What does the 24 September – Global Climate Strike Mean to Farmers, Workers & Peasants of India 

climate strike

The fridays for future organisation that cropped up from worldwide student protest launch first by a lone Swedish girl student of Class IX, Greta Thunberg starting from August-September 2018, has called for a Global Climate Strike on coming Friday, September 24, 2021. For millions of Farmers and Farm labourers in India who are in the 10-month continuing protest sit-in around Delhi Border points like Gazipur, Tikri, Singhu etc, and all activists of Workers & Peasants movements there is an imperative question: ‘What does the 24 September Global Climate Strike Means to Farmers, Workers & Peasants of India?’ Or, in other words, ‘What will be the stance of the Farmers, Workers & Peasants of India regarding this 24 September Global Climate Strike?’

Now, we know what happened to Ms Disha Ravi, the 21-year-old activist of Fridays for Future of Bangalore last winter. The now famous Swedish girl climate activist Greta Thunberg started an awareness-cum-support drive defending the ongoing farmers protest in India from February 4 this year to get the attention of many through twitter. As a result, one by one, many western celebrities came out in support of the ongoing Indian Farmers Movement. The present government of India, which promulgated the Farm laws to please the foreign and native big capitalist corporate houses, became furious. When the Indian chapters of Fridays for Future started movement in support of the ongoing farmers movement, a team of Delhi Police went to Bangalore and took Disha Ravi from her residence in Bangalore to Delhi for ‘interrogation’, kept her in police lock-up for 5 days and then in jail for 5 days, charging her of several ‘crimes’ including ‘sedition’! Court let her go home in exchange of bail though police could not provide any proof whatsoever within 10 days, also no chargesheet in months, till now. That those daughters came out in support of us is really courageous of them, but will the workers and peasants support the strike-call given by them out of gratitude? No, workers and peasants have their stories to tell to this courageous and thoughtful next generation, and explain their own visions as to why we should all strike hard against this ‘system’, why to #UprootTheSystem.

We know that this <fridays for future> organisation sprouted from the lone ‘strike’ of the Swedish girl Greta, 15-year-old the then, who more fore than a month did not attend school during the Swedish Parliamentary Election 2018, three years back, getting shocked to find nobody talking about disasters unfolding from Climate Change including the severe and unprecedentedly hot summer in Sweden that year. And after the election was over on 09-09-2018, every Friday she took 3-hours away from school and sat in front of Swedish Parliament demanding immediate action against climate change.

Not only <fridays for future> but also the mainstream media and many influential persons including scientists and economists give most importance only to this climate change, and therefore also on ‘green technologies’, ‘carbon trade’, ‘carbon tax’, ‘low carbon lifestyle’ and so on, as if other dangers arising from degradation of Nature are less significant. But peasants and workers know it from their life experience that this is not the case; and they suffered and also understood a little, what changes were going on even before 1992 Rio Meet that brought Climate Change agenda to foreground.

Toiling people in the villages where ‘Green Revolution’ started earlier, like states of Punjab, Haryana, etc, and districts of some states, like some rice, potato, vegetable, poultry, fish etc food growing districts of south West Bengal, saw the menacing sides of Green Revolution earlier. Some threatening effects, only some, that became visible were, for example:

  1. Excessive dependence on Chemical companies and their sales networks for fertilisers, insecticides, weedicides, and etc which were always becoming costlier;
  2. These chemicals killed the insects, frogs, earthworms etc which were very beneficial for agriculture and society, including pollinating insets like bees; whereas, it could not put an end to harmful insects and weeds;
  3. No frogs and other small water lifeforms meant more mosquitoes etc and more diseases that were not much there in the villages all through the year previously;
  4. Humans and all lifeforms got poisoned due to the persistent organic pollutants (POP), to the extent that DDT was first found in human breast milk in Punjab before anywhere else in the world in the 1980s; this led to more deaths due to cancer etc diseases in Punjab and Haryana subsequently (there is even a Cancer Express train in Punjab);
  5. Due to non-seasonal rice varieties, usage of groundwater increased heavily (and also due to urbanisation and urban cultures in rural areas) leading to severe groundwater level fall in a big region stating from Delhi to Punjab Haryana and extending to more places and so on so forth.

We must also see other effects of random exploitation of nature by industries and ‘tertiary sectors’, which in turn affected us a lot:

  1. Whose lungs are affected by minute particles in air and also minuscule cotton or asbestos fibres, particles from stone crushers, fly ash and ash from furnaces, PM 2.5, PM 10 from industries and road-transport and all such pollutants? Workers and dwellers of industrial towns, inhabitants of villages and townships by the expressways etc.
  2. You can smell that you are approaching some industrial towns from caustic smells, smells of sulphur gases (sulphides, oxides) and etc when moving from a rural place by bus or train even if eyes are closed. Now imagine what do workers breathe inside such plants;
  3. Constriction of innumerable dams and barrages for hydel power and irrigation led to unpredictable changes in river flow causing more embankment erosion; siltation in barrages and dams made those river projects more harmful than beneficial as in the case of DVC; so many dams and barrages in the Himalayas are making the hills more disaster prone due to landslides and etc.

In this century effects of climate changes are too apparent

  1. One after other disasters are making life difficult for inhabitants of coastal region and many states near Bay of Bengal and also Arabian Sea;
  2. Though one thing was happening perhaps since mid 1980s or 1990s: rhythm of rainfall changed to such extent that even for rice-paddies in monsoon peasants had to buy irrigation water which was a costly purchase;
  3. End monsoon extreme rainfall, melting of glaciers in hotter summers etc are making floods in eastern India more regular and severe;
    Lightning strike increased;
  4. Hotter summer and colder winters with year long average temperature increasing slowly year by year; forest fires are more common now;

and all these are affecting lives of all toilers much more than people who can afford to be safe.

For more than two centuries agriculture, industries, in a word the total economy, the society are being conducted in such a way that the word development is now synonymous with devastation. Therefore, “Uproot the System” is an apt slogan now. But what is the system? How it can be uprooted? Keeping these questions unanswered will generate confusions and discords which in turn will weaken the movement of the next generation. It may be a fact that the next generation is only learning how to conduct their tough fight against the ‘power’ that actually runs the ‘system’. Perhaps they do not know yet what is the system and with what to replace that. Here the older generations must share their experiences and wisdom.

The “system” is nothing but the present nation states of which the imperialists are more powerful and have controlling influence over others. There are native bourgeoise. There are nexus bureaucracy-judiciary-armed forces (which the followers of scientific socialism call ‘state’) subservient to the bourgeoisie, there still are kings and lords who are, of course, increasing their wealth not only due to their ownership and control over nature (land, resources etc) but also by capitalist ventures. For a country like India, the “system” means the state machinery (not just the elected ministries or cabinets) run in favour of imperialist bourgeoise, native bourgeoisie, landowners and other owners of natural resources. And to replace this system the first step will be changing the rulers, creating a state under workers and peasants (which have to go from ‘state’ towards ‘no state’, the signs of which must be there from the beginning). The people who are being benefited by this “system” will never give up their position by peaceful dialogues as was seen many times, and hence people may have to take recourse to some unpleasant ways, but things will unfold through the fight. There is an old French saying, “À la guerre comme à la guerre” — if you go to battle, go as one goes to battle.

Sandeep Banerjee is an activist who writes on political and socioeconomic issues and also on environmental issues. Some of his articles are published in Frontier Weekly. He lives in West Bengal, India. Presently he is a research worker. He can be reached at [email protected]

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