Climate Change, the Harbinger of Political Turmoil and Socio-economic Upheaval
The Bhagwad Gita explicitly states that Kshatriyas (the Indian polity and the military establishment) should have a clear focus towards their ‘Dharma’ of defence and good governance. Likewise, India needs to clearly acknowledge the threat to its own geo-political stability due to climate change and ecological degradation caused by China’s unfettered industrial activity as well as CIA’s ongoing attempts to ‘weaponise the Climate’. As scientists and intellectuals alike have highlighted, the repercussions of climate change are far beyond natural disasters and change in weather.
The MoD’s approval of the ‘Ganga Task Force’ is indeed noteworthy; however this ‘writing on the wall’ to India would necessitate the adoption of every possible counter measure in the realm of technological advancements, military strategy and even political economy manoeuvres to secure India’s future.
The Thai political crises is a textbook illustration of a grim future for many countries. As the global economy is forced to operate on ‘cheaper oil’ that threatens the environment, poor economies like Thailand face skyrocketing food/energy prices with loss of foreign currency, increase in foreign debt and burgeoning income inequality. Being a net energy importer , Thailand, perhaps due to policy paralysis had not considerably diversified its energy sources. To add to the country’s misery, disruptions in drought and precipitation cycles dramatically impacted the agricultural sector that engages up to 40 percent of the population, leading to food scarcity and massive social unrest. This ultimately provoked the Thai government’s authoritarian military campaigns to restore order.
Concurrently, history is replete with instances of poor harvest and socioeconomic turmoil leading to mass religio-political upheaval such as the First Crusade and French revolution, which seems to have appeared now in the ‘sensitive areas’ of Syria and Iraq, only to become a breeding ground for the Islamic State ideology, which easily exploits the victimhood of the affected populace. The same has been observed in the flood affected regions of Kashmir where the Indian Armed Forces engaged relentlessly in relief operations while facing backlash from the separatists.
In the presence of such alarming concerns in ‘resource rich regions’, other formidable nations such as China and the United States would obviously “alter their geo-political equations by adopting every possible means” to secure their future from the imminent threat of climate change’s “hydra-like” avatar. For example, in 2013, the United States was criticised by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs for compelling India to sign the multilateral Montreal Protocol in the name of ‘meeting emission reduction targets’ which would require India to replace its existing refrigerant gases used in submarines and aircrafts and opt for expensive and less reliable proprietary technologies owned by a handful of US multinational corporations.
India’s Vishwa Sankalpana v/s the Western Worldview or Weltanschauung
From the works of Devdutta Pattnaik, Tufail Ahmad, Rajiv Malhotra, Francois Gautier and Fritjof Capra it is now well known that the narrative of the Western civilisation is primarily comprised of Greco-Roman and Judaeo-Christian paradigms – consequently raising a quintessential question for India as to what defines the Indian narrative or Vishwa Sankalpana with reference to the Economic and Military Kurukshetra dominated by the West? More than a decade ago, Maj. Gen. G. D. Bakshi authored a scholarly book titled “The India Art of War: The Mahabharata Paradigm”. This book was the inspiration for this article to exemplify the role of the Bhagwad Gita within the Mahabharata context as to India’s narrative to combat the onslaught of climate change.
Kshatriya Dharma and the Indian Military Establishment
Notwithstanding the spiritual teachings disseminated in the Bhagwad Gita, it is nevertheless clearly stated by Shree Krishna that the Kshatriya should engage in selfless duty towards the greater good of mankind. Furthermore, the political context of the Mahabharata which even inspired Kautilya’s Arthashastra, clearly Climate Change and Geo-Political Threat to the Indian Nation State (A Bhagwad Gita Perspective on the Role of the Indian Military) Shantesh Hede 20-21-climate_14_19_ BEING A FLY GIRL.qxd 5/22/2016 11:34 AM Page 1 illustrates the importance of forging suitable alliances and adopting confrontational or mis-directional tactics to ensure clear victory, especially brute military force and psychological warfare.
