TOWARDS BECOMING A GLOBAL CITIZEN
Nature and its appeal is probably innate to me because I often contemplate and meditate about the value and worth of nature in our lives. I have been inclined to environment since my childhood and I would often think about the insensitivity and callousness of people towards the environment. It created a sense of environmental activism in my nerves.
Basically, I m a poet and a teacher and with every passing day, my passion for service and activism started and grew at a constant pace. My individual efforts never contented and satisfied me, and I thought of a collective effort to play my part as an environmental activist. I got together a group of people, mostly my students, and formed a group.
Thus, we began to spread the vision of simple life and would encourage involving people towards the conservation and preservation of one of the deepest lake in India- Manasbal lake which is close to my residence as well. The lake is intimately connected with my heart as I often used to sit on its side and write my poetry, spending hours contemplating over the superb creation of the God .The enchanting beauty of the Manasbal had been touching my soul and I groomed myself as a nature lover. I often used to swim across its breadth of 2 kms, used to go for fishing and harvest Nadroo (lotus roots), a delicious curry.
The lake, unfortunately, was harmed by the ignorance and greed of the people living around it. I could hardly stop them from damaging the lake even though I was living with them but could not do anything besides watching their harsh and inimical attitude towards the lake. I often felt hapless but I was optimistic too. This optimism paved the way for my environmental activism and endeavours.
It was this lake that would provide us (community) livelihood opportunities and would produce the necessities of our dwelling. But unaware of the blessings of the lake, some of us were using it as a dust-bin, some had begun to fill it to create land for cultivation and construction purposes. Even many would erect their latrines on it, and the excreta was to go into the bosom of the lake. People, therefore, were neglecting the considerable role of the lake in our socio- economic upliftment and its pivotal role in terms of water, food, fodder and tourism. I, as a child could do nothing except highlighting the issue through sending messages to radio programs and pasting handwritten posters outside mosques. I tried to convince the people to recognise the importance of the lake, and its vital role in their lives .I did my best at that time but that wasn’t enough.
Then, as a teacher, I began to take my students to the Lake on Sundays, sensitizing them about the value of the lake in our lives. It motivated many young people who appreciated my motive to safeguard and conserve the fragile lake and its surroundings. I conceived an idea to form a group of volunteers to work with a plan. A handful of people joined me. In 2003, we formed an association named and I spearheaded the group for more than 15 years, raising awareness, contributing articles in newspapers and attending environmental seminars.
We started to do practical work and began organizing hiking events and cleaning drives at the lake. We collected waste and other leftover things around the lake and it was so encouraging that everyone appreciated the work. After the overwhelming response from general public, we decided to carry out another big drive, and we invited all renowned personalities including doctors ,officers, businessmen and religious scholars to the venue and made them part of the cleaning and conservation process . seeing this, the government started showing seriousness too and the concerned authorities geared up their machinery for the efficient planning and surgical execution to preserve the lake.
Next, we started plantation around the catchment areas of this lake and planted hundreds and hundreds of tree saplings. We didn’t stop here.
It was these efforts that led us to form one Rotary club in Kashmir, there was none at that point in time, in order to increase the magnitude of our work and to establish a global understanding and awareness. And thanks to my friends, we were able to charter Rotary Club of Kashmir on 27th May 2019. we have widened the graph of our works and intend to carry on no matter what circumstances we face.
- Author is a Teacher and Rotarian, Charter President RC Kashmir and Founder Social Concern Group.