Aseem Srivastava – Author – Part 1

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Aseem Srivastava – Author – Part 1

I think it’s important to remember biology and remember nature now in nature things grow but if you notice things don’t grow out of control things don’t get on to a pattern of runaway growth if that happens then you get you know cancer or some excess which is destructive for that ecosystem the problem is that our ideas of growth while originally having come from biology and from human biology you know watching children grow is a joyous thing but beyond the point we know that once children turn into adults physically then they have to stop growing physically then the growth if it happens happens in some non physical or metaphysical interaction right now the problem is that since the Industrial Revolution both in the real world as well as in how the real world is interpreted which is to say in mainstream professional economics growth has a very specific meaning and that meaning has to do with the expansion of production and productivity measured very precisely from the perspective of the large private enterprises that dominate the economy or the large state which is central to the modern economy because the state also remember experiences great benefit from growth because its revenues go out when it has control of larger budgets and so on now the definition of growth in modern economics for a very long time has to do with the growth of the gross domestic product gdp right you can measure that in gross terms you can measure that in net terms net of depreciation of capital etc you can divide it by the population to calculate per capita growth and so on their various variants of the mentally the same notion now something very unique and peculiar happens in human history with the Industrial Revolution since the 18th century humanity has been on a path which makes a big rupture with all previous societies and the rupture comes about because of a certain kind of technological change which comes into place and I’ll have more to say about this later a certain kind of technical change comes into place a certain kind of inventive mode of of being becomes normal to humanity and this invented mode relies on an energy source which is fundamentally finite right so you start with coal and steam based engines and steam based technologies in the 18th century you arrived at petroleum by the last you know 40 years of the 19th century by the 20th century you are well into the patrol image and even now you are stuck with the coal and petroleum edge they are not passed us by any stretch of imagination the only little variant the little girl on the energy picture is the arrival of natural gas but when that is actually fairly fine all these when you think about it are non-renewable sources of energy right and the particular kind of technique the particular kind of technological mode of invention that comes into place in the 18th century relies fundamentally on these non renewable sources of energy so for a quarter of a millennium now humanity has been mining resources that is to say non renewable energy which the earth took millions and millions of years to form that’s why we call them fossil fuels we burn away in a matter of days and weeks what it took Diaz but took the earth millions of years to make so there is a fundamental mismatch between the cycles of energy production of nature when it comes to these non renewables and the modes of exploitation when the rates of extraction which humanity has not only dependent on we assume these things as part of the Industrial Age the other variation which you see in the 20th century post the 1920s or so is the search for nuclear fuel and food fission and later on fusion and so on we can

discuss that later but fundamentally humanity still relies on non-renewable resources non renewable energies and you know metals and minerals to carry out its industrial emissions so growth when it takes place in the economy assumes all this we measure the outputs we do not have such an accurate measure of the inputs except in a private sense that is to say operations keep their budgets in money terms quite clear but the accounting is in money terms it’s not in energy terms it’s not in terms of waste generated it’s not in terms of inclusive of the waste heat created etcetera etcetera there’s a whole set of inefficiencies which are social and ecological which are built into the industrial process which are not accounted for so we have a problem and we don’t have a small problem we have a planet-wide problem because our way of life depends so much on everything that comes from non-renewable energy sources so to reiterate my main point here the definition of growth or our expectation of what growth should be needs to change a child should grow into an adult that that is healthy but an adult should move want to grow into a Superman that is not only unhealthy its destructive and if you watch nature carefully you can this lesson if you just rely on the recent successes of technology your mind is going wrong well I mean to be fair the success of the Industrial Revolution has been so dramatic that it goes on and the beliefs that we have today have been formed by success of Western civilization when it comes to the development of Industry on the basis of technology which is rooted in the kind of technique that I was talking about from the era of the 18th century and the material prosperity which has brought to the Western world and to some parts of the rest of the world in recent times is so dramatic and so unprecedented in human history in terms of accessible wealth that you can’t not be impressed by it purely as a phenomena it is dramatic for Humanity to be living with as much wealth as it does today I mean just look around you just look at the number of lights people take there are people in this world who take hundred or two hundred flights a year when would that have been ever possible before in you in history any part of the globe is accessible within 24 hours you can get on the phone with anybody you wish you have technologies like information technology and telecom which put you in constant contact communications with the whole world this kind of thing is totally unprecedented now once you have a certain energy base which is reasonably assured for the foreseeable future and perhaps even a little beyond the foreseeable future and you’ve got a whole set of industries and power utilities and so on running on that foundation then people’s lives come to rest on those assumptions you don’t question them whether it’s a choice of where you want to work how far from your pair how far from your children with City which country etc all these things rest on a bedrock of assumptions about technology economy and energy which we take for granted now what the ecological crisis is in fundamentals is it is asking us to question these very fundamentals it is trying to say it through the floods through the cyclones through the hurricanes through the climate change if we read the tea leaves right what it is saying to us is these bedrock assumptions are no longer bedrock they are floating the floating assumptions in other words they can drift away from us right so that is the kind of crisis that we are in and that’s how I interpret it at least ideas about growth do not exist in the abstract as we know they exist in a context they exist in a context which was created in the last 200 250 years you go back before that and you will find throughout

