At a panel discussion held recently at the Indian Social Institute (ISI) here, prominent social activists and media persons deliberated on the connect between global warming and the life patterns of rural communities.
The panelists included Bharat Dogra, Nagraj Adve,Himanshu Thakkar and Vimlendu Jha.
The discussion, "Our planet is warming up: How can rural communities cope?" was held to celebrate the 22nd Founder's Day of a Delhi- based NGO, Charkha Development Communication Network on December 7.
The day marks the birth anniversary of Sanjoy Ghose, the Founder.
Charkha seeks to give marginalised rural communities a voice to access policy makers through the media. A short video was screened, based on experiences of Charkha's rural writers reporting on environmental issues from different regions.
Attended by a diverse segment of media persons, social activists, students and NGO representatives, the panelists highlighted the disconnect between a development paradigm based on inequality and the core needs of the rural poor.
According to Bharat Dogra, climate change has only compounded this disconnect and questions of inequity in the agrarian sector need to be urgently addressed. The logic of consumerist culture was raised by Vimlendu Jha, who stated that its price is being paid by the most vulnerable -the rural and the urban poor. Instead of the poor being expected to cope they need to resist this unequal burden on them in what is being presented as the 'larger good'.
Nagraj Adve talked about the pattern of global temperatures that spikes, stagger and then plateaus. This has played havoc in the last ten years with seasonal changes and skewed quantum of rainfall, affecting cropping patterns and yields across regions.
Some changes, he said are too intense for communities to cope with, as in the Sunderbans where thousands had to flee due to soil erosion.
Himanshu Thakkar, who also steered the discussion threw light on the concept of "common but differentiated responsibility" upheld by the Government of India at international forums of climate change negotiations. By the same logic, this should extend to all segments within the country. The truth however is that most vulnerable sections are not included in the steps to strategize or plan for addressing climate change.
Sumita Ghose, President Charkha emphasized the need to engage with different sectors so that the challenge of climate change is addressed collectively.
She stressed on the need to 'join the dots' to link the diverse voices on the issue.
Charkha's ongoing work in Ladakh, a region in the eye of climate change, was highlighted at the event.
The names of the awardees of the Sanjoy Ghose Rural Reporting Award 2016-17 - Anzara Anjum Khan, Dechen Dolker and Tsewang Dolma were announced by Kiran Aggarwal, Retd (IAS), Vice President of Charkha Governing Body.
All three awardees based in Leh, Ladakh will be writing on education, health, women empowerment and climate change - during the six-month Award period. Charkha has been working in the region to build communication networks with the support of Unniti Foundation India.
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