations, has said that political parties have largely ignored in their electoral manifestos the need to implement the fifth schedule of the Constitution in a predominantly tribal district.

Hindutva founders 'borrowed' Nazi, fascist idea of one flag, one leader, one ideology

By Shamsul Islam*
With the unleashing of the reign of terror by the RSS/BJP rulers against working-class, peasant organizations, women organizations, student movements, intellectuals, writers, poets and progressive social/political activists, India also witnessed a series of resistance programmes organized by the pro-people cultural organizations in different parts of the country. My address in some of these programmes is reproduced here... 
***  Before sharing my views on the tasks of artists-writers-intellectuals in the times of fascism, let me briefly define fascism and how it is different from totalitarianism. Totalitarianism is political concept, a dictatorship of an individual, family or group which prohibits opposition in any form, and exercises an extremely high degree of control over public and private life. It is also described as authoritarianism.
Whereas fascism, while retaining all these repressive characteristics, also believes in god-ordained superiority of race, cultur…

Ships recycling Bill 'allows' India to be turned into a landfill for foreign hazardous waste

Counterview Desk
In a letter to M Venkaiah Naidu, chairman, Rajya Sabha, senior activist Gopal Krishna of the Toxics Watch Alliance has said that the Recycling of Ships Bill, 2019 should be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment, Forests and Climate Change to "safeguard country’s maritime environment from harmful and hazardous wastes and materials".

Ex-World Bank chief economist doubts spurt in India's ease of doing business rank

By Rajiv Shah
This is in continuation of my previous blog where I had quoted from a commentary which top economist Prof Kaushik Basu had written in the New York Times (NYT) a little less than a month ago, on November 6, to be exact. He recalled this article through a tweet on November 29, soon after it was made known that India's growth rate had slumped (officially!) to 4.5%.

With RSS around, does India need foreign enemy to undo its democratic-secular fabric?

By Shamsul Islam*
Many well-meaning liberal and secular political analysts are highly perturbed by sectarian policy decisions of RSS/BJP rulers led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, especially after starting his second inning. They are vocal in red-flagging lynching incidents, policies of the Modi government on Kashmir, the National Register of Citizens (NRC), the demand for 'Bharat Ratna' to Savarkar who submitted 6-7 mercy petitions to the British masters (getting remission of 40 years out of 50 years' sentence), and the murder of constitutional norms in Goa, Karnataka and now in Maharashtra.

Post-Balakot, danger that events might spiral out of control is 'greater, not less'

By Tapan Bose*
The fear of war in South Asia is increasing. Tensions are escalating between India and Pakistan after the Indian defence minister's announcement in August this year that India may revoke its current commitment to only use nuclear weapons in retaliation for a nuclear attack, known as ‘no first use’. According to some experts who are watching the situation the risk of a conflict between the two countries has never been greater since they both tested nuclear weapons in 1998.

80 RTI activists killed since 2014, yet Modi govt 'refuses' to implement whistleblowers Act

By Our Representative
Ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took over power in 2014 at the Centre, more than 80 have been killed “in their quest for information and accountability” through the Right to Information (RTI) Act, a public hearing in Delhi has been told. Senior politicians from opposition parties, including Congress and Left, heard people express their anguish over the manner in which the government was treating the RTI Act, even as refusing to operationalise the Whistleblower Protection Act, passed in 2014.