If you thought the Batti Bandh campaign was a dud, think again. There was enough talk about global warming after Dr R K Pachauri and his team of scientists won the Nobel Peace Prize, and, after Mumbai unplugged, most Mumbaikars have got a taste of what is in for the future. But, today, more than anyone, it is Mumbai’s pre-teens who are most concerned. They demand that their mommies watch less TV and force their daddies to conserve water.
On Batti Bandh day, I had an unusual, uplifting and almost ethereal experience. It was 7.45pm and the candles were glowing brightly. I was sitting on my ninth-floor balcony, contemplating about global warming when suddenly; I heard loud, high-pitched cries. This was soon followed by loud thumping noises. Curiosity made me rush downstairs. There they were, a little league of sprightly, enthusiastic kids with a common mission. They wanted the building watchman to switch-off the electricity.
But, why were they so worried? “It is our generation who is going to suffer. We have to save power to prevent global warming,” answers 12-year-old Meiron Damania. “We went house-to-house, asking people to switch-off. I think we’ve covered all 100 houses in this colony. We also managed to convince a few grumpy security guards by making them hear about Batti Bandh on the radio,” explains Natasha Irani. The kids go on to tell me how they plan to repeat the exercise every weekend. “We care for the environment and are genuinely concerned. People have responded positively, they know we mean business,” says eight-year-old Anaisha Divwala. The oldest member of the gang is fifteen-year-old Cyrus Thanawala who wants to start a revolution. “We got chased with a stick, but that will not stop us. We want people to change their lazy ways and proactively change the world we live in.”
They managed to convince most of the residents that night. Everyone was out, standing on their balconies. It was a magical moment, because for the first time, the kids gave the orders while their parents followed.