It is very, very sad that young climate activists are being victimized at an incipient stage of the movement in India. This is one of the relatively new movements and there are understandably some uncertainties regarding the exact course of action and the stand to be taken on certain issues, but one thing which is absolutely certain is that this is one of the most relevant movements of our times which deals with an issue of very critical importance for the future of humankind.
It is by now clear that climate change and some related environmental problems have reached a stage where these badly threaten the basic life nurturing conditions of earth. In other words the future of the generations to come is very badly and seriously threatened by these problems. There is more than enough scientific evidence to establish this basic fact. So what should the young people do? Should they merely sit idly doing nothing and allow their future to be endangered so gravely? No. The bravest among them have said clearly. We are going to do something now to protect our future.
This is wisdom. This is courage. This should be encouraged. But some of those who allowed the dangerous problems to continue for so long unchecked are not happy. They have taken to victimizing this movement’s activists. This is happening at an incipient stage of the movement. This is sad and tragic. No nation can afford to victimize the bravest of its young people, those who also have the vision and the understanding to know well what climate change and related problems are doing to our world. They are not just our bravest, they are also the most wise.
Fridays for Future is just one of the several inspiring initiatives of the movement . These activists have been called and rewarded as the Champions of Earth ( Inspiration and Action) by the United Nations, honored by its flagship environmental honor. This is in recognition of the fact that this is an important beginning that the new generation , the generation still in school, is making in terms of saving their endangered future.
When millions of young people come forward to save their future, they will of course save their future , but in addition they will also help the elderly people of the world to live their old age in more safety. The present generation did not do enough to give the young a safe future, but the young climate activists and those in Fridays for Future are working also to give their parents and perhaps even grandparents a safer old age. Disha has said that she was drawn to climate activism because she was distressed by the hardships her grandparents as farmers were experiencing from increasingly adverse weather conditions likely to be caused by climate change.
Those who are coming to climate and environment activism with such noble sentiments should be encouraged and rewarded , not victimized and imprisoned. Let it be known loud and clear that the movements for protecting earth and checking climate change are inherently movements of peace. They cannot be otherwise. Such movements have nothing to do with violence or sectarianism or secessionism or sedition or khalistanism of any variety. So many people, including parents of brave students participating in environmental movements, are bewildered about recent allegations to this effect. Let us follow here the version of the happenings given by a national hero Julio Ribeiro. As everyone knows already, this great cop, together with his other brave colleagues in the police, won great fame for curbing the terribly violent sectarian Khalistani movement at great risk to his life and so can be expected to be very well-informed about Khalistani mischief-makers.. As he has written in his column in the Tribune, at the most what happened was that some Khalistani group, having an attractive name which cleverly concealed its real identity, deceived an innocent young environmental activist to do some work with it for a short while. When an otherwise noble , young, innocent activist is deceived in this way, then the role of government is surely to inform and warn the activist about the real identity of the dubious person who is trying to misuse the innocent activist. The activist upon being informed and warned should give up all contact with this dubious person and his organization. This is the way as it should be, and a relatively small, unintentional mistake should end here, instead of being blown into a big issue and case.
The broader issue here is that the movement of young people to protect environment and check climate change is a highly relevant and very much needed movement of great potential for saving environment. It is in its early stage, particularly in India. This movement should not be given a bad name and entirely unfair allegations should not be imposed and inflicted on it just because of the possibility that an entirely unintentional mistake may have taken place. The elderly leaders of the country should bless the young people who are coming forward to save the future, not victimize them, and those already victimized should receive immediate relief by action at higher level to correct the serious mistake.
These young people are the future, they are the ones who will save the future.
Bharat Dogra is a veteran journalist and author. His recent books include ‘Protecting Earth for Children’ and ‘Survival Crisis—Planet in Peril, People’s Movements the Only Way Forward.’