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A Decade-Long Battle: Alok Shukla Awarded Green Nobel For Saving Chattisgarh Forests


Alok Shukla has been fighting to save the Hasdeo Aranya forest in Chhattisgarh from turning into coal mines. With a battle of 12 years, he was able to stop million-dollar companies from digging coal. Alok Shukla was recently awarded with Goldman Environmental Prize, also called Green Nobel. His fight helped preserve the forests which were the identity of the Adivasis living there for centuries along with saving the habitats of several endangered and rare species of birds and animals.

Many villagers were not even aware of the consequences of cold mine work. Those who were raising their voice were isolated. Alok Shukla realized this and brought together all the villages, signifying the struggle is about the wide lush forestry of the region instead of any village separately.

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What qualities of Alok made him achieve this battle?

The field of positive psychology highlights a Value In Action (VIA) inventory by its founder Martin Seligman classifying 6 major virtues with 24-character strengths. What character strengths made Alok achieve this prolonged battle with Mother Earth:

In the virtue of wisdom, traits like judgment, perspective and love of learning can be foreseen. Alok made an effective judgment in initiating a collective approach. Each village was trying to fight its own battle. Alok realized that this was not achievable until the voice was collectively raised for a complete forest region. The perspective of leading this reformation, especially in the times of Covid made this struggle successful by making the government heard about this concern.

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With the pressure of various multi-million-dollar companies to establish cold mines in Chhattisgarh, including Adani; formal recognition of saving this natural habitat was delayed. It was the bravery and courage of Alok to fight against such business giants. For a struggle of 12 years still continues, it takes persistence to continue without giving up when the goal seems to be too far in the process. With the initiation of this reform, it almost seemed impossible to achieve it in the beginning but with persistence, success came along. With the zest that Alok exhibits, villagers see a ray of hope in the leadership of Alok.

The virtue of humanity encompasses love, kindness and social intelligence. The love for nature and its glory, the kindness for people as well as the animals and birds that make these forests of Chhattisgarh lively. Social intelligence helps develop a deeper bond in the interpersonal relationships among many activists.

For the virtue of transcendence, formed the spirit of this battle. The appreciation and praise for beauty lies at the heart of saving Hasdeo forests. Alok mentioned how he was fascinated with the case green of this forest belt. The gratitude to Mother Nature for providing us without which even our survival is questioned. A hope that even after a struggle that is more than a decade long, success is inevitable with dedication. A sense of purpose gives the reason to work because his purpose of saving Hasdeo, such a struggle was won over.

The virtue of justice played a crucial role for Alok in this journey. It was his leadership to bring together villages and raise a collective voice for this concern. The trait of fairness motivates us to fight for the rights of Adivasis and other animal and bird species. The duty of a citizen is a quality that is often understated. To work selflessly for such a cause, responsibility and loyalty as a citizen or a member is a key element.

Read More: Bird watching makes people feel better: Study 

How to develop such virtues?

The battle of Alok is indeed an inspiration for all. The qualities that he exhibits for a prolonged struggle that appeared difficult to achieve. The awareness of these qualities and developing a habit for it in small steps in day-to-day life helps to align personality with such positive character strengths. Exhibiting and practising them frequently is the best way to incorporate such values into our persona.

References +
  • Drury, F. (2024, May 11). Alok Shukla wins prize for Hasdeo Aranya forest campaign.
  • Goldman Environmental Prize. (n.d.). The Goldman Environmental Prize.
  • Psychologist, R. a. T. (2024, April 25). The classification of character strengths and virtues.
  • Cp, M. (2019). Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification. Amizone.
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