Poverty and Class analysis with reference to 2014-2018 BJP rule (Part on Pollution)

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Wake Up India: Essays for Our Times- Chapter 2 

 This whole second book of mine is of course on voting out the BJP in 2019 and giving the Congress the next chance because that is how democracy should work and a large nation like India should have at least four major national parties and give them turns so that they are forced to be answerable to the people and not vice versa. Both BJP and Congress are not good enough due to one’s slant towards a religion and 3 castes in terms of its membership and the other’s towards dynasty and resting on past laurels, but a really democratic party is not yet there and the Left is too weak in India as of now.


There is also a fundamental battle going on as to India’s identity as a nation. Are we going to be a modern democratic one or a Hindu one ruled by the Brahmins, Kshatriyas and the Vaishyas, in that order? Are we going to stick to 1947 and the Constitution made then, (its thrust to equality and equity, and with its ongoing amendments) or are we going to speak of unreal fantasies like Akhand Bharat, Ram Rajya and things like that that uphold varna and jati concepts and want to entrench casteism?


For me, there is no doubt. I prefer the push to total democracy, and would even prefer Vidal’s ‘functional anarchy’ and Naipaul’s ‘India: A 1000 Mutinies Now’ to BJP rule.Why I do not subscribe to American ideas of democracy that are racist and neo imperialistc and neo colonial or those of UK that were racist, colonial and imperial or of Saudi Arabia is the latter two are not democratic enough and the former is too theocentric, at least as of now, but still all three are better places, though America and UK are regressing, while Saudi is progressing, than India seems to be becoming, one that is rapidly regressing sociologically, especially, whereas earlier it was not as bad as these places.


This chapter being on poverty and class and my breaking up the elements of how poverty is studied let me explain how badly the Congress has done their job and how the BJP has deepened and worsened it by not bothering at all about these major issues and allowing people instead into going off on wild goose chases that have wrecked the country presently into divides of race, religion, caste, class, gender, etc., following an older outdated model of existence that has to be jettisoned if we are to progress sociologically.


Let me study the issues broken down by me into mini issues one by one.


The first is air or the problem of pollution. When God made air he made it free and available to all but it was also pure and good for breathing. In the picture I have posted of a definitive study in 2016 you can see where the good countries stand and where India stands. In the worst ten. The salient point being that despite all BJP tried to do from 2014, in 2016, after two years, there has been no change in the international study to our pollution records. Who is responsible – if not the Congress first and now the BJP – of total negligence. If the Congress led us to this, the BJP have totally ignored it.


“There are many ways to measure air pollution, but a key indicator is called “PM 2.5” — one of the most harmful classes of airborne pollutants.


The “PM” stands for “particulate matter,” and the “2.5” stands for 2.5 microns in diameter or smaller — roughly the size of a single bacterium. Such pollution, as Business Insider’s Lydia Ramsey explained in 2016, “is especially dangerous because it can get lodged in the lungs and cause long-term health problems like asthma and chronic lung disease.”


When PM 2.5 levels go above roughly 35 micrograms per cubic meter of air, it can become a major health problem. The WHO recommends keeping PM 2.5 levels to about 10 micrograms per cubic meter.


While Chinese cities have recently hit more than 500 micrograms of PM 2.5 per cubic meter, Saudi Arabia, on a per-country average, has the most toxic air in the world.”



What has the BJP done to deal with this problem? Now we come to the crux of the issue which is the same as that of Congress – much done on paper by both in terms of writing down what has to be done and passing laws which I could prove through documents from both pre 2014 and post 2014 and nothing in implementation as meanwhile they are both busy chasing shadows in the wind and the night.


Who should I blame for this? The Congress or BJP? I actually blame Indians. As long as the main silly bone of contention for Indians is religion, in the Indian case being Hinduism and its war with primarily Islam, nothing will progress. What we need is not a new or old party in the centre in terms of focus but a new mindset for the Indian people who have to understand that India matters as much as their families and learn not to see a difference between the personal and the official and the private and the public spheres of national activity. This is nation building to build this mindset and it cannot be built by the RSS as that is rejected by those of other cultures and religions and castes and tribes as alien to their way of thinking, just as the RSS itself rejects and indicts or implies and implicates the other cultures etc., as alien and not indigenous falsely.


What am I indicting the BJP for? My indictment of them is the same as that of theirs of the Congress. Non-performance. And I can consistently prove it as the studies from abroad show we have not improved in the last four years but keep on sliding down the same as when the Congress was ruling as the people only want some kind of emotional satisfaction and not any real change and BJP is happy to pretend to give them the former which at least Congress did not to the same extent, as that is not the answer or solution.


