Around 5000 B.C., the Aryans, a nomadic tribe from the Steppes of Central Asia entered India through the Punjab and brought with them the Hindu religion based on the 4 great texts called The Vedas. For the Aryans, their most sacred river was the now extinct Saraswati, which they revered as their mother river. However, by the end of the second millennium, as the Aryans spread southward to cover the entire Indo-Gangetic plain, the Ganga or Ganges replaced the Saraswati as the most sacred river.
Of all the places along the Ganga, Benares is perhaps the oldest living city in the world. The Ganges at Benares may appear muddy and dirty and is the receptacle of all the sewage and waste of the city, the ashes of the dead and the diseases of the millions who bathe in it. However, what is important is not the bacterial purity of the river, but its ritual and symbolic purity.
Because of the overwhelming reverential impact of the Ganges on hundreds of millions of Hindus, a real life paradox today haunts the citizens of Benares. For how long can they continue to ignore the gap between the ritual purity of the river and it’s actual level of cleanliness. This gap was largely ignored by the residents of Benares during the 20th century. Today, this divide is so wide that combined with global warming and climate change, it threatens the very life of the river.
The source of the Ganga is the Gangotri glacier.
The combined impact of global warming, deforestation and rampant tourism has resulted in the glacier receding almost a kilometer in the last three decades.
According to projections, given this rate of recession as a benchmark, most of the glaciers in the Himalayas will melt away in the next thirty to forty years.
Perennial rivers like the Ganga will be reduced to a rain fed seasonal stream that will stand no chance of regeneration. This could happen within 30 years.
In such a situation, towns and cities along the Ganga will be abandoned when the river runs dry. India’s beliefs and culture will die within this lifetime.
With India’s economy poised to grow at almost ten percent annually, drastic measures need to be taken to prevent a climate change catastrophe. This has to be a concerted effort combining steps taken by government agencies, private industries and citizens of the country. It is time to wake up and worry like mad. “The Agony of the Ganges” looks at all these issues and is a chilling wake up call for all Indians.
Channel: TV4, Sweden
Duration - 52 minutes
Format – HD
- Officially selected at the Green Screen Film Festival and Salon, 2009
- Officially selected at the Beverly Hills-Hi-Def Film Festival, 2008
- Officially selected at the Hazel Wolf Environmental film festival, 2008
- Officially selected at Banff Mountain Film Festival, 2008
- Won an award for the BEST FILM on Environment and Nature at the Inkafest Environment Film Festival 2009, Lima Peru