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Page - June 6, 2011
Meet Areeba, our ocean campaigner

What I do at Greenpeace Areeba

I have been working as an Oceans campaigner for a little more than 4 years. Often, when I think of a typical day at the office, Mark Twain comes to mind,   'Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today'! ………

Life before Greenpeace

Some thought that opting to be an editorial assistant at the Economic and Political Weekly after the grueling two years at TISS was strange. The fact that I was over the moon having bagged that job was even stranger!

My most memorable experience at Greenpeace, yet

August 2007. It was the 100th Annual General Meeting of Tata Steel at Bombay. I was one of the five shareholders from Greenpeace who were attending the meeting. Since Mr Tata had refused to meet us for the last two years that we had been trying, this seemed like the only fair shot at meeting him. We registered ourselves as speakers who are allowed to ask questions about the company at the meeting and directly interact with the board members and the chairperson.

We were booed by everyone in that hall (comprising about 500 people strong audience) since we brought up uncomfortable questions about the company investing in an ecologically dodgy project at Dhamra.  Our questions as shareholders were completely valid, but that did little to change the vibe in the auditorium towards us.

I was one of the last speakers. Mr Tata looked visibly agitated. And I looked like a prankster of the class who is most likely going to be asked to sit at the back or worse, leave the classroom!

As I started to speak I noticed some board members mocking me and then I was cut short by Mr Tata (very unlike him) and could hear the audience's collective scorn.  Nevertheless, I proceeded to have a conversation with him for the next five minutes. Something I didn't imagine would happen. All I know is that by the end of it he had granted us a meeting with Mr Muthuraman, the then MD of Tata Steel, for the next day!

As I walked away with knees shaking and appointment in hand, I realised I had just told one of the most powerful men in this country to stop the mud slinging and trading charges with Greenpeace and sit and talk it out already!

The appointment did not go too well and the port is at the final stages of its completion, but I realized how great a tool shareholder activism can be.  I recommend it highly!