Delhi Earth Day 2012

Delhiites joined billions of people around the world in Earth Day celebrations with fervor and fan-fare. Significant credit goes to Delhi Government’s valiant efforts to create eco-awareness amongst its citizens. Delhi Government has adopted a multi-pronged approach as generating awareness and creating change through awareness campaigns is a slow process. Hence all these small steps will build towards a big march of lots of successful adaptations for improvements in our environment.


Omnipresent Billboards


Billboards  that have always been an instrument of commercial advertising have, in recent times, been serving as vehicles for greater social awareness. Recent public eco-consciousness initiative using bill-boards is evident throughout the city. On billboards , big or small, prominent roadside ones or tucked inside the bus-stop, messages nudging and spurring passerbys to inculcate eco-friendlier habits are plastered everywhere.

Delhi Metro Sign "Say No to Plastic Bags"

Delhi Metro Sign "Say No to Plastic Bags"

As I drove by, initially, I barely glanced at messages such as : “I will use jute-bags” or “Light-up a smile” or “I will not use the shower.” My fleeting first look had left me wondering. But repeat encounters provided better chances to read them more closely, and things started to fall in place.

I am sure it will provide much fodder to those minds that otherwise would not even have wandered in that direction: “I will not use the shower but bathe using bucket and mug” (Save Water campaign); “I will use CFLs” (Save Electricity campaign); “If I don’t use plastic bags, drains won’t get clogged and Delhi will be a cleaner city” (Save Our Environment campaign).


Citizen Partnership

Another prong is to partner with the common man and hence creating a sense of ownership so that the change is adopted by people as their own. And why not start early? The government has established and provided grants to Eco-clubs in 1000+ city schools. Would the overwhelming success of the drive to plant 1 million trees last monsoon season been possible without the citizen partnership? Delhi has grown to be one of the greenest capitals in the world from such sustained partnership.

Akin to ambush marketing, festivals are being used as vehicles towards greater social awareness and to prod common folk towards sustainable practices; my earlier post discussed this in more detail. Environmental films and songs are also being used as tools to engage delhiites further.

Each of these is a small tool with returns hard to predict: but awareness generation is an important first step. It is a matter of honing the consciousness in a particular direction. If they have anyway been aware of it and been practicing it, then it has the benefit of reinforcing people’s self-image of doing the right thing and of encouraging them.

Earth Day Photo courtesy of  Department of Environment and Forest, Government of NCT of Delhi
Delhi Metro Sign Photo courtesy of  baklavabaklava via under Creative Commons License