The Mediterranean Sea is no stranger to refugees making dangerous journeys to European shores. However, the influx of refugees has sharply increased in the past few months due to worsening situations in Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Kosovo and Afghanistan. Fleeing from persecution, 350,000 refugees entered European Union borders since January 2015 alone. This number does not include the many that go undetected or fail to complete the journey.
In most cases, escape from the regions of conflict is as dangerous as remaining in the region. Traffickers and pillagers infest the escape routes and kidnappings, rapes and abductions are common. There is also the crippling financial burden and natural obstacles. More than 2,600 refugees have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea this year alone.
Refugees don’t normally opt for Gulf states closer to home owing to high costs and restrictions imposed on them. Most refugees take the route through the Western Balkans or the Eastern Mediterranean route. Greece, Italy and Spain are the major receiving points. Germany has received the highest number of applications for asylum while Hungary has taken in more refugees than any other European country.
The tragedies and hardships faced by the refugees cannot be explained in words. Earlier this week, the body of a 3-year-old boy, Aylan Kurdi, was found washed up on the shores of a town in Turkey. He was one of the Syrians who drowned trying to reach Greek shores. The photo of his body swept up on the beach went viral on social media, prompting many to question how Europe would handle what has become the biggest migration crisis in living memory.
For years, the European Union has struggled to harmonize its asylum policies – a monumental task as it is comprised of 28 countries. However, passionate championship of refugees’ rights is not widespread due to a stagnant economy, dissimilar policies and rising unemployment among Europeans. This has led to steadily increasing anti-immigration sentiments. Tensions are rising as extremist nationalist groups are spreading propaganda and unrest among the population, attacking refugees and instilling fear among the locals. The Hungarian Prime Minister, for example, warned, “Europe is in the grip of madness … the influx of Muslim refugees poses a threat to Europe’s Christian identity.”
We are facing the worst humanitarian crisis of our time. Syria is an example of how religious extremism can wreck havoc on innocents. The UN estimates that there could be 4.27 million Syrian refugees by the end of 2015 – one of the worst exoduses in history.
We must sympathize with the thousands of men, women and children who are fleeing destruction, and we must also understand that European nations face several problems when trying to relocate and rehabilitate refugees. Striking the perfect chord between positive politics and humanitarian help will be a titanic challenge, but a challenge of infinite importance. Whatever be our opinion or nationality, we must not forget that innocent people’s lives are hanging in the balance.
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.