It was in 1985 when I was in 5th grade and got the 'Help Age India Award', a prestigious award given by India's foremost NGO working in the area of old age care, when I developed a strong passion and commitment for social work. Born on the United Nations International Day of Disabled Persons, 3rd December and in 1974 the year India tested its first nuclear bomb, I spent my childhood days working with disabled children and youth in my community and I was also actively involved in global campaigns for nuclear disarmament. My international journey started in 1992, when I was 17, at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio, where I participated as a youth delegate representing my country. The experience left me convinced that working towards helping people build a better life through social, environmental and economic development was what I wanted to do. I joined the Consortium of Young Scientists for Sustainable Development (CYSSD) in 1993 and worked on a project to combat desertification and regenerate the desert eco-system in Pushkar, Rajasthan in North West India. In 1997 I worked with the FAO on micro telefood projects in Shillong, Meghalaya in the North East of India. In 1999 I joined the Global Environment Facility Division of UNDP and worked on the Gulf of Mannar biodiversity protection project, Tamil Nadu in the South East of India. In 2000 I joined the Commission on Sustainable Development secretariat at UN DESA in New York and worked on documenting sustainable-development success stories from different major groups of Agenda 21 for a UN publication and also assisted the secretariat during the CSD meetings at the UN. In 2001 I joined the Permanent Mission of India to the UN and worked with the Ambassador's office on the 2nd Committee of the UN that deals with economic, environmental and social issues.
In 2002 after graduating from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs with a Master of International Affairs degree in Energy and Environmental Policy Studies with a focus on Western Europe, I worked with the World Environment Center developing their Corporate Social Responsibility protocols to guide business and industry reach their triple-bottomline by partnering with governments, the academia and civil society in achieving their sustainable development goals. I later participated in the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa and completed my 10-year journey learning and working on global sustainable development issues.
Coming from India, a developing country where the poor are disproportionately affected by environmental degradation, lack of access to water and clean affordable energy services, I have dedicated my life to help find some solutions to these problems. As the International Advisor to the Youth Employment Summit that was held in Alexandria, Egypt in September 2002, I assisted the secretariat in the formulation of the GEF funded ‘Off-Grid Renewable Energy’ project to generate employment opportunities for young professionals in that field globally. I was involved in the planning, design and creation of the ‘Global Alliance Network for Sustainable Livelihoods’ in 137 countries that enabled the Summit to launch a decade-long campaign of action, so that millions of young people, especially the youth facing poverty, will have productive and sustainable livelihoods by the year 2012. As the International Coordinator of Global Youth Service Day on April 2002, I took a leading role in mobilizing about 5 million young people to participate in 1750 community service projects in 150 countries under the banner of ‘Youth Service for Sustainable Development’. Now at 30, I have become a sustainable development professional having traveled to over 51 countries, and worked on an array of projects with different United Nations agencies and other international organizations on issues of global concern.
In 1996 I received the 'Best Air Force Cadet Award' representing Delhi No. 1 Air Squadron at India's Republic Day parade after serving in the Indian Air Force for 3 years. In 1997 I received the 'WWF Prince Berhnard Scholarship for Environmental Leadership' from Geneva. In the summer of 1998 I took part in a 'Pedal for the Planet' 'Bike Aid' with 100 others bikers, traveling 3,700 miles by bicycle from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. and raising about $500,000 to fund grassroots social and environmental projects and awareness programs globally. In May 1999 I took part in the '2000 Walk for Nuclear Disarmament' which was a 300 km non-violent peace walk that started from the International Court of Justice in The Hague and ended at the NATO headquarters in Brussels to educate people and raise awareness about the threat of nuclear weapons and to stop the bombing in Kosovo. On May 1st 2000, I was the first young person to have the honour of receiving the 'United Nations World Youth Award' for the implementation of the 'World Program of Action for Youth' through my organization the CYSSD with the support of the Speaker of the Indian Parliament.
I was the first Youth Representative from India to be recognized and appointed by the Prime Minister to represent my country as part of the government’s delegation to the historic 'United Nations Millennium Summit' that brought together 189 heads of states and governments. I addressed the 55th UN General Assembly on behalf of the youth of my country on the 28th September 2000. I am one of the founding members of the Global Youth Action Network and I am uniting the youth movement globally by working on national, regional and international youth development projects with young people in 200 countries and territories. I sit on the Executive Committee of Worldview International Foundation and on the board of the Earth Restoration Corps and Pop Sustainability.
I worked as an Environmental Policy Analyst with the Environment Department of the World Bank in 2003 on linking poverty reduction and environmental management and analyzing policy challenges and opportunities, a project funded by DFID, European Commission, UNDP and World Bank. Then I worked as Program Manager at the Education Development Center Inc. developing and managing projects of the 60-country network of the Youth Employment Summit (YES) Campaign. I am currently doing my Ph.D. research work on exploring the relationships between sustainable forest management and rural household strategies at the Development Studies Institute of the London School of Economics and Political Science. I am doing my research by analysing the implications of the supreme court logging ban since 1996 on the livelihoods of the poor in my home Meghalaya in North East India.
I am striving very hard each day to balance my activism life with my academic life. Life is a constant journey for me, never a destination. So I try to live my life to the fullest each day with honor, passion and adventure! It was in 1985 when I was in 5th grade and got the 'Help Age India Award', a prestigious award given by India's foremost NGO working in the area of old age care, when I developed a strong passion and commitment for social work. Born on the United... (more)
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