Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Carbon Footprint and Savitribai with a Navvari Sari

Savitribai - a sari is only as familiar to this woman as an iPod to an average viewer of this Website. It goes to say that those who know iPods may not know what a sari is. Now, a navvari sari is a sari of nine yards worn in central India and Savitribai wears one like this. Now, what has this to do with carbon footprint? Exactly.

The theme for the World Environment Day (June 5) is "Kick the Habit! Towards a Low Carbon Economy". I will not attempt to explain this to Savitribai whom I will meet tomorrow. She owns a 2 acre farm in a very dry area where she grows mainly millets and lentils with no chemicals as pesticides or fertilizers. Her idea of air conditioning at home is to spray water mixed with cow dung around the thatched house and spread crop residues on the roof while the doors and windows are kept open. Warm water for a bath means a bucket of water to be left in the sunlight. Now, I would be damn stupid if I were to tell her about low carbon lifestyles and eco-friendly consumption. So, what do I tell her? I am baffled.

Like Savitribai, there are many women (and men) who toil in dry lands to conserve what is left for them more due to the havoc by mankind than by the vagaries of nature. Terms like “carbon footprint” may be alien to them but they are convinced of what they are doing for a better tomorrow. They know that a neem tree is nature’s drug store, cows are sacred, tulsi (holy basil) has lot more values beyond culinary purposes, and so on for every plant and animal that surrounds them. This is why they protect and preserve them. Tomorrow, at least 200 farmers will gather at each of the six Community Learning Centres (CLCs) – a centre for learning and sharing that caters to between 6-8 villages in close proximity - in Aurangabad district. All of them will discuss on local actions to conserve the environment for the future generation. As is usual during such gatherings, the youth and women with all their vigour will enact plays and sing songs that praise nature’s blessings and urge the farmers to take care of the nature. After the meeting, they will "walk the talk" by planting some saplings in the village as a token of more actions to follow.

I know I don't stand any ground to preach to these farmers. However, I will do my best in appreciating their efforts and encourage them. Jai Kisan (long live, farmers).