During the Bhagwad Gita discourse, Shree Krishna clearly recommends to Arjuna, the Kshatriya, to scrap outdated and irrelevant theories/traditions which fail to address the overall good of the society including the individual who thrives in it. This could also imply the need to rectify flawed economic policies with its underlying principles. Furthermore, Shree Krishna also recommends the state of mind of a ‘Muni’, a balanced minded sage who upholds the harmonious relationship between the trees, the forest, the climate and the entire well-being of the society. This timeless wisdom also resonates with Adam Smith’s observations, which recommend a ‘thoughtful and reasonably regulated capitalist economy’ to positively benefit the society at large.
Strategic role of the Indian Military Establishment to combat Climate Change
Experienced officers and knowledgeable technology experts within the Indian military establishment can collaborate to form a Strategic Response and Emergence Commission (SREC) which would complement other Planning and Response commissions of the Indian government. The SREC would coordinate across networks of excellence in various knowledge domains that are located across government institutions (such as economic planning, space and defence establishments, research institutions, foreign policy, law enforcement and judiciary, energy policy, healthcare, public utilities, education, military intelligence, infrastructure and telecommunication) and private institutions (including non profit) to deliver an appropriate response towards climate change related crises. In addition, it could look into developing low cost appropriate technologies for renewable energy regeneration, sanitation, restoration and cleaning of ecological systems, agriculture and water purification for empowering local communities against harmful food price fluctuations and future calamities.
Likewise, the ubiquitous importance of the Indian military establishment in strengthening our political economy necessitates in guiding the Indian polity to promulgate the Indian “Vishwa Sankalpana” in the ongoing global dialogue for reforming the very fundamentals of economic theory, banking (such as the BRICS bank formation) and money creation (such as Public Capitalisation Notes recommended by Prof. Armen Papazian). And accordingly, George Soros, the famous business magnate who founded the Institute of New Economic Thinking for the very purpose, is a striking exemplar from the Western civilisation, thus beckoning India to assert its “Vishwa Sankalpana” on a global platform. Furthermore, the Indian polity can play a decisive role in defining enforceable regulations for the trillions USD market opportunity to fight climate change, which would set the transition for a more sustainable global economy without any dramatic ‘shock therapy-like policy’ changes.
Furthermore, through fierce commitment towards our spiritual tradition and nation building since millennia, the Indian military establishment has attained profound mental strength and social capital to face insurmountable challenges. Accordingly, the Indian military establishment and its SREC possess the determination to tackle ‘seemingly impossible’ climate change challenges such as rectifying the ocean acidification and balancing oxygen/ nitrogen cycles, which scientific experts claim would take around a 1000 years!
The Bhagwad Gita explicitly states that “Action” is within our reach while outcomes may not be as anticipated. This implies that these “Actions” should be well conceptualised and evaluated without analysis-paralysis. Meanwhile, the SREC can implement mitigation measures to minimise any negative outcomes that emanate from the “Emergence (i.e. Collective Outcome) of good intention projects” undertaken by the crowd sourcing initiatives, market driven commercialisation/urbanisation as well as State supported reforms. For example: a crowd sourced project for cleaning a local river in a remote village may pose a logistical conflict with a low cost transportation service operated by an NGO, including a road under construction by a private contractor that may damage wetlands and forests as well as the water supply facility managed by the local municipality.
Likewise, in a world slowly taken over by the Internet of ‘Things and Convergence’; the SREC should strengthen their capabilities to foreseeing and mitigating systemic risks posed by indiscriminate cyber attacks and unauthorised financial movements. In addition, strengthening public health regulations for waste management/ sanitation, tackling the threats posed by antibiotic resistance and providing logistical guidance during disease outbreaks such as Ebola and Swine Flu.
The way forward for the Indian Vishwa Sankalpana
The Mahabharata war and its accompanying colossal scale of destruction is said to have eventually sown the seeds of the republican form of governance from the ashes of oligarchic rule. Likewise, climate change is anticipated to instigate tectonic changes (metaphorical and even literal) within the global geo-political sphere and accordingly, the Indian nation state needs to focus on ‘filling the global leadership vacuum’ by establishing itself as the cultural and spiritual power of the future, with sufficient military prowess to protect its interests without the need of colonial ambitions.
Prof. Shantesh Hede completed his Master’s in Engineering Management from Duke University in 2008 and thereafter attained his Phd in the Development of Medical Devices with respect to Social, Environmental and Economic Sustainability. Presently, he works from Mumbai as a Senior Research Fellow at The Asia Institute in Seoul, South Korea.