After the virtual demise of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the South East Asia Treaty Organization (“SEATO”) with a focus on Russia, the United States has formulated two new organizations QUAD and AUKUS with the primary focus on China. For the first time, India has become a part of a coalition focused on Security issues. The concerns of Australia, India, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States about China are valid especially in view of China’s growing economic and military power and her aggressive actions of increasing influence in the Indo-Pacific oceans area. Besides these concerns, the United States is driven by its cowboy and gun mentality. The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides a fundamental right to bear arms without any limitation on the type and number of firearms. The U.S. has been involved with all the major wars of the twenty and twenty-first centuries; for example, World Wars I and II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Iraq War, and Afghanistan War. Even though no country had attacked the mainland United States, the U.S. government got involved in these wars. The military-industrial compact is very strong and consumes a large amount of the US budget. However, it should be pointed out that the United States had made great contributions towards technology, democracy, economy, peace, and stability in the world. The U.S. has been providing a safe haven for investments to all. Without US dominance, there would have been more chaos in the world.
NATO and SEATO were formed after World War II as a measure to contain Russia which, taking advantage of the laid-back attitude of the Western countries after World War II, extended her influence over several countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Therefore, the main focus of these two treaties was to have American military bases to thwart any further aggressive movements by Russia. Although the current alliances QUAD and AUKUS are also involved in defense-related activities, the real focus is on the economy rather than direct confrontation with China. China’s major activity in the Indo-Pacific regions is to extend her territorial hold in the Indo-Pacific regions to the maximum extent possible so that she can exploit the natural resources of the region for her benefit. Of course, China is also interested in political and military aspects of the extension of her control over international waters and some unpopulated or sparsely populated islands in the region. China’s dominance in the world, especially in the Indo-Pacific region, has special significance for India as India is the only QUAD country sharing a border with China. This border has been turbulent since China became a communist country in 1949.
Taking the advantage of the gullibility of Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru, in 1951
China attacked and occupied Tibet and Nehru watched it without any murmur. Then in 1962, China attacked India and occupied a big chunk of the Northeastern part. Later she occupied a part of Ladakh in the Northwest. Recently, she occupied an additional 4,000 square miles of Indian territory. Therefore, India has to deal with this ongoing threat from China. Other QUAD members do not have this threat as besides attempting to capture a few small islands, China is not going to attack or encroach in the territories of Japan, Australia, and the United States.
After World War II, the United States foreign policy was primarily defined by the famous saying by John Foster Dulles, the U.S. Secretary of State that “either you are with us or you are not”. There was no room for any country to be neutral. Pakistan joined SEATO and provided bases to the USA. India refused to do either. Both the CIA and the U.S. military got very close to their counterparts in Pakistan. This closeness lasted for many years.
The defense and military-related activities between India and the United States started in 1962 right after the Chinese attack on India, when, with India’s permission, the United States installed a facility at the Himalayas to monitor Chinese activities at the Indo-China border. Then starting from the 1980s, there have been frequent joint military activities between India and the United States. However, QUAD is the first formal organization in which India got involved with direct cooperation with the United States.
Until 1978, the relationship between India and the United States had been “rocky”. The United States openly and aggressively favored Pakistan and supported Pakistan’s claim over Kashmir. India was generally opposing America›s stands on several issues before the United Nations. When in 1977, Indians voted out Mrs. Gandhi and her party, India’s standing as a democratic country became well established. In 1977, when Nana Deshmukh, a senior leader of the Janata Party which was ruling India, came to Washington, D.C., he was staying at our home. Jimmy Carter was the President at that time. I got a call from the White House that the National Security Advisor wanted to see Deshmukh. I responded that Deshmukh’s schedule was filled, however, if the President can meet him, I may try to persuade Deshmukh to find some time. After a few minutes, the White House called again and gave the time when President Carter could squeeze in some time for the meeting with Deshmukh. I advised Lalit Man Singh, then India’s Ambassador, about this meeting and he asked me whether he could accompany Deshmukh. I told him, “That is the reason I called him, he should accompany Deshmukh.” He asked me whether I would also accompany him, I said, “No, I would not as I do not represent India and he does.” The meeting went very well. Then the relationship between the two countries started improving slowly. Despite the close association with Benazir Bhutto, President Bill Clinton visited India after visiting Pakistan. After seeing a closed society in Pakistan, he openly admired India’s free environment and press. During the Presidency of George Bush, Jr., the relationship started progressing very well and reached a new height when Donald Trump became the President.
The relationship between India and the United States continued to mature from “India is not with us” to the level of having a joint rally between the U.S. President Trump and India’s Prime Minister Modi in the U.S. (only one such rally in the U.S. history between the heads of the United States and India) which was topped with the second rally in India. These rallies are followed by the formation of QUAD by President Biden. While the relationship with India started improving, the relationship between the United States and Pakistan started deteriorating in the 1980s. In the 1950s and 1960s, Pakistanis were not required to have any visa to visit the United States. Until President Trump met with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, no Pakistani diplomat could go beyond 20 miles of its embassy in Washington, D.C. Acquiring visas for Pakistanis have become very difficult. As my Passport shows that I was born in Pakistan, I am frequently questioned at the immigration whenever I return from a foreign trip.
Before Biden got elected, there were apprehensions in India about him, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Secretary of State Blinken because of their pre-election statements expressing concerns about human rights in India, India’s abrogation of Article 370, and implementation of CAA. At that time, I wrote an article, Biden Wins, What’s There for India?” which appeared in the November 21, 2020 issue of the Times of India. In this article, based on my number of interactions with Biden, I pointed out his admiration and support for India. I also pointed out that due to China›s increasing military and economic powers, the Biden Administration, in the U.S.’s own interest, would get closer to India. Soon Biden formed QUAD.
Now, coming to the issue of QUAD and India, the USA is following the principle that each country places its own interest first. Without consulting India and Japan, the other members of Quad, the U.S. executed a business deal with Australia. Biden acted un-diplomatically by totally ignoring France knowing fully well about France’s ongoing deal with Australia. The United States could have involved France and given a piece of the deal to France.
India could play a key role on matters related to China and Afghanistan through QUAD and on her own. India should continue to engage directly with China and Afghanistan as these countries are situated close to it. India should also realize that in case of a war with China, neither QUAD nor other countries will intervene and provide direct help to India. The United States will be very hesitant to get involved with another war especially with a strong country like China. China, Afghanistan, and Russia should also realize that world peace would help them economically also. Nonetheless, India could become a catalyst in this matter as well.
Writer was an advisor to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Views expressed are writer’s personal.
The relationship between India and the United States continued to mature from “India is not with us” to the level of having a joint rally between the U.S. President Trump and India’s Prime Minister Modi in the U.S. (only one such rally in the U.S. history between the heads of the United States and India) which was topped with the second rally in India. These rallies are followed by the formation of QUAD by President Biden. While the relationship with India started improving, the relationship between the United States and Pakistan started deteriorating in the 1980s.
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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.
RASHTRIYA SWAYAMSEVAK SANGH: FOUR YEARS SHORT OF ITS CENTENARY
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.
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.
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.
SURGE IN TERRORISM IN J&K SHOWS PAKISTAN’S FRUSTRATION
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.
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.
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.
POLITICAL IMPLICATIONS OF LAKHIMPUR KHERI TRAGEDY
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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