The Wild West story
Photo: Sandeep Saxena.
Imtiaz Ahmed JNU Sociologist.
AS WE stride into the New Year, we are sinking deeper and deeper into the quagmire of self-destruction! For decades, the U.S. and the E.U. have manoeuvred natural resources to suit individual needs, and today all of us are left to bear the backlash that nature is slamming on. The U.S. has been charged with maximum depletion of natural resources and metals. It is also the biggest contributor to global pollution. And today side-by-side, it has been noticed clandestinely dumping all dangerous reactive wastes on our mountain ranges, exposing the Third World to the aftermath. These First World nations, the self-appointed leaders of the world, have been responsible for the biggest battles, the maximum felling of trees, and the largest alteration of nature. But most wretchedly, all the rest too are bared to the consequences brought upon by them; be it the fuel shortage, the hole in the Ozone layer or the Green House Effect!
Addressing a range of ecological issues viable globally, Rainbow Publishers' "Value of Nature" by Smitu Kothari, Imtiaz Ahmad and Helmut Reifeld, had transpired from the four-day workshop about Environmental Politics in India, in collaboration with the German Konrad Adenauer Foundation, at the Neemrana Fort in Rajastan. Exploring the philosophy of how man's kinship with nature has morphed from `being controlled' to `being the controller', the book contemplates the sea change between different types of people in different regions around the globe.
It provides a window into the universal trends in environmental practices. Kindling the anti-West tinderbox, it throws light on ecological exploitation by Western nations, the disparities in the environmental policies of the North and the South, the requirement for environmental laws in South Asia and India's potential as a leader in the area. The book simultaneously traces the prioritisation of nature through history - the wars, colonisation, industrialisation and accidents - as testimony to its allegations and also points out why one shouldn't unwittingly follow the West in their blatant overlooking of the ecosystem during their rollercoaster ride to development.
"There was the desperate need for such a book," says sociologist Imtiaz Ahmad, one of the authors of the book. "There have been many books on environment. But none has been comparative. This book is rooted in the present-day settings, recognising the imbalance brought about by the West and the raw deal served to us in the long run. It also identifies the dire need to have environmental policies on the manifestoes of our leading political parties."
Ahmad is of the personal opinion that "The first step towards a calculated future would be by imparting environmental education in schools. Such enlightenment would help instil the required respect and sensitivity towards nature, in our future citizens."
While the book provides apt fodder for thought for academics and the intellectuals, it clearly escapes the interest of a casual reader in its complexity of language and complicated confrontation of manifold topics. But it provides interesting study material, opening many an eye to global concerns.
Send this article to Friends by