Nandikesh Sivalingam

Page - August 28, 2014
Born and brought up in Sri Lanka, Nandikesh Sivalingam moved to India to do his B.Tech in Chemical Engineering. But he doesn’t really like to call himself an engineer. Because he’s a campaigner and loves being called one.


1. When and how did you first hear about Greenpeace?

Through some of my friends from college who studied at The School - KFI. Chennai took me to a volunteer induction meeting at GP Chennai in 2003/2004. Before that, I’d never even heard of Greenpeace in my life.

Those years were initial years for GP in India and most of the campaigns were about saving water, soil and air from toxic chemicals, pumped in by industries and they had finished a bus tour around India to bear witness to some of the most polluted areas in the country.

The video also had footage about the Bhopal gas tragedy and that’s the first time, I found out about the Bhopal issue as well. When I woke up that day, I didn’t realise how that day was going to be an important day of my life.

Because that same day, I went for a meeting as an aspiring chemical engineer but when I left the meeting, I was left with the thought that I should never ever work for a chemical company.

My journey with GP started that day in 2003, from a fundraiser to a volunteer to a campaigner.

2. What were you doing before you joined Greenpeace?

Having been born in a lower middle class family, it was not very easy to move away from the usual conditioning of a secure job and a big paycheck. It took me a year as a manager at ICICI Bank to garner courage to pursue what I really wanted to do. I started working for an NGO called Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group in Chennai and later, moved on to WWF India. 

3. When did you start working with Greenpeace?

I started working with Greenpeace in 2011 as a campaigner to save Indonesian forests from rampant deforestation from palm oil companies and then moved on to the coal campaign to save Indian forest from coal mining.

4. Why did you decide to work with Greenpeace?

GP is one of the few places that actually demand change from the government and corporations and it’s independent because it does not take any money from corporations and governments.

5. Please describe in detail the work that you currently do at Greenpeace?

I work with the campaigns department on the ‘say no to coal’ campaign. My work involves bringing about changes to current policies to save important forests regions of India from coal mining.

6. What do you like about working for GP?

Greenpeace is a platform for like-minded people to come together to bring about change that we want to see externally. No one is more important or less important here because everyone has an important role to play.

7. Personally, how do you feel working here has changed you as a person?

Changed me internally, you mean? I don’t think GP changes people internally. I could say that I have become better at certain things by acquiring certain skills or even changed my perspective on issues a bit by working for GP but I don’t define those as change. Internal revolution is as hard to achieve as an external revolution. It’s for every individual to fight on his/ her own.

8. If you were to describe your day at work, how would describe it?

Some reading, some research, some planning, some networking internally/ externally and some fire fighting.

9. What would you say to someone who is considering applying for a job at GP?

First, what is the change you want to see in the world? What role do you think you can play in bringing about that change? Do do you think working for GP is going to help you achieve that change?