human history why the children have grown into adults and so and so on so on you don’t find so safe society is obsessing about growth nor are they confused about it okay it’s not on the horizon it’s not in the paradigm so to speak now the other thing which is important to talk about in this context is the dramatic rise in human population that has happened in the last 200 years but specially in the last hundred years what that has done is it has not only raised expectations for the species as a whole it has increased the aggregate requirements of resources and climate space in pollution space for human populations which are simply in numerical terms larger in much larger in magnitude it’s one thing to think about a planet with 1 billion people another thing to think about a planet with 7 billion or nine billion people so how did this come about now it’s long complex story but demographically what people are agreed upon is that why death rates have come down quite significantly in the last hundred years let’s say thanks to medical advances improvements in sanitation and so on since the 19th century and talking about improvements in sanitation not from before that so from the classical industrial era of Europe when sanitation was awful in Europe things improved in the 20th century and as third world countries also started getting industrialized and getting polluted and getting dirty improvements in public health and so on have brought about a reduction in the death rate other than the medical advances things like vaccinations smallpox cholera vaccinations etc now this reduction in death rate has however not been matched by a reduction in birthrates so birth rates have continued to be high they were rising for till a while ago now at least they flattened out but they’re still high especially in large populous countries like India or China what that means is that population continues to grow although it in much slower rate and the expectation is it will stabilize somewhere around nine billion people by the middle of the century that’s huge and that’s unprecedented and again that’s a child of the industrial age you know this scale of population could not be supported by a pre-industrial society with the sort of technologies and industries and access to energy that they had but now that we do have access to these energies and technologies we believe that we can and we should sustain such large populations that is the ethical imperative it appears however just to raise the fact that the non renewable energy based on which these industrial technologies and economies have arisen in the last quarter millennia is not here for keeps now that we understand so in the era of pcola p coiler peak energy we have to think in terms of what is the maximum number of people that we can afford to be on this planet so difficult ethical question as to how do we handle this large population but clearly we need a population policy which has gone into some sort of remission since the early 1990s i would say because before that there is a lot of population rhetoric coming from western countries after the end of communism they realize that large population in the rest of the world also mean potentially large markets for them and suddenly the corporations and the whole advertising industry start looking upon population as a positive resource you know so the very interesting twist which takes place in public discourse when the corporations realized there is money to be made from more people in the market but in terms of the resource crunch these people will matter increasingly matter and one thing is very clear to me and to many people is that not everybody can live like the United States of America you know India has sixteen percent of the world’s population it has one percent of the world’s cars would it be fair to say that India should also have sixteen percent of the world’s cars would Delhiites be happy with you know sixteen times more cars on our streets or even eight times or even four times as many cars as we have now would you be happy to drive two hours to work and drive two hours back and sometimes be stuck in jams for four hours would that be a happy sit solution so there are ways in

which the ecological Christ’s is making us think very fundamental questions about ethics about you know human society about how do we take decisions what is fair what is unfair etc so uh to cut a very long story short we’ve come to think this way about growth because of historical reasons but the facts which have emerged as a result of the you know unfolding of the dynamic of history those facts are pointing to a future in which that history will not be the norm something else will happen something sometimes predictable very often unpredictable is likely to happen because of the ecological imbalances which have been stirred up because the earth has been mined for things which it should not have been mined for it this rate and that has become clear now but before I answer your question one fact needs to be underlined and placed before anybody who thinks about this in India especially here our forefathers and foremothers when they were fighting for this country’s freedom then we talked about growth they never talked about development for that matter you find any page from Mahatma Gandhi rubbing the knots peg or Jawaharlal Nehru BR Ambedkar so many freedom fighters before 1947 not talking about the country’s problems in terms of growth or development whatsoever and the best you know example of that is the Indian Constitution itself when you turn the pages of the Constitution you can do a search in the world wide web and you’ll find that the word growth actually does not appear anywhere the word development appears in exactly two places in article 38 and n 2 43 and in one place it is about how urban municipalities should have the democratic power and the right to create development plans for ensuring social justice at the local level and the other article says the same thing for the village but otherwise there’s no mention of development so that which has become a mantra in the last 20 25 years regardless of who has been in power whether it’s the UPA or the NDA the exact leadership in India does not matter but they have repeated a mantra which was not born in this country they have repeated a mantra which was actually created in Washington and that mantra goes back all the way to the creation of the world bank in 1944 which is when the idea of development as we know it was hatched and the US president of the time Harry Truman in 1949 in his inaugural address talks about development and about countries which are underdeveloped in the world and how they need our help and so on so development is an idea of Imperial coinage which our suborned leadership in this country whether it’s congress of BJP is completely irrelevant because they’re both completely suborn to Washington okay the whole vision has been borrowed from the West it’s an imperial vision inflicted on a yet poor country the number of poor has grown dramatically this over seven or eight hundred million poor people in India it’s at least twice the size of the country’s population of the time of Independence these are facts which no one can deny these are facts which should have stirred us to a completely different imagination a completely indigenous autonomous Indian civilization based imagination about how to bring about a good society development is just one way to transform society growth is the best way to destroy a society today and India has embraced this path with complete confidence as though we really know what we are talking about now to come to your question as to whether growth is even possible the problem is this in abstract terms is very easy to do the algebra and the arithmetic and to show that numerically now us can keep growing larger and larger and larger in the abstract dimension so long as they don’t stand for anything real and concrete in the physical space of this planet you can do whatever you want you can hatch as many algebraic fantasy as you please but when it comes to touching base with something real which is to say the earth physical space physical objects trees plants animals rivers mountains coastlines and so on if you translate that abstract ambition to this concrete realm and simply look upon everything as a resource here on including human beings we have no shame anymore about calling human beings human resources we create ministries for them

