Wearing an oxygen mask, carrying a 20-litre plastic bottle containing plant strapped to my back and holding a placard that reads "Plant trees, Save trees"— the idea has been to draw people's attention to the fact that our planet is in danger and so are we!
I had come up with this idea of 'silent activism' after I had seen an animated cartoon character of a boy carrying a plant on his back with an oxygen mask. It made me ponder about the artist and I thought if he could create a character, I could bring it to life and use it for a social cause.
Political leaders, media organisations and those in power to influence the masses have not actively been part of the conversation to save the environment and hence there has been a massive lack of awareness amongst the people on the perils of environmental degradation and climate change.
I was a vegetable vendor, five years ago, and had to fight the odds to complete my education. I moved from Bihar to the national capital and started working at a multinational company at night. By day, I campaign in various places on the issues affecting the environment because I always wanted to do something for the society irrespective of the status I would gain. My father used to tell me stories about the freedom fighters who laid their lives for the society and those stories stayed with me and have been my inspiration.
The biggest challenge is to change the mindset. Since childhood, kids are taught to regard financial status as the measure of success in their lives. 'Dekho wo kitna kama raha hai, achi job kar raha hai' (See, how much they are earning, has a well-paying job) has bought this model of car and we are taught to earn money without consciously thinking about the means. This mindset, especially during the formative age, limits our thought-process to 'earning money' as the prime motive of living a life.
'Paise kamana hai, par ye nahi bataya jata ki environment ko bhi bachana hai' (We are taught to chase materialistic pleasure but have no idea about our role in safeguarding the natural resources).
When I am holding the jar and donning the oxygen mask, it is a symbol to let people know, if we do not start working towards saving the planet, get a grip on the carbon footprint then the future would have human beings carrying oxygen cylinders to breathe.
We inherited clean air and water from our ancestors, but are we going to pass on the same to our next generation? Or are we planning to gift them oxygen cylinders instead of clean air? This is the only thing I want to ask people to bring about a change in their mindset.
Initiating dialogue is the first move towards triggering conversations that can bring change in mindset and ultimately create impact.
Plantation, reduction of carbon emissions, controlling the increasing pollution levels have to be our focal points. We have already started consuming bottled water, something that was available for free, and soon, oxygen would also be made a commodity if we fail to do protect our environment.