Citizenship & I

This booklet is part of a Series of 6 Booklets on Environmental Sustainability with a special focus on Climate Change. Each booklet aims to motivate individuals to take action to mitigate global warming by providing basic information in an easy to understand manner.

Citizenship & I

Copyright © 2008 Centre for Environmental Research and Education (CERE)

ISBN 978-81-902018-3-4 PUBLISHER - Centre for Environmental Research and Education (CERE) All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be copied, transmitted or reproduced in a retrieval system in any form or by any means without prior permission of the Publisher.
This booklet is printed using environmentally-friendly materials. The inks used are vegetable oil-based inks and the paper is wood-free and chlorine-free.

Citizenship and I

All our actions have led to Climate Change. We need to rethink our role as citizens and we need to redefine citizenship. “The government is us; we are the government, you and I.”
Theodore Roosevelt (former President, USA)

“We all have an obligation as citizens of this earth to leave the world a healthier, cleaner, and better place for our children and future generations.”
Blythe Danner (actress, environmentalist)


What I get as a citizen...

Identity Resources

Air, water and food



Rights & legal protection



Our impact upon the Planet has more than tripled since 1961. Human consumption now exceeds the Earth’s ability to regenerate itself by 25%. 4 failures as ONE

Environmental destruction




Population explosion




“The future depends on what we do in the present.”
Mahatma Gandhi


We are all citizens of planet Earth. The state of the Earth reflects how well we have played our role as citizens. If the Earth today is in a bad shape - well, who is to blame except us - each one of us. Citizenship is about an attitude of caring and of working actively towards the betterment of society, our country and the Earth, which fulfills all our needs. As Swami Vivekananda puts it “We are responsible for what we are. Whatever we wish to be in the future can be produced by our present actions; so we have to know how to act.”




Ten worst issues affecting us...
Population: World population touched 6.6 billion in 2007. Although India occupies only 2.4% of the world’s land area, it supports over 17.5% of the world’s population.

ONE in every six people on earth lives in India.



Poverty: Poverty is the state of a majority of the world’s people and nations. One billion children in the world live in poverty. India has the world’s largest number of poor people in a single country. Of its nearly 1 billion inhabitants, about 350-400 million are below the poverty line, with 75% of them in the rural areas.

ONE in every three malnourished children in the world lives in India.




Environmental Destruction: Pollution, global warming, climate change, biodiversity loss are all manifestations of unsustainable development. A study published in 2007, in the journal Human Ecology, reveals that 62 million deaths per year could be attributed to environmental factors.

ONE million people die in India each year from air and water pollution. In ONE year, India loses 250 tigers.




Lack of Education: Nearly a billion people in the world entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names. According to The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2006, 51.9% of children in the age group of 6-14 cannot read Standard II level material – this means 98 million children need remedial help in language in India.
In India, ONE in every 4 students does not go beyond class V. By class VIII the dropout rate gets worse at 50.8%.




Health-Related Issues: We are greatly affected by the environment we live in. Our home, office, outdoor and transportation environments pose risks to health in a number of different ways, from the poor quality of the air we breathe, to the spread of virulent diseases, to the hazards caused by climate change. Worldwide one billion people lack access to healthcare systems. Over 9 million people die worldwide each year because of hunger and malnutrition.
ONE person dies of TB in India every minute. ONE out of 10 children in India do not see their 5th birthday. 12



Corruption & Poor Governance: In many surveys India is ranked as the fifth most corrupt country in the world. Corruption in India is all pervasive. Corruption hurts everyone, and it harms the poor the most. It traps millions in poverty and misery and breeds social, economic and political unrest. It also undermines democracy and the rule of law. Good governance is about making bureaucrats and politicians accountable, fighting corruption, and involving people in policy making decisions.
In ONE year, bribes worth Rs. 21,068 crores are paid out in India. 13


Lack of infrastructure: Infrastructure in India needs to be improved. Roads, public transport facilities, water and sewage systems, agriculture-related facilities, telecommunications and power all need to catch up with the growing demands. The greatest challenge for India is to work out environmentally sustainable and viable solutions for basic infrastructure.


Every year on an average, 75,000 people lose their lives in road accidents, and over 3,25,000 are injured.


Communalism / R e l i g i o u s Fundamentalism: India is a country known for its tolerant past. Hatred and violence are being propagated because a few people are obsessed with religious fundamentalism and communalism. The preamble to the Constitution of India signifies that India is a secular state. Human Rights and Justice Issues: Human rights include a variety of aspects, from civil and political rights, to socio-economic rights. Freedom of speech and human rights have deteriorated around the world and in India, in recent years.


