Last few centuries and specially last few decades has seen rapid growth of cities. People keep shifting from small towns and rural areas for better job opportunities, education, healthcare and with the belief that living in big cities means one has really arrived. 

But is this really true? With small houses where everyone is crammed together giving one hardly any space to spread their arms and legs, let alone live peacefully. The smoke the vehicles and factories causing rising pollution with seasonal apocalyptic smogs. Constant din of noises causing noise pollution. A large percentage of population has grown used to this living, enough though it is slowly slowly eating them up. A small sensitive population recognize this issue, yet due to lack of opportunities in smaller towns suffer. The migrant population which moves here earn better than earlier but with huge rents, higher cost of living hardly save anything. 

Cut to 2020 a global pandemic something the world hasn’t seen in decades. In addition to it the concept of lockdown. Migrant population moving back to their villages in droves. IT and other MNC offices closed for long periods and young population move back to their home towns to save rent, get home made food, space to walk around. Pollution level in cities also go down mainly due to polluting industries being closed, no vehicular population and reduced population. The materialistic and lethargic lifestyle leading to obese, diabetic, heart patients prone to illness. 

Was this a signal of nature to correct the way we live, the burden it had to face – led to it being diseased (As the concept of Gaia considers earth as  living organism), so too Vedas. Since humans and nature connected, a diseased earth will have repercussions to humans and in a way they get learning of what is important to them, what the are doing in name of materialism and development. They cut down trees, and now Oxygen is the most important requirement of covid patients. It may sound like nature is ruthless, but maybe it is just doing as warning so a greater disaster may not unfold.

The Vedas emphasize that the life processes on Earth are not anthropocentric (human centered) but eco-centric (where are all the organisms are interrelated to each other). Hence, each organism or element has a role to play to keep everything balanced. When we learn to live in harmony with nature for holistic development. 

What is the solution – Governments must sit together to change the way they see development, building of cities, creating employment opportunities. The great ‘work from home’ experiment showed companies do not big offices in metros, they can give permanent work from home facility to employees to better still have mini offices or share office spaces in smaller towns to reduce rental and administrative expenses. This would also lead to more spending in smaller townships and thus need strong support of government Group of like minded people also need to realize and take steps in the direction with or without government support. 

Concept of self sustaining eco townships could be one small way bring about a change. Such cities which focus on principles of low carbon footprint, community living, residential and office housing made of eco friendly materials only, better waste management, water conservation, solar/wind energy, alternative schooling/education, vedic community centres, organic farming, healthcare focused on mix of allopathy, Ayurveda, herbal, robotic diagnostics, smart traffic management, cottage industries could be an excellent way to bring together ancient and modern best practices of living and be a beacon of hope for the society. Another importance of such townships is in case of pandemics they can rely on their own self reliant essentials at least for some period till things get better or at least reduce reliance from other place for commodities. It would also be easier to track and trace issues and infected people and outside pople could be quarantined more easily. This was recently shown by villagers of Mana village next to badrinath where they did not allow outside visitors to visit on their own and without government regulations. It effected their economy but not a single case of covid was found there.

Such an idea may not reach a critical mass soon, or solve earth’s problems, but at least like minded people can show the world this is also how one can live.

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Kapil Nautiyal

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