Celebrate, but be warned

Published: Wednesday 05 June 2013


“As far as I’m concerned, every day should be treated as World Environment Day.” CSE director general Sunita Narain’s remark to the media last year typifies many things–ranging from the sheer inadequacy and tokenism of such days, to the urgency of action that is needed to save our only planet as it stands on the brink. Environmental fanaticism? Hardly.

Step back a bit and take a look at India. Pillage of resources goes on unabated with nary a thought to either environment or people. Resource management exists only as empty words on official stationery. Resource conflicts are spreading like wildfire.

But amidst all this mayhem there lies some magic as well. Magic of people and institutions standing up, putting their shoulders together to stem the rot. This environment day, let’s celebrate that magic, even as we re-remind ourselves of a future that hangs in balance.

Join us here to scroll through environmental history from the Down To Earth archives. Read. listen to and think about what our key thinkers say on issues of resources and governance. And scan our photo gallery of everyday environmentalists
Sunita Narain
We need to re–invent sustainable agriculture, so that it can meet the needs of millions, but does not cost us the Earth
Chandra Bhushan
Environmental challenges have grown manifold in past five years, but capacity of institutions to deal with them has decreased in same proportion
Anumita Roychowdhury
The initial phase of UPA II witnessed prolific rule making, but this was not followed by responsible governance
Nitya Jacob
The country’s national leaders have shown a remarkably weak appetite on policy and legislation
Everyday environmentalists
While the world debates on how to save the planet, these people silently carry on with their daily work, often unaware of the role they play in saving the environment (Photographs by Soumik Mukherjee)
Jagjivan Singh, 29
A resident of Govindpuri, Jagivan runs a shop with his father. He cycles to work everyday. He says he has chosen the cycle because the cost of fuel is too high. He gets disturbed by the honking and pollution on the road, but nonetheless he chooses to use his cycle because it keeps him fit also. It doesn’t strike him that his zero pollution mode of transport is what the world needs to keep carbon emissions low
Pradip Kumar, sanitation worker with the Municipal Corporation of Delhi
On most mornings, he can be found sweeping the streets of Okhla and Govindpuri. “Someone has to do this job. I was not qualified enough to get anything else, but I tried to make a dignified living out this job,” says Kumar. He sends his three children to a city school with his meagre wage, hoping they would find better jobs
Nasima Khatun, ragpicker
She works in one of the city landfills. She claims that even if her work is to deal with filth, she is proud of the fact that she is one of those people who are “trying to salvage the city by cleaning the garbage produced by the high flying citizens”
Rakesh, 16, solid waste recycler
He says he has spoken to some NGO people who had told him about the environment and how a change in his work process can improve it. “It’s not that I understand what they say, one thing I have learnt for sure is that in the process of saving the environment, we are earning some money”



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