IT was such a joy to be in the presence of a real VVIP and you wouldn’t believe it! Grandmama of food Dr Vandana Shiva was here for a few days to be with her son Karthikeya who lives in Goa. I met her briefly at the Dr Sneha Bhagwat’s Oorja Wellness Centre at the Panjim Residency where she was inaugurating an Oorja Organics produce centre (stocking some of Navdanya and piece de resistance produce is stocked here now) on September 14, 2022.
But later in the late afternoon there was a State Biodiversity Board organized interactive session on the subject of “Biodiversity friendly Farming” function at the Macquinez Palace in Panaji where both Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant and Minister of Environment and Climate Change Nilesh Cabral were present. Needless to say it was a lifetime’s pleasure to listen to Navdanya and Earth University’s founder Dr Vandana Shiva on the subject of how we must have a new education police to change our mind set of development.
Dr Vandana Shiva is an impeccable speaker and she said a lot of memorable things in her limited keynote address. For one think we need knowledge to grow “edible gardens of hope everywhere”! The key to sustainable living is biodiversity and we must save it. Part of saving biodiversity is to save the seed of life on our earth…at Navdanya and the Earth University in the Doon Valley they have a treasury of seeds to grow food and nobody can claim a patent on what the people consider their food, heritage and legacy.
Dr Vandana Shiva is all about politics of survival in a world seeking its destruction. She is a warrior environmentalist, pioneered the movement for protecting biodiversity in the Doon Valley, has addressed United Nations conventions and earth summits around the world…in 2000 founded the Earth Univrsity where there is a sustainable living learning. She writes and speaks about earth democracy, and the formidable cost of non-sustainable development. We better listen to this grandmamma of food in Goa, my dears, for there is much to save in Goa today! Dr Vandana Shiva fought for years to save the humble neem tree from being patented in the USA, she wins every time she goes to the international court for a just cause. Of course, food is her greatest cause, how to save the children of the world from starving in a world headed for another war where much will be destroyed and there’s a land grab on (do you know that Bill Gates is the largest owner of land in the world today?).
All this and much more. Dr Vandana Shiva said we humans are also part of biodiversity and that is what the women of the Chipko movement saw and hugged the trees of their forests to stop them from being cut down for dubious development and progress. Her teachers, she said, have been “these women who have never been to school!” She was happy to learn that Goa now has a seed nursery bank in Goa… “We must observe natural laws, we did not invent life! Life is not patentable.”
She reiterated that climate change is not just about being carbon neutral, but it is about biodiversity and how we live to put back the micronutrients in our soul in which we grow our food to be healthy and happy. Biodiversity is mindboggling, we have two lakh varieties of rice, 75 varieties of rajma, etc. We must shun monocultures and chemical farming for we have seen the terrible consequences in the world and in India, in Punjab (read up about the story of BT cotton). When disaster strikes like the tsunami in Tamil Nadu it was her foundation which was able to give “two truck loads of seed to the farmers” to start again. We are the “land of behuda,” said Dr Vandana Shiva and I wondered a bit about what she meant by that! We must understand “that food is health” – in the absence of food and health we will only entertain our chronic diseases.
I guess one may listen to Dr Vandana Shiva forever. She is piece de resistance grandmamma of food and one of my icons. A side highlight of the function was the release of a herbal cola but…(sigh)…only the VIPs on the dais got to drink it, a pity, later I looked for a bottle to take home but it was not available for love or for money. Must go find out some more about it. Upon tasting it Vandana bai said that she liked it “and I have never tasted Coco-Cola in my life!”
There was a question-answer session about Goa losing its biodiversity to overwhelming hi tech development, but there were lots of reassurances from Environment Minister Nilesh Cabral for whatever they were worth. Maybe Goa is going to sign a few memorandums of understanding with Dr Vandana Shiva’s Earth University to save Goa from destroying its biodiversity any further and we can only say cheers to that, may it happen, let it happen, whatever along those lines.
ON that note it’s avjo, selamat datang, poiteverem, au revoir, arrivedecci and vachun yeta here for now.

—Mme Butterfly

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