Saturday, February 18 2017, 03:41:48
  • fatasstic
  • She Says

Jayati Godhawat

IWB Blogger

IWB Gets Ready To Cycle With Arvind Mishra Towards A Carbon Negative India

  • IWB Post
  •  February 11, 2017


A young man is on the quest to revive the glory of our mother nature. Will you help him?

Arvind Mishra will be soon embarking on a unique cycle journey where he’ll travel 10,000 kms across India. He’ll cover it in six months to conduct talk shows in over 300 universities. The main aim of this journey is to encourage the youth of India to become C-negative and to raise awareness amongst them about the climate change and its dangers.

It was after his paralysis threatening spine injury that shook Arvind to the core and led him to take up a higher non-conforming journey in life. In an interview with Indian Women Blog, he said, “I could retire as a professor with decent pension plans and look back with pride for having lived a respectful conventional life. But I choose non-conformity. Cycling is not total happiness for me, neither is absolute traveling and nor is exploring unheard and unfound lands. My happiness is in service, of being some value to humanity. And I guess I am doing it my way.”

We explore not only the phenomenal journey of Arvind Mishra in this interview, but, also get a deep understanding of how each one of us can contribute our bit in saving the mother nature.

Believe me, if you read it mindfully till the end, it’ll transform your thinking and actions for life.

Me: You’ll be soon embarking on a 10,000 km journey with minimal resources.  If you were asked to introduce yourself in a few words, how would you do it?

Arvind: I’ll try!

I am a new thought every other day, just like a new morning. But I am also an old thought, every time, just like each new morning has the same old sun. I need new thoughts to become something else and old thoughts to stay who I have become. I like to reinvent my being, to acquire new states of mind. I am a constant traveler of life.

Me: What made you believe that a setback in your life became your turning point and led you to a new path?

Arvind: The setback came to me as a negative motivation. Sometimes we are less persuasive of our dreams and more keen on ensuring that our childhood nightmares should never become a reality.  Somehow, I have always feared that I’ll vanish without doing anything significant for the world.

And, the setback of spinal injury appeared potentially capable of stirring my reservations. I knew that I had to do something about it. Naturally, I have been a born explorer. I was 14 years old when I ran from my house on an unplanned journey without any money and ended up in a northern Himalayan town, some 1000 miles away from my home. I always wanted to go out and explore endless possibilities and I couldn’t accept a question mark on these possibilities.

My fear of confinements and limitations worked as a very strong negative motivational force and became a turning point.


Me: There must have been weak moments when you were on a complete bed-rest. What positive thoughts kept you strong and helped you overcome it?

Arvind: Of course, there were weak moments. But very soon, I realized that the largest obstacle in the process was I, myself. I only needed to deal with me, before I set out on my journey to explore the possibilities. I didn’t want to end up like one of those people who spend their entire lifetime without ever being really awake. I was scared of that sleep.

And so, I woke up from that sleep (bed rest) with a strong urge to test the human endurance, and I declared war against the enemy within: I chose to regain my continued passion for exploring; I decided to reclaim what had been lost in those 3 months.

I started training myself, followed by an extreme diet regime, underwent intense physiotherapy schedule, meditated in solitude and did specific yoga for strengthening my abdominal and core muscles of the lower back. I focused on one thing at a time, keeping consistency as the foremost principle. I abandoned processed sugar and anything which contains additives or preservatives, which limited to boiled vegetables, fruits and grains. 

During this time, I realized how food adulteration and junk foods have been slowly poisoning our health. And, I found my purpose which was to fight for a sustainable and healthy living, to raise awareness about climate change and healthy human race.

 4 years after the injury, I delivered the world’s longest lecture surpassing the previous record of 121 hours and made my way to Guinness World Records. I think it was my very own personal battle after the injury.

Me: How did you come up with the idea of the C-negative movement?

Arvind: Honestly, the C-Negative movement is a very personal optimized equation of my life. I have wanted to become a lifetime wanderer. The experiences during injury period and the strong desire to do something about raising awareness on climate change led me to form the idea of Trans India cycling, which is a solution centric ‘Travel & Talk’ program that aspires to make people self-conscious and convert 1 million Indians into carbon negative citizens.

This is made practically possible by signing a C-Negative charter at an individual level or organizational level to eliminate, reduce, and offset our own carbon footprints. C-Negative Charter is a systematically designed blueprint and ratifying to it requires just a nominal amount of emotional depth towards our climate.

Pointing out an issue is not a big thing, everyone can do it. But, it takes insurmountable dedication and vision of someone to actually locate the core problems and come up with the optimum solutions. Hats off to Arvind!

Me: Tell us more about the C-negative app and how it can change people’s mindset and habits?

