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Towards an official earth anthem
Publication Date : 22-04-2014
The celebration of Earth Hour on March 29 this year by over 7,000 cities across the world as well as the celebration of Equinox Earth Day on March 20 and Earth Day on April 22 by Earth Day Network are some of the landmark events that make us aware of our responsibilities towards our planet.
Other events such as World Environment Day on June 5, World Forestry Day on March 21, World Water Day on March 22 are celebrated with enthusiasm across the world by the schools, colleges, ministries, national and international NGOs and the United Nations Organizations. What these events need as a common thread to link them is an official Earth Anthem - an anthem eulogizing our planet, its diversity, its beauty, an anthem that can give a sense of unity and purpose to multifarious activities and programmes organised across the world to protect our planet.
I wrote the first draft of an Earth Anthem in 2008 and revised it several times between 2008-2013 until it was set to music by music composer Sapan Ghimire in May 2013 and sung by the young Nepalese singer Shreya Sotang in all six official languages of the United Nations as well as in Hindi and Nepali.
The Earth anthem audio and video was released in New Delhi at a function conducted by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations in June 2013 and later in Kathmandu.
Subsequently I wrote to the Permanent Delegation of India to request Unesco to launch a global Earth Anthem Competition to select an official anthem for the planet. In January 2014, the Permanent Delegation of India to Unesco located in Paris requested Unesco Secretariat to consider my proposal to select an official Earth Anthem by conducting a global online competition.
Unesco replied to the Permanent Delegation of India to Unesco in February 2014 that it finds the idea of an official Earth Anthem was "a creative and inspiring thought that would contribute bringing the world together". However Eric Falt, Assistant Director General (ERI) of Unesco added - "Given the prevailing situation of the organisation with limited financial and human resources, we are not in a position to organise an online competition, as proposed by Abhay Kumar, to select an official anthem for the planet."
Nonetheless, Unesco seems to be ready to take up the challenge of organising a global Earth Anthem challenge if directed by its governing bodies. Falt added: "Such an activity would require a well prepared conceptual plan with the definition of a targeted public for its successful implementation, while we are rather asked by our Governing Bodies to streamline our actions in the priority areas."
In fact, Unesco in its draft medium term strategy 2014-2021 has put forward a limited set of nine well-articulated strategic objectives. Empowering people to be creative and responsible global citizens is one of them. An Earth Anthem, a song that people across the world can sing together, would contribute to achieving this strategic objective of the organisation.
I prepared a comprehensive conceptual plan with a well defined target audience and ways to implement it for the consideration of Unesco and found the cost and efforts to organise an online competition for selecting an official Earth Anthem was merely a fraction of resources available with Unesco. I believe the benefits of such a noble undertaking would be immense.
In any case Unesco is free to select a popular song such as 'We are the World' by Michael Jackson or any such other song as the official Earth Anthem. It also has the option to commission a new official Earth Anthem from an internationally renowned music composer such as A.R. Rahman or someone like him.
I hope Unesco will take up this challenge in coming days and will give the world an official Earth Anthem, a song that everybody from Alaska to Adelaide, from Tokyo to Santiago, from Arctic to Antarctic could sing together not only on the Earth Day but whenever we sing our national anthems, prior to or after that.
Abhay K is an award winning poet whose idea of an official Earth Anthem has been hailed by Unesco as a creative and inspiring thought that would contribute to bringing the world together.