Has man drifted away from an Eco-centric to an anthropocentric world, thereby distorting the Dharma of existence? This International Conference,“Ecological and Cultural Cognizance: A Boulevard of Sustainable Amiability,” is an attempt to review, reconstruct and re-harmonise the equation of Nature, Man and Culture — to help chart out a strong path for an organic and sustainable future for man on this planet.
When we speak of ‘ecological cognizance’ what is inevitable is the consciousness of our indigenous traditions: the spiritual, religious and cultural. This can help drive towards a future where science, technology and development go hand in hand for ecological sustainability.
In academics, ‘eco-criticism’ still carries the stamp of an impression of an entrant, but as a literary movement, its development has been gradual and imperceptible. However, this movement has picked up a rapid pace in the United States, resulting in the emergence of organisations like ASLE ( Association for the Study of Literature & Environment ), in 1992.
Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Amritapuri Campus & FSLE - India are happy to come together to explore Ecological Cognizance across various fields of study in this International Conference on Ecology & Culture (ICEC): an earnest attempt to help the inevitable 'consciousness' mentioned above 'blaze forth' in everyone of us.
Ecological consciousness could not have been better encapsulated than in the Sanskrit mantra Tat Tvam Asi, which proclaims the age-old awareness of the unity of everything in creation. A verse which reads,
“Dasha-kūpa-samā-vāpī, Dasha vāpī-samo hrada,
Dasha hrada-samah putra, Dasha putra-samo drumah”
(A pond equals ten wells; a reservoir, ten ponds; a progeny equals ten reservoirs, and a tree equals ten progenies)
underlines the ecological philosophy in ancient traditions.
Nothing in creation is less important, is what every element of myth and landscape, be it the Oriental or the Occidental, the Colonial or any other, cries out. Recent developments in Literature take us to realms of association of Nature with woman – in the various constructs of ‘Deep Ecology’. In addition, the Eco-critics rise to expose the “fissures of Race, Gender and Class” in Environmentalism.
The way the world of man is decapitated today necessitates a paradigm shift in thought process across all individuals, organisations big or small, governments, institutions and nations – everyone who occupies a position of power to tilt the windmills. Environmental crises of gigantic proportions have been triggered by man in his pursuit of ‘progress’. Unless some radical approach is envisaged, even some scientists fear, it looks like, this blue/green planet of ours would get hurled towards a sure-footed man-made disaster – and a point of no return.
Can there be a collective search for paradigms and pathways towards a world that is sustainable, equitable and just? How can such frameworks and visions build on an existing heritage of ideas and world-views and cultures, anchored on practices past or new? How can they be fundamentally different from today’s dominant economic and political systems, which have brought us to the brink of a catastrophic collapse in terms of socio-economic inequalities and despair?
At the crossroads today, we have to decide unerringly on the direction to take if we must have a future on Planet Earth. Even leading scientists of our day concede that the key to man’s progress has now turned a near threat to life on earth itself: science and technology are sending us at a breakneck speed down the road to a dead-end situation.
Coimbatore , India