we have no shame about calling society social sector you departmental eyes the whole of human society and it becomes a social sector you reduce the whole of God’s you know earth and you call it the environment you feel you imagine that you’re in control you think you’re building a smarter planet in fact you’re creating a more stupid society that’s what you’re actually doing you’re not able to teach students the difference between cows and beef and so on there are many children who believe in this world today that cows eat beef the way they eat milk now this is the kind of fundamental conceptual misunderstanding and ecological confusion you create when you bring up children in supermarkets when they don’t have forests and pastures and mountains and meadows to look at when they don’t look at anything real before they start seeing something imaginary or false then they start thinking of the imaginary and the Falls is the most real thing and so on so numerically you can show whatever you wish you can prove growth as possible forever etc in actual fact we know and we know for at least a generation and a half that on a finite planet endless growth is not possible if we try to attempt it we will ruin human society the planet will be fine by the way so when you know President Obama says we are trying to save the planet no no we are trying to make human society more intelligent and adaptable to a planet which is whipping us the elements are whipping us today but we don’t notice it we don’t reckon in the evidence as something which is man-made you know I always say that you we as human beings can’t argue with supermarkets and expressways and shopping malls but the elements are doing it all the time whether it’s floods of cyclones or hurricanes they’re arguing with them all the time in winning every time but we don’t seem to weigh that into our thinking our thinking does not change as a result of these massive ecological events taking place all around us our television screens are flooded with them so I you know growth in the sense in which it has been going on for these 200 to 250 years rests and promises which are now you know in a state of shock and for anybody watching those premises have changed quite dramatically so what we really need to think about is how do we make a transition how do we make me make a transition to a viable hospitable world where human civilization would still be possible at a reasonably decent you know level of life that is not guaranteed anymore given the range of destructive technologies and possibilities all around us so you know the species needs to realize the limits of its intelligence and needs to realize the ways in which it hasn’t actually explode its intelligence for instance we need a whole new imagination we need a whole new ecological imagination to create completely new kinds of means for the future where for instance you will be driving 50 100 miles to work every day as so many people do in this world today where you would be living right next to your workplace and so on where you won’t need to travel around the world looking for the best soccer game simply because you have the money you are happy to burn up so much jet fuel looking for the best soccer game where you will be more interested in playing the soccer with the kids in your neighborhood then watching your favorite superstars in live action in some on some other continent so that’s the kind of consumer indulgence that has created this stupid society that we live in and this will have to go this will need to change one of the many reasons for for that first of all there is the general inertia of human societies facts and real life is usually ahead of us we are always behind the problems are always ahead especially in a turbocharged technological age where things change so fast problems are created much faster and we live today with not a problem solving but a problem creating way of life when somebody is digging the hole much faster than any of us can fill it you know we have to face that unless we hold the elbow that is drilling the hole in the ground much faster than anyone can fill it it’s all hopeless you know the black hole will keep growing now imagine a world in which children are educated properly which is to say you know they made familiar with the facts

