Views of Mahatma Gandhi on Environment and its Protection
A great soul, Mahatma Gandhi, was born on the 2nd October in 1896 in Porbandar a city of Gujarat. His father was a diwan and mother was a religious woman. He was from a Hindu family called as Vaishnavas. They use to pray lord Vishnu and his mother use to practice fasting and other ritual beliefs. They were hardcore for their religion. He was deeply influenced by some legendary characters like Prahalad and Harishchandra. He was strictly vegetarian and took part in many seminars organized for vegetarians in London.
Gandhi Ji was an Environment Lover
Gandhiji was a shy boy and use to run back home quickly as soon as the bell rang in his school. We do not get any type of environment loving evidence from his childhood days. But as soon as he grew old, he took part in some environmental movements. The scenario during post-independence was a bit different because pollution and industrialization were not hot topics, and they were not dealing with the problem of depletion of the Ozone layer or the increased level of CFC gases in the environment.
People were centralized towards other problems like freedom, British tyranny and many more. Although environmental movements were not on the summit Chipko moments also took place in the same era. Gandhiji encouraged healthy habits for good hygiene, health, and sanitation. He taught every one hygiene lessons and the benefits of these healthy habits.
He promoted personal and environmental cleanliness. He promoted health and hygiene, he uses to clean the ashram on his own, he was aware of the environmental problems like deforestation and the excessive dependence on forest and trees. He was aware of the drawbacks we can face due to deforestation that is because once he stated:
“Nature is enough to satisfy everyone’s need, but not to satisfy anybody’s greed” .
Gandhiji was visionary and very recognized that there will be a day when nature will be used to fulfil our greed. He was aware of the environment.
Promotion of Cleanliness by Him
When he returned to India after his visit to South Africa, he found that no one is more aware of cleanliness in India. They use to maintain it up to their home or pooja or in temples, they were very less aware of personal and environmental cleanliness.
He trained people to decompose kitchen waste and use it as manure, use toilets, and many more things and these things were strictly followed in his ashram. There were many conflicts among people as Indian society was discriminated against among various groups and the cleaning work was considered as the job of labour class people and many people just disagree with cleaning their toilets.
It was time when the plague was in Mumbai and Gandhiji was afraid as it can reach Porbandar because it is not very far and he started campaigning in his city and appealed everyone to keep their surroundings clean and to clean their toilets. But people refused to clean their toilets and marked it as not their work. To teach them Gandhiji started cleaning their shits and taught them lessons. He also promoted khadi clothes which were environment-friendly and were hand made.
Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Cleanliness Program)
It was Gandhiji who started cleanliness program but was not able to succeed and it’s after 70 years of independence, our recent government has started a Swachh Bharat Abhiyan can be called as Clean India Movement to fulfil Gandhiji’s dream. It was started on 2 October 2014 and is aimed to be completed on 2 October 2019 on the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
The main agenda of this movement is to clean India, to focus on proper sanitation, to make India open defecation free, for waste management, use of dustbins, maintaining the cleanliness of the public places, etc. The India government has invested crores of rupees for the construction of toilets in every house, especially in rural areas.
Funds are also provided for solid waste management and liquid waste management. Various awareness programs are organized on a daily basis. Separate toilets for boys and girls have been constructed in their schools. Many famous faces are made ambassadors of this movement and we can see the active participation of common people and school children in this campaigning.
It was Gandhiji’s dream to see a clean India and everyone is contributing his best to make the movement significant. Now we can see two different dustbins one for liquid waste and the other for dry waste, in public places.
Various competitions such as the cleanest city, state, airport, railway station, etc. of the year have been organized. Through these competitions people get encouraged and we can see the results. Indore is on the top from continuous three years similarly this year the award was grabbed by Mysore and Tiruchirappalli in the city category. The best states are Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand are marked as the best-performing state of the year.
The best airport award is given to Indra Gandhi international airport and the Chhatrapati Shivaji terminal is in the second position. Whereas talking about the railway stations Bilaspur and Solapur are on the first two positions. In this way, we can see the positive response and enthusiasm in people to run this campaigning.
