Agenda for survival

Note: This is something I had written for a website of a course I attended called 'Agenda for Survival' organised by CSE. A must-attend for those who want to delve into environmental issues of India by the way..
You know when there is a deadline on your head and you have 500 or so words to type frantically, nothing on earth is inspiring enough to write about. Write about what you were before you started this course and what you are now at the end of it all, we were told. But when it comes down to it, it is hard to summarize 30 days of education, realization and all that in just 500 words, or even 5000. Where do I even begin? Should I start with how glad I was to find people who believed in the same things I did or should I start by telling you how much more India’s environmental problems made sense to me now? Or should I go on about how I still feel as lost about the solutions to this. 

Begin at the beginning, they say. And so that is what I am going to do. There I was in my room, summer holidays looming over my head and honestly speaking I did not want to while away all that time back home in Imphal once again. I had been asking around for something, just some work, volunteering anything to do, just to occupy my time. A friend’s reply seemed to be my saving grace, giving me details of a certain ‘Agenda for survival’ course in CSE. It promised to be an ‘intense’ course which would examine India’s environmental problems through lectures, films and field trips. Consultations with friends and family convinced me that this would be a great supplement to my degree (Environmental Management, by the way) and would look great on my barren CV. Moreover, I felt it would be a walk in the park since I was already studying the subject.

Little did my pea sized brain register that studying environmental management in the UK had not equipped me to kick start my tryst with the myriad problems that India faced. From the first lecture onwards, everyday was one of discoveries and eye-openers. Even the journey to CSE from our hostel in Faridabad, through the dusty maze of Badarpur, boarding the 717 bus or sometimes even haggling with the auto rickshaw walas in the 45 degree or so Delhi heat was a learning experience in every way and worth every bit of the sweat I paid back for in, literally.

And how can I not mention the way I found good friends to go through this process with, most if not all who knew so much more than me and who were just so passionate about India, the environment and everything and whose enthusiasm to a great extent seeped into me too. I feel almost blessed that through the runs we had to do to catch the buses and autos and the group sweating sessions inside them, through the photography sessions we had on every imaginable surface and place, through the meals we shared in CSE and the hostel, and even through the dozing offs in class we became such a tightly knit group. Even being the subject of a respectable number of jokes was well worth the admission I got into the lives of these wonderful friends I made from all across India.

To say that the course left me a very enlightened person would be a lie, to say that it did not affect me at all an even bigger one. I guess the truly honest answer would be that it left a big impact in my life and helped me understand the country’s problems in a greater depth. At the risk of sounding like one of those ‘So and so course changed my life and you should also do it’ ads, with its legacy of good friends and questions and even some answers, Agenda for Survival well occupied my June and I am glad it did, because it brought me a step closer to understanding India’s environmental conditions.


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