World Environment Day (WED) is celebrated on the 5th of June every year and ABVP Mehsana has a unique way of celebrating it. ABVP Mehesana has been celebrating WED since 2015 with the Samvedna Prakalp, or the Empathy Project. This project comes under Students for Development (SFD), an initiative of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).
SFD, established in 1990, undertakes environmental issues such as water conservation and management, plastic recycling, forest conservation, etc. upholding the organizing principle of sustainable development and promotes the concept of development in different sections of the society, especially the students. The underlying philosophy that propels SFD is the development of a value system concerned with the cultural, economic and moral growth which elevates from the individual to social and national level.
Mehesana city, famous for milk and oil production, is located 60 km away from Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat. ABVP karyakartas of this city have organized several environmental awareness campaigns such as green campuses, exhibitions and competitions in different academic institutions. The Samvedna Project touches the socio-environmental and humanitarian core.
The Samvedna Prakalp started in the summer vacation of 2015 under the dynamic leadership of Harshalbhai Purohit. Some 45 students, who were also ABVP karyakartas, came together to actualize Purohit’s double-layered dream — protecting the environment and helping the poor. After the end of an academic session, the students discard the used notebooks and inside these discarded notebooks many pages remain blank. These karyakartas went door to door and collected the used notebooks which otherwise would have been discarded.
Withstanding the scorching heat of the summer sun, after months of hard work the karyakartas collected nearly 300kgs of blank paper from used notebooks. These blank pages were then sent to a binder for making new notebooks and astonishingly 1344 new notebooks were made. These new notebooks were distributed to 256 needy students for free.
After the immense success of Samvedna Prakalp 2015, Purohit and his student volunteers decided to go ahead with the project on a larger scale. In 2016, the karyakartas visited nearly 4500 households and collected 935kgs of paper from which 3665 notebooks were made. These notebooks were distributed to 733 students of various schools and colleges. In 2017, 1140kgs of paper were collected and 5035 notebooks were distributed to 1007 students. In 2018, the collection was around 1400kgs and 1500 students were given 6000 notebooks.
The ABVP karyakartas penned down a few slogans in Hindi to empower their initiative: संवेदन से नई क्रांति लाएंगे, पेड़ और हरियाली बचाएंगे (Samvedna will bring new revolution, / Planting trees and forest conservation.); संवेदन हमें प्राण से प्यारा है, जरूरियात मंद बच्चो को हमें पढ़ाना है (Empathy pulsates in our heart beats / We support academic pursuit of needy kids) and संवेदन संवेदन संवेदन का नारा है, वो जंगल वो वन वो तरू हमें प्यारा है (Samvedna is our catch phrase / trees and woods we do embrace). These slogans highlight the driving spirit of the project, the double-layered social and environmental concern of ABVP Mehsana. This year, in 2019, the karyakartas have already visited 13327 houses and they have set a target of preparing 20000 notebooks.
It is that one tree yields 40kgs of paper. Since 2015, ABVP Mehsana karyakartas have collected 3773kgs of paper, thus they have saved around 95 trees. Samvedna Prakalp is a perfect example of social welfare and environmental conservation. Dumping waste paper in a river or burning leads to air and water pollution, and this project prevents such kind of air and water pollution.
ABVP Mehsana is planning to take the Samvedna Prakalp further ahead through effective initiatives. The karyakartas are planning to add quotation of eminent personalities like Swami Vivekananda and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Through constant visits to schools and colleges, they are spreading awareness among the students about this project and motivating the students for wide participation. Planning is going on to have Samvedna representatives in each educational institute and these representative would spread awareness about the significance of the project in their respective educational institution and village.
Social media is a viable platform for reaching out to a wide audience, and the karyakartas have prepared small videos on the project and have uploaded it on YouTube channel, FB page, and Twitter handle. Planning is going on for preparing a full documentary on the project and present the documentary in national and international environmental film festivals. They are also developing contacts with environmental NGOs to facilitate policy development, building institutional capacity and mobilize dialogue with civil society to help people live more sustainable lifestyles.
Although ABVP Mehsana is working on the Samvedna Prakalp with a double-layered intention of protecting the environment and helping the poor, their vision is building a new Bharat. At present, the Samvedna Prakalp is limited within Mehesana city, but they want this initiative to be adopted and actualized in the entire country. This initiative, promoting sustainable development, has the potential for building a new Bharat where the citizens actively join hands for social welfare and consciously participate in environmental conservation.
-By Sayantan Chakraborty (Assistant Professor of English and ABVP activist)
Co-author: Vinay Trivedi (Assistant Professor of Social Work & an ABVP activist)
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