which we are talking about they are made familiar with all the arguments which we are giving what would that amount to that would amount to a quelle society which constantly questions its governments and corporations in who would like that everybody except the government’s in the corporations right but there for you know both governments and corporations will be heavily funding the opposite right which is to say you create a dumb society where everybody is thinking wrong about the most obvious things which are not difficult to think right about but because everybody around you thanks to the advertising the propaganda is thinking wrong about it it’s almost fashionable to think wrong about it it’s almost fashionable to not waste it’s not you know kosher to you know conserve things and so on so you create a world in which there is a strange incentive to be stupid you create a structurally irresponsible society and that’s the effect of 24 7 30 365 advertising it creates a dumb society you know I’m putting it very bluntly well that’s the fact even when you know that an ad is dumb okay you still listen you still watch because everybody around you is watching human beings are turned into herd animals you know nobody has the courage to think for themselves to hold an opinion and in you know in a minority of one they what don’t want to stand out they don’t want to stick out etc so this is not the way you will ever find solutions this is the way the problem will continue and we continue unacknowledged we are not in touch with the fundamentals anymore we do not live in a scientific society anymore we live in a technological society we are too enamored of how much the human mind has achieved and how great it is and so on all that feeds our vanity and pride but actually takes us further from the truth this if this is the way scientists always were science would not have reached this point you know you have to be humble in order to learn something from nature in order to learn the ways of nature which always mysterious you know if nature will these things I mean you have to tease things out of nature in order to learn something nature will not reveal its secrets just like that there are too many blinders inside us too many luge ins inside us and this smarter planet crowd wants to keep building these allusions to the point of no return where only they will have the answers to problems which only then they will have control over to the extent that they do and everybody else will look like dump you know if if that happens so we have created a very strange society which calls itself democratic and pretends to be free but freedom is the last thing which can find a home in a world like this see the way I understand the global planetary industrial civilization today is as a massive gigantic endless bleeding white elephant that’s how I envisage it there are parts of the elephant which are more alive than others okay those are the parts controlled by corporations and governments in anybody in a position of privilege but if you look at what’s happening to frontier communities which are having to face the brunt of floods of cyclones of hurricanes earthquakes tsunamis etc I mean they’re in constant jeopardy you know they are the sort of posta science for the future those are the early warning signs now those are parts of the elephant which are bleeding very badly why are they bleeding because we are living the way we do and the things are so totally interdependent in this world ecologically that if rich people and privileged people are going to go on with cricket matches under lights and strobes and go on looking for the best soccer games around the planet then some people somewhere will be having to pay the price or future generations will or other species will all those costs are unwritten because none of these people whether it’s the poor whether it’s the unborn whether it’s other species have any market voice now you’ve created this stupid tyrannical society which basically gives all power to the market which means all power to who has the dollars today not tomorrow but today right and in that sort of a world you will get systematically ecologically irrational decisions being taken time after time after time so uh if you go and speak to frontier communities which I have from time to time in this country whether it’s tribals defending the rainforests in Orissa or you know some other tribes defending you know rivers in chattisgarh or some other

groups fighting for forests in goa or tribes in the Himalayas with their all struggling some how to survive in the face of the onslaught of development you know the juggernaut of development is not working for them it’s working for those of us who have the privilege to live in a metropolitan city and one leg in the metropolitan city another leg in another country not a single toe in our own villages so there was a time when Mothma Gandhi used to say India lips in its villages today it has moved to the shopping malls and to the airports around the globe you know where the hell will you find India outside of that today nowhere you know all our elite is moving in this dimension which is a totally fantasy filled world right the reality is not known to them the ecological realities of the day they will might read about it in a newspaper column and say oh these are ecological fundamentalists leave them aside their loonies their doom stairs they don’t even know what doomsday looks like by the time it hits the as it did for instance Mumbai in 2005 or recurrent in 2013 or Kashmir this year it’s too late you know so and these are all educated privileged people with all the access to information and education that anybody could have in this world and they’re so poorly informed about what’s going on and if they are informed and they still go on saying and doing the same things they were doing to yesterday what’s the point of getting the education in the first place you know so you have a large number of Western interests to put it very bluntly if your mouth is stuffed with you know chocolate maybe there is a fire you know growing around you but you’re not going to notice it if somebody else is taking the heat for the time being you know it’s only when your chocolate beans to melt that you might notice that the fire is important but by that time is too late you know the game will be up for you but that’s the kind of ecologically stupid world we have created now and we seem to be quite happy in that monk I mean one way in which societies are going down when there is a shortfall of resources is through war it’s exactly through war people start you know like rats in a sack they start fighting with each other for the little that remains you see poor communities doing it quite often I see it in front of my house every morning when the you know water tanker comes to give water to the Islam people every day or you know when you know there’s real water shortage it doesn’t even come everyday so war is actually very often a symptom of vanishing resources and one has to take decisions in such a way that you prevent you preempt that kind of conflict very often foreseeable okay but we don’t like to prevent we don’t like to say no our definition modern definition of freedom thanks to the advertisers is the more you consume the more free you are you know it doesn’t matter what health effects you suffer or what other price somebody else pays for your consumption none of that is important what I want and what I feel and you know what I desire is the most important thing so war is clearly one of the consequences of a restless greedy world which has not learned to to limit itself materially there are other ways in which nature settles the equation I mean the United States for instance a few years ago had a major hurricane you know superstorm sandy the most advanced the most mechanized technologically developed society in the world and here was this storm basically broke blowing through the Atlantic seaboard of the east coast of the US and disrupting just about every man-made system you know we tend to take industrial modernity so much for granted and we have so much confidence in ourselves that we think that you know these power lines and these railway tracks and these airports and these you know shopping areas all these things are safe and secure and nothing of that Israel and when superstorm sandy came on people were trapped in their homes in New Jersey emits floods for weeks on it sometimes without food and medicine and people lost their lives you know New York coming i was there a few years ago and you know the whole subway line from Manhattan to Queens has been shut down because of flooding from superstorm sandy the floodwaters being salty they don’t have the money to repair you know and that’s the case with a lot of American infrastructure it’s collapsing and governments do not have the

