Published: 24th September 2019
The Greta Thunbergs of Chennai: Why children in the city are skipping school and striking for the planet
Following Greta Thunberg's call for Global Action on Climate Change, children in the city are gearing up to do their part. These are those kids
A year ago today, Greta Thunberg sat outside the Swedish Parliament all alone with a placard drawing attention to climate change. Today, the entire world has joined her including children from our very own Chennai. For kids, to bunk a day of school with their parents' consent is almost an unbelievable occurrence in India. And yet 20 children turned up at the protest on Friday to do their part for the planet.
To show that they care.
Thirteen-year-old Mahil KS was one of them. The eighth grade student has been bird watching since he was four and so the words 'climate change' reached him early on, "I'm part of this protest for two reasons - one, because of my birdwatching I know how much climate change has impacted our wildlife and so I want to do something about it. Second, this is my future and I have to clean up the mess that has been left behind."
Mahil says he first heard about Greta a few months ago when his mother told him about her. He thinks Greta is 'brave and that what she's doing is incredibly important'. So does nine-year-old Neel Bhattacharya, "I first read about her in the school newspaper. She's doing a great job of influencing children like me." When we asked Neel about missing school for the protest, he says, "If I don't do it now then when? If I don't do anything now it'll be too late to act in the future."
Neel's brother Ved Bhattacharya is equally blown away by Greta and says he read about her in his social studies book. When asked how he has been contributing to make things better for the planet, Ved said he had made some serious lifestyle changes,"We never take a flight unless it's absolutely necessary and we don't have an AC at home, in fact I've never lived in a home with an AC, "Ved tells me before going back to his poster making along with his friends. The posters are for the strike."
On Sunday, the children came together again for the Chennai Climate Strike at Besant Nagar beach. These protesters were specifically concentrating on bringing awareness to the quickly disappearing wetlands in the city leading to floods every year. The children have also written a letter to the Chief Minister requesting the government to stop encroaching on wetlands.