Gift of Life


There is a video or rather a film doing the rounds on Youtube and on social media platforms for the last few weeks. It’s uploaded and the subject is Khairi or Princess Khairi. Yes the famed Bengal tiger from Similipal. Shot in the mid seventies in two parts the video shows and talks about the Simlipal forest, S.R.Chaudhary Director of Similpal Tiger Reserve and its un-violated ecological system. The video encapsulates the viewer with breath taking shots of the reserve and lush green tree cover exquisitely exclusive to Odisha. You see things have changed over the decades after when that film was shot. Today rapid industralisation and increase in population is causing rise in average temperatures, flooding and harsh cyclones to which a generation of people since 1999 have been exposed to. The people are infact slowly adapting to these climatic changes. Come the months of April, May and June most chores are usually done either in the early mornings or late evenings. Such a change in behavior affects us in many ways including reduced economic opportunities. Who knows in the 2050 we the Odia people might just end up as climate refugees? Think about it. This has already begun in other parts of the world and even in our neighbouring regions too.

But all of this can change you know. There is some good news too. Recent reports indicate that Odisha’s forest cover has grown and correct approach towards the conservation of forests has and is showing results. Being not preachy or idealistic here we ask a simple question to you? Can us as citizens of a state like Odisha come together and adopt a practice. What we mean is just like we say ‘No to plastic.’ Why can’t we say ‘Yes to trees as a birthday gift?’

Yes a change in our behaviour might just be a silent revolution that might just help make us more aware of our environment and the immediate need to plant trees. Moved by this idea Jai Odisha a Bhubaneswar based youth organisation has started an initiative called Van Dhan to promote the idea of gifting saplings on birthdays in the city of Bhubaneswar. ‘Our approach is slightly different we are reaching out to a lot of home grown corporates to tie-up with us. So we ensure that their employees receive a plant on their birthdayand plant it in the premises of the office space. See the entire logic is to make the idea of gifting saplings a culture, create a bond between man and the environment. It also makes the corporate house a stake-holder in the well-being of the community. I am sure people of Bhubaneswar would like to see their city green and beautiful.’ Says an upbeat Rudra Narayan Samantaray, President of Jai Odisha.


Already this approach has gained some measurable momentum with some corporates like Freedom Automobiles, Utkal Exports and Trupti Group to name a few have come onboard. “Jai Odisha envisions a greener and healthier Bhubaneswar. With respect to this we have initiated a campaign called Van-Dhan along with the support of corporate houses based in the city to help us achieve this goal.” Says Sourav Kumar, a volunteer of Jai Odisha. Their appeal to the corporate world of Odisha is pretty much summed up in their pitch about Van Dhan.

“Under this campaign we request corporate houses like yours to promote the idea of gifting a sapling for your employees on their birthday. Jai Odisha shall be instrumental in the procurement of the saplings and pots. Jai Odisha shall make sure that you receive a plant for your employee on their birthday which can be kept at the office premises to help make the office area greener and healthier. Since plants are living organisms it would also create a healthy bond between your employees and the saplings that are gifted to them. In this way we aim to achieve a cleaner and greener Bhubaneswar. Let us all come forward and help save our environment.The idea of Jai Odisha’s Van Dhan initiative is to germinate a culture amongst the corporates or rather human beings who work in these offices. All are stakeholders in making our city green and Van Dhan is one those blooming examples of how a group of well minded people can start a change for the betterment of citizens,” says Sanket Dhal. “When you receive a plant on your birthday it immediately is something which you cannot ignore, because you are meant to take care of it and make sure it survives with some water, sunshine and a whole lot of affection because it’s a life that you take care of ”, Says Advina an employee of Shivam Automobiles. We are hopeful that this culture becomes an integral part of the people of Bhubaneswar. May be we won’t be refugees in 2050 after all thanks to initiatives like Van Dhan.

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