Sustaining The Now

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sustainable development

The concept of sustainable development has caught the attention of change makers the world over. So much so that the United Nations has taken it up as an initiative to reach every corner of India. Pearl Mathias talks about what this means for our country and the world at large

We are in the midst of a generation that is progressively moving forward on their own terms in fields unimagined by people in the earlier centuries. We are quick to think and prompt to act. Being caught up in this successful humdrum and getting ourselves places, we fail to look at what’s happening around us, in our very own society. We are so easily drawn towards all things nice that we don’t care enough to look beyond all of it. We overlook the bigger picture, the real picture.
In the past year, there have been several glorious moments for India as a country and they’ve been much talked about for months on end. What about the less talked about stories? What role do they play in the building up of our nation or are they just as easily forgotten? Personally I hadn’t given much thought to it till I attended the United Nations Young Change makers Conclave that was held in Mumbai. Sanjay Jha, the Executive Director of Dale Carnegie Training India, spoke about Gajendra Singh, whom a lot of people didn’t seem to recall hearing about. He jumped from a tree during an AAP rally, thus sparking a blame game inside and outside Parliament on the plight of farmers in distress. This moment caused a stir in Mr. Jha, who then took the decision to reach out and empower people not just in the city but also in the remote areas where such cases are now frequent.
Mr. Piyush Pandey , Executive Chairman of Ogilvy and Mather, narrated a story depicting the common scenario prevalent in every household. The story of how we muster up respect for somebody and butter them up, pleasing them in whatever way we can only when we are in dire need for something that is beyond our control. We take for granted those who make our daily living so easy – the house help, the cylinder delivery guys, the plumbers and carpenters. Yet, these are the same people we don’t give two hoots about. He stated in simple terms that unless each of us garners enough respect for every individual out there we encounter, this world will not progress. Our feelings of superiority must diminish and we need the humbleness that comes from knowing that at the end of the day, we cannot get by without the help of the other.
Achieving this goal of sustainable development is not only the job of the rich and powerful but the duty of every citizen. Every single person can do what he does best and use it to create awareness in the society. One such example is that of Poulomi Basu. Hailing from a traditional family where women got married early and started their family, she paved her own path and followed it with a camera strapped around her neck. Her passion for photography took her to the corners of the country, where she was exposed to the plight of women who had no access to proper sanitation and latrines. Denial of this basic right moved her to create a documentary on this subject, which then went on to become a nationwide campaign, drawing in the attention of thousands of eager people willing to help. Hundreds of her pictures portraying the real India are now on display the world over. It doesn’t matter where you come from, what’s more important is where you’re headed. As Mr. Jha stated, we don’t need another farmer committing suicide for us to wake up and realize what our country has come to. We need to be more aware of these happenings and instead of being momentarily inspired we should step up and do something about it. In the words of Ms. Lakshmi Pratury, founder of INK Talks, be shaken, be inspired and be courageous enough to act and follow through. To create the future, we need to change today.
We talk to Natasha Mudhar CEO & MD – Sterling Media who is currently spearheading a historic UN campaign in India. As the India Director of the campaign, she plans to take the new goals on Sustainable Development to every corner of India — especially the hardest to reach communities.
Natasha Mudhar 1Natasha Mudhar 1

 
WHAT LED TO THE AWARENESS OF THE NEED FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN OUR COUNTRY?
Leading philanthropist and acclaimed British filmmaker Richard Curtis, founded the Global Goals campaign, which aims to promote the new Global Goals for Sustainable Development that were agreed by 193 world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015, to citizens globally. The ultimate goal is to end poverty, fight injustice and inequality, and tackle the threat of climate change by 2030. The premise of the campaign stems from a credible point Richard made “You can’t fight for your rights if you don’t know what they are”. India is a developing nation and faces multiple challenges. Paradoxically, the country is also the world’s biggest democracy with the world’s youngest population, which, if made aware of The Global Goals, could lead the way in achieving great change. India is at the cusp of change and the plan to create positive change has already begun, through a range of initiatives that aim to empower Indians ground-up. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has driven the message of “Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikas” (With Everyone’s Support, there’s Progress for everyone) to citizens nationally.

 
WHAT IS THE GOAL OF THE CAMPAIGN AND HOW WILL IT BE CARRIED OUT BY THE UNITED NATIONS?
The Global Goals campaign is supported by the United Nations. As UN Secretary-General Ban Kimoon said “The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are our shared vision of humanity and a social contract
between the world’s leaders and the people. They are a to-do list for people and planet, and a blueprint
for success.” World leaders are committed to 17 Global Goals to achieve three extraordinary things
in the next 15 years. End extreme poverty. Fight inequality & injustice. Reduce the effects of  climate change. The larger aim is to become that generation that ends global poverty, the most determined to fight injustice, inequality and the last to live with the threat of climate change. In India, the aim of the campaign is to raise awareness of the Global Goals to each and every citizen. Some of the ways we activated the campaign are by launching the largest collaborative education project the world has ever seen, The World’s Largest Lesson, in partnership with UNICEF and with support from TES Global, UNESCO and ELS Educational Services. NGO Magic Bus conducted classroom lessons in schools across the country on the Global Goals by translating the World’s Largest Lesson online toolkit into local languages. Youth icon Arjun Kapoor participated at this year’s Global Citizen Festival in New York City as an Indian Ambassador for the event. This is the same event Rt. Hon Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi attended in 2014 during his visit to the USA and pledged his government’s commitment to eradicating poverty from India.

 

HOW CAN THE YOUTH CONTRIBUTE TOWARDS ACHIEVING THIS DEVELOPMENT?
With India having the largest youth population in the world, children and young people will be most affected by the implementation of the goals. It is their future we are committing to improve. The youth, whether they are students or the employed and unemployed, need to be given a sense of ownership in the campaign as in doing so, they will become more empowered and motivated to act and encourage change. The Global Goals campaign doesn’t just target urban or the “cool” millennial audiences but it is about reaching individuals irrespective of their caste, economic background, creed etc who need to be informed about the goals that have been agreed to support their now and future. Our campaigns thus have to be multi-pronged to reach every touch-point as possible in multiple ways. For instance, as well as targeting online savvy communities, we also conducted grassroots activities which were aimed at capturing the attention of parents and children in rural areas who are most receptive to change and hold the key to India’s development and future. We also planned activities in media-dark villages of impoverished states like Bihar via our partner Reliance.

 

Volume 5 Issue 8

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