The creative climate warriors of India
Shreya Gupta, Writer
The attacks on environmentalists in India and around the world were initiated by a few free-market ideologues, whose arguments found a ready audience among the growing middle class. With India (for the first time) experiencing high rates of economic growth, the greens were dismissed as party-poopers. Bowing to the mood, the press stopped running stories on the degradation of the environment and the marginalization of the rural communities that it caused. A greater and more shameful abdication was by the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change, which dismantled the existing safeguards and made the clearance of even the most destructive projects a mere formality and gave a green light to some of the projects in the most eco-sensitive areas in the name of development.
In the words of Captain Planet, “saving our planet is the thing to do.” And although the cartoon came out about three decades ago (who’s feeling old?), its message has never been more important than today. And bringing this message to our screens in many creative ways is a bunch of people from India and around the world.
1. Krithi Karanth (@krithi.karanth): Wildlife biologist and conservationist Krithi Karanth has set up a service in Bandipur and Nagarhole in Karnataka called Wild Seve, for villagers to call if they have suffered damages by wildlife. Through Wild Seve, she’s served people living in 600 villages and has filed about 14,000 claims for families. Her work has won her a spot among the five Rolex Laureates awarded the Rolex Award for Enterprise in 2019.
2. Everyday Climate Change (@everydayclimatechange): This is a very real look at the effects of climate change on the world, with images sourced from photographers across six continents. Disappearing forests, thermal power plants, degradation of water resources, soil erosion—it’s a virtual environmental studies lesson.
3. Oceana (@oceana): A nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and restoring the world’s oceans, Oceana regularly posts about marine facts, lesser-known creatures and alarming ocean statistics. Learn about puffins, corals, otters, sharks and seals and fall a little bit in love with the ocean on this page.
4. Intersectional Environmentalist (@intersectionalenvironmentalist): Started by Aditi Mayer, this is a platform for resources, information and action steps to support intersectional environmentalism and dismantle systems of oppression. If it sounds intense, it’s because it is. The platform, however, is very accessible and boasts a wealth of free and accessible knowledge open to all. It’s also led by environmental activists and sustainability advocates we love.
5. Let India Breathe (@letindiabreathe.in): It is a collective which helps amplify voices of the marginalised communities who are affected by the various environmental conflicts. They are not limited to digital activism but also engage in conversations with authorities and stage dialogues and replicate the best practices for ecologies across different movements.
6. Green Peace India (@greenpeaceindia): Started by Nirmala Karunan, Greenpeace India is the Indian branch of the global environmental group Greenpeace, a non-profit, independent campaigning organisation, which uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and to force the solutions which are essential to a green and peaceful future.
7. Cafe Oikos (@cafeoikos): Started by Anisha Jayadevan and Shishir Rao in 2017, it is a volunteer, passion-driven, not-for-profit initiative as a way for researchers working in the spheres of ecology and conservation where they share their research findings. They are trying to get people interested in and aware of ecological and conservation issues in India by helping in creating a dialogue between scientists and the public.
8. Disha Ravi (@disharavii): A 21-year old environmental activist, she founded the (@fridaysforfuture.india) and tried to raise awareness and stand up for injustice against climate change. Recently, the government has started to attack such activists for protesting against the EIA Bill by naming them to be a part of international conspiracies. Disha’s name came up in the media and created a storm after she edited the toolkit and shared it on social media during the January 26 riots, which was first shared by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. She was subsequently arrested by the Delhi police for allegedly instigating and being a part of the conspiracy.