Positive Gossip: We are Uprooted ‘Walking Plants’ Now

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Jaipur, India – Wearing masks and depriving ourselves of deep fresh breath, rhythm and science of which has been taught by Indian Yogis since centuries, we are also missing exposure to Sunlight as we avoid stepping out more often. With this, most of us are realizing how we have mistreated nature and mishandled a great opportunity – that is Life. We can now relate to suffocation and strangling of other creatures caused by us as cruel rulers and plunderers of the Earth. A recent study reveals that more than a third of the world’s forests died between 1900 and 2015 and we have wiped out 60 percent of the animal population in the past 40-50 years. This is how we have used the gift of our intelligence.

Even when we have always known that we survive on our abundant share of greenery, water, sunlight, warmth of loved ones, fair treatment to all living beings, we must count ourselves as one of those countless species that inhabit the planet. With this realization, if at all, we could hardly manage to make it a fair and fantastic world. In Indian subcontinent, ignoring and obliterating the treasure of advanced civilization, history, science, diverse culture, food, art, legacy of great educational institutions, medicines, healing herbs, traditional wisdom, brilliant brains, vast repository of knowledge in Vedas and Upanishadas and deep ecology, we aped a world which was evidently self-destructing. As imitators of consumerist culture, we forced ourselves into a reality where 70-90 percent of Indians are Vitamin-D deficient and one in every 10 asthma patients is in India, majorly because of environmental allergies and bad air. As if, we could survive without Sun and fresh air.

In current Covid-crisis, climatically, restrictive human interference is a respite for water bodies, ozone layer and plant world and socially, purdah (veil)/burqu or head cover worn by village women/men seen by racist world as relics of backwardness, have found a new meaning as protective gears.

And drawing from famous cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead, we are witnessing how successful we have been as a civilization on the measure of the contributions an individual is making to her or his fellow human beings. In India, Sikh community and RSS (Rashtrya Swayam Sewak) volunteers and uncountable-nameless youth groups have won hearts of all by feeding millions of empty stomachs and serving displaced families whose earning members have lost work in lockdown. These footprints of humanity need to remain etched in mainstream national culture.

In fact, we can all treat ourselves as ‘walking plants’ now, that are uprooted and looking for nourishing soil and sunshine. Possibility is, we may either adapt to a new environment or may remain as unruly as ever to be rejected by survival forces of our existence. Choices and efforts need to be made. Pinning our hopes on Science and Spirituality, we may recall how one Indian Scientist had announced to the world that trees also feel.

Sir Jagdish Chandra Bose, physicist, biologist and botanist of eminence had studied in Cambridge and University College London and is credited with predicting the use of N-type and P-type semiconductors which is the heart of the whole branch of electronics. He had demonstrated that plants feel just like humans do through his instrument Crescograph. But this genius was harassed by the Royal Society of London and the Plagiarists, just as the greatest inventor of all time, a Serbian, Nikola Tesla faced it all at the hands of Thomas Alva Edison and more business minds in America.

When Bose’s original research article ‘Plant Response’ was published by another scientist in his name and his invention of Radio waves and transmission was patented by Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi, this de-spirited Indian scientist wanted to return to his motherland.

And here in India, it was the spiritual and intellectual force of Sister Nivedita, an Irish devotee of Swami Vivekananda, who supported, funded and mentored him to rise to global fame. Those social and spiritual leaders were well aware of human potential and possibilities and they remained guiding light for many artists, scientists, educationists, entrepreneurs and social-political leaders to direct their efforts for larger welfare of the nation. India is waiting for this synchronic motion on part of leaders and followers to lead with the best of examples on the fronts of policy and integrity, as one without the other will never work.

India in this time is hell-bent on handling health and economic crisis in its own way and ‘vocal for local’ and ‘Atmnirbhar Bharat’ (self-reliant India) have been another set of slogans floated by Modi with Rs 20 trillion stimulus package and framework to combat economic slowdown. India has its own legacy of scientists and spiritual leaders who have demonstrated utmost grit and audacity amid all odds. And, much of it was all about development keeping national ethos, human dignity and respect for nature intact.

Bose was also inspired to launch his own Research Institute, publish his own books and researches and through this he contributed immensely to the world of science. His work ranged between physics and physiology, and this remains the core focus area to work deeply and directionally for today’s world of science also after almost a century of Bose leaving a strong legacy of work. Rather, the world is more dependent on bio-scientists as we are constantly under attack by Nature’s fury and climate change impacts. Viruses, locusts, earthquakes, tsunami or storms and more unseen threats ahead need seriousness in our efforts to deal with it all.

Today, the whole global population, breathless with multi-layer masks, realises the healing power of proper breathing and keeping safe distance with humans but close connection with nature. We need to recall that whatever we do now, the world ultimately is dying to see an ‘unmasked’ society, metaphorically and literally.

