The famous English economist, Thomas Robert Malthus, in his theory of Population growth argued that humanity has a limited ability to voluntarily reduce the growth of population through ‘preventive checks’ (such as postponing the age of marriage or celibacy). Hence, sickly seasons, epidemics, and plagues are nature’s way of dealing with the imbalance between food supply and increasing population. Maybe, the ongoing COVID-19 and the recent locust attacks in several parts of India fits into this definition of the Malthusian theory of population growth but, are the libertarians are paying the amount of attention they pay in spreading fake forest fire pictures of Uttarakhand? In an Online lecture organized by the Madras Bar association, Supreme Court judge Justice S.K Kaul opined that “Tolerance levels in all sections going down; Mindless forwarding of messages leads to fake news”. This brings us to a serious question, are liberals environmentalists?
In India, both CPIM (Communist Party of India Marxist) and INC (Indian National Congress) call themselves the front runners of the anti-fascist lobby and in the wake of rationalism, they often bring up issues like minority protection and of course secularism. Now, when India is dealing with an acute migrant crisis, the liberal hypocrisy kayos rationalism and environmentalism big time! The informal employment in unorganized sectors like agriculture and forestry, where they constitute a daunting 99.9% never really bothered these libertarians. Cause, clearly this doesn’t serve their purpose of creating panic rather than a panacea. That left pseudo green peace ambassador in your friend circle doesn’t give two hoots for our environment. I call it ‘our environment’ here because no one owns the tag to be called the real environmentalist. The conservatives love the environment as much as the environmentalists do but, the Indian libertarians favor big government reforms only because; it serves their purpose and favors leftism. Mahatma Gandhi celebrated indigenous medicines and appealed to a large body of traditionalists in middle India through his message of ‘Ram Rajya’. Many stalwarts of the Indian National Liberal Foundation opposed this eccentric idea of opposing technology and modern medication by calling for complete ‘Swaraj’. In the current political scenario where the ruling party is highly techno-savvy, it doesn’t matter if the libertarians believe in technology or don’t believe in technology, big government reforms are not the answer to environmental depletion. People don’t usually react well to disincentives rather, they are expected to think of environmental protection more as a fundamental duty or moral good. If the big-government reforms don’t have the efficacy to make disincentives less futile than incentives then there is no point in having big government reforms.
Today and for the last century, the worst environmental offenders have always been big, repressive, and socialist governments. Nevertheless, the current BJP government is far from the Nehruvian understanding that the state must occupy the ‘commanding heights’ of the economy. Liberals lack the much needed commonsense conservation because of their partiality towards the free market and multiple window clearance mechanisms. For example, the BJP in its manifesto didn’t only use the buzzword ‘sustainable development’ but it focused on the management of natural resources through a single-window mechanism, unlike congress’ manifesto where they emphasized on a more business-friendly structure through a faulty multiple window clearance mechanism. Now, such government structures are directly proportional exploitation of natural resources on a large scale. Liberals need this to understand that big companies like Jio, TATA, or Apple in India aren’t making their projects sustainable because they are obliged to do so under big government reforms. They are doing it because of the improvised legislation for Corporate Social Responsibility and Corporate environment liability, legally mandated on 1st April 2014. India became the first country to do so.
While, the political left collapses the distinction between liberalism and Neoliberalism due to their timely services towards the capitalistic rule, here in India, three of them together work for the class dynamics of the capitalistic system. For example The arbitrary clearance for a 12 billion steel plant of POSCO in Odisha, Tawang II hydro power project in Arunachal Pradesh, and problematic allocations of coal blocks. What if I tell you, the liberals solely run on the ideology of commercial exploitation of natural resources based on a revenue-sharing agreement with the local indigenous communities? Taking the example of what happened in the Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha, the local indigenous population is now resisting yet another steel plant by forming Jindal Pratirodh Sangram Samiti. Under the Land Acquisitions, Rehabilitation & Resettlement Act of 2013, it is mandated that the land required but not utilized within 5 years of possession should be returned to the people. But a policy check by the Odisha state government back in 2015 successfully made this law ineffective.
Where was rationalism then? Why these so-called environmentalists didn’t speak for minority protection? The liberals have a profound disquiet towards technology, if not distaste. This shouldn’t affect the vision of achieving a sustainable and ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ through national capitalism and not Nehruvian capitalism.
Kamlesh is currently pursuing his bachelor’s degree in B.A LL.B (Hons), he has previously worked with respected government bodies such as the M.E.A (Ministry of external affairs), a research assistant for C.S.I.R.D (Center of studies in international relations and development) and has published several regional and national news articles along with interviews of prominent ministers and personalities online.