For an urgent message, it has a surprisingly calm beginning. A single note from a flute runs into a simple guitar strum, and a low voice singing in a straight march about the environment. Perhaps its simplicity is the reason for the ‘Wake Up To EIA2020’ song raking up over 3,000 views in less than 24 hours of its release. Or it could be because the song is accompanied by photo, video and text tributes of innumerable environmental movements this country has seen since Independence.
The video by Yugma Network, a student and youth network for environmental initiatives around India, to come together on, features iconic images from Narmada Bachao Andolan, Niyamgiri, Anti-POSCO protests, and the recent protests in Mumbai against clearance of the Aarey forest. Some of these movements have been going on for decades; some failed, yet others have become success stories for stakeholders of the environment.In this video, they all come together as a reminder: that the Ministry of Environment and Forests’ (MoEF) draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification 2020 will be taking public feedback for just one more day.
As an extensive campaign against the draft, which seeks to replace the current EIA Notification, 2006, enters its final leg, environmentalists, artists, musicians and others are going into overdrive to break down the complicated and reportedly devastating piece of legislation, and stop it from coming into effect.
Another video doing the rounds is a less serious, objectively hilarious one, by Instagrammer-comedian Prapti Elizabeth. Her video, which has seen over seven lakh views in three days, sees Prapti taking up the familiar role of Mrinalini, a character she uses for polite yet stinging social commentary, to belt out facts about the draft act and draw parallels with the arranged marriage process.
The comparison is an unexpected, yet shrewd one. The importance of seemingly complicated red tape-esque measure like impact assessment and clearances becomes clear when described as a courtship period, where an understanding can be reached and issues and risks weighed out before finalising a relationship. And the alarm caused by the proposed doing away of such measures becomes crystal clear. Her examples of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy and this year’s Assam factory blast help.
Besides these, recognised artists like Kruthika and Rohan Chakravarthy aka Green Humour have been drawing about the impact of various aspects of the draft for months, in addition to the environmental NGOs and naturalists who have been vocal on multiple platforms.
The students behind Yugma’s video, however, are looking beyond the English language. Yugma co-founder Anjali Dalmia, a 20-year-old student at Ashoka University, states that the song is a reminder of India’s “environmental protest history”. The song was written and sung by Shubha Mukherji and Taanika Shankar. Shubha also played the guitar for it, while Rakshan J David was at the piano and Anjali was at the flute and put together the video. She says over phone from Pune, “We realised that a lot of content was being created, but not in regional languages. So we opened up to volunteers who could translate, and made video explainers in regional languages. The idea is that, we are all in it together. People have been waking up to regional issues individually, it’s time we came together as a country.”