So, let us lift up each other and be rooted again to start pulsating like a sapling, meditative and mindful.

About the author

Author profile

Dr Shipra Mathur is the Consulting Editor.

Academic Background: PhD (Journalism), First candidate in Rajasthan to clear UGC - NET in Journalism year 1997, MJMC (Gold Medal), BJMC - President University Dept Student Union, MA (English Lit), BSc (Bio) – Vice President College Student Union, Diploma (Violin)

Fellowships/Scholarships: IVLP (3 weeks International Visitor’s Leadership Programme invite, US State Department, 2017); Media Strategies for Social Change (3 weeks programme invite Israel Agency for International Development Cooperation – MASHAV, 2013); Sacred Groves (2 year fellow Ministry of Cultural Affairs, 2010)

Action Campaign Editor (National): A unique designation which she chose for herself with role in decision making and breaking glass ceiling. With 20 years in Journalism (half in academia half in active journalism), she is now leading innovative - collaborative solution driven Journalism. Her key role is to plan News Campaigns, innovate for new approaches, take up issues; build linkages for Action and Impact. She has always followed unbeaten track with beginning phase as reporter then founding media departments in university affiliate colleges, later taking crucial role for launching evening newspaper, founding journalist training division of a media house, and now in her most crucial role since 2009 as founder of a division called Media Action Group (MAG) (www.mediaactiongroup.in) in the newspaper group embedded into core editorial. Her focus remains voiceless people, inspirational work, collaborative approach and people engagement to lead with passion and compassion. She has also been reaching out to grassroots people through speeches and her media programmes/platforms to help each of them become Changemaker. She is recipient of Women Icon Award – 2015 and recently Sriphal Award – 2016 for Public Service Journalism and Innovation Award - NIF, 2014. On the board of Amity University (JMC School), SWARAJ grassroots organization and many more.

Consulting Editor: India America Today www.indiaamericatoday.com

TV Show (Weekly) conceptualized, named and presented by her #SOULgers for Patrika Rajasthan TV. This is with a purpose to cover work and philosophy of people who listen to their soul, walk on unbeaten path and work like a soldier.

As resource person had opportunity to share experiences on invitation of FICCI, CII, UN Women, UNFPA, UNICEF, IIM-A, RMP, ISKON, Artha, Skoll, CSO/VO consultations/ trainings, UNESCO, PLAN International, Govt of India platforms, Print Media Houses (esp Regional Language newspapers) and other discussion forum to propagate the idea of Public Service Journalism and to share about Empathy, Importance of Meaningful Work, Public Education, Collaboration and Change.

She founded PEN media foundation to build dialogue for better ways of People’s Engagement with News world. She is also Founder Secretary www.krishnalimb.com deeply involved with a cause to support Disabled (amputee animals) by installing Prosthetic (Artificial Limb – KRISHNA Limb) as service (non - profit). www.facebook.com/krishnalimb

Area of Work She has done major work for the benefit of the underprivileged, voiceless, marginalized or deprived community. Her major achievements have been in the areas of Right to Education; Democracy Drives during assembly and general elections (won National Media Award by President of India); Civic Engagement for Expression of Development ideas and Initiatives; Street Vendor Policy; Camel Trafficking, Gender Issues including female foeticide (won Gender Media awards for Teams at different editions), Sex Selection (she represented her state before Prime Minister of India’s dialogue with Women Sarpanch (8th March 2017 showcasing remarkable improvement in sex ratio), Child Marriage, Female Voices; Inclusion, Empathy and Accessibility for People with Disability, Environment Conservation; Awareness and Access to Ayurveda; Hindu Refugees (Religious Persecution) and Govt Schools among others. Govt School and Gender campaign (engaging more than 200 civil society groups) is closest to her heart with huge impact – policies, mind sets and practices. All these issues have been taken in campaign mode with critical engagement of all the stakeholders. It was always an ecosystem which operated underneath with experts, development sector, social workers, social jurists, active citizens and sometime the actual sufferers or beneficiaries also, which added desired direction and force to all what she undertook. She always took driver’s seat and designed ways, decided nomenclature, planned steps, facilitated engagements, offered slant and edited stories and fanned public movement keeping her teams in the fore front. Now writes only when it boils within and if it at all supports the cause, else invisible force is what she prefers to remain as.

In past 2 years she has built a dialogue forum called KEYNOTE Idea Fest for Patrika mentoring and curating it for different editions and suggesting/inviting people who have worked with profound sense of commitment and who inspire with their work or thoughts.

Impact Campaigns (her brain child) in past years: Neenv, Ahsaas, Laado, Tabran ro Byaav, Bitiya Bachao, Vision – 2025, Vajood, Bitiya Padhao, Vanshalika Betiyan, Aao Padhayen Sabko Badhayen, Feri Walon par Fanda, Doob Raha Jahaaz, Ayushmaan, Live Park, Gamechangers

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