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Equitable human progress in harmony with ecology need of the hour
  Kathmandu      February 06 2024

Nava Thakuria 

Guwahati:  Ancient wisdom views human beings as an integral part of the natural ecosystem, rather than its masters and this it advocates for equitable human progress achieved in harmony with ecology, said Dibrugarh Declaration 2024, adopted on the concluding day of 8th International Conference and Gathering of the Elders of Ancient Traditions. Organised by the International Center for Cultural Studies (ICCS) at Dibrugarh in northeast India, the conference (28 January to 1 February) witnessed the participation of 125 foreign delegates from 33 countries representing their ancient traditional wisdom, where they highlighted three major agendas  namely reviving traditions, ecological knowledge and collaborative governance.

"Humanity has experienced remarkable advancements in the past century, thanks to modern science & technology. The fulfillment of material needs and creation of comforts for a significant portion of the population are undeniable achievements. However, growing economic disparity, escalating mental health issues, and the alarmingly increasing levels of environmental degradation pose significant challenges," said the important declaration, adding that recognizing the positive aspects of achieved material progress, the gathering pointed out that a predominantly human-centric development leads to the imbalance.

The declaration emphasized on promoting an ecofriendly lifestyle, prioritizing the well-being of both humanity and the environment by the children of Mother Earth. It also recognized an urgent need for the practitioners of all ancient traditions to be more effectively organized. With the blessings of the ancestors and guidance from the elders, it's believed that a selfless, transparent, and accountable social leadership can emerge. To achieve this, a robust mechanism for consensus-based decision making and conflict resolution should be established, stated the declaration insisting on an urgent need to revive and promote the ancient traditions in all corners of the world.

Moreover, the idea of shared sustainable prosperity should be promoted for the well-being of humanity and ecology, said the declaration, adding that initiatives should be taken to conduct community programs promoting compassion, patience, and ethical conduct. Moreover, documenting oral traditions and recognising the ancient knowledge systems, the  human race should be encouraged to engage in  responsible production and consumption with equitable distribution of resources. It also advocated the individuals pursuing ancient traditions to interact more and understand each other in a better way as well network, cooperate, and collaborate on common larger issues.

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's Sarkaryavah Dattatreya Hosabale, while addressing the valedictory function, also commented that sustainable development can be ensured only through sustainable consumption. While the prosperity should be shared equitably, the earning and distribution remain the core philosophy in every society, governed by the ancient wisdom, asserted  Hosabale, adding that  the ancient traditions are the only ones on the planet to have recognized feminine divinity and  these traditions emphasise family values and sustainable living in a common way of life. Highlighting on the sustainable prosperity, he also asserted that it must not happen at the cost of Mother Earth's exploitation.

Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu, who was also present on the occasion, revealed that his State has 26 tribes who are lived in harmony for centuries. The saffron leader declared that preservation and promotion of indigenous culture remains the policy of his government and it inspired the authority to establish  three Gurukuls to preserve the indigenous tribal traditions.  His deputy  Chowna Mein informed that the government has already increased the budget for development and preservation of cultural traditions. Admiring the indigenous peoples for preserving the environment and ecology, he highlighted the initiative to revive the system of tribal priests in the State.

Earlier addressing the inaugural session, RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat insisted on conserving the environment, culture and ancient faiths for the benefit of the human race. Bhagwat noted that many theories and isms came up from individualism which didn't consider society important to communism that considered society as supreme, but with no space for individual bliss and social peace.  All theories necessarily focused on material prosperity, he stated, adding that religions evolved to find out solutions also failed. He also pointed out that the United Nations in 1951 talked about scrapping of ancient philosophies and disintegration of ancient social institutions for economic progress but  in 2013, the same UN  admitted that integration of culture into development policies was necessary for a sustainable global development.

Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma in his speech informed that his government had formed a separate department for preserving, promoting and nurturing indigenous faiths. In presence of Shashi Bala, president of ICCS-Bharat, a new academic and research journal  focusing on history, anthropology and governance was also launched. A souvenir with insightful articles and highlights of earlier conferences was also released.  On the inaugural day, a splendid procession with the delegates from various  countries with traditional attires along with devotional dances by the  tribes of north-eastern region passed through the streets of eastern Assam town  to mesmerise the onlookers. The main program began with lighting of auspicious lamps, followed by religious prayers of eight representatives of ancient faiths from seven continents.