I aspire to be environmentally conscious, responsible, compassionate and humble: Rajlakshmi V Patil

Amidst the lockdown, 17-year-old Rajlakshmi V Patil launches her book titled 'Mystic' which has a collection of poems that dwell into the beauty of nature and the phases of life.

I aspire to be environmentally conscious, responsible, compassionate and humble: Rajlakshmi V Patil

At a young age, especially in our teens, many of us are focusing on what needs to be the next academic step, there are some bright minds out there in the world today, who are focused on making their name thereby contribute for a social change. These young aspirants are not only seen in the cities, but also in the rural areas, where the development seems positive. Today teenagers are thinking ahead of time and with long term goals, they are working harder to make their future better and prosperous. They have the internet, social media and other technology to support them in many ways, be it to learn or to execute their vision.

One such young achiever is Mumbai-based Rajlakshmi V Patil. Though she comes from a renowned background, Rajlakshmi is focused on doing this her way, on her own, by paving her own path towards achievements. At a young age, she is an aspiring author and an activist who wants to create awareness and change people's mindset about the environment and the aspects that are making it worse. 

Though an amateur poet, Rajlakshmi has found a way to express her thoughts and share her message, which may seem unusual at first, but has its power through words as a medium. 

In an exclusive conversation with Mumbai Live, Rajlakshmi shared her thoughts, aspirations, and aspects of her book 'Mystic' which an anthology of poems she has written since an early age. On being asked about her inspiration, she quickly recollected the moments and time she has spent with her grandfather Dr D.Y.Patil. Calling him her inspiration, she spoke about hours she spent after a tedious day of school where he would share stories of his life that would never fail to inspire her. "Despite being the Governor of three states in India, he has always remained grounded and never boasted of the fact that he runs over a hundred colleges across the country or the fact that he owns a stadium. However, one aspect of his life that has stayed constant in all his political speeches or conversations with people is that he is a farmer before any other profession. He began his career as a farmer, and he is never ashamed of being one. If anyone asks him his job, he will say he is a farmer first and then an educationist, politician, director, philanthropist and social worker. This has taught me a very valuable lesson in life which is to stay grounded and not to forget your roots. Despite the numerous obstacles that he has had to deal with in his lifetime in order to achieve governorship in three states or achieve that level of success he has never succumbed to any situation be it losing an election or facing negative criticism. His resilience and hardworking nature are two admirable traits which I truly cherish and wish to inculcate. What is even more astonishing is that he never took the salary the government offered him for his job as the governor or being a member of the legislative assembly which is surprising and humbling, only accentuating his philanthropic and magnanimous personality that has shaped me profoundly as a person and my upbringing. I find my success in achieving to be a person like him. One who is thick-skinned, benevolent and a true definition of a leader," she said.

Talking about the motto she lives with, Rajlakshmi added, "My motto in life has always been “service before self” I truly believe that the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others as rightfully said by Mahatma Gandhi. There are so many people in this world who are not half as fortunate as we are, there are so many people who struggle to find a meal every day and some who are constantly battling death; I find my happiness to be in helping others because a kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal. I personally believe that one should always stay alert and aware of one’s surroundings and of events happening in the world. Of course, my schooling has largely to play a role in keeping me aware as far as current affairs and world events are concerned. Studying in an international boarding school in Switzerland has given me the opportunity to meet and interact with people from more than 60 countries which have profoundly helped me in understanding different cultures and opening myself to different perspectives. I feel that being alert comes with a stable and calm mind. I always try to keep my mind at peace and focused; always observing changes that are happening around me and trying to make the most out of my surroundings."

Rajlakshmi has been writing poems since the age of 13 and it has been an ongoing project ever since. It was only recently when she thought of publishing it into a book and hence started conceptualising, editing, finalising the entire publishing process, which took over a month. Taking us through this journey, she said, "To be very honest, I had no intention of publishing my collection of poems. My end goal of writing the poems was not really to get it published. Poetry for me is a means to express my feelings and vent out my emotions. All of the poems that I have written have been inspired by different circumstances in life: some by my stay on the serene locales of the Swiss alps and the coast of Mumbai and some out of the phases I have gone through in my life. Being a teenager, one undergoes a plethora of moods and experiences. Each one has a unique way in which they like to store these precious moments. I like to capture some of these experiences and emotions through words. The idea of publishing my collection of 16 poems occurred during the lockdown when I felt it was the right time to showcase my poems to everyone else so that they take a step back to reflect as sometimes we forget to appreciate life and its gift – nature. These poems are my attempt at appreciating the natural world around us and the beautiful life we are blessed with. Whilst we appreciate nature it is also important to safeguard the environment not only for ourselves but also our future generations and what better way to do this through literature? Hence, I decided that the all the funds that would be raised from the sale of my book – Mystic – would be donated to the D.Y.Patil Climate Action Lab: my recent initiative which is an institutional body that encourages student participation, engagement, and contribution to environmental action by soliciting research proposals and supporting community-inclusive action plans."

Her focus has always been on creating a better world. Rajlakshmi has been a long of several campaigns and cleanliness drives and advocates for a healthy environment. Talking about what aspects of the environment she thinks needs to be changed, she said, "I do not believe that any aspects of the environment need to be changed. I personally believe that it is human attitude and behaviour that needs a change. Human’s selfish nature and greed have caused massive destruction to the environment, be it deforestation, land and air degradation or even species extinction. Some of these effects, unfortunately, are irreversible. If making a change is concerned, it starts with oneself. We need to start changing our daily habits and automatically the environment will become better. Empowering the youth begins right from home. I feel it is important the youth should be encouraged by their family first. It is significant that they are made cognizant of the ongoing environmental and social issues and are drilled with sustainable and compassionate mind-sets from home."

Concluding the conversation by telling about what she aspires to be become, grow and change in the future, she added, "The truth is, I am growing and changing every day. There are different aspects of my personality that I am discovering every day with every new experience. I cannot foresee the kind of person I am going to be in the distant future but I do aspire to be one who is environmentally conscious, responsible, compassionate and humble."

Note: MYSTIC – An Anthology of 16 poems” is available to be purchased on Amazon and BooksCamel. D.Y.Patil Climate Action Lab website (D-CAL) is led by academicians from D.Y. Patil University and activists from the local community. As an organisation, it seeks to promote interdisciplinary dialogue that is rooted in both comparative and contemporary contexts of problem-solving and policy action. One can also check out more on the website here

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