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Issue 85
, 2019
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We all need the environment to survive, yet it is the most neglected and abused

Source: Toxics Dispatch ~ 53, Date: , 2019

“We all need the environment to survive, yet it is the most neglected and abused”-Mike Pandey

Mike Pandey is an Indian film maker specializing in films about wildlife and the environment. He has won over 300 awards for his work to spread awareness about biodiversity and species conservation. Born in Kenya, the Nairobi National Park, which was at the back of the Pandey household proved a rich source of inspiration for both Mike and his brother Ishwar. Trained and educated in the UK and US the brothers experiences have been wide and varied from training in Hollywood as interns, to Director of special effects and war scenes in films like Razia Sultan, Betaab, Gazab etc. in India. But the call of the wild was strong and Mike’s passion and care for the natural world pulled him back to Indian wildlife. With over three decades of filmmaking experience Mike has produced over 600 films and won scores of awards both national and International. He is thrice winner of the Wildscreen Panda Award, also known as the Green Oscar: The Last Migration – Wild Elephant Capture in Surguja (1994), Shores of Silence: Whale Sharks in India (2000) and Vanishing Giants (2004). Shores of Silence also won a National Award for Best Film in the “Exploration & Adventure” Category, 2005.Mr Pandey in an interview with Toxics Link talks about films, environment and how each one of us can contribute our bit towards conserving the environment.

Q1. What are the major environmental threats India is facing?

- We are in serious trouble and heading towards a disastrous situation. Tragically, wherever you look, there are challenges and issues, from global warming to waste management; from diminishing resources like water to the hazardous air and water pollution; from climate change to failing crops. The whole world is in turmoil today and we all are to be blamed for this.

Q2. How do you see the role of government and the civil societies towards addressing the environmental concerns?

- There is a need for management, be it waste management or resource management. There are sufficient laws and legislation, but their implementation is crucial. There is also the need of public participation besides the laws in place. People need to be sensitized, educated and made partners in our struggle towards restoration, management and prudent use of resources. Working together will bring the ground level change.

Q3. What changes or impacts can a film bring to the society?

- Films can be a very effective tool of communication. As observed, films can play a critical role in generating awareness, educating people, sensitizing the general public and also provide many solutions that can be implemented by the general public.
The whole communication system is a changing school. The future is in the hands of tablets, mobile phones and all sorts of visual communication.

Film is a strong medium to be the agent of change. If you see my film “Shores of Silence- whale sharks”, the film brought legislation in India within a month which would otherwise have taken ten years to bring in a law. It also brought legislation globally, protecting a species from extinction.

Similarly, “Broken Wings” brought ban on production and manufacture of the lethal drug Diclofenac all over India within weeks.

Q4. What led you to be an environmentalist and an environmental film maker?

-  I think it's a way of life for me….a very precious part of the universe and perhaps the most neglected one.

   We all need the environment to survive, yet it is the most neglected and abused. We are the most intelligent species on earth and with all the intelligence we have failed to see that we have systematically destroyed the very source of life on this planet. Everything around us has been shattered by greed and miserable desire and greed for power. Somebody has got to speak out and tell the truth. The way I have been brought up and educated, I believe that the earth is the mother of all mothers- a giver of life. A voice has to be raised for this mother like your own mother. Can you all stand by and watch it getting destroyed? We are the only species that can restore the damage done to the planet- our only Home. We all speak about it but these are merely words and hot air.

Q5. How has your life changed after receiving Green Oscar Award?

- The Green Oscar was a great humbling event which brought the plight of the whale shark to the global platform. It was also satisfying to see that a small voice from India was being heard by global communities at a global forum and the Green Oscar was an indicator that I was going to the right direction. It was an endorsement and acknowledgement that conservation was the need of the day. It also helped in bringing about national and global conservation and protection for the whale shark which was till then an “Indeterminate” category of the Red book. The film was effective in conserving and protecting a critically endangered species from extinction.

Q6. What an individual like me can contribute to save the environment and make the earth a better place to live in?

- Everyone of us can start from home. Cut down the use of plastic, be minimal when ordering food. Pour out only as much water as you need. Switch off all electronic articles including your phone when not in use especially at night. The stand-by mode consumes electricity and even emits injurious radiations. Carry on your own cloth bag and avoid totally one time use plastic, cling film, straws and plastic cutleries, cups at parties or everyday use.

Your efforts however small will make a huge difference. Let us not underestimate the power of one.

The ocean is nothing but trillions upon trillions of drops of water all united to our mighty oceans - a formidable force. It is time for humanity to come together and unite in harmony and work towards a sustainable earth. Help restore and create a balance - the natural equilibrium of the earth. That is the hope for the future and you can play a part in it.