Environment: Getting a move(ment) on

Protecting and conserving the environment cannot remain just a “concern” or “mission” any more. It is quite literally a matter of life and death for the human species. The environment has been subjected to such depredations over the past several decades that it is hitting back with cataclysmic events, which are wreaking death and destruction.

No less a person than Prime Minister Narendra Modiji has pointed to the seriousness of the prevailing situation and urged all countrymen on several occasions to put their best foot forward to protect and preserve the environment. He has said,” For us, protection of the environment is an article of faith.” Elsewhere, he has affirmed that respect for nature “is an integral part of our culture…protection of the environment comes naturally to us.” The Father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, in his time, said that “One must care about a world one will not see.”

The fact that a vast majority of nations have resolved to go ahead and implement the Paris Agreement on Climate Change shows that globally there is a felt need to move urgently along the path of environmental protection and amelioration. Closer home, in India, sustainable development has always been a part of the country’s ethos and culture. We are part of a civilisation that refers to the planet as

‘Mother Earth’ and our ancient texts are replete with the message of protecting and preserving the environment. Article 48 A of the Directive Principles of State Policy in our Constitution enjoins upon the state to protect and improve the environment. Article 51 A (g) of the Fundamental Duties casts upon every citizen the duty “to protect and improve the natural environment, including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife.”

Getting people involved

Global agreements and ministerial initiatives for a greener and more flourishing planet are all steps to the good. But the movement to protect the environment has to move beyond pious pronouncements and hurry and skurry in the bureaucratic realm. It has to attain “critical mass”. Yes, anything less than a mass movement to protect the environment will not serve the purpose.

To this end, we at the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change have come up with a list of good deeds relating to environmental protection—we call these the ‘Green Good Deeds’—which every citizen can undertake on a daily basis. If the billion plus people in the country opt enthusiastically for this, then the environment will get protected in a billion small ways every day.

We at the Environment Ministry intend to reach out all across the land with our message:

Parliamentarians, State Governments, Rotary and Lions Clubs, schools and universities, social and religious institutions, the social media (covering Twitter and Facebook). We are also planning to launch a website from which people can download these ‘Green Good Deeds’ and provide us feedback on how they have gone about implementing these deeds in their daily life. We will also invite any suggestions/ideas that they have to further the cause of environmental protection.

It should all add up to a greener and cleaner India.