Hi! I’m Dev Maru. I am 36 years old and this incident happened when I was around 7 or 8. I am from Ahmedabad, Gujarat, a communally volatile city. I used to live with my maama & maami (Uncle & Aunt) then since my dad had a transferrable job as a news reader at Akashwani. I had morning shifts in school (Nelson’s English School Khanpur, Ahmedabad), which was at a distance of around 5 kilometers from my place. For a school starting at 7:30 in the morning, my school rickshaw used to pick me up at around 6:15 am every day. The route was so twisted that I used to be the last kid to be dropped home after school. I forgot to mention that my rickshaw driver was a Muslim. I was too young to know anything beyond that.
On one particular day, everything went on as usual. After school, we were on our way back home making merry in the rickshaw. There was a sense of urgency in the behavior of our rickshaw driver. He was tensed. (Which we, as kids then, obviously did not notice). He dropped everyone home except me. He took a different route, unknown to me. It was much later than the time I usually got home. He finally parked his rickshaw in front of a house in a narrow gully with houses on both the sides. It was his home in a Muslim predominant community. Since I was too young to suspect the situation, I was perfectly fine with it.
Inside his house, he lifted me up and took me upstairs in a dark room with wooden windows. He then took a peek at the streets through the window and shut them close. I am surprised to remember that I wasn’t scared at that moment. He left the room and a while later his wife came up with some food. I ate some, but I was getting worried. During that time, there was no phone facility either. After a couple of hours, he finally came to me again and asked me to change my clothes. I did that reluctantly. He had a pathani and a Muslim skull cap on. I kept asking him, “why is this happening, what is going on”?. Without answering to any of my questions, he took my school bag and put it in a sack.
We left his house in a different rickshaw this time. It was almost evening and the whole city was looking bizarre and deserted. There were burning tires and stones on the road. I could also see some burnt scooters and rickshaws. He took some tight streets avoiding the main roads. It must have been an hour before he stopped in front of a cinema hall near my house and asked me to change back into my school uniform, he too changed into a non-Muslim outfit. We left the place and literally ran for the next 10 minutes before he knocked on my door. On seeing me, my nana (grandmother), and maami were in tears. The rickshaw driver had taken me to his home to keep me safe, as the city was burning in communal riots and it was not safe for him to go to a Hindu predominant area in broad daylight. My Maami offered him a monetary reward which he politely refused.
Right now I’m in the USA, having no idea how to thank him for his kind, selfless, and heroic deed.
I do not even know his name, but I cannot think of anything greater done for the betterment of humanity.
I do not want this gesture to be lost in time, I think it deserves to be told.
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.