Sarath K. R.

The confluence of art, ecology and advocacy

Sarath is a folk arts enthusiast associated with the Vayali Folklore Group in Kerala. He grew up close to the Bharathapuzha River (also called Nila) and remembers a childhood immersed in the natural rhythms of the world. These included frequent visits to paddy fields, observing animals and birds and even indulging in a bit of fishing. Much later, visits to the Silent Valley National Park with his group and participation in various environmental programmes enabled him to look at rivers and nature as a complete ecosystem. From this point on, he quickly became a passionate campaigner for rivers, in particular the Nila. A stint as a volunteer in a tribal village in Madhya Pradesh opened his eyes to the power of youth involvement and advocacy.

This led him to start a youth group called AlterSchool with a focus on river and environmental causes. Not to leave the older generation behind, he also started the Friends of Bharathapuzha (FoB) group with India’s ‘Metro Man’, Dr. E. Sreedharan, as the chairman. However, Sarath’s biggest focus remains the sensitisation and education of youth in his village. His many projects lie at the intersection of SDG 15 and 13, for his protection of ecosystems, and how he has built awareness around climate action through cultural expression. While his work isn’t without its challenges, he refuses to be deterred. Instead, he is motivated more by a desire to create real, meaningful and long-term change.