Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Punjab town uses relegion to fight against Global Warming

Fazilka Residents To Put Up Banners With Gurbani Teachings
Times of India, Chandigarh Edition, 28th June, 2007
Times News Network

Chandigarh: There is a “divine” initiative, coated with religious messages, coming from Fazilka, a small town in the border belt of Punjab, in aid of global fight against environmental warming. The Graduate Welfare Association of Fazilka (GWAF) has made flexi banners with Guru Nanak’s shabad (holy words) from Gurbani (Sikhs’ book of hymns by the Gurus). These banners would be placed in or around temples and gurdwaras in the town. The shabads state: “Pawan guru pani pita mat dharat mahat, diwas raat dui dai daiyan khele sagal jagat” and “rati ruti thiti var, pawan pani agani patal tus wich dharti thapi dharm saal.” In gist, it ask the followers to keep the earth and environment intact for healthy living and to preserve the health of earth as that of any other member of the family. ‘‘There are many small steps suggested in Gurbani which can have a magnified impact on the lives of people,’’ believed Navdeep Asija, head of GWAF, and brain behind the campaign. The religious angle was given, as the sub-division has a low literacy rate and people are religious-minded, he said. ‘‘It was meant to reach out to the masses,’’ Asija added. An alumnus of IIT Delhi, Asija is doing his bit in his hometown in Fazilka. It could be a small initiative here, but could set an example for the rest of the world to follow. ‘‘It is not a big trouble for Fazilka, but our effort will have a global impact,’’ Asija said. His group would be observing an environment fortnight and would host a seminar conducted by IIT Rurkee’s retired professor Bhupinder Singh soon. Asija told TOI that the group has also registered 56 Fazilka residents who have promised to revert back to bicycle to travel shorter distances and would use fuelrun vehicles only when required urgently. The banners also ask people to use bicycles instead of fuel-run vehicles, solar energy instead of combustible fuels, and refrain from overexploitation of natural resources. In Punjab, where most of the damage to the environment came from the use of chemical fertilisers, vehicular pollution and illegal constructions, these messages seem well placed, as small towns like Fazilka are rapidly picking up the pace of globalisation and of course pollution.

Sikhs hail campaign Asija’s ideas have been well taken by Sikh scholars across the state. ‘‘Most of the words/ideas in Gurbani are still relevant and have a lasting impact in the present context,’’ said a Sikh scholar. Most of the Sikh leaders these days are busy building and breaking relations with Dera, but SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar praised the slogans and said, “Sikh scriptures are well thought out and foresee possible threats to human lives.”

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