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The PM’s young ‘speech writers’

On Thursday morning 7, Race Course Road, had some very nervous guests. Nine excited schoolchildren had come to the Prime Minister’s official residence to hand over their suggestions regarding what Manmohan Singh's Independence Day speech should include this year.

delhi Updated: Aug 14, 2009 00:39 IST
Harsha Baruah

On Thursday morning 7, Race Course Road, had some very nervous guests.

Nine excited schoolchildren had come to the Prime Minister’s official residence to hand over their suggestions regarding what Manmohan Singh's Independence Day speech should include this year.

From schools across the Capital, these students are the winners of a month-long competition on environmental issues organised by Hindustan Times and Greenpeace, an NGO.

As part of the competition, titled 'Write the PM's I-Day Speech', each contestant had to focus on environmental issues that should be a part of the PM's address to the nation on August 15.

"In my speech for the PM, I've addressed the issue of deficient monsoons. I think that is an issue that needs to be taken up urgently," said Sagrika Kochar, one of the students.

Nirzin Norbu, another winner, urged the government to encourage student organisations to take up the issue of environment and spread awareness about it.

But do activities such as awareness drives and tree-plantation expeditions taken up by schools have the desired impact on the attitudes of students?

"Outside the school, I would say that people's attitude hasn't changed massively," said Vinita Nayyar, a teacher at Maharaja Agrasen School, Pitampura.

Striking a positive note, the teacher added: "But I am confident that 20 years down the line, adults — the generation that comprises the youth today — will be much more environmentally responsible because we are teaching them the values today."

Vivek Sinha, a consultant for Greenpeace in India, who also runs an NGO named We4All, said that "once a person turns into an adult, he has more immediate things to worry about than environment — family, job and so on. So the only way to ensure that a child continues to be green conscious is to inculcate environmental values at a young age."