resources to actually maintain it at the minimum level in our own country I mean you know I recently took a train trip somewhere and you realize how much more pressure there is on the tracks not just because of more population but because people have simply started moving and traveling much more you know other than the fact that the goods trains the freight bearing trains the coal trains which bring the coal from charcoal or research at the skirt to the you know industrial towns in multiplication of Maharashtra Gujarat the the pressure of these freight trains on the tracks has grown dramatically and the total length of tracks in the country has not grown very much at all in the last so many decades and the government does not have the money to maintain these tracks which means what which means there will be more accidents which means there will be more mishaps in the future and what is that showing to us what that is showing to us is we are living way beyond our means we simply don’t have the resources to actually this lavish life which we pretend to live but every single ad in the newspapers and on television is saying to you you can live like those in Shanghai and you can live like those in Rome and Paris and so on so you know you can’t have these few Californian islands in a sea of sub-saharan misery which which India has become it’s a sure sign of ecological decline this imbalance will be corrected by nature I mean if you if you look at a tree it doesn’t bear all its fruit on one side you know if it bears all its fruits on one side the tree will one day for you know under the weight of its own excess right so that’s the kind of society that India has become and not just india but Brazil and South Africa where I visited a few years ago many parts of the world have become extremely unequal and the world as a whole has become extremely unequal we live on many different planets while being on the same one and there is a time to reckon with the fact that we are all actually sharing a certain ideological fate on the same planet to come to the same page on it with less privileged people in our own species is one way in which you actually cut to the chase and you start facing what is real if we don’t do that then I’m sorry our children and grandchildren are going to hate us for being very irresponsible and immature yeah well if you look at the history of terrorism you know the word is old but it’s practical usage is not older than say generation and a half or so from the 1970s mostly with specially since the 1980s it actually concerns the denial of autonomy and freedom to people in oil producing countries they happen to be Arabs or Muslims with that secondary the main point is that here you have Imperial forces rooted in Washington in London and so on trying to control a region very far from in order to control the main resource which fuels their civilization and creates as a byproduct very large disaffected population which is angry with the dictatorships which are supported by Washington in London what do you expect those people to do except revolt take two arms ultimately you know so I’ve got a very long story short and Washington itself by the way has played a huge hand in promoting terrorism when it suited them for instance when they were trying to topple the Soviets in Afghanistan they they they they trained and the CIA trained and armed you know what later on became you know the Mujahideen and Taliban and al-qaeda and that comes back to haunt them now who is going to argue today with the fact that you know al Qaeda comes out of oil based politics are they separable no they’re not so terrorism is one manifestation absolutely of the fact that you’re trying to live unsustainably it’s one form that you know the whole thing takes the other thing that happens like you said is the demand for succession that has happened in many parts of the world from Africa to our parts of the world as well when a region in a country realizes that its resources are being stolen by others and it is not having the chance to grow and develop like them on the contrary it is having to face all the downsides of their development it

