13 January 2012

An Extraordinary Journey

By Kavya Chandra

Pushpanath aka ‘Push’ as he is fondly known stands out from the crowd with his bushy white-black hair, calm expression and radiating energy. A charismatic man, Push is someone who is driven by passion, love for the outdoors, storytelling and believes actions speak for themselves.

An amazing and difficult journey undertaken in November 2011 by Push who walked 550 kilometers from Chikmagalur (north belt of Karnataka) to Mysore for 16 days in his fight for climate justice. His message was simple, “India is feeling the pain of climate change, when a child is ill his mother applies a wet cloth to his forehead, similarly India is getting hot but the world leaders at Durban are too busy fighting over the colour of the cloth”. Words simple, yet impactful.

This is the second walk by Push who walked from Oxford to Copenhagen in 2009 as a run-up to the Copenhagen summit carrying the same message to world leaders in Copenhagen. He has travelled far and wide over the past 16 years as a global campaigner for climate action, seen the sufferings of the poor in African countries, experienced poverty faced by children in South Asia and witnessed women in developing countries bear the full brunt of climate conflict.

A follower of Gandhi and a radical at heart, Push says that the Dandi March inspired him to walk, ‘‘It is the simplest thing anyone can do, if you feel strongly about something walking is the best way to express yourself’’. 

Similarly this year, Push takes a message to our world leaders who recently wounded up the Durban meeting, “Stop pushing around papers on the desk and playing with people’s lives, its time to stop acting politically and start actual ground work, you have the power to set an example, act, and be remembered in history for facing one of the biggest challenges of man”.

During the walk Push received unstinting and overwhelming support from The Karnataka Growers’ Federation (KGF); a mother body of top coffee growers and planters in the state and world. Push’s journey began in Chikmagalur from Baba Budangir, across many small towns passing the heart of Coorg (commonly known as coffee country) and finally Mysore. Every town welcomed him like a hero, garlands and flowers were thrown, firecrackers burnt with lots of band baja and dance. It felt like a wedding only absentees the bride and groom. The locals graciously put him up every night at each passing town, prepared delicious Coorg cuisine and opened their hearts and homes to Push supporting him till the very end. Children listened to him, danced with him, and hugged him, shouting ‘Chalo Durban’. One unforgetful memory was when a small child of 7 removed him shoes and walked 8 km with Push. Coffee growers, local activists, self help groups from all over the state came to meet Push, tell him their stories and problems with changing climate, some of them being with him till the very end.

Push personally reached out to 30,000 people in the course of 16 days and lakhs more through media. He walked 2, 25, 00,000 steps totally and was widely covered by the media in Karnataka especially in local towns of Chikmagalur and Coorg, Mysore and Bangalore.

‘‘These kinds of stories are the inspiration for us all... to do what we do!!! For today,and the generations to come!”
- Marc Matheiu, Hindustan Unilever

“One day your name will be the reason of the change in the world, your name might appear even in HISTORY textbooks as “the soul cause of our change”
- Dhruvi, High school student

"You’ve not only accomplished an astonishing personal physical achievement, but raised awareness on climate change and fired the imagination of all those you have come into contact with. With your example they will surely think that anything is possible!"
- Malini Mehra, CEO,Centre for Social Markets (CSM)

Visit Pushpanath's blog on http://gopushgo.com/

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