Africa’s south-eastern country Malawi ranks 8th out of the 20 countries having highest rate child marriages. On average, one out of two girls in Malawi is married by their eighteenth birthday according to the United Nations. Poverty, teenage pregnancy, traditions and cultures that tolerate violence against girls and women and their subordination, and lack of adequate education and employment opportunities are the reasons for such high rates of child marriages. However, the ray of hope still shines in the form of Theresa Kachindamoto, Malawi’s child marriage terminator. Kachindamoto works to terminate this gruesome yet highly prevalent practice in Malawi, where girls as young as twelve years of age get married and also become mothers. If it is not enough, girls are sent to sexual initiation camps where they have to go through certain “cleansing rituals” and are taught how to please their husbands. In a place as where people are financially unstable, the intervention of the chiefs (traditional authority figures) in matters of socio-economic importance is not met well with the community. But being fully aware and deeply troubled by the fate of the girls of her native land, Theresa chose to be the chief of Dedza district and was determined to make amends. She began spreading awareness about education and the need to make girls well educated. She pleaded with the parents to discontinue the practice of sending their daughters to the initiation camps, and pleaded them to send the girls to schools instead. The hurdles faced by her in the due process came in the form of the parents. They consider their girls to be a burden and do all it takes to marry off the girls as soon as possible, to alleviate their financial crisis. They failed to comprehend what Kachindamoto wished to preach them. How could investing huge sums of money in their daughter’s education uplift their financial conditions? And could they even manage to pay for their education with their meagre salaries? These were the questions in the parent’s minds. When Kachindamoto realised that revolutionising the mentality was not achievable, she decided to revolutionise the law instead. She has not only banned the cleansing rituals but has also passed a law forbidding marriage before the age of 18. She is now striving to amend the age to that of 21. She has assigned 50 sub-chiefs who serve the purpose of annulling the existing marriages and abolishing child marriage entirely. Theresa is firm and resolute in her actions and vows to be chief till she dies. In her noble stance, she has drawn together the entire community along with the sub-chiefs and the charities to bring about a change in the land they call home.
The Logical Indian supports the initiative taken by Theresa Kachindamoto and we wish her all the success in alleviating the gruesome practice of child marriages in Malawi. Child marriage can not be a solution to problems, it destroys the lives of children taking away their access to education, freedom and childhood.
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.