Home Feature Dehra as the ‘Ecological Davos’

Dehra as the ‘Ecological Davos’

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By Hugh & Colleen Gantzer

Davos is a little town in the Swiss Alps. In January 1971, its fortunes changed. A German economist and engineer named Klaus Schwab founded the World Economic Forum (WEF) and was its Chairman. It is a not-for profit organisation with its headquarters in Geneva. Its purpose is to get the greatest political, business, cultural and other leaders of society to create global, regional and industrial plans. It has no legal authority to enforce its views but, because the Internet reaches out to still more people, globally, its opinions carry an authority greatly in excess of its legal clout. We need not mention recent cases where even the most self opinionated national leaders get into a tizzy when their actions are challenged by important media authorities! Public opinion is increasing its authority in spite of the overweening vanity of regional leaders.

But though the pursuit of wealth is a major driving force in human decisions, another consideration is gaining ground. Ecology is fast growing in importance over the quest for wealth. People have begun to realise that there is no point in acquiring more and still more money if, in the process, there is less and still less to spend it on. Or as Mahatma Gandhi said, “There is enough for everyone’s need but not enough for every one’s greed”. In other words, if anyone over-exploits the natural resources, nature retaliates. Ecology, the balance of nature on which all life depends, curbs its over-exploitation.

To balance the World Economic Forum we need a World Ecological Forum.  Davos is in Europe. The continent of the exploiting empires must be balanced by the global south where many of the exploited countries lie. This is the right time to create this balance because we now have an organisation which gives voice to the once-pillaged countries: G20. India’s current leadership of the group is particularly important. Of all the nations in the world, it has the most ethnically diverse population preserved by the Linguistic States. This gives it an edge over all other nations on the globe. It also has every terrain and climatic feature from tundra-like ice fields, through deserts and saline wastes to dense mangrove forests and rain forests and the human communities who live in them. India has sheltered them in their natural habitats and not treated them as second class citizens herded into reserves. Finally, our great Himalaya Mountains offer an environment unmatched in the world: the youngest range on the globe. Still growing, controlling the weather in the most populous regions on the globe and yet called The Third Pole.

The G 20 should base the World Ecological Forum in Dehra. Our state capital has the land where it intends to build its Smart City. This should be the site of a low-spread Eco-city, HQs of the Forum. We visualise a planned development of Ground-and-First Floor buildings, with work areas on the ground floor and living areas on the first floor. All roofs should have solar panels and water-harvesting facilities.

Since we have recently discovered Lithium deposits in Kashmir, transportation within the complex should be a public facility based on electric buggies, just as bicycles are provided in INFOSYS. Dehra is particularly suited for this development because it has the land, can tap the water, and is brimming with education and research establishments. It also has unlimited terrain for ecological research.

Finally, the World Ecological Forum should be held in June every year. Dehra was once a “Non Fan Station” like Bangalore. If our young architects put their minds to creating a highland-inspired architecture, with plenty of greenery and capturing wind flows, it would be the perfect counter point to the snow of Davos. Our Sherpa of G20 has displayed the incredible diversity of Indian culture. He can give life to the WORLD ECOLOGICAL FORUM. His writings have proved that he knows how to market this idea.

Dehra appears to have been made for the World Ecological Forum.  And the time to start is now.  By chairing the G20, India has caught the attention of the world like never before. Now we need to unleash the power of our young aspirational people to create an iconic ecological power centre to balance Davos.

(Hugh & Colleen Gantzer hold the National Lifetime Achievement Award for Tourism among other National and International awards. Their credits include over 52 halfhour documentaries on national TV under their joint names, 26 published books in 6 genres, and over 1,500 first-person articles, about every Indian state, UT and 34 other countries. Hugh was a Commander in the Indian Navy and the Judge Advocate, Southern Naval Command. Colleen is the only travel writer who was a member of the Travel Agents Association of India.)