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Exclusive: ‘Govt Ignored My Demands for a Year’, says Licypriya

8-year-old Licypriya has 3 demands on climate including planting 10 tree for students to pass the final exams

Published
India
4 min read
“Please don’t celebrate me if you are not going to listen my voice,” Kangujam tweeted in response to a tweet by MyGovIndia, a citizen engagement platform of the government.
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8-year-old Licypriya Kangujam, a climate activist from Manipur created a stir on social media on Friday after she asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to feature her in his #SheInspiresUs campaign.

To celebrate the International Women’s Day on 8 March, PM Modi has announced he will “give away” his social media accounts – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube – for a day to “women whose life and work inspire us”.

“Please don’t celebrate me if you are not going to listen my voice,” Kangujam tweeted in response to a tweet by MyGovIndia, a citizen engagement platform of the government.

Licypriya and her mother, Bidyarani Kangujam, in an email interview with The Quint, explained why the 8-year-old asked PM Modi not to feature her and what she wants from the PM as well as other members of Parliament.

Why did you ask PM Modi not to be featured as a part of #SheInspiresUs campaign? According to you, what did he not listen to?

First when I heard the news, I couldn’t believe it. After confirming the news, I felt proud in one sense but at the same time, I felt very sad. This made me ask myself hundreds of questions. Whether I should accept such recognition or honour rather than keep pushing my demands to the government.

After thinking many times, I decided to turn down the honour because for over a year they don’t listen to any of my demands despite protesting continuously in front of the Parliament House and many other places across the country with thousands of children and youths.

Our politicians never take this issue seriously. I believe my rejection will draw the attention of the government to fulfill my demands. Because our leaders and politicians never take climate change as a serious issue. This is the saddest part.

In 2019, they discussed only once on 25 June in the Rajya Sabha after my protest on 21 June in front of the Parliament. 7 MPs brought the issue of climate change as a calling attention motion but Environment & Climate Change Minister replied “India not to bow down to international pressure on climate change” which is a completely senseless response and contrary to my expectations. But that was the first time climate change was discussed in Parliament. Not a single time was I called up or invited to discuss my concerns.

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What do you want to say to PM Modi?

India ranks as the fifth-most vulnerable country in terms of extreme weather events. Studies show that the current level of efforts to slow down global warming will see average temperatures in India rise by 1-2°C by 2050. Climate change will have deep economic and social impacts.

The precarious balancing act of realising sustained economic growth essential to improving the living standards of all its people without endangering the well-being of the planet even as it is constrained by a rapidly warming world requires bold leadership and massive investments.

To this end, the government should signal its intent to transform India into a sustainable, low-carbon, high-growth economy. I have 3 major demands / requests to our government:

First, I want our government to enact the climate law so that we can regulate the carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases. And also this will bring transparency and accountability to our leaders. This will benefit specially millions of poor people of the country.

Second, inclusion of climate change as a compulsory subject in our school education curriculum. This will help to fight the climate change from the grassroots and also it will help to educate our leaders about climate change by their own children and grandchildren as they can’t believe in science and the climate change is real.

Third, minimum 10 tree plantations for all students of India to pass the final exam. In India, we have 350 million students. If 350 million students plant minimum 10 trees every year then we will plant 3.5 billion trees a year.

Trust me! India will be green in 5 years. All the above three policies are possible to change and others countries of the world can follow the same. This can help to fight the climate change and also change the system of the world.
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Licypriya’s mother also spoke with The Quint via email and answered questions about her daughter’s activism, rejection of the PM’s campaign and the trolling she was subject to.

Why did Lycipriya ask not to be featured in the #SheInspiresUs campaign by PM Modi?

She is a ground child advocate. She works with passion and courage. She doesn’t fear anyone when it comes to speaking out on anything. This is her own choice. She discussed several times with us before taking her decision. We can’t force her. She is not only a daughter to her parents. She belongs to the whole world now.

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Whose decision was it to not join this women’s day campaign by PM Modi? Did Licypriya speak to you about this before deciding?

Yes, she discussed it with me on the day she spoke out on Twitter. At first, she ran to me with smiling face but she realised quickly that this happiness will not last long and her actual demands to the government will be keep far aside. We saw she tweeted about it later in the evening.

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She could have joined the campaign and voiced her concerns. Her message would have reached more people as a part of this campaign?

Government never listened to her voice for last over a year and she doesn’t trust the government until they address her concerns. She was expecting a call or meeting from PMO for a long time to address her concerns. But that hasn’t happened yet. So, she don’t believe that they will help to fight her cause.

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Many people are now trolling her on Twitter. Licypriya is drawing criticism. How do you react to that?

She doesn’t have much time to think and react to those hate comments and fake propaganda against her.

She has very tight schedules everyday with various media interviews and events across the world. She keeps busy with traveling and advocating with children and youth on environmental and climate change issues. We have told her not to fight or argue anyone for her safety concerns.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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