Champions of the Earth Award:
- The United Nations has honoured Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the Champions of the Earth Award by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
- This award is not for an individual, but a recognition of India’s proactive role in mitigating climate change.
- Indian culture and values have always placed emphasis on living in harmony with Mother Nature.
Harmony between humans and nature:
- Human beings and nature have a very special relationship.
- Mother Nature has nurtured and nourished us.
- The first civilisations were established on the banks of rivers.
- Societies that live in harmony with nature flourish and prosper.
Important time in history w.r.t sustainable development:
- Today, human society stands at an important crossroads.
- The path that we take hereon will not only determine our well-being but also that of the generations who will inhabit our planet after us.
- The imbalances between our greed and necessities have led to grave ecological imbalances.
- We can either accept this, go ahead with things as if it is business as usual, or we can take corrective actions.
Three things will determine how we as a society can bring a positive change
1. Internal consciousness:
- For internal consciousness, there is no better place to look than our glorious past.
- Leading lifestyles that are harmonious and sustainable are a part of our ethos.
- Once we realise how we are flag bearers of a rich tradition, it will automatically have a positive impact on our actions.
- Elements of nature as manifestations of divinity:
- The ancients write about the Panch Tatvas – Prithvi (Earth), Vayu (Air), Jal (Water), Agni (Fire), Akash (Sky) – and how our life systems are based on the harmonious functioning of these elements.
- The elements of nature are manifestations of divinity.
- Respect for nature is at the core of India’s traditions:
- The Atharvaveda contains the Prithvi Sukta, which contains unparalleled knowledge about nature and the environment.
- It is beautifully written in Atharvaveda: Salutations to Mother Earth:
- In Her is woven together Ocean and River Waters; in Her is contained Food which She manifests when ploughed; In Her indeed is alive all Lives; May She bestow us with that Life.
- Practising Gandhi’s teachings:
- Mahatma Gandhi wrote extensively on the environment and even practised a lifestyle where compassion towards the environment was essential.
- He propounded the Doctrine of Trusteeship, which places the onus on us, the present generation, to ensure that our coming generations inherit a clean planet.
- He called for sustainable consumption so that the world does not face a resource crunch.
2. Need for public awareness:
- For public awareness, we need to talk, write, debate, discuss and deliberate as much as possible on questions relating to the environment.
- At the same time, it is vital to encourage research and innovation on subjects relating to the environment.
- This is when more people will know about the pressing challenges of our times and ways to mitigate them.
- When we as a society are aware of our strong links with environmental conservation and talk about it regularly, we will automatically be proactive in working towards a sustainable environment.
- That is why, proactiveness is an important facet of bringing a positive change.
- 130 crore people of India are proactive and at the forefront of working towards a cleaner and greener environment.
Examples of proactiveness in India:
- Swachh Bharat Mission:
- This proactiveness is seen in the Swachh Bharat Mission, which is directly linked to a sustainable future.
- With the blessings of the people of India, over 85 million households now have access to toilets for the first time.
- Over 400 million Indians no longer have to defecate in the open. Sanitation coverage is up from 39% to 95%.
- These are landmark efforts in the quest of reducing the strain on our natural surroundings.
- Ujjwala Yojana:
- We see this proactiveness in the success of the Ujjwala Yojana, which has significantly reduced indoor air pollution due to unhealthy cooking practices that were causing respiratory diseases.
- Till date, over 5 crore Ujjwala connections have been distributed, thus ensuring a better and cleaner life for the women and their families.
- Namami Gange Mission:
- India is moving at a quick pace in cleaning its rivers.
- The Ganga, which is India’s lifeline, had become polluted in several parts.
- The Namami Gange Mission is changing this historical wrong.
- Emphasis is being given to proper treatment of sewage.
- Green Skill Development:
- Objectives of Skill India have been integrated in the environment sector, with schemes, including Green Skill Development Programme, for skilling about seven million youth in environment, forestry, wildlife and climate change sectors by 2021.
- This will go a long way in creating numerous opportunities for skilled jobs and entrepreneurships in the environment sector.
India’s proactiveness seen even internationally:
- Paris agreement:
- India remained at the forefront of the COP-21 negotiations in Paris in 2015.
- In March 2018, world leaders of several countries converged in New Delhi to mark the start of the International Solar Alliance (ISA), an endeavour to harness the rich potential of solar energy and bring together all nations that are blessed with solar power.
- Call for Climate justice from India:
- While the world is talking about climate change, the call for climate justice has also reverberated from India.
- Climate justice is about safeguarding the rights and interests of the poor and marginalised sections of society, who are often the biggest sufferers from the menace of climate change.
- Our actions today will have an impact on human civilisation much beyond our time.
- It is up to us to take on the mantle of global responsibility towards a sustainable future.
- The world needs to shift to a paradigm of environmental philosophy that is anchored in environmental consciousness rather than merely in government regulations.
- With individuals and organisations working with the governments assiduously in this direction, we can create a clean environment that will be the cornerstone of human empowerment.
We need a clean environment for human empowerment