An approach which picked pace in the late 20th century Europe, Green Politics, or Ecopolitics, advocates that sustainable development, ecological balance, among other things, must be a political party’s top priority while devising policies.
India is evolving in every subsequent five-year-plan. Today, we are experiencing the 17th Lok Sabha, and we have come a long way from the political, environmental, social, and economic practices that were used when India had just gotten her independence. We have seen growth and increase in per capita income, industry, trade, living standards and other areas.
This has come at a cost, most of which has been paid by the environment. It is true that at the time of independence, we were faced with more pressing concerns like poverty, food security, and unemployment, hence it is a no brainer that most of the policies formulated by the Government were more focussed on the above mentioned issues and not on the sustainability of these policies with the environment.
It is notable that India, a country having over 2500 political parties, have only a few, five of which we could find, Green Political Parties. Many political parties with varied ideologies present people with a manifesto or a grand narrative about the policies they will implement if they get voted to power, but all of them have given a low space to sustainable development.
On the pretext of global climate meet, when we see people, even children like Greta Thunberg, take up the cause of climate change, it becomes imperative for a country of more than 1.3 billion people to have a Government, or at least a national party, which is critical towards environment while framing policies.
Most of us might think that India, where a substantial size of the population lives below poverty line, has other more important areas to think about rather than the issue of environment degradation. Our country has issues like inequality, gender discrimination, heath, and education, which need more attention than the issue of environment.
Moreover, on the face of it, all the above issues seem to be contradictory with environment, but in reality they are rather go hand-in-hand.
- Those in poverty have a higher chance of experiencing ill effects of climate change due to increased exposure & vulnerability. Climate change can lead to more droughts, famines, and various weather anomalies which are bound to impact the vast agrarian population of India, and push them further into traps of poverty and inequality.
- Our consumerist approach towards environment has also consequences on gender equality as has been well documented in the field of eco-feminism.
- A degraded and polluted environment is also an encroachment on our fundamental right i.e. Right to Life which comes under Article 21 of the Constitution.
- Climate change and environmental pollution will also affect the health of the citizens which will increase the number of sick days, and thereby resulting in absenteeism from school colleges and work places. Therefore, having a negative impact on education and economy.
This list of such kind of inter-linkages are non-exhaustive, unlike our fossil fuels!
What the need of the hour is a Green Party which can give us a direction and lay down a path for policies which are in harmony with the nature. Even if not voted to power, a green party can at least bring all these issues to the forefront in state and national politics. They can take a cue from Arne Næss philosophy of deep ecology. Rather than focussing on divisive politics, we need to buck this trend and work towards the politics of inclusion with the environment and with our fellow beings.
Being one of the top greenhouse gas emitter, India is committed to implement sustainable ways to generate energy and tackle climate change. The current union government, backed by several state governments, is working to make India greener and healthier, but do you think that it is time to invest more into Green Politics?