A brief commentary by D. Orton, written for the discussion group Left Bio,
 on the death of Winin Pereira (1928-1999),
founder of the
Centre for Holistic Studies in Bandra, India.

 Winin: Memories

        Dear left bios,
            I am very saddened to have to inform you that our compatriot on left bio, Winin Pereira, died on
        February 5, 1999. I just found out about this from Winin's close colleague, Subhash Sule, who worked with
        Winin at the Centre for Holistic Studies in India. As you know, many of us on this list recently read the
        detailed and illuminating analysis called "Energy and Lifestyles", authored by Winin and Subhash.

            I think it would be more appropriate if Subhash, or others close to Winin in India, or perhaps someone like
        Jeremy Seabrook, who co-authored with Winin the book Asking the Earth: Farms, Forestry and
        Survival in India
, gave a picture of the very important contribution made by Winin and the Centre. Perhaps
        when this is done we can post it on left bio.

            I feel the need to say something from my own perspective. I first came in contact with Winin in 1990. He had
        written to me, at the suggestion of an Australian academic, concerning sustainable development. He was a
        former nuclear physics worker who left this behind to operate a co-operative farm. Our relationship developed
        from this initial contact. Winin was an important intellectual mentor, comparable to the late Richard Sylvan,
        Rudolf Bahro and Arne Naess. Winin felt that the Green Web and the Centre for Holistic Studies were on
        similar roads. I felt this was a kind, but too flattering comparison, which still however inspired me. I always felt
        the Centre's work is much more practically grounded than what we are doing.

            Winin felt, out of necessity and being rooted in India with all its poverty, that the Center had to pay a lot of
        attention to social justice. There also seemed to be a focus on collecting and popularizing traditional agricultural
        practices, which had existed for hundreds of years outside of the industrial capitalist system. (For example,
        The Ecologist
published an article by Winin called "Traditional Rice Growing in India", March/April 1991.)
        He also felt that the concern with deep ecology, while understandable for people here in North America, was
        not so important for India. Winin believed that ancient Indian philosophies had a similar deep ecology ethic and
        that these philosophies were close to the surface in India among the peasantry. Reading Winin's writings, because
        of the anti-Western development thrust (Indians should rely on their own traditions and knowledge), kept me
        conscious of how our industrial growth in the West had negative consequences for what he called the
        "Two-Thirds World". One of the booklets published by the Centre in 1990, was called From Western Science
        To Liberation Technology.

            Winin was a pre-left bio contact for me. He was one of those contacts through the mail who enabled me to
        feel a part of something much bigger than myself. So the local isolation became more bearable because of
        exchanges with others scattered around the world, thinking similar thoughts about the need to end industrial
        capitalist society, and how to establish a different, more ecocentric relationship to the natural world.

            I have quite a thick file of writings by Winin. The following is from an article called "Restoring Our Future",
        which is dated January 1990 and is authored by Winin Pereira and Jeremy Seabrook. I am quoting the opening
        three paragraphs and the last paragraph:

                The other day there was a pathetic report in the news about a little girl in Bombay who had never
                seen a live butterfly. There must be something drastically wrong with the way we have organised
                our lives - or the way it is organised for us - which has resulted in our exchanging the beauty of
                butterflies on the wing for a handful of high-tech trinkets.

                The interplay between the internal environment (human appetites) with the external one (the
                planet) requires to be dismantled and reconstructed in a less damaging and ruinous relationship.

                Our ancient sages discerned a principle of harmony pervading the entire universe. Each individual
                forms part of all other life and non-life, one with the earth. This concept requires respect for all
                that surrounds us, since the individual self merges with the rest of creation. Such a perception can
                form the basis for a just, sustainable society.

                If the western system of 'development' is permitted to endure, of one thing we can be sure: soon,
                not only will butterflies vanish, but little girls, too.

            Thanks Winin, for what you came to do with your life and what you gave to me and so many others.

            David Orton
            February 13, 1999

Published in Indranet, “Winin Pereira Memorial Issue”, Issues #31-34, February 2000, Bandra, India.           

An obituary written by Jeremy Seabrook (WININ PEREIRA 1928-1999) is available from the Green Web.

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