Vandana Shiva: Why We Must Liberate the Earth


Although a physicist by training, Dr Vandana Shiva has never practised. Instead, she has devoted herself to activism. She promotes sustainable agriculture and has become a key figure in the international campaign against genetically modified crops, spreading instead her heartfelt message that organic agriculture can sufficiently feed the world.

Here are five pieces wisdom from activist and pioneer Shiva:

“Everything I need to know I learned in the Forest”

Taken from Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth, Shiva outlines her involvement in the contemporary ecology movement which began with “Chipko,” a nonviolent response to the large-scale deforestation that was taking place in the Himalayan region.

Shiva says that today, at a time of multiple crises, we need to move away from thinking of nature as dead matter to valuing her biodiversity, clean water, and seeds. For this, nature herself will be the best teacher.

“It’s not an investment if it’s destroying the planet”

In 2013, Shiva was interviewed at Berea College, Kentucky on the role of public and educational institutions in stopping destructive corporations. Shiva explains the role of divestment in tackling the apartheid regime in South Africa. She talks of the importance of the global support for divestment and the calls for the withdrawal of money from every company that was upholding and supporting the regime. She goes on to talk about corporate investment:

“Investment must be for the good, it must be for the good of the earth and the planet and must be for the benefit of communities  and it has to me for empowerment of democracy,” Shiva says. “Any investment that destroys democracy, destroys the sustainability of the planet and destroys livelihoods is unethical and immoral.”

Video Credit: Jordan Engel from Flickr.

“The liberation of the earth, the liberation of women, the liberation of all humanity is the next step of freedom we need to work for, and it’s the next step of peace that we need to create.”

To mark International Women’s Day in 2015, Dr. Shiva discussed the impact on women by what she calls the world’s “violent economic order.” The Indian feminist, activist and thinker talked about the women-led uproar over sexual violence in India triggered by last year’s brutal gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old student in Delhi.

In the video Dr. Shiva also addresses the recent U.S. Supreme Court case pitting an Indiana farmer against the agri-giant Monsanto. She says that “the multiple wars against the earth, through the economy, through greed, through capitalist, patriarchal domination, must end, and we have to recognize we are part of the earth.”

Video Credit: Democracy Now! from Flickr

“In nature’s economy the currency is not money, it is life.”

In her essay Values beyond price, Shiva argues that the solution to sustainable economic growth in agriculture seems to lie in giving local communities control over local resources so that they have the right and responsibility to rebuild nature’s economy and, through it, their sustenance.

Shiva goes on to say that those who offer market solutions to the ecological crisis limit themselves to the market, and look for substitutes to the commercial function of natural resources as commodities and raw material.

“You are not Atlas carrying the world on your shoulder. It is good to remember that the planet is carrying you.”

In an interview with Silver Donald Cameron, Dr Shiva elaborated on her statement, saying “I’ve felt that very often we underestimate the power of Nature and we overestimate our contribution even when you’re trying to save the planet. We burden ourselves, we suffer under the burden, and that image of Atlas carrying the world is, in a way, a very real psychological experience for many activists”.