Climate activist Licypriya Kangujam (centre) | Twitter
Climate activist Licypriya Kangujam (centre) | Twitter
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New Delhi: Eight-year-old climate activist Licypriya Kangujam has urged the media to stop calling her India’s Greta Thunberg.

In a series of tweets Monday morning, Kangujam rejected the comparison and claimed that she had begun her movement against climate change in July 2018, before the teenage Swedish climate activist began hers. Kangujam added that she and Thunberg have common goals, calling her an “inspiration”, but said both their journeys are different.

“I sacrificed so much of my life in this tender age not to be called ‘Greta of India’ (sic),” she wrote.

Kangujam also said that by labelling her “Greta of India”, the media is not covering her story, but deleting it.

Thunberg seemed to agree with Kangujam in a tweet of her own Tuesday evening, saying: “There are countless school strikers (sic) and young climate activists around the world. Not just me. They all have names and stories waiting to be told.”

Who is Licypriya Kangujam?

Kangujam wrote on Twitter that she had dropped out of school at seven years of age, in February 2019, to protest in front of Parliament House in New Delhi.

She is now back in school after spending her gap year being home-schooled.

Asked how she would balance school with activism, she told ThePrint: “I have decided to accept programme invitations only on weekends and on holidays, except for UN events, as they are already scheduled annual events.”

Like Kangujam, Thunberg was first recognised as a climate activist after she protested outside the Swedish Parliament against the inaction of authorities for months in 2018.

Kangujam had addressed world leaders at a UN event in Mongolia in 2018, having taken up the cause after meeting people who were left homeless by natural disasters.


Also read: Greta Thunberg as Time’s Person of the Year divides Twitter, critics call it ‘wrong choice’


She received global attention as a climate change activist when she spoke at the COP25 climate summit in Madrid, Spain, in December 2019. This was when the Spanish media called her ‘Greta of the Global South’.

Earlier in the year, Kangujam, was awarded the World Children Peace Prize by the Institute for Economics and Peace, the body behind the Global Peace Index.

Other prizes she has won include the ‘Indian Peace Prize’ 2019 by the International Youth Committee (IYC), for her contribution against climate change.

‘We are good friends’

Kangujam said the media was trying to create differences between her and Thunberg, her “good friend”, and that headlines like “Indian Greta urges leaders to act now on climate change” are not fair.

“Yesterday, when I searched my name on Google, I found some national and international media referring to my work as ‘Greta of India’. Actually, I began a movement to fight climate change in July 2018, even before Greta started,” she said.

“I met Greta for the first time during the United Nations Climate Conference (COP25) in Madrid. We weren’t in a good mood due to the inaction of the leaders, but we sat and discussed the future course of action. We are good friends,” Kangujam said.

She added that her activism hasn’t received much attention due to the comparisons.

Parental support

Though born in Bashikhong, Manipur, Kangujam is growing up in Bhubaneswar. Her father is a local youth activist and her mother is a homemaker.

“At first my mom didn’t support me, but after seeing the positive impact of my struggles, she started supporting me. But my father has been there since the beginning. He is my true hero,” she said.

Her father K.K. Singh claimed that before travelling to Madrid for COP25, their requests for government sponsorship went unheard, and they could only travel when a person from Bhubaneswar booked their tickets.

“My mom broke her gold chain and finally booked my hotels,” Kangujam had added.


Also read: It took 50 years for climate change to top the Davos agenda


 

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