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Nurturing nature

chandigarh Updated: Aug 14, 2013 09:35 IST

My maternal grandmother is a septuagenarian but is more fit and active than most people half her age. After all, she enjoys a perfect relationship with nature. She doesn't feel comfortable away from the natural world. No wonder she isn't fond of cities and loves her village home. She believes the village keeps her connected to nature.

So when she visits our city home from the ancestral one in the village of Butala, she makes it a point to inform us that she would be sleeping on the terrace, where she can savour fresh air under the star-studded sky. She says it adds charm to her sleep. Many a times, she would term our rooms and kitchen suffocating. We failed to convince her to sleep in one of our air-conditioned rooms. She would say that the farther one got from nature's lap, the more health problems one invited.

She has been to a couple of European countries and while sharing her experiences she loves to point out how Switzerland won her heart. The reason: nature is at its best there. The lush landscape is full of lakes and rivers besides of course the scenic Alps. She says that the best thing about the Swiss is that they respect the natural resources their country has been blessed with. Do we respect natural resources in our country in the same manner? Deforestation has not come down, rivers are polluted at will, the rising number of automobiles and growing number of factories emit toxic fumes that continue to pollute the air unchecked. It seems no one cares.

Former Czechoslovakia president Vaclav Havel once said, "People thought they could explain and conquer nature - yet the outcome is that they destroyed it and disinherited themselves from it.

There is lot to learn from responsible citizens such as the Swiss. If we want, we can respect our natural resources. Of course, we can keep the rivers clean, avoid air pollution and grow trees.

American political leader Robert G. Ingersoll rightly said, "In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments - there are consequences." Without realising, we disturb nature in various ways as we assume that it will remain silent forever. We forget that the day it breaks its silence, it can shatter everything. The recent deluge and disaster in Uttarakhand was a bitter lesson from nature.

Let us take inspiration from those who respect nature. We could look up to an activist or even a member of the family, just as I look up to my grandmother, Swaran Kaur Bal. On every birthday, she plants a sapling and nurtures it. It is a tradition that we have imbibed. Punjab is proud of environmentalists Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal and Baba Sewa Singh. Baba Seechewal of Sultanpur Lodhi has cleared the holy rivulet of Kali Bein that was once choking with water hyacinth, while Baba Sewa Singh of Khadoor Sahib has planted thousands of saplings across the country. They have won accolades for their service to nature but let's not forget the motivation took root long before the recognition.

Let's make a beginning now for what better season to nurture nature than this.