Jadav Payeng was invited as a guest to the music festival which tries to bring into consideration the importance of bio-diversity conservation and banning of single use plastics through music Credit: EastMojo image

Guwahati: A living proof that the actions of one man is more than enough to set off a chain reaction is Jadav Payeng, better known as the ‘Forest Man of India.’ EastMojo caught up with Payeng at the recently concluded Majuli Music Festival 2019, where he was the chief guest.

The festival with the motto of ‘Music for a Change’ tried to bring into consideration the importance of biodiversity conservation and banning of single-use plastics through music.

Edited excerpts from an exclusive interview:

Jadav Payeng, better known as the ‘Forest Man of India’

Do such music festivals actually help in creating awareness about the environment?

I thank this people who organised the music festival here in Majuli. The grim reality of what the planet is becoming today must be showcased by them and it is their responsibility as well. Through this, awareness people around the globe will come to know about the actions which needed to be taken to help save this planet and will also help in making Majuli a World Heritage Site.

The music performed in the festival as such is important as it showcases the cultural diversity. However, when we watch this planet in various channels in the media we come to know about its dire need. We are still backwards in terms of environmental consciousness. Hence, through this festival in Majuli, people will at least be aware of the problems and as a result they will plant trees.

What can today’s youth do for climate and environmental conservation?

There have been many young generations that have come here, and we would be leaving soon, entrusting the planet to your hand. But your generation will have to face many severe repercussions. The ice caps are melting in Antarctica and Himalaya and then many coastal nations will submerge, and even Northeast will transform to a desert. After 100 years, Northeast will face severe water crisis. Thinking about the future I spend many sleepless nights and I have sat together with many scientists discussing this.

Payeng states that more importance should be given in changing the archaic education system of India to a more practical based one

How serious is the issue of water crisis in Assam?

Assam will face severe water crisis after 100 years and of that I am sure. We will die crying for water. When the ice caps of the Himalayas will melt then there will be no water left for Assam. This is the result of continuous environmental pollution. That is why I pray that if the presence of trees can cause rainfall than there is no other way out of the environmental dilemma without planting more trees. These are proved by the scientists in world conferences. When the entirety of the world is busy destroying the planet and I being the sole nurturer, I was awarded in Evian, France. If 700 crore children of the world are taught to take care of the environment and given knowledge about environmental science right from LP schools and are given environmental teachers, environmental universities and given practical knowledge the world would be a better place to live in.

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Why don’t people act even though they are aware of environmental crises?

The reason is low understanding of practical knowledge. The education system of India is economy-centered. It is family-centric and not nation- or planet-centric. Everyone is of the mindset that they would get a job, make their house and probably buy a car and that’s it. Going to different countries across the globe I find all exceptional people residing out of India. Knowledgeable doctors, engineers all resides out of India. They study using Indian money and then go out to develop the foreign countries and then comes to India as a dead body when they die, what is the use of such education? That is why such education system must be changed. I have even pleaded the government of India to bring them back and then use them to develop their own nation. For India is such a country, where we used to clothe ourselves and plant trees during the bygone days. Hence, we should change the education system. I guess by February the government of India is planning to change the archaic education system and make it more practical. The students should be given the choice to study only those they love and must not be forced some extra additional baggage.

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