“Grandma, I heard Dad listening to a YouTube video on his laptop. And the big uncle in the video kept talking about climate change and the consequences of industrialization.
When I enquired Dad about these terms, he mentioned protecting the natural resources, blah, blah… I didn’t quite get what he meant by it and now he is busy again. Can you help me out in understanding these things?”
Grandma, putting her reading spectacles aside, looked at her 9-year-old grandson’s face – there was curiosity written all over it. “Let’s go to the terrace and I will tell you a story on climate change, the consequences of industrialization, and the harm our actions cause if we do not protect our nature”.
Once upon a time, there was a flourishing kingdom of Ashi in a faraway land. The place was filled with lush green trees, free-flowing rivers, and a big beautiful blue lake. The biodiversity in the kingdom was one of the best in the entire region. The birds, animals, butterflies, insects, and other marine life used to have a gala time. There was never any shortage of food and water.
The land was ruled by a very benevolent king Dhruva who made sure all the people in his kingdom were happy and well-taken care of. He had demarcated areas for various activities.
There was a big palatial garden in the middle of the kingdom, which was adorned with many unique and beautiful plants and flowers. The denizens of kingdom Ashi used to frequently visit the garden and proudly boasted to guests from other lands about the unique flora and fauna which is found in their Kingdom.
Housing complexes were built on one side of the palace garden while the other included an educational complex and healthcare facilities. Then there was an area for sports and recreation, agriculture fields near the rivers and a huge lane for shopping, and so on.
The educational complex housed schools of different kinds to take care of children’s learning, skills, and interests. There was a center for learning medicine, a center for science and mathematics, a center for culture & dance, etc.
One of the centers was also built for arts and crafts. It was regarded as one of the most popular centers in the educational complex. People used to visit the center to see the intricately designed pieces of statues & figures that the students used to create.
The center was headed by a very skillful and highly learned teacher, Aman. Children used to admire his craftsmanship and skills in making complicated pieces of art.
Aman’s intricately designed figurines embellished the walls of the King’s palace and all the places of worship in the region. One of his most celebrated pieces of art was a human-sized statue named Pari and it was kept in King’s special chamber, which was only meant for eminent guests, other kings, and courtiers. As the King’s special chamber was open on the sides and near the river, people use to take glimpses of it from the opposite side of the river.
The statue Pari symbolized prosperity and was made on a special Rehaan stone. The figurine was extremely delicate and its fine carving depicted the layers of dress which the statue adorned. The statue also released an alluring fragrance because of the Rehaan Stone. Anyone who would see the Pari would admire and would long to have such a statue.
Rehaan Stone was a special piece of stone that was only found in that kingdom, it not only consisted of different shades of colors, but certain chemical compositions in the stone also made it release sweet smells.
The stone when crushed did not release any smell and also did not find any other utility.
Many kings, rulers of other kingdoms, affluent people used to buy figurines made with Rehaan stone. Those figures were created by the students at the Center of Art and each piece was personally monitored and quality checked by Aman. As the head of the Art Center, the responsibility of mining Rehaan Stone was designated to Aman.
The Rehan stone was found under the lake bed. The kingdom had only one big lake and the entire need for water for all the inhabitants was fulfilled by this lake. Because of the stone and the minerals, the lake water also used to taste sweet and had a very light aromatic fragrance.
Aman was very careful in mining the Rehaan stone; he used to diligently manage the excavation of the stone along with a special team of underwater divers. Only twice a year, expeditions would be sent inside the lake waters to bring the Rehaan Stone in limited quantity.
Though all the students of the Centre of Art longed for bigger pieces of Rehaan Stone to create their figurines, Aman had set strict rules with regard to the stone. “I will give about 2 feet of this Rehaan stone to all my students only once a year in the final semester. Each student would create their own piece of art and in the final assessment whoever scores the highest marks, would get to have a bigger piece of Rehaan”
Each student would leverage their acquired skills to carve a beautiful sculpture and the winner would be able to create a bigger piece of statue. The crafted pieces of art were sold to other kings and wealthy people and a portion of the money was given to the student as a reward and the rest went for the school’s maintenance and operations.
While all students were happy with Aman and his guidance and intellect, they always had a complaint about the restrictions imposed by their teacher with respect to the stone. If they get a bigger piece of stone, they can demonstrate more of their skills and the bigger sculptures would give them more money.
When the complaints reached King Dhruva, he summoned Aman, “Why don’t you give bigger pieces of stone, the students will earn more and our kingdom can generate more income.”
Aman, standing in Kings’ special chamber, politely replied, “Dear King, I would be more than happy to share bigger pieces of Rehaan stone, but as you know the stone is found on the lake bed and we need to send underwater divers to fetch the stone“.
King inquired, “I can ask more divers to go with you to bring the stone. Is there any issue in the availability of the stone?”.
Aman replied “No King, there is no issue with the availability, but as you know the stone consists of special minerals and compounds, which give uniqueness to our lake. The prosperity of the biodiversity in the region is also attributed to the water in the lake. There are many birds, butterflies, and small insects which are only found in your kingdom and nowhere else”.
Aman further added, “If we indiscriminately mine the stone, we do not know the consequences it will have on the other aspects of the kingdom”. He added, “Moreover, we should use our resources conservatively so that our future generations can also enjoy them.”
King Dhruva understood Aman’s intentions and he also respected Aman’s wisdom and knowledge. Aman was not only skillful in creating sculptures but his knowledge of environmental science and geoscience was equally exceptional. He agreed to Aman’s way of functioning his Center for Art.
