Whole Life Magazine

December / January 2016

Issue link: https://digital.copcomm.com/i/759264

Contents of this Issue


Page 41 of 43

42 wholelifetimes.com Photo: Courtesy of Navdanya B orn in 1952 in Dehra Dun, my childhood was spent in the Himalayan forests with my father, a forest conservator, and with my mother, on the farm she was setting up after becoming a refugee from the partition of the subcontinent. From my parents I learned a love for nature and respect for people, irrespective of gender, class, caste, or religion. My parents were feminists far before the word had very much currency. My maternal grandfather had given his life for girls' education. He went on a fast to have a college for rural girls. Our parents were also active in fi ghting against caste discrimination, and they adopted the name 'Shiva' to eliminate their caste identity. Every child has dreams, and my dream was to understand nature and how it worked. Einstein was my inspiration, both for his contributions to physics and his understanding of the social responsibility of science. In 1979, when I was leaving for Canada to do a Ph.D. in Foundations of Quantum Theory, I went to visit some of my favourite childhood spots in the Himalayas—to walk in the forests and swim in the streams. But the forests were gone. The streams had disappeared. It was as if part of my extended body had been dismembered. That is the moment I realized the huge violence being done to the Earth, and decided to commit myself to the protection of Mother Earth. Around that time, the women of my region were rising to stop deforestation and ecological destruction. They spontaneously started the Chipko movement and so I committed myself to that. The women activists of Chipko became my professors of biodiversity and ecology. I realized through Chipko that my sisters in the Himalayas are also experts and that their knowledge is as valid as the knowledge of those who go to universities. With them I learnt lessons of humility, diversity, and pluralism. I have always said that I received one Ph.D. from the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, and a second one from the forests of the Himalayas and women of the Chipko movement. Both taught me about interconnectedness and non-separability. The women of Chipko taught me the relationship between forests, soil, water, and women's sustenance economies. In 1984, the year of the Bhopal disaster and the Punjab violence, I decided to study the Green Revolution as part of the UNU program. The Green Revolution had received a Nobel Peace Price, but all we were witnessing was violence. Quantum training allowed me to understand the Green Revolution at the systems level, and I realized farm productivity had declined, not increased. So I dedicated myself to the promotion of an ecological, sustainable, and just agriculture. In 1987, when I was invited to a conference on biotechnology called Laws of Life, the agrichemical industry laid out their vision: to genetically engineer seeds to own them through patents, and to impose patents on seeds and life forms globally through the trade treaty which became the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights Agreement (TRIPS) of the WTO. That is the day I decided to defend biodiversity, save seeds, and work for seed freedom by establishing Navdanya. Navdanya has helped establish 120 community seed banks, helped more than 500,000 farmers with awareness around Bija Swaraj (Seed Sovereignty) and Anna Swaraj (Food Sovereignty) and training on agroecology and organic farming. I also continued my research on agriculture and food systems, on globalization and intellectual property, and on biosafety and biotechnology. I have worked with peasants and presidents. I have worked with movements and governments. I have worked locally and globally. For me, diversity is both the means and the end. I have travelled 40 years on an Earth journey, both with communities on the ground and with movements and leaders across the world, learning from nature and people, and growing through creative action and struggle. To all my teachers I express deep gratitude. My conscience and a passion for truth has always been my guide in making the shifts and taking the turns in this long and inspiring journey. I have received many awards and honorary doctorates but the real reward is the satisfaction I have of spending a lifetime serving the Earth and her community, with my conscience as my guide. A fi lm based upon her life, The Seeds of Vandana Shiva, will be released in 2017. Vandana will be appearing at the Conscious Life Expo in February. www.consciouslifeexpo.com backwords MY EARTH JOURNEY By Dr. Vandana Shiva From the Forest to the Quantum to the Seed

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Whole Life Magazine - December / January 2016