Duleep Matthai Nature Writing Award – Writing for a Sustainable Future
Written by: Prachi Bhatt
The ink of Young Nature lovers often expresses stunningly about their explorations and trekking or camping in breathtaking forests experiences. They never fail to mention their favorite birding spots in their neighborhood visited on early Sunday mornings or a cycling squad that peddles down the rural roads in search of spots to capture the best shot of nature’s beauty in their cameras. These moments develop into short stories, may it be an adventure, a deep personal moment of reflection, a joyful experience, or a tragedy. Experiencing moments in nature always brings the hidden writer in young hearts to the limelight which becomes evident by their use of colorful words and descriptive narration of their experiences in their stories.
The Voluntary Nature Conservancy has raised its mission to educate the masses and create novel ways to communicate with society, sensitizing them towards exploring Nature in a creative way. VNC organized the maiden edition of the Duleep Matthai Nature Writing Award, dedicated in the memory of Shri Duleep Matthai, a giant steward of nature conservation in India.
The event was initiated with the aim of encouraging individuals from India to write on the issues of nature conservation in India and to explore the latent talent of creative writing and literary skills in them by means of words. It was in the month of September, receiving a huge response and excellent entries from the young budding nature writers of the age group of 18-35. It was conducted in two phases.
The first phase included the Essay Writing on the theme: “A World without Life: Vanishing Forests and Endangered Species.” The word limit for each essay was up to 3500 words and the Essay Submissions were evaluated on the basis of the following parameters:
- Inclusion of the theme
- The relevance of the subject matter
- Use of Vocabulary
- Correctness of Grammar
- Language and thought process
- Conclusion of the Essay
The second phase of the DMNWA 2020 was the Online Panel Discussion. The agenda behind conducting an online discussion was not evaluative. It simply provided a platform for providing an exchange of ideas, opinions, experiences via debate, and discussion.
It was held with an aim of acquainting the Top 5 Finalists of DMNWA 2020 with the eminent Judges of this competition with a closer exposure via this platform in knowing about their work, their expertise, promoting nature writing, and nurturing the young environs towards conservation and protection of biodiversity. The three eminent Judges for this event were Mr. Madhu Menon, Ms. Neha Sinha, and Mr. Yuvan Aves. The three judges along with the Top 5 Finalists of the DMNWA 2020 constituted the Panel and the Discussion was hosted on the Airmeet Platform.
The Top 3 Winners were as follows:
- Ms. Nayantara Deshpande
- Mr. Abhishek Dixit
- Mr. Vivek Chandran A.
Along with them, Kadambari Devarajan and Anirudh Nair were conferred with the Honorable mentions. Writing on nature is no longer restricted to coffee table books based on an exotic safari or poetic odes to the beauty of nature. The digital medium, along with such notable platforms such as the Voluntary Nature Conservancy has allowed a plethora of budding nature writers to be recognized. They may not have written full-length books (yet), but their creative and literary skills have pushed their horizon by investigating polluters and documenting stories of people fighting for clean air and water or for the conservation of the endangered species.
All that Nature-writing needs is a platform to publish and develop such bold subjects by writers like them. Despite the fact that nature writing has flourished over the years, the good news is that more and more people are writing about nature, and using different forms of resources for the same. The originality in their works intrigues the readers and lures them to keep reading such literary treats.
Ranging from writing about an ode to wildlife or the beauty of nature or their eccentric escapades with wildlife, enjoyable as such themes are. A few wrote on the devastation of our planet and our wildlife in the name of development. Their writings on nature stemmed from their latent creativity along with a tinge of personal and emotional connection that they saw all around them or had once collided with, during their lifetime.
The most exciting part of this event was that we believe in giving a platform to the youth for contributing towards nature, and not just stopping by with being aware and responsible. In order to achieve the same, we at VNC intent to organize such events in the future where the young talents can further contribute to conservation on the ground by involving with VNC’s different activities. We would be glad to welcome the valued skillset and creative minds of our participants to our VNC Family and assist us in our future endeavors.
Prachi Bhatt is a volunteer at Voluntary Nature Conservancy (VNC) for more than 3 years. She is a part of VNC’s Core Team and is currently heading the Content Department. A Governor Medalist, she was awarded Best Cadet at RDC in 2015 as well as 2019. She has been conferred with DG Commendation and has also represented India in Vietnam through YEP.