Tamil Nadu

Mainstream the green movement

A discussion on writing on environment   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

“There has been an explosion of writing on nature,” says Bahar Dutt, one of India’s most well-known voices for the environment. She was talking at a panel discussion on ‘Writing on Environmentalism in India: Challenges and Opportunities’ at the ongoing Green Lit Fest (www.greenlitfest.com). “Every second person on social media is writing on nature, environment, ecology and the economy,” she adds.

The GLF, conceived by Benedict Paramanand, founder of e-magazine sustainabilitynext.in, is a platform that attempts to enrich and nurture as many useful discussions as possible on matters of India’s ecology. “The idea is to mainstream conversations on environment,” says Benedict. “We have books on environment and climate change but not much conversations on the topics. This is the space for dialogue on environment writing and issues. A space for those who care for the planet to hang out.”

“We envision green literature in a wider sense, not just fiction, non-fiction, and books, but also children’s literature, poetry, drama and comics,” says Meghaa Gupta who is also a part of the founding team of GLF. “We are curating books for children, adults, and green business.” Meghaa is the author of A Home of Our Own and Unearthed: An Environmental History of Independent India (Penguin).

GLF will host a year-long series of dialogues, discussions, and other artistic endeavours around the environment, review books for readers of all ages, release newsletters and hold a three-day fest in December. The highlight of the fest will be the roll-out of annual honour lists of green literature for adults, sustainable businesses and children.

The panel discussion is the first in a series of green dialogues the festival plans to have in the coming days. Bahar Dutt spoke of how the Bhopal gas tragedy proved to be a big trigger event in independent India that gave a fillip to reporting on environment. “It ties in all the issues, the dichotomy between economy and the environment, and human versus environment.” Dutt said the environment beat still has not got the space it deserves.

Another panel member, M Rajshekhar, author of award-winning book Despite the State (Westland, 2021) inspired by a 33-month reporting project, covering Mizoram, Manipur, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Punjab and Gujarat, spoke of India’s environmental writing history including the world’s first anti-dam movement, impact of environment and public health stories. He raised a relevant question, “How many newsrooms in the country are willing to have a series of reports on an issue? A single report doesn’t help.”

Independent science journalist Disha Shetty spoke of environment from a public health perspective, on how environmental degradation and climate change affect public health. “A decade ago, environment and public health were two different entities. It is not the case any more. The COVID-19 pandemic brought together doctors, environmentalists and journalists.”

While drawing the attention on the power of visuals, Dutt also asked how environmental journalism is changing things on ground. “We are not asking tough questions any more. Nature writing is picking up, but it has to be mainstreamed. We are not addressing it enough. People are seeing air pollution, pandemic, realising the importance of nature, blogging about it, and learning more on topics such as climate change.”

Joydeep Gupta, South Asia Director of The Third Pole and India coordinator of Internews Earth Journalism Network, who moderated the session said a series of disasters over the last years that have hit not just the poor or the marginalised, but also the elite, starting with waterlogging in Mumbai during the rains, are making people connect with climate change. The discussion also highlighted the increasing role of the robust regional press in reporting on climate change.

Follow @greenlitfest on Instagram to know more.

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Printable version | Oct 17, 2021 3:25:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/the-ongoing-virtual-green-literature-festival-identifies-promotes-and-celebrates-books-authors-conversations-and-various-cultural-expressions-on-the-environment/article36679617.ece

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