Aruna Shanbaug (1948 – 2015) – A name that will be remembered by all of us. A name that gave up on life today.
Aruna worked as a junior nurse in the King Edward Memorial (KEM) hospital, Parel, Mumbai. On the unfateful night of November 27, 1973, Aruna was changing her uniform after finishing her duty when the sweeper, Sohanlal Bhartha Valmiki, grabbed her with an intention to rape her. Unable to do so because of her menstruation, he put a dog chain around her neck and sodomized her. When he twisted the chain in order to immobilize her, it unfortunately blocked the oxygen flow to her brain, throwing her into a state of coma. Next day, she was found lying on the floor by a fellow worker.
The culprit, Sohanlal, was arrested but wasn’t charged for rape or sodomy since the doctors who examined her stayed mum about the anal rape as instructed by the hospital Dean. Sohanlal was convicted of assault and robbery for which he was sentenced to two concurrent 7-year imprisonments; but, such was the mockery of life that he completed his term and was set free from the prison, whereas, all that was left of Aruna was a screaming, vegetative body. Over the last 42 years, she had become so fragile that her bones would break if held awkwardly, her teeth had decayed, and she had no sense of awareness or sight. She was a virtually dead person, living her life on the support of the ventilator.
Could anything have been done to end her misery? Yes. The answer is euthanasia or mercy killing. It is the step the court could’ve taken when Aruna’s friend Pinki Virani filed a petition in the court to euthanize Aruna, but the court rejected the appeal stating that even though Pinki has been a good friend of Aruna, the hospital staff that has been taking her care for the past so many years for day and night have a better chance to be called her next friend, and that their opinion to not euthanize Aruna will be taken into consideration.
Aruna Shanbaug suffered a cardiac arrest today morning and she finally gave up on life after fighting for 42 long years. Aruna was 67 years old and in the past 42 years, had shown very few signs of improvement. If we look closely at the case, her joyful spirit had already left her body on the horrific night of 27th November 1973, it was just her body that gave up today morning.
She will always be remembered through time and our hearts will always break a little on hearing her name.
For the first time, there is peace in hearing about the end of a life because sometimes, it is only death that can bring an end to someone’s sufferings.
Even at 76, Pradip Burman, the zestful chairman of Mobius Foundation radiates a contagious enthusiasm when he is talking about sustainability. The environmental crusader, better known to many as the great-grandson of Dabur founder Dr S.K.Burman, has devoted substantial attention towards promoting the concept of sustainability in all aspects of life. He refuses to conform to the convenience and comfort in today’s world which ultimately adds on to the adverse effects of climate change.
Talking to The Logical Indian, Burman emphasised why sustainability as a concept is indispensable for us. “We ought to be aware of what lies ahead of us. Soon we will finish the oil, iron, tin, and coal, and our next generations will be left with nothing. Recycling, banning plastics, stop felling trees for paper… This should become a part of everyone’s lifestyle,” he urges.
Traditional wisdom and modern research
A mechanical engineer from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA, Burman had always nurtured a keen interest in helping the society, as evident from his graduation project of designing a sonic aid for the visually challenged, which detected obstacles in the way using ultrasonic wave signals.
As an executive for the nature-centric company Dabur, Burman has always opted for natural alternatives to solve his everyday problems like taking Ayurvedic medicine to cure his Arthritis. He later launched the veterinary wing for Dabur – Ayurvet – which provides nature-friendly solutions for animal health care.
A patron of the ancient scientific wisdom of India, Burman always hailed the confluence of “traditional knowledge and modern research”, which he advocated as the Ayurvet motto.
As part of the CSR initiative of Dabur, Pradip Burman founded SUNDESH (Sustainable Development Society) which has been tirelessly working for last 25 years in remote villages for uplifting the rural communities in an environmentally sustainable way.
An advocate of sustainability
Burman believes that sustainability is the indispensable mantra for the world at present. Due to uncontrolled utilisation of the planet’s resources by human beings, the world today stands at a juncture of destabilisation. Today the human race has reached the pinnacle of progress but the advancement is happening in a very unsustainable manner.
Through energy-efficient use of everyday essentials like transport, communication, altered habits of diet, clothing and daily living, some crusaders of sustainability try to reduce their carbon footprint. Pradip Burman’s Mobius Foundation is one of the forerunners toward sustainability goals.
Mobius Foundation aims to change the sustainability dynamics
In 2015, Burman paved the way for the start of Mobius Foundation, focused on sustainability. Named after 18th-century German mathematician August Ferdinand Mobius, the famous Mobius strip has an important philosophical significance. The extraordinary shape symbolises balance and union.
Similar is the essence of Mobius Foundation which wishes to enhance the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” principle to a widespread basis in India, helping generations to come.
Founder Pradip Burman wishes to achieve notable development in education, population stabilisation and renewable energy projects.
A dream school in the making
At Coorg, Pradip Burman’s Mobius Foundation is constructing the World Environment School, Coorg (WESc) where the curriculum will surpass the boundaries of books and classrooms, with a special focus on hands-on learning in close collaboration with the environment. Amidst the pristine natural beauty of Coorg, the school will nurture young minds to grow up into future green leaders. As of now, the school will be open to teenagers, welcoming students from standards 6 to 12.
Needless to say, World Environment School will be the first-of-its-kind not only in India but also in entire South Asia. The school is expected to start from March 2020.
The school promises to nurture the responsible behaviour of citizens of our future.
The Sustainability Conference of 2019
In 2019, the Mobius Foundation has planned an international conference, on the lines of the celebrated earth summits over the past decade. The 2019 International Conference on Sustainability Education (ICSE 2019) aims to bring together environmental activists, practitioners of sustainable development as well as climate change experts to help develop a sustainability-focused curriculum.
It is surmised that the conference will give a platform to innovative concepts of Sustainability Education including an essential change in the existing education system ensuring a wholesome personal development for a student.
The Sustainability crusader
The Mobius founder strongly believes that it is high time to sprout sustainability awareness among a society drowning in consumerism and unknowingly doing irreparable harm to the planet, every second. The best way to achieve this goal is through education which is available to all. At present, the education system is predominantly career-oriented, making the learners a victim of materialism, and thus, their dreams are also outlined in those colours.
Living beyond the limits
When asked about his wish to attain the age of hundred, he strongly asserts that more than becoming a centurion, he wishes his life and work continue to better the society even in his absence. “I have lived my life. I wish that whatever I start before I go, will continue – for the betterment of my country,” says Mr Pradip Burman.
He is also a trustee of the Climate Reality Project – India (affiliated to Mr. Al Gore of the Climate Reality Project Foundation, USA). Climate Reality Project, India, has been actively engaged igniting the spark and spreading the message of climate change amongst educators, policy makers and civil society. The India branch looks after more than 500 trained Climate Leaders, and more than 900 volunteers spread all over the country.
In his journey, Pradip Burman has been a beacon of hope for millions, motivating many to join the movement for sustainability. We wish he continues his tireless efforts for promoting sustainability awareness and inspire generations to come.