India’s Greta Thunberg: Ridhima Pandey Climate Champion Story

Do you remember what were you doing at the age of 11? We might be in our secondary school, learning basic subjects, playing in the ground with our friends, and enjoying our childhood. Can anyone at that age come forward and raise their voice against the climate crisis in the world and represent the country in a big summit? Yes, here is a girl named Ridhima Pandey from India working along with the other 16 children who petitioned the United Nations Climate Action Summit. This is to honor her brave achievements and to appreciate her initiative.

Began in 2013:

Ridhima Pandey

To take a huge step, there should always be a force that should motivate our interest which soon becomes our goal. She is a daughter of Dinesh Pandey, wildlife conservationist, who is not only the background of her action but also a supporter for his child to become an environmentalist activist at this very early age. But all these began in 2013 when a giant flood caused disaster in Northern India especially in Uttarakhand. This was considered the country’s worst disaster since the 2004 tsunami. This flood not only took the lives of many people but also brought many questions in the mind of the young girl to which her father answered and started to explain all about global warming in the world. This eventually created interest to her in means of climate and its issues from where her protest began. A child thinking at a high level is itself wondrous merit and taking it to the next step is obviously an achievement.

Her first failure:

When we take up a new move that is against our big society and government, the officials or authorities in high position ignore our request even when there is a mistake on their part. This is what happened to Ridhima Pandey when she petitioned a case against government’s inaction on the climate crisis in India’s National Green Tribunal in 2017 which oversees environmental concerns. As we all know that our “good for nothing” authorities will never take up the case that is totally against the government and the same thing had happened to her. But, when we look into her life journey in this struggle, this is the only failure that she faced, as her next steps were very big that no one could stop her from touching the peak of change in the action.

Did she stop there?

When a failure directly hits in our first initiative, most of us lose hope in our goal and stop our actions there. But, this girl is a “superstar” as her father said, who moved the case further to the highest jurisdiction of the country – Supreme Court. When the Tribunal rejected her petition, she never thought of quitting her ambition and with the same fire in her movement, she questioned all the politicians and the government. This is also not where she stopped. She moved further to the United Nations Climate Summit in New York along with 16 other children to raise her voice against the inactiveness of environmental problems by the authorities. This was the time when she got a chance to work along with Greta Thunberg, climate activist, who inspired people around the world on climate change. Going this far in her struggle is itself a victory when notifying her age and experience.

Her train of thoughts:

She is from the city called Haridwar which is located on the holy river Ganga. We all have heard about the news of how the river is being polluted due to plastics, industrial wastes, and ritual belief and so on. We also knew that our government has taken steps to clean the area by using many means of alternatives for the process. We, people only know the news and not fully know what actually happened in the project. But, Ridhima Pandey criticized the government for not completing the ‘said work’ from a thorough analysis of the river. She even mentioned that the authorities will “do everything only in the paper and nothing on the ground”. Water bodies in our country are getting more affected due to dumping waste by industries which should be cared for by the officials to stop their action. But, when money plays a powerful role, no good action will be taken. This is equally understood by this little child and she is the one who had that braveness to speak in front of everyone about the fraudulence of the government.

What she found amazing:

After coming back from the summit, she found something new and different in New York which is very useful for improving our environment by avoiding the utilization of plastics. Their people are using reusable steel straws by which she notified the regular single-use plastics that an ordinary Indian throw in the land which never and ever decomposes and make further processes difficult. We know the disadvantages of using plastics not only for our environment but also for our health. By incorporated ideas like this will bring changes in both aspects is the request that she made after her come back from the foreign land. Our government took steps to clear plastics from the river Ganga as a project which is currently inactive and this she mentioned it that she has been seeing this situation throughout her life. Bringing changes that assure to be benefitted is to be accepted without any delay.

Why is this so important for her?

Not only for her, it’s important for many people who are right now struggling with many problems from the government, officials and also from private entrepreneurs for their protest all over India. For instance, Sumaira Abdulali, activist and convenor of Awaaz Foundation was attacked by the son and employees of a local politician during a sand mining site visit is the reason for her network called Movement towards Intimidation, Threat and Revenge against Activists in 2004.  With support from these kinds of NGOs in the country, the little girl could able to survive until New York to tell how much climate change is significant for our world. She showed all her anger by explaining that the government failed its task regarding the Paris Agreement by using excessive fossil fuels. By reading and hearing more about her, clearly shows how she is fighting to prove the idleness of the regime and helping the common people to aware of the changes to be undertaken in case of protecting the environment.

Role-model for adults:

 

When we look at her age, she is still a child; when we look at her passion for bringing change to the surrounding, her thoughts are equal to that of an adult; and when we look at her action for which she travels miles to fight and represent her country, her level is beyond that of a woman. By enhancing her achievements, she made victory in the minds of many big people in the world and also in our nation. In a press-meet, her father who went along with her to the summit told that as an adult, we are just talking about the issues around us which are not good for future generations. He said that he is very proud to stand beside her daughter throughout this issue which every person should prove their presence on the ground for any kind of problem. She becomes a role model for many people for her continuous fighting against climate change is the biggest conquest in her life.

Conclusion:

It is not easy as we think to travel all way for the summit to file a petition in the UN against the government’s inactiveness for climate change. It involves all kinds of risk and struggles to play a negative role against the opposition. But, this little child breaks all taboos and achieved in her goal and regarded as India’s Greta Thunberg (Who is Greta Thunberg). She could have stopped in the beginning as it involves the highest risk that no one can take; she could have stopped in the middle thinking that she is a ‘girl’; she could have stopped at the end thinking about her age. But, she proved to the world that fighting for the right thing does not require age, gender, place of birth and so on except the passion and braveness to stand still till the climax of the struggle.

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