It is India’s 67th Republic day and I am about to travel to Bangalore. Airports always seem like an interesting place to contemplate and reflect over one’s purpose of existence, finding parallels between one’s actions and beliefs. In the midst of chaos which the Indira Gandhi domestic airport offers me, I am wondering why I like doing so much what I do and how Greenpeace India helps me in realising this fact, every single day since I joined.


For the last ten days, I have been in Delhi supporting our Air Pollution work. I am aspired to walk towards the vision of a clean air nation. Positive jargons, motivating words capture my attention. Therefore, when I was offered to work on the air pollution campaign, a campaign which brought our Greenpeace’s strategy of furthering solutions rather than only critiquing that which was going wrong, I knew I had to take the leap. Plus, I love catchy hashtags, like #SolutionNotPollution; which definitely reach out to a wider segment of our supporters.

I stand waiting for my long delayed flight due to the Republic day procedures with the air space being shut off for domestic flights in India. Moments of contemplation absolved within my calm nonchalance are interrupted by a middle aged woman from Delhi. Sharing common discomfort somehow always sparks conversations. Indian aunty and a young unmarried woman like me, the conversation is bound to tie up with what I am doing with my life. With much pride, I tell her that I work for Greenpeace. She is puzzled.

“What is it that Greenpeace does? You should tell me otherwise I get silly ideas in my head.” I am amused and curious. “Well aunty, we are a non-profit organization working for environment protection. But please tell me what was in your mind?” Aunty chirps in with a wide smile, “I would think you grow vegetables”.

Greenpeace, I explain, is involved in a lot of campaigns, one of which is air pollution. We just called for a clean air nation this weekend in around 18 cities across India, where young and old alike came out, organised creative activities and voiced out their dissent against the growing menace of air pollution in India.
As soon as I said air pollution, the Odd Even scheme was brought up and I was asked what my organisation thought about it and if there were alternatives to it.

27 January 2016 Greenpeace India volunteers call for a clean air nation. © Greenpeace India


I am no air pollution expert and it has hardly been a month since I joined the Greenpeace family. However, what I do know and I speak for my team here is that sustainable and both temporary solutions need to go hand in hand. Government initiatives are much required but what cannot be negated is that people have to step up and initiate their responsibility. Our weekend call to action was a step in that direction.

“But beta (child), responsibility and self-initiatives are heavy words that only you and I and some educated lot of this country can use. Who takes initiatives towards protecting the environment today?”

Clean air is our right. And this right is a call to everyone’s duty towards safeguarding our country’s interests – be it economic, social, cultural and environment.
Greenpeace’s strength is its volunteers – people like you and me. Our activities are carried and sustained by people who realize their responsibility towards India.

This Republic day, as the country and its citizens take pride in the milestones that we have achieved, let’s not forget that there is a long way to go for safeguarding the basic rights of all peoples of this country. We are all responsible for the future of this country. Greenpeace promises to keep taking initiatives in this direction.


“I agree with you. So, how can one volunteer with Greenpeace India?”


Get involved with Greenpeace India here.

Sana Ahmad works as a Digital Campaigner with Greenpeace India.