Grasping the roots
ENVIRONMENTAL education is a major task before this country and future generations have to be prepared to face the extraordinary task of meeting their needs from a degrading environment. Given the growing numbers of people and the desire for a better standard of living, our children will have to get a lot more from our environment than we get from it today. And yet they will have to do this in a manner that is sustainable. If they, too, go on degrading the precious natural resource base we have inherited from our forefathers, then there can only be economic and social chaos.
To face this challenging task, both current and future generations will have to search for the best in our own roots, our culture, and in the efforts of our people.
Environmental literature that is being generated for schoolchildren, with exceptions, is in the genre of nature education. It is very important to expose young children to the beauties and wonders of nature. But as they grow older, it is important they begin to understand how human beings and human societies interact with their environment for their survival and their growth, how these human-nature interactions become a part of a society's culture, and why it is important to rationalise our relationship with our environment.
These books before you carry real stories fictionalised to make them interesting. The first book in this series takes an urban child to a Himalayan village and describes the recycling and other behaviour patterns that make up our villages today. The idea is to dispel the myth that our rural people do not care about our environment. The second book, Chipko, describes the fascinating story of the Chipko movement, again in a fictional form.
The third, Raindrops, talks about the efforts of the Sukhomajri villagers to revive its environment in the form of a story that involves children. The story shows how people can take their future into their own hands and build it up leaf by leaf, tree by tree, raindrop by raindrop, those little things that constitute the base of our survival. And the fourth book takes us to Jodhpur and describes how the people of a mohalla recognise the importance of their traditional water harvesting systems and undertake efforts to revive them.