What is Emeralds for Elephants all about?
Wildlife Trust of India identified 88 vital corridors for elephant movements. Securing these corridors, many of which have villages on it, meant working with local communities and governments; giving them alternate homes so that these places could be given back to the elephants. World Land Trust took up this initiative. Crucial funds for these works came from Emeralds for Elephants event where World Land Trust and gemstones mining company Gemfields, together with Jaguar Land Rover and the Gemological Institute of America, have collaborated with 10 of India's top jewellery designers to create a collection using Zambian Emerald jewellery. Who could have imagined that precious green stones would raise precious funds for precious green spaces so that our national heritage animal is secured.
What makes you agree to be the brand ambassador of the initiative?
I am indeed delighted to be an integral part of this unique opportunity where I can build awareness for the cause of Asian elephants. Because, as per my own book, elephants are my favourite animals. I have grown up on Kathak. Even through my dance and performances, when I do Kathak, we have a lot of praises for Ganesha (Elephant God), we do his stuti (invocation) and we pray to him. I pray to the people that they help us in this endeavour and help us save the elephants. In mythology and history, elephants have played such an important role. We pray to him...he is a deity. In that sense, there's a lot of respect and love towards elephants.
Well, it's a different way to endorse jewellery for sure.
I have worked with a lot of designers and jewellery people. But what Gemfields is doing is worth mentioning. They are not just taking resources from our lands (they mine for emeralds), but they are also giving back. That's what, I think, every person in this world needs to do...give back something because we are getting so much from the world.
So, like diamonds are a girl's best friends, can we say the same for emeralds and elephants?
Yes. Now you can say emeralds are an elephant's best friends. They have been adorning us for long. Now they will do a lot for elephants.
What are the films you are doing at the moment?
At present, I am totally working on Emeralds for Elephants initiative. So, let's talk about that now. Some other day we will talk about other things. (Smiles)
Okay. You were saying something about 'giving back' to nature. Can you elaborate?
What we need to do today is to see how we can conserve our natural resources, the God-gifted animals we have. Else, what legacy we are going to leave for our kids? I am a mother and I feel very strongly about it...we don't start taking steps towards conservation today, what are our kids going to enjoy in the future! If we teach our kids to conserve, they are going to do the same to their children...they will take forward that legacy. So it's something for our kids too.
Will you endorse this initiative in US (your present home) as well?
There are a lot of people in America who work for different causes for different animals and environment. When I return to America, I will try to spread this message so that we can get some help from there too.