Every so often, we come across unsung heroes in our oral history, folklore or urban legends that stand out for their acts of valour and courage. These characters play an integral role in shaping our ideologies and even culture regarding how society needs to be perceived and function. Largely unsung heroes, they are often ordinary citizens who possess a passion that they chase after; a purpose that serves the larger good of people without expecting any rewards in return.
While every passing day could stand as a reminder of why humans may be the major driving factor for the several environmental concerns that plague our world today, the smaller stories of those who give this cause their all often get hidden in the pile. Ahead of this World Environment Day, we take a look at some unsung heroes or eco-warriors that are actively contributing towards shifting the narrative around man-made adversities that threaten our only home.
I. Lakshmikutty Amma
Honing on decades worth of knowledge on ancient medicine and traditional healing practices, Kerala-based Lakshmikutty Amma hails from a lesser-known tribe known as Kaani located near Thirvuvananthapuram district. Lakshmikutty Amma received the Padmashri; the highest civilian award for her attempts at retaining the last remaining traces of ancient healing techniques which involve natural medicines directly extracted from the deep forests of the region. She is also fondly known as ‘Vanamuthashi’ (grandmother of the forest) by the locals who make an arduous hike within the forest to avail her herbal medication.
When this Srinagar-based child activist was 6 years old, she embarked on a mission to tidy up the largest lake in Jammu & Kashmir along with her father. Jannat and her father set out on a small boat every morning for a week and collected the garbage that was strewn across Dal Lake, making her the youngest environmental activist to get involved in the region.
III. Archana Soreng
This climate activist belongs to the Kharia tribe in Odisha. Soreng has been tirelessly advocating the efficacy of traditional medicine that she and her community have been protecting for decades. Soreng’s voice has also been instrumental in shaping the dialogue around the protection of indigenous communities and their ancient practices that strikes a harmonious balance between nature and human life.
IV. Garvita Gulhati
At 15, Gulhati established the ‘Why Waste?’ foundation that works tirelessly to mitigate India’s growing water woes. Collaborating with a chain of restaurants in her home city, Garvita worked on effective waste management strategies and has managed to preserve over 10 million litres of water from being wasted by recycling and reusing it.
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