Rahul Ram's Manifesto for Saving the Planet
Rahul Ram's 6-point agenda for redefining development goals.
Wage a war against global warming
Everybody is ignoring global warming and passing the buck with the focus being on increasing the gross domestic product (GDP) by increasing consumption for growth. This is essentially going to make the world an unliveable place in the next 30 to 40 years. If I could influence change in any way, I would change policy to ensure that global warming is taken very seriously. This would mean a drastic change in the way we look at economics. It would mean coming down on carbon dioxide emissions, changing the notions of what happiness and development are, and not making consumerism the centrepiece of our existence. I would work earnestly towards this and take as many scientific, sociological and economic inputs as possible to achieve it.Terrorism and communal violence have historically been prevalent in the world and I don’t consider them as critical as global warming. In fact, terrorism would be inconsequential once the impact of global warming hits the planet. Three years ago, people said ISIS was the biggest threat to the world. I believed it was climate change and I still do. Every religion has killed people but I believe it’s climate change that will cause the maximum destruction if not addressed urgently.
Invest in public amenities
I would invest heavily on primary education, universal health care and public transport. Efficient public transport will not just cut down on our fetish for cars but will also make us more fuel-efficient.
Usher in agricultural reform
It is becoming increasingly difficult for a farmer to live off the profit of his produce. Farmers’ children prefer not to go into agriculture. What will happen to them? Who will give them jobs, because where are the jobs? The crisis in agriculture is not limited to India. It’s spread all over the globe as a result of following the Western model of growth. And now, we are stuck with agricultural distress. It also has an adverse impact on climate change. I would do away with corporate farming across the world as fast as possible.
Nurture the planet
I would invest in taking care of the environment. All the problems mentioned earlier are interrelated. Diverting more and more forestland to mining and other commercial purposes doesn’t work. Planting a hundred trees and thinking that it makes up for cutting down forests doesn’t make sense. This will result in a shortage of water, which is going to become a major issue soon. If we can take care of these issues and address the problems that are listed here, it would be enough to change the state of this world.
Other obvious social issues such as equality of caste, gender and race are absolutely essential and need to be addressed, but I am not mentioning those here because they are a given and we have been talking about these for a long time. But I believe that women would be given the chance to realize their potential—which has been crushed by millennia of patriarchy—with better access to education and health care. Instead of measuring development through GDP, I would focus more on parameters such as the human development index.
Let the kids be
I would ensure that we let the children be. We have to stop treating education as a means to pass examinations in order to get jobs, because this crushes the spirit of children. I would make primary education much more broad-based: Children should be taught more about arts and culture and not just how to land jobs. They are the future of this world. And we are handing over to them a world that is not in the best condition.
As told to Mannu Kohli
Rahul Ram is a musician and social commentator. He is best known as the bass guitarist for the band Indian Ocean.