Meet Priti Rajagopalan, 24, And One Of The Youngest Climate Change Activists In India

By Mayank Jain:

This post is part of a series of content focusing on covering inspiring work of Indian youth, brought by Youth Ki Awaaz in collaboration with Potentiaa

She holds an engineering degree in Electronics but to describe her as just that will be highly limiting to the marvellous work she has done. She has received the coveted Commonwealth Youth Award 2013 for excellence in development work. Meet Priti Rajagopalan, one of the youngest climate change activists and bloggers in India.

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In 2010, she became the British Council Climate Champion and that propelled her to work more and faster for climate change: “The first break when I felt I was doing something of value was when I was selected as the British council climate champion of 2010.Until then I was a citizen trying to make the city and society around her cleaner and also adding value to it. When the award happened I realised the practice had merit in the bigger sense and that is when I realised I needed to scale up and do bigger things. This was my motivation to get full time into waste management, climate change and organic farming.”

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Priti has been proactive towards organic farming and waste management which promote healthier and safer environment. She even set up groups in colleges and her surroundings to train people and form composite cooperatives. She says, “I proceeded by better analysing the small steps I had taken to solve the problem of dumps and waste in my locality and started doing it in other areas, schools, universities. Second step was to get likeminded people and training them in the science of composting. After this we started setting up compost cooperatives. The reasoning was simple – demand and need. This is usually the most difficult step but we worked it out.”

Having worked as a Research Associate at The World Bank in Bangladesh on Climate Adaptation and micro-climate financing structures, she has also worked in UAE with Masdar Institute of Science and Technology and with IIM Ahmadabad in India.

Deriving her motivation from the goal of doing something of value for the country and society, she has been a part of the Indian youth delegation to the 16th session of the Conference of Parties (COP16) held in Cancun, Mexico and the 17th session of the COP held in Durban, South Africa. “I always wanted to do something of value for the society and especially with respect to agriculture which I believe is the backbone of our country. This is still my single reason for motivation,” she tells us.

According to her, school and college education are of prime importance in shaping a person, “It helps you finding likeminded people and building your basic ethics and character. Education broadens horizons and helps you question everything around you. This is where the best ideas are born,” she says.

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One of the lessons from her long journey towards change has been the tenacity that comes along when you work on something big. She tells us, “The single most important thing I learnt is that support will be minimum at the onset but as your prove yourself, people will cooperate better. Don’t let that make you feel like giving up at any time. Doing and being amongst people and seeing change to yours and others life is very important. It teaches you the value of an idea and how it can change life if worked out right.”

She has a high regard for failures too and their ability to change the person into a better human being. She adds, “Failures are extremely important. For reasons like it keeps you humble and makes you realise that certain things are beyond control but if you keep at it you will find a way out. They did make me feel bad at times but it is the focus on work rather than fruits that helps.”

The work Priti Rajagopalan has done has not gone unappreciated and she has received awards and laurels all over. She has written research papers, represented India on international platforms and all this while, she has worked on ground for social change that leads to an aware society which is actively trying to better itself. She offers another indispensable gem towards the end of the interview and says, “Dream and chase it like it’s nobody’s business. Keep your eye on your work and give your best shot every time. But in everything don’t forget to play a little.”

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