What's with the Climate?

Voices of a Subcontinent grappling with Climate Change


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Inspiring Action through Art – ft. Niharika Rajput

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On World Sparrow Day, we had caught up with Niharika Rajput,  a bright young artist/entrepreneur who is using her passion and art for spreading the message of bird conservation through her initiative ‘Paper Chirrups’. On the occasion of World Migratory Bird Day, we share her journey off the beaten path and what inspires her, in her own words. Read on !

 

 

 

 

“Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark” – Rabindranath Tagore

Birds are intriguingly referred to as God’s messengers as they traverse all the five elements that constitute life: Water, Earth, Air, Fire and Space, literally and in mythological metaphors. They traverse the length and breadth of this planet without having to acquire a passport or visa. Nationality doesn’t define their colour, race or character, whether it be the tiny Humming birds flying from Alaska to Mexico or the Black-necked cranes flying from Tibet to Ladakh, they all become bearers of diverse nationalities.

My love for the winged species is not recent, I’ve had a deep admiration for birds and wildlife in general since I was young. Growing up, life caught on to me and I didn’t realize when I stopped observing them, until I saw a flock of 10 to 12 Red Billed Blue Magpies in Himachal Pradesh. The idea of doing something creative always made me feel very comfortable. At the time, I was struggling to find the subject I connected best with to build my pieces. After my sighting of the Magpies, I was certain that Birds will be my focus. However, it didn’t end there. That was just the beginning.

Black necked crane workshop

Black – necked cranes workshop, Druk Padma School,  Ladakh

The more I delved into it the more I learned about what was happening to them. Climate change, loss of habitat, hunting, poisoning, illegal trade to name a few, really opened up my eyes to the plight of birds. So I started using Art as my channel of communication. With the support of many conservationists and nature centres, I have been successful in conducting Art for Wildlife Conservation projects in India and all over the world. From Delhi to Ladakh to British Columbia my focus has been various species of birds.

Birds of Ladakh , workshop , Satho Govt school , Ladakh

Birds of Ladakh Workshop , Satho Govt School , Ladakh

I’ve conducted workshops with almost 1500 children, men and women through my projects which tend to be educational, entail discussions, hand building activities, bird watching trips and introduction to Bird Guides. These workshops are a step towards getting people excited about the birds found in their region and help train them to be ‘bird sleuths’ and ‘citizen scientists’.

Birds of Paradise workshop, Alan Brooks Nature Centre( British Columbia)

Birds of Paradise workshop, Alan Brooks Nature Centre, British Columbia, Canada

“From being a farmer’s best friend for protecting the crops against pests and insects, to helping in cross pollination and proving to be true custodians of the environment by cleaning up most human waste, birds are capable of doing it all”.

I have always believed that the natural world has the most magnificent and sophisticated mechanisms. Every creature big or small has a significant role to play in the ecosystem and in our survival. From times immemorial birds have played a significant role in preserving and balancing various ecosystems. From being a farmer’s best friend for protecting the crops against pests and insects, to helping in cross pollination and proving to be true custodians of the environment by cleaning up most human waste, birds are capable of doing it all.

However some of these chirrups are rather feeble and perishable. For example, the humble Sparrow (also the state bird of Delhi) holds great significance in our lives. They have always nested in our homes, helped study Earth’s magnetic fields and are great indicators of climate change. Modern infrastructure lacking the curves and crevices, change in climate, habitat loss and lack of adequate food sources are some of the many reasons why the House Sparrow is on a constant decline.

We should work together to keep the natural world alive, whether it be birds or our oceans or our forests. They need us the most now, to fight the battle of survival for them.  Choosing this path has its ups and downs but the cause also motivates you to keep at it because the eventual result is always very fulfilling.

To read more about her projects, you can visit the ‘Campaigns’ section of her website.

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दलों का दलदल

(We are all trapped in the quicksand of political parties)

Elections have just concluded in 5 of the 30 states of India.  There has been a record turnout of youth and women voters this election season.  In Delhi alone, youth voters turned out in historical numbers pushing the total number of voters to 65% (the maximum before this was 61.8% in 1993).  While the allure of new political winds ushered in by the arrival of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) (The Common Man’s Party) may have driven some of the enthusiasm in a population beleaguered by poor governance and the false prophets of established political parties, let’s hope that these demographic shifts are here to stay.  And why shouldn’t youth be engaged?  After all, it is their future that is being whittled away by career politicians who are happy to sell the ecological wealth on which their livelihoods will depend.

So why do Indian political parties fail to acknowledge the need for environmental conservation in their campaigns? Article 48(A) of Part IV of the Indian constitution reads: “The State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country.”  In no political party’s manifesto is it apparent that the political class has thought clearly about the matter.  If we can thank anyone for the protection of any ounce of our nation’s ecological capital (from a legal/governance perspective) it is the Supreme Court which has been cited as the greenest court in the world.

Why the empty promises of 30% reduced electricity tariffs which will only further bleed our utilities dry and leave them with no revenue to innovate for the future much less provide reliable access?  Why promise 700 liters of free potable water when you have a fetid and dead river that flows through your city (and there’s hardly any ground water left)?  Why promise new sewage treatment plants when billions of dollars have been spent on sewage treatment plants already and while we still have over 50% of our untreated sewage making its way to the river?  Who needs “Statehood” for what should be the most easily governed unit in the whole Republic of India?  You want to set up child-friendly courts for crimes against children?  How about one that will ensure that these children have their right to life and livelihood protected by having a firm foundation (environment) in place by the time they grow up?  You want a monorail?  Did you forget about the ring rail that is hardly used?  How about refurbishing that and integrating it with the metro system (and continuing to build the Bus Rapid Transit)?  These populous promises mean nothing.  Meanwhile Delhi and India at large are headed nowhere, very fast.  Think about that the next time you are caught in traffic and choking on the ever-increasing fumes while mantri’s whiz past you in their luxury vehicles.

  By Supriya Singh and Kartikeya Singh