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Care about environment?

Being an environmentalist is much more than giving a two-hour lecture on the Amazonian rainforests or rallying against the sale of carbon-emitting ‘clunkers’.

education Updated: Nov 03, 2011 16:41 IST

The lowdown
The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines an environmentalist as ‘one who is concerned with protection of the environment; one who believes that the environment has a primary influence on person’s or group’s development’. Today, being an environmentalist is much more than giving a two-hour lecture on the Amazonian rainforests or rallying against the sale and manufacture of carbon-emitting ‘clunkers’. A ‘friend of the earth’ can be a scientist studying retreating glaciers or rising sea levels, or a lawyer taking on polluting industrial units, or an activist campaigning against ‘biopiracy’ — the move by an industrial organisation to patent indigenous crop/plant varieties — or fighting to change certain anti-environment policies

Clockwork
When in grassroots action:
6am: Wake up
9.30am: Breakfast
10.30am: Go for a tour of villages, talk to the local people about seed saving
1.30pm: Lunch
2:30pm: Organising meetings etc, related to the BT brinjal (genetically engineered crop) issue

When in Delhi
6am: Wake up
9.30am: Breakfast
10am: Talk to students about climate change
1.30pm: Lunch
2.30pm: Meeting with World Bank officials to discuss energy policies
4 pm: Interview with a journalist

The Payoff
Salaries largely depend on the organisations you work for. Starting salaries at NGOs could be about Rs 10,000 per month. Salaries for middle- and senior-level people or researchers could start from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh per annum. An eco-entrepreneur or environment consultant could earn good money, provided their ventures are successful

Skills/TRAITS
* Good in science, inclination for research, habit of questioning and analysing everything endlessly
* Great communication skills. You might be required to deal with people at the grassroots level to learn from or teach them effective farming/ agriculture technology. You might also have to interact with prominent national or global personalities if you are advocating policy changes, etc
* Good analytical skills
* Ability to handle adversities and move on. Land, water, forests and agriculture are crucial for the environment. Big industries have big stakes in these segments. Taking them on, advocating policy changes, fighting endless court battles, taking out rallies and sitting in dharnas requires patience and perseverance and large dollops of courage
* Sometimes you might lose the battle, but to win the war you have no option but to soldier on. It can get frustrating but you should have the patience and diplomatic skills to handle it all

Getting There
Take biology, physics, chemistry and maths in Class 12. A BSc or MSc degree in environmental science will definitely help. Further research and an MBA can add value to your work. Many NGOs offer training capsules

Institutes and URLs
* Delhi University (BSc in environmental science)
www.du.ac.in
* School of Environmental Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi (MSc in environmental science)
www.jnu.ac.in
* Ambedkar University, Delhi (MA environment and development)
www.aud.ac.in

Pros and Cons
* That you are doing the best thing you can for the earth and her people can be a great feeling
* Activism is not easy. You have to devote a good part of your life to it at the cost of time for yourself and your family

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