In Italy, Orissa teen has come a long way | india | Hindustan Times
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In Italy, Orissa teen has come a long way

india Updated: Jul 11, 2009 00:23 IST
Soumyajit Pattnaik

As the countries squabble over climate change at the G-8 summit, a tribal teen from Orissa put forth her demands firm and clear: get tough on violations, and improve primary education.

Sanjukta Pangi, 16, delivered the message in person as she and 13 other teenagers from the participating countries met the world leaders at the G-8 summit in L’Aquila, Italy.

The United Nations Relief Fund (Unicef) chose Pangi to represent India at the fifth chapter of what is called the J8, Junior 8 summit, hosted parallel to the G-8 meeting.

G-8 is a grouping of wealthy economies. Leaders of G-5 countries, or emerging economies, are also attending the summit.

Pangi, who comes from Naxal-infested Koraput district, on Thursday met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who introduced her to other world leaders.

Pangi’s father is small farmer from Karanjaguda village in Pottangi block, one of the country’s most impoverished areas, but she dreams big.

The teenager idolizes young Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and in 10 years wants to be the district collector of Koraput — to push for its development.

She knows education is the way forward and wants something done.

“If I could ask the world’s leaders to prioritise one thing to help children, it would be education,” a Unicef release, quoting Pangi, said.

She had to struggle to go to school. Had she not convinced her father to let her continue in school, she wouldn’t have been at the J-8, Pangi, a student of class X, said.

Other youngsters joined her in asking their leaders to “get tough with countries who don’t meet climate change targets and teachers whose standards slip,” the release said.

They asked for money for clean energy and an agreement in Copenhagen, where a UN summit is planned in December, that will include young people to fight climate change.