By Aranya Shankar
When water conservationist and Magsaysay awardee Rajendra Singh first decided to work in the rural areas of Alwar district in 1985, he chose to educate children and provide villagers cheap and affordable medicines. It was only when an old, wise villager told him that scarcity of water was a bigger issue than education, that Singh decided to dedicate himself to building check-dams and johads. Until then, women had to travel seven hours to get water. Now 30 years later, the arid areas of Alwar are home to lush greenery, because of revived rivers, with over one lakh wells.
Such stories of individuals such as Singh and Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai among others, form the theme of an international exhibition organised by Buddhist organisation Soka Gakkai International (SGI) and the Earth Charter Initiative called “Seeds of Hope”. The exhibition was inaugurated by Singh at ASN School, Mayur Vihar on Wednesday. A successor to the popular exhibition “Seeds of Change”, the new and updated version is based on the principles of Inspire, Learn, Reflect and Empower. Twenty-four brightly coloured bilingual panels in English and Hindi depict the present state of the environment through photos, quotes, facts and figures. The “Power of One” to bring about environmental change is central to the exhibition.
“In ‘Seeds of Hope’ we have tried to introduce new elements such as an endangered animal or an unusual animal section in each panel to not only make children aware of nature’s creativity but also give them a reason to protect it,” says Vandana Jain, area in-charge of SGI’s Indian chapter, Bharat Soka Gakkai.
It’s not just the addition of unfamiliar animals such as Day Gecko, Siau Island Tarsier, Frill-necked Lizard and Rosy-Lipped Batfish that makes this exhibition different from its precursor, it is also that statistics have been added through graphs. For instance, it tells us that every week 42,000 people die from diseases related to low-quality drinking water and lack of sanitation, 90 per cent of whom are children under five.
“The exhibition’s biggest achievement is that it shows us how complex, global problems can be dealt with in simple, local ways,” says Rajendra Singh.
The exhibition is on till April 11 at ASN School, Mayur Vihar Phase 1 extension, between 3 pm and 8 pm.
The writer is an EXIMS student.