Saturday 04 Feb 2023

Amid turbulence, save soil mission brings a ray of hope, but...


The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the State Department of Agriculture and Isha Outreach broadly outlined the areas of common interest in soil health and engagement in exchange of knowledge while jointly working towards sustainable soil health in Goa. The biggest takeaway for Goa is that it gets access to a panel of experts from across the world who will advise and offer guidance so that the Goa government can adopt and customize recommendations to suit the interest of the State.

Spiritual guru and founder of Isha Outreach, Sadhguru Jagadish Vasudev's impactful speech of over an hour touched upon the need for soil conservation and set the ball rolling. While he dwelled on issues like loss of bio-diversity, looming food crisis, water crisis, and climate change, he touched a raw nerve while highlighting the "unconscious" nature and compulsive behaviour of humans. He vividly explained the collapsing fundamentals of life and how the world is headed towards a 40 per cent shortage of food by 2050.

While his keynote address focused on soil and how the magic of soil turns death into life, his appeal to citizens to stand up and hold the government responsible while seeking long-term well-being caught the fancy of all. These were his concluding remarks, which probably touched the hearts of all Goans in the packed Shyama Prasad Mukherjee stadium and the thousands of others listening to the world-renowned guru.

Goans, by nature, are fierce fighters for their land and soil and are known to take cudgels across party lines and political or religious divides, and a shining example has been set when it comes to defending mother earth. The people of Goa have put their motherland ahead of their own lives and have fought relentless battles to safeguard the environment, farmlands, and forest cover. The battles waged against the government stand testimony to people's commitment to Earth.

However, if there is a seriousness to the soil conservation narrative, there has to be a wholehearted pledge first from the government towards the environment. There has to be a radical and visible change in approach. People should not be fighting to save their fields from inundation due to haphazard planning. People should not be pleading for a bypass on stilts to save farms; there cannot be wholesale conversions of orchards and green lands, and development cannot be at the cost of the environment.

The State has consistently debated topics like economics versus ecology and development versus environment. Sadhguru, in one stroke, has demolished the theory of the economy standing above ecology by a simple illustration. He explained how a structural extension would not sustain if there is a compromise on the foundation.

While the government's move to rope in Isha Outreach with a save soil mission is welcome and brings in some rays of hope, these are still early days. We only hope that this mission which has shown promise doesn't end up like an optical illusion against the backdrop of a conflict between what the government seeks to pursue and what it advocates.

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