World Campaign to Save Ram Sethu Gathers Momentum

via published on November 23, 2008

World Campaign to Save Gulf of Mannar Gathers Momentum

Ecologists, academics, scientists and religious leaders from around the world will gather in London on Tuesday 25th and Wednesday 26th November. Their aim will be to prevent the destruction of the Gulf of Mannar, one of the last remaining intact ecosystems on earth and home to the famous Ram Sethu or Adam’s Bridge, a site sacred to 1 billion Hindus worldwide. The gathering is set to provide enough multi-disciplinary evidence to persuade the governments of India and Sri Lanka to ask UNESCO to designate the Gulf a World Heritage Site.

We are proud to introduce the speakers!



Shalina Bhaboeti, (The Netherlands)
Commissionaire External Affairs, Global Human Rights Defence (GHRD

Since studying law (and in particular military law) at The University of Amsterdam and The Hague University, Shalina has conducted extensive research into health issues in India and the political situation in Sri Lanka. She has also studied the effect of humanitarian interventions, and researched issues concerning the European Arrest warrant.

Somduth Dolthuman (Mauritius)
President, Mauritius Sanatan Dharma Temples Federation

The Mauritius Sanatan Dharma Temples Federation is affiliated with 270 Mandirs in Mauritius, and is responsible for 600,000 individual members. Earlier this year Somduth became an Officer of the Star and Key of the Indian Ocean (GOSK), a national decoration, for his services in the social field.

Dr Peter Bunyard (UK), Author, environmentalist, and founding science editor of The Ecologist
A Fellow of the Linnean Society and recognised internationally as an expert on climate change, the Amazon and rainforests, Peter Bunyard studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge and Harvard universities. He was instrumental in the launch of the Industry and Environment Review of the United Nations Environment Programme in Paris and, at the request of the Indigenous Affairs Department of Colombia, he researched the impact of the 1991 Constitution on the affairs and responsibilities of indigenous communities in the Colombian Amazon. Peter’s numerous books include The Breakdown of Climate – Human Choices or Global Disaster?, The Green Alternative Guide to Good Living, Gaia in Action – A Science of the Living Earth, and Extreme Weather.

Ritwick Dutta (India)
Member, Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW)

Ritwick holds an LLB from the University of Delhi and a diploma in Environmental Law from the WWF-India Centre of Environmental Law. He became a Supreme Court advocate in 2001, setting up the Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE) to fight for environmental democracy. He has challenged many destructive projects and served as an investigator for TRAFFIC India, which investigates the illegal trade in listed species. Ritwick has also served as legal advisor to the Wildlife Trust of India and the Himalayan Environmental Studies and Conservation Organisation (HESCO).

International Council on Monuments and Sites UK (ICOMOS-UK)
Formed in 1965, ICOMOS-UK is the UK Committee of ICOMOS, the International Council on Monuments and Sites. It is an independent charity with a UK-wide and international mission to promote and support best practice in the conservation, care and understanding of the historic environment. ICOMOS International) has a special responsibility to UNESCO as an official adviser on cultural World Heritage Sites and ICOMOS-UK plays an essential role in advising on aspects of World Heritage and sites for nomination across the UK. ICOMOS-UK’s presentation will be made by Susan Denyer, ICOMOS-UK Secretary.

Ranjeev Gowri, (The Netherlands)
Treasurer, Global Human Rights Defence (GHRD)

Ranjeev was educated at The Hague University. He has recently untaken a research project, MadeINdia, into labour circumstances and health care in India.

Dr. C.S.P. Iyer (India)
Emeritus Professor at the Indian Institute of Information Technology & Management, Kerala, India

Dr. Iyer worked as a Scientific Officer at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in Bombay and as Consultant in Department of Ocean Development with the Government of India. He is currently the Executive Director of the Centre for Marine Analytical Reference and Standards, Regional Research Laboratory (RRL-CSIR), Trivandrum, India. He has received several awards and honours for his work in the field of environmental sciences.

Professor Anantanand Rambachan (USA)
Professor and Chair of Religion, Saint Olaf College, Minnesota, USA

Prof. Rambachan has a deep interest in interreligious relations, in particular the dialogue between Hinduism and Christianity. A guest at the last four General Assemblies of the World Council of Churches, he is also involved in the dialogue programmes of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue at the Vatican, and serves as a member of the International Advisory Council for the Tony Blair Faith Foundation. Among his several books are Accomplishing the Accomplished, The Limits of Scripture and, most recently, The Advaita. His series of 25 lectures was transmitted worldwide by the BBC.

Dr. Wangari Maathai (Kenya)
Nobel Peace Prize winner, 2004

Dr Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, a grassroots environmental non-governmental organisation, in 1977. The initiative has since planted over 40 million trees across Kenya to prevent soil erosion. She has come to be affectionately called ‘Tree Woman’ or ‘The Tree Mother of Africa.’ Since then, she has been increasingly active on both environmental and women’s issues. The first African woman to receive a Nobel Peace Prize for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace, she is supporting the aims of this meeting and will be sending a video message.

The Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development (FIELD) is a UK-based non-governmental organisation of lawyers who work towards a fair and accessible system of international law that protects the environment and promotes sustainable development. Field’s presentation will be made by Christoph Schwarte, Staff Lawyer, whose areas of work currently include environmental justice, climate change and law of the sea.

