Located at the foothills of the Himalayas, against the unique and spectacular backdrop of the Ganges River, Rishikesh is one of the most sacred places on earth. It is here that The Beatles took a break from their fame and fortune, in search of spiritual transformation, to reconnect with their humanity.
India’s holy Ganges is worshipped by more than 1 billion people and the source of water for more than 400 million people.
Over time, the 1500-mile river has become poisoned by industrial chemicals, farm pesticides and other sewage. It is estimated that one billion gallons of waste enter the river every day.
Photograph by Simon Norfolk | Institute for The New Yorker
Climate change has contributed to a stagnation of glacial flows from the Himalayan peaks to the Bay of the Bengal.
As the situation worsens, the risk of waterborne illnesses increases for the millions who are already without adequate sanitation.
“The Gangotri Glacier from which Mother Ganga comes down to earth is melting day by day and the flow of water will become less and less. It will become difficult for people to irrigate their land to grow crops. If the water is less, their animals will die. If Ganga dies, then the whole universe – and for us India is the whole universe – will die with her.”
– J.P. Pandit
For more than 30 years, Indian governments have worked to clean the Ganges, but progress has been met with apathy and corruption.
Only by working together, by crushing greed and crushing fear, collectively through a cultural and spiritual transformation can we save the self-purifying river Hindus refer to as Ganga, the goddess carried down to the Earth by Lord Shiva.
Water is a Human Right will engage select water treatment and purification companies and NGOs, senior UN leaders and governments and advance the existing efforts of the Global Interfaith Wash Alliance led by spiritual leaders Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati and Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji to clean Mother Ganga, an effort that is vital to the future of India. Imagine celebrities on stage, drinking clear Ganga water and inspiring millions of viewers with the message that clean water is interconnected to peace and we are one. It’s easy if you try.
Clean, accessible water for all is an essential part of the world we want to live in. There is sufficient fresh water on the planet to achieve this. But due to bad economics or poor infrastructure, every year millions of people, most of them children, die from diseases associated with inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene.
Water scarcity, poor water quality and inadequate sanitation negatively impact food security, livelihood choices and educational opportunities for poor families across the world. Drought afflicts some of the world’s poorest countries, worsening hunger and malnutrition.
By 2050, at least one in four people is likely to live in a country affected by chronic or recurring shortages of fresh water.
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“Although we take it for granted, sanitation is a physical measure that has probably done more to increase human life span than any kind of drug or surgery.”
– Deepak Chopra