In conversation with Rahul Deveshwar, a Marcher of 2000 KM walks Against Plastic

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By Rusen Kumar

NEW DELHI: Rahul Deveshar a green warrior is going to start 2000 KM walks, spanning over 6-months, war against plastics from Badrinath, Uttarakhand on October 3, 2014. Rahul Deveshwar is a led marcher of walks from the Badrinath to Bombay. Awakening –Freedom from Plastic walk is spanning over 6-months striving to sensitize people not only about the ill effects of plastic but also how to reuse it in our everyday life. It will cover 8 states and 30 districts including 40 cities, several rivers, Forest Reserves, Lakes and Ocean covering comprehensive topography. 30 cleaning drives will be conducted on route with support from localities, NGO’s, volunteers and others. Art installations will be created on route to spread mass awareness; installations will be accompanied by cultural programs and art exhibitions.

Rahul Deveshwar shares his thoughts on ‘Awakening –Freedom from Plastic walk’ campaign with Rusen Kumar. Exited excerpts:

Rahul DeveshwarKindly explain about ‘Awakening- Freedom from Plastic’ campaign.

Plastic is a menace and now a threat. Fact is, everyday plastic is acquiring alarmingly more and more space on earth and in the oceans. Whether it’s ozone layer depletion or the quantum of carbon emission – along with the indiscriminate use of plastics, the earth is alarmingly converting into kind of death chamber and we just cannot wait for polices to be made. Littering plastic indiscriminately everywhere has become a practice of every Indian. We need to make people aware about ill effect of not disposing plastic insensibly and advocate exerting pressure on governments, to deal separately with plastic waste. Bottom line is, we feel, the need of the hour is to initiate campaigns and awareness to prepare people to act on it – now or never.

What are the vision and mission of campaign?

It’s impractical to think that we can live on this earth with this pace of plastic use. It is heartbreaking to think our future generations visiting labs and museums to see flora and fauna. Our core mission is to protect and improve the environment as the most valuable asset. I would like to quote the famous lines written in 1980’s in the Brundtland Commission report “Our Common Future” – “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children”.

Why you are against use of plastic?

We are not against use of plastic; neither we are leading any ‘no plastic’ or’ stop plastic’ movement. Truth is, life without plastic is impossible today; as plastic is so much penetrated in our surroundings and daily life. Plastic is a poor man’s friend, it is such a handy and beautiful thing; the problem begins when we use it and dispose it insensibly. So we are for responsible and sensible disposal of plastic and avoid irresponsible single use plastic.

Why you have chosen Uttarakhand to start the campaign?

While I was shooting for a feature film in Hemkunth Sahib, Gobind Ghat, I wanted to come back walking to capture its beauty with naked eyes. I had a strong thought to walk from Rishikesh till Badrinath, but next year Kedarnath tragedy seeded lots of questions in my mind. Then I decided to walk but to walk with a purpose. Simultaneously I was working for plastic pollution in Mumbai and in June 2014, I decided to come back and do something which can sensitise masses about plastic pollution.

Can you explain your dream towards – Freedom from Plastic?

Consumerism is the biggest threat towards our civilization. We never think twice to go for a new mobile and throwing away the old one… same with our every household gadgets those are made of plastics… Be it plastic bag or plastic-made any household items – all should be reused again and again and manage plastic waste judiciously. Besides our behavioural changes – we need stringent governmental law to regulate and control the production and usage pattern of plastic.

How many people are involved in this campaign?

When I used to think about it, I used think, that the future is bleak and dark. But, as I started talking to people about my anger, impatience and impending threat – I find, it is not me alone… many Indian, irrespective class or caste and profession are coming with their support and concerns. I feel happy that, I have so support of so many people crisscrossing the country. The movement, which initially was my dream, now getting prepared to become a mass hysteria against the menace.

Such kind of noble works required lots of energy, planning and capital. How you will manage?

A mass movement does not need much of anything… I possessed a dream… I shared it with my friends and now my dream is getting echoed to many – even to them, who are apparently beyond my reach. Many new people are coming voluntarily with their support and newer ideas. I am elated… Happy and relaxed. YES! We need money and more volunteer to run the show… But I am not going desperate for anything… I believe in the power of activism…

What are the biggest challenges towards ‘Awakening- Freedom from Plastic’ campaign?

The biggest challenge to us is the hundreds of years of stoic and irrational mindset which never been challenged with logics and rational thoughts. Every change happened in the world was led by great deal of advocacy and activism. At times, government listen to the voice of the people and initiated the changes and, at times, people made government to listen the writings on the wall. It is a peaceful two-way process. Any change is challenge but the perception of the challenge matters more. And – good thing is – we are quite prepared for it.

Do you have any plan to involved Indian Corporate?

Of course, yes! We have plan to involve every Indian people and entities that run the country – from different aspects of life. Indian corporates are the most strategic entities – who are guiding Indian society to form a different kind of socio-economic milieu synthesized with their economical philosophy. Their involvement in such mass movement will do nothing but make our journey much stress less and easier.

How a common man can be a part of the campaign?

This is the movement is not for me or my team. This movement is for the common people and our children. We are at the cross road of the civilization – either we shall survive or we shall extinct. And – the question will be answered very soon. So – it is their movement and we are just playing our part as conscious citizen of the country to guide the changes. It is for them to act and behave…

What kind of support you are expecting from Govt and civil society?

We expect government not to pose any obstacle by their tradition of ‘red tapism’. We want a sensible response and support from them. We shall tell them the opinion of the experts and inner voices of the common Indian. It is up to them to respond appropriately in the right time. And, civil society is our strength as we belongs that society. We are doing our bit and we expect the other members of the society to reciprocate.

According to you, what are the biggest challenges before India today?

It is poverty… lack of education… lack of basic facilities and equitable distribution of wealth. Environmental degradation is the outcome of all the above micro level issues. We have formed GREEN WARRIORS FOUNDATION to address these burning issues and make the cause a movement. We are trying to incorporate every element of our challenges to our movement and try to encompass a holistic approach towards the multi-dimensional concerns of the society and mother earth.

Rahul Deveshwar: Rahul Deveshwar is a film writer and rebel activist; initiated Freedom from Plastic Campaign on February 2013 by filing a RTI to Indian Railways enquiring about their garbage disposal system. As a philanthropist he is part of several online awareness campaigns including Justice for Son Sori and Tribal Rights of Dongariya Kondh. He received best story writer award in 2013 for his commercially applauded Punjabi film ‘Avien Raula Pai Gaya’. Being a creative director he created various music videos for celebrated Punjabi singers. Rahul has also designed software for monitoring court cases and land records for Batala Tehsil Gurdaspur, Punjab.

Awakening –Freedom from Plastic: GREEN WARRIOR FOUNDATION is setting out for more than 2000 KM walk from the Badrinath to Bombay – in its war against PLASTIC. Awakening –Freedom from Plastic walk is spanning over 6-months striving to sensitize people not only about the ill effects of plastic but also how to reuse it in our everyday life. It will cover 8 states and 30 districts including 40 cities, several rivers, Forest Reserves, Lakes and Ocean covering comprehensive topography. 30 cleaning drives will be conducted on route with support from localities, NGO’s, volunteers and others. Art installations will be created on route to spread mass awareness; installations will be accompanied by cultural programs and art exhibitions.

 (Rusen Kumar is the Editor at IndiaCSR.in and CSR & COMPETITIVENESS. He can be reached at editor@indiacsr.in)

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