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India urgently needs reforms in power sector

Surinder Kumar & Kulwant Singh Nehra



Electricity act

Electricity has become a lifeline in modern way of living in India. However, its assured supply at an affordable price to the people has become a great challenge for the government. Electricity has been treated as a public service and a basic energy input for accelerated industrialisation and economic development in India since Independence. Therefore, electricity supply was developed in the public sector. Power sector is in a serious financial crisis for the last two decades and there is a threat of it going financially bankrupt unless some major steps are taken to make it economically viable.

 Electricity generation, transmission and distribution require scarce resources and involve economic cost. Obviously, its use should be governed by the sound socio-economic principles. Someone in the society has to pay for it. Who pays and who should pay must be made transparent. Public perception regarding electricity supply also needs a drastic change. Various categories of consumers are subsidised on socio-economic considerations or developmental priorities. Domestic consumers from socio-economically weaker sections of the society and backward regions are being supplied electricity on subsidised rates. Agriculture is being supplied electricity at highly subsidised rates to incentivise farmers to grow more food. Industry is also provided electricity at subsidised rates to incentivise industrial development of backward regions or to promote industries in priority sectors. In a democratic polity, various stakeholders exert their pulls and pressures to extract economic benefits/ rent for their support to the political establishment.

In the mid-1960s, green revolution technology was adopted as a strategy of agricultural development in India. Use of electric tube wells for irrigation was promoted and incentivised by supplying electricity at highly subsidised flat rates or free of cost. Soon, the rural elite consisting of big landlords and rich peasants developed a vested interest in the free supply of electricity to farmers and as they controlled rural vote banks, no political party in power could resort to cost-based pricing of electricity to farmers. Worst of all, metering of tube wells was also dispensed with on the pretext of saving the cost of metering. This has led to complete collapse in the transparency of the electricity accounting system and financial management. Now, calculation of transmission and distribution losses, power theft and collection efficiency, etc, are all intelligent guesses, which are easily manipulated by the management of power distribution companies (DISCOMs).

There are a large number of research studies which have conclusively established that more than 80 percent of power supply to agriculture was consumed by the big farmers and most of the financial benefits were cornered by the big landlords and they do not accrue to the small and marginal farmers as stated in the policy documents. This is a blatant misuse of the public policy to benefit the vested interests. It has been noted over time that the ruling elite, irrespective of their party ideology, cannot afford to antagonise big landlords and disturb the status quo and the existing arrangement of supplying power to agriculture due to vote-bank politics.

In principle, state governments must compensate the public utilities with full subvention for the subsidised supply of electricity. However, subvention provided by the state governments was always much lower than the actual cost of supply. Obviously, political parties controlling state governments indulge in cheap populism and compel the public-owned distribution companies to follow subsidization policy but abdicated from their responsibility to compensate them for the financial losses. Distribution companies are left with no incentive to improve their technical or financial performance. Thus, the DISCOMs are forced to borrow from financial institutions even for their day-to-day operations, keeping them in a state of perpetual indebtedness and financial crisis. Financial losses of DISCOMs kept accumulating, even the financial institutions became reluctant to extend credit to the DISCOMs, threatening them to be financially bankrupt and insolvent.

To enable the DISCOMs to start their business from the clean slate, Government of India undertook the first financial restructuring of SEBs/DISCOMs through ‘One Time Settlement’ (OTS) in 2003 with the central power sector undertakings, by taking over the outstanding dues of the SEBs. However, it proved to be only a partial relief. By 2014-2015, power distribution utilities had accumulated financial loss of Rs 3.8 lakh crore and outstanding debt of Rs 4.3 lakh crore. The Ujjwal DISCOMs Assurance Yojana (UDAY) is the latest financial restructuring schemes introduced by the Indian government on 5 November 2015 to improve distribution companies’ operational efficiency through upgrading DISCOMs infrastructure and to make state governments accountable for financial losses of DISCOMs. But such a relief may prove to be a temporary balm if DISCOMs do not become efficient and financially viable in their operations. The complete financial turnabout is yet not on the horizon as most states continue to incur operational losses despite state governments taking over all the past debt liabilities.

