How Old Will You Be In 2050? Tomorrow Asks Today
This is a ‘Save our Tigers’ rally in progress in the heat of an unusually hot March 2012 day, on a crowded Dehradun street. I walked with David Hilton, Principal Hilton School and scores of terrific teachers from over 40 other city schools, plus 1,200 bright-eyed kids whose voices reverberated over the traffic sounds: “Apna farz nibhayenge, tiger ko bachaenge”. (We will do our duty, we will save the tiger).
In the past few years, Kids for Tigers, the Sanctuary Tiger Programme that involves over one million kids, has been holding a series of rallies, tiger fests, petition campaigns, nature walks and conservation leadership camps across India in places as far removed from each other as New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Chikmagalur, Amravati, Akola, Nagpur, Pune, Bhopal, Belgaum, Goa, Periyar, Sawai Madhopur, Ramnagar and Dehradun. The purpose is simple… to remind adults that this country, this planet belongs to the young who KNOW that it will remain safe and functional only so long as its miraculous natural ecosystems are not trashed in the name of development.
These kids have met three different Prime Ministers, umpteen Chief Ministers, four Environment Ministers and have collected millions of signatures on petitions that remind adults that the tiger is a metaphor for all of nature and that saving it is in our best current and future interests.
One young child put this best when she asked a roomful of very powerful people, discussing climate action, who insisted that nothing could be done about climate change and biodiversity right away, but by 2050 the planet would magically fix itself: “Excuse me… I don’t want to seem rude, but how old will you be in 2050?”
Bittu Sahgal, Editor, Sanctuary Asia, Vol XXXII No. 3, June 2012