This Earth Day – 22nd April, 2021 – is a day for celebration. 2020 has been very merciful, in terms of environmental pollution of Earth, thanks to the lockdown. But in the long run, what are the contributions of DU to environmentalism?
The prolonged lockdown that was put in place also bought human-origin pollutants to an all-time low and has greatly benefitted Earth to remediate its badly injured environment – gave some time for the self-care of Earth. Even though last year has granted some brief respite from pollution, the vigil of environmentalists isn’t – for there is a long way to go in this ‘domain’ before we could take any rest (Thank you for such beautiful lines, Frost!). And in this ongoing ‘war’, it must imperative that each and every one of us contributes to it in every possible way we can. And when contribution at an individual level is that imperative, the need for the same from organizations can’t be underscored enough. So, how is our DU doing in this regard?
First off, Environmental Studies (EVS) is one of the compulsory courses that students of Delhi University have to study for a semester under Ability Enhancement Compulsory Courses (AECC). This has been implemented under the Choice Based Credit System (CBCS) to make the students aware of the environment they reside in. From covering the basics of the environment to raising issues about the tortures done on the same by human actions; the course covers it all. Considering the fact that zero empathy is shown by most individuals from our generation towards nature, the above course is needed – very much. Not even the invisible creator of this universe can undermine the importance embodied to our beloved Earth. Earth can be personified as a loving mother, desperately longing for her son (humans in this context) to return back only to be ignored by the latter. The course acts as a connecting bridge between the students and nature; within whose pallu we used to hide while playing hide and seek in our childhood. Moments as such are only just a figment of the tangled webs of our memories.
However, ask any student about their likeness towards and most of them will react with a disgusted look. “EVS kisko pasand hai, yaar?” is the most common statement that can be heard over almost all the tongues. Be it the syllabus or the subject itself, you’ll hardly find a student interested in the same. The dislike towards the subject is so much that an interested student would be no less than an alien for many (but no less than a god for notes before exams).
“I am interested in knowing about the environment but the syllabus rendered to the subject is an ultimate thumbs down for me. I mostly sleep in all of the classes.” – Anonymous
The syllabus needs to be changed, no arguments on the same. The entire syllabus excluding a topic or two is a mere repetition of what has already been taught to us in school days. From ecosystems to the various kinds of pollution, students already have an idea about these. Learning about already known things is a bit of a turn-off, isn’t it? At least for me, it is. Including topics such as the philosophy of nature, sociology of nature, energy science etc. is the need of the hour. Experiments are being carried out in nature with the passing of each day. Young environmentalists are emerging one after another with ideas that deserve truck-loads of praise. We are tired of learning the same things again and again. Change in the syllabus is the only action that can save students from the boredom attributed to the same.
“We have an excellent teacher for environmental studies. However, the I-don’t-care attitude portrayed by my fellow classmates is discouraging. They need to learn to be more respectful.” – Anonymous
Students are to be brought in a negative light as well for some reasons. The boredom attributed to the same is understandable. However, one shouldn’t completely neglect a subject in its entirety. Till the time the current syllabus is being taught, one should at least give an effort to know the contents of the same. Knowledge never goes to waste. Only if we respect a subject, the subject will respect us back. The same goes for the environment as well. Respect is a two-way virtue.
But not stopping with that, the colleges have also engaged in many short-term measures to curb environmental pollution immediately. Many colleges have taken concrete steps to make their campuses more environment-friendly – the details of which are available on their websites. Many colleges like Hindu College, Mata Sundri College, Sri Aurobindo College have implemented various measures to minimize the adverse impact they have on the environment. It is noteworthy that Hindu College has ‘acoustically enclosed’ its generator – in an attempt to address noise pollution, something that is often overlooked by many. Some DU colleges have set up Internal Quality Assurance Cell (IQAC) as per the mandate of the Union Grants Commission (UGC) in a bid to incentivize colleges to be more active in the remediation of environmental pollution. Though colleges have set up bio-gas plants, solar plants, rainwater harvesting, plastic-free campuses, efficient electrical appliances, encouraged use of public transport and bicycles, promoted paperless documentation, and planted many trees as part of Van Mahotsav, the problem inherent here is that the shoddy implementation of these measures. Though there are various measures on paper, there are only very few which have been implemented satisfactorily; many haven’t been implemented yet or are stagnant halfway. But it is at least encouraging that DU has some environmental remediation measures on paper and we can only hope and voice that their implementation must be fast-tracked and made more efficient.
However, despite this, the Eco Clubs set up by the students of various colleges offer a ray of hope that even if the colleges slack, there are students who don’t. Even during the pandemic, the Clubs have been active – recruiting members and conducting various webinars and other activities online. For example, the Eco Club of Sri Venkateswara College have conducted a webinar on ‘Know your Wetlands’ and competitions associated with it. Taking their work very seriously, the members of the club have even travelled to the college to check on the vermicomposting pit they had set up – during the pandemic. This shows how dedicated these students are to the welfare of Earth, contributing in every way they can – creating vermicompost to manage waste, planting trees, clearing waste off public places. The dedication of these students to this cause shows light to humanity on how just important the environment is. And it also promises a better and brighter future in which youngsters take care of Earth consciously.
Most recently, in the pursuit of environmental remediation, DU has announced that it would set up a School of Climate Change and Sustainability (DSCC&S) with Professor C R Babu – a renowned environmental scientist – under the Institute of Eminence scheme. As per the official statement, “DSCC&S will take up research in priority areas like how to make our cities climate resilient? How to achieve sustainability in the face of environmental challenges?” It will encourage and incentivize research and development in sustainable development pursuits – resource enhancement, energy, resource recycling, waste management amongst others. This could very well catapult India into a position to comfortably navigate economic development while cutting on carbon emissions as per the Paris Agreement. But this stands upon the assumption that the implementation is fast and efficient and DU must make sure it is – for Earth is above everything else: religions, linguistics, boundaries, countries, continents.
In a nutshell, on this Earth Day let’s promise ourselves to at least be a bit more attentive in our EVS classes and gather the unknown from them. Bringing a bit of Indian philosophy at the end, mother Earth can be everything. She can be sattvic i.e. calm and all the good things; however she can be tamasic as well. The COVID-19 pandemic is nothing but mother Earth making us realise the atrocities that she had faced because of us – evident from the fact that the environment has been much healthier in 2020 than it has been for a long, long time. The only planet kind enough to nurture life is Earth and let’s make sure it stays that way and doesn’t crumble into a barren wasteland.
Feature Image Credits : Sourav Sreshth
Harish Leela Ningam