Interview with m k harikumar
Harikumar, now that you have resigned from your full time job as a journalist, don't you feel it a mistake that you have committed?
Trees are my passion. I always dream of trees. I have a peculiar attachment to trees. As a schoolboy I used to carry a lot of leaves in between the pages of my notebook, so that I always felt the presence of something I loved most. This love has grown into a big dream today, and when I was working in the newspaper, I have to keep this dream away in some hidden cells in my heart. Now I took it our and polished in such a way that I am into a mission of planting One Crore Trees across all the nations in the world.
You may think so, and many like you do think this as such. In fact planting one crore saplings across the six continents is not a simple joke and neither it is a silly job. In fact it is NOT as you put it. It is more than that.
I call my dream-project "Aaranyakam". Simply put, it is a Sanskrit word that connotes something related with forests or trees. In ancient India, all "guru kulams" were amid thick forests and were invariably surrounded by woods. From this "gurukulams", a lifestyle of ancient sages was developed that in turn gave birth to our Vedas and traditions of knowledge. All this, of course, was influenced by the woods around them. A kind of "Aaranyakam" thus evolved.
No. A lot depends on how you look at the process of planting saplings somewhere. Anyone can plant a sapling and leaving it on its own from the next moment. People seldom care a jungle tree or any tree for that matter. With this project, I plan to plant any tree. And I am not going to leave them on its own afterwards. I would like people to care them like a child till it is grown. I also will see that the trees planted under this project are not cut down for nasty human needs. Any tree planted anywhere in this world under this project Aaranyakam would be documented properly and a database will be created. After a few years from now anyone can ask for any data about a tree thus planted under Aaranyakam.
My approach to a tree is quite peculiar because I see a lot of meanings in the existence of a tree. Normally everyone could not fathom what I mean. Not a single individual could look at a tree as I look at it. That is why I keep a documented record of each and every tree that is planted under this Project. For this I have already launched a website too. This website will have a Tree Map and a Database. Both the Tree Map and Database are the evidences for the implementation of "Aaranyakam". Anyone in the world can access the Tree Map or Database at any time and find the history of a sapling that was planted not only in his country but in any country in this world.
First, I want to make Project Aaranyakam world's first ever project of its kind with complete statistical data of each sapling planted till this date anywhere in this world. Then only environmentalists or nature lovers will listen to this global movement. Mind you, then only any international environment organizations or WWF or UNESCO etc would listen to Aaranyakam and watch where it is going. Second, I said my love of trees is like how I love another human being. Do you love another human being if you do not know him at all? This is a sensitive issue as it is. But it is here that my vision about this Project Aaranyakam snugly fits in.
Just look at a tree. It takes the sun, rain, wind, and all the climatic changes silently and still continues to grow, at the same time giving shelter, shade and protection to many animals and birds. It has no demands or complaints of any sort. It stands there tall as a symbol of universal selfless love. That is how I look at any tree. And that is why I love a tree. So when I plant a sapling today, it is going to be there tomorrow, even after my death, still giving shelter and shade to many human beings, animals and birds etc. If they bear fruit, anyone can pluck it and eat them. A Tree do not complain. It gives you all that it has FREE. It seldom asks anything from you in return at all. So a tree is like a God for me. A God never asks anyone for anything or complain about any one to his favourite worshipper. A God is not partial. So is a tree. I hope you understand what I mean.
Project Aaranyakam is depicting this message of universal love that a tree exhibits and my vision about it. That is how I look at this mission of planting a crore trees across the oceans..
It is both symbolic and scientific. Environmentalists and nature lovers would uphold the science behind making the earth greener. I try to find a genuine reason to plant a tree and show myself what I can do for the future generations. I am not an advocate of mysticism or symbolism, neither an advocate of science. Science is reality. Symbolism is a short cut to attribute ones vision into a representative object. To me a TREE is a representative object of the whole Nature.
