Odisha Environment Congress 2018 admires Mahatma Gandhi’s enduring and deeper significance

Bhubaneswar: OEC 2018 admires Mahatma Gandhi’s enduring and deeper significance in the context of attempts to protect the planet earth. Independence of India defined by Gandhi in terms of three elements- Air, Water and Grain- We achieve democracy when there is access of all citizens to pure air and water
With the theme “Environment and Gandhi” the 9th edition of Odisha Environment Congress (OEC) 2018 was inaugurated today at Regional Museum of Natural History, Bhubaneswar, Odisha. The two days event on environment will continue for 20th and 21st December 2018. Started in the year 2010, Odisha Environment Congress (OEC), as an annual scientific and civil society event on environment, has been providing a unique opportunity to academicians, researchers, scientists, planners, policy makers, students, practitioners, community members and civil society organizations of the state and outside for learning, interaction and dissemination of knowledge on different themes around environment. It also provides scope for publication and presentation on theme specific research based articles in the proceedings which are released during the main event. This year when we are celebrating 150th year of birth centenary of Gandhi the researchers contributed 38 papers on focal theme of this year, “Environment and Gandhi” and other sub-themes like Sustainable Natural Resources Management and Ecology, Water Sanitation and Hygiene Health and Nutrition, Development and Non-violence and Gandhi and Odisha. The papers are compiled and published as the Conference Proceedings and the same was released on the Inaugural Session.
The event was inaugurated by Padmashree Bhabani Charan Patnaik, a Noted Gandhian and Freedom Fighter in presence of Honorable Finance and Excise Minister, Government of Odisha Shri Sashi Bhusan Behera and Mr. Satya Narayan Sahu, Eminent Gandhian Scholar and former OSD and Press Secretary to former President of India as Chief Speaker. The session was chaired by Shri Abasara Beuria, IFS (RTD) Former Indian Ambassador and Dr. Aurobindo Behera IAS (RTD), former Member Board of Revenue, Prof. Padmaja Mishra Vice-Chancellor RD Women’s University were present as guest of honor. Shri Sudarshan Das the organizing Secretary OEC 2018, Dr. Babu Ambat from CED, Kerala, Dr. Gaurav Director RMNH, Bhubaneswar, Dr. Amit Banerjee, VC SOA University and Dr. S N Patro from Odisha Environment Society were present as distinguished organizer of OEC 2018.
Gandhi was the torch bearer of the freedom movement and he was the reason why I gathered the courage to fight for my country’s independence even though I never got an opportunity to meet him in person,” recalls freedom fighter and Gandhian Bhabani Charan Patnaik, as he gave his inaugural speech about ‘Gandhi and environment’ on the occasion of OEC 2018. He told that the country of Gandhi’s dream is linked with nature and I hope one day people would come together and work to make the country a progressive one.”
Mr. Satya Narayan Sahu, Eminent Gandhian Scholar and former OSD and Press Secretary to former President of India by giving key note address stated that: The term sustainable development has evolved with the evolution of human civilization. The very beginning of human society and its onward march is woven critically around this concept which has assumed significance for the survival of the modern civilization and planet earth. Whenever human civilization receded from the path of sustainable development the danger to its survival was ensured and Gandhi visions it and preached it and practiced throughout his life.
It is in this context that one is struck by the approach of Mahatma Gandhi who in the first decade of the twentieth century understood the unsustainability of the modern civilization based on multiplication of wants and desires. He launched the first Satyagraha in 1906 which lasted for eight years and ended in 1914. Based on truth and non-violence it stressed on simplicity of life, unity of all religions and of the entire mankind. The Common Future was understood by Mahatma Gandhi in the end of 19th century itself. Through his book “The Hind Swaraj” he outlined the threat to common future of humanity caused by relentless quest for more material goods and services. He described the civilization driven by endless multiplication of wants as Satanic and defined civilization in terms of performance of duties, adherence to morality and exercise of restraint. The Hind Swaraj became a manifesto of sustainable development. Even though it did not refer to nature or environment in any of its passages it exposed the predatory instincts of modern civilization and thereby became an important publication critically scrutinizing the modern civilization which was at its peak.
On 1st January 1918, hundred years back, he while addressing a meeting in Ahmedabad defined independence of India in terms of three elements- Air, Water and Grain. He defined democracy in terms of access of all citizens to pure air and water. The Time Magazine in its 9th April 2007 issue came out with 51 Global Warming Survival Guides. The 51st Guide earnestly suggests sharing more, consuming less and simplifying life. In other words the Time Magazine, one of the mouth pieces of the western world, is turning to Mahatma Gandhi to save the world from the danger of extinction caused by global warming. It is a measure of Mahatma Gandhi’s enduring and deeper significance in the context of attempts to protect the planet earth.
Chief Guest of OEC 2018 the Finance and Excise Minister, Government of Odisha Shri Sashi Bhusan Behera praised such initiative and discussion on Gandhi and environment as a timely and important step. Lovers of Gandhi and environment are always tried to follow the life style of Gandhi for better protection of environment. He remembered the incident when the former President of India recognized the movement by Odisha people against pollution of River Kathajodi due to urban waste. This is the Gandhian way to raise the issue to protect environment. Air pollution is now in alarming situation and Gandhi has given solution through his lifestyle and we need to follow for a better life and world to live. He raised his support to prepare an Odia version of the proceedings for wider reach to communities.
Other eminent guests like Dr. Aurobindo Behera, Prof. Padmaja Mishra, Dr. Babu Ambat, also put emphasis on Gandhi and his philosophy on environment within his thought on non-violence, gram swaraj, satyagrah etc. Now there is immense pressure on human civilization, on earth and on our future generation with degraded environment and climate change. Need to follow Gandhi to combat such problem and in this one hundred year of First World War completion we should work for not repeating that.
HDF-cDAR, CED, RMNH, SOA University, XUB University, Odisha Environment Society etc. are the organizer of OEC 2018 and integral part of this mega event. The Children’s Environment Congress is hols at Xavier University Bhubaneswar (XUB) simultaneously.

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