The Central and State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (ERCs) were established under the Electricity Act, 2003. They are supposed to be autonomous and function free from any political or bureaucratic interference in their dayto-day functioning. One of the statutory functions of the ERCs is to pass orders on annual revenue requirements of the DISCOMs, pass tariff orders based on sound principles of financial management, calculate subsidy which accrued to state government’s policy of subsidisation to certain categories of consumers especially to the farmers and direct the state governments to pay full amount of subsidy to the DISCOMs. Experience tells the state governments and management of DISCOMs conveniently flout the directions of the commission. Unfortunately, over time, the commissions have been rendered toothless and have fallen in line with the governments.

The privatisation experience of Delhi DISCOMs amply demonstrates that without financial support of the state government, private DISCOMs cannot succeed. In fact, privatisation of DISCOMs has led to privatisation of profits and socialisation of losses without much gain in terms of efficiency, transparency and accountability. World experience informs us that the power sector is a natural monopoly and should be state-managed and decision-making should be depoliticised, which is a great challenge.

Prof Surinder Kumar and Dr Kulwant Singh Nehra are visiting professor and assistant professor at Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID), Chandigarh, respectively.

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Analysing philosophical perspectives through mathematics principles



Indian knowledge tradition, if we look carefully at the various components, plays an important role in addition to expression, and displays a pseudo-form together with the form. Philosophers have termed it as Vagjal, ending it and merging it only in the element, and the name of identification with the element. Numbers are the best means of expression, and many spiritual problems can be solved by understanding the result obtained from operations on numbers in the form of elements.

The philosophical side of mathematics also gives an opportunity to develop a similar vision. Mathematical operations can be helpful in building bridges, buildings, architecture— from the point of view of process, this is the external view of mathematics. Apart from this, the processes of mathematics also provides an insight, which is very important for a mathematician to understand. In small operations, many such important topics are contained in a secret form, which also explains the relationship of life and the theory of cosmic bodies. Due to the utilitarian application of mathematics, we have gone so far from the philosophical dimension of mathematics, that it is too much effort to return to that dimension, and it is not enough to arrive at it spontaneously or in a short time.

To understand the philosophical nature of mathematics, we ought to have a broad view. Considering a circle or a triangle as just a figure, we have to rise above the calculation of its area, perimeter, base, perpendicular, radius, etc., and understand the expression which can express these shapes in a broad sense. For example, a triangle is not a mere figure, but a concept that shows the way from multiple to unity and again from unity to multiplicity, if the methods of study are those moving from the base of the triangle to the vertex or vice versa.

If made, then the study material and teaching method in the student’s mind can be planted with the practical seed of unity in plurality, and vice versa. Similarly circle is not only a figure of geometry but a means of expression of that concept, which shows the circular motion of this entire creation and the life of a person. In geography, for instance rock movement — contraction after continental displacement — Himalaya Mountains are in the place of Tethys Sea, and high mountains of Aravalli today turn into plains, in future might turn into trench or rift valley. From this point of view it is very important to analyze mathematical figures or operations.

When the vision of mathematics is so broad, then the formulas which will be applied on these concepts will open the mystery of the cosmic principles. A person who does not believe in God or the Soul can understand the nature of a force/law through mathematics. Mathematics talks about every concept that we spiritually experience in our daily lives. Our experience is that the world is changeable, but the direction of change tells us the circle, and at the root of this change is the ever-changing power, which remains unchanged even at the root of every change, is the ratio of circumference and diameter. , which we know as the greek alphabet pie.

Our ancient sages have used many experiments to describe the manifestation of the Rita (Universal reality) hidden in the root of every change. Similarly, no matter how many sides of the triangle keep changing, the change of these sides does not make any difference in the sum of the interior angles of the triangle, it remains 180° always. These examples given through triangles and circles are applied to every operation of mathematics, and gradually developing this mathematical vision leads man to the never-changing element inherent in change, which is closer to the concept of Rita.

