Has Goa become moral compass for the world?
The Government of Goa has done the sensible thing by withdrawing plans to set up an IIT Goa in the cashew growing Melauli village, at the Western Ghats.
And the local people have done well by protesting and bringing attention to their life-style choices. Both deserve congratulations, although one waits to see what happens to the IIT project.
These events are not just local governance-they are the Indian parables for our climate-change stricken era, the moral compass of our tired times.
The year 2020 was not only marked by Covid-19. It was also the hottest year recorded, according to NASA. It is climate change that is at play-swifter and harsher than we collectively realized.
In this context, Goa’s collective decision not to build the Indian Institute of Technology bears a profound lesson for the world.
If you’ve been following the discussions, one of the constant refrains is of the villagers wanting to tend their land, their cashew plantations.
They don’t want potentially well-paying jobs working at IIT, they don’t want to leave agriculture. They want to nurture the land. They want to continue belonging to the land, the water, the forests. They are asking to live a low carbon footprint.
Globally, we have much to learn from the people of Melauli-morally and economically, if we want to fight climate change with any success.
Profession apart, by protecting the world’s biodiversity hotspot, the Western Ghats, they could prevent extinctions, potential floods and the full impact of freak weather events. We are all beneficiaries. Let’s give them a high five.
(The writer is Founder and Director, Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group)
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