Exclusive: This 8-Year-Old Indian Is Educating World Leaders About Climate Change
Climate change is already upon us. Some scientists have already declared that only months left before climate change becomes irrevocable.
Apart from activists and environmentalists raising their concerns about shrinking green belt, spouting toxic chemicals into marine ecosystem, and degrading air quality index, children from various parts of the country have stepped up and rebuked the adults and world leaders for failing to revive the earth.
One of the children who has been vociferous on the climate crisis is Licypriya Kangujam. While the other 8-year-olds are busy learning basic Mathematics and playing with their heart out, Kangujam is currently in Madrid, raising her voice at the 2019 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The little girl has made a mark with Spanish newspapers hailing her as ‘Greta’ of the Global South.
She met the United Nation’s, General Secretary – Antonio Guterres and handed him a four-page memorandum on behalf of the children of the World to create a better world with concrete actions.
But Who Is She?
The 8-year-old hails from Manipur and has been an important person behind the student rally demanding climate change action in India.
What has puzzled a lot of her audience is her age. How can a kid who should be carefree is preaching leaders about the uncertain future?
The Logical Indian got an opportunity to speak to Licypriya to know what made her choose a different path and what her expectations are from the adults.
When asked what made her keep the school books away and get herself involved in activism, Licypriya said: “Two years ago whenever there used to be a natural disaster I used to cry after seeing kids lose their parents or people sitting next to their dilapidated house. Back then I didn’t know the cause behind such destructive calamities.”
She said when she figured out what wreaked so much havoc and indecipherable pain to this world, she started to question the world leaders. Her understanding of the climate change widened when she attended the 3rd Asia Ministerial Conference for Disaster Risks Reduction 2018 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
While attending the event with her father, she met a lot of delegates from various countries and environmental activists. They had raised concerns over several disasters(artificial and natural) in their countries. “The event was a life-changing moment for me,” Kangujam added.
After returning to India, she started an organisation called ‘The Child Movement’ to call on the world leaders to take immediate climate action and save the planet and the future generations.
In order to draw the attention of lawmakers, eight-year-old Licypriya started to protest outside the Indian parliament every week from February 2019. “I protested with the hope that our leaders will pass the climate change law that will put a cap to the carbon emission,” Kangujam said.
Her protest finally caught the attention of the MPs and in July, a few members in Rajya Sabha raised questions on the environment in front of Union environment minister – Prakash Javadekar.
The eight-year-old had to drop out of school because of her active participation in multiple world forums to spread awareness about the climate crisis. She has also helped several victims of natural calamities.
“Now I get offer for free education from international schools from different parts of the country,” she said.
Needless to say that her parents have played a crucial role in her every step.
However, the scenario was not like this a year back. “My mother did not support my endeavour in the beginning. She was worried as I hardly studied. However, my father was supportive from the beginning,” Kangujam added.
After a year of her incessant protest, her mother finally realised that the environment was more important than education.
“I have taken inspiration from two people in my life,” Kangujam said gracefully. She was referring to Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation, and Lt. President of India – Dr APJ Abdul Kalam.
“It is said that I couldn’t meet them, but I have compensated that by reading multiple books on them,” she said. Interestingly, Kangujam and Mahatma Gandhi share the same birth date.
The activist is upset with the way the country’s lawmakers have reacted to global warming and other natural calamities.
She lashed out at the government for its inaction. “Our lawmakers are busy playing the blame game”, she added
The young activist has a message for Prime Minister Narendra Modi – “Dear Mr Modi, Pass the Climate Change Law in the ongoing Parliament session as soon as possible from the paper to become action. Your future generations will praise you. I will not stop until you do this.”
Licipriya is fighting ardently for three policies. One is to pass a climate law in India. Second is the compulsory inclusion of climate change as a subject in the school curriculum. Lastly, school students will have to plant 100 trees, undergraduates have to plant 500, and university students have to plant 1,000 trees to pass their final exams.
“If there is no earth, then there is no future. We must protect it when we have a chance,” she concluded.
She is now heading to Egypt to attend the World Youth Forum 2019 on the invitation of the President of Egypt – He Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.