Climate Change In India – Capitalism a Driving Force

As India struggles to breathe through the coronavirus pandemic, while facing cyclones and droughts, is it time now to talk about climate change again?


Environmental crises all around the world are causing death, destruction and depreciation in the quality of life. From food to air, everything is polluted and is depriving us of both internal and natural pleasures. Cyclones, floods, droughts are an annual affair that has impacted over one billion people in India, in the last year. Coronavirus has killed about 60,000 people in the country since March, while statistics (as of 2010) show that 6.8 million people die annually due to environmental disasters. The key driver of this change in India is corporate-led agricultural practices, industrial emissions, deforestation and other significant tools of capitalism. Other high-cost alternatives exist other than to damage the natural habitat, yet the government keeps moving forward with plans like the Environmental Impact Assessment draft.

Environmental Impact Assessment 2020 Draft

The central government has tried passing Environmental Impact Assessment 2020 legislation which is now stuck in great controversy and protest from environmentalists and concerned citizens from the country. The draft simply allows various polluting projects to be set up in the green areas of the country, leading to further destruction. The draft seeks for having a central body to approve any such project like buildings, roads, manufacturing, water project, etc. and will thus lead to corruption and damage to the natural resources. Even the opposition is voicing against the draft for their vested interests.

Some of The Major Destruction To Nature And The Country

  • Out of the top 30 most polluted cities in the world, 21 are in India, as per the report of the PM2.5 level which also suggests that the air here is too dangerous to breathe.
  • Pollution through industrial machinery and vehicular emission contributes to the most damage.
  • Uncontrolled construction and urban expansion by private builders are increasing the chance of floods, in the absence of natural barriers. The disregard for nature has also resulted in annual floods where about 900 people died in August 2020 in the 11 flood-affected states of the country.
  • Being an agrarian country, drought is perhaps the biggest challenge of the country. Farmer suicide rates are increasing due to crop failures in droughts. The groundwater depletion is also going on, at a rapid rate, and it makes up for 40% of India’s water supply.
  • Last year, 484 heat waves occurred across India, and these impacted the farmers working in the fields the most. In Bihar, five days of intense heat killed 100 people in 2020, while the national capital, Delhi, recorded a temperature of 48° C in June 2020. Rajasthan broke the national record with 50.6° C (123° Fahrenheit).
  • Massive deforestation is choking the lungs of the country and leading to an increase in air pollution too. 74% of the loss in greenery is in north-eastern states like Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Manipur.
  • Rising ocean levels, the disappearance of the marine kingdom and the melting of glaciers is another commonly known implication of global warming, but nothing is being done about it. With a coastline of 7,500 km., India stands at a direct threat from rising sea levels, affecting nine major states.
  • The fishing and marine business is dying in India, that is a major occupation in the country. Fishermen are daily wage earners and get 1000 Rs. for every 100,000 fish caught by trawlers. There has been a significant decrease in fishing, and so, sometimes they have to go on for days without any pay.

Impact on the Working Class

The working class is continuously becoming less secure economically, and the profit system of capitalism is to be blamed for all disastrous implications. Climate crisis is forcing the worker class to immigrate into safer regions, and while the government plans on making smart cities, rural areas of Sundarbans continue to struggle with the aftermath of Amphan. The government energy subsidies are also not operational. In 2019, the Indian government spent 12.37 billion USD on coal, gas, and oil subsidies. In contrast, it spent only 1.5 billion USD on renewable energy subsidies.

The private market almost owns the manufacturing of oil, disregards ensuring a clean environment by employing technologies, and leaves the state drained of cash and better living. Farmers are protesting in Punjab now, against the privatization of agriculture. Social media is flooded with posts against the EIA draft 2020. Several political parties are also protesting, but they are mere promises and a political strategy. None of them is truly helping the working class – both lower and middle-income groups.

Recommendation by The Policy Times

  • The only collective action that can address the climate crises is to come together and demand the stopping of a capitalist structure being built by keeping our forests and natural resources at stake.
  • Instead of making environmental studies a compulsory subject in school and college, the government should drive the motion in the business class and the higher tier of society.
  • Corporates caused 175 times more pollution than the bottom 10%, and they should take the responsibility of restoring the world balance.
  • A strong realization needs to be instilled that the world will only thrive if we have our natural resources.
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Climate Change In India - Capitalism a Driving Force
As India struggles to breathe through the coronavirus pandemic, while facing cyclones and droughts, is it time now to talk about climate change again?
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