Arvind: This free application will assist you in calculating your daily carbon footprint and based on that will suggest to you how to reduce your carbon emission, how to offset whatever you cannot reduce, and how to neutralize the things you cannot avoid at all. The app has been developed on the basis of holistic formulation that includes quantification and nature of food habits, transportation, domestic energy consumption, etc. The calculator uses emission factors which take account of all greenhouse gases (i.e. CO2, N2O, methane etc.) released by the activities, with the results presented in units of metric tons of CO2 equivalent (CO2e).

It’s very difficult to ask people to come out of their comfort zones. This generation like ours that has been born into a technologically driven age of convenience won’t understand very easily. And, that’s why the solutions that we are offering have to be doable.

When someone subscribes to and ratifies the C-Negative Campaign, they will agree to a paradigm shift in their energy and resource consumption. It’s much like an audit except that it will be self-imposed. The advantage here is that those exercising it will be completely involved in the process, which makes them more aware of their actions, and making people ‘self-conscious’ is, after all, the central aim of this campaign.

Me: How did you prepare for the 139 Hours 42 Minutes and 56 Seconds’ lecture? And, what was the first thing you did after the lecture?

Arvind: I needed to prepare for an enhanced mental composure. Staying awake for 7 nights was not a big challenge, but staying cognitively awake was! At all times during the lecture, I was gathering information, processing it and then delivering it in form of a lecture. I credit the mental stamina to years of meditation that I exercised and still do.

There were many small challenges like protecting vocal cords, frequent hallucinations, etc. and through this experience, I’ve learned that human endurance and potential is unlimited. We just need to unleash it.

The first thing that I did after the lecture was to meet and spend some time with my family and team that worked tirelessly at the back end, for this marathon lecture.


Me: As an engineer, what do you think the future gen of engineers and tech guys must keep in mind while inventing or creating a product?

Arvind: Sustainability! All engineering development must keep the principle of sustainability in the center of their work.

My own transformation from Professor of Mechanical Engineering to an extreme climate activist is influenced by my own personal worldview. As I traveled across rural parts in India, I realized that I have committed grave technological sins, or at least I have been a part of the ‘problem creating’ side of the party, while assuming otherwise. 

In recent years, technology has emerged more like an autonomous and self-steering destruction force, and I am very convinced that this is a high time when we develop technological pessimism and intolerance to anthropogenic interference with the climate system. 100 years back, we were just developing the idea of aviation, and reports say 37.4 million flights were scheduled in 2014. That’s not sustainable at all.  Same goes with the number of automobiles, the number of power plants, nuclear reactors or whatever. This is dangerously exponential.

Me: Do you think that the self-sufficient culture of our villages was better than the “comfortable” supermarket life of the cities? How can we balance it now?

Arvind: Of course! Everything in Vedic India used to be sustainable. I believe the immediate solution to this global crisis could be adopting ancient Indian procedures. The clay houses, the clay utensils: degradable and free of any metal extraction process or plastics, respecting our rivers as we respect our mother, praying to trees and acknowledging their value in our lives – all of these reflects how close we used to be to nature.

It’s very unfortunate, as I said that our exponential growth is actually leading our race to destruction. We have been trying to automate every human process. I might understand elevators for heavy applications, but what’s the use of walking escalators? We need to understand that primitively, the human race is not supposed to have this much of comfort.

Now, as IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) are launching SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) on climate change aggressively. We can hope that we will learn to balance. Now, green engineering and sustainability in design procedures are becoming an important element of technology businesses, and I hope we consider it seriously.

The more effective balance has to come from people and not through government policies. It is the collective mass that is responsible for over usage of resources. There is no need to drink Brazilian coffee in Chandigarh just because it has been marketed best in the world, and there is no need to eat broccoli in Patna just because it seems exotic. These usages are linked to human insensitivity.  Millions of ships are polluting our air and oceans just because things are marketed and we are made to believe otherwise. Eating local and seasonal is a choice of self-conscious and UN or governments has nothing to do with it.

The ethical awareness is key to finding this balance.

Me:  How do you build up your physical and mental stamina for the cycling?

Arvind: When something is your passion, you don’t require a lot of stamina. There is an innate driving force which generally is sufficient. I am kind of privileged that I am getting to see the Bharat, an unheard India within India, as I pedal through sunny beaches of coastal areas, ardent mountains in the north and vast plains, through the dust of villages into the lights of cities, though the wildlife and rainforests into silent deserts. People ask me, “Don’t you think it would be 70% incredibly challenging, boring and dangerous, and only 30 % adventurous and fun?” There is some secret magic about traveling, and it won’t let go. Something inside me inspires me, and I could have even settled for 90% of odds to 10% of fun or even lesser. Out there in vast lands and roads, it’s going to be simply me, just by myself. These ideas and ongoing experiences work as my mental and physical stamina.

Me: Advice some easy-to-implement ways as to how businesses can become C-negative.

