Earlier this year, on March 08, Licypriya Kangujam rejected the #SheInspiresUs tag that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had awarded her to celebrate the day.
Kangujam tweeted “Dear @narendramodi Ji, Please don’t celebrate me if you are not going to listen to my voice. Thank you for selecting me amongst the inspiring women of the country under your initiative #SheInspiresUs. After thinking many times, I decided to turn down this honour”. The 8-year-old was praised online for her courageous undertaking. She took on climate change activism in July 2018, starting movements like ‘Child Movement/Bachpan Andolan’ to call on world leaders to take immediate climate action. She dropped out of school in February 2019 to protest every week in front of the Parliament House of India.
The ‘Indian Greta Thunberg’ is also the youngest speaker in the history of TED Talks. You may see her impressive speech at the TEDxSBSC here.
Young climate change activists have realised their voices and urged the world to pay heed to the growing crisis.
Few more young Indian activists fighting for the planet are:
I. Riddhima Pandey
Back in 2017, she filed a petition in the National Green Tribunal against the government for failing to take action on climate change, focusing on growing concern over pollution and environmental degradation in India. The plea was dismissed by the tribunal and she has now filed a case with the Supreme Court.
She was among the activists who criticized Germany, France, Brazil, Argentina, and Turkey for failing to uphold their obligations to young people under the U.N.’s Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Riddhima’s interest in climate change initiated in 2013 when melting snow brought horrific flooding and landslides to Uttarakhand and her father, a wildlife conservationist, explained global warming to her because she was curious about the natural disaster.
At 12 years of age, Riddhima has asked the government to ban plastic, to assess industrial projects for climate-related issues, to prepare a carbon budget to limit carbon dioxide emissions, to keep a check on India’s fossil field dependency and to create a national climate recovery plan.
II. Aditya Mukherjee
Aditya started campaigning to stop the usage of plastic straws in 2018. At the age of 13, he went to cafes and restaurants to persuade them to swap plastic straws for eco-friendly options. He volunteered for Delhi-based Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group that works on waste segregation and environmental solutions and undertook the 18 month-long initiative to eliminate 25 million plastic straws and other single-use plastics from the ecosystem.
Due to his immeasurable efforts to campaign against plastic usage, conservation of forests, and climate strikes, he was invited to be a part of the UN Youth Climate Action Summit in September 2019. He also promotes alternatives to plastic and campaigns against cutting of trees.
III. Kavya S
Kavya hails from Kerala’s mineral-rich Alappad village where sand mining has led to sea erosion. The large scale unscientific mining has resulted in the sea entering onto land, affecting the livelihood of the farmers who reside there. She posted a video on social media explaining the damage mining had caused to her village. After the video went viral, the National Green Tribunal enquired a report from district administration which showed that mining had exceeded the proper quantity and receded the shorelines. A committee for recovering the caused damages was set up soon after.
Kavya had held protests in the village but after meeting with failure in her efforts, she decided to upload the video which led to the awareness of the unscientific mining and its impact.
IV. Valentina Elangbam
Valentina is a 9-year-old activist from Manipur’s Kakching district who has participated in several plantation programmes. She wants to be a forest officer and aims to make Manipur green. She was appointed as the ambassador of Green Manipur Mission in 2019 by the Chief Minister after her video of crying over two Gulmohar trees that she had planted went viral.
V. Subhasmita Tripathy
Subhasmita belongs to Pentha village in Odisha, another coastline that had faced sea entering the land due to erosion, forcing people to migrate and give up their homes. Subhasmita, concerned about the sea erosion and its impact on school dropouts, went to the homes of the migrated families and spoke to them about the importance of education, convincing them to send their kids back to school.
She was nominated for International Children’s Peace Prize 2019 for fighting for children’s rights along with Greta Thurnberg and Divina Maloum.
VI. John Paul Jose
This 23-year-old is unlike anyone his age. With a strong message for conservation of the planet and its resources, John Paul Jose is one of the youth leaders of #FridaysForFuture, the global movement started by Greta Thunberg.
He says that his generation may be the last one that could save the planet if they start today. He sprung into action when he realised that Indian political leaders weren’t implementing necessary policies to save the planet and its resources.
Young climate activists like him work tirelessly to address the climate change crisis which seems to be getting out of hand over the years.
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