The Yamuna Manifesto is an outcome of the Yamuna-Elbe river seminar held at the Max Mueller Bhawan, New Delhi on December 11th and 12th, 2010. The seminar brought together scientists, activists, artists, policy people, citizens to exchange ideas and thoughts on the river Yamuna in Delhi and on rivers as such (also comparing the Elbe River in Germany).
The Yamuna river which has been polluted severely over the past two decades as a result of intensive urbanization in the 17 million strong capital city, is the subject of many debates regarding its pollution and how to clean it. The seminar attempted to unlock this binary of polluted- clean river by bringing in ideas of contemporary culture, global economics, changing ideas of nature and urbanization through interdisciplinary imaginations. The complete proceeding of the seminar can be found at www.yamuna.elbe.org.
The seminar was also part of the larger concept of the twin-city Yamuna-Elbe Public Art and Outreach project which was held in Hamburg (October 2011), and Delhi (November 2011). The project had art works from local and international artists, an international artists’ exchange, public discussions, performances and various forms of public engagements. Co-curated by the editors of this volume, the project was called Freie Flusszone in Hamburg and Project Y in Delhi, in order to address the contemporary public discourse about the river and ecology in the two cities www.yamuna-elbe.de.
The proposal not to just do a documentation of the many diverse seminar contributions, but to deepen the seminar’s aim and to publish something that is yet missing, an elucidating and informative pamphlet on the Yamuna for everybody, both in Hindi and English, received an enthusiatic support from the Max Mueller Bhawan. The book’s content was dedicated to Manoj Kumar Misra’s and Himanshu Thakkar’s far sighted and knowledgeable involvement on the Yamuna, as well as the vision of artists. Those artists from the seminar, who had done work on the Yamuna before, where invited to contribute with their perceptions and visions, to the book. It is our hope that this Manifesto will help create a more discursive space.