Tete-a-tete with a Maverick - Part III

Read the Part-I , Part - II of the interview here.

Venky: I have been hearing from many ecologists that Solar Energy and other renewable sources, which are popularized by green-activists, aren’t really renewable, if we take into consideration, the energy cost that has been built into it. How do you see this? What is your take?

Vinod: Yes. This is true. But, there  is something we need to be careful about. A lot of us are accustomed to look at polar opposites: good vs bad, in this case, Capitalism vs green. The truth is: Neither Capitalism nor Green is one monolithic entity. I like to say that there are various shades of green. There could be shallow sort of green. For instance, replacing light bulb with CFA, or Earth hour etc. There are people who would do that as it feels good to them.
 On the other hand,you have the green extremists, who are upset and angry at a lot of things they feel the other side is doing. They live an extreme lifestyle, which often puts people off.

If you tell the average person, who is trying to make a living for himself and his family: What you are doing is evil and you are supporting the plunder of the Earth. Stop driving the car! Go and live in a forest!,  He is definitely not going to get it at all. He is going to feel crazy! 

So why cant we find a middle ground, where we can make a gradual transition? Take your time over it. Try and make better and better conscious choices , coming out of your understanding. 

They are not the enemy. They just are ignorant about certain things. Its not that they are deliberately trying to rape the planet. They have been taught a human centric world view, and hence they don’t understand ecology.  I didn't understand it neither for several years, and I was perfectly happy living that life.Once I understood, my whole lifestyle suddenly didn’t fit in. It made me uncomfortable. I naturally dropped it. No body held a gun to my head and said , you have to stop changing your lifestyle. It just fell away. 

Venky:What are your future plans. I know it’s foolish to ask someone of this  mindset, when everything keeps changing in the environment.But still, what is the broader vision you are looking at?

Vinod: I would want to live earth-friendly way as possible. I will have to see what shape it takes. At the moment, I see myself being far away from the city in a house that I would build  for myself with  local material, powered by renewable energy sources like sunlight,designed intelligently without grid. I would grow my own food and be a part of a community of similar minded people and help more people understand why we are living this way. The community is building up. I have friends  who are interested in living this sort of lifestyle.  We’ve been discussing and talking about it. We have decided on the land. We spend time in other people’s farms who have already taken the plunge . We learn from their experiences.  

In the meantime, I am also engaging with young people. I think its not an intelligent move to cut myself out from this society and move into that sort of lifestyle. Even if I have an island of close-knit community of like minded people who are doing interesting things, the rest of the outside world is still doing the exact opposite. 

One day, It will come to a point that they will be at my doorstep on my day. That’s how the world seems to be expanding. At that point, I don’t want to be fighting or defending myself.  I would rather invest my time right now talking to these people and working with the broader world, so that it doesn't come to that point at all. If there are more and more people who understand this right now and made the switch, it wont come to a point where the city will explode. May be, we will start designing more intelligent cities. May be, we will be using bio-mimicry to re-engineer our products so that we are following nature’s principles. I would still not want to  live in a city. But atleast people living in a city will be much more aware and harmonious. 

Venky:How are you engaging with the students who have come here in this conference?

Vinod:  I was here for an one hour presentation. But I am staying here all the six days (of the conference) and we are having long conversations with the kids. I like to plant the seeds . Many of them would take it up someday. They talk for years. Some of them do it up. I can see people doing.  There is no anxiety that it needs to happen day after be tomorrow. But, we are working  towards it!