The case narrates the journey of an environmentalist, M Revathi, who as a young child with polio affected legs, could not move around on her own, and therefore began to develop friendship with birds, who kept her company. She thus grew up appreciating life other than mankind, such as birds, insects, plants and animals, and became an avid reader and a birdwatcher. Revathi eventually chose a career as a science teacher, and her passion for birds led her to the discovery that usage of pesticides, insecticides and other agricultural chemicals was severely damaging the environment and destroying the farming ecosystem. The case then describes Revathi’s tryst with farming communities and her enquiries into India’s green revolution, which revealed the root cause of increased pesticide usage in Indian agriculture. Revathi successfully uncovers the various connections between fertilizers, high yielding variety (HYV) seeds and the need for pesticides; and how the water-intensive modern agricultural practices gradually reduced the fertile delta lands in India into infertile dry lands.
The case next describes how Revathi’s efforts to change the habits of farming communities towards more ecofriendly methods and her determination to build morale of debt-ridden farmers on the verge of suicides, led Revathi to quit her job as a school teacher and travel around the rural parts of India. Her husband followed suit, giving up a well-respected position in the Indian Navy, to support Revathi in her journey. The couple soon found themselves in the midst of Tsunami-hit Nagapattinam district, offering relief and rehabilitation to poor and marginal farmers whose livelihoods have been hit hard by Tsunami. The case ends with the following dilemma: whether Revathi and her husband should implement the ecological techniques they have been using to recover the land damaged by chemical-based farming, to recover the Tsunami-hit land in Nagapattinam district.