After a few years, as age caught up with King Dhruva, he peacefully died while sleeping one day. With the passing of the King, his eldest son, Pratap took over the reins.
King Pratap was young, dynamic, and very ambitious. He was known for his hunting skills and had killed many animals and their bodies were put as a trophy on the palace walls. When he was the prince, he had suggested many overzealous and aspirational ideas to his father, like reducing the forest size to increase the agricultural land, selling the wood to the nearby kingdom, etc.
Though King Dhruva did not like his son’s ways of doing things, being the eldest son and also because of his popularity with the young people in the kingdom, he anointed Pratap as the next King.
Within a few months of his reign, the restriction imposed by Aman at the Center for Art was brought to King Pratap’s notice. Without asking for Aman’s point of view, he ordered that the size of the Rehaan stone would be made double and given to every student not once, but twice every year.
As it was the kings’ command, Aman had to faithfully oblige. Now the students were able to make bigger statues and more in number, slowly the word reached other kingdoms, and demand for those statues started increasing. People used to pay a much higher premium to get hold of the beautifully created pieces of art made out of Rehaan stone.
When King Pratap came to know about the stupendous growth in revenue because of the statute sales, he ordered that all the Rehaan stones in his kingdom be used to make statues and also sell the stone to other kingdoms at a huge price.
When his ministers informed him that all stones cannot be easily excavated as they are in a lake bed and Aman does not approve of the Kings’ idea. King Pratap was in no mood to budge, he ordered, “Construct an embankment on the river which flows in the Lake and then empty the water of the lake and mine all the Rehaan stones“. He further added, “Sack Aman!“
Aman was removed from his post.
A major embankment was constructed to stop the flow of the river into the lake.
Thousand-year-old trees were removed to construct another smaller lake which will be filled with water from the main lake. This was in addition to trees being uprooted for increasing the agricultural land.
After the lake was emptied, King Pratap’s best men were able to extract all the Rehaan stones from the lake bed. Over the next few months, many figurines were created by all the past and current students in the region. The figures, statues, and idols were sold. Even stone was sent in raw form to many places.
King Pratap was overjoyed when he came to know that his kingdom Ashi was able to generate revenue 1000 times over. He soon became one of the richest kings in the entire region.
In the following few years, the residents of the kingdom Ashi became rich with the overall prosperity in the land. There were parties, dancing, merrymaking, gambling all throughout the kingdom. The sweet-tasting water from the lake was made into booze and even that was sold in huge quantities.
What people failed to notice was that there was no rain in the last two years and many learned people like school teachers, doctors, scholars from the place including Aman had left the kingdom of Ashi.
As most of the trees in the forests were uprooted, the animals, birds, and insects had either fled or died.
The smaller lake which was built in lieu of the main lake which had the Rehaan Stone was also drying.
With hardly any water, the farmers were unable to irrigate their fields and as a result, agricultural production went down.
When King Pratap came to know about the extreme water scarcity, the embankment on the river was asked to be opened. The sudden gush from the river first took away the Pari statute, which was built very close to the river. Secondly, as there was no proper storage space to take all the water from the river, most of the water was wasted and only a small portion of water went into the smaller lake.
When things came to an extremely dangerous situation, he asked to use his money to buy water from other kingdoms. As rainfall was scarce across all regions, no other kingdom was able to offer much support.
The small water bodies and puddles of water created after drying the river became the breeding ground of mosquitoes and insects. Diseases started to spread in the kingdom, as most of the doctors had left the kingdom, people started dying.
With Angel of Prosperity gone, learned and knowledgeable people gone, hardly any food and water left, but with lots of money, King Pratap realized his mistake and started repenting for his blunders. The ministers advised him to seek Aman’s help and also ask other learned people to come back so that they can recommend solutions.
King Pratap personally took a journey on his horse to the small hut where Aman was staying in another kingdom. On seeing Aman, King Pratap fell on his feet. “Pardon my mistake, Aman, I should have listened to your advice and should have not allowed the entire excavation of the Rehaan Stone. I did not realize one mistake can have so many consequences.
The entire Kingdom is ruined; we hardly have any water left in the kingdom. Many people have died because of my fault. There are no birds and animals left. The entire ecosystem has collapsed…”
He further pleaded “Aman, you can take all the money that I have but please rescue our Kingdom Ashi.”
Aman quickly lifted the King and bowed his head, “You are King, you don’t have to plead.”
The King replied, “I am not only many years younger than you, but I also know the advice that you gave my father of not exhausting the limited resources which Mother Earth has given us. I purposefully did not listen to it. Now such is the catastrophe that has unfolded that it is befitting, that I ask for your forgiveness. In my foolishness and desire to make more money I destroyed many aspects of the kingdom”.
Aman replied, “I don’t have any magic way out of the situation in our kingdom, and we cannot overturn the damage that is already caused, but we can make a new beginning”.
In the next few months, millions of trees were planted in the kingdom, a clear passage was made for the river which started flowing back into the main lake.
Fortunately, in the monsoon season, there was decent rainfall which helped the new trees to grow and enough water was collected in the storage tanks.
In the next few years, though the unique birds and insects which used to thrive during the time of the Reehan stone did not return, few other animals and birds did come back.
After passing away of Aman due to his old age, a statue was constructed in his memory made with whatever Rehaan stone was left in the kingdom. The state was named “Symbol of Peace and Hope”.
The kingdom lost the glory that was present during King Dhruva’s reign, but it lived on to fight for another day.
Please share the moral of the story. What was your learning? Were grandma’s story on climate change and the consequences of Industrialization helpful?