The Dalai Lama, the 79-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, convened an inter-faith meeting in September, 2014, in New Delhi. The purpose of the meeting was to address some of the most important issues ailing the society, particularly in India.
In an interview to Ashok Kumar of OneWorld South Asia, Tibet's 'living God’ warning about the degeneration of environment urged the world community to act immediately. Excerpts from the interview.
OneWorld South Asia: Spiritual leaders have come together on a common platform to talk on various issues ranging from women safety to environment conservation. What kind of impact do you think they can make on our society?
Dalai Lama: All major spiritual traditions are concerned with the well being of humanity. When we talk about well being of humanity we need to bear in mind that planet earth is our home and we need to take care of it.
OWSA: What kind of threat do you see to the natural environment globally, particularly in India?
Dalai Lama: If modern technology renders our planet unusable, we don’t have an option of going to another planet. Earth is the only home for human beings. We have to be seriously concerned about the well being of our planet.
Once the environment is damaged it cannot be reversed. The damage stays forever or at least for some decades. We must make all efforts to spread awareness about the importance of environment protection.
In Tibet, one can drink water in rivers unlike in India where some of the water resources have been polluted to the core. We must stop polluting our rivers and streams.
Environmental degradation will lead to numerous hazards such as breathing problems and poor eyesight. The world community should come together and act before it is too late.
OWSA: Do you think the onus of environment conservation is on some developed countries or the whole world?
Dalia Lama: The onus of environment conservation is duty of the whole world. Every nation has the responsibility towards its protection.
We must spread awareness on the planet about the delicate nature of our environment.
OWSA: India has been grappling with the issue of rising sexual crimes against women. How do you think the country can effectively fight this scourge?
Dalia Lama: Religious leaders can play a very important role in curbing crimes against women. Also, education and awareness is equally significant.
I think there is a big contradiction in our society. Ideally, men need women and vice versa. God created women for humanity. Even children bear closer relationship to their mother than their father which signifies the importance of women.
Thousands of years back, men and women enjoyed equal status. Both men and women would work together and there was no concept of leadership. But gradually, because of certain reasons, the male dominance emerged in the society which led to exploitation (of women).
We should not forget that men and women are equal pillars of humanity and they should be treated as such.
OWSA: Any message you would like to give to the young girls in India.
Dalia Lama: The idea of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to train school girls in martial arts seems a practical solution.
For self defence, young girls in India should learn martial arts like Karate. In the long run, education can be an effective tool in helping girls to stand up against sexual crimes.
Lower castes should pay more attention in education. They should particularly educate their girls. People who are well off should help the poor people in getting education.