Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Raja Sahota: Himalayan Explorers and Eco-responsibility


Name: Raja Sahota

What is your job?
I run an outdoors company in Dharamsala, India. It is called Himalayan Explorers.

What social causes are most important to you?
Social issues are so intricately related that it is hard not to be involved in multiple causes. Currently I am more involved with environment stewardship through responsible tourism. I believe in sustaining the local economy by creating community based jobs that are ethically and environmentally sound.
What charities do you support – and how?
Leave No Trace – Small Business Associate
Rural Tourism Network Enterprise: We are their representative in this region.
Paryavaran: Paryavan is an N.G.O. involved in networking Indian professionals to solve environment related problems. We are hosting their volunteer researchers to assist them in their case study work which will lead to business proposals that will create environment protection/sustainability based jobs.
Navjagriti Youth Club, Gamru – Mentor

Why do you have a passion for these, is there a personal tie?
I am extremely passionate about these causes and live them day to day. All of these causes support positive and efficient change. I run an outdoors company to help support the local community and make sure the Himalayas stay clean. Indians are not famous for their responsible habits; I want to participate more actively than most to bring change and change that is relevant to my community. Because we are a complex, inter dependent society, we are caught up in an old belief system that is more harmful than good. Change is necessary. Change in our daily habits of garbage and bad hygiene, change in the way we deal with our youth and our kids. Change in our education! We need change!

Is there a particular way you would want to encourage readers to be involved?
I feel the world has to unite on some level to proactively solve the problems we are facing as a species. Instead of making Hollywood movies and making a mockery of the situation in big World Conferences, people need to start saying NO! No to big cars, gas guzzling engines, concrete housing, packaged and genetically modified foods, politicians, corporations selling things we “need”, drugs, coca cola, anything and everything that you have taken for granted so far. Think! Rethink! Educate yourself, travel, meet people doing good work, get to know your geography, new cultures, art, music, your neighbor, your local representative in government. Be responsible by just doing a few more things (or a few less things) that better the lives of millions in the rest of the world. Uniting for our future is a requirement for yesterday; today it is too late to ponder over things – Act now!!

How would you define social responsibility?
100 years ago we didn’t have to think about social responsibility as it was a part of our daily lives. Loving and knowing our neighbors and community and taking care of our family WAS LIFE. We need to return to our roots and support our local society to solve community challenges. The words “social responsibility” were created by corporations to help them look better by doing “community service” yet the root problem is bringing jobs away from local communities which corporations have done. Don’t buy into the buzz words.

Do you have any tattoos that relate to your social/charitable beliefs/work?
All my tattoos are related to my work and life philosophy.

1. Aboriginal Turtle – Left Shoulder – Longevity, Wisdom – The top of the turtle is symbolic of heaven the bottom is Earth and the link is our life – I got this one when I started out in the community and felt burdened with every problem I came to know about. This tattoo was a reminder for me to be sturdy, use my head and carry the burdens of the world selflessly.

2. Chinese Dragon – Right Shoulder - Chinese 4 claw dragon NOT 5 claw – Symbol of commoners J As opposed to the Western Dragon it signifies good luck, water, good harvest and auspiciousness. Chinese Dragons can bring a lot of good luck to people by their powers and wisdom. When I got this tattoo, I had developed the youth group and was at the top of my game.

3. Sikh War Cry “Bole so nihal…” – Right Wrist – In Sikh philosophy, war is not only on
battlefields, but everyday against injustice and threat to peace. This war cry is a commitment to free the world of fear, injustice and uphold peace. In our philosophy, ideally, when called upon to assist anyone in trouble, it is our duty to do so. This tattoo was to support the initiative taken in 2007 by my fiancée Elise and I to take the Youth Group forward and compete in the commercial business environment. We would be faced with many challenges and this tattoo was a reminder for us to stand and fight every step of the way.

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