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Environment has become a burning topic of discussion and debate, on all public platforms.

The more the discussions, the more the awareness, and the dirtier the environment. Isn't it a thing to wonder about that, while we talk so much about, a lot is also being done in this regard but, the environment keeps on deteriorating. On the outset, let us analyse what all environment includes. All that is around us is called and included in the term environment. This environment affects us physically, mentally, and even spiritually. There is so much contradiction in discussions and decisions and ground realities that, the talk and net result are poles apart. We keep on shouting from housetops platforms about keeping our environment clean but, when it comes to contributing to the cleanliness of the same, all us, yes, all of us contribute to the polluting of the environment. For a simple example, we all agree that, we must keep our surroundings clean, but all of us clean our own houses and throw the rubbish out on the road, or in front of the neighbor's house. In this way we are only adding to the dirt in the environment and not to keeping it clean. We are here again not clear about what environment should mean. Environment is not only our home, but all that surrounds the home. So, if we dirty the road or the neighbors portico, we are dirtying the environment. From the home, let us shift our focus on the outside of the home. Let us take a round of any market place and the common scene will be huge piles of rubbish smelling kitchen waste and paper and polythene bags flying all over. With this surrounding we can hardly claim to even deserve talking of cleanliness in the environment. This only shows without a doubt that we keep contributing to dirtying the environment and just talking about the cleaning of the environment. Let us understand that, only talking about a thing will not serve any purpose, we have to work towards the goal. We have all to be conscious all the time about our responsibilities of keeping the environment clean. It is not that no work is being done in this sphere but, it mostly goes waste as, all of us are not conscious of our duties and responsibilities in the matter. We keep contributing to the dirt, and talking all the while about cleaning the environment. Let us understand that, unless we make it as our own duty to maintain the environment, very little may be achieved in the matter. Environment does not only mean the dust and dirt outside in the air but it also includes the dirt within our minds. The environment also gets affected by dirty minds.

Thus, while we are talking and also working on projects of cleaning the physical look of the surroundings, we must also ensure a clean and healthy thinking. Up to now, no one has ever brought out the pollution of the thinking processes.

Land of all seasons

India is such a different country that you cannot discover whole of it in a life but in a short trip to India of just 10 to 15 days you can experience it. You discover you have moved not only geographical boundaries, but time as well. Its like going back in the past while remaining very much in the present. The landmarks of history are nowhere more impressive. In the once-hidden caves of Ajanta glow 2000- year old frescoes of rare artistic brilliance. The pre-historic cave painting o Madhya Pradesh harks back to more dim and distant times. Elloras superbly carved temples grow out of the living rock. Ancient stupas recall message of Buddha. Proud palaces ashimmer with white marble, glazed tiles and mirror mosaics, like the admirable Taj Mahal at Agra, that flaunt their beauty under a bright sun. People make a country and not just places. And Indias people, youll find, give her a special distinction. In their looks and costumes, customs, rituals, life-style and philosophy youll discover a continental variety. Not surprised in a country so vast and so varied. What is extraordinary is the thread of similarity that binds them into one great cultural whole. Starting with Delhi, gateway in north, the heartland of the country a battleground where many empires were lost and won. The lofty peaks of the high Himalayas, the abode of the gods, are reflected in the soaring temple towers of the lush and tropical south. You can soak in the sun on a secluded beach in the morning, and spend the afternoon exploring the baroque churches of Goa or Kovalam. Discover the princely, fortress towns of Jaisalmer and Jodhpur in Rajasthan. The streams of pilgrims from every part of the country journey to the far-flung corners of this vast land to worship at its four most sacred shrines: Badrinath in the Himalayas; Rameswaram in the deep south, Dwarka in the west; and Puri in the east. So you might eat a pure vegetarian meal off fresh, green banana leaves in the south, or savour the delights of rich, meat based mughlai cuisine in the north. So wherever you go, youll never be far from traditional Indian hospitality- a tradition that welcomes each visitor as a guest.

UNITY IN DIVERSITY

India is a country of many ethnic groups, over 1,650 spoken languages, dialects, regional variationsa land of myriad tonguesnumerous modes of apparel and countless mannerisms. For the most part, the continental size of the country accounts for the variations and diversities. Besides, there are many religions, sects and beliefs. At times the wide differences seem to predominate, and the resultant disharmony is regarded by many as irremediable, a phenomenon that the 100 crore people (ours is the second most populous country) have to live with, whether they like it or not. The cynics even regard the Indian people as quarrelsome, often at each other's throat, denouncing others as if they were inveterate enemies holding irreconcilable ideas and subscribing to ideals totally different from theirs. But those who stick to this impression ignore a vital factor there is a basic unity which runs through the Indian mainstream of life and thought. There is a traditional culture which is truly oriental and which conforms to the teachings and precepts of our saints and sages. Culture and civilisation are admittedly difficult to define, though both these signify certain identifiable trends and traits of character, especially restraint, consideration for others and a high degree of tolerance. The lack of culture becomes evident even from the language and the dialect one uses, the conduct and manner of living, one's gestures in social life, the tendency to have a closed mind, with doors and windows shut as if to disallow the inflow of fresh ideas and other viewpoints. Every process of exclusion betrays lack of culture, just as every trend indicating a willingness to broaden one's outlook shows a commendable cultural trait. The same idea is often put in different words: static culture envisages decay, just as dynamism ensures survival. It is the dynamism and the flexibility that have enabled Indian culture to survive despite its many diversities and heavy odds. Through these diversities runs a common stream, as it were, and the similarity and unity of outlook can be noticed from North to South and East to West. Indian culture is actually a continuous synthesis, and has absorbed many external influences in the course of history. A significant recognition of the fusion of cultural trends comes through t he Constitution (Article 51-A), which says, interalia, that it shall be the duty of every citizen of India to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture. Among the other Fundamental Duties mentioned in that Article is "to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India, transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities, to renounce practices derogatory to women..." All these are indicative of cultural development. Calm reflection will show that attempts to enforce complete unity and disallow any differences of thought and approach in a large country like India would prove counter-productive and self-defeating. People can hold different views on life, religion, social, economic and political systems and yet they can be cultured.

