Student from ITL Public School singing

Speaking up at Young Visionary

Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.

-Albert Einstein

On 21st December 2009, approximately 500 young students from various backgrounds -from private ‘elite’ schools, Government schools and Non government institutions, within Delhi and outside, gathered together at the Young Visionary Festival 2009, at Gandhi Darshan. It was a vibrant blend of cultures, languages and uniforms, as these prospective young visionaries stepped outside the environs of their respective institutions to widen their circle of compassion.

The focus was on the human being as the ‘Stakeholder’ to the sustainability of the earth. Over the next two days, the students discussed various topics as they were enlightened by illustrious speakers, who have been working for social change for most of their lives.

The key topics discussed were the Environment, Waste Management and Human Rights.


It was a warm welcome at the Satyagraha Mandap where the students were broken up into random groups and made to interact with students from other institutions. This ‘ice breaking’ session was followed by an interactive musical performance by Mr. Valentine Shipley, which got the students keyed up!

Deep Joshi

Our first speaker Deep Joshi, Magsaysay Award, Padma Shree winner and co founder of PRADAN, spoke to the students about the need for educated young people to go back to the villages to contribute with their knowledge and skills. Students were eager to understand ways in which they could engage constructively with the development of villages. By the end of the session with Mr. Joshi, many of them were enthused to contribute to the cause.

Swami Agnivesh engaged in a powerful discourse on Human Rights and Social Equity, and encouraged students to first become good human beings in order to facilitate social change. Besides our speakers, the students enjoyed performances by friends from Chirag in Uttarakhand and by students from Vasant Valley School. Salaam Baalak Trust and Bluebells International School staged interesting plays on sustainable development and child rights.

The second half of the day saw the students split into groups as they left for field trips to venues like the Yamuna and Aravalli Bio diversity Parks, the Mehrauli Baolis and a tour of the River Yamuna. One group participated in a Nature Painting session with artist Bulbul Sharma, at the India Habitat Center. The Earth Matters Foundation facilitated a screening of films by Mr. Mike Pandey.

As the day scholars boarded their buses, the outstation students enjoyed a musical evening of singing and dancing with the volunteers, sharing folk songs with their new friends.


On the next day outstation groups like the Narmada Bachao Andolan from Maharashtra, Chirag from Uttarakhand, Doosra Darshak and Urmul from Rajasthan staged short performances, through which they explained the problems they’ve had to face in their respective villages and their efforts in dealing with them.

The students re-assembled in their earlier groups, to present their experiences of the field trips from the previous day.

Ravi Agarwal

Abha Joshi

Ravi Agarwal, founding Director of Toxics Link, added a new dimension as he interacted with the students on waste segregation and the disposal and recycling of E-waste.Abha Joshi, a lawyer and consultant to the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, introduced the students to the aspect of environmental law and Human Rights.

The second half of the day was dedicated to workshops within the festival grounds. Students were split into different groups for workshops on Theatre, Music, Waste Recycling- “Kabbaad se Jugaad” and  Macrame or Art from jute. Students were also offered an RTI workshop facilitated by Mr. Saurabh Sharma from JOSH India and a workshop on “Gandhi’s Constructive Program” by Dr. K.P. Sankaran, Professor of Philosophy at St. Stephens’ College, Delhi University.

A screening of films from the CMS Vatavaran festival was followed by an interactive discussion with the students. The outstation students had yet another musical evening of Antakshari with the volunteers just before winding up for dinner that night.


Rakesh Mohan

Malati and Santhu

Rakesh Mohan, Principal Secretary of Education in the Delhi government, interacted with the students on the penultimate day. Mr. Mohan spoke about the current state of apathy and degradation in the capital, and encouraged the youth present to galvanize their best efforts to ensure a sustainable environment.

Jaiprakash Chaudhary, better known as Santhu, introduced the students to the Safai Senai, of which he is the present Secretary. Malati Gadgil from Chintan and Santhu shared their experiences at the Copenhagen Summit, emphasizing on the importance of Waste segregation and the rights of ‘rag pickers’. A student from Pathways World School who had also been part of the Cop15, talked about UNCCC’s and the outcomes of the summit.

The festival wrapped up with the formulation of an Action Plan, the main motive of the three days’ engagement. Students together formed a list of steps to be implemented to prevent further degradation of the environment and pave the way for a sustainable future.

ACTION PLAN – culled from Young Visionary discussion, 2009

  1. Cleanliness – keep our surroundings clean.
  2. Waste segregation – biodegradable and non biodegradable. Start awareness campaigns in your colony.
  3. Human Rights – better conditions for rag pickers.
  4. SAFAI SENA – start at schools.
  5. Plant a tree every year and nurture its growth – choose the tree carefully – plant sarkanda.
  6. Water Conservation- Water trees and wash cars with kitchen wastewater.
  7. Use Paper efficiently – reuse and recycle – donate old books.
  8. Judicious use of electricity – switch off bulbs when leaving room, CFL bulbs, energy efficient systems.
  9. Rain water harvesting at schools and colonies.
  10. Avoid plastics – carry your own shopping bag with you.

One response to “THE YOUNG VISIONARY 2009”

  1. Its always a very spiritual and euphoric experience to play and learn more about myself and my music with these young VISIONARIES…Keep it up Tarun/Puneeta and the rest of the Tehelka u guys
    keep rocking
    Valentine Shipley

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