Truth is relative, Rita is universal. The constants/coefficients found not only in mathematics but also in physics confirm broad concepts. There is a need to develop this type of vision at the level of higher education and research, and to develop a teaching method that increases thinking ability at the level of primary classes. This vision can be able to make a person who does not believe in God and the Soul realize the power by which all are bound, which remains unchanged even after being at the root of change, the regulator of many truths which is Rita.

Writer is the Assistant Professor, Department of Sanskrit, Tilkamanjhi Bhagalpur University.

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The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is four years short of its centenary. “Thank you, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh USA it was an honour, to celebrate Raksha Bandhan with you,” read a post on the Facebook page of Irving police department in the United States on September 22 this year. The post also carried a set of photos which showed a young Indian woman in a traditional dress tying Rakhi on the hands of a group of police officers in uniform and putting a Tilak on their forehead. The post became so popular immediately and earned over 5.8k likes and 1.4k comments.

This massive response is an indicator to a lesser known yet impeccable growth story of an Indian socio-cultural umbrella organisation which is celebrating its 96th foundation day all over the world. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which started its journey on the Vijaya Dashami or Dussehra to mark the victory of Lord Rama over evil Ravana, a date which fell on September 27 in 1925 with a mission to make the nation “a self-reliant, resurgent and mighty”, is no longer restricted to the 39,454 Shakhas or boundaries of the country only now. Its presence is felt overseas through its affiliates like Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) which is single-handedly carrying forward the message of Indianness and cultural inclusivity in every nook and corner on foreign soil.

The U.S. unit of HSS has the mission of “World Peace through Dharma”.  It elaborates, “Sangh, as the organization is popularly known, aims to coordinate the Hindu American community to practice, preserve, and advance ideals and values of the Hindu Dharma. HSS conducts regular values-based education programs for children, youth and adults through more than 220 branches in the US. We also organise service activities and community outreach projects.”

It adds, “Through our regular educational programs based on Dharma, we instil and promote discipline, self-confidence, teamwork, and the spirit of selfless service. Through service activities and outreach projects, we foster a sense of civic duty, responsibility, and volunteerism. HSS in the USA endeavours to instil pride in Hindu heritage among its members and to enhance appreciation of Hindus around the world, their traditions, and civilisation by the broader community in the U.S.” 

The HSS also has its footprint in Canada, a neighbouring country of the U.S. “Sangh is inspired by the idea that the whole world is one family and conducts activities across Canada in order to spread this message widely. The HSS has over 25 weekly meeting centers (shakhas) spread over Ontario, Quebec, Greater Vancouver Area (GVA), Alberta, and Saskatchewan,” it states.

In the United Kingdom, HSS runs over 100 activity centres (known as shakhas) and are attended by over 2000 people on a weekly basis. Regular activities include games, yoga, health & fitness, educational and cultural activities for all age ranges (from 4 years to 80 + years old). It also has a parallel women’s organisation called, Hindu Sevika Samiti, which was established in 1975.

The HSS (UK) further notes, “Hindu Sevika Samiti, through its activities, encourages girls and women to learn and promote, universal Hindu values, to build self-confidence, cultivate a sense of social consciousness and achieve all round development through our model of Sanskar, Sewa and Sangathan. This will lead to individuals to proactively contribute and eventually become integral members of the culture, society and country in which they live.»

Back home in India, the RSS has been scripting a different success story quietly. It recently reached out to the minority communities with an aim to bring them into its fold with a message to the Muslims for a greater cause of religious stability and integrity. In September 2021, the RSS also got in touch with the Christians. An RSS leader Valsan Thillenkery met Pala bishop Mar Joseph Kallarangatt following uproar over his remark of ‹Narcotic Jihad› and apparently endorsed his stand.

On the political front, the RSS has become the key driver to the ruling BJP›s organisational renaissance in the last seven years compared to the opposition parties, most of which are led and dominated by the old guards. 

