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  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: October 2011

CHAPTER 7 - Between ‘The Shallow and the Deep’: Tagore's ‘Green Fuse’


The present pervasiveness of ecological perceptions and environmentalist anxieties all over the world is characterized by an attendant belief in the popular mind that the newly acquired sensitiveness is Western-inspired, with little or no roots or antecedents in non-Western cultures and societies. The belief is strengthened by the fact that most of the concerns and fears, hopes and anxieties, and agonies and ecstasies regarding the conditions of Earth have come from the West. The problems that exercise the minds of the environmentalists and ecologists – like ozone depletion, global warming, acid rain, desertification, deforestation, smog, air pollution etc. – are modern problems, directly traceable to the pernicious effects of – mainly twentieth century – industrialism and its accompanying tendencies of ‘atomistic’, ‘ethical’ and ‘possessive’ individualism. And the standard repertoire of their perceptions, anxieties and solutions are typically Western. No wonder that the non-Western countries, being late entrants in the process of industrialism, urbanism and their harmful models of development would perceive and worry about them, and couch their own anxieties and dilemmas in Western terms. We should remember that even the word ‘ecology’ is of relatively current and Western coinage. But the contemporaneousness of the familiar preoccupations should not lead us to believe that green thought is something wholly novel. For, a genuine concern for the environment and the ecological dimensions of the ‘human condition’ has characterized much older Western and non-Western thought. While saying this we are taking a cue from Russell.

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