The Larger And Sinister Canvas Of ‘Woke’ Environmentalists Who Support Stubble-Burning

by Aravindan Neelakandan - Feb 16, 2021 09:50 AM +05:30 IST
The Larger And Sinister Canvas Of ‘Woke’ Environmentalists Who Support Stubble-BurningPaddy stubble burning (representative image) (NARINDER NANU/AFP/GettyImages)
  • The Indian state under Narendra Modi has honoured real ecological warriors over the past six years.

    This is besides the clean energy push that the Centre has itself undertaken.

    Today, the same administration is sought to be portrayed as a villain, and activists who support agitations in favour of stubble-burning are shown as heroes.

As the modern cliché goes, I too come from a family of agriculturists.

My grandparents were farmers. My father had worked in the farm. So had I.

I have transplanted seedlings from the nursery to the field. I have done weeding.

More importantly, for more than a decade, I had worked in sustainable agriculture. I have prepared cattle-based bio-formulations; worked on biogas slurry and documented how biogas slurry can be used to increase production not just in terms of yield but also in terms of biomass.

But I would not dare call myself an environmentalist. No.

I know what that term means and I know what it takes to live that term.

At Vivekananda Kendra where I worked, I have seen such people who live that term and they never go about brandishing it.

They are the proverbial salt of the earth and they do not even know that they are the salt of the earth.

But here we have 22-year-olds who proclaim themselves as ‘environmentalists’ and the world buys it.

Is the media that gullible and that eco-illiterate? Even the international media?

No. The reason these ‘woke’/pseudo/cyber environmentalists are raising their hoods is not because the media is gullible, but because they take their readers to be gullible. They think they can bamboozle their readers with their brand-names.

And behind this is a larger, darker worldview.

Do unto those who got liberated from you what you do not want others do unto you.

This is the golden rule of deep colonialism of the West. Whether it is historiography, race, battling hate, democracy, religion or environmentalism, humanitarian services — anything, this rule holds.

Consider environmentalism.

Already, Indian social media is discovering something. It has been pointed out that the true environmental activists of India do not speak convent educated-English and tweet their activism, but they live their ecological values.

The "jet-set" environmental activists who have made environmental causes into fashion statements to garner limelight rather than live a life of ecological values are the ones who make much noise.

Their worldview is always conflict oriented. Their environmentalism has achieved its goals with body-counts of misled protestors on the streets.

In the West, it is difficult, at least it was till a few years ago, to get the label of "environmental activist".

In India, every environmental activist projected through an elitist media is exactly that — the ones who talk in choked melodramatic voices in international seminars against India are the ones who shamelessly build their bungalows in reserved forest areas.

Today, those who demanded threateningly, that stubble burning be allowed, are projected as "environmentalists" and the agitation that demanded that is marketed in the international political-activist arena as one that has battling climate change on its agenda.

Now, remember that for all the seemingly good bonhomie Modi had going with Trump, in the international politics of climate change, Modi’s India stood up against Trump’s United States, just as it stood up against the Chinese bully on the Line of Actual Control.

India spearheaded the international solar alliance even as the US President overtly expressed his dismay at India’s stand on climate issues.

Back home, Modi democratised, in an unprecedented manner, the way Padma awards are given.

Since 2014, there has been a focus on recognising and honouring the real contributors to the environment. This, in a system that was once occupied only by the convent-educated, English-speaking elite who could copy the Western models and make statements based on what was fashionable in Western circuits.

Take Tulasi Gowda, a woman from the forest community of Karnataka, known as the 'Encyclopedia of the forest', for her remarkable knowledge of forest flora, including medicinal ones.

Or, the 106-year-old Saalumarada Thimmakka called 'Vriksha Mathe' or the mother of trees, because she had planted 8,000 trees, including 400 banyan trees.

Or, Daripalli Ramaiah, also known as Vanajeevi — 'forest being' — for having planted more than 100,000 trees through a social forestry movement.

Disha Ravi and activists like her who fight for stubble-burning, and middlemen in agro-marketing, and mostly rich farmers who have scant regard for ground water depletion and who filled the soil of Punjab with pesticides and removed the micro-nutrients with their excessive use of urea, are today hailed by the mainstream media as climate warriors.

And Modi, who, for the first time, introduced a soil health card system, and who has been battling for increasing the green energy infrastructure of the nation, is portrayed as an anti-green politician.

It does not end with environmentalism.

Consider humanitarianism.

The novel City of Joy was written by Dominique Lapierre in 1985 and was filmed in 1992.

The novel is an exercise in poverty porn and Christianity’s burden.

The people of Indian slums struggle. Indian upper class and caste care not. The Indian State is power hungry. Indian service missions are ruthless exploiters.

Even the monks of Sri Ramakrishna Mission are suggested in the novel as pimps smuggling children to Mumbai's red light area in the aftermath of a cyclone with police help.

In 2008, Lapierre, a Catholic close to Teresa of Calcutta, was awarded Padma Vibhushan by the UPA government.

India, in this narrative, is inherently deficient of humanitarian service. The 'light' of Christianity and the 'charity' of missionaries funded by Western capitalists alone can, save, trigger humanitarianism!

And see how Modi is changing this with his so-called vaccine diplomacy.

It is not about Modi. It is not about diplomacy. In the larger canvas, see how India’s image, Hindu Dharma’s image, is changing.

This government has created an existential crisis for the entrenched vested interests. They are now fighting back.

This is the Empire Strikes Back moment. But so far, Modi has been check-mating them in every domain. May the Force be with him.

Aravindan is a contributing editor at Swarajya.

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