Chennai

A young eco-warrior to watch out for

Prasiddhi recently won the Diana Award 2022

Prasiddhi recently won the Diana Award 2022

Nine-year-old Prasiddhi Singh just finished a podcast interview and is all charged up to talk to this reporter on a day off from school. Her calendar is packed: Moderating an online internship for undergraduate students, a visit to a park at Maraimallai Nagar that received new saplings and a couple of meetings.

Prasiddhi is a climate champion, and that seems to precede everything else in her life.

“I have an unconditional bonding with trees, bees and seas — Trees taught me never to give up, bees taught me to collaborate and seas taught me to celebrate,” rattles off the TEDx speaker who recently won the Diana Award 2022.

The Vardha cyclone got Prasiddhi triggered to do something. Saddened that weather system had robbed much of the greenery on her campus, Mahindra World City, particularly her favourite hangout spots, she started participating in several community drives aimed at restoring the green cover.

“For two years, I was a volunteer, learning the ropes this way,” she says.

In 2018, at the age of six, she started Prasiddhi Foundation which is on a mission to plant trees and create awareness. Her current target is to plant one lakh saplings by the end of the year (at last count, it was 46,000). Towards this end, Prasiddhi and an army of volunteers collaborate with institutions, corporates and citizen groups.

“I am going to Mumbai as we have collaborated with an organisation to plant trees,” says Prasiddhi, who has the title of “Youngest Fruit Forest Creator in India” according to the India Book of Records.

Prasiddhi finds reliable people at every planting site who send her updates of the greening exercise.

The plants are generally sourced from a nursery managed by the Foundation (she was also instrumental in starting a nursery at her school Mahindra World School and her community).

What are the lessons learnt from these drives? “In my first plantation drive at Annur Government School in Chengulpet, I saw that a majority of the trees had dried up within a month. I spoke to the school management and learnt that they did not have regular water supply,” she says.

Since then, for schools that have infrastructural challenges, the Foundations has been hiring a gardener to maintain the area. Recently, the school got a well dug for the supply of water. “The money that I got from the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar for my contributions to social service went towards fencing of the land,” says Prasiddhi.

Getting permission from institutions has not been much of a problem as long as the stakeholders are convinced. “I go with a clear plan on what I need from them and how the plants will be taken care of, so convincing them has not been difficult,” she speaks in a smattering of Tamil to make a point.

Under Prasiddhi’s watch, the Foundation has so far created 28 fruit forests.

She explains that it is different from the Miyawaki forest, and the focus is on native trees.

How does this Class V student manage to oversee a Foundation amidst the demands of academics? Prasiddhi acknowledges the roles of her parents and her core team members. Besides, she is helped by an army of eco-warriors and “galvinizers” who organise events.

Prasiddhi says she is meticulous in whatever she does. Her day starts at 6 a.m. where she does school-related work and then spends some time in her garden. “I do most of my home work in school itself because I have to come home and do my green projects, and respond to emails,” she says.

Prasiddhi admits she is different from others her age. “I would be rolling in the grass with stones in my pocket and leaves in my hand, that is my biggest joy and I think my friends have gotten used to this fact and have accepted me the way I am,” she says.

Find more about her at prasiddhiforest.org/


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Printable version | Aug 5, 2022 8:02:12 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/a-young-eco-warrior-to-watch-out-for/article65584885.ece