Gujarat’s well-known literary critic and activist Padmashri Professor Ganesh Devy, who recently returned his Sahitya Akademi award as a mark of protest against the “rising intolerance towards differences of opinion” and in solidarity with other writers, said Friday that sustainability in development could not be achieved if diversities shrank and artificial memory replaced human consciousness. Stating that democracies world over had become “dictatorial”, Devy said the imposition of homogeneity on diversity was a threat to the society.
Delivering the inaugural lecture at the National Conference on Innovating for Development and Sustainability, organised by Navrachna University in Vadodara, Devy shared the linguistic interpretation of the word “sustainability”, while driving home the point that “innovation with consciousness” is essential for any physical development to be sustainable. Throughout his 30-minute lecture to an audience that comprised development researchers, architects and academicians, Devy stressed on the need for “spiritual sustainability” and breaking the dogmas of faith. Devy quoted the Shwetashvatara Upanishad, in relation to the present situation of “dictatorial democracies” and said, “The Shwetashavatara Upanishad mentions sustainability. It speaks of thinking of three things, namely, who created everything, who causes the creation to move and what does the conscience respond to. If we keep these three things together, the world that would best describe the state of thought is sustainability.” Devy said that although the word “sustainability” was a relatively “younger word in colloquial language”, it was “brutal” to impose equality in an unequal society. “The ideal is good but not practical. The most brutal thing is to impose equality on unequals. However, the road (to spiritual sustainability) is long, but we have a choice to make whether we go ahead or terminate. It’s a moral responsibility we have and are likely to choose sensibly,” Devy said.
He also cited an example from the teachings of Sri Aurobindo, quipping that he was not giving the example of “a propagator of religion, but a philosopher”. Devy said, “Sri Aurobindo has said, in the process of evolution which is irreversible, we have moved from matter to mind. Now we have to move from mind to supramental consciousness. But Aurobindo was not a propagator of religion or like those people who I do not want to name. Today, we have come to a point where artificial memory will soon replace human memory.” Devy said it would be impossible to achieve the physical state of sustainable development if diversity is not allowed to breathe. “Our diversities are shrinking. Homogenisation is being imposed and democracies have become dictatorial, world over. The poor cannot be forced to think of sustainability. We have to achieve a cosmic consciousness. And innovation in consciousness is essential for sustainability,” Devy said.