(April 14, 2023) Growing up in Bhavnagar, Gujarat, while Hasti Modi marvelled at the colours that nature provided to life, she was appalled at the lackadaisical approach of the public administrative system to protect greenery. Although they did their duty of planting saplings these were usually short-lived publicity initiatives, aimed at the media. The saplings would not get the care they needed to grow into trees. After making their one-day initiative popular in media and social media, they forgot all about nurturing them.
As a fifteen-year-old, yearning to do something about this, Hasti started the NGO IGNITE. She mobilised the citizens of Bhavnagar to make their beloved city greener. In the last eight years, her organisation, which partnered with another NGO, Green City, has planted more than 50,000 saplings so far, with the active participation of Bhavnagar citizens.
The volunteers of both organisations did not stop at just plantation, they ensured that the plants were nurtured as well. The volunteers in our drives have been people of all age groups, starting from seven-year-old kids to 75-year-old senior citizens,” says Hasti who now works with Ernst and Young in Rome, Italy.
As a fifteen-year-old, Hasti had not forayed into social activism just for the sake of it. To fulfil her purpose, she invited local celebrities like Jitubhai Vaghani (the-then MLA of Bhavnagar), Deven Sheth (founder of Green City Trust Foundation, an industrialist and nature enthusiast), as well as the principal and vice-principal of her school, to her first tree plantation drive. This added a lot of buzz to the drive, garnering the interest of local citizens and motivating them to volunteer for the cause.
It was in that event that Deven Sheth asked Hasti to collaborate and join hands with Green City, as they were working to achieve the same goal. “I am deeply grateful to Deven Sheth for seeing potential in me that day and giving me the opportunity. I will continue to promote this noble cause wherever I go, irrespective of country borders, culture, age and nationality,” says the twenty-four-year-old, in an interview with Global Indian.
Continuing with the drive in London
When Hasti got selected to study at the prestigious London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), she did not forget her purpose and continued her drive there as well. She worked tirelessly for a few months to find the right collaborators for tree plantation in London. “I follow the spiritual philosophy propounded by Dada Bhagwan Foundation (Ahmedabad, Gujarat). When I moved there for my masters, I organised tree plantation drives in London for all the foundation members based out of the UK, as well as for other residents and LSE students. says the youngster who won Diana Award for her initiatives in 2022.
“Simon Joshua (a collaborator in Harrow) had the necessary resources and so he arranged for everything while I coordinated and invited the members of the foundation. We planted a record 500 saplings,” Hasti says.
Life abroad and COP26
Always a good student, Hasti pursued her bachelors at Ahmedabad University. She received the RSB France Honour, which is an Honorary Mention given by the Rennes School of Business (RSB) for being the only student across the Business school to score the highest possible grade in all courses despite taking maximum credits in a term. “I am immensely grateful to Ahmedabad University, which sent me to RSB for a semester exchange, and of course, absolutely grateful to RSB for the phenomenal exposure,” she says.
Another opportunity that Hasti is grateful for is the chance to be a part of the COP26 summit last year, not as a participant but as a host to hundreds of senior experts engaged in sustainability and governance initiatives across the globe. “It was an extraordinary experience. I am grateful to Global Alliance for a Sustainable Planet (GASP) for giving me this opportunity,” she says.
Recently, she also got an opportunity to give a speech at the global UNICEF online platform, after being selected as a UNICEF changemaker for its OurFuturePledge campaign.
Always a proud patriot, Hasti says, “I plan to work and contribute immensely, first at an international level in the field of public policy and administration. In the long term, I intend to focus all my energy, time and resources to serve my country. I will carry the vision and mission of my NGO, IGNITE, to whichever part of the world I go and get more and more people involved into it,” she mentions.
The youngster belongs to a business family. Her father is a fourth-generation businessman in their 142-year-old, Indian traditional clothing business based in Bhavnagar, while her mother is a dietician by profession.