Honour for real-life Phunsukh Wangdu

Honour for real-life Phunsukh Wangdu

Religions need to be updated to make modern forms of violence like environmental destruction a sin, engineer, educationist and conservationist Sonam Wangchuk said.

In his acceptance speech after receiving the TN Khoshoo Memorial Award here on Friday, Wangchuk - the inspiration behind the character Phunsukh Wangdu in the 2009 Bollywood flick Three Idiots - said sustainability should be made simpler for easy understanding for common folks.

"I'm pained to see sustainability and environment conservation becoming the luxury of the intellectuals," he said. "It's not touching many people." He said sustainability should be presented in a way in which ordinary people, especially students, can easily relate to and develop  an emotional connect with.

The  award was  instituted by the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) in 2004 to honour contributions in the fields of environment, conservation or sustainable development.

Wangchuk has been chosen for his most recent work on creating ice stupas or artificial glaciers to tackle water scarcity in the mountain deserts of Ladakh.

The idea is to freeze excess water into mounds of ice in winter, whose gradual thawing would enable water supply for farming in the summer months of April and May.

Besides Khan playing his role in the movie, Three Idiots also featured Wangchuk's alternative school Students' Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh (SECMOL).

At the function, Wangchuk also spoke on the need to relate the events happening daily with the values we uphold.

Anshu Mehta, founder of the non-profit Goonj, which works in the area of urban waste management to fuel development in rural areas, delivered the keynote address.

 

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