When a community radio initiative of Anna University went on air, little did the students of Anna University know that it would tweak their own attitude towards environment.
Their attitude change was just an unexpected frill to the work of M. Haripriya, who, along with her friends, set up an FM channel to spread awareness of going green.
The channel was a creative upshot of her slew of eco-friendly initiatives taken to become part of the prestigious International Climate Change Champions, a project mooted by British Council.
She is now part of the 50-odd champions from India, who attended a weeklong brainstorming workshop on climate change at Mukteshwar, Uttaranchal.
Armed with a project idea that promises to make a lasting impact on the society, each of the participants began their grass root-level initiatives to sensitise their neighbourhood.
“My project was on the role of media in climate change. I thought community radios have a far-reaching impact and can influence people in a big way,” says Haripriya, the final-year student of Anna University.
K. N. Shruti, another climate change champion, believed in ‘catching them young.' She conducted eco-kids camps for her neighbourhood kids and began distributing cloth bags to people.
If combating climate change begins in the classroom, then the climate change champions start right there. When S. Sundeep Kumar from Loyola was selected as a climate champion, the attitude change was perceptible among his classmates. “People began to take our work seriously since we have been trained by the British Council. My friends now think twice before taking a plastic bag,” he says.
Concurring with him, Shruti says the awareness is gradually spreading among her peer groups and NGOs, egging on her to plan adoption of a village. Haripriya, and others, now network with climate change champions from other countries to know the workable ways to save the environment.
“A key difference that we find in other countries is that they lobby with the government for sustainable solutions. The politicians are approachable and they manage to make their voices heard. In India, change can be effected, only in a small way as government officials are not accessible to us,” Shruti observes.
Like Sundeep Kumar, whose project on green business became an instant hit with people, the rest of the champions from the State are doing their bit for the environment in a noticeable way. With the growing response, the British Council has begun their hunt for the third batch of the champions and has floated online applications. “We ask for their project proposal and funding options. It is followed by an interview,” explains Anu Thampi, project manager, International Climate Champions, British Council.