From Acquiring Knowledge to Being the Change

Spring flowers at Yamuna Biodiversity Park

Ever considered the question: how do we acquire knowledge about the physical environment around us? The easiest way to get to know about environment in general and environmental issues in particular is to open a text book. In our academic curriculum, in our schools and colleges, in any discipline, we will get enough information about the issues and problems of modern day environment. If we are extra curious, we can go to the nearby library to get books on specific aspects of environment like wildlife or birds or trees or flowers and butterflies.

Beyond this there are those interesting slide shows by people who have gone there and captured it all in slides or movies of their own. These are frequently offered in colleges and University film clubs and in IIC and IHC in the city.  If we are a little more adventurous, we can visit a National Park or a game sanctuary and take pictures of nature with our own cameras. Ask any WWF enthusiast about the pictures s/he took, the taste of the tamarind flower he ate, or the wild berry he bit on or the honey at the bottom of the flower he sucked on and you will get a whole new story about the experience they have to share. Then there are National Geographic etc. channels that let nature into your house.

Further, you can separate out those who are enthusiasts, from those who are committed through their own action and supporting actions of others towards conservation of nature. These are the people who always get a yes! for whatever they propose at the level of action. They powerfully invite us common people to participate. They stand for environment and provide the opportunity and credibility. They are straight forward through out their life about their commitment to nature. For such persons, there would be an interesting answer for this question. They will all be able to share with you that one moment at which it all began. That first moment, that one innocent experience from their childhood that truly touched them. That is when the proverbial moth transformed into the butterfly.

I am not anywhere near say Sunderlalji Bahuguna etc, but for me too there has been a moment. It is those evenings on the beach, when I was 7 or 8 years of age, standing on the edge of a wave breaker wall and jumping off on to the wet sands below. Those brief moments when I could feel myself flying. That determined my commitment and love for nature. What was yours? Do contribute…


Environmental anthropologist by training, been in the field for over 20 years, Gialome (pseudonym) is mainly concerned with the impacts of infrastructure and technology projects on local communities.

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