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Updated on October 1, 2017

Gandhi Jayanti Celebrated on October 2nd

India has a big air pollution problem. Delhi, the capital city of India, is the most polluted city in the world. The problem is so bad that a 2013 study of non-smokers revealed that "Indians have 30% lower lung function compared to Europeans." This is truly unacceptable.

Two of largest sources of air pollution are vehicle exhaust and fuel and biomass burning. India uses firewood, agricultural waste, and biomass for energy purposes. Cook stoves are a big problem and this is why former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton worked hard to provide funds for cleaner cooking stoves. One of the worst problems is the idling of vehicles during commutes to work places. Emission standards allow people to pollute more in India than in Europe and the United States. This needs to be changed.

India is actually working on reducing air pollution. Many people wear masks to protect their lungs during walks from vehicles to buildings, so the government knows they need to do better. A Mass Rapid Transport System to cut down on the need for citizens to use vehicles is being implemented. Diesel trucks are among the worst polluters on the road. Vehicles older than 15 years have been banned from use. Emission standards have been reduced to a lower level. Lead and sulfur diesel have been banned. People have been encouraged to "covert garbage into compost." More trees have been planted to reduce the effects of global warming. Carpooling is becoming another option. People are encouraged to reduce water pollution by avoiding the use of "chemicals, cleaning products, pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers." Use of alternative green products should be promoted. Baking soda, vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, Bon Ami and Borax should be promoted and encouraged.

Gandhi was a great social activist, organizer and spiritual leader of the Indian Independence Movement. His Appearance Day is celebrated every year on October 2nd. Special individuals, like Gandhi, are honored with the term Jayanti. They are thought to be divine incarnations who simply appear on the scene and are not "born" in the same way most humans are born. Their mothers may go into labor, but usually some divine action happens to show they are not mere mortals, but incarnations of divine aspects.

Air pollution is something Gandhi would have wanted to work on as a social activist. After all the Vedas were the first ecological textbook and one of the sections in the Vedas commands us "not to pollute" the environment.

His activism started in South Africa as a young attorney who advocated for the rights of Indians working in various environments. Eventually he moved back to India and became the spiritual leader of the Indian Independence Movement. His philosophy was the philosophy of non-violence, known as "ahimsa," which means "first do no harm." He was involved with the concept of Satyagrapha, known as "truth force." This means you live the truth. One of his famous quotes explains this philosophy: "Be the change you want to see in the world."

Gandhi is a model for many great social activists. Social work schools teach his methods of social activism. The Chipko Movement, the Indian Ecological Movement, followed his model and used non-violence as a philosophy. These women hugged trees and saved them from the loggers cutting them and destroying the environment.

The Civil Rights Movement also used Gandhi's philosophy of non-violence to achieve its goals. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. studied Gandhi's non-violent methods when he attended seminary before he became a Baptist minister and spiritual leader of the American Civil Rights Movement. Dr. King was successful in helping to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965. When people viewed the police on TV attacking non-violent marchers at Selma, Alabama, many who were women and children, the whole consciousness changed in favor of the Voting Rights Act. The public could not stand to see such treatment and put pressure on President Johnson and Congress to pass the legislation.

The American Ecological Movement was started by the publication of Silent Spring, written by Rachel Carson, a female scientist who wrote on the dangers of DDT. Activists used Gandhi's non-violent methods to protest the water pollution problem. From these protests and the publication of Rachel Carson's research on DDT, environmental legislation was passed to protect the environment.

Gandhi had changed the whole consciousness of the planet by his great philosophy of non-violence, known as "ahimsa", and Satyagrapha, "truth force". Today many activists still use his methods of social activism. His philosophy has influenced modern political candidates and politicians. Right now Minneapolis is having a mayoral campaign in which one of the candidates is using the philosophy of Gandhi, "first do no harm", in his policing position paper. Representative Raymond Dehn has also used a Gandhian fast in support of driver's licenses for immigrants in support of a former state law upholding their basic human rights. He was joined by one of his colleagues, Representative Karen Clark. Minneapolis has a great opportunity to elect a City Council, Mayor and Park Board who support Gandhi's philosophy. These progressive, Our Revolution candidates could change the whole character of the city and even the whole country. It could be a model for the future progress in this country. We only have to go and vote for the change we want to see in the world.




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