A (banyan) Tree of Hope

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The current global scenario is witnessing a dwindling sense of social responsibility in people. Fortunately, projects like the Grand Banyan strive to search for a ray of ‘green’ light and instil a sense of responsibility in people to promote sustainable living. The Grand Banyan is a national recycling project initiated by the NGO ‘I Love My Mother Earth’ foundation in association with the British Council. The project aims to demonstrate the power of ‘collective’ action by the young and old alike to make the planet a better place to live in. The founder of the project, Sanjay Srinivas, calls it more of a ‘movement’ than a project simply because the goal is long-term rehabilitation of the disturbed global ecosystem. Srinivas is an accomplished theatre and film writer, director and producer.

‘The Million Notebooks Challenge’ that ran from August to October 2011 was a novel inter-school initiative. Participating schools were encouraged to collect as much paper waste that could be used for the processing of notebooks. These were distributed as writing material to disadvantaged children on Children’s Day. Schools worked with a goal of contributing paper waste to enable the production of approximately one million notebooks. “We have already produced one lakh notebooks and are continually working towards more,” says Srinivas. He commented that this movement was different from others in the same league saying, “The reaction that we got from the schools was very positive. Everyone has sold paper before and collected funds but giving away paper for recycling is a new thing and was very well received.”
The Grand Banyan project was proposed to the corporate world to adopt schools and to support the cause of educating one million children across India. This drive saw corporate India working together with children to spread awareness and made people act everyday to fight global warming. With regards to the alliance with the corporate world, Srinivas says, “Some companies don’t have a dedicated waste management system while some do. But those who didn’t were very happy to lend us their support.” Corporate giants like Infosys, Godrej, Jet airways, HDFC, to name a few, are already a part of the Grand Banyan project. A national inter-school competition was organised where various teams presented a paper on a new, green idea in the area of sustainability that had to work within a budget of one lakh rupees. “The ideas have started coming in and we are working on them,” says Srinivas. On asking whether his career as a successful artist, director has taken a backseat, he laughs saying, “Not at all, in fact I make sure I dedicate equal time to both of these things.”
Their future plans include hitting the million notebook mark and working effectively towards a sustainable environment. “I want to make this a global phenomenon in years to come,” says the founder. If such thoughtful people do exist in our trying times, then the problem of illiteracy, education, waste management, energy  conservation and over-all development will never be an issue. And finally, Mother Earth will be proud to have children like us.

Volume 1 Issue 8