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Blame Climate Migration On The Rise Of Imperialist Capitalism

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When we go through the lessons of NCERTs class 10th,  we see many lines that mention the conservation of resources and the planning to do it. It describes the problem of resources in the words of Gandhi that “There is enough for everybody’s need and not for everyone’s greed.” When we read this definition, we feel looped inside a very humanistic notion and feel guilty for resource degradation. That we are solely responsible for this huge mismanagement of resources.

At that very time, we recognize that we should do something for our environment because it is our responsibility and our duty. To understand and resolve the problem, many of us started working on green plants, Environmental NGOs, resource management, allocation of land for the appropriate crop production, and so on. New studies related to the environment, sustainable development, and climate change favor to promote NGOs and self-help groups for personal contribution. In its recent report, IPCC warned the global population that the next episode of “massive human migration” will happen because of climate change. it can touch 200 million by 2050. I think it is not surprising at all.

Representational image.

It is estimated that climate will soon become the largest cause of migration in the world.

According to this report after the civil war, climate change is the next most serious cause of migration all around the world. This means around 1 out of 45 people is migrant due to climate change (International Organization on Migration). In the mid-1990s, it was widely reported that up to 25 million people had been forced from their homes and off their land by a range of serious environmental pressures including pollution, land degradation, droughts, and natural disasters.

60% of the Indian population severely or less intensively are affected by any kind of extreme weather conditions. This means that within 50 years, climate migration will increase eight times more than the current level. The intensity of migration due to climate change is very high when we compare it to the past centuries.

Climate Migration As A Historical Process

In the article “Migration Out of Climate Change” in DownToEarth magazine, Richard Mahapatra and Akshita Sangompla described the problem of climate migration as a historical process and it has been happening since time immemorial. The special mentioning of shifting of ITCZ southwards and changing monsoon rain tendency. Migration due to political, economic, social, environmental are interconnected and we cannot separate it.

here it is not as simple as writers comparing Indus valley civilization’s migration to current migration, because comparison in between two different production relations and the level of intensity is entirely different. The difference between, the capacity to overpower nature and natural resources is huge. The means of production to exploit natural resources and delocalization of resources creates a different image from Indus Valley Civilization.   Nowadays historical researchers like R S Mughal provide empirical evidence to prove a procedural decline of “Indus valley urban civilization” but they did not show any data which proves a massive demographic change at that time.

We are in the age of overconsumption, overproduction, and the age of imperialism. To understand the current climatic migration, we need to demarcate the basic features of our day-to-day economy, politics, and changing social structuring, which is largely governed by global Imperial forces. Lenin in his writing “Imperialism – Highest Form Of Capitalism”, explained the tendency of migration in capitalism and imperialism both. Where he elaborated migration as a political and economic phenomenon. In that work, Lenin analyzes – in a much more extensive manner – the tendential reversal in the emigration of workers as a fundamental aspect of imperialism: the stage of “the parasitism.

  The Contemporary Scenario

Global leading economies have never accepted climate change as a big problem before the 1970s. After the second world war, we found a rapid increment in the imperial capital, especially in the “global south”. Expansion of monopoly capitalism in countries like India, fuelled by the interests of the ruling classes. The ideology of the ruling class in India (big landlords and big capitalists), always has served as a space for the nourishment of imperial capital in India.

VI Lenin (pictured above) says that the root cause of migration is imperialism.

Capital comes with its conditionality, like easy labor laws, cheap land, cheap labor,  natural resources like forests, minerals, etc. The Indian government has been approved a 3097 MW hydroelectric project on the Dibang river. It is a joint venture between Jindal Power Ltd. and the Hydro Power Development Corporation of Arunachal Pradesh at the cost of 2,80,000 trees and thousands of Idu Mishmi community. As per the recent data, Brazilian forest is being decreased with an average of 5,536 square kilometers per year. This uninterrupted devastation has forced many tribal communities to migrate from their native place.

IPCC 2020, warned the whole world of the upcoming catastrophe, inching towards us. According to the globally summed up data, by 2100, the temperature of the globe will have been increased by 2-4°c. this sharp temperature rise, will increase the sea level and melting of ice simultaneously.

Frequency of El- Nino, Tsunami like high tides, salination of coastal plains, etc will provoke the situation of inward migration from coastal regions. There are many countries and islands (Lakshadweep, Andaman, and Nicobar) which can be merged inside oceans and seas. We are witnessing a huge migration across the border due to extreme weather conditions.

Debate On Migrants And Refugees

On 19 September 2016, Heads of State and Government came together to discuss the New York Declaration at the global level within the UN General Assembly concerning issues related to migration and refugees. But in this broad framework where every aspect of safety, livelihood, dignity has been discussed except climate migrants and refugees.

Many environment campaigners support the word “environment refugee” or “climate refugee” because of the seriousness of this issue. The lobby of imperialists and their global puppet representatives of different countries always procrastinate to accept them as climate refugees. Moreover, the New York declaration provides a smooth passage for global cheap labor exploitation.

Before this, the Kyoto Protocol provided a best mechanism for big corporates of the world to penetrate the capital crunch regions with the help of carbon trading approach. with the help of that one-sided accountability mechanism, emission control has been majorly shifted to the global south, largely dominated by big capitalists and the comprador ruling class.

 Climate Migration- A Political Issue

The idea of the market has spread fashionable nonsense, to see every section of life and surrounding in isolation. Common people in India usually talk about the problem related to climate change, rainfall patterns, and migration patterns. They discuss the decreasing productivity of land and agriculture as a low benefit business. Big corporates have largely influenced and controlled the production process and distribution pattern, where profitability is the primary concern.

Current political leaders of the world are the representatives of different groups of imperialist forces. After taking mandate from the electoral process from citizens, they provide a bundle of smooth reforms for the sake of imperial capital. Heavy investment in mining, dam projects, and contract farming can be observed easily all around the global south. we observe an absurd kind of urban development pattern, promoted by the government to create a space for capital expansion. This kind of urban expansion pumps pollution in different ways like thermal, air, water, land, etc.

Special Economic Zones (SEZ) are a neo-liberal model of development.

Data from different sources confirm that current concrete based urban development is creating different spaces called “Urban Heat Island”, which restricts the water observation capacity of the land. Projects like Smart cities, presents a concept of the well-organized city, for certain people, under a classist settlement. Within a few months, there have been more than 10000 peoples pushed to the peripheral of the cities, because of this development model. Okhla Vihar industrial area has seen mass industrial displacement.

Tuticorin witnessed a mass movement against the Sterlite project. local people raised voice and organized a huge protest against the authoritarian behavior of the state and corporates. But this movement was muzzled by the state through a shoot-out of leadership (13 people were shot dead by the police). What kind of development does the government want for the people of Tuticorin? Was that for people or imperial capital?

In Seoul in the 1990s, the construction companies and developers hired goon squads of sumo wrestler types to invade whole neighborhoods and smash down with sledgehammers not only the housing but also all the possessions of those who had built their own housing on the hillsides of the city in the 1950s. but for the justification of the mass displacement, the state always propagates the agenda of urban pollution and slum area contamination.  Special Economic Zone is the example and model of development for the neo-liberal economy where the state provides land, tax rebate, low bill electricity, for infrastructure and employment. When we observe imperially, we found massive displacement and land degradation.

Here, we need to question the well-established and defined idea of development by bourgeoises. The question should be based upon totality, not in an isolated term like environmentalist only raises environmental questions and debate on women question discussed under women’s commission. we need to raise figures on the authoritarian decision making to resettle people from forest to slum, farmland to industrial set up.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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