A century and a half; remembering Gandhi

Ashish Kothari talking to students of Measi Academy

Environmentalist movements in India have been inspired by Gandhian ideas like non-violence and civil disobedience, said environmentalist, Ashish Kothari, on Tuesday.

Kothari is the founder of environmental organisation Kalpavriksh. He spoke at an event, Where Gandhi Still Lives at Measi Academy of Architecture in celebration of the 150 years since Gandhi’s birth. Laws like Right to Education were made thanks to Gandhian movements, he added.

Referring to the earliest environmentalist movement, Kothari said that the protests about the cutting of trees in Aarey forests, Mumbai, addressed the basic question of justice – not anti-metro but pro-forest – and thus, was Gandhian in nature.

“You don’t need to destroy the environment to get power,” he said.

Kothari talked about Gandhi’s mantra of truth and said that today’s media is failing on that front.

“When the Narmada protests took place, the incident was covered by every news channel. Who knows what is happening in Kashmir today? The spirit of empathy is lacking in us as a society,” said Kothari.

According to Kothari, the concept of kaccha-pakka (imperfect-perfect) infrastructure was a colonial notion that discouraged students from learning traditional architecture.

“A pastoral Kutchch can teach you as much as your teachers,” he said.

This event was covered by Vallari Sanzgiri and Srishti Lakhotia from ACJ print batch 2020.