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

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The Alienation and Commodification of Nature: Fighting the Fallacious Fetishism of Contemporary Frameworks through a Revolutionary Transition

With the frantically incessant economic production activity that apparently projects no end, the human-nature relationship seems to have come full circle. As man agonises being manacled by natural constraints, in the form of planetary ecological crises, he stands to be the alleged culprit. For analytical coherence, this paper is divided into four sections. The first section elucidates, through a Marxist perspective of ecology, how the unheeded capitalistic socio-economic course of human action has engendered the alienation of nature itself, which in turn is posing fatal afflictions, conspicuous through compelling phenomena like climate change. Following it is a discussion on the repercussions of commodification of nature. The third section brings out the dichotomous reasoning evident in redundant environmental policy frameworks and paradigms in India. Accentuating the dialectical relationship between sociology and ecology, it explicates, in advocacy for the contemporary “have-nots,” the need to constantly heed the multidimensionality of sustainability, also discernible in the Sustainable Development Goals. On these lines, finally, the course of a “revolutionary transition,” to reinstate a progressive human-nature nexus, is expounded. As a way forward, the paper suggests eschewing the repudiation and outright denial of the prevailing ‘problem of production’ and the need for a sagacious dialogue, in order to mount radical action in response to the looming environmental threats.

Sustainable Development Goals

The article notes that the north-eastern states have taken many initiatives to implement and localise the Sustainable Development Goals. But achieving the targets require a multipronged approach, concerted and coordinated efforts, and focus on sectors where the region has inherent advantages. Unfortunately, the pandemic has cast some doubts on the feasibility of achieving the goals as per the original timelines.

Gender Budgeting for Sustainable Development in India

The fifth Sustainable Development Goal mandates that India close its gender gap by 2030. An evaluation of gender budgeting as a whole and a diverse range of gender-sensitive interventions under the same (2005–06 to 2020–21) reveals severe shortcomings. First, a low and declining trend has been found in the shares of gender budgeting to total government expenditure, and women-specific schemes to total funds for gender budgeting. Second, the allocation of total funds for various schemes is either stagnating or declining, with some having received no funds over the last two consecutive years. Problems of design too persist, all contributing to a significant gender gap for Indian women vis-à-vis their male counterparts.

Photo Essay: A Study of Contrasts in Bengaluru’s ‘High-tech’ Zone

Bengaluru has earned the moniker of “Silicon Valley of India,” but this glosses over a reality that is defined by poor infrastructure, air and water pollution, and unmanaged waste.

Remembering Martin Khor: Journalist, Lawyer, and Climate Activist

Khor contributed greatly to the development discourse of the global South. He also wrote extensively for the Economic & Political Weekly, particularly on climate change.

Subsidy and Efficiency of Groundwater Use and Power Consumption in Haryana

High power subsidy, along with assured minimum support price and procurement by public agencies, has changed the cropping pattern in favour of water-intensive crops, especially paddy, in Haryana and Punjab. This has placed groundwater resources under severe stress and also increased the demand for energy for extraction of water. The continuation of high levels of power subsidy is not allowing crop diversification programmes to take off. It is argued that there is a need for redesigning this subsidy in such a way so as to encourage a sustainable cropping pattern suited to the agroclimatic conditions in the region, and save both water and energy.

Smart Cities Need Smart Villages

The current Smart Cities Mission needs to be linked to India’s villages. The lacuna in the current mission mandate can be filled by directly addressing the opportunities provided by renewable off-grid production to increase employment and diversification in the rural economy, with a particular focus on India’s rural youth.

Sustainable Development as Environmental Justice

The principle of sustainable development has evolved to occupy centrality in environmental jurisprudence in India. The Supreme Court has reiterated its importance in the country's environmental legal regime. However, the jurisprudence has been criticised for framing it as a zero sum game where economic development has been repeatedly used as a justification to trump environmental violations, and therefore, rendering it as only declaratory and lacking in content and sufficient teeth to shape public action. But this has compelled policy and statutory recognition of the principle of sustainable development. The National Green Tribunal Act of 2010 recognises it too. This statutory recognition has paved the way for a robust jurisprudence spearheaded by the NGT that has actively sought to evolve a standard of review for public actions in effectuating the principle of sustainable development and in doing so has departed from the reductionist utilitarianism that had characterised the jurisprudence of Supreme Court.

Reclaiming Nature and the Planet for All

Living Pathways: Meditations on Sustainable Cultures and Cosmologies in Asia by M Nadarajah; Penang: Areca Books, 2013; pp 184, price unstated.

The Price of Renewable Energy

State of Renewable Energy in India: A Citizen's Report by Chandra Bhushan, Nayanjyoti Goswami, Aruna Kumarankandath, Kanchan Kumar Agrawal and Joel Kumar, New Delhi: Centre for Science and Environment, 2014; pp 198, Rs 690.

Rajasthan : Stalling the March of Thar Desert

Ecological Task Forces of the Indian Army, which have made significant contributions to halting ecological degradations in several regions in the country were first set up in 1982. They probably represent the first such experiment anywhere in the world of the army taking up ecological work on a regular basis. A glimpse of the work of the Territorial Army's Eco Force in Rajasthan.

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