XLRI- Xavier School of Management recently organized the 7th Dr. Verghese Kurien Memorial Oration. Organized under the aegis of Fr Arrupe Center for Ecology and Sustainability (FACES), XLRI, in memory of the Founder of AMUL, Dr. Verghese Kurien, popularly known as “the Milkman of India,” the oration aims to provide a platform to listen to and learn from thought leaders, social entrepreneurs, development sector professionals and policymakers who have made a significant contribution to the idea of an empowered, prosperous, and sustainable society.
This year, Mr. Ashish Kothari, Eminent Environmental Activist & Founder of Kalpavriksh virtually delivered the oration on the topic “Eco-Swaraj: Recovery towards Justice and Sustainability”.
Delivering the oration on the topic “Eco-Swaraj: Recovery towards Justice and Sustainability” Ashish Kothari said “ In the last one decade there has been a very rapid decimation of forest and other ecosystem for the pursuit of development projects like mining, express ways, mass tourism projects and industries. So we tend to characterize this not as development but as violence, as a form of violence against nature, culture and community, especially those communities who depend the most on nature. Globally we now know that this process of economic growth led development is causing all kind of severe global crises, climate is the one that is being most talked about but there is much more than that”. He also emphasized on the strategy of regional resource based manufacturing that can help in promoting social and environmental wellbeing in India. It is essential for both self-reliance and ecological sustainability and provide dignified livelihood to locals. During the speech Mr Kothari pointed out various type of consumption patterns that are unsustainable and it is a huge challenge to change it as every one of our consumption patterns creating an impact on the earth which collectively becomes completely unsustainable.
In his Address, Mr. Ashish Kothari urges that “One has to be respectful of nature and recognize that other species and earth as a whole also have inherent rights not just because they’re useful for human beings. The principles of Swaraj set out in Gandhi’s texts have never been fully realized. Yet, they continue to resonate through Indian Civic culture to this day in the country’s grassroots environmental movement. Recognizing that living harmoniously with nature is central to Swaraj. Eco-Swaraj is not a movement in itself, but it describes patterns. Juxtaposing Eco-Swaraj with COVID-19 along with other ongoing global crises such as climate, biodiversity, and inequality will provide us an opportunity to rethink what development should really mean”.
In his speech Fr. P. Christie, S. J. Director of XLRI stated, “Dr. Verghese Kurien was an ingenious thinker, a revolutionary, and a social entrepreneur who ideated the world's biggest agricultural development program. Dr. Kurien’s remarkable life and achievements are an embodiment of his faith in the common man's ability to exercise control over his destiny. His life and work exemplify the model for a responsible management leader, combining business skills with the larger good of the society and nation-building. XLRI instituted the oration in his memory to commemorate his legacy through propagating and disseminating the idea of an empowered, equitable and sustainable society.
Fr. P. Christie, S. J. Director of XLRI welcomed Ashish Kothari and said, “We are delighted to have Ashish Kothari to deliver the 7th Dr. Verghese Kurien Memorial Oration this year. His vast work on environmental issues like the environment interface, biodiversity policy, and alternatives would help our students understand the current global environmental issues and inspire them to work for the greater good”.
Prof. Raghuram Tata, Convenor of XLRI’s Fr Arrupe Center for Ecology & Sustainability (FACES) said in his address, “FACES at XLRI was established with the mission to promote practices, policies, and dialogue that have an impact on holistic and sustainable development of society and enterprises. Dr. Verghese Kurien Memorial Oration on Sustainable Development is our humble initiative to pay tribute to the great visionary.”
“The Oration is to commemorate the memory of Dr. Verghese Kurien since, needless to say, that there is no better model for sustainable development - both in terms of his life and legacy - than Dr. Kurien. It is an honor to have Ashish Kothari, a noted environmentalist and Founder of Kalpavriksh, with us to deliver the 7th Dr. Verghese Kurien Oration this year,” Prof. Raghuram Tata further added.
Ashish Kothari is an Indian environmentalist working on environmental & development issues. He is one of the founders of Kalpavriksh, an Indian environmental NGO. He has been associated with peoples' movements like Narmada Bachao Andolan and Beej Bachao Andolan. Kothari has also been a teacher of the environment at the Indian Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi. He has also been a guest faculty at several universities and institutes and Mellon Fellow at Bowdoin College, USA.
Ashish Kothari has been a member of the Steering Committees of the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) and IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic, and Social Policy (CEESP) from 1998 to 2008. He has also been a co-chair of IUCN Inter-commission Strategic Direction on Governance, Equity, and Livelihoods concerning Protected Areas (TILCEPA) from 1998 to 2008. Ashish Kothari has also served on the steering group or governing board of the CBD (Convention on Biodiversity) Alliance, the ICCA Consortium, and Greenpeace International. At present, he is the chairman of Greenpeace India's Board.
Ashish Kothari has also worked as members of quite a few Government of India committees, including Environmental Appraisal Committee on River Valley Projects of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the committee to Assess Implementation of the Forest Rights Act, and Committees to draft design the National Wildlife Action Plan and India's Biological Diversity Act. He coordinated the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan process in India commissioned by the Government of India. Kothari is currently coordinating the Vikalp Sangam (Alternatives Confluence) a process that provides a forum for organizations and individuals working on development alternatives across India to come together. Since early 2016 Ashish is co-coordinator of the Academic-Activist Co-produced Knowledge for Environmental Justice (ACKnowl-EJ) project, an international, multi-partner process sponsored by the International Social Science Council.
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