Water and Development: Water is an essential component of human existence. Growing populations and the abuse and pollution of water resources have changed water from a life-giving, freely available resource to one over which wars are fought. Today, developed nations consume about 85% of the world’s water resources, while in poorer nations water-borne diseases already kill one child every eight seconds.

ONE-third of the world’s population is living in either waterscarce, or water-short areas. ONE billion people have no access to safe drinking water and over 2 billion lack basic sanitation. 16




M.C. Mehta Winner of the Goldman Environment Prize and the Magsaysay Award.

ONE man saved the Taj Mahal. It had turned yellow and was being corroded by the pollution from a total of 292 coal based industries and foundries. He submitted scientific reports to the Supreme Court outlining steps to make the region around the Taj, pollution free. In 1996, through a Supreme Court order, the Taj was restored to it's original beauty.

Mumbai now has less than 0.03 acre of open space per 1,000 people. One of the world’s worst ratios. The international norm is 4 acres per 1,000 people. We are 540 times less than the norm. Greater London has approximately 12 acres per 1,000 people and Singapore has approximately 6 acres per 1,000 people. 18


Gajanan Dudhalkar

Medha Patkar Winner of the Right Livelihood Award (Alternative Nobel Prize), the Goldman Environment Prize, the Green Ribbon Award for Best International Political Campaigner by BBC amongst others.

ONE woman mobilised thousands of villagers to campaign against the Narmada Valley Project that would displace them and cause irreversible ecological damage. Today, Medha’s name is synonymous with struggles throughout the country. People approach her to help oppose developmental projects that are rendering lakhs landless and homeless. She is trying to force a re-think of India’s unsustainable development paradigms. “Development for whom?” is the question she always asks.


Women cultivate, plough and harvest more than half of all the food in the world. 19

Dr. Almitra Patel Winner of the Economic Times’ Achiever of the Year for Environment award in Karnataka, the Kempegowda Award-for Environment and other awards.

ONE woman decided to clean up all the cities in India. She submitted numerous reports to the Supreme Court of India and was instrumental in developing policies for better waste management like separating hospital waste and toxic waste. She is still helping to formulate innovative remedies for India’s waste.

Dr. Almitra Patel started on her ‘Waste Mission’ by documenting the prevailing waste practices in 86 cities across India with her colleague Captain Velu. The sad state of affairs in waste management led her finally to file a Public Interest Litigation which resulted in India’s first Municipal Solid Waste (Management & Handling) Rules, 2000. 20

Arvind Kejriwal Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership, one among the many other awards that he has won.

ONE man decided that corruption must be eradicated and that the workings of the government should become transparent and more accountable. He was instrumental in instituting the Right to Information Act (RTI) in 2005. Today, as citizens of India, we can access all types of governmental data and take action using this powerful act.



Right to Information gives you access to all the information that you seek from the Government. For example, you have the right to ask why the road outside your house is not repaired or if a particular building in your locality is legal or why your ration card is not being renewed. 21

Sunita Narain Director Centre for Science and Environment, Padma Shri recipient and The Stockholm Water Prize amongst many other awards.

ONE woman decided that the air in Delhi had to be cleaned up. Air pollution, mainly caused by vehicular emissions, was killing one person every hour in Delhi. With a boldness, rare in India, she used the Anil Agarwal Clear Air Model, 2002, developed by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) to achieve this mission. Her campaign helped clean up the air in many cities across India.

The Anil Agarwal Clean Air Model developed by CSE is based on the simple principle that emissions from a vehicle depend on the type of technology, quality of fuel, number of kilometres run everyday, and how the engine deteriorates over time. 22

These inspiring stories are of true citizens of this country. They are people consumed with a single passion and thought: How to make the world a better place. Citizenship is about just that - making the world and our country a better place to live in. A country is like a mirror - reflecting its people. “The best way to judge the progress of a country is to look at the lives of its people whether they are educated, well fed, get medical treatment, enjoy freedom of expression and literary creation and whether there is an opportunity of creativity. That is a very different perspective from the super power perspective. It is, to me, a much better way.”
Amartya Sen, Nobel Laureate and Economist 23

Check your citizenship score card

1 Do you cast your vote? 2 Have you met any of the following for any local issue - your elected corporator, MLA or MP? 3 Have you volunteered with any NGO or supported any campaign? 4 Have you read about Climate Change and Global Warming and understood the implications of these? 5 Do you know what is the RTI Act? Do you know how you can use it? 6 Do you know what work these individuals have done: Rajinder Singh, Al Gore, Dr. R. K. Pachauri? 7 Do you know where your water comes from? Do you know what is Rainwater Harvesting? 8 Do you have a bucket bath?