revolves and I think you’re likely to see some of that in our own country you’re already seeing signs of that in chattisgarh and other places and you will see more of that they’re rebellions right now I was just watching a YouTube video just now in Orissa where you know people who are being asked to move to allow coal mining the dozens of village villages and thousands of people came out in protest came out for the public hearing on the mining project in in angle district in orissa against adani cooperation and basically saying to hell with you we are not going to give our land and we lay down our lives you can you can kill us and they’re surrounded by paramilitary forces these are not paramilitary forces working for the people of this country these are paramilitary forces forces working for corporate India okay now its corporate India which wants to turf these villages out they can’t give them jobs because they don’t use technologies which need those people so what are you promising them some compensation some money which the children can blow up and alcohol or gambling or something and you expect them to be happy with that so they wanna fight so in this particular case they managed to you know stop things at this public hearing but it doesn’t mean that cooperates and more these government and give up on the whole project it’ll continue and they will keep putting pressure on them till such time as people eat that is their idea of development that you get rid of environmental clearances you get rid of all green tape you’re so colorblind you don’t even see the difference between green tape and red tape and you allow all sorts of ecological crimes to happen in the name of development you know such a government is the best enemy a government a country can have you know so you will see a lot more gold rebellions from Goa from check this girl from Chartrand from alyssa and so on and dare i say these rebellions are the best safety valve that Indian civilization has why because if these frontier communities are not there you can expect people like us living in comfortable metropolitan homes to completely rate these environments of any resources you know since early 1980s in the last 30 years India has been destroying 100 full sized for soccer soccer fields worth of forests every single day you know just think of what that means it’s over a million hectares of forests that India has been destroyed over this whole period if these frontier communities are not there to fight and to stand in the way if you don’t have that safety well if you don’t have that early warning control system we will just destroy the whole thing in order to do what in order to watch the soccer games around the planet in order to play trick it under strobes and so on this is the kind of childish immature behavior that the Indian elite is engaged in today and we are quite happy to think of ourselves as patriotic while we continue with these consumer hypocrisy so my point is that you know you your best you know insurance policy against climate change against flooding against deforestation is that these communities remain there they are the protectors of our best biological resources our entire biodiversity heritage is in their hands not the forest department’s I’m sorry you know so if you were kill off these communities be sure that your turn will come you know there’s a very beautiful and chilling line in William Blake’s problems of hell he says the dog starved at the Masters gate predicts the ruin of the state that should send a chill up more these spine and if that does not then it doesn’t need to be Prime Minister yeah as long as the greater common good is in Bollywood and in a cricket team and in the PMO’s you know staff and so on if that is our sense of the people then yes yeah you do need to have large numbers of people sacrificing so that the Emperor can write his elephant but if you have any rational sane humanitarian ethical sense of a greater common good your first duty is to ensure that you don’t create ecological refugees in your development model you know if your development model is going to routinely generate ecological refugees you have to know you’re doing something criminally wrong you know for which you we should resign okay they don’t see that that they have any responsibility in the matter okay and they think that

just by putting enough people in jail they will be able to stop them and crush their descent they will fail they will fail it’ll take time for that truth to emerge but they will fail sure sure I mean so far the West has been living on a high Imperial plinth where its consumption levels are orders of magnitude above the rest of the world how has it done that it has done that not only with very inventive and intelligent from their perspective technology intelligent within a certain limited range right but more importantly it has done that by exploiting the resources of the whole globe when the West industrialized the world was not a democracy it was able to forcibly move large numbers of people from the countryside to the cities in order to ensure its industrial growth in order to create minds in order to create its roads and infrastructure for industry it forcibly moves moved large numbers of peasants and others it also you know relied throughout on the resource base of the whole planet you know because of colonialism imperialism war conquest none of that is incidental to this modern form of industrialization now neither Indian or China are countries which have colonies today so they will try to grab land in Africa as much as you can and for the rest of the time you basically eat into your own stomach which is to say you kill off your own people in order to impress the whole world with how rich you become a now developed you become and it’s all Wayne because you know it will not be tolerated by nature ultimately so development if it goes on like this for another generation will destroy India it’s the end of Indian civilization as we know it and I’m not dramatizing it I’m saying it like I know it okay if we do not want to face this fact we are just childish and stupid that’s all one can say the outsourcing of costs in terms of resource cause pollution costs you know exporting your dirty industries your garbage that outsourcing of course which the West is been doing for a very long time now is what has allowed it to keep its own corner clean physically so when we visit the West we don’t see the waste dumps but you travel to the Pacific Garbage Patch you travel to the 5 gyres in the ocean and you see the millions and millions of tons of plastic that the West has created from its industrial excess and you see the destruction of aquatic life the destruction of biodiversity you know if you ask children or even older people today where does most of our oxygen on this planet comes from most people will not be able to give you the right answer and they will point they might point to trees and so on but actually most of our oxygen comes from the alga in the ocean if the oceans get is acidified with climate change and more and more carbon makes its way into the oceans that means less oxygen on the planet okay that means you ruined everybody’s chances this is not an externality as idiot economists think about it it’s you know internal to the ecology of everybody’s life and planet today so the whole way of thinking is wrong the whole way of thinking that the West has taught the world is flawed has shown itself to be laps today we can’t afford to things like that sustainability sustainability of what sustainability of this kind of nonsense it will not be tolerated you know there is a higher court of justice than humanity and it belongs to the elements the elements work from within us the elements work from outside US you know we think ourselves very powerful but it just takes a few microbes bacteria and viruses in the wrong place to destroy us you know it happens all the time we don’t want to accept it for the truth is humanity is extremely vulnerable okay the planet would be finally go on rotating in revolving it has been for millennia and centuries but we are the ones who are going to go on suffering and our children you know so what the West has been experiencing for some time recently a wave of protests whether it’s the Occupy movement or the protests in Athens or Madrid in Romania these are only early symptoms when I think the West has a lot to unlearn much more to unlearn in the rest of the world and they’ll go through a rather stiff process of unlearning which will be painful it will be painful because of the number of illusions people have him it’s not easy to give up illusions for creatures of symbolic representation it’s normal to have illusions and to confuse them with the real thing I think we have far fewer illusions in India and when I say far