Arvind: Small commitments such as paper-free meetings, paper free documentation, and internal communications are few very simple ideas. Businesses can adapt to the C-Negative charter that highlights cost-effective climate friendly culture. Few examples are – Usage of biodegradable cleaner, a complete shift to compact fluorescent (CFL) or LED lights, which will reduce their energy consumption,  get an energy audit and make simple changes around offices, power offices with alternative energy, serious commitment to recycling every waste produced. In addition to recycling, they can think green while buying or replacing items by considering to purchase used or vintage office furniture instead of brand new pieces.

Businesses must arrange for responsible transportation mechanisms for employee commutation. They can promote usage of public transportation, buy company vehicles that run on an alternative fuel or hybrid vehicles.

One interesting idea could be to utilize green web hosting. Green web hosts are companies that take part in a variety of activities, such as using renewable energy, planting trees, or buying carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates to reduce or mitigate the environmental cost of running their servers and infrastructure. Ecosia is an alternative search engine to Google that uses search benefits for planting trees. I recently negotiated with a University in Punjab to make Ecosia their default search engine.

Me: Guide how women can contribute towards climate change and become C-negative.

Arvind: Women can play a pivotal role for being biologically less ignorant and naturally more sensitive to nature. I understand that domestic management should be an equal responsibility of men and women. However, women mostly take up the charge in domestic shopping and in decisions like planning aesthetics or interiors of the house, kitchen and grocery management, family get-togethers and festival events, etc. That is when they can fight climate change a lot better than men by making responsible choices. They can make domestic laws and force family members to reduce carbon prints and unnecessary resources or energy consumption.

They can plan festival events to be more sustainable, reducing kitchen waste, buying local and seasonal food for a healthy diet, buying only recyclable products. These are simple ideas where women can take charge and make strict rules around the house. That’s unfortunate that men are relatively less engaged in these choices, but they will definitely listen: Just to avoid a fight. (Just kidding, LOL)

Women should start using recyclable and reusable cloth based menstruation pads (such as – A wonderful startup by a group of ladies in the south). The apparel and garment industry also revolves around a false notion of fashion and over purchasing habits. Buying less and buying organic fabric should be the core principle in today’s world.

The cosmetic industry also damages our climate a lot, and the whole business is based on negative marketing. These companies use advertisements essentially designed to make you feel inferior about dark complexion, or rough hair or a small pimple. This is so wrong how these chemicals are manufactured, tested on animals, produces a lot of waste and are logistically transported all over the world by burning fossils. Women should rely more on herbal and domestic skin care remedies and trust me they are more skin and cost friendly as well. Besides, a fit and healthy body is the best fashion statement.

Me: Who has been your biggest inspiration in life?

Arvind: I lost my father who served Indian Army at a very young age. The notion of accountability to him has been my biggest inspiration so far.

Me:  Who’s your best pal while traveling?

Arvind: Solitude is my best pal that mostly leads to moments of self-acknowledgement and deeper observations.  Experiences while traveling are manifestations of our observation, and that will remain the best pal for the life ahead.

Me: Apart from becoming a C-negative person, what one bad habit of yours do you want to eliminate from your life?

Arvind: I would like to give up my habit of being less available for people around me. There is some sort of disconnect when I take up the cause more aggressively than some conventional responsibilities. I am trying to learn the art of balancing.

Me: What’s the first step we all need to take towards changing the climate change?

Arvind: The first step would be to emotionally acknowledge that our actions are responsible for this planet and upcoming generations. No one would like to deliver an unlivable planet to their kids. We just need basic awareness and climate friendly culture.

Me: Most photographic moment and the place from your cycle travels.

Arvind: So far, the resourceful and friendly villages of Punjab, and hills and pine forests of Himachal Pradesh.

Me: The funniest question asked by the audience about the climate change.

Arvind: “How would you convince Trump about climate change?”

“If I speak against the cosmetic industry, then what do I use to bathe myself?’’

Me:  Like you charge your gadgets with solar energy, how do you charge yourself?

Arvind: I charge myself with lots of fiber based vegetarian food, fruits and a lot of water and an insatiable desire to experience the world and to bring some tangible positive change around the society ignorant to climate change.

Me:  Biggest misconception about climate change.

Arvind: That we need any government policy to solve climate change problem. The solution rests with us, the common people.

Me:  Favorite childhood road journey/trip memory.

Arvind: My escapade from home after high school towards the Himalaya has been the best trip so far. It was an impulsive, cashless, resourceless and spontaneous journey, and to this date, it reminds me of my capabilities to act with spontaneity.

P.S.: You too can join the C-Negative movement, here.

Photo Courtesy:

Contact us for your story


Leave a Comment

  • JWB along with the brand Jewel Saga bring you a selfie contest inspired by the campaign AidToMaid.

Current Discussion