9 Have you ever written a letter to a newspaper or a magazine about a problematic civic issue in your area? 10 Have you celebrated any festival in an eco-friendly manner? 11 Do you switch off the lights and fans and your computer when not in use? 12 Do you use public transport? 13 Do you segregate your wet and dry waste or take a cloth bag to the market? 14 Can you name a global environmental problem that affects you directly? 15 Have you installed energy saving CFL bulbs at home?

For every ' Yes' answer give yourself one mark and then add up your score. How did you fare: 10 - 15 You are a true citizen. 5-9 You can do much better. 1- 4 You failed the citizenship test.



This section has simple and practical tips to improve your citizenship score card.


1. Wake up! Be an Informed Citizen Becoming aware is the first great step forward. How can we become aware: Media is a constant informer. Learn about issues through the newspaper, TV channels and the radio. Become aware of your rights and your responsibilities. Discuss issues with your friends, neighbours and colleagues at work. Attend talks and conferences. Participate in neighbourhood and local NGO events.



The world’s 5 greenest and most liveable cities are Stockholm, Oslo, Munich, Paris and Frankfurt. The 5 worst are Bangkok, Guangzhou, Mumbai, Shanghai and Beijing. 27

2. Civic Sense No one lives or works in isolation. We all live in communities. We need to have basic civic sense like not breaking traffic lights and not littering the roads in order to live in communities. We need to start caring for the communities and neighbourhoods we live and work in.



After the vehicular pollution case in Mumbai, all 55,000 taxis in Mumbai switched to CNG. Now 55 tonnes of carbon monoxide are not being pumped into the air anymore. Particulate matter has come down by 99% and sulphur dioxide that was 26 micrograms per cubic metre (pre-2000) is now down to only 9 micrograms (in 2005). 28

3. Be a Vigilant Consumer The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 guarantees certain statutory rights to consumers and is the cheapest remedy available to aggrieved persons/consumers. Proceedings grant relief to parties in the quickest possible time. Consumers form a strong voice that can change policies and improve living conditions, if united. Lend your voice to worthy causes.



Landmark scooter case: Many people paid security deposits to companies to book scooters. Delivery was promised within a certain period but the demand outstripped the supply. Tired of waiting, many consumers cancelled their orders and asked for a refund of their deposit. Despite numerous reminders, these deposits were not returned. A public meeting was organised, which was attended by more than 500 consumers. Cases were filed against LML, a scooter manufacturing company and refunds of more than 4,00,000 consumers were returned, aggregating to about Rs. 40 crores. 29

4. Join Advanced Locality Management (ALM) Groups Participate in some community work. Solve a problem in the neighbourhood by collaborative efforts. 5. Community Service Give of your time to the blind or to the old and disabled. Encourage products made by them. 6. Start Voting Show your preferences! This will help political parties shape up and work for the good of the common man.



On an average 58% to 60% of the people in India vote. 30

7. Pressure Group to Influence Policies Write in, discuss issues and help shape governmental policies. “Social participation is the key to a healthy democracy,” as stated by Brazilian social entrepreneur Luciana Martinelli. “It means voicing one’s opinions and taking part in decision-making processes, whether acting within a neighborhood association or lobbying the government for policy changes.”



A judge can act independently, take action and pass orders on the basis of newspaper reports. In 1996, when the CSE data on Delhi air pollution appeared in the media, the Supreme Court of India issued a notice to the Delhi government. In response the Delhi government tabled the first ever action plan to combat air pollution. Writing articles or letters to the press can prove to be effective agents of change. 31

8. Assert Your Rights If there is any issue bothering you, take it up. Start a campaign and if that does not work, file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), but whatever the issue may be, go about finding solutions in a lawful, legal manner.



If you have a grievance against any governmental agency or its manner of functioning or feel that governmental processes need to be reformed, then you can write to The Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances. This department works to improve government functioning and to make it more citizen-friendly. Visit the following website and voice your suggestions. 32

Identify the issue(s). Outline your achievable goals and objectives clearly. Recruit supporters and volunteers: Look for people in the locality/city/country who are stakeholders in the issue. Learn more and read about similar campaigns. Build a Coalition: Look for partners amongst like-minded NGOs and groups who can give any kind of help, especially any expertise on the subject. Choose strategies and tactics. Think of funds and other contingencies. Divide the tasks. Work on media exposure. Analyse the situation periodically and plug in the gaps. Evaluate your efforts.


