from team dirs
Our visit to Ranchi in October 2015
Our shared experience led me to realize that the consequences of the havoc unleashed by Climate Change needn't be restricted to the physical environment but is exemplified by the misery of people's lives. In our case, these are the indigenous races, the owners of the land, who for centuries have been living in harmony with the land. But due to vested interests, this land has been torn apart from these people making them employees employed on their own property. Due to alienation that has arisen because of this injustice, there has been a breakdown of culture and traditions that promoted simple sustainable living that we all need to adopt to reduce the ill-effects of materialistic greed-filled living that has caused irreparable damage to the environment as well as to the quality of our own lives.
Observations made by the adivasis at the annual Jesuit National Tribal Festival (JEMAI) held at Ranchi from 23-26 October 2015 also brought attention to the disappearance of medical herbs and homemade remedies due to fast disappearing forest cover. Another contributing factor is the race to shift to modernistic living that is dependent on health care that has been highly commercialized. Another point that came up was the emergence of diseases that weren't prevalent before.
"A solid foundation starts from the deepest roots,
Educating my people is what I choose."
Adivasi youth, due to ambitions created by a now highly prevalent profit-oriented capitalistic mind-set, have shown tendencies of shying away from their own culture. Thus awareness needs to be started to go back to our roots.
We also saw from close quarters the harsh reality of coal mining. The harm caused far outweighs the benefits. The injustice caused is startling. The profit, energy, electricity reaches the privileged while the health issues, the loss of land, the loss of culture, the injustice is faced by the indigenous. My question is whether development as it is practiced today, is a method to rob the poor to make the rich, richer?
Though the consequences are largely faced by the poor, it is a vicious cycle that will affect the world as a whole, as we are interconnected and interdependent.
I would like to end with an insight of Matthew Cobb, a Native American Indian who accompanied us for this festival. He says that if we take out the apostrophe from “people's” we can bring awareness that the land and the environment isn't owned by anyone but the trees, and all of nature are peoples in themselves. Each one of us also has a drum in our own hearts that connects us with all those living on this planet as a uniting beat for change. If we consider the environment as a people in itself, we won't harm it as we will be harming ourselves. Thus we need to consider each step we take as a step taken on sacred land.
A concluding observation: The medium of dance signifies a unique whole wherein everyone joins hands and dances in celebration of culture and tradition. No matter whether you're an Adivasi or not, you get into the spirit of the motion and dance regardless of whether the timing of the steps is right. This could be used as a powerful analogy for all of us to unite together against Climate Change.
The Paris Climate Summit (Nov. 30-Dec.12) was consequential with regards to climate justice worldwide. Leaders of 195 countries met in Paris to take far-reaching decisions in favour of climate action. To urge their leaders to take action at this key summit, people all over the world took to the streets and marched to show their support.
Mumbai participated in this revolution in a unique way. Rayyan and Ishita from Fatsmeagol.org devised a way in which Mumbaikars could make a difference even from their homes – they initiated the world’s first Online Morcha. A compilation of humorous performances and true stories of the effects of climate change were screened live on the Digital Climate March YouTube page at 6pm on Sunday, Nov. 29, and viewers were encouraged to send tweets to the PM and the Environment Minister of India, impelling them to take action.
St. Xavier’s College, Fort, was one of the few centres where the video was to be screened live for a large audience. Led by Fr. Prashant Olalekar, S.J., Xavierites organised the screening for an audience of 80, replete with dances and songs performed by the students. A street play with a satirical commentary on the effects of climate pollution was one of the highlights of the event. Participants of the digital march at the Xavier’s pocket went one step farther and united their hopes and voices as they sang “Sing for the Climate” with the spirited compere, Anoushka Dutta.
The input by alumnus Rashida Atthar, an environmental researcher and activist, focused on the impact of Climate Change on Mumbai. The AICUF choir presented ‘Be The Change’ a moving song composed by Rachel D’Souza. Rev Matt Cobb from Kansas, a frequent visitor to Xaviers, while sharing his indigenous wisdom through a recorded interview pleaded that we beg for pardon from the land, air, water and fire for the abuse of these natural resources. Fr. Prashant in his presentation on the National Jesuit Tribal Festival at Ranchi spoke about the exposure to a coal mine which was a living hell. The brief meditation stirred up pangs of conscience as the energy in places like Xavier’s is being consumed at the cost of the lives of poor tribals and the rape of Mother Earth. Students of the FYBA staged a lively street play on Waste Management. Labdhi Vora and Anushka Hirvani presented a fusion (bharatnatyam and kathak) dance on climate change and finally Janhvi Pandya (Indian Music Group) accompanied by Kiran D’Silva enthralled the crowd with the popular “Heal the World”.
Along with more than 6 lakh Digital Marchers from Mumbai, Xavierites have done their bit in convincing leaders of India at the COP21 Paris talks to take concrete steps towards climate justice.
Did you participate in the Online Morcha? Tell us about your experience!
What do you think about the Digital Climate March? Let us know in the comments section below.