Tagore, man of the future

Posted by: Bittu Sahgal on

"I love India, but my India is an idea and not a geographical expression. Therefore, I am not a patriot - I shall ever seek my compatriots all over the world"

Those lines were written by 'Gurudev' Rabindranath Tagore, whose 150 birth anniversary happens to be today. The free-thinking lines define my own notion of life and patriotism better than I could ever articulate myself.

I find it uncomfortable and distasteful to be constantly battered by the harsh eye-for-an-eye patriotism of those who imagine that hating Pakistan amounts to a demonstration love for India. In my view, the Aman ki Asha campaign jointly launched by the Times of India, and Pakistan's Jung newspaper group, which many war-mongers write off as naive, will prove to be the most effective strategy to bring about peace, and therefore, happiness and security for our troubled subcontinent.

Who knows if thing will get worse before they get better, but it is my hope that the children of Pakistan and India will somehow shame the adults in their lives into working together to repair our wounded nations. One very fine way to do this would be to launch a citizen-to-citizen campaign to jointly fight climate change. After all this one hurtling tragedy will probably displace more people than were displaced by the Partition of India. Apart from this, working to restore ecosystems and return life to the land could probably be the finest cement to unite us in joint purpose.

Sanctuary will be publishing an article on the snow leopard and its threatened Himalayan home. This arena, which spans Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, Kazakhasthan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbegistan, will be devastated by climate change. There could be no better way for the peoples' of these countries to adapt to and mitigate the worst impacts of climate change than to devote their energies and resources to resurrecting the fragile, but battered ecology of their homelands.

In India people like Yash Veer Bhatnagar and Charudutt Mishra are already doing their bit together with others from the Snow Leopard Trust. Hopefully Dr. Manmohan Singh and his advisors will one day realise that these are the real builders of India, not the legion of militant developers who wake each morning and do not sleep till they have significantly destroyed our ecological underpinnings.

The snowleopard between India and Pakistan. The tiger between India and Bangladesh. The clouded leopard between India and Myanmar. Whale sharks and olive ridley turtles,  between India and the rest of the world.  Greylag and Barheaded Geese between Siberia and India. The list is endless. All these creatures belong to "my country". Every tiger belongs to every American or Australian, or Japanese child.

The very notion of political nationalism, to my mind, is infantile. Nature has been trying to tell us this for years, but world leaders, spurred on by their own worst election nightmares, refuse to understand, believe, or act collectively for the planet. They do what they do with aforethought. They push us closer towards a climate nemasis knowing full well that this will cause massive human deaths in the decades ahead.

This is why  some of us are in the process of putting together the the nuts and bolts of a Trbunal for Environmental Crimes Against Humanity. If the literature of Tagore is unable to move world leaders, perhaps ensuring that history remembers them for the harm they did will, if nothing else, steal the false legitimacy they seek as they are removed from their self-constructed pedestals financed by money they steal from us.