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An anthem for the Earth

UNESCO has termed Indian poet-diplomat Abhay Kumar's idea of an official Earth Anthem as a creative and inspiring thought that would contribute to bringing the world together.

Kumar's "Earth Anthem" has been translated into eight languages including all official languages of the United Nations viz. Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish. The other two languages are Hindi and Nepali.

It was launched in June 2013 on the occasion of the World Environment Day by Indian Union ministers Kapil Sibal and Shashi Tharoor at a function organised by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations in New Delhi.

Our cosmic oasis, cosmic blue pearl
The most beautiful planet in the universe

Our cosmic oasis, cosmic blue pearl
All the continents and the oceans of the world

United we stand as flora and fauna
United we stand as species of one Earth -

Black, brown, white, different colours
We are humans, the earth is our home...”

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Earth Day is becoming a popular showing of concern for Mother Earth.
Earth Day celebrations
Meera Bhowmik
APRIL 2014
Green affluence: With green awareness events like Earth Day really not percolating down to the masses, there is a danger that the desirable - vital - sea change that must be made to counter the effects of pollution, global warming, unhealthy food production, etc. Can future editions of Earth Day also be addressed to not so educated, well off pubilc, who, in a country ilke India, are the overwhelming majority?
Land is sinking
Seas are rising,
Man is far too enterprising.
Fire will rage with man to fan it,
Soon we’ll have a plundered planet.

- Kenneth Boulding

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The "Banana Tree" installation by Debanjan Roy at the Indian Museum's Earth Day celebrations.
GSI's eco posters were everywhere!
In 1969, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) earmarked a day to celebrate and honour Mother Earth and inspire future generations to be environmentally conscious. Earth Day is observed every year on April 22. Kolkata usually has a few events going on Earth Day, as the Indian chapter of Earth Day Network (EDN) is headquartered here.

Opening the Earth Day events EDN, (with ‘Green Cities’ as its theme for 2014,) launched an eBook - Pathways to Green Cities - Innovative Ideas from Urban India, on April 17.

A compilation of the input of twenty four organisations in the environmental field, the eBook documents initiatives undertaken by them and challenges faced in execution. Present at the launch at the Oxford Bookstore, Kolkata (Calcutta), were US Consul General (Kolkata) Helen LaFave, West Bengal First Lady Padmini Narayanan, Oxford Bookstore’s Maina Bhagat; and Karuna Singh, director Earth Day Network, India.

On Earth Day itself, (April 22) the Birla Institute of Technology and Museum (BITM) in association with National Council of Science Museums (NCSM), South Asian Forum for Environment (SAFE), and Earth Day Network organised an interactive session with students of various Kolkata schools, at BITM. The day began with the watering of a ‘thirsty plant’ following which Sk. E Islam, (Director BITM), Helen LaFave (US Consul General), Pawan Churiwal (well known realty planner) and Pradeep Kumar (eminent biotechnologist), who were the panelists, shared their views on Green Cities. Turning grey concrete green, Kumar enlightened young minds about good bacteria and microbes. He also shared ideas with the audience, like making a vegetable garden or a compost pit at school. An idea to replace city concrete footpaths with patches of grass by Kumar was welcomed by most present, though EarthSmiles.net thought it may be quite impractical – grass would not grow where walked upon, and there would be a muddy mess during rains.
“Mother Earth, Mother Nature - Our planet is always compared to women, and that may be the reason why I can see 99% of the auditorium filled with girls”, quipped Sk. E Islam. Interacting with the students, he heard the grievances of GenY and offered solutions to problems, especially about litter and unwise waste disposal. Speaking to EarthSmiles.net, Helen LaFave expressed her astonishment at the fact that people in Kolkata find garbage segregation a problem.

Apart from the interactive session, SAFE had organised a quiz, painting competition and workshop where children were taught to reuse old paper for making products like piggy banks, using the simple concept of paper mache.

Moving towards central Kolkata, Crafts Council of West Bengal, AkarPrakar and Earth Day Network in collaboration with the Indian Museum, observed Earth Day with children from different institutions and NGOs, at the museum’s Chowringhee address.

Welcoming participants was a giant bamboo globe covered with coloured paper to represent the various continents. The workshops and interactive sessions emphasised waste management and reliving the ‘close to nature’ concept. Clay pottery by Arun Pal was a huge hit along with the attendant Baul music. Rabi Biswas, an alpona specialist demonstrated symbolic designs of alpona in connection with conservation of the environment. The Geological Survey of India had very informative posters on Earth, evolution and the Green House Effect put up around the museum.

But the star attraction was Debanjan Roy's cheeky Banana Tree installation. Roy used discarded automobile tires and tubes, and recycled them to create a banana tree laden with fruit, which is a symbol of growth and fertility. The artwork highlighted challenges of disposing of spent consumer goods and industrial waste materials that exists all over the world today. The green quotient of the event multiplied with a Tulsi plant being given as memento to the sizable participants of the event.

And, for the lot who couldn’t observe the Earth Day due to work, a collection of five animated doodles (the Rufous hummingbird, the veiled chameleon, the moon jellyfish, the dung beetle, a puffer fish and a pair of Japanese macaques) found a place on the homepage of search giant Google, taking the 44th Earth Day celebrations to every workstation!