We will survive as a society in diversity, or we will not survive in peace and stability.
I have just finished offering a course on Earth Democracy at Navdanya’s Earth University in beautiful Doon Valley, surrounded by fields of mustard and wheat, greens and chickpeas, linseed and fenugreek. It was inspiring to have people of all faiths, all ages and all vocations joining to find unity in diversity through our Earth Citizenship and our common humanity.
We live in times of deep ecological, economic, and cultural insecurity. The earth’s ecosystems and society’s ecosystems have always been fragile-woven gently through delicate relationships and balances. This web of life is being ruptured by an economic ideology of greed and limitless growth on a planet with ecological limits. The social fabric is being torn apart by the insecurities growing from ecological and economic displacement, which is rendered invisible in the growth paradigm, and an opportunistic political ideology of divide and conquer that feeds on these insecurities.
India is a land rich in diversity, both cultural and biological. Just as the forest is diverse, Indian civilisation has evolved in diversity. Indian civilisation is based on the principle of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam-the earth as one family, inclusive not just of all humans in their ethnic, cultural, religious, gender diversity, but all species in their biological diversity and splendor.
And like biodiversity, our cultural diversity grows from the soil. Our sense of self is rooted in the soil and the earth, pluralistic, inclusive, all embracing. Our food, our languages, our clothes change across this beautiful and bountiful land called “Hindustan”-the land
beyond the Indus. “Hindu” is a geographical indicator.
And till the British colonisers created the census based on mutual exclusion of “Hindu” and “Muslim”, people identified themselves in non exclusive ways. There was no excluded middle between Kashmiri Sufism and Kashmiri Shaivism till the recent rise of extremism and exclusion in the valley.