Anyone can go to court seeking judicial remedies for a public cause. Such a court matter is called a Public Interest Litigation. Collect evidence, use the RTI Act to get the right documents and show attempts at problem solving. Pick a dedicated lawyer and file the PIL before a local court. Focus on a generic issue rather specific ones. Link up with others working for a similar cause and file a PIL under one umbrella. Use the government’s policy statements, reports and recommendations. Attend every hearing. Strengthen the case with facts, logical arguments based on evidence and sound legal inputs. If courts appoint committees, instruct them on the selection criteria. Give the committee the correct ‘Terms of Reference’. Get media coverage on the issue. These things take time. Don’t give up!


Muhammad Yunus Nobel Peace Prize winner, 2006 Imagine if the criteria for getting a loan is being poor! Bangladesh’s Muhammad Yunus’s micro-credit experiment called Grameen, changes the lives of the poor by giving them loans. Grameen has seven million members, each of whom it has encouraged to start small enterprises and helped 64% of its borrowers’ families to cross the poverty line. Grameen Bank has grown to 2,459 branches, works in 79,539 villages and the borrowers own 94% of the bank. It recently crossed the US$ 6.4 billion mark in terms of loans given to the poor.


Some 3 crore cases are pending in courts in India. The high courts have almost 34 lakh cases and lower courts have a backlog of more than 200 lakh cases. The number of judges per million population in India is less than 10 as compared to the UK and US where it is 100 and 130 per million respectively. 35


Wangari Maathai Right Livelihood Award, 1984, Nobel Peace Prize, 2004. Dr. Wangari Maathai founded the Green Belt movement in Kenya in 1977, which till date has planted more than 10 million trees to prevent soil erosion, while also providing firewood for cooking. The Green Belt movement focussed on women in the villages of Kenya. The women protected their environment and through the paid employment for planting the trees were able to better care for their children and their children's future. The movement eventually became a national grass-roots organisation, providing work and improving the environment at the same time.

Which is a biggest killer in the world: Terrorism, AIDS or Malaria? In 2006, about 12,073 people were killed in terrorist incidents, malaria killed more than 10,00,000 people and HIV-AIDs killed another 30,00,000.



The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has stated that human activities are a major cause of climate change. Also, climate change is linked to economic growth. Economies around the world are dependent on non-renewable, carbon-based energy sources, which have been identified as one of the most important causes of climate change. One thing is clear: We, the citizens of the world, have caused climate change and we are still not doing anything about it.



A very small proportion of the population consumes the majority of the world’s resources. The five wealthiest countries consume 86% of all goods and services and produces 53% of all carbon dioxide emissions, while the poorest five countries consume 1.3% of goods and services and account for 3% of C02 outputs. 37

If we do not the limit the global temperature increase to 2 °C then humanity will face many climatic changes that will put human existence at risk. We only have a few years left to reduce emissions. It is imperative that we act now or our children and grandchildren will face the consequences of our apathy. Emissions that go up in 2007 will still remain in the atmosphere in 2100. The Kyoto Protocol had set a target of cutting carbon emissions by 7% between 2008 and 2012 but no country has achieved it. Instead, most countries show a phenomenal increase of emissions.



Socialism collapsed because it did not allow prices to tell the economic truth. Capitalism may collapse because it does not allow prices to tell the ecological truth. Oystein Dahre, Vice President ESSO 38

The irony is that the poor contributed the least to the causes of climate change, but will be the worst hit. Spreading awareness, consuming less, using energy efficiently and finding innovative solutions is the way forward.



Human action has transformed between one-third and one-half of the entire land surface of the earth. Every 20 minutes, the world adds another 3,500 human lives but loses one or more species of animal or plant life - at least 27,000 species per year. This is a rate and scale of extinction that has not occurred in 65 million years. 39

1778 294 Bishnoi men and 69 Bishnoi women were killed as they tried to protect the khejri tree. This led to a royal order prohibiting the cutting of trees in Bishnoi villages. 1864 The Indian Forest Department was established by the British colonial government. Within 50 years it would control over one-fifth the land of India.