For instance, the new face of the BJP in West Bengal unit is a young RSS functionary, Sukanta Majumdar, who won as a Lok Sabha MP only two years ago. He replaced his fellow parliamentarian, Dilip Ghosh, who is not only close to 60 years of age, but also had become an old face in the post. As a young chief of a state party which is in power at the Centre, Majumdar will get three years of preparation for the next Lok Sabha Election.

Thus, culturally and politically, the RSS has altogether achieved an enviable milestone nationwide and beyond which no outfit has been able to match in the last nine decades and perhaps would not be able to too. That is the mantra of its success.

And when the RSS celebrates its centenary after a few years, its global perception will make it more acceptable in more countries and draw the minorities including the Muslims closer to it.

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Vishwa Bharatiya: Indian diaspora’s new identity

Prime Minister Modi’s government has gone a long way to forge a strong friendship with the diaspora community and the diaspora has responded in equal measure. The remittance sent by the Indian diaspora to India every year is around $78.6 billion. We need a bold vision to shape the prospects, and its time has come.

Nitin Mehta



During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to the United States, U.S. President Joe Biden mentioned his India connection and said that his “great, great, great, great, great, grandfather had settled in India and had married an Indian.”

President Biden is one of the many politicians in different parts of the world who claim their Indian roots. This is the legacy of massive migrations of Indians to different parts of the world over centuries. From indentured labourers to the Caribbean countries to the present day highly skilled professionals settling in many parts of the world, the Indian diaspora numbers are at 32 million. An additional 2.5 million people migrate from India every year.

The island of Fiji has an Indian population of almost 38%; they are descendants of indentured labourers brought by the British to work on the sugar plantations. Today there are many Fijians of Indian descent in politics and Mahendra Chaudhry was the first Indo-Fijian Prime Minister between 1999-2000. The Caribbean Island of Guyana has an Indian population of almost 40% and Cheddi Jagan and Bharat Jagdeo have been prime ministers. Sridarth Ramphal, former Commonwealth Secretary was also a Guyanese of Indian origin, Trinidad and Tibago have an Indian origin population of 37%. Kamla Persad Bissessar was the Prime Minister of the country from 2010 to 2015. Suriname, a small country in South America, has an Indian population of over 27% and it is the largest ethnic group in the country. Preeaap Radhakishun was a former Prime Minister and Ramsewak Shankar was a former president between 1988 and 1990. Chan Santokhi is the incumbent President of the country. Indians also have a big presence in Jamaica. Kamala Jean Gopie is a Jamaican of Indian descent who is a well-known political activist in Canada.

Kamala Harris, the Vice President of the United States, was born to a Jamaican father and an Indian mother. Mauritius the Indian Ocean Island has an Indian origin population of almost 60%. It has had several Indian prime ministers and presidents. Sookdeo Bisindoyal was one of the founding fathers of Mauritius. Another Indian Ocean Island Reunion is a French overseas territory. It has a population of 800,000 of which 200,000 are of Indian origin, mainly Tamil. The Indian Ocean Island of Seychelles also has a substantial Indian origin population and the current president Wavel Ramkalwan has traced his origins to the Indian state of Bihar.

With countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, and South Korea, India has strong religious and cultural links going back thousands of years. In all these countries the Hindu epic of Ramayana remains very popular. Malaysia also has a huge number of politicians of Indian origin. Singapore too has had several presidents of the Indian-origin.

The East African countries of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania have a substantial Indian origin population and they play a huge role in the economic development of these countries. People of Indian origin also played a crucial role in the freedom movement of these countries. The Constitution of Kenya Review Commission was headed by Yashpal Ghai whose parents had migrated from India during British colonial rule. The review was presented to the country in 2010 and it was accepted by the majority of Kenyans. The new constitution has strengthened democracy in Kenya, promoted gender equality, and safeguarded minority rights. South Africa has around 1.3 million people of Indian origin and none other than Mahatma Gandhi had settled in the country. He influenced many freedom fighters and helped change the course of human history. Nigeria and Ghana also have substantial populations of Indian origin.

