Thursday, December 13, 2007

Mumbai Unplug: Batti Bandh

A random acquaintance sent this along a while ago and I've been waiting impatiently for December to post about it! You see, Mumbai's finally going to be unplugged. Although I really wish they'd used Bombay!

In the organisers' words:

Batti Bandh is an entirely voluntary event taking place on the 15th of December between 7:30 & 8:30 p.m. This event is aimed at requesting all of Mumbai to stand up for a cause that is greater than all of us. All you need to do is switch off lights and appliances in your home, shop, office, school, college or anywhere you are for 1 hour to take a stand against global warming. Just 1 hour.
Inspired by the Earth Hour initiative in Sydney, the Batti Bandh initiative is run by Keith Menon, Neil Quraishy, Rustom Warden, Shiladitya Chakraborty, and some of their friends. And from where I left the website a few months ago, they've come a long way.

Currently, Batti Bandh is not only supported by a number of government organisations (including the BMC, BEST, and MSEB), NGOs (including Greenpeace and Helpage India), various corporates (including Philips, Vodafone, and the Mumbai Hoarding Association!!), and media organisations, it is also supported by the UN and the WWF.

Admirably, the good people at Mumbai Unplug have managed to involve the students of Sophia College (my alma mater!), Bhavan's College, SIES Nerul, SIES Matunga/Sion, KC College, and HR College with various activities like human chains and campaigning outside college premises with eco-message placards. Even the Oberoi Hotel, now the Hilton Towers, will switch off their facade lights for the event. You can read about all the support Batti Bandh's garnered here and here.

Check out the entire website actually, there's information available not only about the event but also about global warming and what you can do to combat it. In addition, you can find about the people who have driven this fantastic idea, and how to get involved with it. Very helpfully, the website tells you what you can do for that one hour with no lights on. :-)

It might seem like a silly and inconsequential thing to do for an hour but it's important that we each make this stand. For all the nay-sayers who might say how this cannot really help, it cannot possibly hurt to try, you know. It's easy to say that one hour might not do anything in the bigger scheme of things but it's really about taking the first step. Earlier, where I was only marginally concerned about my bit for global warming, I'm now militant about plastic bags and things like unplugging all appliances and phone chargers that aren't in use. They may be small things but they all contribute. You can't always solve a problem entirely at the first go. Sometimes, it takes a lot of small steps.

Especially true of a place like Bombay. As much as I love my city, I know that it can sometimes be very apathetic. A number of citizen initiatives have enjoyed a great deal of support initially but have fizzled out just a little further down the road. This once, many different parts and people of Bombay will come together to make a difference. If on the 15th of January 2008, even an infinitesimal percentage of these people remember why they pledged their support to Batti Bandh and continue to do so in their own ways, Mumbai Unplug will have been an unqualified success.

Right then people, spread the word, blog about it, tell your friends and family — do whatever you can to support Batti Bandh. And most importantly, switch of your lights on Saturday between from 7:30 p.m to 8:30 p.m and help Bombay unplug. Finally, as part of Batti Bandh, there is going to be a concert in Bandra, at Carter Road, where the ex-reviewer will be performing. This isn't just my bias but he really is a pretty great singer. Check the website for more details on other events.

*Image courtesy the version of the Mumbai Unplug website I first saw.


Plain Jane said...

Hmmm much as I support this kind of step, it strikes me as highly superficial because precisely the people who have organised this kind of thing and are participating in it are those responsible for colossal amounts of energy being wasted every day...incidentally Europe had a similar movement sometimes in May this year and they shut down lights in Paris...barely 3 mhts later I was in Paris in the commercial district stadning outside one of those towers way past midnight, a tower that was completely lit up and even the computers had been left running...and not a single soul in the office. It's not the grand gestures that matter, its the smaller gestures and the real awareness...

Extempore said...

I think it's important to distinguish between the organisers and the participants, most of whom are responsible for the energy waste. Two different sets of people.

I agree that there is, in all likelihood going to be no change with large organisations/hotels/government agencies and the such like. Unless they take up aggressive eco-friendly policies, Batti Bandh is tokenism. But what is really important is the few that do something away from take these events. From everything I'm hearing from a couple of collegians I know, they (and their classmates) finally seem to be paying attention to global warming. That alone negates superficiality. Don't you think?

I think the effort put into Batti Bandh is laudable... much more than a number of us have been able to achieve thus far! :-)

chica said...

Glad you are blogging about it. This is a great event, cause its got communities rallying together as one and not separate environmentally conscious individuals. My housing community is also participating in it. We will be blogging about it too. If you want to show your support to the event you can get a badge from one of the blogs I contribute to.

Plain Jane said...

We want new post...and photos promised..and recipe promised!