The planet does not belong to grown-ups only
My name is Harsha Batra. I was born, and live, in New Delhi, one of the most polluted cities of the world, and became 13 years of age in October. Like millions of other children who live in big cities, I have never gone to the mountains or the sea and I have never seen snow. The environment I know is full of pollution and noise; water is scarce and energy insufficient. So I worked out a plan for a centre or camp, located somewhere in the mountains or on an island, where we, the children, could learn how to restore the environment using the latest environmental innovations from all over the world. If my generation is going to inherit environmental problems we should know what they are - and the possible solutions for them.
I sent my project to UNEP, which invited me to participate in the 1995 International Children's Conference in Eastbourne, England, the first place I had ever visited outside my country. There I met children from all over the world. Often we did not know how to communicate, as we spoke different languages, but we still managed to understand each other. I was impressed by many projects presented at the Conference, but the most important to me was one by a Romanian girl who, at the age of ten, moved the whole country and reached Parliament in her campaign against smoking addiction in children.
The planet does not belong to grown-ups only; it belongs to us children also. Yet I realized at Eastbourne that Indian children are not being educated enough on these issues. On World Environment Day last year I founded the Panchavati Green Movement. I hope many children will join it by becoming green activists and set up many projects on environmental improvement so that India becomes, on environmental issues, a leader in Asia. This is the golden jubilee year of our country's independence and I am taking this opportunity to call on the youth of India to unite in a signature campaign to demand clean air, potable water, economical eco-friendly energy and a noise-free environment for the development of the country. I plan to cover all the schools in the capitals of five states of India every year, starting with Delhi. I plan, within five years, to cover all 25 states and reach Parliament with the demands from my generation for a cleaner environment for the 21st century.
The Panchavati poster, which will be on the notice boards of schools all over the country, will be sent to the children of 200 nations with a message of eco-friendliness and peace from us, children of India. I am also planning to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina, of the former Yugoslavia, to carry a message of solidarity to its children from Indian children. They can count on our help for rebuilding their nation.
A non-governmental organization named India-2000 (for which my parents work) is facilitating the administration and organization of the Panchavati Movement. It can make the best professionals available to us at any time and make things easy for us, so that we don't neglect our studies and still achieve our targets. We are hoping to enlist the help of our Minister of Education and Environment. I hope there will be many more leaders besides me in the Movement, and thus I will feel stronger.
Rediscovering the spiritual link between man and the five elements of nature, (earth, air, fire, water, ether) which we are made of, is the dream of our generation. India has an ancient eco-friendly culture and I wish all of us to revive it.
All readers, please wish us good luck.
Harsha Batra is the founder of the Panchavati Green Movement, India