In the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, there is a huge number of Indian-origin politicians. Kamala Harris the vice president of the United States, Rishi Sunak the Chancellor of Exchequer, and Priti Patel the Home Secretary of the UK hold some of the most powerful positions. The last Irish Taoiseach or Prime minister of Ireland was Leo Vardkar whose father hails from the Indian state of Maharashtra. The current Prime Minister of Portugal Antonio Costa is also of Indian origin. His father’s family hails from Goa.

The Netherlands has around 240,000 people of Indian origin, many of them are from the former Dutch colony of Suriname. There is a huge interest in Hinduism and Indian culture in Russia and East European countries like Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, and Croatia. In the coming years, they will also have very strong links with India. There is a growing presence of India in Latin American countries of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama.

Around 90,000 Jews of Indian origin live in Israel. Their love for India is undiminished. In the United Arab Emirates there are 3,429,000 people of Indian origin, which is around 38% of the total population.

Apart from the top politicians, there is a huge number of people of Indian origin in the countries mentioned who serve as Ministers, Ambassadors, and in many prominent positions.

As India becomes a global power the Indian diaspora is and will be the country’s ambassadors. Unlike China, this partnership between India and the diaspora will not be at the expense of the countries in which the diaspora lives. The ethos on which Indians will operate will be based on the saying, ‘Vasudev Kutumbakam’ which means that the world is a family. Prime Minister Modi’s government has gone a long way to forge a strong friendship with the diaspora community and the diaspora has responded in equal measure.

The remittance sent by the Indian diaspora to India every year is around $78.6 billion. We need a bold vision to shape History and its time has come. Perhaps the term NRI needs to be dropped and changed to Vishwa Bharatiya.

Writer is the founder of Indian Cultural Centre, London. Views expressed are writer’s personal.

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Joyeeta Basu



The surge in terrorist violence in Kashmir valley is in direct proportion to the frustration of the Pakistani military establishment over the normalisation of the situation in the union territory. Post the revocation of Article 370, the merchants of doom and gloom had made dire predictions about a conflagration in the valley, making it a security nightmare for India. They had talked about the return of the months-long unrests that were seen in the past—in fact something much worse. But much to their dismay, nothing like that happened. In spite of some initial serious security curbs, there was no major trouble that could not be handled by the administration, without the use of excessive force. A little more than two years after the revocation of Article 370, the valley seems calmer, and on its way back to normalcy. The tourism industry, one of the mainstays of J&K has started coming back to life, with tourists from the rest of the country flocking to the valley. Stone pelting incidents have seen a drastic decline. Ministry of Home Affairs statistics in August 2021 show a decline of 88% between January and July 2021 compared to the same period in 2019. Injuries to security forces and civilians in related incidents—including injuries caused to civilians by baton charges and pellet guns—too have come down by 84% and 93%, respectively, compared to the same period in 2019. The improvement in the law and order situation has been largely possible because of the presence of the security forces, some Covid related restrictions and action against separatist leaders and terrorist outfits. Although the UT is yet to witness Assembly elections, the District Development Council elections held last year saw unprecedented participation from the residents. Make no mistake, arriving at a certain state of normalcy would not have been possible but for the common Kashmiri’s desire for peace and willingness to lead a normal life. The security forces too have achieved unprecedented success in eliminating the Pakistan backed terrorist leadership in the valley. In fact every attempt by Pakistan to groom such a leadership has ended in failure, with the security forces eliminating them in a matter of months. It is in this context that Pakistan’s frustration has to be seen.

This has led to a change in strategy in perpetrating “lone wolf” attacks on the minority population of the valley, with radicalised youngsters being given small arms to carry out targeted killings. This has led to some migration by the Pandit population from the valley, however it would be wrong to compare the situation with the 1990s. The security forces are way too alert now for letting these terrorist elements get away with murder. Also, the toxicity in the milieu against the local minority population seems to have subsided to a large extent. There is greater integration of the valley population with the rest of the country as well. And the more interaction increases, more mainstream Kashmir becomes. Hence, there is reason for hope, in spite of the sudden spurt in incidents of terrorist violence. Of course, the security forces are paying a heavy price to secure J&K from the Pakistan-backed malignancy, as the recent incident in Jammu’s Poonch where five Army personnel were killed, showed. Also with the possibility of Pakistan diverting its pet terrorists operating in Afghanistan to its eastern border, adding to the ranks of the Laskhar-e-Tayyabas and Hizbul Mujahideens, it will need 24×7 vigil by the security forces to keep the situation under control. Hence, the message needs to sink in that picking up the gun will not give any returns. As the Army has been saying, anyone picking up the gun will be eliminated inside a matter of months.

