Skip to main content

Missing holistic approach to environmental problems due to reductionist approach

By Bharat Dogra 

There is increasing concern that the world is not on track to resolve climate change as well as about a dozen or so other serious, inter-related environmental problems that threaten to disrupt the life-nurturing conditions of our planet. Corrective actions should not be delayed much longer.
Most environmental problems arise in the process of creating certain goods and services. In order to reduce or resolve these problems, we can either reduce the goods and services being produced, or else we can change the way these are produced and distributed, or we can attempt both.
To take the former task first, it is obvious that a very large share of the goods and services that are produced do not have have any relation to the welfare of either human beings, or of other forms of life. These include highly harmful goods (such as all weapons and ammunition, many hazardous chemicals and gadgets, many kinds of intoxicants etc.) and highly wasteful goods (such as many high luxury products and buildings, excessively processed and packaged food, many kinds of animal-based foods etc.).
While the production of these goods and services was always undesirable, as long as environmental problems were not life-threatening, this was considered tolerable. But now that climate change and about a dozen environmental problems are at a stage where they threaten life-nurturing conditions of our planet, we should not delay any further the reduction of harmful and wasteful products. In this task we face the opposition, among others, of powerful business interests which needs to be overcome.
Possibilities of reduction of such harmful and wasteful products increase greatly with various people’s campaigns which must be an integral part of such efforts. People’s movements for protecting environment and health or for bringing peace can be very helpful in this. Educational institutions can contribute much to this, as also various community and spiritual organizations. Government policies including fiscal policies can play a very helpful role too.
At the same time, there are many goods and services which meet basic needs of poorer people which need to be increased. So this justice based concern should be added to environmental concerns. Hence on balance we must achieve such a significant reduction of harmful and wasteful products and services that even after accounting for the increase of some essential goods and services for the poorer sections, we still achieve a significant net reduction.
This is possible, and will be further helped by voluntary restraints on increase of population, facilitated by reduction of poverty, improvement of gender equality and better availability of education, health services and safe means of contraception, as well as public campaigns.
Apart from achieving a significant reduction of harmful and wasteful goods and services, the other possibility is of changing the methods of production, distribution and trade of most goods and services in such ways that the environmental burden is much reduced. The one method most discussed and accepted is that of replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy. While this is obviously very important, we also need to look at various other possibilities such as re-organizing the food and farming system in such a way that small farmers following ecologically protective methods become the base for this and most food is produced nearer to the place of consumption. Increasing emphasis on self-reliant rural communities can be another important component of this change.
Most of these changes are such that these will also advance the interests of justice, equality, sustainable livelihoods, peace, disarmament, biodiversity and animal welfare. In this framework, environment protection is not seen as a burden but as an arena of most creative and satisfying pursuits for human beings, well integrated with other highly desirable objectives.
This also calls for increasing cooperation among all human beings and among various countries, as well as for more and better planning. To give an example, as emphasized by this writer for several years, the world needs model-building to integrate the task/objective of reducing GHG emissions to the desirable extent with meeting the basic needs of all people of world. If such a task is attempted, it will bring out clearly how the challenge of checking climate change is very closely related also to equality, peace and disarmament.
However such a highly integrated and holistic approach to resolving environmental problems has been largely missing so far and it is very important to quickly move towards this, giving up reductionist and isolationist approaches, which cannot go very far on their own.
The writer is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include ‘Planet in Peril’, ‘Protecting Earth for Children', ‘Earth without Borders' and ‘A Day in 2071’



Crucial to revisit roots, embrace core Hindu principles: love, compassion, harmony

A note on religious leaders'  Satya Dharam Samvad in Haridwar: *** In a groundbreaking gathering, more than 25 religious leaders including Swamis, Acharyas, Pujaris, Gurus, and Sadhvis from all over India convened to discuss the tenets of Hinduism on September 16th, 2023, in Haridwar, to discuss and discern the current trajectory of Hinduism. This brand new initiative, the Satya Dharam Samvad, was inspired to organize its first assembly in response to the December 2021 Dharma Sansad, where hate speech and calls for violence against the Muslim community contravened the essential principles of Hinduism. Religion is being used to incite riots among Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jains, etc. In the face of such hatred, Swami Raghavendra felt that something meaningful should be done in the present climate. 

Maoist tendency of mechanically adhering to Chinese path ignores Indian conditions

By Harsh Thakor  The C.P.I. (Maoist) formed in 2004 with merger of the C.P.I. (M.L) Peoples War and the Maoist Communist Centre has demonstrated courage in intensity compared to any great revolutionary struggle in the history of the world. It leads the largest armed movement of a Peoples Guerrilla Army in the world today and proved themselves as the true torch bearers of the Indian Communist movement.

