On a bright Saturday afternoon April 23, it was time for some fun and joy at the India Community Center (ICC) in Milpitas, California, though for a cause, with humanitarian philanthropist Mohanji, community leaders, elected officials, and children celebrating Earth Day planted fruit-bearing trees.
The celebration was organized by the San Francisco chapter of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) and ACT Foundation USA. The group planted trees on the ICC premises two lemon trees, four avocado trees, and five naval orange trees.
Mohan Pathirisseri Kesavan, known as Mohanji, who is known for planting fruit trees started the Fruit Tree Plantation Drive, a global movement during Covid, and was on a tour of the U.S. to plant 10,000 trees, told indica, “Fruit trees help not only humans but birds and animals as well.”
He said the idea is “more food basically. We do tremendous food distribution (anna daan) in many countries and this is the next step.”
When it was pointed out that fruit trees need more water and care, Mohanji said there is a dearth of food in the world and trees are being chopped down, including in the Amazon rainforests, while fires ravage many others, citing the examples of Australia, California, and India as well.
Asked how he got into this habit of planting fruit trees, Mohanji said his organization has been running a program called Act4 Hunger in 15 countries for many years. “Act 4 Hunger is a continuous delivery of ready-to-eat food,” he said. “We also support vertical farming in the Amazon.”
He said in India his organization is active in 23 states, offering food (anna daan) and promoting farming so that people can sustain themselves. “We have initiated many projects, both food distribution and plantation,” Mohanji said.
He said they have received support from forest departments to carry out their activities. “At this point in time we are planting trees wherever possible,” he said. “The next step is to be more realistic and to sustain and organize maintenance.”
Asked if they have been supported by corporations, he said, “Yes and no. Some corporations have given us space and plants but no (monetary) support. We are completely run by public funding.”
Mohanji said that as human beings operate from intelligence and imagination, “we should be responsible, much more than other beings. I am just expressing that aspect of my nature.” That is why, he said, he describes himself as a humanitarian.
Mohanji, who was traveling with his wife and a team, said pollution, deforestation and climate change are all the result of human greed. “That selfish attitude of what can I get should change to what I can give,” he said. “The world belongs to us. And climate change is happening due to human insensitivity. In the last 100 years, how many wars have we faced? Pollution, we have created, and so the impact is bound to happen. Fossil fuel has a cost difference in the world pollution-wise.
“What is natural for humans is solar energy, wind and water energy. By neglecting them we have created much change in our system and are paying the price for it.”
Speaking specifically of India, he said what is missing today is a sense of responsibility. A nation cannot be built only by a politician. “It has to be from our hearts and we should understand that this has to be taken care of for us and the next generation,” he said.
Mohanji was recently honored by the City of Frisco, Texas, which proclaimed April 16 ‘Mohanji Day’ at an event at the Lebanon Trail High School, where Deputy Mayor Brian Livingston made the proclamation on the mayor’s behalf.
It was further proclaimed by Texas State Representative Matt Shaheen and Collin County Commissioner Susan Fletcher, which confirmed that the state, county and city will henceforth observe April 16 as Mohanji Day.
This moment was recognition and honor for the expansive humanitarian work that Mohanji, the Mohanji Foundations, and their global platforms are conducting around the world, trying to turn humankind into kind humans.
Mohanji, who estimates that he has planted 60,000 fruit plants in the past year, said the aim is to reach 100,000 in 2022. ”In India we have planted 25,000 to 30,000 and we need space but it’s coming up,” he said.
Vish Arunachalam, founder chairman and director of the ICAI, San Francisco, expressed enthusiasm at the first Earth Day event by ICAI San Francisco and said they intend to do it every year in collaboration with the ACT Foundation USA.
On the occasion, Mayor Lily Mei said she was pleased to see such work being done there, where many generations will benefit from the fruits, shade, clean air and beauty of the trees. Mohanji and CA Deepak Chopra placed a plaque in the soil remembering this special Earth Day event.