Sustainable stubble soil
Come winter and the air quality drops to hazardous levels due to the problem of stubble-burning in and around New Delhi. Many argue that stubble-burning is the only option available to small and poor farmers who have to sow crops for the next season, but can we look for alternatives that are both sustainable and beneficial?
Poornima Savargaonkar, a 54-year-old urban gardener and a resident of Gurgaon, has achieved this feat. When the ex-ISRO scientist, an ardent nature lover and advocate of sustainable living, noticed the horticulture waste generated in her housing society and how it was thrown away, she decided to spread awareness about waste utilisation and management. Leading by example, Poornima came up with a plan to make her own soil to be used in her 300 sq. ft terrace that now sustains over 60 varieties of fruits, vegetables, and herbs in pots which include strawberries, pomegranate, jamun, papaya, radish, carrots, tomato, capsicum, basil, oregano, and moringa.
So how did the stubble soil happen? When Poornima began terrace-farming, she decided to make her own soil—Amrut Mitti—by resourcing raw material from her society, her kitchen, and local farmers in a village. Compost, dried leaves, cow dung and urine were combined with the stubble to make the soil more fertile.
Poornima is also the founder of Enriched Soil and Soul, which sells seven varieties of soil made using stubble waste and other organic material. “Right now, we have one processing unit, and every three months, we use about 1,500 kilos of stubble waste to produce at least 12 tonnes of organic soil. Three types of stubble waste are used: wheat, bajra (pearl millet), and rice, and seven varieties of potting mix are produced. The varieties are for indoor and outdoor plants, bonsais, succulents, and roses, as well as for planting seeds and growing water plants,” she says.
During the lockdown, Poornima started her YouTube channel with videos of gardening tutorials, seed and soil preparation, and recycling tips to show others how they can do the same. She calls herself a ‘Garbage-to-Greens’ warrior and wishes to see every Indian household with a rooftop garden growing their food regardless of the quantity.
Very often, parents do not understand in which direction they should guide their children. So it comes as a surprise and a relief when children themselves take the lead and become empowered in the right direction. This is what happened with Vinisha Umashankar and her family in Tiruvannamalai.
It all started in 2018 when Vinisha’s father, Mr Umashankar, started talking about the hazards of burnt (used) charcoal ending up along with garbage in a landfill in their town. Charcoal is made by burning trees, and since it is cheap, people who iron clothes, not just in India but all over the world, use it without thinking of the environmental damage it causes. Struck by the problem, Vinisha came up with the idea of a solar ironing cart, which eliminates the use of charcoal in professional ironing. She did a lot of research, drew model sketches, and wrote a technical paper. In 2019, her father sent the innovative idea to Dr APJ Abdul Kalam IGNITE Award, a national innovation competition conducted by the National Innovation Foundation in Gujarat. “We never thought that Vinisha would receive the national award or a prototype would be made. In 2020, the solar ironing cart was nominated for the Children’s Climate Prize. Again, we never thought Vinisha would receive the prize as well as national and international publicity. As a father, I help Vinisha manage time for academics and co-curricular activities. I make sure that she enjoys whatever she does. I am happy that her three-year-long effort has come to light. She is humbled and feels a greater responsibility to focus on products that protect our environment and the less privileged in society.”
Vinisha, who is a young ninth-standard student, says, “The most important benefit of the solar ironing cart is that it eliminates the use of charcoal in ironing clothes, thus saving countless trees. This results in preventing deforestation, pollution, ecological damage, decreased agricultural productivity, and climate change. Trees are crucial for water conservation, prevention of soil erosion, improved biodiversity, an increase in pollinators, and they support birds and shelter animals. Without trees, most food crops will fail and famine can ensue.”
She continues, “The three essential elements for living—land, water, and air—have been polluted beyond repair. All of us must understand that environmental issues are real. They can’t be fixed at a later date and, more importantly, they are not someone else’s problem. We must work together to understand and solve environmental issues before it is too late.”
She would like to become a scientist and invent a vaccine to inoculate people against catching a cold.
Regeneration of the Spirit
Just like Vaishnavism, Shaivism is a major Hindu religious sect, whose followers worship Lord Shiva, one of the most venerable deities, as the supreme being. Started in the 8th century AD by Vasugupta, Kashmir Shaivism is a universal spiritual philosophy whose primary focus is on the Ultimate Reality called Param Shiva and on the recognition of this source from which everything emanates and into which everything converges.
Sri Vijendra Qazi, a Shaivism guru, is a New Age spiritual leader and a master of Kashmir Shaivism. “Kashmir Shaivism is based on the ancient wisdom of Agamas (Tantra). It is a universal spirituality which opens the inner door to the highest level of divine realisation,” says Mr Qazi. Based in Delhi, Mr Qazi is a Kashmiri Pandit and presents the classical knowledge and practice of Kashmir Shaivism in a very fresh and contemporary way to the New Age audience. “This philosophy is very relevant for the present times. It stresses positive acceptance of the material world rather than the philosophy of escapism,” he adds.
He goes on to say that real joy can be gained as we go about our life and work, and that diversity is the essence of divine manifestation. So, we must accept every individual as they are. This is a great lesson taught in Kashmir Shaivism, which will help us understand each other and create harmony in the chaotic world today.
According to Mr Qazi, the youth should be the torchbearer of these values and should never compromise due to laxity. “A person cannot succeed in life if he shuts his eyes towards these problems. The whole life of Lord Krishna, as depicted in the Mahabharata, is a glowing example of practical Shaivism.”
Mr Qazi has held workshops and programmes all around the world. His quest for supreme knowledge and a keen interest in universal spiritual philosophy makes him recognised the world over. “Since childhood, many sages and saints have graced me on the divine path. My first sadhana was with Param Shaive Yogini Lalleshwari. Her vakhs (sayings) convey the essence of Shaiva Agamas. I have spread the wisdom of her teachings worldwide,” says Mr Qazi.
If you want to get deeper insights into Kashmir Shaivism and learn the art of Trika Yoga (spiritual discipline), you must attend Qaziji’s programmes.
For more information visit www.kashmirshaivism.com
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