Significant step towards empowering and particularly engaging with informal workers

ActionAid note on drive to empower informal sector workers Odisha with the support of District Labour Department: *** The Odisha Unorganised Workers Social Security Board (OUWSSB) facilitated an Unorganized Workers Awareness Camp at the Red Cross Bhawan in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. The event took place in collaboration with the District Labour Department at Khordha, Centre for Child and Women Development and ActionAid Association. This informative event aimed at empowering informal sector workers by disseminating crucial information regarding their eligibility for various social security schemes provided by the Government of Odisha.

We need to resurrect Neruda, give birth to poets of his kind amidst neofascist rampage

By Harsh Thakor  On 23rd September we commemorate the 50th death anniversary of Pablo Neruda, whose contribution to revolutionary poetry was path breaking. Pablo Neruda’s poetry manifested the spiritual essence of revolutionary poetry and how poetry was a weapon for a revolutionary struggle. The story of his life illustrated the spiritual transformation undergone a human being to transform him into a revolutionary and how environment shapes the lie of revolutionary.

Dev Anand ably acted as westernised, urban educated, modern hero, as also anti-hero

By Harsh Thakor  On September 26th we celebrated the birth centenary of legendary actor Dev Anand. Dev Saab carved out a new epoch or made a path breaking contribution in portraying romanticism and action in Bollywood cinema, giving his style or mannerisms a new colour. Arguably no Bollywood star manifested glamour in such a dignified or serene manner or struck the core of an audience’s soul in romantic melodies. Possibly we missed this evergreen star being cast in a Hollywood film. Dev Anand is like an inextinguishable soul of Bollywood. Although not as artistic or intense as Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor or Ashok Kumar ,Dev Anand surpassed them all for liveliness or flamboyance, with his performances radiating g energy on the screen, in realms rarely transcended. In his own right, Dev Saab, was a craftsman, like his classical contemporaries, with a characteristic composure. Perhaps never was a Bollywood star so suave, bubbling or charming as Dev Anand, who often looked like an Indian versi

Grassroots NGO enlightens people of Kupwara with intricacies of Right to Information

J&K RTI Foundation and Founder Civil Rights Movement Kupwara note on how RTI Pend is empowering Kupwara with insights on Right to Information Act: *** RTI Pend, the grassroots initiative aimed at democratizing access to information, hosted its 2nd event in Kupwara. On the request of the Civil Rights Movement Kupwara, this event was tailored to enlighten the people of Kupwara with the intricacies of the Right to Information Act, presented in their local language and dialects. The event successfully bridged both offline and online participation, addressing queries on the spot and offering applicants practical solutions.

Abrogation of Art 370: Increasing alienation, relentless repression, simmering conflict

One year after the abrogation by the Central Government of Art. 370 in Kashmir, what is the situation in the Valley. Have the promises of peace, normalcy and development been realised? What is the current status in the Valley? Here is a detailed note by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties , “Jammu & Kashmir: One Year after Abrogation of Art. 370: Increasing Alienation, Relentless Repression, Simmering Conflict”:

Agro-biodiversity through seed identification, conservation, replication, crop selection

By Kuntal Mukherjee, Basant Yadav, Shivnath Yadav* This article is mainly based on a journey of the three of us since 2010 based on field experience, study of different articles, reflective journeys with local community based organisations, villagers and practitioners in Chhattisgarh. The slow growth of Agriculture in India with near stagnation in productivity since mid ‘80s in contrast to the remarkable growth during the green revolution period has come to the front as a great concern. In post WTO era Indian Agriculture has been witnessing structural changes, uncontrolled influx of agriculture goods and commodities from foreign countries due to open market nature. The gradual reduction in subsidies from internal production leads to increasing cost of production of agriculture produces at the farm gate. It causes gradual decrease in internal production as well as productivity and posing threats to small farm and stakeholders. 

Indian youth can choose political career which offers tremendous opportunities

By Sudhansu R Das  The Indian political sector is growing faster than any other sector in the world. This sector has been fully liberalised. Political career in India is open to any age group starting from 25 plus to 90 plus; people with any educational background, even an illiterate person can contest election in India. An old man or woman with multiple organ failure can become leader of a political party; they can control party workers from the hospital bed also. Social status, physical and mental ability seldom stand in the way of a political leader. Advanced age is not an issue which can be reversed with effortless ease. 

Commodification of road accident deaths: The hidden health hazard of motonormativity

By Chandra Vikash*  Jahnavi Kandula, an Indian student from Andhra Pradesh, studying in America was killed in a road accident by a police motor car in January 2023. Now, 8 months after the accident, a bodycam video of Daniel Orderer, who is the vice president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, has gone viral on social media. He was laughing at her death and saying that “she was 26 years old, anyway… she had limited value… just give her $11,000 (ie Rs 9.13 lakh)”.