At the same time, the ground should be prepared for an elected government to take charge of the union territory, for that is the best way to give voice to people’s aspirations and listen to their grievances. There is no reason to believe that the attacks of the last few days mark the beginning of a prolonged period of unrest in Kashmir. Hence, it is time Pakistan and its proxies in the valley accepted the reality of Article 370 being history and allowed peace to prevail.

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It’s turn for Google’s Climate Ethics

The digital ads promoting the triviality of claims made by climate change protagonists would now be pulled out from any public viewing.

Amita Singh



Google is finally cracking down on ads falsifying the science of climate change to spread misinformation and to earn money. This is the second strong step taken against fake content by Google, the first taken a few days ago banning vaccine misinformation from YouTube. Climate deniers in a war front against climate protectors used social and digital media to counter claims on CFC-led global warming. These digital ads promoting the triviality of claims made by climate change protagonists would now be pulled out from any public viewing.

Climate deniers have always tried to be the best persuaders both online and offline. In 2010 I got a surprise parcel from USA at my office. It was a heavyweight book both in content and in pages which exceeded a thousand. It came from a Centre for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change which matched my prestigious university located Centre for the Study of Law and Governance in its title at least. The book titled, ‘Climate Change Reconsidered’. During those years when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had just published its 4th Assessment Report, this parcel contained a book that countered all claims of IPCC on anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations and its impact on health of flora, fauna, food and future of planet earth. The time also matched with a new line of thinking emerging within the discipline of public administration as climate claims would find an immediate resonance with the way decisions would be taken, a core area of public administration. I was also trying to revisit and explore ecosystem approach given by a famous scholar of Public Administration in the 1960s Fred W. Riggs, in the context of climate challenges. The discipline was witnessing a full war between those who refused to buzz from the three seductress syndrome globalization, liberalization and privatization and those who wished to take back the discipline downwards from land to the legislature at the top, in a more discerning manner. My work at a Riggs Conclave of Washington DC found support from an unexpected quarter of senior scholars like David Rosenbloom and Jamil E. Jreisat who felt the that disciplinary restructuring was a necessity. The parceled book probably wished to persuade people like us into believing authentically on the irrelevance and frivolity of all the noise around climate change as it starts with a tricky question, ‘before facing major surgery, wouldn’t you want a second opinion?’

This huge research bundle book was produced by a group of serious scientists mostly from USA and UK under the banner of ‘Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC)’.It emphasized a statement and a discourse, the mischief of which had deep philosophical and political echoes,in calling IPCC ‘as an activist organization right from the beginning…’ and a louder tone that IPCC’s agenda was to justify control of the emission of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide as by the states and by virtue of which it focused solely on human induced climate change in complete defiance of natural changes which make earth warmer. This had such a powerful impact upon minds of the young in universities that they saw the state as a culprit in talking about climate change simply to control money with the multinational corporates notwithstanding states-corporate nexus likely to define the predatory state. The not so benign state wore several masks to act benign at climate protection forums and back home become a rapid and rabid growth engine polluting air, water, and seas. The fuzzy logic of such heavy research-based publications excused governments in investing into transformatory alternatives to make growth climate-friendly. The environmental sciences centres of big universities ended up analyzing soil, rain drops,glaciers, forests and groundwater rather than taking few steps further into a mindful transdisciplinary research for times to come. Climate change in research institutions became a big mafia to extract national and international grants with little standardization of its link to futuristic alternatives to existing growth. IITs were researching on bio-friendly chulhas, fire proof leaf carpets, electric engines, water harvesting and solar rooftops but this was never scaled up for years of wastage. It suffered from the same problem that sociological research suffered during the 1970s, when a plethora of micro research accumulated without its powerful connect to macro institutions. Everything at the grassroot was important but only very few converged meaningfully at Panchayats to study institutions of real development and accountability. The failure of sociological research into Panchayati Raj institutions continues to haunt Indian Constitution’s third layer of governance as district administration remains the ‘Mai Baap’(parent). The Sarpanchas (head of rural governance) and the Ward Councilors (urban governance) rally around the District Commissioners for release of funds, right to be heard, and for programme implementation. Lately, even Mayor’s name is being sent from the dominant party office. So climate change did not receive appropriate leadership to be able to achieve pro-climate alternatives to technology, strategies, designs or processes for production and growth.

