‘Unity in Diversity’ is not just a political statement in India but the embodiment of a country’s core beliefs.
Indeed, the nation keeps going through various problematic issues that might make the world question our stand on unity. But when a nation has more than 33 million gods, 22 languages, 720 dialects, 3000 castes, 649,481 villages, and 135 billion people, it seems impossible to exist and yet, we are here even after thousands of years! There will always be problems. But how we get out of them is what matters and we have done it too many times that people who come here to live among us find it too hard to leave.
Why am I talking about this on World Environmental Day?
It’s because the same applies to our flora and fauna as well. Where else can you find all the elements coexisting in such harmony? It’s a land that is covered by seas on three sides, is home to the highest of mountain ranges, has deserts covering 77,000 square miles, has white deserts, the wettest place on earth, and if you are not yet surprised by this then here are some facts that might definitely surprise you:
- Firstly, India is just 2% of the world’s landmass but is home to 8% of the world’s biodiversity.
- India has 16 different types of forests which include the evergreen tropical rain forests, dry alpine scrub forests, semi-evergreen rain forests, deciduous monsoon forests, thorn forests, subtropical pine forests and more.
- India is one of the 18 mega-diverse nations of the world.
- There are 15,000 species of flowering plants, 2546 species of fishes, 198 species of amphibians, 423 species of mammals, 1331 species of birds, and 408 species of reptiles in India.
- What’s mind-boggling is that there are 50,000 varieties of rice alone found in the country, making it the biggest reservoir of rice on earth.
- Among plants, 33% of the species are endemic to India, which means they are found nowhere else in the world.
- In fact, 44 species of mammals, 55 species of birds, 187 reptiles, and 110 amphibians are also endemic to India.
- This means that in terms of endemism, India’s position is tenth in birds, fifth in reptiles and seventh in amphibians.
- What else? India is home to nearly half of the world’s aquatic plants.
- And… The Kharai, a unique breed of camels that can swim are found only in Kutch, Gujarat which is in India as well.
If this doesn’t impress you then I do not know what else can. (Taj Mahal, maybe!)
The reason why we as Indians cannot move away from others is that this where our roots lie. Even when the world is trying to drag us in this corporate rat race where development means creating concrete jungles at the cost of flora and fauna, 70% of India’s population is still dependent on agriculture for their daily bread.
Media will definitely let you know about the destruction of Arrey forest but what it will not tell you is about these Indians that I am going to mention below:
- Jadav Payeng, known as the Forest Man of India, spent 30 years of his life planting trees to save his island, creating a forest and restoring wildlife in it.
- Sunderlal Bahuguna, the Earth Warrior who ushered in the wave of the famous Chipko Movement, it echoed through the dense forests to the hearts of many citizens. His words ‘Ecology is a permanent economy’ will always be golden.
- Saalumarada Thimmakka – The Mother to More Than 8000 Trees.
- Shubhendu Sharma – The Man Who Has Created 33 Forests In India in two years.
- Anil K Malhotra (75) and his wife Pamela Gale Malhotra (64) who bought a 55-acre land in Karnataka’s Kodagu district in 1991 to set up the now 300-acre Save Animals Initiative (SAI) Sanctuary, which is said to be the first private wildlife sanctuary in India. The sanctuary hosts over 300 species of birds apart from being home to several animal species.
- Bablu Ganguly, his wife Mary Vattamattam and fellow activist John D’Souza who bought 32 acres of barren land in the drought-prone Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh in 1989 and transformed it from barren earth to a lush green forest. Fun fact, they called it the land ‘Timbaktu’ which literally means ‘where the earth meets the sky’.
- Kallen Pokkudan, the man who planted over one lakh mangrove saplings across Kerala in almost three decades. It earned him the nickname ‘The Mangrove Man’.
The list might go on but I would want google to do the honours or maybe someday I might write a few more blogs dedicated to each one of them because they all deserve more support.
We are alive only because of the environment that exists today and it is our need to preserve it. If we cannot plant a tree, let’s at least try not to destroy it.
Technology has saved billions of trees from being butchered for the use of paper but it has also accounted for a lot of plastic waste. Hence, it would be wise for us to understand the things that we use and minimize the number of plastic items that we are to use. If possible, try going plastic-free!
It’s said that drops of water make an ocean and if you believe in that age-old quote then make your pledge in this World Environmental Day to bring about that little change in your life from today!