Soil DegradationAn environmental problem that needs addressing in today’s world is soil degradation. This fundamental element that provides food and other resources to society for generations is in danger. More than half the world’s soil is degraded, leading to hunger and poverty issues for future generations. However, organizations similar to Conscious Planet and Sadhguru are taking strides to eliminate soil degradation through the Save Soil movement.

What is Save Soil?

It is a movement that started 24 years ago, intent on revitalizing the world’s depleting soil to leave a better life for future generations. A mystic named Sadhguru started the movement when he noticed that soil degradation was rapid in India and theorized that within the next quarter-century most of the agricultural land in Tamil would become a desert. This would lead to food and water shortages for the children of the future.

One of Sadhguru’s most influential movements was Project Greenhands. For this movement, Sadhguru educated locals on environmental protection as a large national campaign and encouraged locals in areas around India to plant trees and other green life in otherwise deserted areas. In 2006, this movement set a Guinness record for the most saplings planted in 3 days.

Since the start of the movement other organizations, such as Conscious Planet are stepping in as well to educate the public on soil degradation and take measures to revitalize the soil.

Agricultural Problems in Tamil

According to a study, there is an issue of soil degradation in Tamil and an increase in Salinity in agricultural areas. This is drying out lands leading to further degradation.

What is even more concerning is that there doesn’t seem to be much of an interest to restore local agricultural areas leading to higher chances of poverty and hunger in the future. One of the government’s 2021 disaster management plans doesn’t identify clear policies to contain the increasing salinity in Tamil soil.

Some improvements have been made like the Tamil Nadu government passing the Protected Agricultural Zone Development Act, which prohibits industries from expanding onto agricultural land.

Conscious Planet

In its own words, Conscious Planet is trying to align societal activities towards eco-friendly means of life. The organization hopes to see a society in the future acting more environmentally conscious and to see world governments doing the same with environmental issues being key election points.

It wants to achieve these goals through the Save Soil movement by drawing public attention to dying soil, mobilizing others to support soil saving policy and driving policies in approximately 193 nations to raise and maintain the contents of soil by 3-6%.

A Journey to Save Soil

One of the biggest campaigns the Save Soil movement has is the Save Soil Journey. This event is a 100-day motorcycle trek from the United Kingdom to India where Sadhguru and several others in the movement travel from nation to nation speaking with leaders of government about the environment and how to better preserve soil. This movement has the goal to raise environmental awareness of soil degradation to more than three billion people and garner support from government leaders for stronger soil-saving policies. At home, you can become an “Earth Buddy” by listening to the teachings and resources of Sadhguru while he is on his journey.

A Look Ahead

Through movements such as these, awareness can be raised around environmental issues and take strides to revitalize soil to eliminate world hunger for future generations.

Alex Havardansky
Photo: Flickr

Tamil Poverty in Sri LankaPeople in certain regions and ethnicities within Sri Lanka — more specifically, Tamil, a Hindu ethnic minority in Sri Lanka — feel the effects of poverty especially hard. This is part of the country’s more extensive history of ethnic tension and civil war. Here is information about Tamil poverty in Sri Lanka.

Civil War and Ethnic Strife

Ethnic conflict has been a significant contributing factor for poverty in Sri Lanka among Tamils. Under British imperial rule, authorities heavily favored Tamils over the Buddhist Sinhalese majority of the island. When Sri Lanka obtained independence, Sinhalese — who the British had long excluded — began to reverse this trend of Tamil dominance.

This shift in Sri Lanka would culminate in a 26-year war, ending when the Sinhalese-dominated government finally defeated the Tamil rebels in 2009. The conflict came at an incredible cost as tens of thousands of Sri Lankans died. The U.N. has accused both the Sri Lankan government and rebels of human rights violations during the conflict.

Post Conflict Poverty Among Tamils

The lasting economic effects of the civil war have been significant in Sri Lanka as Tamils suffer from poverty at much higher rates. Tamil-dominated districts are the poorest in Sri Lanka, and poverty among Tamil youth is 7% higher when compared to the rest of the country. These areas have well over half the population living on less than $2.50 a day.

Many Tamils lack access to work in Sri Lanka, and Tamils cannot interact with government authorities as they do not speak the same language. Tamils face poor working conditions when they can find work and have difficulty accessing health care. Education is also difficult to access, and Tamil child labor is more prevalent when compared to the rest of Sri Lanka.

The civil war also dramatically hindered Tamil fishermen from making a living in the waters around the island. Natural disasters since the civil war-like cyclones and floods have heavily impacted Tamil communities, and there is little effort by the Sri Lankan government to assist after such disasters. Very little rebuilding has occurred in Tamil regions that the civil war heavily damaged.

Displacement and Discrimination

To this day, displacement and discrimination impact impoverished Tamils in Sri Lanka. Despite the end of hostilities, the Sri Lankan government has maintained a sizable military force to occupy former rebel-held districts. This resulted in the seizure of land by the military, displacing many Tamils.

Tamil culture and religion have faced significant discrimination since the end of the conflict. Buddhist shrines have replaced Tamil religious sites without the consent of local Tamils. Additionally, Tamil communities are subject to abuses from security forces operating with little oversight. There are signs of promise, however, as more recently the Sri Lankan government has opened the door for Tamil refugees to return from India where tens of thousands had fled in the past.

Poverty in Sri Lanka affects minority Tamils disproportionately more than the rest of the country. Decades of ethnic tensions culminated in a lengthy civil war that devastated Tamil regions. Currently, these same Tamil regions have much higher rates of poverty and much lower access to essential services. In addition, the military has displaced many Tamils and many face discrimination. Yet, a recent repatriation program that Sri Lanka initiated shows promise for Tamils to be able to return to their communities.

– Coulter Layden
Photo: Unsplash