THE OTHER SIDE
In the eyes of many, teenager Greta Thunberg has done a great job along with other youngsters by staging protests and making speeches on the issue of climate change. The issue of climate change was very real even before anyone knew of Greta. However, one may agree or disagree with the manner and method of eliciting focus on the issue of climate change and also question the actual motives and credentials of those pulling the strings of such children and ‘movements’.
Watching Greta and the general public reaction reminded one of when Anna Hazare first started eliciting public focus and reactions in India. His anti-corruption movement got multitudes to join in- many of whom seemed to be those who were actually part of the problem. Those who thrived on giving and taking bribes, flouting various laws and exhibited very little of even civic sense were among those who vociferously supported the movement. There were genuine supporters too but the others seemed to be greater in numbers. The movement elicited considerable publicity but the cause was lost. Similarly in the case of Greta, the cause is genuine and requires action but as in the case of Hazare, it has elicited the ‘participation’ of many armchair activists and sloganeering supporters. While watching the numbers of youngsters and adults who congregated to protest against climate change in different cities of the world one couldn’t help but wonder. One wondered how much more effectively the problem of climate change could have been addressed if those congregating to protest on streets actually made necessary changes in their own lives and behaviour which would have a much greater effect than raising slogans and amassing in public places. One has come across many who claim to be very much concerned for the environment but continue to thrive on a lifestyle that damages the environment. They don’t care about the emission of greenhouse gases and other forms of environmental damage being caused by the ‘farming’ of about 56 billion animals per year for consumption of their flesh and other products. One cannot logically expect the whole world to turn vegetarian or vegan but if one is really concerned about the environment, one would definitely consider at least moderating or changing eating habits. A noted newspaper in England had some years ago published a series of reports including one which stated with facts and figures that the animal products industry creates more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transport sector- air, water and land combined. Check how many of those attending mass protests are shunning animal products to protect the environment. Far from making necessary changes in our lives, we haven’t even realised that even so called ‘green’ sources of energy like hydro power are not really that green because they entail irreparable damage to environmental resources and much more as in the case of the Tehri dam in Uttarakhand. While wasting electricity, does the average person claiming to be concerned about the environment actually think about the costs involved in generation of electricity? Rarely.
Since the 150th birth anniversary of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was recently commemorated, it would not be out of place to refer to how his positive influences have been selectively used. One may criticise him or appreciate him but even those who claim to like him and his principles ignore basic facts. They may like listening to his favourite bhajan but ignore the fact that it was composed by a 15 century poet- Narsinh Mehta- a devotee of lord Vishnu. So, they consider it politically correct to follow Gandhi and listen to his favourite bhajan on occasions but when it comes to lord Ram- an incarnation of lord Vishnu, that becomes a ‘controversial subject’. Also, many such people ignore how much importance Gandhi accorded to the Bhagwat Geeta.
Be it Gandhi, Hazare or Greta, their mass supporters seem to be paying lip service for appearances sake on occasions while missing the actual content of whatever is positive in their messages. Be it corruption or environmental damage- the fact is that we are the culprits. It will not do to simply blame the governments and stage protests to gain space in the media and cause more wastage of environmental and societal resources in the process. Such movements often tend to get hijacked by players with ulterior motives and the real issue is put on the back-burner. Notice how Greta and the protests gain more focus than climate change, our role in it and what we have to do to address it effectively. Appreciate Gandhi or Greta as you wish but instead of being just one of the illogical supporters, take action to actually address the issue. The environment will not be protected and improved as much by protests as it will be by changes brought about by concerned people in their own lives. When masses make changes in their own lives, the powers that be have no other sensible choice but to do the needful. However, one does wonder whether those more interested more in expressing their illogical opinions really have it in them to be the change they want in the world.
Saturday, 05 October 2019 | Paritosh Kimothi
Author: Paritosh kimothiParitosh Kimothi is the Deputy News Editor in the Dehradun edition.
Paritosh Kimothi is the Deputy News Editor in the Dehradun edition.
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