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Earth matters

Environment is an important aspect of every country, natural resources are the backbone of an economy. The primary concern of an environmentalist is environment protection.

education Updated: May 07, 2013 16:29 IST
Hindustan Times
NGOs,Department of environmental studies,University of Delhi

The lowdown

Environment is an important aspect of every country, natural resources are the backbone of an economy. The primary concern of an environmentalist is environment protection. Today, the definition of an environmentalist has come of age — not all environmentalists impart lectures on rainforests or rally against the sale and manufacture of carbon-emitting ‘clunkers.’ A scientist studying retreating glaciers or rising sea levels, a lawyer fighting against 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 are all friends of the earth and thereby environmentalists. In other words anybody who works in this field has to have a love for nature and a passion for environment protection. The environment is a cohesive entity so it is essential to adopt an interdisciplinary approach.

There is no fixed schedule for an environmentalist. A major part of his/her job involves editorial, research work and investigation
10am: Reach office
10.30am: Go for a tour of villages, talk to the local people
1.30pm: Lunch
2:30pm: Attend meetings

The payoff
Salaries depend on the organisations you work for and the country. Starting salaries at NGOs could be about Rs. 20,000 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 consultant could earn good money, provided their ventures are successful

* 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 grassroot 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 huge stakes in these segments. Taking them on, advocating policy changes, fighting endless court battles and taking out rallies 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 be frustrating but you should have the skills to handle it

Getting there
You can study any discipline to become an environmentalist. Taking subjects like biology, physics, chemistry and maths at Class 12 is not necessary. A degree in environmental studies can help. Many NGOs offer training capsules. You can join them as a volunteer to gain experience

Institutes and URLs
* Department of environmental studies, University of Delhi,
* School of Environmental Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi (MSc in environmental science)
* School of Development Studies, Ambedkar University, New Delhi
* Shreemati Nathibai Damodar Thackersey Women’s University, Mumbai
* Indian Institute of Ecology and Environment, New Delhi
* The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), New Delhi

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

People should understand that the environment is directly linked to the life and livelihood of every human being. Also, it plays a crucial role in every sector of the economy -- Sumita Dasgupta, programme director, environment education, Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi

First Published: May 07, 2013 16:10 IST