Environmentalist Arushi Nishank talks about how rural women making khadi masks to combat Covid-19
Kolkata/IBNS: Social activist, environmentalist and dancer Arushi Nishank has recently opened up about how thousands of rural women in India picked up sui dhaga (needle and thread) to make reusable khadi and sutee masks taking a step to combat Covid-19.
In an interaction with Ehsaas Women of Kolkata member, Nilisha Agarwal at a virtual session of Ek Mulakat organised by Prabha Khaitan Foundation, Arushi said, "Khadi is a symbol of Gandhiji’s self-reliance and is environmentally friendly and in tune with the spirit of Prime Minister’s Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative. Thousands of rural women who made these masks developed skills and are gainfully employed."
The masks have been made free distribution to the army personnel, police, rural workers and frontline covid warriors.
So far, over a lakh of such masks have been distributed in Delhi, Mumbai and cities and towns of Uttarakhand.
Arushi, the chairperson of Himalaya Ayurvedic Medical College and Hospital in Dehradun, spearheads the Sparsh Ganga Foundation, an NGO promoting environmental awareness, sustainable development, women empowerment, water conservation and cleaning river Ganga and other water bodies.
Arushi, the daughter of India's Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, started an environmental awareness project "Beautiful Valley" in 2009 and drew in the support of the Dalai Lama and Lok Sabha MP Hema Malini and others.
On how people can support the environment during Covid times, Arushi said, "First we should keep our families and the country safe by staying indoors and by maintaining social distance protocols. Second we should conserve water. There is a water crisis looming over 22 cities in the country.
"About 70 per cent of water used is wasted which we should find ways of conserving and utilising in a proper way like watering plants and so on.”
A votary of circular economy and the live wire behind Sparsh Ganga’s various social initiatives, Arushi has trained and engaged over 800 rural women to be gainfully employed for making masks, incense sticks from waste flowers and environmental-friendly biodegradable jute bags as substitute for plastic.
Being a classical Kathak exponent, Arushi has performed in over 15 countries. Her Kathak ballet "Ganga Avataran" has been much appreciated the world over.
"The ballet gave me an opportunity to fuse my two passions - environmental awareness and dance," she said.
Speaking on Arushi's effort as an environmentalist, Sundeep Bhutoria, Trustee, Prabha Khaitan Foundation, said, "It was great to have a young achiever to share her ideas, life experiences and dreams with us. Arushi, who is proud of her Indian heritage, is a source of inspiration for thousands of poor women and others.
"At present, Arushi connects with thousands of people through the Sparsh Ganga campaign to promote awareness of Ganga and its biodiversity."
(Reporting by Souvik Ghosh/IBNS)