The Optimist Citizen

This Delhi based commercial pilot is connecting kids with nature in the age of the Internet

The scenic masquerade of an evening greets hazy eyes with warm hues. This is to say, that the colours of an evening are enchanting, while the display is beyond mesmerizing beauty. It would have been a picturesque moment if we were to sit in the damp grass watching colours dissolve into the stillness of the night. Then again, Instagram has the same scenic benevolence framed in multiple filters, so why waste an evening away from the socials of the internet? To this, Mr Verhaen Khanna, a commercial pilot and the founder of ‘New Delhi Nature Society’ or NDNS holds a contradictory viewpoint.

In his meticulous journey of experimentation and rediscovering the blissfulness of nature in the bosom of Delhi, he attests that his exploits have led to the synchronization of his sleep cycle with the sun and he spends his precious time connecting with nature while rolling in the damp grass. The founder of NDNS maintains that true appreciation of nature and connectivity to the same lies in experiencing nature first hand and not through the ramblings of Facebook or other such inventions of the internet age. He further sheds light on the fact, that the continued association to the online world has led to serious aberrations such as tree blindness, resulting in an individual being oblivious to the presence of a tree leading up to fatal accidents. These among other reasons are furnished by the founder as the primary motivations behind the inception of the ‘New Delhi Nature Society’.

A photo from one of the NDNS camps
Mr Khanna with the kids at an NDNS gathering

While this seems trivial to any trained mind, Mr Khanna lays stress on the fact that it is not. To support his summations, he recounts a meeting with a 17-year-old Delhi boy, who has never touched a tree in his entire life. Thus, he attests that the aim of NDNS is to spread awareness about nature and it involves the nature lovers of Delhi. The efforts of the NDNS also include nature festivals, providing a platform for musicians artists, rescue operations of cats, birds and cows and extinguishing harmful polluting fires in collaboration with the fire department. All these activities are managed by volunteers and full-time team members. The organization further aims to appoint nature rangers to carry forward the love of nature.

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The NDNS, in its infancy, started out as a small social media group facing difficulties of breaking communication barriers, social conditioning and finding like-minded people while bargaining with social atrocities that opposed this line of thought. The next mode of action as described by the founder includes a nature warrior course and a tree ambulance to rescue trees is in the works. The founder asserts importance on activities like tree climbing and other nature-centric activities make the participants aware of trees, curing them of tree blindness. He believes when you hug a tree you realize that they have been here before you, while in retrospect of this belief he maintains that the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the second-best time is now.


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