India’s Greta Thunberg: Licypriya Kangujam

By Bhushan Salunke
Licypriya Kangujam // Pic supplied by Bhushan Salunke
Devil’s Advocate: Serving you a cocktail of wit, humour and sarcasm

India now has its own homegrown Greta Thunberg in Licypriya Kangujam. Licypriya is a 12-year-old girl child from Manipur, India who is following in the footsteps of her great hero, Greta Thunberg, who once was a famous child climate activist and now an adult.

Licypriya, a climate change activist, began her activism when she was six years old, at an age when most kids are trying to learn how to tie their shoelaces or balance themselves while walking! She broke on to the world stage recently when she ambushed the Dubai COP28 meeting of adults, when they were busy seriously discussing on how to stop climate change also called global warming. She ran on to the stage screaming & holding a placard which read, “End fossil fuel. Save our planet and future”.

COP is an annual talk festival to which thousands of delegates flock, from all countries, arriving by planes, unfortunately adding more CO2 into the atmosphere in the process and further aggravating climate change. Greta Thunberg was noticeably absent at the COP28 meeting, and this void has been successfully filled by Licypriya.

Licypriya is playing from Greta’s rule book including saying “millions of children are dying”. She stopped short of saying “How dare you?” so as not to steal Greta’s thunder. Licypriya’s achievements are remarkable for her age. She has already addressed 400 associations in 32 countries, clocking up enormous frequent flyer points and has won several awards, too many to list, including International Women’s Day award! She has started a foundation and is the advisor for Childs Rights International Network based in London. All accomplished at the ripe old age of 12 years! Just like Greta who protested in front of the Swedish Parliament, Licypriya has staged many protests in front of the Indian Parliament House.

After the COP28 exposure, she would surely be swarmed by Hollywood and Bollywood actors, celebrities, and others, wanting to meet her and to bask in her reflected glory. Not surprised if Arnold Schwarzenegger and David Attenborough are already at top of the interview line.

Child activism is one of the best strategies to use for ending global warming. Adults listen to kids and not to other adults. I have always succumbed to the tantrums of my kids when they used to demand McDonald’s Happy Meals. Kids make a compelling argument.

The present-day kids are the future leaders and will be inheriting this world which is now heading towards doom. They should be made aware of climate change and how to become an activist with a compulsory subject on global warming taught in schools. The education can start at the Montessori level, by replacing, A for apple, B for bat etc to A for apocalypse, B for burning forests, C for climate change etc. Tata Tea has done an amazing job by modifying the popular nursery rhymes into climate change messages. Watch it here:

Licypriya does not have to leave India to address the global warming problem which is happening in her own backyard. India was the third largest emitter of carbon dioxide by volume in 2020, after China and USA. In the last decade, India’s coal consumption has nearly doubled. The country continues to import large quantities of coal and is planning to open dozens of new mines and thermal power stations in the coming years. One Mr Adani is mining coal in Australia and transporting it to India to be burnt there. He better hurry up because Australia has committed to turning off the coal tap very soon!

All adults should hang their heads in shame and laud the leadership taken by their own children in saving the world they were born into, only a few years ago. When kids can see the writing on the wall, why can’t adults? As adults, we could be carrying a guilt feeling for not being climate activists in our childhood like the present generation is. In my defence, I have to say that I had not heard of climate change while growing up. Maybe because there was no internet, no social media, and no Greta in those dark ages. To compensate for this, I’m urging my teen son to become a climate activist. He has not shown much interest in it because he says he doesn’t want to drop out of school and that he cannot compete with the girls who dominate the climate change domain. I have asked him, instead,  not to use his smart phone and social media accounts, at least, which are contributing to climate change. According to stats, from the extraction of raw materials to assembly, distribution, transport, use, and end-of-life treatment, smartphones contributed to the creation of a staggering 580 million tons of CO2 emissions in 2020.

The ICT sector, including personal computers, laptops, smartphones, tablets, as well as its digital infrastructures such as data centres and communication networks, is expected to contribute to the global carbon footprint by 14% in 2040, representing more than half of the contribution made by the transportation sector worldwide.

Young activists need to take a note of the above in their warpath. The smartphone, social media, fast fashion, fast food, smashed avocados, lattes etc they are addicted to will undo all their good work and the world will truly be destroyed because of themselves!

As a side note, Licypriya’s father, Kanarjit Kangujam, a self-proclaimed youth leader, is in bit of a pickle with the law. He had been arrested in 2021, in a joint operation by the Delhi Police Special Cell and the Manipur Police, on charges of  fraud, assault and criminal breach of trust. Kanarjit had allegedly duped several self-help groups, hotels, and individuals for a Global Youth Meet that he had organised in Imphal. He had also allegedly misled state and foreign dignitaries by describing himself as the director and acting chief at ‘UNESCO Youth Foundation’.  As chairman of the International Youth Committee, an organisation founded by Kanarjit to facilitate effective partnerships with youth and youth-led organizations, several national and international students had been deceived of money on the pretext of fees for the Europe Youth Exchange program that never took place. Kanarjit had also invented the fake achievements of his daughter Licypriya in order to propel her to international fame. In multiple press investigations and reports, it was found that Licypriya’s so-called UN invite and other attendances were all fake, cunningly drafted and used by him for media hype.

While the rest of India is focussed on cricket and celebrating the Bollywood movie, The Archies made to honour the Bollywood nepokids, there is one little 12-year-old child who has placed Manipur, India on the world map in her crusade to save the world from extinction!

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

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