Viksit Bharat@2047 - Amrith Kaal Vimarsh

Mar 12, 2024

Viksith Bharat@2047: Amrith Kaal Vimarsh and Voice of Youth were launched by our honourable Prime Minister Shri. Narendra Modi to actively involve the student community and create an “Amrith” generation of innovators, thinkers and leaders who would keep the national interest paramount. Viksit Bharat 2047 is the government’s roadmap to transform India into a completely developed nation by 2047. The year 2047 marks a hundred years of independent India and the next 25 years are crucial to achieve that, says the Prime Minister. History is known to have given every country a certain period during which it makes quantum leaps in terms of economic progress and development and the Prime Minister believes that this is India’s time. India’s “Amrith kaal” is ongoing.

As per his suggestion to run special campaigns at every higher education institution across the country to involve more youth, following the directions of the University Grants Commission, PSG & Sons’ charities along with PSG College of Technology and Global Leaders’ Forum (GLF) organised a lecture on “Fostering Resilience in India through Sustainable Practices” delivered by Mr Mohamed Saleem, a National Geographic Educator, a Swachh Bharat Ambassador and the president of Environment Conservation Group on the 29th of February, 2024 at PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore.

The event started with Tamil Thai Vazhthu and was followed by Dr. Radhika K P, Assistant Professor and Faculty Advisor to the GLF welcoming the speaker, the Principal, the faculty and all the other participants. That was followed by a presidential address by Dr. Prakasan K, Principal, PSGCT. As the population went up, the demands of people kept growing leading to undue exploitation of nature, he said. He also quoted specific examples where serious damage has been done to nature and the ecosystem by anthropogenic activities. On a lighter note, he thanked the squirrels for indirectly planting countless trees and helping the ecosystem. He urged everyone to do good and forget, just like how the squirrels bury seeds and nuts and forget. The session then transitioned to the guest speaker with an introduction from Dr. Bhuvaneshwari, Faculty Advisor to the GLF.

Mr. Saleem commenced his address with the first of the major environmental issues in India; air pollution. He pondered over our atmosphere being a concoction for life in which all the gases are in a proportion that is essential for sustaining life on this planet. Any little change in this proportion leads to disruptions in the daily lives of all organisms. One such change has been that of carbon dioxide. Its share has crossed 400 ppm in the atmosphere, the effect of which is excessive global warming. Carbon dioxide has a life span of 300-1000 years and even if all controllable sources of it are cut down, the CO2 that has already been released over the past 200-300 years is here to stay and will continue to exacerbate the greenhouse effect, he says. India has some of the world’s most polluted cities and close to two million people die each year as a result of air pollution-related ailments.

India is a water-stressed country and its water reserves are dwindling fast. One of the main reasons for this that Mr. Saleem quotes is the export of virtual water. Among India’s top exports are cereals, rice and its products, sugarcane and allied products, garments, drugs, cotton yarns, petroleum products and so on. All these crops and products are water-intensive, for whose production we expend our precious water resources. He also points out how the Western nations, Europe in particular, smartly refrain from activities that deplete and pollute their natural resources and instead focus on the service sector to keep their economy running. He highlighted the importance of shifting to permaculture, like cashew trees, instead of growing grass-type crops on all available land.

India is about 2.5% of the total landmass and yet sustains more than a billion people (~18%), more than 30% of the world’s cattle, and accounts for around 7% of the world’s biodiversity, yet India suffers from biodiversity loss. The speaker quoted the example of the Great Indian Bustard whose numbers are rapidly dwindling. This species is dependent on the grasslands surrounding parts of  Coimbatore and Tirupur along the Noyyal River basin. He emphasised the importance of natural infrastructure on the resilience of a country. He also touched upon the vitality of mangroves in protecting us from tsunamis and floods. He cited the scientific shift towards mimicking nature (biomimicry) as an important feat in engineering towards optimising various processes and making them more efficient.  He then went on to talk about the elephant in the room, waste management. The sheer size and population of Indian cities generate tones and tones of solid and liquid wastes, a majority of which often slip away even from city corporations with good waste management infrastructure. Plastic bags have been banned for quite some time, yet we find thin plastics circulating daily. He deemed consuming less and segregating our waste as effective ways to improve the waste management situation in the country. He reveals that an astonishing ~30% of the food we produce goes into waste and decomposes to produce methane, a greenhouse gas with a relatively short lifespan in the atmosphere, yet menacing.

Having looked at all the environmental challenges that India has been facing, he discussed some of the frameworks that have worked well in controlling environmental degradation and reducing pollution in developing countries. He emphasised building natural infrastructure like urban wetlands and mangroves and talked about the vitality of circular economy as one of the expressway tickets to improving the environmental situation. The fashion of packaging everything is generating a lot of waste, he accused. He urged everyone to carry their own bags and water bottles and write to the companies that practice unnecessary packaging of goods. He left the audience with food for thought and the session was opened to questions.

When asked about preferring the environment over the economy in the case of exporting virtual water, he said it is not impossible to be a top economy without exporting water-intensive goods. He cited the examples of several European nations leading the world economic list without having to export goods that cause environmental degradation during production. Eventually, that is what all forms of sustainability aim to achieve. When asked about the lack of technical expertise in practising sustainability, he was quick to dismiss the claim and said all that Indians lack is confidence. To another quirky question posed by a student of business who said that he wouldn’t be able to change what big corporate houses like Colgate and TATA do, Mr Saleem responded by saying that students are the most entitled citizens in the country, especially college students from esteemed institutions like ours, who have more technical expertise and know-how. According to him, students have all the right to question the practices of big corporations. After all, as Mr Saleem rightly pointed out, the present generation has contributed the least to the environment. It is the most affected by its effects, and that is why he promotes the direct participation of today’s youth in conservation activities and urges the adoption of sustainable practices. That is also why the Voice of Youth workshops were launched, and in the Prime Minister’s words, “Youth power is both the agent of change and the beneficiaries of change”.

A peroration by Miss Subashri Shreya, the student coordinator of the GLF was followed by the singing of the National Anthem following which the curtains fell.

Furnished below are further resources related to the event.

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Vishaal Harikrishna Kumar

Along with The Editorial Team

I write because I have something to say. You are encouraged to think outside the blog and not to read in between the lines.