TEJASWINI MANOGNA was crowned Miss Earth India 2019, and went on to represent India at the international Miss Earth competition. She is a multi-talented advocate for major environmental and humanitarian issues, a doctor, a dancer, a Yoga trainer, an NNC cadet, and a philanthropist. Here she is interviewed by RAJESH MENON about her visit to Kanha Shanti Vanam.
Q: Hello Tejaswini, it was a pleasure to have you here in Kanha.
TM: My visit to Kanha Shanti Vanam came as a blessing. Entering Kanha felt like entering Lord Krishna’s Brindavan. I was given a very warm welcome, and everyone had a pleasant smile and calm attitude. I had the most beautiful experience visiting all the plantations and learning about the ideology behind the plants. I planted a camphor tree, visited the Heartyculture Nursery, and saw thousands of varieties of cactus, creepers, flowering plants and more. I visited the laboratory where a few of the most endangered species were being propagated through tissue culture. It was a lovely experience holding the miniature plants in the culture bottles. I was impressed by how the clean zones were maintained.
I was even more stunned to learn about the rainforest. It took a lot of effort to bring those species of plants here from the Western Ghats and the North-East. Normally they don’t grow in arid regions like Hyderabad, so it’s a miracle they have grown so well here.
Then I met Daaji, a very simple and approachable man with the nicest of hearts. Daaji was visiting the plants, and he gave me a Krishna Kamal flower and explained the concept of the Pandavas and Kauravas. I was extremely lucky to meditate with him. Initially, I was filled with gratitude. Later, I forgot I was sitting in front of him. It was absolute bliss. I felt deeply connected and want to come back again.
I am thankful to Daaji for his ideology toward Nature, and to all the people who have been working for this initiative. I’m blessed to be a part of it.
Q. Since receiving the Miss Earth India title, what have you been doing to protect and nurture Mother Earth?
TM: My activities didn’t start because I won the title. I have been ecologically sensitized toward Nature and doing various activities since childhood.
Miss Earth happened in the course of my journey, and it inspired me to work more, and made me feel even more responsible for protecting Nature for future generations.
Mass tree plantation programs, climate change initiatives, sanitation drives, toilet construction for government school children, Say No to single use plastics, beach cleanups, ground water conservation, mass Yoga camps, and animal protection have been a few of my campaigns.
I have advocated for major environmental issues from local communities to international platforms, while promoting “Each One Plant One! Let’s kill the pollution before it kills us.”
There’s a huge necessity to save Nature. I fear the next generations won’t be able to experience Nature as much as we have, and will suffer the consequences of the problems we have created, through no fault of theirs. It’s important we all come together to be responsible as the Earth doesn’t belong to humans, humans belong to the Earth.
Q: Do you feel it’s possible?
TM: Yes. I’m doing my best. But there’s so much more we need to do. As a responsible citizen, I shall continue to contribute to ecological security.
Q: What inspires you these days?
TM: So far, I have done whatever I could as an individual. Now I wish to strive for collective efforts. I wish to be a voice of youth on local to international platforms, and advocate for major environmental and humanitarian issues.
I also believe in implementing the action plans in coordination with organizations. Kanha Shanti Vanam is one such amazing example of an organization preserving Nature. With the same inspiration, I wish to work together and contribute to the vision.
Yoga keeps me active,
so I can take up any challenge
that may come my way,
and meditation helps me
have a balanced mind, realize my potential,
and stay calm even in stressful situations.
Q: You are a multi-talented personality: a doctor, a Bharatanatyam dancer, a yoga trainer, a model, and a philanthropist. How do you manage your time?
TM: It isn’t easy to manage all the activities – there needs to be a point of balance and a stable mind. I believe Yoga and meditation have played a very crucial role in shaping me to become what I am today. Yoga keeps me active, so I can take up any challenge that may come my way, and meditation helps me have a balanced mind, realize my potential, and stay calm even in stressful situations.
Interview & Photography by RAJESH MENON
Tejaswini is a doctor, a model, and the winner of Miss Earth India 2019. She was also an awarded member of the National Cadet Corps of India, and is trained in Bharatanatyam Classical Dance.