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ARC's work in The Economist and on BBC World Service

November 5 2007:

ARC was featured in September 2007 in an Economist article on faith leaders and ecologists combining forces to protect the Palk Strait between India and Sri Lanka. It is one of two stories about faiths and conservation in The Economist in the past month: the other, on October 6th, was a story about Parsi/Zoroastrian involvement in raptor protection programmes. Link here for that story.

There were also two BBC World Service programmes in early November that featured ARC's initiative on Faiths and Forestry in conjunction with the Shinto and Swedish Lutherans, joined by other faiths. Links to listen to these programmes (until November 10th 2007) can be found at the bottom of the page.

The Palk strait is linked by a 48 kilometre chain of sandy shoals, known in India as Ram Setu, or Ram’s Bridge. It could disappear if India’s government follows up its plan to dredge the strait for a shipping canal.

Environmentalists and Hindus have combined to protest. The latter because it was believed to be the bridge by which the god Ram crossed over to rescue his wife Sita from a Sri Lankan demon, and the former because so far, 377 endemic species have been found in nearby waters.

The article mentions the Parsi work with raptor projects, which ARC helped begin
“On this issue at least, the devoutly religious and the greens are on the same side. But the former, it seems, have more clout than the latter,” The Economist reports.

“On September 12th the government told the Supreme Court that the Ramayana was not proof of the existence of Lord Ram; and that science suggested the shoals were made by sedimentation, not monkeys. On the same day, the World Hindu Council, headed by Dr Togadia, staged protests across the country. On September 14th the government, at the behest of Sonia Gandhi, the (Catholic) leader of Congress, put the canal plan on hold: a setback for a government which wanted to save ships from a 24-hour loop round Sri Lanka. With elections due next year, Congress feared giving its Hindu foes in the Bharatiya Janata Party a new slogan.”

The article concludes with a summary of situations where secular greens and religious people find themselves on the same side of public debates, including several projects that have been led by ARC, and a quote from Martin Palmer. The list includes:

The BBC World Service' Reporting Religions and Heart and Soul programmes on November 4 2007 featured ARC's forestry initiative leading to Ise 2013
• the Indian Parsi-funded raptor protection projects, China’s renewed interest in working with ancient creeds to remind people to treat the earth more kindly,

• the work with the Swedish Lutheran Church and Japanese Shintos to set a new standard for the care of religious-owned forests.

• The gathering of religious leaders and scientists on a boat in Greenland, invited by Patriarch Bartholomew, the senior bishop of the Orthodox Church.

• The role of the churches in Newfoundland in caring for families whose living was ruined by the curbs on cod-fishing.


Link here for the full Economist story about the Palk Strait.

Link here for the full Economist story about the Zoroastrian raptor programme.

Link here for a translation of The Ramayana.

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