By Gyan Pathak
Deshbhaktas’ beating their drum of ‘nationalism’ reached such a high decibel that has become deafening. India’s leadership, in the name of nationalism, reached even such a point when it decided to abstain from the voting in the United Nations which passed the resolution that recognized access to clean environment a human right. In this case the Deshbhaktas’ nationalism clearly goes against humanity, since 24 per cent of all global deaths, roughly 13.7 million a year, occur because they are exposed to human greed that has polluted air, water, and land, and are even subjected to chemical exposure.
India is among the four countries who had abstained from voting on such an important issue, on October 8, 2021. The other three countries are Russia, Japan, and China. The text of the resolution was proposed by small nations – Costa Rica, the Maldives, Morocco, Slovenia, and Switzerland, who thought it necessary to protect the earth and the human beings when the United Nations has already red flagged the environment and ecological degradation and pushing for action to prevent disastrous climate change in near future.
Having the resolution got passed, the Human Rights Council of the United Nations has now recognised for the first time, that having a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment is a human right. The text proposed was passed with 43 votes in favour, and only four abstentions from Russia, India, China, and Japan who are hoping to gain for their countries in their action. May be, some of the people in these four countries might derive benefit, but it would not be without death of common people on account of environmental and ecological risks as they have been dying for years. Their abstention is clearly faulty, narrow, and injurious to even the larger interest of the people and all forms of life on earth.
Nationalism has become beneficial for some and injurious for many in this particular case, and India should have been adopted a broader concept of nationalism in place of its narrow concept adopted by our Deshbhaktas. In Hinduism – since all the existence is manifestation of the God, we should not act for destruction of any living being. Moreover, everything that we have belongs to the God (Sabai Dhan Gopal Ki), the properties are in reality not ours, and therefore, for properties’ sake we must not destroy the environment and ecology, and we must leave them unpolluted for others’ use. We must not pollute these, since these are not our properties, and every life form has a right to these for their survival. Nationalism should therefore mean protecting the common property and life, it must not mean protecting only business and industries at the cost of the life and property of the common, as the Deshbhakta government of India has been doing. Deshbhaktas must abstain from looting and polluting the common properties in the name of nationalism, and adopt true nationalism that Hinduism teaches.
This is right brand of nationalism. However, there is also a left brand of nationalism, that preaches ‘properties are of state’ in place of ‘properties are of God’. There is not much difference in these two in the sense that properties do not belong to individuals. Therefore, exploitation of the environment and ecology at the cost of all other forms of life cannot be an unbiased form of nationalism. In view of this all the four countries – Russia, India, China, and Japan are wrong in opposing access to clean environment as human right, and subsequently abstaining from voting.
Let it be so. Having got the resolution passed, Human Rights Council in a separate resolution has called on States around the world to work together, and with other partners, to implement this newly recognised right. At the same time, through another resolution, the Council has also increased its focus on the human rights impacts of climate change by establishing a Special Rapporteur dedicated specifically to that issue.
In this backdrop, India and all the four abstaining countries, must protect the human rights of the people to ‘access clean environment’. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet has rightly called on member states to take bold actions to give prompt and real effect to the right to a healthy environment. The UN resolution “clearly recognizes environment degradation and climate change as interconnected human rights crises,” she has emphasized. “Bold action is now required to ensure this resolution on the right to a healthy environment server as a springboard to push for transformative economic, social, and environmental policies that will protect people and nature.”
It is also worth noting that was also highlighted by the High Commissioner that the triple planetary threats of climate change, pollution and nature loss, is the single greatest human rights challenge of our era, and the most vulnerable segments of the population are more acutely impacted.
The issue will now go to the UN General Assembly in New York, for further consideration, where India and all the three countries must come in support of “access to clean environment as human right” that was passed in the Human Rights Council just weeks before the crucial UN climate change summit, COP26, scheduled to be held in early November in Glasgow. One must not go for short term gain for few at the cost of the humanity. (IPA Service)