Conference on Why Human Interdependence Matters today to fight Global Environment Crises


The GSDS’ in association with Noble International University (USA) organised an international E-conference on “Why Human Interdependence Matters today to fight Global Environmental Crises” on June 20, 2020 with the following key speakers – Padma Shri Shri Ashok Bhagat, Founder Secretary Vikas Bharati Bishunpur, Jharkhand; Prof. Dr Roger Hansell, President Noble International University (USA); Prof. Dr. Biswajit (Bob) Ganguly, Chancellor & CEO Noble International University (NIU) (USA), President & CEO Noble Institution for Environment Peace (Canada) and Prof. Dr. Marijo Readey, Dean of Studies, NIU, USA. Shri Dipanker Shri Gyan inaugurated the E-conference. 50 participants from in and around the world took part in the discussion. Prof. Tanima Bhattacharjee from Noble University along with Dr. Vedabhyas Kundu Programme Officer GSDS moderated the session.
Giving his welcome address, Shri Dipanker Shri Gya, Director GSDS said that the pandemic has, what he called, “Given us opportunity to connect to the world, understand their culture and traditions and evolve our knowledge base”. He also looked at the positive side that the pandemic has brought back to the environment, which he said has started rejuvenating. He further called for protection of the environment which is now a greater challenge before humankind. Saying that mankind has destroyed environment for their greed, he cautioned, “If the environment gives back in its severity, it will be difficult for humankind to survive”.
Addressing the gathering, Padmashri Shri Ashok Bhagat who chaired the session spoke about protection of natural resources as the most essential element and criteria for survival of all the species of Earth, especially human beings. He said that the COVID -19 pandemic has disturbed the entire world, but people in villages because of their self sustaining spirit are fighting the pandemic because of their strong belief in Nature and natural resources which they have protected over the years. He said, “Human beings are social animals who cannot survive sans community. Interdependence forms a natural part of our existence. Before the pandemic we had taken this interdependence for granted. Now self-realization has crept in and we are revisiting these interdependences in such uncertain and testing times”.
He also spoke of environmental crisis which he said “Are unpredictable and often results in revisiting, analyzing, restructuring and strengthening human interdependence”, and added that “The current global crisis presents a crucial opportunity to discuss the broad spectrum of interrelated rights issues and how they may be understood and reconciled”.
While pointing to the work his organization Vikas Bharti has been undertaking for over three decades with the Tribals by adopting the strategy of going back to the people, living among them, learning from them, working and planning with the same people and start learning by doing, Shri Ashok Bhagat emphasised the importance of building community faith on traditional practices, promoting indigenous knowledge systems and publicizing them at the community level.
He concluded by pointing that “The Pandemic, one of many collective-action problems facing humankind has shown that it is non-existential dangers, but rather everyday economic activities that reveal the collective, connected character of modern life” and called upon the people to leave the Tribals and their forests untouched to protect the environment.
Inventor Scientist Prof. Dr. Biswajit (Bob) Ganguly shared his ideas of green technology and other work that Noble International University USA has been undertaking as part of their research towards environmental protection. A person who created the concept of 'Environmental Peace' with his colleague Professor Roger I.C Hansell at the University of Toronto, Prof. Ganguly spoke of the various applied technologies he and his team had developed in the field of ‘environmental pollution control’, to protect this planet. He further spoke of his inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa in erst while Calcutta and Sir Joseph Rotbalt in London. Calling that his mission is to promote the concept of ‘environmental peace’ around the world, Prof. Ganguly referred to the vision of Swami Vivekananda also and said, “We have to unite all together with all technologies to fight the environmental crisis and also raise the consciousness amongst humankind that we have no alternative planet”.
Echoing the sentiments of Shri Ashok Bhagat, Prof. Dr. Marijo Readey highlighted the key structures of the society. In her presentation titled: “Animal Behaviour, Human Competition, Human Cooperation and Mixed Hope for Compassion for our Mother Earth” Dr. Readey presented different dimensions ranging from the dichotomies of I and Thou to the parables of odd and even. In presenting through different situational analysis, she said that “The gift of science is revision and at times even new experiment leads to odd reactions”.
Dr. Readey further highlighted the ideas of the origin of violence and pointed to the psychological, physiological, sociological and political ideas about the root causes of violence and said, “When someone thinks he or she has an idea about the causes, and is ready to publish something, the exception to the rule comes up and therefore we have to go back, do more research”. She also spoke about the behaviourists approach and pointed to the cross-generational history (evolutionary history) of the behaviour and what developmental processes (physical and psychological) shaped the behaviour, including the adaptive advantage of the behaviour and also discussing why is it maintained and not eliminated from a population?”
Dealing into the I-Thou dichotomy, Dr. Readey said, “Like our nocturnal roaches, humans everywhere seem to divide the world into ‘us’ and ‘them’ sometimes with fuzzy borders between groups”, adding, “When we find those cultural traits that are universal or near universal, it’s like finding the nocturnal roaches; there may be exceptions, but there’s a definite trend suggesting there is some hardwiring for the behaviour or categorization process”.
Terming peace, love and joy as lofty goals for humankind, she said that “They are the ones that have proven elusive for our species and strangely virtually everyone claims that they want peace. However, most of us also suspect that we would be in a state of perpetual peace, if it were not for some other person or group that just doesn’t understand our goal because of their savage nature”.
She further said that while we typically don’t see our role in the destruction of the planet, any more than we usually see our role in interpersonal conflicts, we tend to underestimate our personal contribution to the destruction of the planet while overestimating the damage caused by others and mentioned that the “Flexibility of the I-Thou dichotomy also provided a defense against outside oppression”. While referring that the environment is under attack, for humankind has long claimed the right to move into the remaining territories of other species and to claim its resources for our own use, but this pandemic has given the wildlife an opportunity to reclaim some of its habitats, but massive exploitation of resources has diminished supplies even as the world population and consumption level have increased.
She concluded by referring to Swami Vivekananda’s world view and appealing humankind to come together as a planet against these common problems. “Literacy provides a feed-back mechanism that shapes our world view” and to “Relinquish our hold on some of ‘their’ lands – their shares of the world’s resources to save ourselves and in that process truly extend our compassion to the other living creatures of this world”.
Prof. Dr. Roger Hansel in his address expressed hope that the pandemic will create a global network of people to fight the environmental crisis and work towards bringing about a change in the conscience of humankind and use our social skills to spread awareness about the species around us.
Harnessing natural resource wealth is the great transformative opportunity for many developing nations. Resource extraction generates the largest source of exports, inward investment and potential for government revenues for over sixty low-income countries. However, mismanagement can carry a high cost, with the potential to fuel corruption; economic, environmental, and social damage; and even conflict.
Sharing his perspective about the webinar, Dr. Mostafizur Rahman, Chairman, Department of Folklore Studies, Islamic University, Bangladesh said, “As stewards of their extractive and land resources, governments have the responsibility to manage and regulate the extraction process, and to transform natural assets into sustained prosperity for both current and future generations. This includes the good governance of land and security of tenure especially for the rural poor. In addition, companies must take steps that go beyond minimum legal requirements by ensuring that they do not infringe on the rights of individuals and should strive to comply with high environmental, social, and human rights standards. In part, this means avoiding corruption, contributing to sustainable development outcomes, and making pertinent project information public and accessible. Human beings have to be considerate in behaving with the mother earth for the sake of our sustainable habitation. Environment is not merely a word but a process and we need to protect it collective by our sensible responsibilities and actions.