Nobody too young to effectuate big change, says Justice Chandrachud citing Greta Thunberg

New Delhi:Supreme Court judge Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said on Saturday that the example of Greta Thunberg, one of the strongest voices against climate change, shows that “nobody is too young to effectuate big change”.

Chandrachud was speaking virtually on the topic ‘Students as the Constitution’s Vanguards’ at a programme organised by the Shikshan Prasarak Mandali (SPM) on the occasion of the 101st birth anniversary of his father late Justice Y.V. Chandrachud, who was the longest-serving Chief Justice of India.

“In viewing our Constitution, as a primary spirit to counter majoritarianism, we can equip ourselves with a unique lens to view the world and balance competing interests,” Chandrachud said.

Speaking on climate change, Chandrachud emphasised that the world is in the midst of an accelerating climate change crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic has shown that ecological disruptions increase the existing inequalities.

He added that to combat this crisis, a collective global action is required.

Chandrachud further said that Greta Thunberg, who is one of the strongest voices in the civil society against climate change, began her journey as a lone 15-year-old sitting outside the Swedish Parliament demanding government action against the imminent risks of global warming.

“Her example, in addition to that of many others, shows us how nobody is too young or insignificant to effectuate big change. My learning for life, at my age, is also that you are never too old to be the change,” said Chandrachud.

He insisted that majoritarian tendencies must be questioned against the background of “our constitutive promise”.

“Any semblance of authoritarianism, clampdown on civil liberties, sexism, casteism, otherisation on account of religion or region is upsetting a sacred promise that was made to our ancestors who accepted India as their Constitutional republic,” he added.

Chandrachud also cited Bhimrao Ambedkar and added that before mounting a ferocious battle against casteism, patriarchy and oppressive Hindu practices, his first struggle was gaining access to education.

He said Ambedkar was from the Mahar caste, an untouchable Dalit caste, who significantly struggled in gaining access to even primary education.

“His foremost memories of schooling are of humiliation and segregation where he had to attend his classes while sitting outside the classroom and ensuring that he does not touch the water or the notebooks that belonged to the upper caste students,” he added.

Chandrachud further said that just like Ambedkar, several revolutionaries in India and the world like Savitribai Phule, Jyotiba Phule, Nelson Mandela and even Malala Yousafzai heralded their emancipatory movements through a radical quest for education.