Shyam Sundar Jyani, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, at Bikaner’s Government Dungar College, has been instrumental in increasing the green cover in arid Rajasthan through community participation in plantation drives. On World Environment Day, he outlines the steps to improve environmental sensitivity for achieving climate empowerment:
Environmental protection lies before us as a big challenge in the era of global warming and the resulting climate change. It is difficult to face this challenge without environmental sensitivity. The killing of a pregnant elephant in Kerala highlights the fact that hundred percent literacy has no qualitative relationship with environmental sensitivity. Through decades of political and administrative debate, every solution to environmental problems acquires a technological priority, even though the problem is social.
Since society is not a representative unit in itself, but it produces representative units for different areas or facets of itself, the universal social solution to global problems like climate change are out of the realm of thoughts.
But the big question is how to find an inclusive path of climate empowerment in this era of neo-liberalism. In the last fifty years, the debate on climate change has steadily strengthened its place in our academic and political arena but it has failed to generate a sense of environmental responsibility. There are many reasons for this failure. But as a process, it can be argued that in these fifty years our emphasis has been mainly focused on political, technical and administrative solutions.
As a supreme global body of environmental protection, the entire exercise of the United Nations largely circles around political factors. The United Nations not only advocates community participation worldwide, but also connects the community with conservation activities.
World Environment Day is also called People’s Day because it is a global campaign to make the community environmentally sensitive. If seen from this point of view, then it is a chance to talk about environmental sensitivities but it needs to be freed from the impression of political-administrative-economic captivity.
If we talk in the context of India itself, then despite all the claims of education and literacy growth, we have failed to make our people environmentally empathetic.
In such a situation, how is green socialization of human beings possible? Like education, the religious aspect of environmental discourse is also hypocritical because the religion of today is a tool in the hands of the market, which is saving its empire with the help of hypocrisy.
Even today, there are ethnic communities around the world who are climate empowered because of their environment-sensitive traditions. This is the only reason why environmental resilience in their natural environment remains intact, whereas the rest of the world’s environmental discourse has neither a thread nor environmental sensibility.
Ironically, market ideology has also started heating the earth under the feet of these ethnic communities. There is an urgent need for action before it hurls their feet in the storm of change.
Marginalized activists who have been working at the grassroots level for environmental protection must be recognised as celebrities by the media and the rest of the society, because even if celebrity culture is the essential evil of public discourse, it also works as trend setters in society. The internalization of green sentiments is possible only through simultaneous participation.
The idea of family forest is an inclusive way to develop climate change resilience.
It is a societal process of eco-civilisation. By developing institutional fruit forests through familial forestry in educational institutions, the experimental aspect of environmental education is being linked to the process of learning, which has resulted in an increase in the forest area as well.
The present balance in the ecosystem is fractured by deforestation and degradation of forests. Community based plantation drives never produce any negative impact because involving the community provides diverse inputs and leads to climate empowerment.