1874 The Bombay Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals started and remains the longest continuously operating humane society in India. 40

1935 India’s first national park was established as Hailey National Park and later renamed Jim Corbett National Park.

1963 India signs and ratifies CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species Wild Fauna and Flora). Of the 33,000 species protected by CITES only one has gone extinct so far.

1973 Women living in Himalayan villages in Northern India begin the Chipko movement to protect trees from commercial logging. India launch Project Tiger to protect the fast declining tiger population.

1974 The Water Act is introduced in India. 1980 The Forest Conservation Act is introduced in India.


1981 The Air Act is introduced in India.

1982 Vandana Shiva, leader of the environmental movement in India, founds The Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology in New Delhi, India.

1984 The Bhopal Gas Tragedy in which an estimated 10,000 people are killed and many more injured when Union Carbide's pesticide plant in Bhopal, leaks 40 tons of methyl isocyanate gas into the air and sends a cloud of poison into the surrounding city of 1 million.

1986 The Environment Protectiontion Act is introduced in India.


1987 The Narmada Bachao Andolan, led by Medha Patkar, rose to protest the construction of the dam. It refocused its efforts on the rights of villagers and tribals displaced by the dam.

1992 The UN Convention on Biodiversity is signed and ratified by India.

1997 The Kyoto Protocol treaty is signed and ratified by 84 countries including India and is the first major attempt to mitigate the effects of climate change and reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases.

2000 The Government of India and UNPF announce India’s population has crossed the 1 billion mark. 2004 The Supreme Court of India makes environment education a compulsary subject. 43

The Juvenile Justice [Care and Protection of Children] Act 2000: It was enacted to consolidate and amend the law relating to juveniles in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection. SC & ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989: Clarifies the punishment meted out to those guilty of caste based atrocities and the compensation to be paid in such cases. The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995: Spells out a charter of rights to empower and mainstream disabled persons. Freedom of Religion - The right to freedom of religion is a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 25 of the Constitution. - Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of Article 25, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion. (Article 25). For Women Equal Remuneration Act The Indecent Representation of Women Act The Sati Abolition Act The Dowry Prohibition Act The Domestic Violence Act


Right to Infomation Act, 2005: Enshrines a citizen’s right to demand information and inspect public documents. It has been instrumental in promoting transperancy in governance and reducing corruption. National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS): All destitute persons, 60 years and above, must receive Rs. 75 a month in addition to entitlements under the State Pension Scheme. Sampurna Gramin Rozgar Yojana (SGRY): Food for work at minimum wage paid in grain and cash. Labourers, small farmers, SC/ST and women to get priority. National Maternity Benefit Scheme (NMBS): Every pregnant woman (Below the Poverty Line or BPL) must be given Rs. 500 per child for the first two births 8-12 weeks prior to the delivery from the Sarpanch in the Gram Panchayat. National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS): Every BPL family must get Rs. 10,000 in cash on the death of the primary breadwinner within four weeks of the death from the Sarpanch of the Gram Panchayat. Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS): It is the right of every child up to 6 years of age to get 600 calories and 8-10 grams of protein per day, adolescent girl to get 500 calories and 20-25 grams of protein per day, pregnant woman and nursing mother to get 500 calories and 20-25 grams of protein per day. A malnourished child to get 600 calories and 16-20 grams of protein a day.


WEBSITES: This website is facilitates discussions on a broad range of issues that affect India. This website explores innovate solutions to social issues. The Ashoka website is dedicated to promoting innovative ideas of social change, social entrepreneurs and leaders. This website belongs to Consumer Unity and Trust society and is dedicated to redressing consumer issues. The India Together website has a lot of information on important developmental and public interest issues. This website is dedicated to protecting India’s secular fabric.


ORGANISATIONS: Human Rights: Human Rights Law Network Tel: +91-11-24374501/ 24376922 E-mail: Website: People’s Court: Indian People’s Tribunal Tel : +91-22-23439651/91-11-24374501 Email: Website: Public Governance (Urban India): Janaagraha Tel: +91-80-41277102/41277103 Website: Awareness: Children’s Movement for Civic Awareness Tel: +91-80-25538584/41105161 Website: Ecological Awareness: Tarumitra Tel: +91-612-2560947 Website:

For information, contact: Centre for Environmental Research and Education Email: Website: 47

This Series of 6 Information Booklets on Environmental Sustainability includes the titles: Waste & I Water & I Energy & I Biodiversity & I Citizenship & I Climate Change & I

The Centre for Environmental Research and Education (CERE) is a Mumbai-based non-profit organisation that works to promote environmental sustainability.


ISBN 978-81-902018-3-4