List of 11 Famous Environmentalists in India

Famous Environmentalists in India: World Environment Day is celebrated annually on June 5. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first WED observance in 1973. On this occasion, take a look at some famous environmentalists in India.
Famous Environmentalists in India
Famous Environmentalists in India

Famous Environmentalists in India: World Environment Day is celebrated on June 5 every year, since 1973. It is observed and recognised as the largest secular observance across the world. Our planet, Mother Earth, is an amazing place to live, but it needs our help to thrive! Every year, Environment Day is observed by more than a billion people to protect the planet from things like pollution and deforestation. By doing certain activities like picking up litter, and planting trees, we can make our world a happier, healthier place to live. 

This year's theme for World Environment Day will focus on solutions for plastic pollution under the campaign #BeatPlasticPollution. Environmentalists just not from India but across the world are working and motivating people through various platforms, spreading awareness about climate change, etc., and helping the public make decisions about the use of plastic. They generate various reports, do research, write articles, lectures, campaigns, etc. So, an environmentalist is a person who is concerned about and advocates for the protection of the environment.

Here, we are providing some famous environmentalists in India who have contributed significantly to bringing about certain changes that have paved the way towards environmental protection, enhanced the quality of the environment, and also culminated in the improvement of human-nature relations. 

List of 11 Famous Environmentalists in India

1. Sunderlal Bahuguna

He was born on January 9, 1927, near Tehri, Uttarakhand, British India. He was an Indian environmentalist and the leader of the Chipko movement. He fought for the preservation of forests in the Himalayas. In 1970, he first fought as a member of the Chipko movement and later spearheaded the anti-Tehri Dam movement from the 1980s to early 2004. We can say that he was one of the early environmentalists in India. As an environmental activist and a passionate defender of the Himalayan people and India's rivers, he also worked to improve the plight of the hill people, mainly working women. He was also associated with temperance movements and, earlier on, with struggles against casteist discrimination. He died on May 21, 2021, in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India.

2. Salim Ali  or Salim Moizuddin Abdul Ali.

He was born on November 12, 1896, in the Bombay Presidency, British India. He was also known as the "Birdman of India." He was an Indian ornithologist and naturalist. He was also the first Indian who conducted systematic bird surveys across India and wrote various bird books that popularised ornithology in India. He played an instrumental role in creating the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary (Keoladeo National Park). He also prevented the destruction of what is now the Silent Valley National Park. In 1976, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, and in 1958, the Padma Bhushan. He was a leading conservation scientist and also influenced environmental policies in our country. He died on June 20, 1987, in Bombay, Maharashtra, India.

3. S. P. Godrej or Sohrab Pirojsha Godrej

He was born on June 3, 1912, in Bombay Presidency, British India. Popularly, he was known as Soli. He was an Indian businessman, entrepreneur, environmentalist, philanthropist, and chairman of the Godrej Group of Industries. He was connected with several organisations committed to the preservation of nature, wildlife, and the environment as President Emeritus of the World Wide Fund for Nature-India. He was also the president of the Bombay Natural History Society, the president of the National Society of the Friends of the Trees, and the patron of the Family Planning Association of India. He was also a governing board member of the Population Foundation of India, among others. He received several awards, including the Indira Gandhi Pariyavaran Puraskar in 1991. 

4. M. S. Swaminathan or Monkombu Sambasivan Swaminathan

He was born on August 7, 1925, in Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu, India. He is an agricultural scientist, plant geneticist, Indian agronomist, administrator, and humanitarian. He is renowned for his leading role in India's "Green Revolution." It is a programme under which high-yield varieties of wheat and rice seedlings are planted in the fields of poor farmers. 

He also helped introduce Mexican semidwarf wheat plants to Indian fields and also helped in bringing greater acceptance of modern farming methods. He was also the director-general of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research from 1972 to 1979. From 1979 to 1980, he was the principal secretary of the Indian ministry of agriculture and irrigation. He was director-general of the International Rice Research Institute (1982–88) and was also president of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (1984–90).

5. Rajendra Singh

He was born on August 6, 1959. He is a well-known water conservationist and environmentalist from the Alwar district, Rajasthan (India). Popularly known as the "Waterman of India". In 2001, he won the Ramon Magsaysay Award for community leadership and for his pioneering work in community-based efforts in water harvesting and water management. 

6. Jadav Payeng

He was born in 1963 in Assam, India. He is an environmentalist activist and forestry worker from Majuli. Popularly known as the "Forest Man of India". For several decades, he has planted and tended trees on a sandbar of the river Brahmaputra, which has turned into a forest reserve. The name of the forest is Molai Forest, which was kept after him and is located near Kokilamukh in Jorhat, Assam, India. The forest encompasses an area of about 1,360 acres. He was honoured with the Padma Shri, the fourth-highest civilian award in India, in 2015. 

7. Sumaira Abdulali

She was born in May 1961 in Mumbai, India. She is an environmentalist focused on sand mining and noise pollution. She founded an NGO named the Awaaz Foundation. She is also a convenor of the Movement against Intimidation, Threat, and Revenge against Activities (MITR). She also remained co-chairman of the Conservation Subcommittee and honourary secretary of Asia's oldest and largest environmental NGO, the Bombay Natural History Society.

She helped in bringing sand mining to the world's attention by participating in documentary films and awareness campaigns. Also, contributed to print, radio, and television news. She participated in the first Roundtable of the GRID-Geneva United Environment Programme. She gave her input in her first report, "Sand and Sustainability: Finding new solutions for environmental governance of global sand resources." Her work was featured throughout the final report that was published in May 2019.

8. Medha Patkar

She was born in December 1954 in Bombay (now Mumbai), Maharashtra, India. She is an Indian social activist and one of the famous environmentalists who is well known for her role in the Narmada Bachao Andolan. She also launched the "Sutlej Bachao, Punjab Bachao" campaign in Ludhiana. She once said that they are working on protecting the Narmada because they consider it their mother. Also, the Sutlej River in Punjab deserves the same level of respect and protection as it is also a source of drinking water for millions. She is also an advocate of human rights and founded her campaigns on two basic tenets in the Indian constitution: the rights to life and to livelihood.

9. Marimuthu Yoganathan

He was born in 1969 and is popularly known as The Tree Man of India. He is an Indian environmental activist. He is a bus conductor for the Tamilnadu State Transport Corporation and is known as an eco-activist. He has been awarded the "Eco Warrior" award by the Vice-President of India. He also received recognition from the US-based footwear company Timberland for his outstanding work in planting around 1,20,000 saplings across the state. He also created awareness about protecting the environment among the students. Yoganathan also received an award for his pet project, "UyirVaza Oru Mararn." Under this, the students have been taught to plant one tree sapling on their birthday.

10. Kinkri Devi

She was an inimitable voice in environmental activism. How can we forget her? She was a courageous Dalit activist and environmentalist. She fought against the powerful mining mafia in Himachal Pradesh. Despite all odds, she fought, and her work was brought to the limelight. She could not read or write but built a reputation for herself through her work, and dedication to environmental conservation. 

11. Mike Pandey

Indian filmmaker Mike H. Pandey is known for his work on documentaries about the environment and wildlife. He has worked to protect and conserve important species like whale sharks, elephants, tigers, vultures, and horseshoe crabs. For his efforts to raise awareness about biodiversity and species conservation, he has received more than 300 awards. 

He won the Wildscreen Panda Award, often known as the Green Oscar, in 1994 for his film The Last Migration - Wild Elephant Capture in Surguja, making him the first Asian producer and filmmaker to do so. Later, his 2000 film Shores of Silence: Whale Sharks in India earned him a second Green Oscar.

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