Book celebrates 10 Indian conservationists

New Delhi, Jun 4 (PTI) A new book tells the stories of 10 Indian conservationists who are striving to solve the most pressing problems on the planet - from climate change to habitat degradation, and from food insecurity to species loss, often facing seemingly insurmountable odds.

Authors Bijal Vachharajani and Radha Rangarajan say their book '10 Indian Champions Who are Fighting to Save the Planet' is being published at a time when the world is overheated, and globally, temperatures are rising steadily - the carbon in the atmosphere has crossed 415 parts per million (350 ppm is a safe level), and a million species are at risk of going the dodo way.

Published by Penguin Random House imprint Duckbill, the book will see its digital launch on World Environment Day, which is on Friday.

The authors say when they started work on the book, they were filled with dread at the prospect of picking only 10 people.

'We made lists, scratched out the lists, re-did the lists and made more lists. Our first list had the great stalwarts of environment and wildlife, yesterday's and today's - Salim Ali, Indira Gandhi, J Vijaya, Shehla Masood, M Krishnan, Anupam Mishra, Zafar Futehally, Bittu Sahgal.” But then they realised they wanted to talk about today and tomorrow, the problems and the solutions and meet these everyday heroes, both young and old. 'So we set out to conduct interviews - we travelled to Tamil Nadu to meet Romulus Whitaker; we drank copious cups of coffee with Kavitha Kuruganti and Aparajita Datta in Bengaluru; sneaked out of an elephant fest in Delhi to talk to Jay Mazoomdaar,” they say.

They also went to Mumbai to 'hear the Dharavi Rocks band and speak to Laxmi Kamble; spent hours on the phone talking to Vidya Athreya, Rohan Arthur and Parineeta Dandekar; and exchanged lots of emails with Minal Pathak and Rohan Chakravarty to gain an insight into these amazing minds'.

Vachharajani and Rangarajan say they want this book to establish that the environment is not the other - 'it's a dynamic part of each of us, and we are a part of the environment'.

Talking about her experience of writing the book, Vachharajani says it was an 'adventure, where we got to talk to some amazing nature defenders and listen to them'.

Rangarajan adds, 'We are in the middle of a pandemic, while already being deep in a climate crisis - both of which have been caused by our excessive meddling with the environment. Every expert we spoke to made us hyper-aware of the fact that they still continue to learn new things from nature.' According to Ayushi Saxena, commissioning editor at Penguin India, this book 'offers timely insight into the diverse ways that many Indians are working to combat problems of climate change, food insecurity and habitat degradation, with suggestions on how the reader too can join this essential effort'. PTI ZMN RDS RDS