Not all heroes wear capes. Sometimes, they come in small packages even as they deal in heavy subjects like climate crisis and moving governments of the world to action, all the while donning a brave smile and embodying oodles of determination.
Much like Licypriya Kangujam herself, the eight-year-old climate activist from Manipur, India, who has grabbed global attention with her relentless endeavours for the environment.
With a brand of activism that’s commendable for her age, Licypriya, in fact, has even drawn comparisons with Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg in recent times. She has been famously referred to as the ‘Indian Greta Thunberg’ by the media. And it’s not difficult to see why.
Both of them share a similar passion and concern for the climate, are relatively young, and aren’t afraid when it comes to speaking their mind. Even if that means standing up to prominent political figures, driving home the pressing need to take immediate action.
One small step of activism, a giant leap against climate crisis
Licypriya rose to international recognition because of her brave stint outside the Indian Parliament House, in June this year. Armed with her arguments of a stolen future, the Manipur native had demonstrated a protest in the capital city, urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi to implement immediate climate change laws.
Wondering how a seven-year-old mustered such courage? In parts, from her parents and close ones, and in parts from the monstrous sufferings of people across the world.
“I get scared of the vision I see – people suffering and dying because of earthquakes, floods, cyclones. I cry every time I see children losing their parents or people becoming homeless due to the dangers of disaster,” she tells us, before revealing the silver lining that she sees in all of this.
“But I know there are millions of good people who come to lend their hands with courage to save those in need. I get very happy when I see a rescuer saving the children and their parents from dangers. That's where I get the inspiration and motivation to work on climate change,” she adds.
Coming face to face with Greta Thunberg
It is perhaps this unfazed faith in humanity’s collective effort that has made it possible for young Licypriya to make great strides in such a short span of time. The climate activist already has multiple awards to her credits, including the Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Children’s Award, the Wold Children’s Peace Prize, the India Peace Prize, and the SDGs Ambassador Award 2019.
Last week, Licypriya happened to cross paths with the internationally renowned climate change activist Greta Thunberg at the COP25 conference held in Madrid, Spain. She was excited to discuss climate change with Thunberg during the event, besides bringing to the attention of the world leaders, once again, the urgency in putting a climate change law in place.
Says the climate champion, “I want more action from [the world leaders’] speeches. Governments are busy blaming each other instead of finding a long-term solution. They are just engaged with their speeches; I want the governments to show more action. Otherwise, our future will be dying soon. They must act now,” adds Licypriya, pressing on the significance of timeliness in action.
Actions speak louder than words
That climate crisis is real, that the glaciers in the remotest regions of the world are melting, that ocean-levels have been dangerously and gradually rising, and that these changes pose a great threat to vast species of flora and fauna across the world, is no news at all. Scientists and environmentalists around the world couldn’t have emphasised the deteriorating state of the Earth enough.
And yet, it wasn’t until recently, that the conversation around this topic gained a sudden, much-deserved notice. Even then, some have called it theatrics, while a few other critics have questioned the real purpose guiding activists like Greta and Licypriya; remember the tweet from President Trump, seemingly mocking the Swedish activist’s stirring speech at the UN summit?
To all the naysayers, as it turns out, Licypriya has a simple answer: “I have no hidden agenda, I am only fighting for my future.”
“Losing my future is not like losing an election or a few points in the stock market,” she adds with her unmistakable brand of passion. “I am here to speak for my generation and all the generations to come.”
In a bid to do her part for the future of the planet, the climate activist has built a ‘Survival Kit for the Future’ (SUKIFU) – a design comprising a plant in a glass box, attached with a mask to supply clean air – with some help from the experts at IIT Jammu.
A small initiative as it may be, this is a giant step in the right direction. If a young activist, with just her passion, her beliefs, and the strong urge to make a difference, could stir in change, imagine all that could be achieved if the governments and leaders across the world came together to fight the climate battle.
After all, as Licypriya says, “It’s not about today or tomorrow, but what needs to be done now.”