ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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King Canute's Land?

The absence of any engagement with climate change in the planet's biggest elections is shocking.

India starts to vote in a few days from now. Close to 81.5 crore people will be eligible to vote for the 16th Lok Sabha of this democratic republic. The election campaign started many months back, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) nominating Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) too emerged on the political firmament with a big-bang victory in the Delhi assembly elections and are now making their presence felt on the national stage. Between these two parties they seem to have set the political agenda for these elections. Modi himself has campaigned for, what he terms, “development” and growth, calling for the eradication of the Congress which, he argues, has blocked these through corruption. AAP too emerged out of the anti-corruption street protests and has now expanded the agenda to attack what it terms “crony capitalism” by building up a “peoples’ manifesto” through its jan sabhas.

Apart from economic issues, a host of other issues relating to caste, communalism, health, education, etc, have also been brought up in various ways by different actors. What has remained almost unspoken are environmental issues; in particular, the impact of climate change and its consequences. It has often been argued that one of the redeeming features of democracy, even when imperfect, is that it is difficult to ignore issues which have an impact on large masses of its citizens. India has been one democracy which seems to falsify this hypothesis, particularly where climate change is concerned. We are perhaps, collectively, like King Canute of old England and Denmark who thought that the rising tide could be commanded to recede by his royal order.

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