The Indian Youth Climate Network (IYCN) is a coalition of individuals and youth-led organisations from across India united in their concern about climate change. In partnership with 350.org, IYCN organised a series of 300 different actions across India to raise awareness about the importance of this crucial number on October 24th.
Surendran is a Coordinator for 350.org South Asia and for the Indian Youth Climate Network, and was one of the principal organisers of this sequence of spectacular events.
by B. Surendran
From Kashmir to Kanyakumari and from Bikaner to Manipur, India resonated with one voice on October 24, 2009. School children, college students, software professionals, police, fishers, farmers, divers, people on bicycles, and drivers of electric cars all participated in some 300 different actions across the country.
350 is a vital number. It is the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere we need to reach to avoid catastrophic climate change. In an effort to raise global awareness of this target, the campaign 350.org organized a global day of action on October 24, in which India was a major voice.
The day began with the hoisting of a massive banner in front of the Charminar, a mosque and one of the most famous monuments in the city of Hyderabad. As the day progressed, numerous rallies, seminars, movie screenings, awareness drives, competitions, and tree plantings—as well as the widespread creation of giant “350” human art formations—marked the widespread involvement of people for the cause.
Many beautiful stories emerged. In the Fazilka district near the Indo-Pakistan border, students organized the “Badha lake campaign,” each pouring a glass of water into the dried-up lake to symbolize the need to take action. In Gwalior, participants formed a two-kilometer long human chain, and in Kolkata people marched on foot. In Jaipur, a peace rally brought together artists, activists, and vendors to showcase organic seed varieties. In the ancient city of Udaipur participants held a religious ceremony to commemorate the lost ritual of valuing waste in day-to-day activities.
Goa saw the roll-out of 350 meters of cloth in five different locations, to be used for signature-writing campaigns and then turned into cloth bags. Pune hosted a Reiki workshop to heal the negative effects of climate change on the Earth. And Dal Lake in Srinagar saw the formation of the number “350” comprising 32 boats.
One of the high points of the day was the formation of a giant number “5” by more than 700 people in front of the Red Fort in Delhi. Students and enthusiasts from different walks of life, representing at least 19 colleges, civil society organizations, and media all joined in. This number formed part of a global sequence, with a “3” formed in Sydney and a “0” in Copenhagen. It was a truly global action to voice our concerns.
The day ended on a celebratory note, culminating in a huge rally at Mumbai’s Marine Drive, a rock concert in Chennai, and a music night in Bangalore. October 24 witnessed a truly unique mass mobilization in India, where people participated as one community, raising their voices and cutting across all lines of differences. The day saw the coming together of multiple civil society organizations as well—in particular the youth contingent, which deserves a special mention considering that half of India’s population is less than 25 years of age.
Young India displayed its strength and character, with the leaders of the future at the forefront of driving this change. The number of events led by young Indians is the undeniable testimony.