Every culture mankind practices has some principles anchored into them. Planting a tree can be developed as a culture than a formal custom. For that you should know WHY you plant a tree. And also you must be motivated enough to attain a stage of humbleness. Once you develop to that level naturally and automatically you find no meaning in many things we do in our life. Moreover you find your past life as a net total of stress, worries, tensions, unwanted commitments etc. The life you lived so far suddenly becomes a thing of the past than a stepping-stone to the future. When you take up tree planting as a part of your daily life, it becomes your second nature. You need to give it a lot of deliberate thinking before taking it up as a "must do" for you. I would love this mission develop into as a part of one's culture. I do not find anything wrong with it.
I do not invite or force anyone to associate with me. I wish those who can understand my vision in its full worth can associate with this project. Only such people could sponsor this. In fact I am looking for sponsorship to my project from anyone who can realize and understand the meaning of this project. I know it is hard to come by as any involvement in this would bring no fame or publicity for the sponsor.
I have already launched it in a humble way in Aluva, near to my hometown, on the banks of river Periyar. Immediately after that the first ever module of 1000 saplings has started in Bangalore, in a most beautiful academic premises I have ever seen in my life. Now I am moving on to the Middle East countries to promote the next sequences of modules there. I am looking for some sponsors who can accommodate my Project Officer and me for three months in the Middle East till we finish our second stage of Project Aaranyakam there.
I am not particular about the types of trees. I believe palm trees are the best suited for the Middle East climate. I would plant 1000 palm trees as modules in each gulf nation.
Incidently, I have already launched the Project in Dubai with the kind help of Dubai Municipality. But that was a small effort, of course. I am looking out for solid sponsors to help Aaranyakam take roots in the Gulf region. As soon as I get a sponsor who can afford our, mine and my Project Officer's, accommodation, travel and food there for three months. Mind you, we will visit all the seven nations in the Middle East region, and plant 10000 trees in total within three months.
During this mission I get more time than I had in my life as a journalist in Kerala. More time means I can write more. I plan a research book on Khalil Gibran, and a metaphysical study of the Desert and a novel too. A new publishing company from the Gulf will publish both books in English. I do not want to reveal who they are right now.
We came into this world as a helpless child with no money. But we lived on and on and we earned and spend too. My trust in God will see that my vision is materialized somehow.
Finding a suitable spot to plant a three-inch high sapling is the most difficult aspect I have found so far. I can easily find one crore saplings, but not enough space to plant them. Land is dearer than life here. Those who have land think that they would take this land with them when they go away from this world. That is why land has become more dearer than life.
I am sure if I can complete this one crore trees project as I planned, I can get this piece of land as a donation from any nation. It would be the property of that nation and my symbolic forest would grow there.
Yes. I cannot find a better name that conveys a universal feeling. Aaranyakam is anybody's not mine alone. Aaranyakam stands for selfless love and global peace. Every one can hear what global peace is. But seldom one understands selfless love. That is why Aaranyakam becomes more important a project as it is as a symbol of "selfless love".You said in the beginning that a tree is more than just a tree for you.
There is nothing complex in my vision. Look at the Nature. Nature is omnipotent and omnipresent. You cannot control Nature, but it controls you. A tree is a pocket edition of Nature. You cannot control the growth of a tree, but you can kill the tree. And a tree can influence your existence. The trees control the very climatic condition of our nature. Science has proved it beyond any doubt. I believe that a tree has a religion of its own. It practices that religion and we are beneficiaries. After all every religion speaks of selfless love. The trees do practice the same without our knowing. They take the brunt of nature and protect animals and man by giving us shade and shelter and food and in fact themselves.
Once you understand what is what, both seem the two sides of a same coin. One is a purpose, and the other is a method to reach your goal. A vision is endless, where as a mission can end abruptly. I want the whole world must recognize the vision behind Aaranyakam. I want every nation should help me carryout my mission till one crore trees are planted from corner to corner of this planet earth.
I am happy if you say so. Because no quarrels or war break out in the name of my God, tree. No crusades will happen anymore in the name of a tree. No politics or any other religion work dirty tricks in the name of a tree. No terrorism will be there in the name of a tree.
Find a place to plant a tree and have a room in your heart for another human being. By loving a tree, you love your posterity without your own knowing. So plant a sapling for Aaranyakam, and help me spread Aaranyakam everywhere