“I was 19 when I first met her during Navratri. I immediately asked my cousin if he knew who she was and to introduce me — which he did. The first thing I said to her was, ‘you dance really well’ and from there it all began. I used to wear an artificial limb back then, but I believe that when God takes something away from you, he gives back to you in 10 other ways and for me that has always been my confidence — I’ve never felt handicapped. Our dates were like any other — I still remember the first time I asked her out to a movie and she said, ‘but I’ve never travelled out of Ghatkopar — I won’t be allowed.’ So I told her to tell her parents that she’s going with her friends and that’s where the real burden was — I didn’t mind paying any amount for her, but along with her came a group of 5 friends who I was also paying for! But I was so in love— nothing mattered!
Those were the days — the 90’s pubs like Slip Disc and Blue Nile were the best and we really partied! Our courtship period was around 2 and a half years after which her parents wanted her to get married. Both of us were from similar backgrounds and the same religion but they were vehemently against her marrying someone who was handicapped.
Honestly, I would feel the same way if my daughter asked me to marry someone without a limb, but it was those difficult times that actually made me realise what love really is. Even though I was madly in love with her, I was ready to let her go because I thought that was best for her — her happiness was more important than my own.
I spoke to her and asked her what she wanted to do and to do what’s right for her. She thought about it and spoke to her parents. She told them, ‘If I was married to someone without a handicap, and they got into an accident and lost a limb — would I leave him? I love him and I want to marry only him.’ When they still didn’t agree, I told her that I would do anything for her — I would make all the arrangements and keep her happy for the rest of our lives. That small conversation between us was enough — I picked her up, we got married at Arya Mandhir and the rest as they say is history. Her parents were fine within a few months, but that decision has been the best one. I married a gem — she’s so caring and kind. She has loved and accepted me from day 1. She lifts up and carries people…she’s carried me my entire life.”
“What’s the best part about him?”
“He is the most intelligent and independent man I’ve met. Not having a leg doesn’t stop him from doing anything — he travels abroad almost every other week, he swims, plays table tennis and has done every adventure sport from sky diving to scuba diving. But more than anything, he will do anything to see his family happy. He’s always protected me…limb or no limb — in every way he’s my superman.”
“I was 19 when I first met her during Navratri. I immediately asked my cousin if he knew who she was and to introduce…
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.