Galor Samarpan Abhiyan makes a mark in Nashik on World Environment Day
Slingshots in villages, are a common means of adventure amongst children, especially in the rural areas. The Galor or slingshot, is usually used to target and hit birds, monkeys and small animals. It is a common sight in rural areas of Nashik, Maharasthra, to see a bunch of children seeking out innocent lives hidden atop leaves and branches of trees.
However, Anand Reddy Yellu (IFS) from Andhra Pradesh took it upon himself to educate the children about conserving these feathered friends and change their hearts. Posted in Maharashtra Cadre, Assistant Conservator of Forests (ACF) of West Nashik, Anand resolved to talk to kids about how unheroic the act of killing is. The birds have just as much right to live and not to get hurt unnecessarily with a slingshot aim. The children were fast enough to understand the value system Anand was trying to embed in their young minds and hearts.
The results were glorious. The children not only decided to put down their slings but also protect the birds from anyone who was following this inhuman act. Galor Samarpan or the act of giving away of their slings was symbolic of the promise made by children on the World Environment Day to protect nature and its creatures. This movement called 'Galor Samarpan Abhiyan' gained momentum and spread to 68 villages in Nashik, wherein the children of Nashik rural areas pledged never to go on killing game-sprees ever again. The slogan was called 'Galor Hatwa Pakshi Bachwa' - a movement that not only inspired children to not indulge in killing activity but also to save the birds in their environment. As of July 11, 92 out of 93 villages are covered and a total of 674 slingshots have been surrendered by the children.
Incentivising children helped in a big way. All those children who would voluntarily surrender the galore would receive a book, a pen, and an entry into a lucky draw. In the lucky draw, the children would stand a chance to win a bicycle, a cricket kit, and a volleyball. Anand stated, “Our modus operandi solidified with time when we spread awareness about conservation from different perspectives. Emotional, cultural and legal outlook helped the locals understand the scheme well.”
“Asking children to voluntarily surrender the galore is not an easy job, the Adivasi kids are shy and sometimes get overwhelmed by seeing men in uniform”, added Anand. He has even worked on a short film and a documentary. The yet-to-be-released pieces will showcase the same issue but will be used to promote the Galore topic in the deeper parts of the region. “The ultimate aim is to have a Galore mukt Nashik”.
By setting an example that has touched the hearts of innumerable kids in rural Maharashtra, Anand has achieved no less a feat by kick-starting a small yet important movement. Anand used his Twitter handle to further educate and inspire others while sharing his story of success. He expressed his surprise that the issue was not region specific. He said, “One of the things I realised after posting the thread was the fact that the issue of galore, which I had thought to be region-specific, was a Pan-Indian one. I received messages from Andaman, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, and Kerala regarding the same problem.”
Anand Reddy says “India is one of the 17 mega biodiverse countries. Once the younger population learns about all this, they wouldn’t need any exhibition to get on the field. Children carry curiosity which disappears with age. Tapping on the same can make them do wonders for the environment.” He insists that scholastic curriculum should be complimented with further campaigns and learning experiences for students. Environmental education should not only be taught in school but also otherwise. “If you pick a random school-going kid from the city and ask him or her to name a few birds, they won't be able to tell more than ten names. In Nashik alone, there are more than 300 species of birds” The IIT Madras graduate from the batch of 2018, Anand Reddy has not just become popular but an inspiration to environment saviours and students both.