fewer illusions in India I don’t refer to our educated elites who have the most illusions in the world I refer to our poor illiterate peasants and forest dwellers and fishermen who can’t afford to have too many usuals they live right on the ecological frontier they live exposed to the elements they know what things cost we just know what things taste like we just know their outsides so I think one has to remember what country one is living in and and try and live somewhat by the lessons of the civilization that fit country belongs to this well they stuff our mouths it’s very simple i mean you know if I can live like this why would I want to change anything if the air can be reasonably clean and the water can be you know rendered clean by our arrows and so on you know when we were kids there was no ro there was no need for filtration they will know water bottles 25 30 years ago and we were quite healthy we grew up much healthier than kids do today with all the arrows in the world so you know the the whole way of controlling human behavior and thought has changed in recent times thanks to the invasion of television and communication technologies in the past colonialism needed guns either guns in use or guns at the ready you know in order to threaten people and so on what the Americans have found is that’s not the best way to control people a much subtler much easier way to control people is to stuff their faces and to give them lots of candies and lots of you know pizzas and lots of holidays on some Pacific island and they’ll all be bribed into silence and bribed into stupidity they will not be interested in rebelling let alone be able to repel so that’s what has happened to our middle classes and elites we’ve been [ __ ] iced by the American impact in the last 25 years and once you’ve [ __ ] eyes the people in their culture you can manipulate them in hundreds of ways there’s a very powerful insight in one of rubbing their nuts sav says that the vices that bring down the strong bring down the week even faster so if the America is on a 30-degree slope India is on a 90 degrees club or a 70 degree slope so our work is much harder in that sense in one sense in another sense America has a lot more on learning to do and their task is going to be much harder but in certain ways in terms of you know as a culture our task is much harder because we have been under too long in control for 300 years now I do not believe for a moment that India was liberated in 1947 there was a transfer of power from the white elite to the ground elite colonial methods colonial structures of power this famous Hindutva rise to power in 2014 what does it rely on it relies in a completely British colonial administration which is still in place whether it’s the I here so the IPS the whole Penal Code everything is o’neill about this country the whole imagination is colonized the old mind is colonized so where is Indian all this where is induced and where is parrot only in the fantasies of the RSS and that’s all precisely they have sold us their story as though it’s our story that’s the way in which they have infantilized us we do not know anymore in this country what is in our interest what is really in our long-term interests I’m afraid we do not know the Chinese no it’s somewhat and they know it somewhat because they’ve never been physically colonized they’ve never been completely mentally colonized they’ve always retained sphere of autonomy but even in China because of the entry of a certain kind of economic system and modern methods gotten called modern methods the Chinese Way of life has become a colonial way of life it is bound to create more inequality more unrest more dissatisfaction more distrust breakdown of human communities relationships all that is happening in China Japan and elsewhere too so I look upon it as a cancer the cancer originates hundreds of years back in in Europe and has now spread to the whole world I’m not saying that everything was beautiful and hunky dory and romantically lovely 300-400 years ago the world had had its problems humanity is always had problems but this kind of