Ideologically, anti-climate propaganda interestingly matched belief agendas of both the left and the right groups initially. The left groups wished to steer clear of the state trying to hijack the growth agenda and labour unions. The right groups encashed on the fears of the left. This philosophical battle came out in the open when our proposal for setting up a disaster research centre at JNU was scuttled by a powerful left-dominated association as they feared it would bring the Ministry of Home Affairs, under which disaster management falls, too close to university decision making bodies. It was ironical that the left played in the hands of the right and battled one of their own commandment of working close to communities. The Disaster Centre could finally come up with the support of a Minister who was incidentally a climate protagonist but the right groups immediately took over its control and the left had by then lost credibility to participate in its decision making. If propagandist forces had not created fuzzy logic, panchayats would have become an infantry to fight against climate change and research could have been on addressing the impacts of climate change on life. The heavy publication posted to my desk also generated a bad imagery for NGOs as a suspicious money-hungry lot rather than community based organizations (CBOs)with indispensable power to transform growth and development in a sustainable and cost-effective manner. As long as governments fail to see NGOs and CBOs as partners in growth, climate change will remain unattained despite solar and anti-plastics policies and laws.

The market of consumerism, materialism and commercialism is limitless but nature has limits as Aldo Leopold a famous conservationist wrote, ‘nature dries up under greed’. The cost of climate change is borne by those who do not benefit from the activities which cause degradation and are clustered at the grassroot of production industry. Rachael Carson who stirred America’s chemical industry with her book ‘Silent Springs’of 1962, a period of maddening chemical-based industrial growth, laments, ‘no witchcraft, no enemy action had silenced the rebirth of new life in this stricken world. The people had done it themselves’ is one of the strongest rebuff to propagandist climate deniers who need more land and ocean to spill and more fur and food from slaughterhouses. Addressing concerns of climate change is one of the surest directions to achieve inter and intra-generational equity and justice. Our world is once again standing before what Meadows and Meadows in 1972 called a ‘Red Signal’ when the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) led to a severe increase in the price of oil. This led the Club of Rome (later FAO) to conduct a study on the ‘predicament of mankind’ called, ‘Limits to Growth’. This study brought out that man’s inability to limit five factors ie; population, agricultural production, natural resources, industrial production and pollution contribute to retarding sustainable growth.The report came up with provocative demands for alternatives but till today how many environmental scientists actually take their findings beyond analysis and discovery of negative feedback loops into a real-world of whistle-blowing in policy formulations. A social scientist who had been doing this task for them is today’s greatest suspect on the government agenda.

Google’s clampdown should have occurred long back. The global media advertising industry is

earning a worldwide revenue of more than USD 650 billion as per Statista 2021. While North America continues to be the largest advertising market worldwide it is interesting to note that the corporates which are spending the highest on digital media like Proctor and Gamble, Johnson and Johnson, Monsanto, and Bristol Meyers are those very same which had opposed Conventions on Climate Change and on Biological Diversity at the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) Rio Meet of 1992. This has also retarded any advance by states on the Global Environment Facility (GEF) created in 1991 to address primarily global warming, destruction of biological diversity, pollution of international waters, and depletion of the Ozone layer.

