Earth Day Coordinators Link-Up India
India is a sub-continent with a surface area of 3,287,260 km, oceans on both arms of its peninsula, high mountains, both cold and hot deserts, diverse flora and fauna, major rivers, the largest deltaic region, and a population of 1.2 billion.
Mobilizing this region for Earth Day 2012 was a mammoth task.
Earth Day Network selected coordinators from different regions of the country to help our staff in India do this. The overwhelming responses to the programs the coordinators put together was not a drop in the ocean, but a groundswell of awareness and action that will continue to build and reach out to even larger populations.
While there were multiple programs in different cities, here is just a glimpse of some of these:
Ms. Swati Hingorani, Assistant Editor, Sanctuary Asia, Mumbai (Western India) - Sanctuary Asia is India’s best-known environment magazine. Her team and she worked relentlessly to build awareness about the need to conserve endangered species such as tigers, olive ridley turtles and snow leopards. They covered the cold desert of Ladakh, the lower Himalayan region of Dehradun, the coastal city of Chennai, the teaming metropolis of Mumbai, the wildlife sanctuary of Ranthambore,.and much more.
Ms. Hasina Kharbhih, Team Leader, Impulse NGO Network, Shillong (Northeast India) - “Let’s talk to the people off the street and get their views,” said Kharbhih. This is what Impulse resolved to do. “Are you aware of global warming? How can you contribute to stopping it? Do you realize that what happens in one part of Earth affects other parts?” These were among the many questions they asked people in eight states of Northeast India – many that are declared bio-diversity hot spots. On Earth Day, Impulse hosted a talk show on national TV where experts dealt with environmental issues particular to the region,
Mr. Pramod Kumar Sharma, Program Coordinator, Paryavaran Mitra Program, Centre for Environment Education, Gujarat (Western India) – Paryavaran Mitra runs the largest environment education program in India. On Earth Day, they organized commemorations by around 21,000 students and inspired thousands of others to continue environmental work beyond Earth Day. Events were held across the country. Youth held rallies, contests, concerts clean-ups of heritage sites, and more. Paryavaran Mitra also organized an online environmental quiz and a photography competition.
Mr. Jayprakash Panwar, Managing Director, Channel Mountain Communication, Dehradun (region of the lower Himalayas) – Mr. Panwar is a well-known filmmaker as well. Beginning a month before Earth Day, he built momentum by conducting broadcasts, screening films, and coordinating discussions on ways that climate change is predicted to impact mountainous regions and the ways the locals can work to prevent this. Mr. Panwar said, "We raised Himalayan environment and development concerns, focusing on saving the River Ganga, dam construction and natural calamities… Now, we proudly feel a part of the Earth Day family and wish to continue to work to further the cause.”
Dr. Kavita S. Rattan, Founder, Green Vigil Foundation, Nagpur (Central India) – Green Vigil believes that environmental challenges can be overcome by community mobilization and education. For Earth Day, Dr. Rattan and her team focused on “Green Living.” The programs they hosted encouraged citizens to conserve resources through lifestyle modification at home and in the workplace. The outreach was supported by billboards and flyers. Green Vigil networked widely with media to reach wider and wider circles. In Dr. Rattan’s cover story for Diplomatist magazine (May 2012), she wrote about the green initiatives taken on Earth Day for the blue planet
Dr. Panu Halder, Founder and President, Nature Bodies, Bilaspur (Central India) – Dr. Halder achieved the unique distinction of putting together “Paint for Our Planet.” The resulting painting represented the major environmental problems that the Earth is facing today, as well as the different ways to combat them. 1,250 volunteers painted a 16,290 square foot canvas. This set a record for the largest canvas painting made of mixed media and was certified by the Limca Book of Records. What was remarkable was that the organization began with just 8 volunteers! But through their tireless outreach, they drew in thousands to act as ambassadors for the Earth.
Ms. Darshan Sodhi, Teacher, Delhi Public School, Noida (North India) – Waste Management – in particular, recycling and reusing – was the main thrust of the programs Ms. Sodhi helped organize for students. She helped them understand how water hyacinth could be put to good use, ways to turn garbage into useful compost, and more. And it was a thrilling day when Bollywood idol Milind Soman stopped by to see their remarkable work! Delhi Public School also organized a special assembly for Earth Day.
Ms Nisha Agrawal, Research and Project Coordinator, WomenPowerConnect, Delhi (Capital of India) – WomenPowerConnect is a large network of women’s organizations in India. Ms. Agrawal sensitized the network to the need to reach out to their members about the significant role women can play in the growing green economy. This outreach formed a significant part of Earth Day Network’s Women and the Green Economy (WAGE)® campaign.
Mr. Sudipta Paul, Senior Executive, Contact Base and banglanatak.com, Kolkata (Eastern India) – Mr. Paul’s organizations focused on “Art for Earth” and conducted unique programs around that theme. In Madhubani District of Bihar, where women use natural dyes to create traditional decorations for their homes, Contact Base held workshops to educate the women about the links between humans and nature. The women then used this theme to produce artwork. In Kolkata, banglanatak.com had a session for students where traditional scroll paintings (Patachitra) on nature were exhibited. Folk singers (Bauls) also sang songs in praise of trees, etc.
Mr. Kotta Suri Babu, Assistant Project Officer, Animal Care Land, Tirupati (Southern India) – Animal Care Land is an NGO that operates out of the famous religious town of Tirupati. Mr. Babu focused on building awareness about climate change and encouraging low-carbon lifestyles. Of particular note: Mr. Babu got the women of a tribal village in Kodur Mandal District to participate in Earth day activities, and all of the existing incandescent lightbulbs in the eighty houses in the village were replaced by environmentally-friendly compact fluorescent bulbs. Tirupati, the temple city, saw two seminars: one for children on Earth Day with debates, quizzes, and painting contests and another for the general public with noted scientists and academics addressing the audience on various environmental issues.