Climate Change is becoming a common topic in India these days. Whether it’s one of India’ leading actors becoming the spokesperson of an Earth Hour campaign or celebrities coming together for a greenfest on a 24 hour ‘Greenathon ’ or businesses cashing in on this green fever, it seems everyone is going green. Well, almost. These climate change campaigns have been aimed mainly at a certain section of society, one that will perhaps be less affected by climate change than the poor. As the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People argued recently, the lack of debate and public participation on India’s climate change policy is one of the reasons the plan will “work only to the advantage of the already privileged elite”.
These same privileged elites have also been accused of not taking any interest in the electoral process in the past. This time round, visible election campaigns aimed at the young and so called apathetic youths and elites have marked the beginning of 2009. And since this is an election year, the big debates doing the rounds are on food, shelter and power. Despite the direct link between these issues and the environment, there has been little debate on the latter.
As hinted at in an earlier post , there haven’t been many public awareness campaigns emanating from the Government. Climate change and environmentalism would be a great way of introducing environmental debate into the mainstream and of bringing the so called elites back into the electoral debate, serving both the environment and those concerned with elections. And hopefully introducing the notion of public debate to a very public problem: climate change. As someone recently told me, we need to get everyone talking about it – not just the English speaking minority, but also the larger vernacular population – environmental consciousness must permeate through society and the different sections must engage together for there to be a real debate.