Governments that have been ruthlessly deforesting and denotifying natural reserves for purposes of mining, roads and power projects may have to look back for alternatives rather than build behind the fuzzy logic of climate deniers. The third Constitutional layer of governance needs to be revived for risk identification and for first response when climate change strikes as disasters. The Sendai Framework of Action (2015-2030) and the Disaster Management Act 2005 has many recipes for the government to implement beyond the guarded boundaries of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) where the indispensability of NGOs and CBOs can work with more thoughtfulness and prescience. Climate change is a reality, the earlier we accept it the sooner we would be able to regulate human action in production. Governments and decision-making bodies need to move beyond launching programmes for climate protection to their regular and stringent monitoring by disaster management organizations as a slight slippage on monitoring may culminate into a devastating disaster. The Era of Trump brand of politics may be a passe but its psychological residues may continue to weaken action on climate protection since Google ads by climate-deniers have flourished on digital media simply because governments have not been doing enough to prevent climate change holistically.

The author is president, NDRG, and former Professor of Administrative Reforms and Emergency Governance at JNU. The views expressed are personal.

Climate deniers have always tried to be the best persuaders both online and offline. In 2010 I got a surprise parcel from USA at my office. It was a heavyweight book both in content and in pages which exceeded a thousand. It came from a Centre for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change which matched my prestigious university located Centre for the Study of Law and Governance in its title at least. The book was titled, ‘Climate Change Reconsidered’. During those years when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had just published its 4th Assessment Report, this parcel contained a book that countered all claims of IPCC on anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations and its impact on health of flora, fauna, food and future of planet earth.

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Priya Sahgal



Finally, Ashish Mishra, the main accused in the Lakhimpur farmers’ murder is in custody. The note of caution here is that it happened only after the Supreme Court pulled up the investigating agencies and not due to any political messaging by the government, either in the state or at the centre. Yes, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath did say that “there will be no injustice to anyone. No one will be allowed to take the law in his own hands but there will also be no action taken under pressure”. One assumes the pressure that the UP CM was referring to was the outrage on social media and the active stand taken by the Opposition.

It is not just the four farmers who were killed when a ministerial cavalcade of the Union Minister for Home, Ajay Mishra Teni, mowed a peaceful protest from behind at Lakhimpur Kheri. The chilling videos are there for all to see. It is alleged that the first car leading the cavalcade, a green Mahindra Thar jeep was driven by Ashish Mishra the son of the honourable minister who is now being referred to in social media as `mantri-putra’ to highlight the fact that he has a powerful lineage backing him. If you recall that this incident happened the same day when another son of a famous Bollywood star was caught in a drug bust; and while one son was immediately taken into custody the other remained free until the courts took note of the matter.

Can anyone explain the BJP’s reaction, or lack of it? One explanation given to me is that the farmers never vote as a cohesive vote block, let alone nationwide, even the farmers of East UP will not vote along the same lines as those of Western Uttar Pradesh. Moreover, the BJP needs to woo the Brahmin vote bank that has been feeling marginalised ever since Yogi Adityanath became CM. There is a perception in the state that he is pandering to the Thakurs. Caste is an important factor in Uttar Pradesh, so much so that even the killing of a Brahmin mafia don recently was seen along caste lines. Where the farmers’ vote will matter is Punjab and that is where the BJP doesn’t really have much of a stake.

The other reason is that the BJP was keen to prop up the Congress in Uttar Pradesh so that it could take away Akhilesh Yadav’s votes by cutting into the anti-BJP vote. Until now, few gave Congress any chance in the coming Uttar Pradesh polls; there was a perception that even the AAP could do better than the Congress. Post Lakhimpur Kheri Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has been able to create some sort of a buzz around her party. It is definitely not enough to swing a state, but in western Uttar Pradesh it could divide the Jat vote. As it is there is an apprehension amongst the SP that with an alliance with the RLD could lose them the Muslim vote. Which could be one reason why Akhilesh did not immediately rush to the spot, letting Jayant Chaudhary be the first man on the ground.

It is cold to look at a human tragedy in such calculated political terms. But there is no other way to explain some of the actions and reactions by our political class, especially when the crucial Uttar Pradesh election is around the corner.

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