Caste and Climate Justice


Uday Kukde

Uday KukdeMany international environmental and climate change organisations like The Climate Reality Project, Greenpeace, Fridays for Future, WWF are doing a good job by raising the issue of climate justice. Climate Justice is one of the main issues we should talk about while advocating the climate change movement. These organisations also work through various branches all over the world and raise the issue of the century through their work.

When we look at the daughter branches of these organisations in India, we can clearly observe that they are not at all concerned about climate justice and other values that their parent organizations stand for. India is perceived as a poor country by the developed western countries, but when we study the social fabric of Indian society, we can hardly ignore caste. The role played by caste in every resistance movement covered by the mainstream media in India should be taken note of.

The caste system is ubiquitously present in every walk of life. The resources in India are concentrated in the hands of so-called upper castes, who comprise only about 15% of the total population of India. 85% of the people, the majority, are at the forefront of receiving the wrath of climate change. People from this majority happen to be working in agricultural fields, factories, sanitation and other low paying jobs and where the security of their lives is not even guaranteed by the state and its various organs, forget about their employers.

Many of these international organisations include people of colour, racial and ethnic minorities and other oppressed groups in decision making, policy formulation and provide platform to them for making their voices clear and loud. But, as far as I know, their Indian branches have nothing to do with securing climate justice for marginalized communities. The people from the 85% of majority are rarely represented in Indian environmental movement. The whole narrative is appropriated by the upper castes who are already living a life detrimental to the very own existence of this Earth. These Indian branches of international organisations lack the spirit of their parent organisations in letter and spirit. Their environmentalism is limited only to planting saplings, solar energy, E-Vehicles and saving some indigenous species of a plant or animal, here and there.

All the funds that these Indian branches of climate and environmental organisations receive from their parent international organisations go into the pockets of these upper caste minorities. Environmentalism in India is like a weekend getaway for the people living in cities. They go to some beach or a river or a small hill in their vicinity on weekends for a clean-up drive. I think they do this to find a cure for their guilt of robbing this planet of its beauty and dignity. When it comes to treating the people doing the job of cleaning their houses and the roads and public spaces on a daily basis, they not only lack empathy for them as fellow human beings but treat them with disgrace.

After the industrial revolution, Indian businessmen belonging to the so-called upper castes encashed the benefits of mechanised production processes and contributed neck to neck in making this planet a living hell for the marginalised people, along with the business owners from western countries. The profits from these Indian businesses filled the coffers of the people belonging to the upper castes. And now these people who have become so powerful and arrogant try to hide behind the image of India as a third world country with such low emissions per capita. The upper caste academia represents the majority Indian public on the international environmental stage without the latter's opinion being heard and ruling them with alien international laws. Misappropriation, low representation and ignorance of the needs of Bahujans in environmental movement caused Environmentalism in India to remain a business run for people in the cities as a pastime, making the Environmentalist movement in India a big farce.



 Uday Kukde completed Post-graduation in Environmental Sciences. He Studied mathematics during graduation from Fergusson College Pune.

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