In 2017 UN seeing the gravity of the threat of pollution brought out a report Towards a Pollution Free Planet.


“Outlining the negative impacts pollution has especially on the poor and the vulnerable and its direct threat to human rights; limited responses by governments, business and citizens to existing pollution; and the challenges of the current actions, the report suggests five overarching actions.


A global compact on pollution would make pollution prevention a priority for all; Environmental governance needs to be strengthened at all levels; Sustainable consumption and production, through improved resource efficiency and lifestyle changes, should be promoted; waste reduction and management must be prioritized; Investment in cleaner production and consumption will help to counter pollution; and Multi-stakeholder partnerships and collaborations are vital for the innovation, knowledge-sharing and transdisciplinary research needed to develop technological and ecosystems- based solutions. Also proposed in the report are 50 concrete actions to curb pollution in various forms, with a call for strong high-level political commitment and engagement of local government, civil society and other stakeholders.The report stresses that although some forms of pollution have been reduced as technologies and management strategies have advanced, approximately 19 million premature deaths are estimated to occur annually as a result of the way societies use natural resources and impact the environment to support production and consumption.”


We can see that 19 million deaths is no mean or small number.


But on the electoral agenda of Scandinavian countries we would see that air pollution and treatment would be a top contender along with water as an issue for the parties to talk of while in India it is only religion, religion, religion. The smog becomes thicker. There is no accountability whichever the government and what happens in such a large country as a result is lot of paperwork and no basic results, let alone advanced ones.


We know that all this is quite beyond BJP to tackle it in all of India as they are those who are clearly bothered more and more about some parts and some people of the country. They are clearly biased towards the flawed version of a religion (Hindutva), rich Indians (class discrimination), fair Indians (colour discrimination), Aryan Indians (racial discrimination), upper caste Indians (caste discrimination), Hindi speaking and Sanskrit based Indians (linguistic chaunvinism), North Indians (regional discrimination), men who are Indians (gender and sex discrimination), violent Indians ( positive discrimination to those who are of a criminal dispostion)etc and blind Modi adherents (fascism in progress). They also have the support of a set of crazy upper caste Hindu women (anti feminists who don’t know better who are often found to be pro army and anti Muslim and anti Pakistan for reasons one can’t make out clearly).In short not pan Indian and what their concerns have to do with primary concerns like air or water one has no idea. The concerns they address if at all as I pointed out earlier is part of the superstructure and not the base and for a country who has not met the basic goals they are secondary. This is how they come across anyway to most people who don’t belong to them and their cult coteries. What all this has to do with basic needs and rights or duties and responsibilities and obligations of citizens no one knows. The solution is to bring back a UDF with the Congress heading it and hope for a concerted effort on this front so all of us don’t have to die of polluted air or are not forced to emigrate in the rising tide of cities being taken over by the diseases that are air borne due to air pollution.


The air in India is toxic. We are in the worst ten nations concerning air pollution. Is what is needed fights over religion or caste or fighting for pure air so that our children will be born without asthma and our citizens as well as our cattle and livestock and flora and fauna get a bright future down the generations?


To come back to the connection between poverty and class, after having spoken at length about what constitutes poverty according to me and how it is tied with class and then zeroing in on air as the first thing to be attended to as an issue I need to briefly end it by saying air and pollution that we face as a country is a problem that affects the poor more than it does the rich as ill health that is its consequence requires treatment and medication, often prolonged, which both need income and the poor are more the victims here than the rich, as always.


Now that the elections are approaching we see the BJP making suddenly a spurt in developmental programmes, naturally, but I doubt if they are really into the things I am speaking of like what is happening across the world or sustainable development or UN studies and the document of 2017 or anything unless of course they read it and steal it from my notes. But Kejriwal of AAP is aware, though he has not made any headway in it which is to his discredit, actually. Most politicians in India, irrespective of party, when we hear them talk, speak like illiterates on media, showing no awareness of the issues that really matter.


Dr A.V. Koshy is an established author and writer who is a poet, critic and artist. He has a doctorate in Samuel Beckett’s Poems in English from the University of Kerala, now published. He has co-authored and published a monograph of essays called Wrighteings: In Media Res and has several, published research papers to his credit. His greatest desire is to build a village for people having autism where all their needs are met. He runs an NGO called “Autism for Help Village Project” with his wife for this dream to come true. He has fourteen other books out now as fiction writer, literary critic, poet, academician, literary theoretician, essayist, editor, anthologist, co -editor, co-author and co-contributor. His latest and perhaps best book is a collection of short stories Scream and Other Urbane Legends.

© Koshy AV



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