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:: Tuesday, April 24, 2007 ::

Earth Day Competition

Green folks in Pooh's Den have an Earth Day competition up and running. Here is the details of what they are looking for.

"What do you think needs to be done to get Indians more aware of their environment and how do we go about protecting it? What in your opinion will be the ideal law to get things moving in the right direction?"

First question first.

People become aware of something in a few situations.

1. Spoon feed the knowledge and information to children.
2. Force feed the knowledge to adults.

As for children, what is fed to them properly in young age remains in their mind forever. The criticality of things is high enough that we need a subject or at least a sub-topic called 'environment' in the schools. Of course children are already burdened with too much to study, so this could be entrenched as part of science topics, by reducing the study material in some other areas of science. But there must be at least one class a week teaching children about environment, conservation and impact of today's problems in our lives. This could go on from, say - class 5 to class 10, without reducing emphasis on the topic in any class.

As for adults, few things are actually registered in the minds of adults unless it is repeated to them again and again and a lot of work is done to keep them aware of things all the time. It is not that adults do not know the problem. People already know simple things like 'avoid using too much plastic', 'avoid driving too much', etc. But it is not exactly something that stays in their mind all the time, and comes as a later priority after tackling all the problems in the daily world. The next time we go shopping, we hardly care to register if we are driving that half a kilometer and if we are bringing things back in a polythene bag. What is needed is a constant reminder. Nothing short of a mass campaign no smaller than the ad campaigns of FMCG companies can help here. Even such a campaign will not find results easily. It needs a lot of money. It should be strong enough and widely covered that each time a person comes out of home, he sees many instructionals on conservation. Each time s/he switches on tv, radio or reads newspaper, s/he must not escape the awareness campaigns. And even such campaigns become effective only with further marketing from viral and personal modes. It is not easy, it needs lot of time, effort and money. But it is the only way. We need to create a system where being eco-friendly is a 'cool thing'. That's how we need to go ahead.

Now to the question of ideal law. Laws probably already exist, but have never been helpful in the absence of sufficient enforcement. The problem of corruption is deep rooted enough that the laws that do not emphasize on making quick buck don't really work well anywhere in the world. So it really comes back to awareness again. When there is awareness sufficiently deeply rooted in each person, there is really no need of any more laws; things automatically move in the right direction. Awareness causes people to comply. And the same awareness keeps the enforcement agencies working as they should, when people don't comply.

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