Under the shadow of the Global Climate Strike and the increasingly popular students’ movement, Fridays for Future, the Delhi-based revolutionary student group, COLLECTIVE organized a discussion on the climate crisis at the Faculty of Arts on the 20th September.

The slogan of the event was “System change not Climate change” and through the discussion, the group sought to educate and invite people to join the movement against climate change.

The event saw speeches from students and professors from various departments of Delhi University. The range was incredible, mostly because it was a very free and organic discussion. Everybody was encouraged to speak about their understanding of climate change and their battles with it. It was littered with informative statistics and unsettling personal experiences. The event was organized with the immediate goal of highlighting the United Nations Conference on Climate Change which is to be held on the 23rd September. Sourya, a member of COLLECTIVE, said, “If this conference happens like its predecessors, then we’re well aware of the positions that will be taken. Profit-making multi-national corporations are given leeway to abuse the resources in the name of development. Strong statements are never made and they continue to be pardoned”. He also stressed on the need for radical change in the way governments and citizens approached climate change. “Personal lifestyle changes are important, but when the situation is so grave that every year Chennai sees a severe water shortage, Mumbai sees forest fires and more of Assam continues to go underwater, radical systematic changes have to be made”, he added.

A thread connecting all these different speeches was about the importance of recognizing the politics of climate change. The issue can no longer be viewed in isolation, it’s marred with the politics of inequality. The first speaker introduced this by speaking of the Carbon Credit System, “the developed countries have devised this innocuous-looking and a very mischievous tool called carbon credit system. Instead of reducing their carbon emissions, they buy carbon credits from poorer countries which naturally do not release as much carbon. In this way, they technically exceed their emission limit and with the help of money, they pass on the worst effects of global warming to poorer countries. They bypass their own commitments to the international committee.” Richer nations and rich individuals even within poorer countries have massive carbon footprints, but ultimately they also have the resources to protect themselves from the effects of climate change. The brunt of higher temperatures and polluted water bodies is faced by the poor and the marginalized. “Social justice is inherently linked to aspects like these”, he added.

Only the rich can protect themselves in the war against climate change, the poor inevitably become casualties. To illustrate, Professor Debjani, from Indraprastha College for Women, spoke to the crowd about climate refugees. In her home state, West Bengal, the Sunderbans are increasingly being submerged due to rising sea levels. “These are people like us, ordinary people, thousands of people whose livelihoods and homes are being destroyed due to some effect of climate change”, she said. “If someone is doing something in North America, it affects all of us.”

The lack of Government interest in Climate Change was also pointed to. “The only thing our government has done to acknowledge climate change is to change the name of the Environment Ministry to ‘The Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change’. Every year we witness the same events, water shortages and floods in the country, but we normalize it. It is never discussed in Parliament, we will not stop until the Prime Minister takes notice and makes climate change a national issue. In western countries, citizens are threatening to occupy Parliament if leaders do not introduce effective legislation, we need to do the same”, a speaker added. Statistics were discussed highlighting that India’s major cities like Delhi and Bangalore will become uninhabitable by 2030 because of zero groundwater levels and the quality of air.

While legislation points towards trying to bring change within the capitalist and neo-liberal global framework, some speakers spoke about a more radical change. Professor Sudha from Delhi School of Economics defined climate change differently. “Climate change is the inevitable outcome of capitalism. The essence of capitalism is to keep growing and keep increasing profits. This can only happen at the cost of resources. It’s contradictory to discuss a movement against climate change within the capitalist framework. We cannot be concerned about climate change without being concerned about capitalism. The system of production and consumption has to change.” She urged listeners to separate their ideas of happiness from that of materialistic joy. She left the crowd with a million-dollar question, “Is it better to live a life with more things or with more time?”

In that context, speakers also spoke about not letting corporations fool you. “The solution to climate change isn’t green finance or green economy. These are just more products created by the capitalist to sink us deeper into capitalism. The problem is with commodifying natural resources. Climate capitalism is about generating crisis to make more profit”, a speaker added.

