The wave of climate strikes across the globe is here, and it is spreading fast. Hundreds of thousands of students across the world walked out of classes on Friday, September 21, 2019, as a symbolic protest against climate change, demanding a better future for us and our future generations. It was clearly indicative of the fact that the reigns of change are being passed to our generation, which is more aware, proactive, and ready to fight for its future.
We Indian students, too, joined our counterparts to display solidarity with this global movement, and even though this movement is still in its formative stage in India, there were peaceful student protests in New Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Hyderabad, among others. The enthusiasm of these protests was impressive, but it is hard to ignore that there is an unharvested opportunity to leverage the spirit of the youth to bring about more awareness, initiative and eventually, action.
According to the 2011 census, 35.3% of the population of India was under the age of 14. This means more than a third of the nation, and then our children, and then theirs, will bear the brunt of the climate crisis if it is not averted in time. If we want to avoid that, we need to get this massive chunk of the population to demand our rights, and what better way to do this than to organize and form a collective voice? Climate change needs to be a political issue. It is changing politics all over the world, and it should be changing the politics in India too, and the only way to make this happen is to get the message across that we will demand, we will fight, and we will claim our rights to a livable planet.
We have done a great job by taking the initiative in striking for the sake of the climate, but for the next climate strike, we have to be more organized. We started with sporadic protests in a few major cities, but the next time around, we have to multiply the strength and the message. We have to rope-in all those who understand the climate crisis and need to explain the crisis to those who do not understand it and then rope them in as well. From primary schools to higher education institutions, we need to be in this together and co-ordinate one massive strike to show where we stand. We need to market this to spread the word and use all the resources at our disposal.
We should fight for it, but before that, make use of clear messaging to explain why we want what we want and get buy-in. We need a large-network to spread the word and use every medium available to us. In-person communication is required, and so is the internet. We should be out in all schools spreading the awareness and on social media, exploding Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp and all others which we can possibly think of. This time around, the strikes should be not only in major cities but echo all over the country.
We have reached the point where we need the leaders of tomorrow to step-up today, take charge and collaborate to organize a unified protest, but we are in this together, and with our indomitable spirit and hope, we can make a better future for ourselves. Walking out of classes may not be an ideal thing to do, and will be discouraged by those who believe in the power of education. We do believe in it, too, but we have to get everyone to understand our concerns. After all, we can live with a grade B once in a while, but can we live on a planet B?