apocalyptic future who was not fading facing all of humanity all at the same time as it does today so with the spread of that cancer the imagination for a new world for a completely new way of life which would actually liberate humanity from consumer servitude and material desires and so on while meeting all material needs that humanity has rationally speaking sensibly speaking that is to be done I mean that is the task for the future in the transition from an industry to an ecological civilization is what our and the next and the following generations have to achieve the past is helpful in that more by way of sobering lessons than by way of simple blind imitation but there is a huge challenge before the imagination to think a new world that new world has to be thought well we got to the party late for one very simple reason which had nothing to do with us it has to do with the end of communism communism comes to an abrupt end in 1989 with the collapse of the berlin wall till that time capitalism had to perform on social indicators in comparison with its rival it could not simply write roughshod over all other values all other needs when I say all other I mean beyond profit and greed right after 89 it has traveled across the planet untrammeled no opposition it stands alone as the preeminent economic system we don’t even need to name it how many people do here today who argue the concept of capitalism just when it means to be argued with most fiercely there is nobody saying there’s something fundamentally messy and wrong and stupid about this way of doing things nobody’s saying let’s be clear about one thing first I am NOT a socialist I’m not a communist have not a leftist for that matter I philosophically I’m not even a materialist okay I feel much closer to submit someone like Robin article or less so too lelandi but those would be the nearest people that I would think of in terms of taking a vision from you know if you’re looking for a vision of how humanity should be living not just india then those are the places where I would look I would not look to Karl Marx no Karl Marx was an hammered of technology he was enamored of modernity he was enamored of a certain kind of progress not that I am enamored of blind tradition I am simply saying that modernity as it has unfolded in the last hundred years has basically being a terrible ecological stupidity you know and we will have to return we will have to make a you at some point and find some other way the reason that India has got addicted to the goodies of industrial modernity it’s quite simply greed now from that age all of us have grown up in India with one very simple saying which always comes to my rescue if I feel confused knowledge biriba liar but that’s not what Gordon Gekko has stopped our children you know Drita supposed to be good not only is it supposed to be good it’s supposed to be the only good all else is bad so that’s the kind of dystopian moral world in which our children are growing up right this will have to be fought unfortunately this will have to be fought and when I say fought i don’t mean violently I mean intelligently violence is the most stupid thing that human beings do violence is what human beings do when all intelligence deserts them that’s when they start threatening and they start accumulating armaments and so on and that kind of imbecility can only hasten ecological destruction what I would suggest is that we start looking upon ourselves as extremely vulnerable beings extremely vulnerable creatures gifted with some intelligence not a whole lot and a lot of wisdom to learn by way of the limits of that intelligence so you know the first thing

to understand about India’s tryst with consumerism in the last 20 25 years is that the modern industrial world has entered us through a very simple back door it’s called greed so we have to face that and we have to face that in all its multifarious complexity and intricacy because greed is not just material greed could be for power I mean all our politicians are basically gluttonous for power Greek could be for fame or you know celebrity status or some stupid thing you know I mean Bollywood is full of it you know and so on so of all that sort of indoctrination into what i would call homo consumers you know as against home sapien you know the word sapien is very interesting it comes from latin word called Sapientia which means to taste you know and to taste what to taste something of wisdom you know that’s the origin of the word Homo Sapien from there we become homo consumers being there done that tasted it felt great recommend you do the same you know so home consumer is and the other half of it is Homo abstractors today which interacts with the world through screens and develops all sorts of fantasies and pseudo identities in its travels of across cyberspace getting more and more ecologically alienated from the world around it you know and I’m using the word it very advisedly because you know sometimes you feel like we are no longer human we’ve simply become cyborgs or robots when we interact with each other through these screens and machines through the networks and network is not a community so all this baggage this whole world has entered india only recently and it has charmed india it has charmed india to the point of object cultural servitude the only words that come to mind because we have a sort of vainglorious pride in some distant ancient past which our politicians keep invoking we have no living real connection with that past and if some people still do have that living real connection we ignore them you know if they know how to live happily with nature if they know what is the meaning of a sacred plant like to see your name if they know what it’s like to treat animals with sacred respect I mean you look at our religious lore and it’s full of you know whether it’s the nandi bull or the Garuda or you know there any number of animal symbols in our mythologies in our Panchatantra in the Jataka tales and so on all that has to be brought back I do not believe for a minute that the Hindu to abrogate can be the right people to bring it back because they’re modernists they want to make him down to a powerful superpower in a planet that does not exist you know that’s their fantasy you know it’s just like the Mujahideen and the fundamentalists on the other side so and i’m not a secularist so you cannot accuse me of secularism because I’m a believer I think that the people running this country are not believers and I can argue that some other time so I feel that the whole growth story needs to be retold as a great story and it’ll make much more sense to us when we have to look into that mirror no matter how dirty we have made it the grid story is needed in order to keep the growth story going what looks like growth to people is actually greed and it’s so obstinate because it is married to the beautiful idea of freedom and so long as you’re allowed to be greedy you believe yourself to be free today you can consume the hell out of the earth you know so my way of summarizing our x is think broccoli consume globally you know get your fish from the North Sea get your be from Amazonia get your wine from south of France take your holidays in Italy and think in a fundamentalist Hindu or a fundamentalist Muslim way this is what modern humanity has become in this country this pathetic this is dreadful this is ugly stupid this is not what human being before so my way of understanding the last 25 years is that

we’ve been seduced into the growth story through the back door of breed which has neon lights would say freedom and people believe that that is real freedom in fact they’ve been invited into a new servitude into a greater dependency into more and more unschooling and descaling more and more dumbing down more and more alienation from your own food your own clothing your own culture your own civilization your own language your own past okay no respect for any of that let’s all learn English badly join you know Pax Americana beyond the network’s become beautiful and sexy this is modern India and it’s got nothing to do with