The Ganga paradox: Time has come to wash away our sins committed against our holy Ganga

The river is more than an amenity, it is a treasure; so is our Ganga a.k.a Ganges. Being the longest flumen, it had been and continues to be, a lifeline for the Indian subcontinent. Within the religious realm of Hinduism, it is looked upon as the most sacred river and is personified as the mother goddess, the ‘Ganga Mata’.

Also, adherents of Hinduism have strong beliefs that bathing in the pious water of the Ganges, helps in doing away with all sins; it also helps in attaining the path of ‘moksha’. Additionally, its abundant water’s ability to cater to irrigation needs of diverse crops, fertility of soil on its banks, and varieties of fisheries make it the most celebrated river among others.

To no surprise, this history-old treasure is on the ceaseless decline; and sooner or later it would be completely robbed.

The existence of river Ganga as a hub of hydro-resource, as a holy river, as ‘Ganga Mata’ or as a ‘living entity is filled with paradoxes. The reasons attributed for these paradoxes are many; but all of them boils down to a single factor and i.e. insensitive, ignorant, pro-industrial, pro-capitalist, pro- uni-dimensional development, and an anti-environment attitude of highly evolved creatures on earth, i.e. ‘the humans’.

These paradoxes associated with the sacred Ganga are human-driven in every sense. We humans, if ranked based on our attitude towards environmental entities; would surpass every criterion negatively.

Looking upon the first paradox, it exposes the double standards of every such individual who calls the Ganga river their ‘maa’ (mother) and on the other hand, is contributing towards incessant toxification of the river at an unprecedented pace. It is our, nobody else’s belief of Ganga being a sacred river and it is our actions, nobody else’s of making Ganga the most polluted river.

Satirically, Ganges is not considered sacred by everyone across the globe, owing to different beliefs; but its pollution levels are recognized and accepted globally.

The second paradox highlights the difference in treatment that Ganga gives to all human beings and what it gets back. The perennial river ‘Ganga’, had selflessly aided and served humans throughout history and is continuously doing so, without retaliation and compensation; whilst, our behavior is underlined by our parochial and selfish deeds.

Thirdly, if we go by the beliefs of many and in particular Uttarakhand High Court’s 2017 judgment (although overruled) of Ganga being a ‘living entity; then the river shall have all the rights as those of humans, particularly the ‘right to a dignified life’. However, in today’s context right to a dignified life is like a luxury, when the bare existence of the river is in peril.

The irony is in the fact, that this protection is granted to the river by humans from humans.

To our mind, problems tend to be troublesome and they demand solutions. Accordingly, the issue of Ganga needs immediate, effective, and sustainable redressal. The most vital solution to the problem of Ganga pollution is ‘behavioral revolution’. As all the issues are addressable if humans wish to do so. For this; new, holistic and impactful awareness strategies need to be devised which have positive cost-benefit relation.

Additionally, preventive measures for Ganga should not be limited to halting anti-Ganga activities, but should also provide alternatives to those activities. For instance, banning the draining of religious commodities through coercion would do little good, as it would hurt the sentiments of many; therefore, the aim should be to create awareness amongst the masses about obvious consequences of their activities; besides, providing an alternative mechanism to perform those activities.

Hence, it is the sine qua non of an hour, to start a revolution and address this important issue. It is high time, to stop jaw-jaw and perform our duties, which are the prerequisite for a sustainable present and better future. Time has come to wash away our sins committed against our holy Ganga and prevent our mother from becoming a martyr.

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