"Focus on What We Can Do Rather Than What We Cannot." - Neil Gokhale

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1. Tell us more about yourself and your life.

I am an aspiring chartered accountant, currently working as an associate at Deloitte Haskins and Sells LLP. Just another 20-year old who is trying to balance out his life.  I have been a member of different social organizations, but I felt the need to do more than what I was already doing. 

I realized climate change has affected severely on a global scale and it has been too long that we rely on someone else to do something. Why not do something myself?

2. What led you into social activism?

I have been hearing about our environmental issues for years and it was time to take actual actions towards this. And that's how Forengers came into the picture. Initially, it was a thought and then it became real when I along with three of my friends planted 6 saplings on our first plantation drive.

That's when I felt motivated more than ever. The satisfaction after taking that first step for a good cause was surreal, it just felt right!

3. What is that one cause you care deeply about and why?

If you look around you'll see a thousand different causes that are deeply rooted in our country. Many of them are beyond any individual's control. But the biggest threat to mankind is climate change. And the need to tackle it is urgent. Thereby focusing on what we can do rather than what we cannot. 

The solution to this is simple but needs consistent effort from every single person that exists. If taking care of our very own nature is going to save this planet then why not come together and put in all the energy to make it happen.

4. If one wants to contribute and make a difference in social causes, how can one do it?

When you decide you want to make a difference several doors open for you. Anyone and everyone can contribute in some way or the other. For a cause such as this, there are the small steps that matter. On an individual basis, one can begin with environment-friendly norms for themselves.

The more eco-friendly products you use the better. Before buying or throwing anything away being aware of it and questioning your choices, whether the consequences are harmful or not. By doing this bare minimum you are contributing a lot to protect nature. 

Other than that pledging your time into organizations that provide you the platform to make that difference is the next thing to do.

5. What are some of the challenges and roadblocks you have faced along your journey?

The journey until now has had its own ups and downs. Managing the people who show up for the plantation drives on Sunday is a big task. But my team puts in so much effort into making each drive successful.

It starts with planning how the drive will take place. Bringing the saplings to the location, the necessary tools, ensuring the safety of the people, time management, watering the plants, etc.

There are various aspects that need to be coordinated and well planned beforehand to make it a successful drive. Despite the hurdles we face, seeing everyone work dedicatedly makes me feel contended.

Not just planting but taking care of the plants, tracking their growth is equally important. To face and cope up with such challenges team support and honest hard-work are all we need.

6. What is your opinion about social media activism?

I believe that social media is really a huge platform that allows you to voice out your opinions without hesitation. It's basically people influencing people.

It helps the underrepresented groups to speak openly and prove themselves in a way. It definitely is a more widely accessible platform to reach out to a mass audience. 

But it has its own pros and cons. While some people really make good use of it and promote legitimate causes, spread awareness so as to gain support. 

On the other hand, information can be circulated by any person, without weighing their facts, the liberty to say anything they want, and thus resulting in getting lost in this mess of right and wrong. Words are powerful but actions do speak louder. There's too much irony involved.

It's difficult to say that solely relying on social media activism truly helps things get better, does it actually show tangible results and make a real difference in our society. Triggering and sustaining a meaningful change is much more complex than just posting about it.

- Neil Gokhale
  Founder at Forengers | IG: forengers_
  IG: neil_gokhale

- Interviewed By: Anurag Jaiswal

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