Founder of India’s first diving scholarship wants an Indian to lead the global story on climate change

Mumbai/ New Delhi | Mukul Sharma: Much of current climate change activism stems from understanding the trans-apocalyptic world. That is, one day the world as we see it today will cease to exist, as it will succumb to an optimal degree of climate change. However, this is not the case for Mumbai-based Vidhi Bubna, founder of India’s first diving trade show. After seeing thriving coral reefs in the Indian Ocean turn white with bleaching in a short span of 20 days, she realizes we are in the midst of an ecological crisis as environmental degradation continues.

“You might think that 20 days is a short period of time to observe climate change. But within that time, I saw corals that were colorful and blooming, bleaching and turning white,” Vidhi Bubna, 23, told me. Jagran English, adding that she knows people who have seen such changes even within the span of seven days.

Coral bleaching occurs when ocean temperatures become too hot for corals to survive. The coral first “bleaches” and then turns white and eventually dies. The extinction of corals results in the extinction of much of the underwater ecosystem in the oceans, as they provide a habitat and food source for aquatic animals. Without corals, these organisms also die.

“Coral bleaching is real,” Vidhi argues, adding that its magnitude goes unnoticed by many.

After completing the training and required certifications to dive, Vidhi says she learned that people in India rarely had access to the underwater world of Coral Reefs. According to Vidhi, this had more to do with a lack of funding than the absence of passionate individuals.

In doing so, Vidhi Bubna founded ‘Coral Warriors’, India’s first diving scholarship recognizing the role that first-hand observations during diving can play in combating climate change, “with the intention of sponsoring Indian citizens to go diving”.

‘We want to sponsor people who want to make an impact’

“Dive fairs like this already exist in countries like the UK, Australia, the US and others, but in India this is the first,” says Vidhi.

Since each grant involves a significant amount, 70,000, according to the website Coralwarriors.org, Vidhi states that the selection criteria for the candidates is strict.

“We only hire people who will be working on an active project related to climate change or marine life in particular and those who want to dive,” Vidhi says.

“We want to sponsor people who want to make an impact,” adds Vidhi.

While you may hear a lot about what can be done to prevent deforestation or glacier melt, not much is reported about preventing coral bleaching. Vidhi says she would like this to change. “We need more people to stand up for charities. People won’t really know what the corals are until they observe them. That’s why we want to sponsor people to go diving so they can actually see the changes happening and take immediate action to undertake.” Vidhi told Jagran English.

Asked if Indians are aware of the extent of damage being done to marine life along the vast 7,516 km coastline, Vidhi says that the majority of marine life cannot be observed because it is so polluted.

In an effort to take an optimistic look at the future of diving from India, Vidhi says a decade later, “Coral Warriors” would have “sent many Indians to dive.” She adds that she would like to see Indians lead the global story on climate change alone. “I want to see an Indian do that worldwide,” adds Vidhi.

Posted by:
Aalok Sensharma

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