Elected representatives of the people in a democratic country rule and run the affairs of a State like the king in a kingdom, a military ruler in a State controlled by the military, dictator in some other country, President in a federal Republic where such system exists or President and his politbureau in a communist country; they form the Governments. Besides regular and essential departments the modern Governments do many welfare jobs for the benefit of the people of a State. Besides the Governments in modern time voluntary organizations specialising in different aspects of life and Nature function to help the people, the country and the Governments for a comprehensive development.
Such voluntary organizations called Non Government Organizations or N. G. Os have become essential part of modern Governments. They not only fulfil their projects side by side with the Governments but criticise the Governments if need be. They too represent the voice of the people. In a large country like India it is natural that large numbers of such N. G. Os exist. Besides collecting money from the public and their members for running their day to day affairs they are many times aided by the Governments and are often helped by the rich developed countries as part of their charitable programmes.
Whenever a competent leader of the society or such a group takes up such jobs on idealistic basis they undergo sacrifices of different kinds and their activities often take the shape of movement. Some such big organizations are Bombay Natural History Society, Bharat Sevasram Sangha, Kalpavriksh and Centre for Science and Environment, to name a few. Of late a mushroom growth of such N. G. Os in every nook and corner of the country is visible. They often exist to earn subsidies and helps but work very little really. Their chiefs are often busy political personalities kept for their influences to show their social clout.
Among them the Centre for Science and Environment which publishes a fortnightly environmental magazine titled ‘Down To Earth’ beginning its journey on 31 May 1991, is an exceptional body of Non Government Organization. They cover large areas of our national life like science, environment, ecology, conservation of nature, food, health, water, river, forest, wildlife, pollution, agriculture, economy and other areas. They may step into any aspect of life which affects Indian life and society. Though not directly political, they step into it whenever necessary. They are ever vigilant, chasing the wrong doers and truants. They often suggest the correct path as found through their research laboratory. Every action of the Government or industry may be challenged by them either through journalistic writings, motivating public opinions or even through court. Not only they publish the highly commendable fortnightly ‘Down To Earth’ but produce large numbers of books and organize workshops, seminars and conferences. They have large arrangements for training enthusiasts in different fields of environment and ecology like water preservation or management of forest resources. Not only it does its job but it exerts all efforts to expand, get new members and subscribers even offering gifts for it.
To praise the C. S. E. one has to praise its founder, the late Anil Agarwal, who was a highly efficient organizer, environmentalist and journalist. After him the organization with all its branches is led by Ms. Sunita Narain with high efficiency and acumen. Not only she writes effective editorials in their magazine but maintains her own blog inviting readers to participate. She regularly emails her editorial through internet to deserving readers and invites comments in her blog and regularly publishes reader’s opinion in the form of letters.
‘Down To Earth’ and their centre have become quite popular. I as a reader participant of their programmes may say that it almost has become an essential way of environmental life of the country. They are far different from the often manipulating, self-interested media, specially the newspapers. It has become the watch dog and predictor, giving warnings signals at the right time. More it becomes a people’s movement more beneficial it shall become for the future generations. They already publish ‘Gobar Times’ as supplement of the ‘Down To Earth’ for training the children about environment and science. For all reasons, in comparison to other such organizations, I feel that the Centre for Science and Environment and its team are unique so far in India.
© Aju Mukhopadhyay, 2011