Ranil Senanayake (Sri Lanka)
Environmental Scientist and Systems Ecologist

After graduating from the University of California at Davis, Dr. F. Ranil Senanayake took many international positions: Executive Director of the Environmental Liaison Centre International in Kenya; Senior Scientist of Counterpart International in Washington D.C. and Senior Lecturer at Melbourne and Monash universities in Australia. He has served on UNEPs committee for the production of the ‘Global Biodiversity Assessment’ and as a consultant to the World Bank and UNDP. He has worked as an inspector for Organic Production, developed standards for the certification of Responsibly Mined Gold in Colombia, and Chaired Rainforest Concern International. In addition to numerous research articles and books, he is the creator of the Environmental restoration system known as ‘Analog Forestry,’ and currently works for the International Network for Analog Forestry (IAFN). A keen diver, he has interests in marine archaeology, ichthyology and herpetology. His grandfather was the freedom fighter accredited with securing the independence of Sri Lanka; his granduncle was Sri Lanka’s first Prime Minister; and his father was instrumental in developing the Sarvodaya and National Heritage movements of Sri Lanka.

Martin Palmer (UK)
Secretary General, The Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC)

A pioneer in the area of interfaith environmental education, Martin Palmer was instrumental in HRH Prince Philip’s creation of ARC in 1995. ARC specialises in projects related to religious, environmental and development issues, working with international organisations such as WWF, the World Bank, UNESCO, UNDP, the World Council of Churches, the China Daoist Association and the Islamic Foundation for Environment and Environmental Sciences. In 1997 he founded the Sacred Land Project which now seeks to protect sacred sites from Mongolia to Mexico. He studied theology at Cambridge and is the author of many books including Travels through Sacred China, Times World Religions, and The Sacred History of Britain. He is a regular contributor to BBC religious and cultural programmes.

Gurudev Dr Rajeshji Parmar (UK & India)
International Siddhashram Shakti Centre

Dr Parmar is founder and spiritual Leader of the International Siddhashram Shakti Centre. He worked for the re-establishment of ancient Indian Hindu philosophy and knowledge of Vedic tradition. He travels to participate and conduct spiritual & religious ceremonies at various religious places worldwide, aiming to establish world peace and universal brotherhood.

Anant Vyas (UK)
Executive Representative, Hindu Council UK (HCUK)

Anant joined the Hindu Council UK in 2006, helping run campaigns on numerous projects affecting the British Hindu community in the areas of politics, community cohesion, health, equality, inclusion and diversity, education and also in relation to fundraising. Having a keen interest in international affairs, Anant has been instrumental in bringing to public attention the lack of human rights available to Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs in Kenya, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Malaysia. He also helped organise the first International Hindu Mela in Milton Keynes Bowl in 1989, attended by 80,000 Hindus worldwide. Anant has worked as a housing officer for Camden Council for the last 31 years.

Dr. I Gusti Ngurah Arya Wedakarna (Bali)
Lecturer, Mahendradatta University

As well as his academic role, Dr Wedakarna is General Chairman of the Foundation of the Indonesian Tourism Envoy Association (ADWINDO); President of The Sukarno Center and leader of the Mahendradata Foundation IGN.

Kusum Vyas (USA)
Meeting Secretary and Founder, Living Planet Foundation

Dr. Vyas was born in Kenya and spent her early years in Uganda, graduating from the University of Nairobi and later attending Texas A&M University’s Graduate programme in Education. Her career includes establishing a successful business developing her own line of aesthetic and environmentally friendly products. She has also founded non-governmental organisations in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. She formed the Living Planet Foundation to promote culturally sustainable, cost-effective, equitable, innovative and holistic solutions for key issues that threaten earth’s environment, population and the habitat. Since she launched her “Save Ram Sethu” campaign in March 2007, she has managed to get the support of the Hindus of Mauritius (600,000), Bali (3.2 million), Indonesia (15 million), Trinidad & Tobago (350,000), Europe, Surinam, Africa, Guyana, the US, Canada and Australia. The King of Ubud, Bali, has expressed his full support for her campaign.

Romulus Whitaker (UK)
Herpetologist and Wildlife Conservationist

Rom Whitaker caught his first snake in New York State when he was just four. At the age of seven, his family moved to Bombay, where he kept a secret 12 foot python under his bed at boarding school. He started India’s first Madras Snake Park before extending his interest to other reptiles, founding the Madras Crocodile Bank, a gene pool for all the world’s crocodilians and India’s premier research centre for herpetology. He was contacted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to help set up a network of tribal crocodile rearing stations across Papua New Guinea. Subsequently, he has travelled to Bangladesh, Mozambique and Borneo – canoeing up remote streams, jumping out of helicopters onto croc nests, trekking over mountain ranges in search of elusive reptiles. Straddling conservation, scientific study and the captive breeding of rare species, he became Asia’s ‘reptile man.’ Then he made a series of films on snakes and a children’s feature in Tamil called ‘Boy and the Crocodile’ – India’s most popular children’s film to date. He also made the Emmy award winning ‘King Cobra.’

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