In the last few decades of his assassination, he was seen as more active regarding the environment. He discussed the environment on universal platforms. Earth was addressed as a universal mother (as we call dharti mata in India). He believed in non-violence and deforestation or making any type of harm to the environment was a kind of violence. In a conversation he stated:
“The human being has no power to create life, he has, therefore no right to destroy life”.
He uttered these in terms of environment and was really very concern about it. It was his love for the environment that he got crazy about cleanliness in both the city and villages. He wanted the welfare of people as well as nature. He planted many trees in his ashram and also asked others to do so.
It was his environmental awareness that he uses to decompose kitchen waste and used it as manure and the wastewater was consumed in the gardens. He was aware of the social as well as environmental problems. One side he was dealing with the Britishers to leave India on the other side he was dealing with some issues within the nation like environment, cleanliness, poverty, condition of women in the society and etc.
Two Models of Development to Reduce Environmental Issues
There were two models of development one was the Nehruvian Model, which was based on industrial development and the Gandhian Model of development, which was based on self-reliance and self-respect. The Gandhian model was based on the production and procession of biomass in a large amount.
The use of renewable sources and the main fuel used was solar energy. By the use of such natural things and on lower levels (by village people) was helpful to increase the Gross National Product at the village level. This may also increase production and was not even harmful to the environment as well as people.
So, the Gandhian model of development was found more convenient and was suitable for all, like the economically weak section as well as the strong one. Gandhiji was visionary and knew the largest population of India lives in a village and for the development of the nation, it is necessary to develop a village in all terms, like economically, socially, in terms of cleanliness and etc.
Gandhiji continuously worked for the environmental issues for the betterment of human being. He didn’t favour industrialization at all, because it had a more negative impact on society. He was an ecologist so he analysed the use of the environment.
His Contribution to the Environment
During his childhood days, he was in his mother’s influence and she uses to read Ramayana and other holy books for him and he got familiar to many ideal characters like Prahalad and Harishchandra, in the same way in Hindu mythology we can see various trees, each tree denoting a particular god. In this way, we can say that Gandhiji also got familiar with the mythological believes of trees in his life and always played an important role to protect trees in his era.
Gandhiji was pure vegetarian and when he went London for his higher studies and being a vegetarian, he faced many obstacles, but he didn’t give up and finally got a book in his support and then he started taking part in debates and other events regarding vegetarianism. He encouraged others to be vegetarian and also became a member of the vegetarian society. Being vegetarian he also developed an environment loving nature and was always kind to animals and promoted plantation.
He was very kind and his kindness can be seen for the environment, people and animals also. There were many pet animals in his ashram. He believed in non-violence and according to him, if a living being does not scream, it does not mean that it does not feel pain. He opposed deforestation because it’s a kind of violence and he was strictly against any kind of violence.
It was his initiative the Chipko Movement took place, which aimed protection and conservation of trees. It was a non-violence movement to protect trees. Although it took place in 1970 his ahimsa played a key role in this movement for the conservation of trees and forests.
There are many other facts and incidents which show Gandhiji were an environment lover. He played a key role in the social, economic, and environmental growth of India. That is why he got the title of ‘Father of the Nation’ a person who cares like a father, everyone is equal for him. He also got the title of ‘Mahatma’ really; he was a mahatma who won millions of hearts by his Satya and Ahimsa. Even today he is an inspiration to millions and will remain immortal.
We can say that Gandhiji was a true environmental lover and contributed a lot to the environment. He played an important role in the versatile development of the nation. He justifies the title of an environmentalist and has strongly condemned deforestation. He was a true hero and we need such heroes to be born in every era so that our earth can be saved from destruction and everyone could become aware of environmental issues. Actually, it’s our duty to keep our earth clean and promote plantation. “Be green do green”.
More about Mahatma Gandhi:
Life of Mahatma Gandhi from Childhood to Adolescent
How Mahatma Gandhi is Still Alive among us
Why Mahatma Gandhi was not Awarded Bharat Ratna or Nobel?
Struggle of Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa
Essay on Mahatma Gandhi’s Educational Philosophy
Essay on Gandhi Jayanti Celebration
Famous Speeches by Mahatma Gandhi