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Lights out in Delhi for Earth Hour 2018... and people think it’s a technical snag!

Twelve years after it started, is Earth Hour still relevant? We ask youngsters in Delhi what they think about an hour of darkness — the responses range from bizarre to determined.

delhi Updated: Mar 25, 2018 16:18 IST
Ankita Rawat
Ankita Rawat
Hindustan Times
India Gate,Earth Hour 2018,New Delhi
Visitors take selfies at India Gate, which went dark for Earth Hour 2018. To observe the hour, lights at Delhi monuments were switched off between 8.30 pm and 9.30 pm on Saturday, March 24. (Photo: Amal KS/HT)

The world observed Earth Hour on Saturday, March 24, from 8.30pm to 9.30pm. So did Delhi-NCR, at least the part of Delhi-NCR that knew about it; the part that didn’t thought that India Gate and Rashtrapati Bhavan being dark was because of a technical snag, or something to do with VIP security!

Residents of one of the world’s most polluted cities should know about Earth Hour — the practice of switching off all non-essential lights for one hour, a global movement started in 2007 by the conservation group WWF, is basically a symbolic act; it reminds people of the need to save energy by altering their wastage-oriented lifestyle. What we found, however, was an abysmally low level of Earth Hour awareness, despite appeals by Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan and the Delhi power utility BSES.

Elsewhere, some Bollywood celebrities and politicians did their bit by tweeting a picture of themselves sitting in the dark. But on Twitter, speculation around the Sonam Kapoor-Anand Ahuja wedding was trending more than Earth Hour. Instagram, as always, was flooded with Taimur’s cuteness.

Of course, social networks aren’t the best judge; to get a real sense of the situation, we went to India Gate and Central Park, Delhi’s two favourite hangout spots, to assess what people were thinking.

There were huge gatherings at both of these places, but mostly consisting of people who came out to enjoy a pleasant Saturday evening. Without giving up hope, we asked some of the youngsters about why they thought the lights went out at 8.30pm. The responses left us... well, gaping.

At India Gate, Delhi University student Shivani had a totally bizarre explanation for the darkness: “The lights went off because of security reasons as the German president is here for a visit.” Another visitor, Rohit Chabbra, mused, “There must be some power glitch, and the lights will be back in some time.”

‘I am not sure why the lights went off. I think there’s a major power fault. It’s embarrassing. There are firangs (foreigners) who’ve come here to enjoy, and this power cut has embarrassed us’ — A young visitor at India Gate, New Delhi, during Earth Hour 2018, on March 24

A youngster, who was enjoying Delhi’s spring weather with a chuski, said, “I’m not sure why the lights went off. I think there’s a major power fault.” This young fellow felt that the darkness blighted Delhi’s reputation! He said, “It’s embarrassing. There are firangs (foreigners) who’ve come here to enjoy, and this power cut has embarrassed us.”

On asking around some more, we did hear some sane comments. Anukriti Bahuguna, 27, who works in media production, said, “We are dying. The Earth is dying. We’re drinking fuel like there’s no tomorrow. To switch off all lights in your home or at the office for an hour every day would be fantastic. Each one of us would feel like we’re actually doing something to save this Earth, rather than just tweeting about it. I use a car that runs on natural gas, and I’ve stopped eating meat, and I try my best to use public transport.”

Soumya Pande, 26, a Master’s student of Philosophy at Jawaharlal Nehru University, had a different view, saying, “I’ve never observed Earth Hour. The motive is genuine, but I feel the situation has gone out of our control. Switching the lights off for one hour in a year makes no difference. I live a rather Spartan life; I usually walk or bike to college, have cut down on meat consumption, and make sure that I use eco-friendly products.”

Interact with the author at Twitter/@Sacatomato1

First Published: Mar 25, 2018 16:09 IST