India and I have a history filled with equal parts frustration, amazement, compassion and despair. Hospital visits, mountain views, bumpy bus rides and colourful hues.
Back in 2010 I spent a few months volunteering on environmental and education projects with a local NGO in rural Punjab, in the far north-west of the country. During my stay I was asked to give a presentation on environmental issues to a hall packed with school kids. At the end of the presentation I was both somewhat bemused, yet strangely thrilled when the school principal directed the students to recite an oath swearing to reduce their use of plastic bags and to plant more trees in the school and their villages.
India challenged and confounded me. I had no idea then that I would find myself living here again so soon, but I guess India doesn’t allow you to escape her orbit that easily.
I have recently returned to live in Bangalore, in the south of India, where I hope to contribute to the environmental sector through environmental education, consulting and photography. In particular, I am assessing the feasibility of starting an environmental education project on behalf of an Australian environmental NGO.
But I may as well be in a different country – I have gone from living in a rural village of 1000 people and drinking copious amounts of chai, to living in India’s cosmopolitan Silicon Valley and exploring the local coffee scene.
Without a doubt, something has drawn me to the complexity and interconnectedness of the challenges facing India. As a country of 1.2 billion people with vastly diverse natural systems, cultures and languages, India is bursting at the seams with a curious and entrepreneurial spirit.
I will use this blog to further explore the environmental and sustainability challenges facing the world’s largest democracy and the innovative solutions and personal actions that are transforming it with profound results for society and the natural environment.
While I don’t have a hope of ever fully coming to grips with what makes India truly and uniquely “India”, by sharing just a little of her natural beauty, social entrepreneurship and community spirit I hope to showcase what can be achieved in the face of sometimes overwhelming odds.