Who, can deny that the people of India have throughout history honoured saints, sages, religious preachers and philosophers, seldom showing veneration for military heroes, triumphant warriors and commanders, except transitory praise and adulation. Those who have fought for cultural freedoms and political independence, which ensures such freedom and the implicit liberties to pursue cultural pursuits, have commanded large and loyal following. Had it not been for the tolerance shown by the people of India during the rule of the Mughals and other outsiders, who brought in their own traditions and sought to impose them on this country, the amorphous, flexible Indian culture would have lost its moorings. The Indian mind has assimilated much of the thinking of other cultures, thus enriching itself and making itself durable and virtually indestructible. The Western concepts and modes of dress, the English language, the study of English classics and European philosophers' works, even though they emphasised thoughts and beliefs different from those of the Indian people, have not been spurned. Rather, a good part of these has become almost a part of the Indian way of living and thinking, especially in the urban areas. The English-knowing elite exist alongside the Indian language enthusiasts, without tensions. The Western culture has always laid stress on materialism, while the Eastern, especially Indian, culture has been closely linked with spiritualism, simplicity, filial duty and affection, austerity, tolerance and harmony. Both are tolerated in this country. It is, however, a pity that in recent years the communal clashes, the increasing evidence of intolerance and disharmony, the apparently endless discord, the open clashes at public meetings, and the all-too-frequent denunciation of each other have increased so much as to indicate that the people are forgetting their, true culture, and are allowing themselves to be exploited by selfish, uncultured people who seek to disrupt and destroy rather than build and consolidate. The real strength of Indian culture lies in basic unity, vigour and the ability to contain an amazing diversity within itself. In this country there are people who belong to opposite schools of thought and who never seem to agree on anything. And yet, the concepts of one basic culture and one nation have continued. Another notable characteristic of Indian culture is that it has always been based on moral and religious values; on these values the outlook shows an amazing similarity, almost throughout the country. Of course, there are groups which seem to be always on the war-path, and there are dissidents who question the basic framework on which the Indian polity is based, but they constitute a very small fraction of the total population. Moreover, in every large country there are always people who are virtual rebels in thought and deed, and who wish to demolish rather than construct. Even in the advanced countries, such as the U.S.A., there are people who are outside the pale of law, who do not subscribe to the distinct American way of life. The same holds good of the British people. Some Britons are opposed to the centuries old institution of monarchy and regard it as superfluous and an anachronism in the modem age of democracy. But they are as loyal to their country as the others, and they not only stick to the British culture, but are proud of it. India is a secular State, and the people, with a few exceptions, have reverence for every faith; there is no effort to impose one religion on other. The Constitution itself, framed with the full consent of the people, guarantees the freedom of thought and expression. The Constitution does not recognise distinctions based on religion, sex or caste, or any other factor.

Modernism co-exists with orthodoxy, as does progressive thought with conservatism, and even reactionary trends. The broad features of the Hindu culture, (which is not linked to the Hindu religion but is broadly Indian culture). It is not fixed or static but is constantly adapting itself to changed conditions, thus responding favourably to new challenges; tolerance of conflicting beliefs, liberalism and broadmindedness; emphasis on ethical conduct and spiritualism; control of passions and temper; justice and truth, and disdain of wealth and the pleasures of the senses. Spiritual perfection is eagerly sought and preached; moral principles, duty and "dharma" are assiduously propagated, especially at pilgrim centers. Indian culture, in fact, represents a synthesis on many strains. It contains the best features of many traditions of other lands. Undoubtedly, certain corrupt influences and distortions have crept in, but these aberrations have not affected the basis, which is solid, not shaky in any sense. Absorption and assimilation have been responsible for the lasting qualities of Indian culture; the diversities seem to disappear in course of time, leaving behind the basic beliefs very much intact. Mahatma Gandhi's view that veneration for other faiths is a part of our own system holds well because of the recognition that each religion has truth and honesty as its basis. Most people have a wide, universal outlook. All these factors account for the unity in diversity that is an outstanding feature of this country