Middle class India has abdicated its responsibility. We want the privileges and comforts that developed countries enjoy but we do not want the resultant civic and social responsibilities. We want rights without responsibility.
Families and friends meet and decry the state of the nation. We all complain that the country is going to the dogs. We feel helpless at the current state of affairs and the corruption and the impunity with which vested interests exploit the common wealth of the people. But we rarely do anything.
But one such meeting of friends over dinner and the conversation that followed became the launch pad for Vanashakti.
The topic under discussion was the Forest Rights Act. It was August 2007. The UPA-I had just proposed the Forest Rights Bill.
The Bill is a tool to empower traditional forest dwellers but had been distorted into the biggest land grab by the very people who called themselves supporters of the down trodden. And unfortunately, a byproduct of this was the gradual erosion of the forests of India that is truly our greatest natural resource.
Three individuals, three friends as supporters, and family were enlisted as help and Vanashakti was born.
Today, we have come a long way, both in terms of our understanding of the urgency and complexity of the issues and problems pertaining to forest conservation and the ground realities. Time is running out for the forests of India and we need to take action. The destruction of our forests has reached the tipping point.
We believe that there are only two groups in the world – Those who are responsible for creating the problem and those who are willing to be part of the solution.
We want to work towards solutions.