A very powerful speech was made by a student who lives in Jim Corbett. He spoke about how capitalism is destroying his home. “Growth is a capitalist conspiracy. They pollute the planet, you get sick. You go to their hospitals and contribute to their profits. Cities become unbearable and they lure you out for a well-needed vacation. You leave Delhi and go to my hometown and stay at their resorts. We are hostages of this conspiracy and we are making them rich at every step while they destroy the planet.” He also spoke of a possible solution, “If each of you speaks to a few of your friends, in the next two years we can have a climate army. An Army so powerful that no politician would dare tread on this road in front of Arts Faculty.”

After the speeches, the organizers conducted a postcard campaign where all the attendees addressed the Prime Minister about the crisis of Climate Change. This event bought forth multiple important viewpoints and quietly but effectively spoke about the urgency of change. “Do we just want to preserve the status quo or do we want to change the system?”

Feature Image Credits: Noihrit Gogoi for DU Beat

Pragati Thapa

[email protected]

The University of Delhi (DU) saw controversy
unfold over Savarkar, from demands to
rename the Delhi University Students’ Union
(DUSU) Office after V.D. Savarkar, to the
installation of a pillar with his bust, along
with those of Subhas Chandra Bose and
Bhagat Singh in the campus. The ideological
warfare about his thoughts continues to be

As the DUSU elections approach, the
University is grappling with the Savarkar
Statue Controversy. The illegal installation
of the bust, followed by its removal,
reveals the ideological tussle between the
different schools of thought.
An extremist in his thoughts, Savarkar
was an Indian Independence activist who
rebelled against the British rule through
revolutionary means, and was imprisoned
due to his anti-coloniser activities.
Following a failed attempt to escape
while being transported from Marseilles
in France, he was sentenced to two life
terms of imprisonment, and eventually
landed in the cellular jail or Kala Pani.
Savarkar has been always been at the
eye of the storm, for being viewed as a
“coward” since he wrote letters to the
British, pleading to be released from the
torture of the cellular jail.
Being an atheist, he believed that
Hinduism was a political identity having
a powerful moral force. While in prison,
Savarkar wrote the work describing
Hindutva in which he defined that all
people descended from Hindu culture
as being a part of Hindutva, including
Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs. The noted
journalist, Manu Joseph, recently opined,
“The erasure of Savarkar by intellectuals
1.0 was so complete that at the end of it
all, he was not even a villain. He was not
mentioned in textbooks even as one of the
accused in the assassination of Mahatma
Gandhi. Savarkar’s insight was that
Hinduism was a powerful political identity
that does not require gods, or even the
cow actually, whom he did not love very
much, and that Hinduism is a fundamental
genetic force in all Indians. In this way, he
invented Hindutva.”
The very fact that the revolutionary
ideas of Savarkar remain to be missing
from our mainstream reading and
textbooks, does not allow the discussion
on his extreme views in the freedom
struggle movement through Hindutva.
Vaibhav Purandare, in his book The True
Story of the Father of Hindutva reveals
Savarkar’s professed hatred for Muslims.
In his early years as a revolutionary,
Savarkar asked Hindus and Muslims to
get along, but eventually, he wished to
subdue Muslims.
Earlier this month, on 12th August, the
Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP)
demanded the DUSU Office be named
after Veer Savarkar. Following this, the
ABVP and DUSU installed the busts of
V.D. Savarkar, Subhas Chandra Bose,
and Bhagat Singh outside the Faculty
of Arts in the North Campus and faced
criticism, followed by the attack on the
statue and smearing black colour on
the bust by the National Students’
Union of India.
Shakti Singh, the outgoing President
of DUSU, said, “Since the beginning
of my term, I was requesting the DU
administration for establishing the statues
but never got a reply from them. The
left-wing forces and the Congress party
have always defamed Veer Savarkar.
So, I wanted that this issue should be
debated so that the youth can know about
his contribution to the freedom struggle
of the country.”
Madhu Prasad, former Professor of
Philosophy, Zakir Hussain College said,
“Bhagat Singh believed that the country
won’t get freedom unless there is equality.
However, the current scenario in this
country does not allow debate, discussion,
and dissent, and idolising Savarkar is
against the essence of freedom.”
While he worked upon reforming
and revolting the colonial rule, his
extreme positions on Gandhi, Hindu
Rashtra, and Muslims bestows him with
political exclusion.

Feature Image Credits: Prateek Pankaj for DU Beat

Sriya Rane

[email protected]