By Deepak Parvatiyar*
New Delhi: Both are young girls and guided by a common dream — to save our planet by saving its environment and rivers. Irony is that while the world is singing paeans in praise of one of them,16-year-old Greta Thunberg of Sweden, who is now nominated for Noble peace prize, the other girl in distant India, 23-year-old Sadhvi Padmavati, is left alone battling for her life at the Intensive Care Unit of New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
Padmavati was brought to the hospital by the police from the Holy city of Haridwar on February 16 where she was on an indefinite fast since December 15 last year to press for the demand of her inspiration, late professor Guru Das Agarwal aka Swami Sanand – an eminent scientist and the first member secretary of India’s Central Pollution Control Board who laid down his life while fasting for the health of River Ganga in 2018.
The young Sadhvi is not just inspired by her late guru, but she firmly believes in the cause that she is fighting for. Of late, Ganga is heavily polluted and it’s incessant flow will be adversely impacted if the government goes ahead with its plans to construct 264 dams on the river which is the life line river for 40 crore people of north and east India.
Like late Prof. Agarwal, Padmavati too had left food intake and was surviving only on water with honey and lime juice, till her condition worsened.
“There is no difference between Greta and Padmavati. Both are on the same mission. There is no difference between the two. I am sure when the world learns about the sacrifices of Padmavati, it will rise in her favour,” Magsaysay and Stockholm Water Prize winner Dr. Rajendra Singh, said in New Delhi on Saturday.
Dr. Singh lauded the role played by young Greta and Padmavati to create awareness about environment and rivers, and said it is high time that more and more youngsters come forward to save our planet. “21st century is a difficult century and our very existence is under threat,” he said. He expressed satisfaction that now the children, especially girls are taking the lead in the efforts to save the planet.
Obviously it would be an apt tribute to the efforts of young girls such as Greta and Padmavati when the world leaders share the cause taken up by both the girls. There can not be any discrimination between the two on the basis of geography, religion or race because both are fighting for the same cause to save humankind. If they do so now, and if they are able to save Padmavati’s life, it would go a long way as that will also gel with United Nation’s this year’s theme for International Women’s Day that falls on March 8 – “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights.”
Padmavati and Greta have shown the world that today’s young women are not only conscious about their own rights, but they are a step ahead, fighting for the rights of mother earth and in case of Padmavati, for the rights of mother Ganga. The holy river Ganga is revered as mother in India.
*The writer is a senior journalist