Science Meets Saints as Faiths and Experts Converge with Hon’ble Governor of Uttarakhand for Himalaya Day
Rishikesh- Parmarth Niketan became a sangam (confluence) of science, saints, sarkar (government) and samaj (community) as hundreds of faith leaders, researchers, activists and dignitaries joined the Hon’ble Governor of Uttarakhand to honour Himalaya Day here today.
The conference, organised by the Himalayan Unity Mission, led by Dr Anil Joshi, Founder of HESCO, and the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, led by its Founder HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, in association with the Government of Uttarakhand, Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Ganga Action Parivar, the Ganga River Institute and other like-minded organisations, brought together science with spirituality in the quest to promote, protect, and conserve the Himalayas.
Known for great natural beauty and rich bio-diversity, the Himalayas have been deeply impacted by human-induced threats, including climate change, deforestation, encroachment and pollution. As a result, a steady proportion of the region’s natural springs are drying up, triggering glaring water crises in areas once known as water-rich. At the same time, disasters are on the upswing, leading to greater instances of flooding, landslides, human deaths and more.
Compounding the region’s threats are migration, lack of economic opportunities, increased instances of forest fires and lack of basic infrastructure such as roads, energy etc. The results are leading to increased melting of glaciers, sky rocketing levels of pollution, loss of precious and fertile top soil, reduced flow in the rivers, loss of biodiversity and countless human, animal deaths.
Said HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, President of Parmarth Niketan and Founder of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance and Ganga Action Parivar, “If we are to save our Himalayas and save our planet, saints, scientists, samaj and sarkar must come together to inspire great and lasting change. Today, we’ve seen the beginning of a new solution, a clean, green and serene revolution for our majestic Himalayas, which can only happen through the union of hands and hearts as one team with one theme.”
Said the Hon’ble Governor of Uttarakhand, Smt. Baby Rani Maurya, “Pujya Swamiji has brought together the faiths today on this day and this is to me is the true symbol of the strength and unity of our nation. Devbhoomi is a treasure house of wealth, the wealth of clean air, water and soil and I truly want to serve this sacred land. This is why I believe I have been called to the Himalayas. I am personally committed to end the use of plastic in this state as well as end pollution and anything that endangers our sacred Himalayan ecosystem.”
Said Prakash Pant, Finance Minister, Government of Uttarakhand, “The 2013 floods was a trigger for us that the time to act to protect the Himalayas is now. Niti Ayog has made a roadmap but not only policy but when the people stand then we can make a difference and be the change. Lets pledge to come together to serve as one for protecting our Himalayas. Our small actions, reducing pollution and plastic solution, then we can do our part to be the change.”
Said Imam Umer Ahmed Ilyasiji, President of the All India Imam Organisation, “Faith leaders have an important role to play. We have the power to reach out through our congregations, followers and communities to impact real sustainable behaviour change. I particularly and deeply appreciate Pujya Swamiji for his vision and efforts to conserve water, build toilets, plant trees, improve sanitation, and dedicate ourselves to protecting our world.,. Let’s all remember and be inspired by such positive examples and do good for others, because we are human first. Before we belong to any religious group or community, we must always preserve and serve our collective humanity.”
Said Dr Anil Joshi, Founder of Himalayan Environmental Studies and Conservation Organization (HESCO), “Science often makes us materialistic, but when we add spirituality, we become more realistic. We cannot talk about the Himalayas without talking about its communities. Through each other, we can build a movement that brings together the people of the Himalayas to demand for the rights and the protection of this crucial land. This was the vision that helped us to launch Himalaya Day.”
Said Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, “The Himalayas provide us not only with the precious water, soil and air for our physical life, but also with the precious Himalayan culture, which provides the keys to true healthy and happy living for all people. Himalayan culture is not a culture of use, abuse and discard or consume and throw away. It is a culture committed to protection, preservation, reverence and respect. When we save this culture, the Himalayas will automatically be saved. Let us commit to preserving this ancient and sacred culture and to a new vision of green development which protects the Himalayas themselves, the people who live there and the future of this ancient and sacred culture.”
At the conclusion of the day, all participants agreed to a Himalayan Declaration, which outlined changes that are needed in sections of development, legislation, cultural preservation, etc